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The Lights by Zara Howard

The Lights by Zara Howard

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Dark forces have wormed their way in to Dominic Bailey's life. An unknown terrorist cell has marked him a loose link in the chain. To them he is the chink in the armour of what they perceive to be achieved, blind, deceptively capitalism nation. With his help, it is their will to advocate for the people, to empower them, to open their diseased eyes. To teach them that only by suffering can they be free. Assigned with the task of delivering a coded package, Amelia is Dominic's only hope, if he is to be stopped from being an accomplice to mass destruction. World domination is in the hands of one man, if only his woman can persuade him to do the right thing.
Dark forces have wormed their way in to Dominic Bailey's life. An unknown terrorist cell has marked him a loose link in the chain. To them he is the chink in the armour of what they perceive to be achieved, blind, deceptively capitalism nation. With his help, it is their will to advocate for the people, to empower them, to open their diseased eyes. To teach them that only by suffering can they be free. Assigned with the task of delivering a coded package, Amelia is Dominic's only hope, if he is to be stopped from being an accomplice to mass destruction. World domination is in the hands of one man, if only his woman can persuade him to do the right thing.

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Published by: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. on Oct 16, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Zara Howard




Copyright © Zara Howard The right of Zara Howard to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library. ISBN 978 1 84963 024 5 www.austinmacauley.com First Published (2010) Austin & Macauley Publishers Ltd. 25 Canada Square Canary Wharf London E14 5LB

Printed & Bound in Great Britain


To my husband, James, for unfailing support and sound advice.

Chapter 1

November 2008 on the Surrey/ Hampshire Border

Dominic plunged his ample, muscle-bound buttocks into the forgiving springs of the bed he shared with Amelia, his wife of two years, three months and ten days. The curve of his spine gave way to his aching torso and he forced two, rather stunned, perfectly honed „rugby-player‟ legs in under the bed covers. The palms of his hands launched his entire body up towards the two fresh pillow cases Amelia had thoughtfully changed that morning for them. The pleasant aroma of fabric conditioner melted for a moment in his nostrils before dispersing, as he turned to reach for his book catching a glimpse at the time on the clock placed on his bedside table as he did so. “…Oh, God it‟s late again. I don‟t know why we do it to ourselves. Every Sunday morning I swear I‟m not going to touch a drop all day and I‟ll make sure I get an early night.” There was no response from Amelia who was lying in an almost identical position beside her worn out husband, although she was too tired to read herself. Her brown eyes were fluttering open and shut as she started to doze. “It is funny though. I didn‟t really even need to look at the time, to know what it was,” Dominic stated, “I don‟t know why I do it but I always like to look up at the window when I‟m in bed.”

There was a slight stirring from Amelia as she made the tiniest of efforts to pay attention to this gorgeous, boring husband of hers. “It‟s probably because we had to borrow those curtains which don‟t fit across the window properly. I don‟t know why we never got around to buying some that would. Actually, I quite like being able to see what‟s going on out there,” Dominic continued, not that bothered one way or the other if Amelia was listening to a word he was saying, nor even if she was asleep already. It was quiet. He liked the sound of his own voice from time to time, without the interruptions of others, he liked waffling to himself. “There they are. It‟s always this time of night you can see two planes up in the top left corner of the window pane. They look so close together, just two lights moving to the left,” he continued. Dominic lay there in the warmth of his bed, feeling the heat coming off from his wife. For a short while he stayed quiet, keeping his thoughts to himself, but not for long. There was no making sense of things any more. He was sitting upright, on top of the pillows by now, literally shaking his head to de-jangle his brain, fists for hands were screwing into his eye-sockets and intermittently he blinked and blinked again. “Three, there isn‟t normally three.” He allowed his eyes to move off from the lights of the aircraft, so that he could peer out over to the right in the direction they had come from. Another, then another, there was a steady line of them, all moving at roughly the same speed and height, some grouped together in threes, then a mass, though not uniform, two, then a group of six. He panicked starting to count them, worried he should have thought of that sooner and now,

maybe he would have missed one or more. His blazing eyes scanned the night skies before they could escape his vision. Finally, he allowed himself a second to include his wife, still constant with the spectacle outside. “No, that‟s not right. No, no, Amelia, Amelia look, look, look. Oh, Christ, oh, Jesus Christ. Come and see this.” His sleeping beauty; who had by this time been left alone in their marital bed, somehow homed in on the worried tone of Dominic‟s voice and was dutifully at her husband‟s side in an instant. She staggered bleary-eyed, desperate to focus on whatever it was he seemed so distraught about. Her ears were picking up every other word he hissed, crouched down in front of the desk by the window, terrified least they were being watched themselves. “Dominic, what is it? What‟s wrong?” she managed. “Look! Shit!” Dominic gave her a second or so to take in the distressing image above them; “Thirty-six, I‟ve counted thirty-six. No, I‟m not happy with this, this isn‟t right. Where are they coming from? They‟re moving over that way, toward the main road. Those cars must be able to see them.” Amelia was still trying to wake herself up to take in everything Dominic was telling her, “Maybe the drivers are just concentrating on the road.” A fear gripped him as his mind raced and thoughts of Independence Day swarmed his mind. God, what if they started to shoot! They really could be an enemy force. He expected to see an air-raid before his very eyes any time now. Possibly even hear siren sounding.

“Oh, God, I‟m really worried Milly. I think I‟m going to call the police,” Dominic announced, as now a slightly bent Amelia began to share his concern for safety. But focused as she was on the scene she was still unable to pay him the slightest attention. Neither could tear their eyes away from terrified fascination. Yet Dominic had another reason because he believed they could be the only witnesses and when he got the chance to tell his story, he wanted to be certain it was going to be accurate. The Royal Air Force, the Army, the prime minister, they would all want to know exactly how many and what they were up against. But that was the trouble. From where he was Dominic wasn‟t entirely sure what they were. He had made up his mind they were UFOs, what else could they be, flying so close together and that many of them at anyone time, unless they were parachutists. He decided to share the suggestion with his wife. “Do you think they could be parachutists?” he quizzed her; “Parachutists, well they would have to be brave to jump out of a plane in the pitch dark… but thinking about it perhaps that‟s the best form of cover… they probably have those special night vision things, you know, special kit, equipment. Just like the one you have in there,” she teased as she stretched a hand over and down into Dominic‟s boxer shorts. “Your hands are freezing. Do you mind!” Dominic complained. “No, Milly, please, this is serious, we could be under attack.” No reply from Amelia again, who was bouncing off the last word in her husband‟s sentence. She was allowing the spectre of fear and anxiety to wash up and over her like a terrible freak freeze, enveloping her, until a shiver took over her body and shook her violently from head to toe. Dominic put an arm about her shoulders and pulled her to his side.

“I‟m trying to work out how high up they must be. They‟re definitely above the line of the trees,” he declared. “Definitely,” Amelia agreed. “They must be pretty far off too. I don‟t see anymore of them appearing now, do you?” Dominic asked. “No, I don‟t think so.” They both stayed for a while longer looking west in the direction the lights were moving up to the point where they had disappeared into the distance completely. There was not a lot more to do after that. Since nothing had actually happened to them, perhaps in shock, both decided without a word to get back to bed. Dominic thought to himself he should get to sleep as quickly as possible, so that he could get up early. He wanted to be on the phone to the police or whoever else you are meant to report these things to. He half expected the phone in their bedroom to ring any time now anyway with some authoritative voice on the other end giving them directions to their nearest secret bunker, or maybe their neighbours would phone or come over, hammering on the door to their cottage, pleading with them up at their window to let them in. He could imagine hoardes of people from the surrounding area piled into the local school or village hall and church which all stood at the three corners of the green, edifying it quintessentially. Stockpiles of bottled water stacked up against the walls, mattresses on the floors, end to end, all these images poured into his head allowing him only a half sleep/wake state for most of the night.

Chapter 2


By the early hours of the next morning, Dominic‟s libido was up, as usual. He effortlessly reached out for Amelia‟s inner thigh, working his way ever upwards in the direction of her fire. She was sopping in anticipation of him, half hidden behind her black, silk, French panties. He felt for the elastic about her hip as she faced him, her loose lips still in deep slumber. Sliding a finger under the material, he secretly eased Amelia into life. Her own juices flowing now, she opened her mouth just a touch, only to let him know she wanted him too. Dominic ached for her. But now his stomach was beginning to trouble him. After much discomfort he gave in. He leant forwards to kiss his wife on the forehead, by way of an apology; only succeeding in head-butting her at the moment she brought her chin down to her chest. “What was that for?” Amelia demanded, clutching her sore head with her two hands. “Oh God, sorry, that hurt me too. What were you doing, putting your face down like that anyway? I was only trying to give you a quick kiss,” Dominic retorted. “I was cold that‟s all. Our bedroom is freezing. We don‟t even have the radiators turned on in here do we?!” Amelia‟s voice raised itself at the end, as her injury began to smart. Dominic‟s insides were really beginning to cramp up now. He found himself curling up into a little ball in an effort to

relieve the gripping pain. Yet still his moaning wife was oblivious to his problem, paying more attention to her own complaints. “I‟m sorry Milly, but it‟s not really my fault. You‟ve got no idea. I‟m trying so hard to keep my job at the moment. Did I tell you we all had an email in my department last week, warning us that a number of employees would be faced with redundancy that same afternoon, do you know how that feels? Let me tell you, it feels like you‟re a bloody sitting duck, that‟s what.” Dominic‟s own tone was altering, much to Amelia‟s dislike. “Oh, please don‟t yell at me, my head is throbbing, thank you very much.” She told him. Dominic hated the sarcasm she was capable of, there was no need for it. As far as he could tell, she just used it to wind him up. “Well there‟s one thing being hard up; like a lot of people are with the „credit crunch‟ and everything, but I think if you haven‟t got the essentials, like heating, then you‟re destitute. At least that‟s how I feel anyway,” declared Amelia, slightly uncertain as to whether she had overstepped the mark. She knew before the words came crashing out of that wet, red mouth of hers, she would only be hurting him with them, but she couldn‟t stand things the way they were any more. Why shouldn‟t she make certain he was aware, exactly with what she was having to cope, while he breezed around in his warm, snug office, with its covered radiators, double-glazing and multifacetted coffee machine. “Did you know…” Oh God help us. Here he comes with one of his stats again. She didn‟t think she could bear it. Forcing herself not to let her eyebrows zoom off over the top of her head in despair. Instead, Amelia looked at the sincerity in her husband‟s face, desperate to

appear interested. She allowed him to continue, offering him at least half a look of encouragement. “…the cost of oil has gone up so much, I am paying out over four hundred pounds a month at the moment? Two years ago that would have seen us through the whole of winter!” Dominic digested the words himself, as he shared them with his now sorry wife. His stomach turned over alarmingly, forcing him to suck in a sharp intake of breath. He drew back an arm from Amelia to hold himself in, feeling fit to burst, though not knowing from which end he was going to explode. “I‟m sorry, I think I might have eaten too much last night, my insides still haven‟t settled. Either that or I‟ve picked up some bug, or been poisoned.” Amelia gave her husband only a small inkling that she was concerned for his health. She knew him well enough by now, to know if she gave him one jot of sympathy, it would only serve to encourage him to milk it for all it was worth. There were two things she couldn‟t or wouldn‟t put up with, which were malingering and self-righteousness. At times, though thankfully not often, Dominic could be accused of being guilty of one or the other, rarely both. This was particularly so when he had her to steer him back in line and crack the whip. Amelia was industrious, a doer. Not always lustful for any responsibility of any great degree; she would nevertheless be the first to volunteer for pretty much anything and everything. At times this attitude had got her in to all kinds of trouble; tribal disputes in Africa, where she had been a charity worker, in her younger days, for example. Then there were those tense occasions of political unrest back home in London. Dominic had paid her bail, for reasons he pretended he liked to keep to himself.

Really, they had made up their minds about each other when Dominic started work at the brokers. They discovered both used the same sandwich shop in their lunch break, which they took religiously at the same time every working day. The exception was Fridays, when Amelia hooked up with a girlfriend; who every six weeks would also cut her hair at her nearby salon. Then the girls could be seen bent over cardboard, hexagonal boxes of sushi, their chopsticks clicking busily away at the end of the control panel of their polished fingernails. Maria wore orange, Amelia red. That was the first trademark Dominic had noticed about Amelia. Unlike her friend, whose frizzy hair matched her fingers‟ ends, Amelia was a person who didn‟t want to stand out from the crowd. Here was a woman content with her lot. She felt no desire to individualise her image. However, when it came to politics Amelia was as socialist as they came. What was more she was borderline feminist, though she hadn‟t quite succeeded in putting Dominic off the scent. Sensing something more beneath her calm exterior, he dug in, proving himself right with every day with her as it passed. He was no fool and if he didn‟t hook her, someone less understanding of how to handle this volatile cocktail, would wind up having all the stuffing taken out of him. Mercifully for Dominic, Mrs Bailey, as she became, was in agreement. She accepted his proposal, disguised as a single serving of her favourite ice cream; the ring cunningly taped to the plastic spatula for a spoon. Though, of course she complained constantly and ever after that his thoughtlessness might have made her choke, before they had the chance to make their final vows. Dominic could still recall himself staring at the speckles of vanilla pod in her ice cream; just visible in a tiny gap in the strands of Amelia‟s black hair. He noted how it always looked so clean, even in the smut of the city. Her face too, which the

shoulder length strands appeared to hold, stroking her jaw-line as she walked. Her hair was straight so that when she moved it over the top of her head, through her long fine fingers, it slid down like a waterfall at night, until it met up again with her face. There was no need for such pruning, as far as Dominic was concerned, she was perfect as she was. Being the man he was, therefore, he came to the conclusion it was all a show for him. She was his peacock, if ever there was a role reversal. So he played hard-toget and that did it, that was the ultimate attraction for her. The rest was history. As she second-glanced her husband from their bed, slightly concerned that for once he might actually be ill, Dominic noticed that habit of hair flicking Amelia had. Studying the velvet lines of her hair tumbling down again, he managed a smile. She pleased him, but for now he had more pressing matters to attend to, which forced him to make a charge for the bathroom.

Chapter 3

The Half- Day or The Hidden Agenda

On his return, face buried in a comfortingly soft hand-towel, warmed by the radiator beneath where it had hung, Dominic was utterly drenched in his own self-pity. Typically, it was Mrs Bailey who was there to rescue him from thoughts of hypochondria. “Feel better now?” she quizzed him; the emphasis in her tone, as subtle as the rancid stench of his breath under her nostrils. He thought to reply in the negative, just to goad her, thinking better of it. Merely exacerbating the inability to conjure the strength to get ready and off for work, would ultimately only serve to have him placed in the doghouse again. “Oh, don‟t forget you‟ve taken the morning off to go to that job interview!” She came good in the end then. He had forgotten. This was all the more reason to get his act together. “Shit! What time is it?” This question in itself was asked as naturally and possibly as often as Dominic‟s other favourite regarding the weather; especially as the weekend and sports fixtures approached. And yet it would not ordinarily have made the slightest difference in his day-to-day life with Amelia. Today though, at that moment, it had the knock-on effect to jog his memory of the events of the night before.

At first Dominic was on the brink of pronouncing, as explosively as he dared, how it would be entirely irresponsible for him, not to report what they had both seen from their bedroom window. Then an idea made him stop in his tracks, even subconsciously forcing the towel into his half-open mouth to muffle any syllable which could give him and his intentions away. “Never mind, no time to waste, you‟re right as ever Milly, you gorgeous creature. Come here you.” And with that he planned to tackle Amelia to the floor, along with the bed sheets as a decoy to what he really had in mind. “Yuck! Please Dom go and brush your teeth. That‟s not nice, not nice at all.” Thwarted, again. The next Dominic heard from his dear wife‟s adorable lips was a farewell from the doorway in the hall below him. That was his cue. Grabbing the phone book he raced through its index, as if it were a slalom; dismissed irrelevancies with a slight of hand, pausing a while at others which seemed to have potential, before hovering then halting at what he was after. “Right, now then what am I going to say, the truth. Honesty is the best policy. Whoever said that, no doubt had little to fear of any consequence. Yes, hello, last night I saw… No, hello I‟m calling to report a sighting of a UFO. Oh, I don‟t know.” Hardly even thinking, he had tapped in the numbers from off the printed yellow text, when all at once there was another voice coming from the other end of the line. It patched him through dutifully. “Good morning. Ministry of Defence, how can I be of service?” “Oh hello, good morning… ” Dominic faltered, wanting to be taken seriously for once in his life.

This mattered; as far as he was concerned, making contact with the MOD was entirely justified, given the circumstances. He didn‟t intend to be recognised, rewarded even, as some local hero. But he knew what he saw and something had to be done about it. He collected himself and his thoughts, clearing his throat a touch, as the bile reared up to wish him well in his quest. “Good morning, how may I help sir?” came the now, rather impatient sounding person on the other end. “Well, I‟m sorry to bother you, but I did try to speak with someone at our local police station and they suggested I should contact you,” Dominic continued. “Right sir, carry on sir.” Already Dominic could detect disbelief and worse still humour. This was no laughing matter. For all this idiot knew he could be about to receive a report concerning itself with a national emergency. “Yes, I wanted to make a formal report, concerning a UFO.” The abbreviation lacked credibility and Dominic knew it. He felt as he spoke them he could see images of Scully and Mulder, emerging from behind a creepy setting in some film studio. He imagined the man from the MOD would be too. Slightly reluctantly now, the bite gone out of the dog, he finished his mission. “Last night, my wife and I saw some lights in the sky…” “When was it you say sir?” The interruption was welcomed. He believed he was being taken seriously now, at last; right, time for some accurate reporting, Dominic thought; his mind rapidly recollecting the figures in his head. He knew it; they would only be interested in the stats at this stage, so that their men in intelligence could work

out what kind and how much firing power the country‟s armed forces would need. “It was half past ten.” He hesitated at using the twenty-four hour clock. Then again, he could well be in the civil service or indeed the army himself, even thought about joining once or twice. “Half… past… ten, you say sir?” “That‟s correct. I know it was because, anyway, I wondered if you had any information as to whether there were any aircraft in the sky in our area last night, maybe carrying out some sort of military exercise. I don‟t know if or how much information you are permitted to share, probably none, no well anyway, I‟m positive we weren‟t looking at passenger planes, or light aircraft, they were much too close together for that.” Silence. Dominic wasn‟t sure if he had sent the man to sleep. “Hello?” he checked. “Yes sir, just looking for you now, sir.” The man was so polite and amenable with it. This was too easy. In spite of his modesty, Dominic began to imagine he would be down for a knighthood at this rate, a CBE for sure. “No, no operations last night sir.” Surely it wasn‟t possible their deep, terribly serious conversation was going to end at that. Didn‟t they require him to be interviewed, interrogated perhaps? He had been talking or at least hinting at the prospect to a threat to national safety, hadn‟t he? “So, do you think they might have been parachutists? My wife and I, I can‟t remember now, well we thought they, the lights that is, they might be parachutists, on exercise, you know. I counted thirty-six of them at least. There might have been more but we went to sleep.”

“You went to sleep did you say sir?” How condescending could the man be towards him? Dominic wondered. “And you say you saw some lights in the sky, correct?” “Correct.” “About thirty, Sir?” “Thirty-six, I‟m positive I saw thirty-six.” “And what did these lights look like to you sir?” As polite and official as he seemed to be trying to sound, Dominic was beginning to wish the man on the other end of the line would drop the phoney address to him after every sentence. “They were small, possibly square, red, orange perhaps, well perhaps more red than orange and all in a line, some in groups of three or more, some travelling alone. They were up quite high above the tree line and all going in the same direction. They didn‟t look as though they were moving particularly fast, just as if they were normal aircraft, except there were lots of them, all in a long line across the sky. It was quite scary as a matter of fact.” “Okay sir, well thank you for that. Have a good day.” Dominic recoiled at the untimely usage of an inappropriate phrase. He supposed they could be enemy forces closer to home after all. One thing was clear he had not been taken seriously. There was no doubt in his mind this officer had not even taken the trouble to write down one word of what he was trying to report to him. The imbecile, he thought. “Well, is that it? Don‟t you have any other questions for me? Don‟t you need to have me brought in for a proper interview?” As he said this, Dominic half-expected to see the blackened out windows of secret agent limos pulling up with a corny screech of brakes outside his home. “To be honest sir, we get all sorts of weird folk calling us with stories like this. If we made a report on all of them, nothing

would get done. Most people know to keep their imaginary ideas to themselves, or otherwise people start to think they‟re a bit strange. Now I‟m afraid I‟m very busy, so if you don‟t mind, goodbye.” The line went dead, with Dominic left staring at his hand held set as if it had spat in his ear.

Chapter 4

The Phone Call

He stood there for a while, it might have been longer, his mind racing over the conversation with the MOD, except that he was starting to realise something. He was torn between thoughts of approaching the local press and contemplating whether there was any truth in what he believed he had seen. Still doubting himself somewhat, eventually Dominic succumbed to his faith in what he was sure had materialised the previous night. The telephone directory was still within his grasp, as with the other hand he gripped hold of the push-button phone. There was a sweaty film breeding over his palm as he clutched it, causing him to have to squeeze it a little harder. He thumbed through the wafer thin pages, as though it were a pack of cards. Then suddenly, as like a hawk his flitting eyes spotted what it was he was after and swoop, his index finger blasted into the bold print. He punched in the numbers carefully, so as to be certain not to misdial. Once again, Dominic collected himself, preparing his speech, or announcement, or whatever it was the person on the other end would expect of him. It was then that it occurred to him what an utter fool he was being. What an idiot! Why on earth would he want to sell his story to some local rag-mag? And for what? For a thank you? Certainly they would be terribly interested. For sure they would take down most of what it was he apparently had to say then edit the whole impossible tale. It even came to him the possibility

they just might not publish his tale at all. Some other story might arise, perhaps just before they went to print, some story maybe more appealing to their usual readership. But this, his story, his news, this was nothing short of out of the ordinary. He was talking intergalactic warfare. Dominic had hyped himself up once again, hardly knowing what to do with himself. His finger hovered just over the last number he needed to dial on his phone. He held it there, consciously picking through the multitude of decisions he had to make, eventually coming to one conclusion. He would take things up a peg or two, make people take him more seriously. There was only one thing to do, if the government weren‟t going to pay him the attention he justly deserved, he would become the voice of the people. He knew his rights, Amelia had seen to that aspect of his life and she had got him what he wanted on several occasions, purely by being confident enough with the facts. Knowledge really was a powerful thing to behold. The national press it was then, but which one? He could make quite a lot of money if he sold his story to one of them. He had a fair idea the broadsheets probably wouldn‟t cough up nearly as much as tabloids like The Sun. Yet he could see the heading, or maybe even the headlines, an irritating play on words, nothing being taken seriously, especially not him. He was sure they would misspell his name, most likely get his age wrong too. In any case, why did they always seem to be interested in a person‟s age and why, why, why did people offer up such mindblowingly trivial information to them? Perhaps in particular cases, such as his, where there were certain to be some sceptics out there in light of the subject matter, was it possible readers would take him and his scary tale less earnestly if he was reported as being an octogenarian? He would probably be laughed at, ridiculed, humiliated in his village post office, his local, heaven

forbid. So if he wasn‟t too concerned about the risk to his reputation, if he cared more about being a good citizen and doing the decent thing, despite if finding things a bit tight at that point in his life, he would do it, he would contact one of the editors of the broadsheets. It occurred to Dominic at this juncture that there was usually a political bias with any of the papers as well as their subsequent editors and as a matter of fact, he honestly could not be sure which way they leaned and to what degree. He had grown up in a middle to right-wing household. Conservative with a small „c‟ that was his father‟s line. However, his mother, and to a greater extent, his brilliant, simply stunning wife, were both way over to the left, without a shadow of a doubt. Once he had even caught his mother watching some documentary on a Communist Regime. Another time, it was a film on Stalin. But they weren‟t agitators. Amelia could be forgiven for her adolescent pranks, her naivety. Her heart was always in the right place at least. Weren‟t some newspapers owned by others? Just like some companies came under the same ownership of utterly unconnected multi-conglomerates? So if he went ahead, blurted out every thought he knew to do with spacecraft, aliens, Armageddon and the like, then there was the risk his story could be shared with people he might otherwise have deemed undesirables, given the opportunity. Dominic began to feel he didn‟t have control of the situation. Still, without noticing too much, he had somehow managed to get hold of the number for one major newspaper, had dialled it and now had the softly spoken voice of a young woman offering to put him through to the assistant to the editor. He felt hurt, as though he wasn‟t as important as others; imagining a host of would-be reporters calling in their sorry tales

of disaster, misfortune, shame, humiliation and loss. He felt envious, jealous even. They had to take him at his word, why wouldn‟t they? No smoke without fire. Surely the editor must be reachable, probably outside having a cheeky smoke, mulling over deadlines, prioritising, fretting, hastily drawing in the fumes from his cigarette. Some office junior would be instructed to find and fetch him to the phone tout de suite. “Hello, I understand you have a story for me?” The line goes dead and for a second time only now it‟s the turn of Dominic to hit the receiver. He does so in a panic, with the heel of his other sticky hand muffling any sounds audible from himself, or indeed his surroundings. He imagined they would have had his call on some recording, the moment they got wind that they were on to something hot. There must be that sort of technology there. After all terrorists were usually in the habit of calling in codes to notify them of their intentions; which tended generally to be to maim, certainly to cause disruption and inconvenience. Was he guilty of causing a disruption, a disturbance? Could he be classed as an annoyance, or a nuisance? Was he committing a crime, merely by reporting what he knew? There were cases like his, national security versus freedom of speech; for the greater good. But wasn‟t that what all this was about? Why had he just put a stop to his call with the press then? Doubt, doubt and not because he wasn‟t sure he could convince a national newspaper editor of where he was coming from. He had plenty of experience talking men and women alike round to an idea, wining them over on a deal. It was that conversation he had not so long before with the pompous man from the ministry. All at once, it occurred to Dominic that he may well have believed him and seen to it that he took notes, a recording. The man was faking it; the voice, a machine, quite probably a prerecording, all a ruse to put him off the scent. He had seen this

sort of thing done before. Admittedly in a film, but the idea had been conjured up by someone all the same. Dominic started to go over the responses from the voice at the ministry. He questioned whether it was designed to sit well with most dialogue thrown at it. It was possible, he knew it. Then if the ministry believed him, that could only be because they had good cause to. Others might have come forward as witnesses, perhaps the night it actually happened, maybe as it was all happening. They must have known, must have seen it coming. They were prepared then, that was good, something at least. He pictured the various aides to the prime minister ushering then trying to persuade him and finally virtually forcing him down to the pre-built bunker beneath his residence, in a desperate effort to try to salvage something in a fragile scenario. The country would need some semblance of control to bring back order, a democracy? Or perhaps things had gone beyond that. He was too late. They had taken over the country and its useless government with it. In truth, if he allowed himself to visualise the dreadful truth of what must have begun on that night, his country was purely a stepping stone. When they were done with crushing that, they would simply move on to annihilate the world. That was it the real person at the MOD couldn‟t talk to him, because he was one of them.

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