A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture
By Tony Carden
Episode Twenty Three
In a galaxy all too near…
It is a period of civil war.
Brexiters, striking from a hidden base,
have won their first victory against the evil EU.
During the referendum, Brexiter spies managed
to steal the not-so-secret plans to the EU’s ultimate
weapon, PROJECT FEAR, a media-savvy campaign
with enough power to destroy an entire MP’s career.
Pursued by the EU’s sinister agents, Britannia races
home in her Aston Martin, custodian of the stolen plans
that can save the people and restore the Land of Hope and Glory
…that is the planet Zog
With a squeal, the Aston Martin cornered. There was an acrid smell of burnt rubber. The road snaked ahead. Between swinging the wheel this way and that, Britannia glanced in the rearview mirror. The EU’s loons were still on her tail. Their black X5s formed a line behind her. She would not be able to shake off so many. She had to do something dramatic to stop them regaining control of PROJECT FEAR.
Then she had an idea. But before she could do it, one of the first SUV’s occupants leaned out and fired a tirade of false news in her direction. Britannia jerked the wheel. The articles missed and splattered against a cutting. The rock boiled, giving off a nasty green vapour.
But Britannia had no time to stop and watch. The second X5 had overtaken the first one and was closing fast. She had to do something. She swerved from side to side, blocking her pursuers. The X5 rammed her car in the rear. Britannia nearly lost control. Her sportscar skidded across the road smashing into a barrier. Below her, as the car spun onto two wheels and nearly toppled over, she could see the bottom of the valley. It was a long way down.
The car righted itself. Now back in control, Britannia spun the wheel and now faced her pursuers. Without regard to her own safety—getting the plans to the rebel base was all that countered—she put her foot to the floor and accelerated. The first X5 swerved and hit the roadside barrier before bumping into the air and down into the chasm.
The impact of a barrage of Directives caused her car to shudder. In the midst of the tearing sound, she heard a tire burst. The Aston Martin swerved out of control and crashed into the embankment before turning over. Britannia struggled to get herself free of the wreckage. With her pursuers momentarily distracted, she threw her mobile phone over the edge.
Dirt flew as the remaining X5s pulled up beside the wreck. Several men in black emerged and surrounded Britannia as she wriggled out of the driver’s window. She looked up. ‘Oh, hello there. Come to help a damsel in distress?’
One of the EU’s goons reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his aquis communautaire and slapped her with it.
Much later Britannia came to her senses. She still hurt from the blow she had received. She tried to move but found she was strapped into a conference chair. She glanced around. Two concierge, easily recognisable by their uniform with the ring of stars on it, stood by the door. Britannia turned her head to look out the window. The sky was grey. In the distance she thought she recognised parts of Brussels. She knew where she was. The Charlemagne HRE. She was in deep trouble. No one had escaped from the EU’s clutches once they had been taken into their headquarters.
A man and a woman entered and came over to look down at her. They were dressed alike in white shirts, tie and black trousers. The man smiled. ‘You are awake, Britannia. Good.’
‘I wish I wasn’t, Bernard.’ Her head hurt looking up at them and the interrogation proper had scarcely begun.
‘Where have you hidden the plans for PROJECT FEAR?’ Bernard did not seem in a good mood.
Britannia gazed around the room and noticed the long table for meetings and the cabinet in one corner. ‘Why here, of course.’
‘Don’t play games with me, Britannia. You know you’ll tell us in the end. Make it easy on yourself.’
‘They are in a safe place.’
The woman produced her mobile and thrust it in front of her face. ‘Like here.’
‘That’s pretty safe you know. No one’s cracked AES.’ The woman, a face full of malice, let her arm drop, then slapped her hard across the face with the mobile.
Britannia’s face hurt like hell. ‘I won’t tell you a thing.’
‘After we finish with you, you’ll sing like a canary.’ The woman slammed the phone down on the table. ‘I’ve a meeting with Junket to report on this,’ she gave Britannia a pitiful look, ‘affair. Come Bernard, we’ll leave Britannia here to stew while she thinks about it.’
After they had gone, Britannia tried to break free from her bonds. But forty years of binding regulations were just too much. The two concierges seemed indifferent to her efforts and talked together. She ceased her struggles and sat looking alternatively at her phone—so close, but so out of reach—and the cityscape beyond the window. Time passed. It rained. Some drops splattered the glass.
There was a noise outside. One of the concierges opened the door. He flew back and hit the ground, skidding along the polished floor until he came up against Britannia’s chair. Out cold. The other one lurched at the unseen attacker only to suffer the same fate.
Britannia looked on as a dark shade, then a second one entered. The first removed her hood. “Quinn! You came for me.” Then Adrian pulled back his cowl and came over.
“We’ll have you out in no time.” He pulled out an Act of Parliament and with one slash cut through the swathe of regulations. Britannia stood up, rubbing her wrists to restore the circulation. She picked up her phone.
There was a commotion outside. Adrian rushed over to the door and looked out. An explosion of papers in front of him caused him to slam the door and bolt it.
‘Can’t get out that way.’
‘Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route.’
Quinn gestured at the chair. ‘Maybe you’d like to be still tied up?’
‘Is there another way?’
Adrian went over to a door near the window and pulled it open. It contained a small kitchen. ‘No.’
There was an ominous sound on the other side of the main door.
‘Well, this is a pretty rescue you’re pulling off. Didn’t you have a plan for getting me out?’ Both Quinn and Adrian shook their heads in unison.
‘Stop playing marionettes. Here, give me that Repatriation of Powers you’ve got on your belt.’ Adrian handed it over. Taking it, Britannia pointed it at the window.
‘What the hell are you doing? We haven’t many of those.’
In response, Britannia fired the ROP and the window disintegrated into a million shards of glass. Britannia dusted a few off her sleeve. ‘Right, jump!’
But Britannia had leapt out of the window. She hadn’t gone far as an invisible force seemed to hold her up. She slowly disappeared as she sunk gently down.
Quinn cautiously peered out to see Britannia now two floors down and continuing her descent. She momentarily stepped back before hurtling after her.
Left behind, Adrian examined the door, which was now glowing red, before leaping into the void. He drifted down. He glanced below to see that Britannia had reached the ground and was looking up at them, waving them on. Quinn had nearly made it too.
There was an explosion in the conference room above him. Adrian turned his head upwards. Several faces appeared above him. He pulled out and aimed his Free Trade Agreement at them and let rip. There was the satisfying sound of manufactures hitting the sill.
‘Come on, no time for that.’ He was down, and Britannia was grabbing him.
They rushed into the underground car park. Under its harsh artificial light, Britannia inspected several official cars. Then she pulled open the door of a top-of-the-class Merc. ‘Get in.’
Quinn plonked herself beside Britannia in the front seat. Adrian piled into the back seat. The car took off with an undignified jerk. As he untangled himself and scrambled to put on his safety belt, Adrian noted a small drinks cabinet in front of him on which a post-it had been stuck. He pulled off the note. It was to Junket, top dog at the EC.
‘This is Junket’s personal Merc.’
Britannia laughed. ‘Call it poetic justice.’
With tires squealing like Greeks on a bailout plan, Britannia accelerated up the exit ramp. The barrier was down but that did not stop her. She smashed the car right through it. At the top, she turned to join the Brussels traffic.
‘Where are we going?’
Britannia adjusted the rearview mirror on the windscreen and rearranged her hair. ‘The Netherlands. There are pockets of resistance there. They will hide us.’
But escape wasn’t going to be so simple. Black X5s appeared in front of them. ‘Look out!’
Britannia swerved into the oncoming lane. Cars parted like the Red Sea. She swerved back onto the right side. ‘What are they doing?’
‘They’re after us.’ The X5s had turned and were now chasing them.
They sped through the traffic, ignoring the lights. To left and right cars crashed into each other. Britannia jerked the wheel as they accelerated around a dustbin cart. They entered a tunnel and wove between the cars. Britannia braked hard as they nearly rear-ended an estate ahead. She honked furiously. The driver gestured rudely at her. Britannia sideswiped the car before accelerating past. The man blared his horn angrily.
‘Where are they?’
‘They’re falling behind but are still on our tail.’
‘OK, hang on chaps.’
She aimed for a side tunnel. Braked furiously. Swerved. Drove through, scraping the side of the Merc on an emergency fire hydrant. They bounced out onto the other tunnel. Its horn blaring loudly, a car swerved wildly and narrowly missed them.
The engine screaming, Britannia accelerated and took off back the way they’d just come. She slowed when she was at the same speed as the other cars.
Several hours later, the sun was going down when they entered Amsterdam. Britannia seemed to know where she was going and led them into a residential district not too far from the centre. She halted the now very battered Merc in a blue zone parking place and got out. Quinn and Adrian did likewise.
‘There’s a safe house not far from here.’
Britannia pointed at a side road and led them through the cobbled streets and along a canal. Ahead of them rising above the houses was a huge windmill. Britannia made for it.
Using a complicated rhythm, she knocked on the door. It swung open. It was all darkness within. She went in. Quinn and Adrian followed.
Britannia led them through some thick blackout curtains into a control room. Screens flickered as information and video streamed across them. A portly man in a red jacket eyed Quinn and Adrian before giving Britannia a friendly kiss on the cheek.
‘You made it.’
‘Yes, John.’ She turned to Quinn and Adrian. ‘May I introduce you to John Bull.’ The two of them shook hands with John.
Quinn caught Britannia’s attention. ‘Where are we?’
‘A secret resistance base deep inside EU territory. We use it to monitor developments in Euroland.’
‘Your escape has caused quite a stir. Come and see.’ John led them over to a large flat screen. He took a remote and pointed it towards the picture. It vanished to be replaced by some grainy CCTV images that showed their escape. ‘Some driving there, Britannia.’
‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
John and Britannia then went off into a corner to download the secret PROJECT FEAR plans.
Left to himself, Adrian wandered around inspecting the set up and checking on the screens. He did not recognise most of what they showed but one seemed to picture the area outside. It caught his attention. People caught on camera were gesturing at something in the sky. He reached down to a joystick on the console and used it to rotate the CCTV camera towards where they were pointing.
He now saw what the people were gesticulating about. Above the rooftops a huge sphere that filled the sky was slowly approaching the camera.
‘Um, guys. You might want to see this.’
Everyone crowded around the screen.
‘My God!’ Britannia clasped John’s arm.
Quinn tapped the screen. ‘What is it?’
‘The Single Market.’ Britannia took control of the joystick and used it to zoom in. Now the terrible tariff barriers, regulatory requirements and the doomsday CAP were clearly visible. Weapons that would easily obliterate them.
John put a hand on Britannia’s shoulder as he peered at the approaching menace. ‘It’s heading our way.’
Quinn pointed. ‘They know where we are.’
Britannia pounded her fist on the console in frustration. ‘The car must have had a tracker hidden in it.’
‘It’s too late for that now. We must act fast. That thing’s about to destroy us.’
Adrian pulled out his Act of Parliament. ‘We’ll fight back.’
John restrained Adrian’s hand. ‘Our usual weapons are useless against that thing.’ John tapped on the keyboard in front of him. The death sphere vanished to be replaced by a schematic of PROJECT FEAR. ‘We need to find its weak spot.’
Britannia pointed at a small place deep inside the sphere. ‘Article 50 – if we can only trigger that, the whole thing will explode.’
‘But how do we get in there?’
‘There’s only one way. We need a referendum.’
To be continued…
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.