The Blue Light: Part Twenty-Two

This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 765 words.

Roger Calthorpe was really beginning to tire of looking at the back of the driver’s head. It had been a long drive from London, and various traffic problems had almost doubled the expected travelling time. Ministry drivers were not expected to make conversation, so any talking in the car had been limited to why it was taking so long to get to their destination.

He held the briefcase on his lap, almost afraid to let go of it. There were too many stories of top secret papers being lost, and he wasn’t about to let himself become the next newspaper headline. When the whole project had been cancelled abruptly, six weeks earlier, he was given time to prepare his full report. But the sudden summons to see the director had still made him nervous. His whole company was at stake, along with his own future.

As the car slowed and the driver indicated to turn right, Roger was a little surprised. They were turning into a service road on the edge of a run-down industrial estate just outside the town of Walsall, part of the West Midlands conurbation that seemed to be endless. Driving around the back of what appeared to be a closed-down factory, they entered a narrow service road leading to a nondescript building in the distance. The car slowed at a security barrier, and the driver showed his identitiy card to a guard who peered into the back and gave him a cursory look.

When they drove under the open barrier, Roger noticed the guard was wearing something similar to a police uniform and was also armed, as he could see a holster with a pistol visible inside it. He should have known of course, Ministry of Defence Police were protecting the facility.

When the car stopped, the driver opened the back door for him, and pointed to the centre of the building where he could see a shabby-looking sign that said ‘Reception’. “In there, sir. Someone is waiting for you”. A smartly dressed but sour-faced young woman was waiting for him. “Follow me please”. As he walked behind her, listening to the sound of her short-heeled shoes on the concrete floor, he looked around to see a completely empty industrial area that might once have housed lots of machinery used for some sort of manufacturing or distribution. At the end of the room was a long corridor, and a large metal door at the end of that guarded by another MOD policeman. He nodded at the woman and opened it before they got there.

The door closed with a loud clang behind them, and he found himself in a very different place. Hundreds of screens and computer terminals shone inside a vast room that had no other lighting and no windows. Perhaps twenty or more operatives were sat in front of curved desks, all wearing headsets and typing on keyboards. At the end of the room, twelve huge screens showed random scenes. From what appeared to be a very untidy kitchen in a house, to a lecture hall at a university full of attentive students. The woman was getting ahead of him, so he quickened his pace to keep up.

They went up a flight of stairs at the end of the room, and the woman knocked on a wooden door at the top of them. She didn’t wait after the knock, opening the door immediately, and indicating that he should go in. Roger walked into a well-appointed office that was larger than he had expected it to be. Sitting behind a desk at the end was William Furlong, also known as Director of Projects. Roger had met him before, in London. He looked up at them. “Thank you, Isla. Could you organise some tea please? And sandwiches for mister Calthorpe. He has had a long journey. Please sit down, Roger”.

There was no handshake.

Furlong went back to what he had been doing, ignoring Roger for quite some time. Long enough for the tea and sandwiches to arrive, brought in on a wheeled trolley by Isla. Then he looked up, closed a document folder, and smiled at the woman as she left the room. “Help yourself please Roger, I have already had my lunch”. Feeling self-conscious, and the briefcase still on his lap, Roger poured himself a cup of tea, which was welcome after the long drive. But he had no appetite for the sandwiches. When he saw that nothing was going to be eaten, Furlong sat back in his leather chair, and folded his arms.

“Well then. Shall we start?”

31 thoughts on “The Blue Light: Part Twenty-Two

  1. (1) Bad citation: “There were too many stories of top secret papers being lost, a few of which had recently been discovered on the garage floor behind someone’s green Corvette.”
    (2) I had to look up conurbation. One of the examples was Delhi. As a Nevada cowboy, I should have known it had something to do with the Indians.
    (3) The lady who showed Roger Calthorpe to William Furlong’s office was humming one of Madonna’s songs, “La Isla Bonita.”
    (4) 3) Overheard:
    Roger: “What have you been drinking?”
    Isla: “Whiskey sour.”
    (5) I don’t know if Edward Furling is related to William Furlong. All I know is that Edward once identified as John Connor, and that he was found chatting with a cyborg in a closed metal factory in an unidentified conurbation. #JohnConnorBation
    (6) Isla called William Furlong on the radio.
    Isla: “I have a gentleman here to see you. Over.”
    Furlong: “Roger. Send him in.”
    (7) Overheard:
    William: “Well then. Shall we start?”
    Roger: “Not until tomorrow. We have to give Pete some time to write.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great suspense here bridging the previous episodes to a reveal, I imagine, of the source. Thanks for the word “conurbation.” I am always excited to learn a new word. It happens rarely now. (I am a real vocabulary nerd!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is often used here. We have lots of ‘urban conurbations’ in England. The West Midlands one is huge, and something of a blot on the landscape.
      (Luckily, there are none where I live now.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It is currently a disaster for the country, sad to report. Mainly because the exit agreement was very badly worked out by the right-wing party still in power, which caused a bureaucratic backlash by the EU countries that has affected trade.
          I voted for it in the referendum, but my reasons were personal, and about globalism and out of control euro-capitalism. Regrettably, our politicians just saw it as a way to steal lots of money, and shower profits on their rich friends too.
          At the moment, Britain is considered to be ‘less developed’ than Russia. Nobody saw that coming, I’m sure.

          Liked by 1 person

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