Thrice and Once
The year is 2010. As the sun rises into the mass of deep grey cloud overhead, a new day begins on the Channel Island of Alderney. A light rain begins to fall, pattering on the roof of the corner shop between New Town Road and the Route de Braye, in the capital of St Anne's. The bell chimes as a customer enters and shakes the extra water from her umbrella, leaning it against the front window.
The owner, Pierre, greets Cindy, and the two begin to talk. Nothing much of interest – the weather, Wendy’s new lover, Pierre’s boyfriend’s new job, the war, business... Cindy soon purchases a pint of semi-skimmed milk and leaves with a second bell chime.
Alone once more, Pierre walks over to the CD player and turns the volume up, dancing around as he mops the floor, singing loudly and knocking tins from shelves. He laughs at his clumsiness, before he sets the tins back in place and spins around in a spray of water, foxtrotting off to mop another part of the shop.
The rain continues to patter on the rooftops, and the Year 6 schoolchildren of St. Anne’s School stare at the wall upon which is projected a political map of Europe. They are bored stiff, and the teacher knows this, but the government decides on curriculum. Today they would study geography, and not anything more interesting, no matter her wishes.
“So,” she begins in an attempt to galvanise interest and interaction. “Who can name the countries on this map?”
A girl named Élodie raises her hand. Élodie is one of the few pupils who pay any attention to the lesson. The teacher ignores her for a moment, hoping that someone else would answer for a change, then sighs as she motions for the girl to speak.
“The green islands to the north-west are of Prydain, originally the country of Wales, which allied with Caledonia a long time ago and invaded their neighbours. The blue country is Frogvania. The reddish-brown one-”
“Thanks, miss. The maroon one is Iberia, then the red one is Vatican, the orange one is North Germania, the purple one is South Germania, the pink on-” Élodie’s speech had sped up until she ran out of air, and takes a breath to continue, before the teacher stops her.
“Good, Élodie. Now tell me where we are.”
“Alderney is the top one of the little spots on the map, just north of continental Frogvania.”
The Year 5 pupils are currently learning about history, and the beginning of the Cold War and standoff between the ancient nations of Sovieta and America. They know it all already, but once again, the government’s decision on official curriculum cannot be swayed. The raindrops are fewer now, and slowly the sky clears up, revealing a backdrop of deep turquoise, three military helicopters overhead. The Alderney Air Force is on constant patrol, and there are permanently five squads in the air at any given time. Some Vaques – as are named the inhabitants of Alderney – had decried this as paranoia in the past. However, since Guernsey, Jersey and the rest of the Channel Isles were destroyed by stray missiles from both the United Republics of Eurasia and the Western Union, the AAF has been on high alert. Their base at Fort Albert is possibly the best equipped military base of the island.
“Reached Waypoint Charlie, awaiting instructions, over.”
“Confirmed. Continue to Waypoint Delta, over.”
The Alderney Naval Force is just as busy, although where the AAF and the Alderney Ground Forces are both numbered in the hundreds, the navy is composed of a mere fifty or so troops. They are based both in Braye Harbour and at Fort Houmet Herbè, to guarantee two points of defence of the island. They have ten small, yet well-equipped, ships capable of patrolling round the island in an hour at top speed.
The AGF is based in Fort Tourgis on the north side of the island, though they have a presence at Fort Albert, Fort Raz and Fort Cashlier. They are entrusted with the policing of the country, as well as its defence. At their disposal they have a few standard all-terrain cars, a pair of armoured vehicles, and one single German tank which remains from the Second World War – with a few improvements over time, naturally.
However, to the west side of the island, over a thin bridge, can be found Fort Clonque. Within that fortress can be found the secret services of the Alderney military. So secret that the organisation’s very name is unknown to the general public. Their existence, however, is public knowledge. You can’t hide something that big.
The government of Alderney meets in a tall building in the centre of the town of St Anne. A council of five members which was once elected, but since the Cold War began and Alderney took its independence from what was once the United Kingdom, the council has been composed of the top members of society: three members are delegated by the three military branches, and two are designated by their predecessor. They decide everything, from the day-to-day life of Alderney to the details of war and strategy.
Marcel Brown, a shoemaker in St Anne, runs towards his shop, narrowly avoiding crashing into an old woman from down the road. He has seen something he should not have seen – which would be commonplace, save that Marcel has not touched a spliff in well over a month. He wants to put it down to hallucinations, but he is sure he saw what he saw, and he is worried about what people will think of him. He rushes through the door, which he had forgotten to lock from the night before, and runs straight to the phone, calling anyone and everyone he trusts truly, as fast as he can, starting with the first name in his phonebook.
“Michael, you need to come to my place, tonight at six... Yes, I do know that you’re busy... Please come, I need to tell you something. Bring Cindy if you see her... I’ll tell you when you get here. It’s important.”
Posted on 2012-09-29 at 10:48:10.
Edited on 2012-09-29 at 11:18:13 by Darren