Meanwhile, in Cardiff, a mere 26 miles away for a theoretical crow, the retreating Landrover made its way off one giant TV screen and onto another, as it left the field of view of the art gallery’s external security camera and was picked up, briefly, by a traffic camera. The Landrover disappeared from view completely: the coverage out in rural Wales was less than complete.
A withered hand reached forward, fighting the cocooning embrace of the large leather chair, and picked up a phone handset. An extended finger pressed a single button, and two floors below a phone rang. The duty supervisor picked up the receiver.
“Hello, sir, how may I help?” There was only one person who had this number.
“Are you tracking the car?” The quavery voice matched the liver-spotted and boney hand.
“We’re doing our best sir. There’s no visual at the moment, but Maddox planted a device, the signal is very weak though.” A bank of plasma TV screens filled an entire wall some 20 metres in length. Five people watched intently. Three were dealing with other matters, whilst the other two were flicking through various camera views trying to locate the Landrover. On a single screen a map showed a large-scale map of Brecon and environs. A red pin had been placed where Meredith’s spaceship had landed. A blue pin marked the art gallery. A dull ruby red dot pulsed faintly as it moved along the A40. The dot suddenly became a lot brighter.
“Ah, the signal seems to have improved. They’ve turned off the A40 and onto the A479 towards Talgarth.”
“They were heading North-West, ish, and are now heading in a more Northly direction.”
“Pah. You’ve lost them. That fool Maddox must have put the device somewhere it could be found. They’ve put it on another vehicle to try and fool us. Get a visual – NOW!” The phone slammed down as hard as an elderly hand could manage it.
As the supervisor pondered options, directing the two operators to find cameras on likely routes and wondering on the feasibility of getting a drone in the air, the old man returned to watching the art gallery. The muscle were starting to pull themselves together and were being shooed out by the tea lady, assisted by an expertly flicked tea-towel that was adding further insult, not to mention pin-point accuracy injury, to that already suffered. They shuffled outside quickly and discovered the damage to their car. They would not be going anywhere in a hurry. He watched as one pulled out a mobile phone and –
Ring ring! A phone on his desk chirped to life.
“Er…boss… bad news…we…er…lost the alien…”
“I can see that you idiot. Wait there for further orders.” Again, the phone was returned forcefully to its cradle.
A desk drawer was pulled open and a little glass bottle of tablets was brought out. There were only a few in the bottle, rattling madly as the palsied hand tried to tip one into the other hand. He would have to ask for some more, he reflected, and soon. He washed the tablet down with a glass of water and slumped back in the chair. Five minutes later, his eyes snapped open, and he sprang to his feet. He gazed at himself in a large mirror with a garish gilt rococo frame. The age had dropped away from him: he pulled out comb from his jacket pocket and placed a ruler straight parting into thick black hair which he swept back into place. The chocolate eyes were no longer rheumy, and anyone could see for themselves the hard glint that was a characteristic of one of the hardest gangsters in Wales.
“Jenkins!” There was no infirmity in the bellow that summoned Rhys Probert’s right-hand man.
Colwyn Jenkins was surprisingly average for someone who’s name was a byword for efficiency in the criminal community and was also known to be the only person that Probert would listen to straight away. Jenkins was average height (although an inch or two taller than Probert), had an average face with no distinguishing features to hang a description off, and had the kind of average build that comes from not going to the gym, but rarely giving into temptation either. He eased into the room, neither noisily nor oleaginously – just average.
“Yes, Mr Probert? You called?” There was no inflection to indicate irony, obsequiousness nor any other emotional response that might be expected from an assistant when peremptorily summoned.
“Get them to get the car ready, and get the Gardeners on the road too. We’re going to take charge of this ourselves.”
“Do you think that’s wise?”
“Yes, I bloomin’ well do! It’s been a thousand or more years, but they’ve finally sent someone to collect their lost belongings and we can’t let that happen. We’d lose all of this, for a start -” he gestured taking in the whole of the room and indicating somehow the whole of the elderly tower block that had been refurbished to modern standards. “It’s not what She wants either.”
“As you wish. We’ll need to be careful though. I’ve been interrogating the database on the basis of the information that we’ve managed to collect so far. The agent that has been dispatched is actually of another race entirely to the original owners. Shorter life span for a start so much more intent on the here and now. Also, the database suggests that the agent is likely to be…tricksy…It won’t want to force a confrontation but will try and do things…elliptically.”
“Whatever. Tell the Gardeners to take it alive if they can but not if its going to cause too much trouble. I don’t care what happens to the kids. I want to be on the road in 10 minutes.”
Probert opened another desk drawer and pulled out a small pistol which he placed in one pocket and a taser that went into another.
© David Jesson, 2019
During 2019, I’m going to be undertaking a writing experiment, as described here.
The shape of story was formed through a four-part prologue: the first part of the prologue is here, if you want to start right at the beginning. All through, I’m hoping that you’ll help me shape the story. Every month there is a poll on some feature or another.
I’ve been a bit pushed this month, so haven’t thought of what to poll on yet. Will update when I know! In the meantime, feel free to let me know if there is anything that you’d like me to expand on/any characters that you’d like to see more of. I’m not promising to incorporate anything but always good to hear where you think this is heading!
See you next month!