This is the last installment in a story that I’ve been writing over the course of the year. There is a prologue which was used to shape the story, which starts here, but which you can easily miss out. The story proper starts here.
Esther and Owain crouched low behind some rocks that were the least worst option that they’d found for cover. Owain tried to watch the lake where Meredith had disappeared and the path up which a group of people were coming. Hard to tell from this distance, but the words ‘thug’ and ‘disgruntled’ sprang to mind. Esther was similarly trying to split her attention, but she was watching vicariously through the HUD’s relayed imagery from the drones.
Whilst the thugs looked dangerously muscled, Owain and Esther were surprised at how out-of-breath they looked when they finally reached the edge of the lake. Esther zoomed in and was amazed at the details she could see, down to beads of sweat forming on foreheads and dribbling down the side of red faces. Zooming back out she watched as their leader directed them to fan out.
Nothing much happened for several minutes. The muscle visibly relaxed as they got their breath back, but with each passing second the head honcho became more worried, more irritated, more tense.
The geyser of water took everyone by surprised, and completely soaked the men standing at the edge of the lake. The plume of water topped out at some 150 m. Esther was fascinated to see the exact height marked in the HUD. She wasn’t quite sure what she did, but an icon next to the information blinked, opened into a box and informed her that this was taller than the eruptions of the Steamboat Geyser of Yellowstone, currently the tallest known geyser in the world, but not enough to displace the world record of 490 m held by Waimangu in New Zealand. She blinked and the box disappeared. The distraction gone, she realised that Meredith was at the top of the column of water – and coming back to earth fast.
Or rather, coming back to water. Meredith hit the lake at a speed 50 metres per second, bounced, and then sank back below the water. Esther and Owain looked at each other, and then back at the milling people at the lake edge. There was a lot of shouting and gesticulating, but it was difficult to work out what was going on. They deduced that people were being ordered into the water by the fact that heavy-duty jackets were reluctantly being shrugged off, and boot-laces were being untied. You could tell that their hearts weren’t really in it though, until the point that the leader pulled out a pistol, then they started moving a bit faster.
It was at this point that a second geyser erupted. This was not quite as impressive as the first, but worth watching all the same for at the centre there was some kind of wrestling match occurring. Meredith seemed to be grappling with something: an indeterminate number of tractomorphic arms were attempting to get the upperhand. Esther, with the benefit of the HUD, realised that not all the arms were Meredith’s.
“Oh – just call me Esther.”
“I couldn’t possibly do that, miss. Is everything well, miss?”
“Hard to say. There’s some kind of wrestling match going on and there’s a load of gangsters getting ready, but I don’t know what for.”
“Are you another alien, Bunter?”
“That doesn’t really matter right now. At the moment I’m at the heart of the operations of Rhys Probert’s operations. My orders are to shut them down at the appropriate psychological moment. Would you say that’s now?”
“Errm…I really don’t know. What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to going to sequester his computer system and call the police in.”
“That sounds like it might take a while.”
“It’ll certainly take a while for the police to sift through everything, but I can send Probert a message to tell him what’s going on.”
“Alright…Do it. Send the message when I say.”
“Very good, miss.”
The geyser of water subsided again and the combatants sank below the water. A moment later something appeared to rise above the surface. Was it an arm? What was it holding? The men on the shore were looking at it intently, one or two pointing, and the man with the pistol started gesticulating furiously again. He seemed to reach fever pitch when the arm or whatever it was got dragged back down much more quickly than it had risen.
“Ok – now!”
It was not the man with the pistol that reacted, but one that Esther had not noticed so far, one that appeared to be unaffected by the dramas unfolding out on the lake and on the shore. He pulled out a mobile phone from the pocket of his suit, and glanced at the screen. Hard to tell from this distance, but his body language suggested an increasing interest in the phone and increasing tension. Bad news, clearly. He called to the man with the pistol, and when that gained no response, he bravely grabbed at the man’s arm and shoved the phone into his face.
Rhys Probert was not a happy man. The entity in the lake was under some form of attack, and it wasn’t really clear from what. His family had called it ‘The Lady’ since time out of mind, and several legends had grown up. It wasn’t really a blood ancestor, but it’s help had shaped his family’s fortunes for generations. His whole operation depended on the tech that it had provided, and his continued existence relied on the the medicines that it gave him.
And now the Gardeners had some fit of the collywobbles and didn’t want to get involved, and Jenkins was pushing a phone at him saying there was a problem.
Probert was about 30 seconds away from shooting someone.
“It’s not working, bach, he’s just getting more angry – he looks fit to burst!”
“Not to worry, miss, I have an idea. Can you give me control of one of the drones, please?”
“I could if I knew how to!”
“Nothing simpler, miss” Bunter was relishing the role. He talked her through it and took control.
The drone flew closer and lower.
“Rhys Probert!” A strong Cardiff accent boomed out of a speaker on the drone. “Rhys Probert! Attention. This is Superintendent Brydon. Put your weapon down, return to your car and await the arrival of officers who will be with you momentarily.”
This was too much for most of the group who broke and scattered. Probert was practically frothing at the mouth now, and he shot at the drone, emptying the entire clip in an attempt to bring it down.
Jenkins, unflappable as ever, waited until the shooting stopped then grabbed Probert’s arm and dragged him away.
Peace returned to Llyn-y-fan Fach. So much peace, in fact, that Esther began to worry.
“What’ll we do, Owain? How are we going to get Meredith out?”
“Look, bet!” Owain said, pointing. Meredith was oozing out of the lake, pulling something behind them.
Owain and Esther broke cover and ran to their fallen friend. What on earth would they be able to do? How did you do first aid on an alien? How could you tell what was wrong? How could you tell if they were still alive?
“Bunter! What do we do?”
Owain and Esther watched from a safe distance as the spaceship took off. Meredith was barely conscious, but Bunter had managed things admirably, and had ensured that Owain and Esther had been suitably reassured. They had gently transferred the limp form back to the Landrover, attached the medi-pack under Bunter’s direction and secured all the equipment. While they were getting sorted, Bunter had sent one of the drones off. It came back just as they were getting ready to leave with a vial of something that Bunter directed that they pour into the lake. The thing that Meredith had recovered turned out to be remarkably disappointing, but apparently this was just a control-nexus or something, and there was a lot more at the bottom of the lake that should be left just lying around. The vial contained a programmable liquid robot that would dismantle the operations that ‘the Lady’ had built up over the time spent on Earth.
Bunter directed them to place the used equipment into the bay on the side of the craft. Meredith had just about managed to get themself into the cockpit, with a little help.
“I guess we’d better go and get Nerys then,” Owain had said.
“Hopefully she hasn’t rung Ma and Da” Esther giggled.
A few days later, Owain and Esther began to wonder if they’d dreamed it all. That was, until a letter arrived for their parents. Apparently Bunter and Partners, representing a distant relative needed to arrange for a legacy to be paid to them.
© David Jesson, 2019
Ok – a slight fib. This was the last installment of the story proper, but there will be an epilogue, of sorts to round things out. This will be posted on the 31st December and will close my writing experiment that I’ve been running this year.