South – The Airbase 

I have the intension to add maybe another chapter, or two, to this short story . . .

They were now holed up in an office building with windows overlooking the apron of this vast military airstrip.  Not getting out of a crouched position he could survey the latest stop on their ‘adventure’.  Large Internal windows overlooked a cavernous but now unlit hanger.

Just as total darkness enshrouded the contents he could make out rows and rows of plastic sheeting covering lots of something the smell was fetid.  He looked away.  It was not good to dwell long,  anywhere.  It was a mundane office,  chairs,  files,  a calendar and a few curled postcards of far off holidays.  Picking up a postcard he ran his finger over the thick layer of desert dust, Spain, sent by an airman stationed at a nuclear airbase no doubt.

Contemplating this journey,  Blighty,  Cyprus where he met her, the Bulgarian.  Then it got very random and increasingly,  from Gibraltar,  frightening.  The Canary Islands,  Cape Verde and now Acension. Locations were, increasingly, surreal,  brutal and desolate. The heat was crippling and lord knows how they even managed to get the basics, like water,  but they had.  Perhaps in these times it was better to be heading in the opposite direction to what what was,  apparently,  left of humanity, in the north?

There was a gathering crowd of refugees although that word didn’t​ really cover it anymore,  because it would assume there is a refuge, to seek. Anyway,  they were pressing the couple of transporter planes;  or at least they would, if these were not ringed by armed Reserve.  

The usual form in this situation went like this;  some calm whilst people bribed,  bartered or just plain sold themselves, to get airlifted​. Then the inevitable shoving,  shooting and terrorised dispersal.  Besides, most of the time you didn’t know really where you might be headed, it could be ‘ Costa del Labour  Camp’, for all you knew!

Eyes wandering, he caught sight of a broken display case, nothing of value in there, a few yellowing photos.  The largest showed, he guessed, a relaxed crowd including families – viewing a transporter, at a aero display.  But this aircraft must be a hundred and twenty five years old at least.  

His gaze rested on a view of her that, how should he put this, comforted.  She surveyed the airfield with binoculars, oblivious to him or at least, that is what she would let on. It was bloody curious what passed for a family’  group these days;  three or four men, and maybe two young women. Very infrequently you saw children below ten.  Life was horrific enough surely without giving birth to infants Did we deserve to survive?

His thoughts were disturbed by the increasing commotion outside.  She turned to him, “Let’s get the hell out of here,  deeper into the airbase and see if I can’t find something I can fly,  or at least work on.”  They might not be able to put up a full on fight.; they did not have, or want to sell, what others did;  but they had the map and message from Gough.

“Sylv,  you read my thoughts,  good call”  he nodded, but it instantly struck him as patronising. After all this horror,  she was the best thing; smart,  young and beneath the grime,  very beautiful.  She lowered the Zeiss,  stashed them in rucksack,  whispered “Now,  go!”  the hint of an encouraging smile was evident, on those Slavic features.  

They exited the office, none saw them from the vicious, screaming crowd.  Using pipelines as cover, they headed for a larger group of hangers about, given the heat haze, he reckoned, half a mile distant.  He glanced at his compass needle hovering on ‘S’,  that was good they were at least heading for Gough Island, In a roundabout fashion!

“Move your arses,  mister!”  she cajoled.  He flashed a toothy grin and trotted along beside her,  glad, as it was possible to be,  in the circumstances.

© Jonathan O’Farrell 2014

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