"To defeat authority, use authority's weapons. Do not deny
their fear, increase it...use it - it's there to be used."
--Peter Barnes, A Hand Witch of the Second Age
democracy n government by all the people, direct or
representative; State having this; form of society ignoring
hereditary class distinctions and tolerating minority views.
[French from Latin from Greek: demos, the people]
--Pocket Oxford English Dictionary, Seventh Edition
"Oh. My head. What the fu..." Wye opened his eyes, shut them
tightly against the glare.
Then his brain registered what he had just seen an instant
before. Carefully - slowly - he re-opened his eyes just a tiny
slit, then glanced around, slowly. After a while, the colours in
the room started to come together to form shapes.
Strange shapes. Wye wasn't sure where he was, but he was
absolutely certain he wasn't in his home. For one thing, his
bedroom didn't have quite so much gold in it. For another, the
room he'd been living in since the divorce was quite a bit
smaller than the room he now found himself in.
One of the shapes moved towards him. Wye closed his eyes again,
waited for his stomach to settle down a bit more, then re-opened
his eyes and looked into Graham's face.
Graham's voice was soft as he answered, "Yes, General?"
"So - it is you..."
"Where am I, Graham?" the General asked, rubbing his tired eyes.
"Downing Street, General."
"You're in Number Ten Downing Street, General."
"I think I must be going mad," Wye mentioned, as though talking
to himself, "I could have sworn he just said..."
"I did," Graham went on, patiently.
"Huh?" Bizarrely, the only thought which ran through the
General's mind was, "I'm not being much of a conversationalist
this morning, am I?"
Graham began to try to explain: "Last night, General..."
Wye interrupted. "Last night?" He thought for a moment, "Last
night...I went for a drink. With you?" Graham nodded. "We talked
then I went home." Graham nodded again. Wye paused before
completing the thought. "With you?" Graham shook his head, and
Wye breathed a sigh of relief.
Eventually, the General asked, "So: Where am I really?"
"I already told you, General."
"Number Ten Downing Street?"
"Would it be too much to ask what I'm doing here?"
"Well..." Graham started, slowly, "That's a little awkward to
"Try me," said Wye. He sat up, the strength returning to his
limbs and his head clearing even as he spoke. There are some
skills an old soldier never forgets.
"It would appear, General..."
"That, last night..."
"Get on with it, man!"
"Well, last night you pulled off a coup d'etat - took over the
Wye collapsed back onto the bed, amazed. After a short pause, he
heard his own incredulous voice ask, "No shit?"
"No...as you say...'shit,' General," Graham confirmed, the
expletive sounding somewhat odd coming from his classically-
Wye paused a little while longer, before levering himself up
onto an elbow to ask his next question: "Did it work?"
A wide grin spreading over his face, and thinking of Sam
Beckett, General Wye exclaimed, "Oh boy!" Then, spoiling the
effect slightly, he sank back onto his pillow, murmuring, "I
always wanted to say that," as he dropped back off to sleep.
"Graham. Graham!" General Wye had awoken with a start. He had
looked around him, and seen the room he was in. Gold braid and
red velvet dominated the decor. It hadn't been a dream, so he
wanted some answers.
Graham walked - no, he strolled - into the room, carrying a
silver tray, on which was a large English breakfast and a huge
mug of hot, black coffee which was spilling steam into the air in
huge plumes. "Graham. There you are at last." Graham placed the
tray onto a small table beside Wye, and motioned for the General
to sit up.
Once Wye had done that, Graham moved a portable table in front
of the General and moved the tray onto it. "I want some answers,"
began Wye, talking around a mouthful of crisp bacon, "And I want
"Certainly, General," he paused.
"Well?" growled Wye, as he lifted the mug to his lips.
"General - what are the questions?"
"Don't play smart with me, Graham. I want to know what's going
on here. You said I pulled off a coup d'etat last night?"
"Perfectly correct, General," Graham replied, smoothly, "At one
fifteen this morning, you arrived at Number Ten Downing Street
and were declared ruler of the United Kingdom."
"Okay. First question: How? I mean, I could barely walk last
"Hmmm...I see what you mean, sir. It's a little difficult to
"Well try, Godammit!"
"In actual fact, General, it would be more correct to say that
we pulled off a coup d'etat last night."
"We? You and I?"
"And one other, sir. Yes."
"A friend of mine. You see...perhaps I should introduce you?"
"Damn right you should." Wye had, by now, drained the mug and
eaten fully one third of the breakfast. "And get me another
coffee," he yelled at Graham's retreating back.
When Graham returned, he was carrying a mug of coffee. His
companion carried two cups of tea - each cup, in contrast to the
heavy mug which held Wye's coffee, made of delicate bone china.
Graham and his companion appeared to be total opposites,
physically. Where Graham was tall, with slightly-greying blonde
hair, his companion was short, and was dark both of hair and
complexion. Where her build was somewhat stocky, he was almost a
caricature of the word 'slender.'
In short: where Graham was a tall, thin, white man, his
companion was a short, plump, black woman. Their only points of
resemblance were in their ages - each appeared to be in their
mid-thirties - and their eyes, which held the same thoughtful -
in both senses of the word - look, though Graham's were blue
while his companion's were brown.
"This, General," said Graham, in introduction, "Is Deborah
"Charmed, I'm sure," said Wye, taking Ms Greene's hand. Then,
thoughtful, "Ms 'Greene'?"
"Yes, General," replied Ms Greene, "Graham is my husband. But
call me 'Deborah,' please." General Wye noticed that Deborah
Greene's accent bore the same cultured tones as her husband's,
and he wondered idly whether such accents were contagious.
"I've been looking forward to meeting you for quite some time."
Deborah went on, "Graham has told me an awful lot about you, of
course, and I had hoped that we would have a chance to meet
"Now, Deborah," interceded Graham, "You know that it was far too
dangerous for the three of us to meet before the coup."
"Which reminds me," said the General, "You were about to
"Ah. Yes...well," began Graham, "Perhaps Deborah would be better
equipped to handle the explanation?"
As he spoke, Graham nodded towards his wife, who nodded back in
agreement, before starting, "Many years ago, my husband and I had
each noticed that this country was moving rapidly downhill. We
decided that what was needed was a swift, sharp change of
direction, but we couldn't figure any way of implementing it.
"Then, about five years ago, Graham was moved into a new
department - working for the security services." Wye nodded,
although this information was new to him. "And shortly
afterwards, he met you."
"Me?" Wye exclaimed, "What was so special about me?"
"Not much, then," Deborah said, smiling, "But Graham could see,
even back then, that your views about the state of the country -
and the best way of turning it around - were so close to ours as
to be virtually identical. He could also see potential in you as
a leader - a quality which neither Graham nor I possess to any
"That," and here Deborah's voice lowered slightly, "Was when we
began to make our plans."
"For a coup d'etat?" Wye asked, astonished almost despite
"Yes, amongst other things. You see, we realised that simply
seizing power would not be nearly enough. We would also need to
hold onto power - in spite of the wishes of 'the people' - for
long enough to make the changes required."
"But how did you bring off a coup d'etat?"
"Quite easily, really," Graham interrupted, "All we needed to do
was place several atomic devices at strategic locations: The
Debating Chamber of the House of Commons, Buckingham Palace,
Chequers, several other Royal palaces, the headquarters of
political parties and the major trade unions and a couple of
"Where did you get so many nuclear weapons? I would have thought
that just one would be difficult enough to get hold of."
"Not really," Graham went on, "I'm working for the security
services now, you understand? If MI5 or MI6 requisitions an
atomic device, then there are not too many people with the power
to refuse them - the trick is to make sure that those particular
people don't even know about the requisition.
"As for positioning the bombs - that was the easiest thing of
all. Have you any idea how much traffic there is between the
places I mentioned? How many times the Leader of the Opposition
travels to Royal palaces or trade union headquarters? Did you
ever wonder why politicians suddenly started to have bodyguards
all around them? It's wonderful what a little carefully-planted
paranoia can do. All I needed to do was ensure that I was
assigned to field work as a bodyguard at the appropriate times.
"In any case, the bombs are set to explode in two hours from now
unless they receive a password sent by one of us three before
that time. Each password simply delays the explosion by twenty-
four hours. A second password is then needed to disarm the bombs,
and any attempt to tamper with the devices causes an automatic
"It sounds like you've thought of everything."
"I hope that we have. I have already communicated this
information to the Prime Minister, and demonstrated - by
exploding an atomic device which destroyed a small island - that
we can do what we say we can do."
"You destroyed an island?" Wye was shocked.
"Don't worry - no loss of life. The island was one of those that
the MOD infected with Anthrax in World War Two. If anything, our
bomb sterilised the place."
"Oh. Right - go on," Wye said, gesturing with his right hand.
"Thank you. As I was saying, the Prime Minister declared a
formal state of emergency at midnight last night, which was
followed at one fifteen AM by the imposition of martial law, with
General Absolaam Wye as supreme Commander in Chief of the armed
forces. That is, ruler of the United Kingdom."
His wife interrupted, talking to Wye, "The next thing to do is
for you to give your first televised speech to the British
public, which is scheduled for," Deborah looked at her watch,
"Three hours from now."
Wye was somewhat stunned by the revelations of the couple before
him, but could see no obvious holes in their plan. His only
remaining questions were directed at both of them.
"Firstly - now that we've gained power, can we keep it?"
"Almost certainly," said Deborah. At the same time, Graham
answered, "Yes," and the two of them looked at each other and
"Okay - we'll talk about that later. The other question is, what
do we do with this power now that we've got it?"
"Good question," said Deborah, "One strategy which springs to
mind is increasing the amount of scientific research done in the
UK." As she spoke, she saw a delighted gleam come into the
General's eyes. "For now, though, we'll leave you to get dressed,
"Call me 'Absolaam,'"
"Thank you. We'll leave you to get dressed, Absolaam, and to
prepare for your address to the nation."
"One more thing, you two," Wye said, as the couple started to
"Yes?" they replied, in unison.
"Have you considered the possibility of a violent revolution? Or
even an attempt at one?"
"Yes, we have," answered Graham, "In fact, Deborah has worked
out - based on information in my department's files, of course -
what we both think is a foolproof way of defusing any violence
before it starts."
"Good. It might be best if I know the details before the
broadcast, because I'd like to keep violence down to a minimum. I
don't want any loss of life, and the best way to sort this out
might be to defuse it straight away, as you say."
This time, Deborah replied, "Okay, Gener...Absolaam - I'll have
the plan with you within the hour." Deborah and Graham walked out
of the room, smiling. Behind them, they left a rather stunned
General Wye, sitting on his bed and thinking of the brave new
world to come.
coup d'etat sudden overthrowing of a government, esp. by force
--Pocket Oxford English Dictionary, Seventh Edition
In the event, Deborah did not provide details of her scheme to
suppress revolt in time for the General to make use of it in his
broadcast. In fact, by the time Wye sat in front of the
television cameras - which had been set up in Number Ten Downing
Street specifically for his broadcast - he had come to the
conclusion that she was deliberately withholding the information
until after the broadcast was over.
He had nothing concrete to go on - and he didn't like to ask
Deborah for details until her husband had had time to remove any
bugs from the Cabinet room, which Graham was to do during the
broadcast itself. Come to think of it, Graham's timing of this
task seemed almost deliberately geared to prevent Wye from asking
just those kinds of questions - though perhaps the General was
just being paranoid now. Perhaps.
In any case, Wye turned his mind to more mundane matters and
gave much thought to what he should wear for the first broadcast
- eventually deciding against using make-up, though he was
persuaded to wear his General's uniform. Complete with its dozens
The lights went up. Someone signalled from beside the director,
and a small red light on the camera came on. On The Air.
Wye glared into the camera, and began his prepared speech. "I am
General Absolaam Wye, leader of the United Kingdom during the
current period of martial law..."
Wye trailed off. He paused for a moment, then looked down at the
papers in front of him. In one smooth movement, he picked up the
papers and tore them in two, tossing the fragments over his right
shoulder. He turned back to the camera:
"Let's start again - with less of the bullshit this time." At
these words, the television producer looked astonished, and began
to make frantic cutting motions at the director - who, catching
Deborah's warning look, equally frantically ignored them and
motioned to the crew to carry on transmitting.
"My name," continued the General, "Is General Wye. At oh-one-
fifteen hours this morning, I became the new ruler of what is
laughingly called the 'United Kingdom,' and even more amusing
referred to as 'Great Britain.'"
Wye paused a moment, looking directly into the camera lens,
before going on, "Over the past century, these two names have
become more and more inappropriate, as this country has slipped
further and further downhill. I intend to change that downward
slide into an headlong rush uphill, but - like all uphill runs -
this will be difficult.
"In this endeavour, I demand the cooperation of every individual
in these islands. Oh, I don't expect you to cooperate - at first.
But...well, to steal a line from Casablanca: You will. Maybe not
today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon - and for the rest of your
Wye was grinning fiercely into the camera by this time, as he
said, "But first, allow me to give you a short history lesson.
"The single most powerful driving force of the twentieth century
has been science, and scientific research. Throughout the past
hundred years, those nations which have devoted most time, energy
and money to scientific research have - without exception -
become the most powerful nations on the planet. More importantly,
the inhabitants of those nations have become the most prosperous
and have enjoyed by far the best standard of living on the Earth.
"Take a look at the United States. For half a century, American
scientists were able to perform their research and apply it to
the world around them. And, as summer follows spring, individual
Americans became more comfortable as each new invention was
developed and utilised.
"Then came Autumn.
"As America became more prosperous, most of her people began to
realise that this new prosperity was simply not reaching them.
More than that - they became aware that they were even cut off
from the science that was enriching the other people.
"Power and prosperity, it has been said, comes only by force -
either force of an intellect, developed through education, or by
force of violence. Denied education, because of their powerless
status, they tried to seize that power by violence - both
physical and intellectual.
"Intellectual violence. They stopped the research, and the
scientists went away. And then the money started to run out, and
the country began to decay. America declined. And will, I am
sure, soon fall."
Wye paused to take a breath, before: "I will not allow that to
happen in the UK. This country has, until now, had a tradition of
supporting the fine arts, to the exclusion of the sciences. That
stops right here.
"As of this moment, the arts will receive no further government
subsidy. All government money not needed for the direct
protection of the people of this country will instead be spent on
scientific research and education of you - the people - in both
science and philosophy.
"Within three months, evening classes will be available to all
adults, and both science and philosophy will be taught in all
state schools, without exception.
Almost as an afterthought, Wye added: "There will be no further
general elections held in this country for at least twenty years.
Democracy, as you have come to know it, is dead."
Wye nodded to the director, indicating that he was finished, and
the cameras were turned off.
Turning now to Graham and Deborah, the General motioned to them
to follow him to a more private area, where they could talk
freely. Graham paused only to have a quick word with the
television producer before following Deborah and Wye into what
had been the cabinet room.
Once Graham had joined them, and secured the door behind him,
Wye checked with Graham that the room had been thoroughly swept
for bugs before asking, "Okay, which one of you two is the
"What makes you think that either of us is a psychologist,
Absolaam?" asked Deborah.
"Right - so it's you," Wye grinned at Deborah's easy smile of
agreement, "I thought it might be. What happens now?"
"That depends on what you think would be best, General," began
Graham, before he was cut off by Wye's shaking head, "But,
General, this show is entirely yours to ru..."
Wye angrily stood up, and crossed to the room's large, bomb-
proof window. He waited until he had calmed down a little, then
turned to both Graham and Deborah to say, "Stop talking as though
I'm in charge here, Graham. Look, I know that we need a single
'head honcho' out there," he gestured vaguely in the direction of
the TV studio, "But when it's just the three of us then that's
just what we are: The three of us. Fuck, if anybody's in charge
here then it's Deborah. After all this was mainly her idea,
Graham nodded, slowly, before Deborah could say anything. Wye
went on, "So, no fucking power games in here, okay?" He paused
until he received their assenting nods before saying, "Okay."
Deborah looked the General full in the face for a long moment
before breathing in deeply, and starting, "Alright, General. No
power games," She turned briefly towards her husband and said, "I
told you there'd be no need for anything like that, Graham." He
"Absolaam, your speech was very good. Just the right mix of fire
and tear-it-down-and-build-it-up rhetoric to shock people out of
their complacency," she paused, thoughtfully.
"Yes, Deborah? Did I say something I shouldn't have?"
"Well, I think you laid out the problem very clearly. Perhaps a
little too clearly, as it might have been better to blame the
politicians for everything, rather than blaming everybody - that
would have really got the people on your side."
"You might not believe this, but I thought about doing just
that. I decided not to, because that kind of support could be a
problem later on. After all, things are probably going to get a
lot worse before they improve, and the British are too used to
television. You know: every problem is solved quickly, usually
within a half hour. If they're blaming anybody except for
themselves then pretty soon they'll start blaming me for their
new problems, and won't even try to solve them."
Mrs Greene looked startled for a moment before agreeing, "You're
probably right. I must confess, I hadn't considered that
aspect...hmmm...If you don't mind my asking: Where did a soldier
pick up that kind of thinking?"
It was Wye's turn to grin again, "I think like that because I am
a soldier. In basic training, the big deal is to make the new
recruits stop blaming their drill sergeant for their own
shortcomings, and start working to solve them themselves," he
looked annoyed for an instant, "That's been getting tougher and
tougher in recent years - and my feeling is that television is
one of the main reasons behind it," Grinning again, the General
added, "I call it the half-hour syndrome."
All three smiled for a moment before, as if at a pre-arranged
signal, three frowns clouded three expressions. They had each
realised how much more difficult Wye's half-hour syndrome
hypothesis, if true, could make their task.
Deborah continued, "Alright. I think the appeal to patriotism
was a good idea. For a moment, I half-expected you to use the old
line about 'A patriot must always be ready to defend his country
against its government.'"
"That's good. I like that, Deborah - but I've never heard it
before. Where's it from?"
"I must confess, I'm not sure. I've heard it quoted a few times,
but I never got round to looking up the source...In any case, the
question we have to answer now is: What do we do next?"
"I think," the General said to both of them, "That it's time you
two told me about that method of quashing a rebellion before it
starts. You said that it was a non-violent method, yes?"
"Perfectly true, General," answered Graham, "In fact, I've
already done the ground work and I've given two video-tapes and
strict instructions to the television producer out there," he
pointed, with his thumb, at the door to the cabinet room, "One is
being broadcast now, and the other will run when you make your
second broadcast in...when do you think would be best, dear?" he
asked his wife.
"About two hours after the end of Absolaam's first announcement,
I think. Enough time for people to absorb the broadcast, see it
repeated and call in anybody who didn't see it - but not enough
time for a real rebellion to get started anywhere - the tape
running at the moment will help us with that. I hope." Deborah
laughed, a high sound, oddly out of place in this room, "This
time, I think we can make the half-hour syndrome work for us,
rather than against us."
"I hope so, my love," went on Graham, "So - we have about an
hour and a half to run you through the tape, General, before
you'll need to provide a commentary on it for your next
Graham went to the door into the cabinet office, opened it and
glanced outside to catch the attention of one of the technicians.
"Bring a television monitor and a VCR in here," he called.
Once the equipment was delivered and set up, Graham ushered the
technicians out again, closed the door, covered the windows and
seated Wye where he could see the monitor without straining.
As Graham pushed the 'play' button, Deborah began, "The opening
shot, as you can see, is..."
"The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it."
"...you see the telly before? I couldn't believe it, Molly.
What? I'm talking about that high-and-mighty General, not that.
It was obvious that Mick wasn't going to be convicted, not of
shoplifting. I can't wait until tomorrow's episode, though -
whose hand do you think it was that covered 'Chelle's mouth just
before the credits?..."
"...I don't believe it. They cancelled my favourite game show
just so some stuffed shirt can make some stupid announcement.
What was it he said again, love?..."
"Gerald. Gerald! Fetch the children in. Yes: now! And get Mrs
Wainthrop from upstairs as well. You'll never guess what's
Gerald - hugely overweight, and chugging a can of Fosters -
stumbled into the room, followed by two hyperactive three year-
olds, identical twins who were busy playing cops-and-robbers and
shooting each other with toy pistols.
"All right, all right. What's the rush, woman? Don't you know I
just got in from work?"
"Not yet - just go up and help Mrs Wainthrop down the stairs.
You know she can't manage them on her own, poor dear."
Gerald belched, the children giggled, then he left to go
upstairs, grumbling away about 'fucking women's lib.' Behind him,
a chorus of "fuck in lemon soup" came from the twins before their
mother quieted them down. After a couple of minutes, he returned
with a small, elderly woman who was using a walking stick to help
her negotiate the carpet.
"Now, quieten down, all of you," said Gerald's wife, Dot, "and
listen to what's happening on BBC-2."
"Dot, do you mean to tell me that I've gone through all this
just to watch the fucking news?" Gerald demanded.
While trying to stop the happy chorus of "Fucking news" and
"Fucky, fuck, fucking, fuck" coming from the two little boys, Dot
answered him, "This is important, dear - and will you please try
not to swear in front of the children?"
Gerald, sulkily: "Oh, alright. Let's get on with it, then."
Dot turned the sound up on their thirty-inch television set -
Japanese, of course - then settled down on their sofa beside her
The screen was showing the young king, William the fifth.
Strictly speaking, of course, he was only king in name and his
uncle, Prince Andrew, served as his regent until he reached his
majority. Since the office of the monarch was merely a symbolic
one, however, William himself was able to carry out almost all of
those few duties which were required of the king.
As Dot and Gerald watched, the monarch was coming to the end of
his speech in support of General Wye's new government. He sounded
absolutely sincere - there was no sign on his face or in his
voice of the threats which Graham had made to him earlier that
day in order to obtain this taped speech - though, when his
announcement was completed, he did breath a visible sigh of
relief that it was over with.
The King's speech finished, the picture now being shown on Dot
and Gerald's television was of an ordnance survey map.
Neither Dot nor Gerald could read a map, but their landlady, old
Mrs Wainthrop, mumbled something about "the Lake District" and,
when asked why she'd said it, just pointed at the screen and
replied, "There's Lake Windermere, right there," and went quiet
Dot shushed the family as the General's voice started talking:
"Two hours ago, I informed you that I had assumed leadership of
this country." ("What's this about?" asked Gerald, "Who the
hell's that?". Dot told him to be quiet and listen) "At that
time, I said that I did not expect active cooperation straight
away, but that I did expect it soon - and would receive it.
"Five minutes ago, two different towns - one in the North of
England, the other in the Midlands - attempted to revolt against
my rule. The situation in the first town now looks like this..."
The picture changed abruptly to show a mob of rioters, fighting
in the early evening light. The mob looked angry, and were
jeering at the police who, with riot gear, were attempting,
unsuccessfully, to hold them back.
People started throwing bricks and petrol bombs at the police,
any sounds of impact obscured by shouted jeers at the police -
who in their turn were beating rioters indiscriminately with
The camera panned across to follow one policeman, hit with a
molotov cocktail, who was blindly running, burning and screaming,
forward into the mob. The crowd parted around him, shocked
expressions on some faces - devilish glee, animated by the
dancing flames, horrifically visible on most faces as the crowd's
jeering and howling became a loud roar.
The picture changed again, to show the second town. The
situation was similar, but there it was already dark - the sun
just setting, to spread a glow over the horizon. The glow of the
sun, however, was easily dwarved by the light from rows of
burning shops and houses behind the rioting mob.
Loud gunshots from beyond the field of vision could barely be
heard above the frenzied ululation of the tumult, adding to the
confusion on the screen.
"Jesus H. Christ," murmured Gerald, softly. Even Dot, for once
forgetting herself in front of the children, exclaimed, "Holy
fuck." The children were rowdy at first, but started crying when
they saw the flaming police officer running and screaming.
Gerald saw several people racing into the field of view, each
carrying what looked like television sets and video recorders.
Then, once more, the picture on the television changed, this time
to show General Wye - sitting behind a desk and looking steadily,
straight into the camera.
Wye spoke, "I'm sure you will agree that this kind of violence
simply cannot be tolerated." ("Too fucking right it can't," said
Gerald, to no protests from his wife) "And so the army was
immediately dispatched to both scenes, where they have surrounded
the two towns and are, even now, starting to move in."
The picture flicked back to show the first town again -
definitely darker now, as the sun had almost set completely. As
the family watched on their televisions, lines of soldiers
approached to within one hundred yards of the yelling mob.
Screams of glee and fury turned to howls of pain and fear as the
army opened fire.
The soldiers's bullets tore into people who, caught in the
crossfire, seemed to be dancing like MTV zombies. Some of the
rioters tried to get away, but they too were cut down in the
thick rain of bullets. Even when some of the soldiers themselves
were hit, and went down, the shooting did not stop.
On the voiceover, General Wye's voice could be heard describing
how every person - man, woman and child - in each town was to be
executed, as an example to the whole country. He warned them that
any future attempts at rebellion would be met with just as
rapidly, and just as ruthlessly.
Gerald turned to his wife and sons, weeping openly. None of them
heard Wye's voice, or saw the scenes of the carnage in the second
town, until his final words, which told that the two towns would
be razed to the ground, their inhabitants interred in a mass
grave on the spot, and that - finally - the entire area would be
buried and replanted to leave no trace of those two ill-fated
"Not even a marker will remain," promised Wye. And as he said
this, he picked up two Ordnance Survey maps and deliberately tore
out the spots where the two towns had been.
Wye's final words, bringing the second broadcast to a close,
were heard clearly and distinctly throughout the country: "The
simple lesson to learn from this is: Don't fuck with me if you
want to go on living."
Gerald, Dot, Mrs Wainthrop, and even the twins, were terrified.
Not only by the ruthless way that people had been killed, but -
even more - by the way their very towns were to be erased, even
from the map.
"Phew," Wye breathed a sigh of relief as, for the second time
that evening, the cameras came to a halt and transmission
stopped. The technicians around him looked terrified. In fact,
there were only three people in that room who did not look
terrified: the General and Graham and Deborah Greene.
Graham walked over to the producer and talked with him for a
moment. Wye noticed that Graham pointed towards the cabinet room,
and so he was not surprised to find that Deborah was ushering him
in that very direction. Nor was he surprised to find that,
moments after he and Deborah entered the room, they were joined
by both Graham and the TV producer.
"Where did the pictures just broadcast come from?" Graham asked
David Jubal, the producer.
"You...you know wh-where they came from," stammered Jubal. He,
too, had watched the broadcast images, and was obviously
horrified by what he had just seen - and apparently scared that
he would be dealt with in the same way.
"Yes," Graham went on - still calmly, "But we want to hear you
"Th-they came from the tape you gave me before the b-broadcast."
"No they didn't," replied Graham, calmly, "Tell me - where does
your technical crew think the images came from? Where does your
director think they came from?"
"I sent the images to them through a satellite feed, just like
you told m-me to. They think that footage came from a live
"Now, tell me again. And think about your answer this time.
Where did those images come from?" There was a definite edge to
Graham's voice this time - the first time General Wye had heard
him sound other than perfectly calm.
The producer stood a moment, then...you could almost see a
lightbulb flashing over his head as he got the idea, "The images
came from a live outside broadcast - a government unit. I don't
know exactly where they were."
"Very good," said Graham, "Now, go and rejoin your crew then
pack up and leave." The producer, relief etched on his face,
turned to go, but Graham tapped him on the shoulder. David Jubal
jumped, more shocked and scared than he had ever been in his
life. A large, dark patch spread over the front of his light blue
trousers. A damp patch.
"Just one more thing," Graham added.
"If there is any suggestion - even a vague rumour - that those
images were not received live from an outside unit...well, you
know what will happen, don't you?"
"Good," Graham produced a small, brown envelope from his inside
pocket and handed it to the producer. "Here is a small dossier on
the two towns which you have just seen destroyed. It includes
such details as their names, locations, population, and so on.
You might find it useful to do a live report from where they used
to be. Next week, perhaps?"
"Certainly. May I go now, sir?" Jubal was close to begging by
"Of course. By the way, also in that package are the telephone
numbers of one or two of the soldiers who participated in the
actions tonight. They would, I am sure, be happy to give you
Jubal left, clutching the package to his chest. Within ten
minutes, the entire television crew had departed.
"You can be a real son of a bitch when you want to, Graham,"
"Somebody had to be, my dear. We're playing a very dangerous
game, after all. Any suggestion - the slightest hint - that what
was broadcast on the news was anything other than entirely
accurate, and we'd have to choose between giving up now or really
killing fifty thousand people."
"Yes, I know," his wife replied, "Except that it would have to
be more like one hundred and fifty thousand if it were to be done
for real - and I for one would rather give up now."
"Hello?" Wye's voice rang out.
"Would somebody care to explain things to me, please?"
"Oh. Yes, of course, Absolaam," Deborah began, "Where to begin?
You know, of course, that the video tape just shown was a fake -
a staged incident?"
"Yes, I know that. Supposedly, a secret service exercise
training agent provocateurs for assignments in hostile countries.
Staged using only unmarried or widowed top-clearance agents, all
of whom are childless and each of whom was well-paid for their
silence. So we can rely on the secret holding from that end for
quite a while. What's your worst-case projection, by the way?"
Graham answered this question: "Two years before the first
rumours start spreading. I'd say about five years before the
story is publicly exposed as a hoax."
"Thank you," went on Deborah, "For a hoax of this magnitude to
be credibly sustained in a bureaucratic society such as this one,
it would have to withstand the close scrutiny of independent
researchers - from journalists to the merely curious.
"We would require mountains of paperwork. To take two simple
examples: Ordnance survey maps would need to be doctored, and the
fictitious members of the populations of the two dummy towns
would require birth certificates, marriage licences, death
certificates, and other kinds of documentation, going back for
"And remember that, between the two of them, our dummy towns
were supposed to hold fifty thousand people."
"So how was it done? Did you really manage to fake that much
paperwork? Or are we just hoping that nobody checks?" asked the
General, becoming more and more perplexed by the moment.
Deborah looked smug for a moment before replying, "The paperwork
had already been faked, Absolaam." Wye's face collapsed in
"It's absolutely true, General," Graham broke in, "Both MI5 and
MI6 have maintained three fictitious towns each ever since World
"It started, I suppose, when some extra towns and superfluous
roads were added to road maps - and, later, carried across onto
Ordnance Survey maps - as a way of confusing potential German
spies in the UK."
"Doesn't sound terribly confusing to me," added Deborah, "But
you have to remember that some pretty odd things were done for
that reason - such as taking down street signs..."
"Thank you, dear. Anyway - after the war, the security services
decided to keep up these towns, on paper at least. A full
citizenry was developed, and recorded in the paperwork. Each
citizen even had a full life of their own. All on paper, of
course, updated by the high-level brass at first, then by
computer later on."
"Why?" repeated Wye.
"For their identities, Absolaam," Deborah answered, "Just for
their identities. Imagine having six towns, average population of
twenty thousand people, with ages ranging from new born through
to centenarians. All nonexistent except on paper. If you need a
passport for an agent, a new identity for somebody in danger,
fake identification for an illegal purchase, what better way to
do it than to use a citizen of one of the dummy towns?
"Their existences are cast-iron, rock-solid. On paper. So -
tonight, we faked the destruction of two of the towns, and any
number of journalists checking the paperwork will confirm simply
that two towns used to be there, but aren't there any more."
"Incredible," said the General.
"No," smiled Deborah, "Just bureaucracy."
"We do have one more task to perform before we can be certain
that our position is secure," Graham said, after a little while.
At Wye's questioning look, he walked over to the intercom and
summoned in their next visitor.
When their guest arrived, he looked scared - it was apparent
that he, too, had watched the General's second broadcast. Though
initially surprised at seeing this individual, Wye immediately
recovered his composure and walked quickly across the room to
shake the young man's hand. "Good evening, Your Majesty," he
said, though his voice and his smile contained more than a trace
"Good evening," said King William the fifth. Though he was still
nervous, the boy king quickly found himself slipping easily into
the role of gracious royal visitor as he weakly shook General
Wye's hand, then took Graham and Deborah's hands in turn and
accepted Graham's stiff, formal bow and a hint of a curtsy from
his wife. Wye pointedly did not bow.
"I trust that you found my broadcasts, and your own, both
interesting and informative?" inquired the General, his faint
smile still visible.
For several moments, there was no sound from anybody in the
room. Then, William composed his features into a neutral
expression and replied, "Most informative, General. Most
informative indeed. We shall, of course, depart these shores as
soon as we receive your leave to do so."
"Come, come, William," said Graham, causing the king to break
off the contest of stares he was engaged in with Wye, "I had
hoped that you would remain in the country. Your subjects need
you," he added.
"There is no need for subterfuge, Mr Greene," the king
responded, with an angry glare, "If you intend to imprison us in
our own country then kindly do us the courtesy of being honest
about your intentions."
"Not at all, William," Wye said, "If you wish to leave, you are
free to do so. It is our hope, however," he continued, gesturing
to encompass the Greenes in order to make it plain that he was
not using the royal 'we,' "That you should prefer to remain."
"And why would I wish to do so - I would certainly not abuse my
position by acting as a propagandist for those who are murdering
my subjects, if that is your hope," the young king said,
belligerently. Wye was particularly intrigued to notice that
William dropped the royal 'we' when he was angry.
"Ah," said Graham, "Is that the problem?"
"Of course," William replied, haughtily.
"Then allow me to put your mind at ease on that matter," said
Graham, "Though you understand that anything I show you now is
not to be discussed outside this room?" The king nodded,
graciously, so Graham strode over to the VCR and started showing
the tape it contained.
A little under an hour later, the boy king had been persuaded of
the truth concerning the fake massacre - and further persuaded
that remaining in the country and retaining his title, in order
to use its authority to legitimise the new government, would be
the best way for him to ensure that there would continue to be no
Deborah could see very early on that the young man had made his
decision - but it still took a great deal of further arguing,
back and forth, before he would admit his decision out loud.
Even then, Deborah could not be certain whether William's
decision was motivated more by a desire to ensure that the safety
of his realm, or by Wye's avowed intention to destroy the
Northern Irish terrorist groups.
Shortly after Queen Elizabeth the second abdicated in his
favour, William's father had been killed - in an IRA bombing
attack during his coronation in 1997. Ever since, William had
held a deep hatred of such terrorists. Not only for the murder of
his father, but also for forcing the maximum security which had
surrounded him during his own premature coronation - isolating
him from his (presumably adoring) subjects.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.