Tweet of the Day: Writing Excuses 9.6: The Experience of Time
Chequers Court, Buckighamshire, England, Union of British States, 29 August, 08:56 hrs, GMT +1
John Knyvett satin what had once been his favorite chair when he was Prime Minister. He liked the room. It was quite, had enough light to read by and not overburdened with decorations that reminded him of his country’s past glories. A stately room perfect for a man to read the morning paper or simply collect his thoughts.Today he watched a news report on his tablet.
The correspondent from ITV shouted into his microphone. Behind him a M60 tank burned furiously, smoke from its rear compartment obscured the street behind it in billowing white clouds of thick smoke,”Fighting continues into the fourth day here on Cartagena. The Spanish Army and Marines contained the enemy attack and are now securing the city proper. The government has not released any casualty figures but,” the image changed to show a make shift refugee camp outside the city, “the numbers of the internally displaced exceed ten thousand. The enemy is entrenched in the city. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense described the current situation as, ‘a mop up operation,’ which according to the ministry, should end some time tomorrow. For ITV News this is George Saavedras.”
Joseph Martel, known as France’s fireman, tasked with the herculean task of keeping aid to France flowing and coordinating a response to the invasion, nursed his second glass of wine of the morning. Narrow dark eyes looked up when the Prime Minister entered the room.
“Joseph, John, I’m so sorry for keeping you waiting. I was on conference call with the Spanish government and the Foreign Office,” said the Prime Minister. He went to the bar, served himself a glass of brandy, no ice, and sat down. His stretched the long spindly legs that had earned him the nickname Longshanks in public school. “They are running scared and I, for once, don’t blame them.”
“Losses?” asked Joseph.
“Three ships, a frigate, a patrol boat and a submarine plus over five hundred casualties so far. They also extended their deep condolences to the French people for a French missile boat. According to them it took out four enemy ships before it went down…with all hands,”the Prime Minister shook his head, “I am so sorry.”
“We have all suffered loses,” said Joseph.
“How is the situation in your neck of the woods, Joseph,” asked John.
“I will not lie. It is bad and growing worse by the moment. Enemy artillery fire has demolished Paris’s southern suburbs. Our forces are stretched thin. If we don’t find a way to turn the situation around, well….”, Joseph drained his glass.
“We are gathering allied forces as fast as we can, but they key remains Sicily. We have the ships but not the man power, at least not yet. We asked the Americans for support and while they are willing to sell us weapons they are too busy with the situation in Mexico to help,” said the Prime Minister.
“It all boils down to time. Time to get forces ready and in place, time to coordinate a counterattack. Time I’m afraid we don’t have,” said Joseph.
“What about the magical community, John?” asked the Prime Minister.
“They are working on the problem, but again, they need more time,” said John.
“I for one I’m tired of hearing that. More time to train, equip, stockpile, more and more time and meanwhile we stand by and watch the world burn,” said the Prime Minister.
“Prime Minister, my country and I are grateful for everything the Union has done for us. You have taken in our refugees, helped trained our volunteers and sent men to fight along side ours, just like you did in nineteen-fourteen and nineteen-forty. This is indeed a dark hour for us but we have weathered worse.”
The French had indeed weathered worse, from viking raids to the one hundred years war. They survived tyrants, bloody revolutions, invasions and counter-invasions. Once Britain and France had been the bitterest of enemies, now their survival depended on holding on, perhaps a few months or weeks. Every day the front held it staved off defeat and that, John thought, was a victory unto itself.
“At least the Scots are sending two brigades to reinforce the front,” said John.
The Prime Minister nodded.
An aide came into the room, “Prime Minister.”
“Duty calls,” said the Prime Minister. He left the room with his aide.
Joseph pocket buzzed. He answered his mobile. John caught a few words of Joseph’s rapid fire Parisian French, but the tone was ominous.
The Prime Minister came back, “RAF Fylingdales detected several ballistic missile tracks. They are en route to Dover.”
“Prime Minister, my government informs me that several missiles hit the capital. No WMD, just high explosive warheads. I…have to go back to our embassy and consult with my government a response. If you will excuse me,” said Joseph.
“Of course,” said the Prime Minister.
Joseph left. A few minutes later the aide came back, “Sir, Patriot missile battery intercepted two of the missiles, a third crashed into the harbor but the remaining warheads hit the town. No news on casualties yet.”
“Conventional warheads?” asked Prime Minister.
“Yes sir,” said the aide.
“Thank you,” said the Prime Minister. He sat down again, “And now…now we wait.”