‘I think it began with a ‘B’……………yes………definitely a ‘B’ ‘
Laura had been at Luke’s Grandmothers for over an hour.
‘Can you think a little bit harder. Luke must have left contact details
with you……an email address, something?’
‘All that computery stuff is over my head dear. I was brought up in a world
of horses, farmyard animals and handwritten perfumed love letters sent by
Royal Mail. All this Bookfacer and Twittwoo stuff is gobbledegook’
‘But he MUST have told you where he was going. What if something’s happened
to him. Aren’t you worried??’
‘Now, there’s no need to shout dear. It’s sad that you and Luke fell out.
I’m sure he’s fine and he’ll return soon.
‘I’ve even tried emailing his Mum in Australia but she’s not replied. So, you
say it started with a ‘B’.
‘I’m getting a bit tired dear……my memory isn’t as great as it used to
be……..hmmmmm……it could have been Banff’
‘BANFF!!! Do you think that’s it!’
‘…………..or Bournemouth………..or was it Brisbane………oh dear……..it definitely
began with a ‘B’ ‘
‘Oh for goodness sake! ‘
‘Look my dear, maybe it would be better if you left. If I remember, or Luke contacts me, I’ll get in touch. How’s that’
As if to cement that statement, the cuckoo clock doors opened and a rather pallid cuckoo, for the four millionth time, rallied itself togethe for another loud ‘CUCKOO CUCKOO’.
Now, beginning to slip into psycho LoLo mode she snapped out ‘‘Here’s my number if Luke contacts you!’
With frustration increasing by the second, full blown Lolo grabbed her bag, and, in anger, opened the pantry door to leave the kitchen, instead of the real kitchen door, which stood a mere 3 yards away, empty and alone.
‘There’s no need for that dear……… I’ll see you out’
Once she’d escorted Lolo off the premises, Luke’s Grandmother snubbed the door, shut the livingroom curtains, opened the computer cabinet doors, powered up her 27” iMac and opened up her email. As Instructed by Luke,she’d told his ex nothing, but thought it best to warn him she was on his case…………
Unbeknown to his Gran, Luke was now ensconced in the isolation Ward of his local hospital. Despite showing no symptoms of the severe itching and skin colour change to bright pink whatsoever, he found himself entombed in an air tight balloon with two of his bright pink itchy patients. A nurse, well he assumed it was a nurse, as she had the full Ebola kit on, asked him to stretch his arm out to enable a blood sample to be taken.
‘Look, I feel fine. I’m sure whatever those chaps have got, it’s not contagious. Can I see the consultant?’
‘Phmmmpph mwoom off ooh can’
Speaking in an Ebola suit wasn’t really suitable for decent conversation. Luke nodded unknowingly. The nurse left with his batch of T cells and haemoglobin and was replaced by two more nurses.
‘can either of you help me get out of this place…….no?’
Two rooms away a consult of consultants sat drinking coffee……
‘It’s bizarre. Never seen anything like it in all my life’
‘Yes, I know….all those nurses drooling over that young Doctor that’s been brought in. I mean, one minute they’re all moaning about having to cover for absences, that they haven’t had a day off since 2009 and the management just “don’t understand the pressure they’re under’. Next minute, they’re all smiles, haven’t a care in the world and, the isolation ward, a place normally as popular as being stuck in a lift with a hungry Jeremy Clarkson, suddenly is more popular than One Directions hotel apartment!’
‘No Charles! I’m not talking about the new doctor come patient. I’m talking about the virus. That’s six cases now…..all male……aged between seventeen and seventy three. The Army almost have the entire village in lockdown and an infectious disease expert is arriving this evening from The Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases in London. I’m sure she’ll come up with something’
‘If it was airborne, you would think the female population would be affected as well wouldn’t you?’
‘Well, unless there’s something in their genetic make up that’s stopping them from becoming infected. I guess our expert from London will find the answer. Gosh, chaps look at the time. Gone 4pm, some golf clubs are calling me – tally ho………’
Miss Pearson had accepted the Reverend’s invitation for tea at the manse in the flutter of a heartbeat. He was so lovely. He showed her his beautiful garden with its fountain and rambling roses. He then talked about his youth. How he grown up in Belgium near Antwerp. How his family had come to Britain and how he’d ended up in LochTae.
With tea and scones, Cis, as he insisted she call him, had recited poetry, both in English and his native Flemish. Miss Pearson was mesmerised.
With a start, she was back in the room.
‘Oh My ! Is that the time. I must get back. Princess will be needing her dinner!’
‘Of course, of course. I’m sorry. I’ve inconvenienced you’
‘No, no, it’s been the most beautiful Sunday afternoon ever.
It’s been captivating. However, Princess is very fickle when it comes to eating times.
If I’m even two minutes late, she’ll start gurring, then she gnaws the cushions’
‘Should I give you a lift back to Rose Cottage? You might have no cushions left. I couldn’t live with the thought I was responsible’
‘That would be nice’
‘I will get my car keys’
‘Fine, I’ll meet you outside’
The Reverend had just picked up his car keys when he heard the shriek.
‘I’m sorry Ma’am. I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you the owner of this property?’
The Reverend Cis hurried down the hallway. Standing in the courtyard were six soldiers in full uniform, fully laden with guns, grenades, and…………..very scary masks!!
‘Sorry Sir. As I was explaining to the young lady, we’re looking for the owner and occupants of the house’
‘I’ve the Reverend Van Der Gelt. I live here and this is Miss Pearson from Rose Cottage, which is at the other end of the village. I was just taking her home’
‘I’m afraid that’s not going to be possible Reverend. The whole village is in lockdown to prevent the possible spread of a severe infection’
‘Yes. Six casualties, all from within the village thus far. They’ve been moved to the isolation ward at St Mungo’s. In the meantime nothing is to move. We need you to stay in the house. There’ll be a discreet armed guard, we’ll provide food each day, which will be left in a portable tunnel which we will erect at your front door’
‘Each DAY?……. How long are we talking about?
‘We don’t know. It could be 3 days, could be a month. Until we know
what we’re dealing with………’
‘Oh my’ sighed Miss Pearson. ‘What a palaver. Well, thanks for the
lovely day Cis. If someone could give me a lift home then, I assume I’ll be
under armed guard as well?’
‘I think you misunderstand Ma’am. You’ll have to stay here with the Reverend until further notice’
‘I’m afraid so. Nothing is to move…..nothing’
Miss Pearson could hardly believe it. A whole month locked in with Cis. How heavenly.
‘What about my Princess and…….. clothes?
‘My Chihuahua. She’s in Rose Cottage all by herself!’
‘I’ll check with the General. We may be able to bring your ‘Princess’ to you. I can’t guarantee it. She may have to go into quarantine. As for your clothes, If you give me the keys to your house I’ll arrange for one of our female officers to pick some things up for you. I’m assuming there’s no one else living there?’
Travelling northward at 125mph, Dr Helen Ratcliffe sat in the First Class carriage of the Virgin Train. The head of the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases in London was oblivious to how fast she was travelling, engrossed by the pictures and videos St Mungo’s Hospital had sent her. Despite her early Research into the Bubonic Plague, her work on malaria, and in recent times Ebola, she’d never seen anything like it. The patients in the video were wearing woollen mitts tied at the wrist to prevent them scratching themselves silly. She’d never come across any disease like it, and, as for turning bright pink, that was a first as well. She was looking forward to this, especially the very handsome patient with no symptoms. She’d never seen anything like him either 🙂
In the centre of the village, the local pub was bristling. Bristling inside with Sunday regulars, the ladies of the local WRI having their monthly gossi……(oops sorry committee meeting ) and the local rugby team who had just mollicated Dalgravy RUC 42-0 and were in high spirits. It was bristling outside with 20 members of 3rd Commando Elite Special Forces, who were just about to break some news to the throng inside the pub. They were about to be involved in the best lock in they’d had for many a year. Well, until the drink ran out that is……..
Sergeant Mathieson entered the pub doorway………….
Ten minutes later there was an almighty roar from the Rugby team when it dawned on them they’d be exempt from sillaging, rugby training AND they were locked in with 40 kegs of the best ale Scotland had to offer.
‘Oh yes….. locked in with the entire LochTae Rugby Union team…………one of my fantasies that is…… ‘
‘Oh, Gill, you are a one. They’re a bit whiffy already, imagine what they’ll be like after 3 days in here – that’ll shatter your illusions’
‘You’re a spoilsport Camilla…….but I think you’re forgetting they installed communal showers out back for the team to use……I think my fantasy is back on ‘
Joyce was trying to get a signal on her new Experia phone. ‘See this thing….. how can I tweet when the app hasn’t the appetite and the phone refuses to give 2G never mind 4G! – I need to tell the Charity Shop I won’t be in tomorrow
‘I think they’ll realise you might not be in when they see the news tonight. ’
‘It’s like an early Christmas present isn’t it?’
‘Why do you say that Irene?’
‘Well, this could mean a whole month away from being a school bursar – If they supply me with bacon butties and a good book to read I’ll be fine’
‘I don’t know why you lot are so happy, Stuck in here with a rowdy rugby team, boring Old Jock and Tam, away from my poetry, my magical beautiful peaceful garden, my little cottage, my flowers. I’m not staying. I’m going to escape. They can’t keep us in here against our will!!!’
‘Good luck with that plan Janet……….. PAUL, can you pour me another G&T dahling’
As the LochTae Rugby team started up another song, Janet folded her arms and waited……….
Barry crouched behind the Massey Fergusson 135. His twenty years experience in the Territorial Army had stood him in good stead. He knew an invasion when he saw one. He’d practiced for this all his life. Why a smallvillage like Lochtae would be ‘invaded’ didn’t cross his mind. He had a job to do and nothing would stand in his way. He recognised the uniforms. They were Commandos – special elite forces – probably Russian made to look like British soldiers. They’d already taken McTaggerts farm. He’d seen them escorting the couple and their children into the barn. They were probably dead already. Using stealth techniques he’d learned whilst in Iraq, Barry would make his way back to his cottage, where he would black up, camouflage up and stock up……..
Luke now shared Bubbleworld with Callum, Joseph Connolly, Robbie Grierson and Ian Gunn. All four of them had exhibited symptoms including severe itching and their skin turning a bright shade of pink.
‘Can I ask you guys, have any of you done anything unusual together or all come into contact with something?’
‘What do you mean ‘something unusual together!!!’
‘All I meant was, have you done anything in the last week or so where all four of you were in the same place at the same time?’
‘We did do the sheep thi…..’
‘Callum!!! Shoosh……ya daft sod’
‘What ‘sheep thing’? ‘
It took another twenty minutes of intrigue and dishonesty before the four finally admitted they’d all been involved in rustling Old Jocks prize Ram Pedro and 49 other of his wooly friends.
‘Honestly, we were planning to give him them back once the Village Show was over. It was a bit of a laugh. He wins it every single year. We thought it only fair someone else be given a chance’
‘Did you notice anything unusual?’
‘Not really. I do remember someone saying something about a smell when herding them up in one of the wagons but sheep do smell occasionally’
‘…and that, if I’m correct Mr Gunn, is the only time you’ve all been together recently?’
‘Probably ever, apart from the show itself. Even then, we’re not together together…..’
‘So, I need to find Old Jock. He might have the answer to all this’
‘How many of you were involved in all this’
The now out of the closet sheep rustlers looked at each other.
‘About twenty of us I think’
Luke rolled his eyes. If his theory was correct, Bubbleworld was going to become a bit crowded over the next day or so…he had to get out, find Old Jock, and solve the mystery of the pink men.
Janet peered out of the tent. The pub had been in full swing until eventually most of LochTae RFC had fallen over in a crumpled heap in the bar. 3rd Commando had kindly set up tents in the beer garden with the women from the WRI commandeering the two nearest the back wall. Despite the effort made to make them comfortable, despite the excellent company and despite a nice warm sleeping bag, Janet had made up her mind. She wasn’twasting another minute. She wanted, nay needed back to her little cottage in the forest.
She’d thought out her plan earlier in the day. Her tent was right next to a wood store. She’d seen an oil drum next to it. There were no members of 3rd Commando in sight. She quickly skipped out of the tent and within seconds was atop the woodstore. From there she clambered onto the wall. Surely they wouldn’t shoot her. Her heart was beating ten to the ten (that’s decimalisation for you, ruins everything 🙂 ).
It was a fair old jump to the grass, but her Tai Chi made her ideally suited for jumping off walls in the dark, hopefully not just to be shot by a member of 3rd Commando. She leapt from the wall……..
She saw the glint of his eyes a split second before landing on top of him. Janet let out a muffled yelp with the only other sound being a moan from whoever she’d just dropped upon. She rolled over, expecting soldiers tocome racing from all directions and escort her in to the back of an Army van.
Not a sound. She hears a whimper from her ‘victim’, She quick pulled out her smartphone and shone it in the direction of the prostrate casualty.
It was Barry, the villages version of Bear Gryllis and Ranulph Fiennes, all rolled into one slightly mad ex Territorial Army oddball. A quick scan revealed he had guns, grenades and a sore head.
What on earth was he doing?
She heard a noise and rolled over towards the bushes. There was some scuffling noises, some rustling, some pitter patter, a crack, a hiss, a few other strange noises, then silence again. She took a peek. Barry was nowhere to be seen, gone, vamooshed, vanished! She crawled about 20 feet to the trees. Stopped, listened, heard nothing and ran like the wind, towards home.
As Janet sprinted faster than Usain Bolt back to the forest, Luke Gabriel was trying to persuade an extremely nice, but anxious nurse to help him escape.
‘I know, I know, I know. But no one believes me that this is not a pandemic that’s going to kill everyone on Earth. Those guys itching in the corner were all in the same location, at the same time. I believe they came into contact with something that night. I need to find the farmer, and find out the cause before this whole thing grows horns and I lose a month of my life stuck in a bubble for no reason!’
‘….but I might lose my job!’
‘I promise you, you will not lose your job. I just need my shoes trousers and a doctors jacket. You didn’t see a thing……’
Half an hour later, if anyone had looked closely,they would have seen a slightly perspiring Doctor Luke Gabriel walking out of the foyer of St Mungos Hospital and into the night.
Hundreds of miles away Laura switched on the news………………
‘Tonight police commenced a manhunt for an escaped patient, Dr Luke Gabriel, who is believed to be at large in the Balmar area. He may be carrying a contractable virulent and dangerous contagion and police are warning the public not to approach him and to contact their local police station immediately…..’
The Village Gossip ‘LockDown’ was written by me, David Linden. Follow me on Twitter @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015.