Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 5 April 2013

Parallel Lives chapter 80

Sam was genuinely scared, sat next to Martin who was tearing down the outside lane of the motorway, headed towards the South West. Whenever the outside lane was blocked, Martin swerved into the centre lane and undertook.
'You'll lose your licence,' suggested Sam, hoping to instil some caution, although he believed his life to be at more at risk and infinitely more important than Martin's licence.
'Let me worry about that,' said Martin, in the knowledge that the same technology that was actively looking for the vehicles belonging to Michael Watson and the Howells had been programmed to ignore his hire car's number plate. Police cars were his biggest potential hindrance, and judging by the level of the summons he had received he would have little problem squaring things with them.
'You're not concerned that I can't handle the speed, surely?' he asked Sam, faintly amused, 'I’m trained to drive like this,' he explained. That was small comfort to Sam, who was sure that the other road users weren't equally trained to respond accordingly.
'Obviously we are rushing to the South West. Am I going to be able to contribute?' he asked. If he wasn't, then getting out at the next services seemed a sensible idea.
'Oh yes, you're involved. You know John and his condition as well as anyone on the payroll. Well except for Michael, but I doubt we can persuade him to assist at the moment,' replied Martin. He had been told there was a crisis looming and the project information may be the only way to avert it. Despite a very bad start to the day he was starting to rise out of the crap smelling of roses, and it was his full intention to capitalise on the situation. He remembered something he had been asked to enquire about.
'On our way in to Manchester I heard Staples muttering about the word "Spartan", does it ring a bell with you?' Sam thought deeply, momentarily forgetting the real fear he felt as a passenger.
'Well,' he started, 'I may be getting this wrong because I was driving when he did most of the burbling, so I didn't actually hear much of what he said.'
'But,' asked Martin, looking sidewards at Sam. He could tell there was a "but". Feeling the fear return as he realised that they were weaving in and out of motorway traffic and Martin wasn't even attempting to look forward. Sam blurted.
'Just after you and the airforce guy returned from having a piss at the services on the M62, Staples used the word "Spartan", but it wasn't that word that made me listen. Normally, well normally post bringing him off the medication, Staples reported events as though he was reading them out of a newspaper, or repeating them off a news bulletin. Moderately useful stuff, simply proving the principle.
'But then he was different, it was as if he was in a conversation, no, it was if he was being interviewed,' said Sam, racking his brains to remember exactly what it was he had heard. Martin looked unimpressed, but was listening very closely.
'We did that to him, early on. Before we realised that it didn't reap much, we would ask him specific questions. Usually he didn't understand the subject matter so we allowed him to roam free in the end. My guess is he was tapped into a dimension that was behind us on the timeline or hadn't given up on the strategy.' Martin accelerated past a row of cars then braked violently when he realised the traffic up ahead was slowing across all three lanes.
'But this was different,' stressed Sam watching the closing distance nervously, 'whoever was asking the question obviously kept on pushing for the same information,' he said, remembering the event almost ten hours earlier.
Martin and Jim were fumbling with their seatbelts as Sam accelerated towards the motorway, the petrol pumps flashing past in a blur. John had started to mumble again, clearer than before but a mumble all the same. In the corner of Sam’s eye he saw Martin press the record button on his tape machine before resuming the activity with his seatbelt. It was obvious that the only person taking any real notice of what John was saying was Sam, despite his functional disadvantage seated in the front of the car.
'Never heard of it, don't know,' then, 'I told you.' There was a series of mutterings, in which the word "Spartan" featured twice, both times in the negative.
'Poisoned water? Yes, I know about poisoned water. A whole city ill and dying, I know about that,' he had said. Sam had started to listen more closely, had tried to catch Martin’s attention, flicking his hand between the front seats, nudging Martin’s leg.

'To be honest, I didn't give it any further thought. The Spartan bit, that's important, isn't it?' Sam asked. Martin nodded, biting his bottom lip.
'Yes, but the bit about the poisoned water is more significant, did he indicate which city? Whether it was here or abroad?' Sam shook his head.
'No idea, Staples sank back into his muse after that, and I became engrossed in the driving, couldn’t hear that much over the engine at motorway speeds anyway. Perhaps the Sergeant heard something more?' Martin sat back, pleased. He knew he had cuffed the report culled from his recorder at several points, had filled in gaps he was unsure of. But Sam’s interpretation of Staple’s ramblings concurred reasonably closely to what he had transcribed into his report. The point about the airforce guy was relevant, though. If this was as important as it appeared to be then anything extra he could remember would be useful.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

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