The Aftermath

The Aftermath

A Chapter by Pillow Of Winds

After the battle at Leicester Square the Eastern troops had been purged of the city, their invasion had failed but the damage was done; the country had been bought to its knees, riots, looting, large power shortages, infrastructure destruction, on every street there seemed to be the familiar scenes of violence and grief. London had suffered worst, in the three days since the attack the city had been almost reduced to rubble, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Soho, China Town; all these areas and more had been practically ruined. The rest of Britain had also suffered; the Scottish Guards Unit had been tirelessly trying to sort out the chaos on the streets of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen while every corner of England from the Home Counties to the North East seemed to have been affected in some way by the nuclear strike. Trident had already sent a retaliatory strike towards the Iron Curtain and American troops were on their way to Britain; NATO was in uproar over the amount of missiles that had been launched at allied countries. The battles of the last year, they had all been leading up to this disastrous attack, all the strategies had been made for this; and now it had been done.

            Mercer and the three guards accompanying him approached the Millennium Bridge to get across to St Pauls Cathedral where they had received a distress call from a fellow patrol. Hurrying past the Tate Modern, half of which was now a mountain of bricks and dust on the ground, the small group of guards, their black uniforms strewn with dirt and their visors slightly cracked from the battles, made their way toward the bridge. On their way they passed at least a dozen people who were either wounded on the ground or weeping, anyone else would simply stand there unsure of what to do or shout angrily at them and demand help; the atmosphere was becoming desperate; the sight they saw as they got onto the bridge only confirming this.

            Mercer halted the men behind him “Wait! Over the bridge, looks like an angry mob” sure enough a group of what must have been around fifty or so people were heading toward the bridge, shouting and pointing at the guards. The noise was getting quite loud, it was drawing the attention of the people on the opposite side of the bridge, groups of bystanders all gathering to watch the confrontation unfold. Mercer felt his stomach begin to knot and a slight sweat formed behind his visor, but he tried to keep calm and turned to the guard closest to him “Radio in and tell them we’ve got a potential riot on the Millennium Bridge, we might need backup here”

The guard nodded and his voice was discernible over the approaching crowd

“This is patrol 60423, require assistance at the Millennium Bridge, we have a potential riot and minimal resources” One of the other guards placed a hand on Mercer’s shoulder “And what do we intend to do here?”

Mercer turned to face the two men behind him “Proceed with caution, we may have to fight them but we shouldn’t bare our rifles straight away, we don’t want to agitate them” the crowd had now reached the tip of the bridge “I want you to two stay behind me and patrol 60423 and be ready to use the rifles only if necessary” The guard nodded. Shouts could now be made out from the crowd “Help us out!” “What do we do now?” were just a few of the yells heard, but these were not simple requests for help, these were violent and desperate demands, these people were frightened and prepared to fight.

            Mercer and the patrol next to him held their hands up to stop the oncoming crowd, who stood in front of them within striking distance and glared at them angrily; shouts and jeers being propelled at them from all sections of the crowd. “Please step aside, we are trying to reach a distress call, we need you to comply and head to your nearest aid station”

A man at the front of the crowd who harboured a nasty fresh scar across his right cheek screamed at him in panicked rage “You, you stand there in your fancy armour telling us to go there! We’ve all been and they won’t help us! They say we have to wait! My son’s lying there at home with shrapnel in his leg and they say he has to wait his f*****g turn!”

Mercer observed some of the faces, they looked as though they could turn feral at any minute, the fear in their eyes looked enough to unleash their primal rage “I’m sorry everyone, we are working as hard as possible to help everyone, the casualty rate is enormous you have to go to the aid stations and you will be seen to…”

“F**k you!” “Easy for you to say!” came the cries “Yeah” the scarred man continued over the screams and shouts “easy for you to say, you have all your weapons and gadgets, we have nothing! We can barely help anyone with what we got, you should be helping us!”

“Look sir” the patrol beside Mercer replied “This isn’t solving anything we can only…”

“Only what!? Do so much? Well f*****g do more!” the scarred man pushed the patrol back, Mercer produced his baton, the crowd began to move and bustle like a single body, incoherently yelling and preparing itself for a fight “Stand back all of you!” he yelled

“F**k ‘em they can’t fight us all!” “Get the b******s!” “Take their guns!”

It was in that instant, that definite moment, that Mercer knew that reasoning would no longer work, the intent in the crowd was obvious, they all seemed to heave forward at once, like a single arm recoiling to strike a punch “Oh my God” Mercer heard himself mutter to himself; and then it happened.

            The first of what would be many struck Mercer and then another quickly followed and hit the patrol next to him, admittedly they were weak against the uniforms, but the sheer volume of fists flying was hard to counter. Mercer struck out and caught a man in his arm, breaking it; the patrol next to him had thrown someone to the ground. Trying as hard as possible to keep calm Mercer kept his swings controlled and precise, but for every strike he made what seemed like a dozen more hit him. The crowd got a firm grip of Mercer and pulled him toward them, he caught sight of the other guard struggling and heard the sound of rifles being loaded. Mercer lashed out and freed his right arm, flailing it into the face of the nearest attacker and then struck out with his elbow in an effort to free himself “Open fire!” came a voice behind him. Two loud bursts of gunfire. The screaming increased. Agitated and scared, the crowd now threw itself full force into the fight.

            Mercer pushed about three of them back but another two jumped over them and attacked him again, a brick glided over from the back of the crowd and narrowly avoided the patrol behind him “Jesus Christ!”

“Second round!” the machine guns let loose their awful rattle again, this time one of the rioters made a wild jump for one of the guards who shot out in panic. The crowd angered at the sight of this and continued the forward assault; the four guards’ power to hold them back was failing. Mercer was still trying to beat them back with his baton but it was useless, he saw that the patrol beside him had now disappeared into that jungle of thrashing arms and angry faces, Mercer realised he would have to reach for his own weapon. “Backup! We need backup urgently!”

            As he fought to stay on his feet, the mob were dangerously close to surrounding him on all sides, he saw the patrol who had been swallowed up was now being held high above the crowd. “No! Get off him!” Mercer yelled, trying desperately to force his way toward him, but a hit from a baseball bat sent him back. The guard was fighting, but he had been beaten up quite viciously, his visor was gone and his face was contorted with panic. Mercer hopelessly made another charge, but it was no use, the guard was dangled tauntingly over the edge of the bridge for a few seconds before he plummeted into the cold rolling waters of the Thames. “Fall back! Fall back!” Another burst of gunfire downed one of the rioters as Mercer ran as fast as he could, overtaking the other two guards. A piece of metal flew past him and he heard the cries of one of the patrols as the crowd pulled him to the ground. Mercer could now feel the sweat of the fight coating him and creating an unpleasant liquidated feeling underneath his armour, he couldn’t pretend that he was a hero; he wanted to run away, the exhausting trials of the last few days were taking their toll; he was in pain, weary and wanted to flee for his own life. His own selfishness was a shock to him, was he really considering leaving a fellow ally to the mercy of a crowd half insane with fear?

            His moment of indecision had proven enough, an attacker struck him in the side with what must’ve been some kind of metal bar, he felt the sharp pang of pain quickly turn into an agonisingly dull throb that coursed through his entire side; in as much instinct as rational attack, Mercer swung his baton and caught his attacker in the head. The man collapsed instantly, blood spurting from the side of his head. The guard could not be seen for the amount of people in his way. Mercer took his rifle off his back but was tackled to the ground before he had a chance to use it. A blow to the head, a ringing in his ears, Mercer was in a daze. Trying to stand up, but being kept on the ground by the sheer volume of kicks and punches that were flying at him, Mercer felt his eyes grow unbearably heavy and, after one final thrash to free himself of the crowd, he felt his head fall back and then simply black.

 

XXXXX

 

The world seemed to come back to him in bursts, for ages he could hardly tell what was part of his unconscious dreams and what was actually real, that most intangible stage where a person can barely even tell the difference between reality and the ethereal. He felt the wind on his face, not just a perception of the wind, but the actual wind, and the feel of gravel in between his fingers. Struggling onto his front and supporting himself with his arms Mercer was eventually able to make his way groggily up from the ground. He realised that his visor and rifle were gone, but that was the least of his worries, the fact was that the city was in pandemonium, that riot had been an example of reason and community being thrown to the wind, it was as though the animal rage inside the people had taken over. Mercer felt his stomach heave with dread as he remembered how that poor guard had been thrown to his death by people who, under different circumstances, could have been good upstanding people; people who weren’t prepared for the devastation of nuclear assault.

            Mercer was standing near the bridge, outside the half destroyed Tate Modern, around him people were being attended by medics and soldiers were either being sent away to aid stations or were getting ready to head off to tend to more riots. The sight of some order among the chaos relieved him, but could not lift his spirits. “Thank God you’re ok” said a voice from behind him, Mercer turned round to face them, it was a blonde haired nurse, her face still alluringly sweet in spite of the dirt that intermittently covered it “how are you feeling?”

For a spilt second Mercer didn’t know what to say, for the last few days he hadn’t heard anything but cries, shouted orders, screams for help and the sound of death, normal conversation seemed almost alien “I’m…erm yeah I’m, ok”

The nurse smiled “You got out of there quite luckily, the support team arrived just in time, they would’ve torn you apart if you’d been in there much longer”

“Any long term injuries?”

“No, the armour absorbed most of the hits, though you do have a nasty cut on your left side and you could have a slight concussion”

“Ok, uh, thanks” Mercer tried to return a smile, but it didn’t come, he had to make do with her giving him one, it amazed him that even in the face of such destruction and terror, she could still wear a smile as soft as the first rays of sun in the morning.

He went to turn away and then she called after him “Wait!”

“Huh?”

“Listen, I don’t think you should go back, you’re not in a fit state”

“Don’t worry I’m not going back to do any fighting”

“Where are you going then? Do you have somewhere to stay?”

“It’s probably been destroyed by the bombs, but anyway that’s not where I’m going”

“Well where then?”

“You seem awfully concerned?”

“Come on, I don’t want to see anyone I’ve tended to getting themselves into trouble…besides” she looked up at him playfully “seems a shame to waste that pretty face out there”

The two of them let out warm laughs, even Mercer despite himself was genuinely happy with the small moment of friendly conversation. However it was short lived, the girls smile faded, her eyes were lagging, he suddenly realised that she looked more exhausted than he did, and that her leg was wrapped in a bandage with dried blood on it. “Oh my God, are you okay?”

“Yeah…I, of course…” the nurse lost her balance, Mercer rushed to catch her “Its just a small wound I picked up the other day”

“Why are you still out here?”

“I couldn’t leave while so many people needed help”

Mercer realised how much respect he had for this woman, who had been determined to stay despite her pains, unlike him who had considered running from a downed ally, his shame was only overpowered by compassion.

            He noticed that a helicopter was loading on a small number of people, he picked her up as gently as possible “Hold on”

“Wait, it’s not that serious, where are you taking me? I should stay!”

“It’s for your own good believe me”

“Wait…”

“I’m not giving you a choice, come on I’ll take you back to Enfield it should be safe from this carnage”

The nurse had stopped resisting the notion of leaving and leaned into his broad chest, absorbing the warmth and the rest “Thank you” she kissed him on the cheek and glided off into a gentle sleep. Mercer stepped into the helicopter and leaned into the cockpit “Enfield aid station”

Enfield? Of all the places in London why there?” the pilot asked

“There’s a little girl there that I need to make sure is alright”



© 2010 Pillow Of Winds


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Added on June 7, 2010
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Author

Pillow Of Winds
Pillow Of Winds

Stirling, United Kingdom



About
I'm a 17 year old student at Stirling High School and an aspiring writer. Basically i joined this site in search of review and hints from other writers to help me improve and this site seemed better t.. more..

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Chapter I Chapter I

A Chapter by Pillow Of Winds