I grabbed my keys from the ottoman and shoved my folders into my shoulder bag. I was trying not to wake Rachel but she appeared, messy haired and half asleep as I was leaving. She grunted something and kissed my cheek. I ran my hand through her sleepy bed-head and closed the door. Traffic on the One was just as bad as usual so I put the transport into Auto and started reading my files for the meeting this afternoon. The Communication Committee for London Four was at three and we had to explain why we were almost a year behind schedule. Work on the new transport system overhaul should have been 40% completed by 2023, instead we were hitting deadlines behind time on almost every part of the work. The storm of 2021 and the subsequent flooding meant all works were shut down until March and there was no realistic way of getting back on track and staying on budget.
Almost as I walked through the main doors into the lobby, Parish, my PA handed me some black Tea and took my bag. She spoke fast and was always minimal. “Cavendish wants a 10am with you before the CC meeting at Three. Broker and Dr Lu want to know if they can go ahead with releasing any information about the artifacts found at site 9 and Rachel just rang to say you left your wallet at home.” I put my hand to my jacket pocket and only as I feel the empty pocket do I realise that everything is in my wallet. Parish hands me a temp Security card and £40. I smile and pocket them both. “Yes to Cavendish and no to Broker and Lu, we don’t have any MoD clearance yet.”
It’s gone seven pm by the time I get to Sub level 9. Broker and Dr Lu are clearly pissed off with me. They seem to think I and I alone, am holding them back. They show me the rest of the restored footage. Grainy, poor quality CCTV footage of one of the old underground stations, time stamped Dec 09:2016:11:22AM. It’s worse than we ever imagined. The businessman grabs the baby from the Mothers arms and pushes her onto the tracks. As he bites down on the child’s neck, those closest to him start to either try to run or grab the infant from his hands. It soons becomes just distorted images of black and white horror. At the top right hand corner you can see the lower half of one of the soldiers as he opens fire into the crowd. There is a flash of light and then nothing. Two days later they declare Martial Law and the entire Underground system is filled in with concrete. It was only when we broke through the surface layer and found a security/staff room with access to the CCTV that we saw what had been assumed before the Government clampdown. A Military grade viral agent had been released on the subway system in London, Tokyo and New York. The estimated death toll was 2.9 million people in 11 hours.
Our retaliation was swift and absolute. Iran, Iraq, China and North Korea were wiped off the face of the world. Any repercussions were met with deadly force. After the UN was disbanded, Germany closed it’s borders and we all followed suit. We closed all the Embassies and deported all Foreign Nationals. Because I work for the Government I have Grade 1 status. Rachel is a Teacher, so she is Grade 2. Because she attended the earliest of the Peace Rallies, she was put on the Watch list, so I spoke to Portman at the MoD and had her ‘Radical’ Status removed. He owed me a favour so it was no great hardship for him. I think we are both being watched even now. The UK is still a paranoid county, with no real allies. Decade old grievances boiled to the surface very quickly, so we endure alone, trying to repair a very broken country. Ironically, as we build the foundation of the new overland transport system we are literally digging into a past we all hope would never happen.
I sign off on their work and leave them to their little lab. The drive home was just as frustrating but it looks good to my bosses to be seen ‘putting the hours in’. Rachel greets me at the door with a big smile on her face and hands me a little plastic card. Her new ID, showing that she is pregnant. I think I might have cheered. I can’t remember now. I do remember that I thought about that baby on the underground and wondered whether it was a boy or a girl.