‘Operation Remoaner’ proceeded as Terry commanded. London Bridge was cleared of traffic; barriers set up to control the surging crowd, while the drones overhead recorded the bleached out, anxious faces. The media needed images and the secret police needed to know. The black uniformed militia stood at ease, weight resting on both feet, arms cradling their automatic weapons like babies. Sweaty fingers lay caressing the comforting heavy weight, delving deep into the crevices and curves like they were touching a woman. They were proud servants of the people carrying out orders. A sparkle of sunshine shot through the cloudy morning, glanced off the grey gunmetal and twinkled in watching eyes.
‘You feel ok, Mate?’
‘About this, you mean? OK? Yes, sure. Only taking orders ain’t we.’
‘Some of them is kids, they look real young.’
‘Yea, but gonna grow up ain’t they. Be more trouble then. Do it now, I say.’
Ukip councilor, Terry posted his tweet, ‘Time to start killing Remainers’.
‘You don’t mean that Terry.’
‘Yes, I do,’ Terry came back defiantly. ‘You know soon we are going back to having gallons at the petrol pumps and all the other good old imperial weights and measures will be brought back as well. You tell me honestly what’s wrong with pounds, shillings and pence. We are sending all them foreigners home, so they won’t be worried with changes.’
‘It’s time to stop all those Poles are coming over here and getting the best jobs. People tell me it’s because the Europeans have qualifications. Rubbish. I grew up in a council-house and went to a Secondary Modern School where they never taught you anything worth learning. I had to teach myself the things I needed. Now I’m a councillor. For Ukip. Finally, what I say matters to people.’
There was silence as Terry, red faced, savoured his anger like it was meat. He chewed down hard on the years of neglect and obscurity. His companion nodded and put down his pint of beer. It was time to go home. Being close to Terry gave him a bad taste in his mouth. Anyway, he had packing to do.
‘No need for threats’, Terry wrote enthusiastically, ’Just a bullet’.
The local councillor never imagined when he made his comments that anyone might take him seriously. He thought they could see that he was joking. He was not a violent man, but then something grew dark in his heart, as the troubles got worse, first in Ireland, then on the mainland. Soon Terry was unable to resist the attention, he stepped forward, the Churchillian hero of the hour. Important people said he was right. No need for further discussions, it was time to silence all who spoke out. People were afraid, didn’t think, they just agreed, jumping on the rolling bandwagon, along for the ride. Those who questioned. They were the ‘enemies of the people’, those sad, soiled people now facing the guns. Tomorrow there would be more. More the day after and onwards. Terry predicted it all; the lefties, the experts, the economists, the mums and dads, who wanted a future for themselves and their kids away from the hate. Their right to speak was stopped, their books burnt, their twitter threads quietly deleted.
Terry said he served democracy. It was the ‘will of the people’. The Daily Mail agreed and posted banner headlines. He was a new type of leader that the country could follow in this time of crisis; a humble man, an ordinary man. A steady hand.
All these people lined up along the bridge railing, with their hands cable-tied behind their backs. White, bloodless hands held tight. A long row of people replacing the love-locks of happier times. Men, women, anyone old enough to vote, children really, just days from their eighteenth birthdays. Some with tears soaking their clothes, some in stunned denial, and many proud and defiant. No one believed it would come to this.
Terry watched from a balcony. His stomach felt a bit loose. He was not sure he wanted to see this. He would close his eyes when he heard the guns, like he did when there was a violent bit on TV. He held his breath and the shooting started. His eyes were still open; he could see what he had done. The trail of blood was thin at first, like a little stream at the feet of the collapsed shapes hanging heavily by their wrists. He stared fascinated as the tickle ran into the roadway, staining the warm stones. It was the silence he did not understand. The cheering had stopped.
At night when the dreams finally came, he saw the toothy smile of his granddaughter waving goodbye. Held tight and safe in the arms of his stern daughter, the child took a last look as she boarded the plane to Spain. They would not return. They would not call him anymore.