The commemoration

We drove across the abandoned tarmac of what must once have been a majestic airport. Grass had forced its way through the many cracks that breeched the surface. The car came to a halt at a faded, red and white barrier on which was written: No entrance! Radiation! Danger! My father, my mother, my sister and I got out of the car cautiously. What desolation! Here and there jagged remains of masonry pointed skywards, accusing. Years ago, on this very spot, the ultimate war had begun. And tonight, twenty years later, that event was to be commemorated with my father, as President of the Alliance, giving an allocution.

All four of us stood heads bowed in the late afternoon sun. Our remorse was that of a whole nation as a raw wind tried to force us to retreat. The relative silence was shattered by the roar of an engine. As we turned in shock to look, a hyped-up scooter tore towards us, causing us to scatter as it smashed through the barrier and wove its way into the heart of the forbidden zone. The meaning of this outrage was clear to all of us. Someone way trying to spark a new conflict. We jumped into the car while my father got behind the wheel of a smaller vehicle and we drove at full speed for the city. Pausing at a crossroads in the city centre, father dashed from his car to ours. We’d be safer together. The moment he climbed inside a hooded man surged from the shadows and hurled a sticky black mass at my father. The touch of it burnt terribly. My sister screamed and my father slumped forward his face and arms on fire. The stuff was clearly radioactive. My father was going to die and we might well die with him. With a supreme effort my father flung the substance from the car and slammed the door. My mother drove off at break-neck speed. Where should we go? Home wouldn’t be safe. They’d surely be watching out for us. Nowhere would be safe now. It was a risk, but we opted for an unused warehouse that had been converted into a theatre. We hoped we’d find people there we could trust. As the car slowed and drew into warehouse entrance a figure appeared and walked toward us. “You can hide in the loft above the theatre,” the man said, glancing from my father to us, clearly understanding our predicament requiring no for further explanations. “That ought to be safe for a while,” he said. But my father, disfigured and torn with pain by the attack, refused. “Call the TV cameras,” he ordered, clearly finding it difficult to talk, his face swollen with blisters. “I need to warn everyone what is about to happen…” and he collapsed in a heap on the ground.

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