Sunday 20th May 2012
A sparse cabin
I LAY on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
Brendan switched off the thing called television, announced it was time for him to go and collect our food, gained permission to leave from the uniformed serf on guard on the covered walkway outside, and departed.
The rough cabin that was my latest home, he had informed me, was one of a number of huts on a military camp not far from London. As well as the bed, it contained a wardrobe, chair, table and chest of drawers. A kettle allowed us to make tea. The bathroom was a small cubicle in the corner. Throughout the day, and occasionally during the night, I could hear the noises of machines taking to the air or coming in to land.
There were windows in both end walls, one of which looked out on to grass and distant trees. Nearby stood sets of tall poles, which I thought must be symbols or landmarks erected to assist or instruct the drivers of aircraft: H, perhaps for helicopters or hospital, here or hello.
Again and again I turned over in my mind the final moments of Tom’s life.
Was I not directly responsible for his death? Had I not betrayed the trust that he and Jenny had placed in me? Why had I not listened to Arthur, when he had urged me to reflect more seriously upon the implications of going to meet the giants? How could I have been so foolish and so capricious?
The feelings of shame, torment and despondency remained with me at all times.
Brendan not only tried to console me, but also pestered the guards with frequent requests that he be allowed to telephone Broadoaks. Most of the time most of the people answered his questions with expressions of irritation, trepidation or incomprehension, often accompanied by much talking into communication devices and usually leading to his being told that the person concerned did not know the answer.
This time, however, he returned with news:
“I spoke to one of the doctors. Emily hasn’t regained consciousness. They don’t think she will now and Jenny’s hoping she doesn’t.”