I step off the train at Embankment. The station is deserted, just like the train and there is an eerie silence, loose pages of newspapers gently glide across the platform, rustling as they are picked up by the gush of air created as another train arrives on Platform 3. I walk towards the stairs marked ‘No Exit’ and jump over the barrier, I walk up the solid concrete steps coated in sick and urine and emerge onto the street. Unlike the station the streets are busy; there is a sea of people all heading in the same direction towards Tottenham Court Road. I try and ask one of the many sea creatures what is going on, the businessman stops and faces me.
“I have no idea, I got caught in the crowd and just decided to follow” he said nervously. This makes no sense, why would he just walk with the crowd and have no idea what was going on. He slips back into the crowd and is gone. Nothing has made much sense to me the past couple of months. Since the Advisors came nothing has seemed right. People were more edgy, the Advisors had put up propaganda posters days after they arrived. People were more scared, random home searches began in the name of ‘national safety’ but really the Advisors just needed an excuse to arrest people seen as a threat, those who might speak out. They arrested Mr. Walsh in 42, he was an old man. The only time he would leave his house would be every Tuesday morning to get his pension and to get his shopping for the week. The man could barely speak to the man in the Post Office without stuttering, let along speak up against the government. We never saw Mr. Walsh again, his house got boarded up and people forgot all about him.
The crowd marched on and on, it just kept coming and coming. Just as one group had disappeared into the metropolitan maze of London another group comes swiftly from round the corner. I run across the street in between two groups and continue walking; I was in Great Russell Street, outside the British Museum. That museum used to be worth going to; I remember in the winter of 2008 I went to see the Terracotta Warriors on a school trip. Granted, not the best day out I’ve ever had but it sure did beat double geography. When the Advisors came they ceased everything in the entire museum for ‘preservation for future generations’. At the rate things are going, Britain will not have any future generations.
This street, Great Russells Street was where the riots took place a few months ago, the famous Russell Riots. They call it that because the damage was so bad it was like a bomb went off. The aftermath of this citified conflict was still very apparent. The buildings are burnt as black as charcoal after being subdued to the wrath of the government flamethrowers issued to the Defence Advisors. They use the term ‘defence’ lightly; really they should be called ‘Riot provoking Advisors’. They worked out angry citizens do not really like being burnt alive. Cars littered the street, some upturned, others burnt out, all with broken windows and stolen radios.
I continue down the street, past the boarded up shops and homes until I reach the top end of the street that opens into Russell Square, Advisor vehicles surround the area, blocking off entry. This was not good, they would not do anything like this unless they had a reason to do so, I knew better then to ask questions in fear of getting shot and asking questions would be just as bad, last person who asked questions to an Advisor woke up in Intensive Care on Christmas Eve and had to eat their turkey through a straw.
I run down Montague Street, to my right was one of those 2 star hotels that you wouldn’t stay in unless you were down to your last £20. I walked into the foyer and peered round the corner towards the reception desk, it was empty. I went behind the desk and picked up a set of keys off the backboard. The 4th floor was the highest so I go for one beginning with a 4. In the distance I can hear the unmistakeable sound of mass panic, woman and children screaming, this was swiftly silenced by the sound of gunfire. Silence again. I run up the stairs, jumping 2 or 3 steps at a time up to the 4th floor.
The door to the 4th floor from the staircase had a badly painted 4 on it, I pull the handle and it creaked open loudly. The door opened to reveal a long corridor with even more doors with equally badly painted numbers on. 421, 423, 425, 427. All the open doors were on the wrong side for me to be able to see Russell Square and whatever what going on in it. My key was for room 424, the right side to get a view of the Square. I put the key in the lock and turned it, the lock clunked open and I turned the knob, the door creaked open and I saw a couple lying together in bed, they were clutching each other tightly. The bed sheet was stained with a large pool of red and the bedside lamp was laying in pieces on the floor.
Down in the square, all of the people I had seen marching, they were all facing Guildford Street, all on their knees with their hands behind their heads. There are dozens Riot provoking Advisors walking around the congregation of marchers, all with guns in hand and with incredibly happy trigger fingers. I could see half of them were just waiting for a reason to open fire. I reached into my bag and fished out my SLR camera had it for years and I don’t leave home without it. I look through the viewfinder and adjust the zoom to try and get a clearer view of the events unfolding below me.
There are 3 main kinds of Riot provoker Advisors, the regular grey kind which are issued with the G36Cs, these are pretty accurate Short Assault Rifle with a secondary aiming laser point, they also have small flamethrowers, the canister is attached to their backs and the firing nozzle is attached to the side of the canister. Then you have your Black Riot Provokers, they are usually scouts, they position themselves on the rooftops and have either M40A3s or sometimes, M4M203s. They pick off the deserters or the ones who try and run off. Finally, there are Red Riot Provokers; they are the sergeants of the DA. They give orders and keep things going according to the set plan.
The concrete of the hotel, just to the right of my window explodes with a ear piercing sound. One of the Black Advisors had spotted me. I duck down out of side below the window pane, out of sight. I sling my bag off my shoulder and start frantically searching for my A-Z of London. Crap, I need to get out of here quick but if I just run I will get disorientated and lost in the sea of streets. Page 143, that’s where I am. I flick through to the page and try and locate my location, it’s not hard – I’m by the big green square. My watch says its 11:49, I have 41 minutes to get to St. Pancras Station before the last train leaves for the Channel Tunnel. 40 minutes to get about half a mile.
The Advisors have pretty much sealed off the country from the outside world, every beach is patrolled, every port closed, every airport in operational, the Channel Tunnel is being closed this evening and has guards blocking it right now. The only real way out is on that train, at 12:30 the doors close and it ploughs through the guards at the tunnel entrance and away, into France, into freedom. Quite ironic, all the time I’ve made jokes about the French running away and now I was doing exactly that, running for my life.
I peek my head over the windowsill, praying that the shot fired was by mistake or just a slip of a trigger happy finger, I see at least 6 Advisors running towards the hotel doors. Crap. I leap up and race out the door to the room, I dart down the corridor to the stairway, pulling open the creaking door with the badly painted 5 on and step onto the concrete of the stairs, I peer down the gap in the stairwell and see a group of Advisors sprinting up the stairs, their feet marching in synch rising up towards me one step at a time. I look up, there is a flight of stairs to the roof, I run up the stairs and open the door to the roof, fearing what was up there I open it slowly and pray it won’t creek. Perching like two blackbirds on the edge of the building was two of the Black Riot Provokers finest, lying silently on their chests with their eyes up to the scopes. I sneak slowly across the rooftop, stepping slowly on the tips of my trainers; I reach the opposite edge of the building and step onto the metal of the fire stairwell that’s on the outside of the building, like the ones you see in New York. I go down each flight carefully, as I reach the flat part adjacent to the 2nd floor the glass of the window next to me shatters, I hear shouting and a rush of adrenaline pumps through my veins. They’ve seen me and odds are they’ll be the last people who do see me alive. Through the window drops a small round piece of metal, on the side are markings saying ‘RG12 Explosive Small Impact Shell’ I sprint over to the end and jump over the rail, below is a dustbin van parked, I leap off the stairwell onto the roof of the van just as the shell explodes, the force knocks me down, my head crashes against the roof of the van. My ears ring with a high pitched shriek and my head is killing me, a pool of blood is forming around my head, I lift myself up and due to fear and adrenaline, jump onto the cab roof and back onto the street. I run and run towards the station, faster then I knew I could.
Panting with exhaustion I stop and sit down on the ground, my back against a dustbin. With my bag clung off my back and in front of me I decide I have to lose what I don’t need from it, I grab my mobile, my identification papers and page 142 from my A-Z. Everything else is thrown back into my bag and slung into the dustbin I am leaning against, I look at the A-Z page, Thanet Street, I’m no more then 200 metres away from the station. I get up and turn to face the way I need to go, down the end of the street is an Advisor vehicle; it is turning into the street and slowly cruising down towards me. The gun turret attached to the top is slowly sweeping the road, looking for any signs of moment. I am frozen with fear, there is no way I can move without the gun turret picking up my movement and if I stay here it will drive right past me and open fire on my terrified, shaking self.
I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone; I go to the Menu, Settings, Ringing Tone, Bloc Party – Helicopter, Options, Preview. I press OK and lob the phone as far behind me as I can, towards the vehicle. The song plays and I hear the cogs on the turret clunk as it turns towards my phone, lying there on the street floor. I have maybe 4 seconds to get to safety before my distraction is ignored and the vehicle continues to plough my way. I sprint to the end of the street, faster then I have ever run before and dart around the corner, my back to the wall. My crumpled up A-Z page is pulled out my pocket and I stare at it, trying to work out a safe route to the station without going down the main roads.
“All Advisors without a 4 mile radius are to report to Russell Square immediately for extermination of the rebellious citizens. Those who defy the Advisors defy the law.” The tanoys announces, a huge sigh of relief rushes through me, I now have a clear path straight to the station. In the distance I hear the rumbling of Advisor Vehicles starting up. I have no where to hide, no where to run to. I drop to the floor and lay there in a rag doll like pose; pretending to be one of the fallen public was my only choice. I lay, waiting for the rumble of engines to fade into the distance.
12:24, sh*t. 6 minutes to get to the platform, I get up and sprint to the station doors, inside is just as empty and deserted as Embankment was, I see the train sitting there, just waiting to get underway.
“Wait!” I scream, I run down the stairs onto Platform 3 and run onto the train, it is packed to the brim with people, like those videos you’d see on YouTube of Indian Trains with people clinking for dear life to the sides. The train jerks and begins to move, this is no commercial train ride, all stop lights are being ignored and we are going full speed all the way to France. The train had to be overtaken by people in order for this plan to work, the last push to freedom in a society trapped by the government. Only a select few knew about it, all told to me there by 12:30. Any later and you were left to die at the mercy of the Advisors.
We hurtle along the tracks towards the coast, word of our getaway from this hell hole had reached the Advisors and they were planning on stopping us, at any cost. The train had suffered some damage from grenade attacks from Advisors positioned on bridges and gunfire from helicopters posted above the train tracks. As we got closer and closer to the tunnel the other people in the carriage began to question whether we would be able to survive any more grenade attacks, or even reach the tunnel. I was getting scared too, this was sure to have consequences for those back in London, I felt bad for not really caring about the people trapped in the city. I only cared about myself and my safety.
We approached the tunnel, speeding up more and more to ensure we could burst through anything the Advisors had set up to try and block our escape. The carriages wobbled with speed, the train was not designed to go this fast, maybe 50mph slower, but not this fast. The trains brakes screeched loudly, the driver knew we had to stop before we reached whatever was at the tunnel entrance. Everyone was propelled forward as the trains brakes were applied, moans and groans were heard as we all flew into the carriage wall. A massive crashing noise of metal on metal flew through the air, screams and explosions soon followed. The front of the train flung through the air like a tennis ball being hit and smashed against the concrete walls to each side of the track, the train had de-railed and we were being flung through the Southern countryside at over 200mph. Our carriage popped off the tracks, everything slowed down as the carriage tilted to the left, the wall now scraping across the ground, sparks flying in our faces and people being squashed against the steel frame of the train and the gravely ground. I was thrown like a rag doll to the wall. My face burning as sparks hit it. My final thoughts flew past me, I had no time to think of final thoughts. It was over.
A rip-off of HL2? Yes.
A bit poor towards the end? Probably
Worth a B/A? No idea. Find out next week.