The Royal Funeral

 

Prologue: The following excerpt is from chapter 1 of Revolution. At this point, the Monarch and key members of Britain's Royal family have been assassinated by unknown perpetrators with obvious military capabilities. The President of the US and most of the world's leaders are attending a funeral in Westminster Abbey.

*** 

The Royal Funeral is in progress. Peering through the thick laminated glass of his bullet-proof window overlooking the Abbey, Hammond brings his attention back to the task in hand. He looks up at the three matt black helicopter gunships carrying his mobile force, as they circle 1,000 feet above. ‘Let’s hope all will be well. I’ve done all I can.’

Despite this, the hairs on the back of his neck erected, something did not feel right. He looked nervously at his monitors.

#

A short while earlier, 20 miles to the North near the town of Hertford, Sheila Reynolds’ ministerial Jaguar is sped down a narrow and twisting country lane, with its two escorting, unmarked police Range Rovers. She is Britain’s Home Secretary, responsible for all police forces. 

The maroon Jaguar hurtled round a corner, closely following the lead Range Rover. From a farm gate, as if from nowhere, a large green tractor lurched into the road. It missed the lead Range Rover smashing into Sheila’s car. The Jag slewed across the road, slammed into the hedge and jerked her forwards against her safety belt.

Her driver, who never wore a belt, smashed his head into the windscreen. Blood ran down his shattered face and he was unconscious. Hissing steam erupted from the broken radiator. The Front Range Rover screeched to a halt, leaving a mark of scorched rubber.

The following vehicle, tires squealing, stopped in time to just miss the Jaguar. Detective Sergeant Daniels, temporary head of her security detail, leaped out and tore open her door. His team was already trying to help her chauffer. In the chaos, they missed the driver of the tractor slipping away behind the hedge in the field and into a spinney.

Sheila her adrenalin up and eyes flashing, ranted at her minders.  “How could you be so stupid? I saw that tractor coming from yards away and I was in the fucking back seat!”

In public, she is all sweetness and smiles. In private she is a harridan. Her foul language. all the more cutting, due to her Oxford University drawl. 

Sergeant Daniels clamped his lips tight. Suppressing his rising anger he thought, ‘You absolute bitch! I’d like to strangle you. It’s only a damned traffic accident. Even trained police drivers have ‘em occasionally and you insisted on coming this way to see the countryside and then we were late!’ 

Sheila Reynolds has a reputation as a ball breaker. Her blond good looks and gentle smile simply lure her victims within range.

Emolliently, Daniels pointed out. “We could still make the funeral, if you allow me to call in the duty helicopter.”

“And how the fuck would that look on the TV? “The Home Secretary leaves her badly injured driver and other accident victims to flee the scene!”

“Anyway, get the TV on in the back of your car. The funeral will start soon. I’m staying here to watch it.”

She settled her fattening rump into the comfortable rear seat of his Range Rover to view the funeral on the small screen in the back of the seat in front of her. She relaxed just a little. ‘My cover story for not being in the Abbey is in place. It’ll be time soon.’ She checked her watch, as the second hand swept away the minutes.

#

When it comes, the blast is overwhelming. In his HQ, in The Houses of Parliament, the wall and armored glass window in front of Colonel Johnny Hammond blows inwards

Everything happens in slow motion as his adrenalin kicks in. He receives a massive jolt to his chest when his body armor catches the impact of shards of glass and chunks of masonry.  He feels sharp cuts as some glass splinters slash his face.

He is on his back, deafened. Blood trickles into his eyes and down his cheeks. A piercing pain wracks his arm. He wipes his eyes with his other hand. ‘My arm, it must be broken. I must stay conscious.’  In despair, he glimpses dust, bodies and chaos all around him.

#

The CNN helicopter with its powerful telephoto, stabilized camera, circles outside the three-mile exclusion zone that the Brits set up to keep the press back. It transmits a live broadcast of the best shots of the enormous explosion that blows Westminster Abbey and all those in it to smithereens. The flash and smoke fill TV screens all over the world.

The shock wave pitches the chopper into a violent spin. The pilot wrestles with his controls, revving the throttles to stay airborne. The news reporter, with the scoop of his lifetime, stammers his shocked commentary in a voice choking with emotion,

“Oh my God! This is unbelievable. The Church is gone. Oh Lord have mercy, the President is in there! This is terrible. Oh the tragedy!”

He sobs hysterically, as his pilot abruptly swerves into a wider circuit to escape the billowing dust cloud. Below they see the crowds stampeding and trampling over each other in panic. The on-board camera captures a series of further explosions as they ripple along the surrounding streets.  It looks as though it is all erupting from below the roadways. Some manhole covers and bodies hurtle upwards and spurts of explosive flame leap from the ground. They see thousands of panicked Londoners and tourists being shredded.

Ten seconds later, all UK civilian telephones, TV signals and the Internet go dead. Millions of half typed texts and tweets are interrupted.                  

In his control bunker a few hundred yards away, Special Branch Commander Jack Brewer gasps in horror.  Then his banks of monitoring screens go blank. A sinister message comes over the supposedly secure line into his earpiece in an electronically modified and emotionless voice.

“You can’t resist Jack. We hear all your communications. Go home to your Megan and your daughter Joan. Give up, or you’ll all die!”

Then this line too is dead. Jack gasps, frightened for his family, then steels himself, ‘The hell with that! We’ll get you bastards, if it’s the last thing we do!’

He asks himself. ‘Who did this and why? They must have had internal help. When we can answer that question we can begin to fight back. The problem is what to do now? Where to go?’