Year 17

Chapter 8
After the crash

by E.Escher - 29th Dec 2016
Lacking any better ideas, Colin headed home.

The police would have his face by now, but he didn't own any ID with a photo, so they wouldn't find it easy to get his name. Instead they'd have to check through old CCTV recordings to find a match, and then go around all the places he'd been with a photo, asking 'have you seen this man?'

They might also have his face on the news, him and Brian, asking the public to phone in with information. The bank might offer a reward, although that seemed unlikely; the robbery had only netted a few thousand, at most. Compared to the dozens of robberies a city could expect in a week, theirs was only newsworthy because of the casual, slipshod way they carried it out.

He cursed Brian once again, under his breath. What had he been thinking? What was the plan? He'd promised to explain everything, and Colin planned to wring that explanation out of him as soon as he figured out a plan of his own.

He could cut his hair, or grow a beard, or both. He hoped this was one of those occasions where his curse could help. People tended not to notice him if he didn't do anything to attract their attention, so the number of people calling in to report him would presumably be low.

Brian, meanwhile, had quite distinctive features, but people would probably file him under 'ugly skinhead' and not give him a second glance. It was better to avoid eye contact with some people.

Colin considered leaving the country. He had no passport, but there were always other ways to get off an island, especially if exposure and starvation weren't a consideration. He could simply paddle a rubber dinghy over to Ireland, or even France. Probably not France, though. He still held a grudge against Louis XV for their part in the Seven Years War, back in 1756.

What was Brian going to do? He had his job doing whatever-it-was for the government, surely they had his photo on file somewhere.

Colin turned his face away from the street as a bus pulled up alongside and disgorged a bunch of teenagers. Teens these days always got the news before anybody else, streamed directly to their phones and shared like a hive mind. They gave him the creeps.

He took a shortcut through a housing estate, hoping the winding passage kept going in the right direction. He was a good hour away from his house, at walking pace, but he had nothing better to do with his day. A good brisk walk certainly beat a day of doing nothing in front of the television, but he wasn't about to thank Brian for the diversion.

If leaving the country wasn't an option, he could simply lie low. His simple requirements were an advantage again, here. He could simply pick up a huge stack of his favourite books and go hide in a cave somewhere. Or perhaps a tent, or a caravan. Maybe one of those camper-van, mobile-home things. He could have a fridge then, maybe even some solar power. He had money, squirreled here and there in various small accounts, some hidden in boxes he'd buried around the country, some hidden in houses he still owned but didn't live in.

He had a place in stockport with an old air-raid shelter in the back garden. It had seemed an investment, having lived through both World Wars, and he supposed he could hide out there now if he felt like it, but he found he wasn't comfortable living underground. He knew there was only a few feet of soil above him, but once you were in there it felt like tons of rock, waiting to crush you to pulp the second you let down your guard, or you'd be trapped, and nobody would know you were down there, suffering unspeakable horrors in the dark...

No. He couldn't live in a cave, that was a stupid idea. The books would get damp, for starters, and there would inevitable be kids, or hikers, taking photos of the book-reading hermit, and then he'd be on the social media, and sooner or later somebody would put two and two together, and they'd come looking.

"Why did you do it, Mister Campbell?" they'd ask him, and he'd have no good answer. "What did you do with the money? What did you need it for?" they'd ask, and again, he'd have nothing useful to say.

Nothing anybody would believe.

'Damn you, Brian. I didn't need this.'

His phone rang.
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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