|Chapter Twenty Eight – St Peter Port, Guernsey
There were four large cargo ships in the harbor at the off loading docks. Three ships contained tinned and bottled food goods while the other contained bulk sacks of flour, cornmeal, dried beans and peas. This was the third shipment since they took control of preparations.
Hamish reviewed the last report with satisfaction. With the latest shipment of goods they had enough non-perishable foodstuff to supply the population with two weeks of emergency rations, with careful rationing. Two weeks did not sound like a lot of time, but it was better than mass starvation.
Hamish was very tired. He’d been putting in twenty-hour days for the past four days with little break and no family time. He casually glanced at his watch. He was supposed to meet Dorbec at the pub in five minutes.
“Mind the store, will ya?” Hamish asked a matronly looking woman in her mid fifties. “It’s a bit of a break I’m needing right now.”
Hamish picked up his battered SAS cap and headed out the door. Going down the stairs he ran into Sir Geoffery who was on his way up.
“Wot, in a bit of hurry?” Sir Geoffery asked, pointing his ancient walking stick at Hamish. The black stick was a gnarled old vine probably several hundred years old, a remnant of ages past.
“It’s me pub time,” Hamish grinned. “These reports and the planning and wot-not are driving me bonkers. And no reported sightings I’m pleased to add.”
“I could use a bit of Port myself,” Sir Geoffery stated, heading back down the landing.
At the Pub, Dorbec was well into his pints. He waved to the two overworked men as they crossed the noisy threshold. The place was buzzing and full of idle drinkers, despite it being mid afternoon. They crowded up to the bar next to Dorbec. They had little trouble making room since Sir Geoffery was well respected but rarely seen in the pubs. Two young men politely gave up their seats and joined friends at a corner table.
“About time, your lordship?” Dorbec grinned. “He was not referring to Sir Geoffery, but to a haggard looking Hamish.
“Some of us work while others play,” Hamish growled back. Both were well aware that Dorbec had been spending as much time as Hamish had in organizing the island defenses against a possible attack by the ants.
“Anything new from the Yanks?” Sir Goeffery asked, pointing at the tellie.
“The news anchor reports that the creatures have spread to dozens of major cities,” replied the barkeeper, placing a mug of ale in front of Hamish and a glass of Port for Sir Geoffery. “Bloody disaster it was, wot with the people in Washington City getting killed and all. Woman on the BBC said two cities in old Blighty have been hit bad. Military pulled all their armour to Birmingham and the bloody ants attacked Brighton and Manchester. Not enough armour to get them all according to the Ministry.”
“They’ve taken over a large part of the American mid west,” Hamish added. “The Yanks have consolidated their armour at four locations since their president and congress bought the bloody farm.”
“Any word from your friend, the Federal Agent?” Sir Geoffery asked.
“Latest we heard from Huckleberry, they’ve gone to cover in a bunker complex built for the entire bloody congress. Place is as big as a bloomin’ city.”
“I still don’t like the report about those milk cows missing up near La Fontenelle,” Dorbec interjected. “Madame Alouns is a well respected member of her community and a bird watcher to boot, and I am sure she knows the difference between a giant piss ant and a damn sea gull.”
“The area was searched extensively,’ Hamish contended. “Either the creature continued on to the Normandy coast, or it’s found a very good hiding hole. We even have all those launches along the coast with field glasses in case the monster shows up on the rocky cliffs. Nary a sighting.”
“Any chance of Royal Marines or armour coming this way, your lordship?” The bartender anxiously asked Sir Geoffery.
Sir Geoffery glanced at Hamish with curiosity, then shook his head. “Not with the trouble on the main. People in London and other places are frightened. The news cameras from America showing the monsters running through the streets and tearing people to pieces, has them in a bit of a panic.”
Sir Geoffery looked at his watch then bent over to whisper to Hamish. “They’ll be landing in about an hour,” he quietly muttered.
Hamish and Dorbec both nodded their heads. It was a secret they had to keep from the population, especially during these frightening times. The Royal Family was scheduled to land at the Guernsey Airport at La Planque. A special detachment of SAS was assigned to protect the Royal family.
No mention had been made on the news for security reasons. Also, it was decided that having the Royal Family flee from the giant ants to the protection of Guernsey Island, might not go over well with the general populace. Accommodations had been prepared for them in downtown St. Peter Port and also at the Guernsey Yacht Club. There were many secret and secure bases in the UK, in Herefordshire, Surrey, Northhamptonshire, Cheshire, all across Scotland and scores of other places, but these had not been considered appropriate for Royalty.
“What about that other item?” Sir Geoffery whispered. “Are we prepared?”
“The Royal Engineers have everything in place,’ Hamish smiled. “Very professional blokes mind you.”
What Sir Geoffery was referring to was a plan to blow the levee going out to Castle Cornet between the Yacht Club and the main part of the castle. That would leave no overland access for the ants should they overrun the island. A well known professor advised them that ants did not like water and Castle Cornet was surrounded by ocean.
In addition, six US Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Vehicles, armored and capable of transporting up to 25 combat ready marines, were offloaded during the night hours from one of the tanker ships. These were previously bought by the Royal Navy for amphibious training but sent to Guernsey at the request of Sir Geoffery. They would supplement the defenses of Castle Cornet in a worse case scenario. A Company of Royal Marines manned them; a secret he thought the bartender may have somehow gotten wind of.
“It’s confirmed now,” the BBC newscaster on the tellie stated. The bartender held his hand up to shush the pub. “London is under attack by the prehistoric ants. They were reported earlier in the Wandsworth area, then started pouring out of the tubes at Chiswick Park and Acton Town. They have also been reported at Notting Hill Gate, and Earl’s Court. A news helicopter is presently over the area of Holland Park and sending these arial footages.”
The helicopter was flying low enough to show footage of scores of giant ants crawling through the streets and attacking the fleeing people. Just like in Bowling Green and Washington D.C., the creatures attacked with ferocious abandon. There were so many people crowding the streets, the ants did not take time to rip open the stalled vehicles.
A number of police who had stopped to pump rounds into the creatures with their issued assault rifles, were quickly overran and ripped to pieces. The most difficult part to watch was the women and children clutched in the powerful jaws of the ants, screaming and bleeding as the mandibles quickly cut them into bloody chunks.
People were rushing into store fronts to escape the giant ants to no avail. The creatures simply crashed through the plate glass fronts and followed them. More and more ants poured from the tube exits until the area was full of them. Within seconds, the ants started returning to the tube with bits and pieces of body parts clutched in their deadly mandibles.
The footage quickly returned to a pale faced anchorwoman, who took a moment to find her voice. “As you can see, the creatures appear to be unstoppable. The Ministry of Defense has deployed armoured units around the city, but they are so widely scattered and in such small numbers, they are having little effect on the creatures. It is recommended that you try to secure yourself behind strong doors or try to make it to one of the many public buildings that have been designated refuge centers. These centers are located at…”
They listened as the anchorwoman continued down a list of public buildings thought to be strong enough to keep the ants from penetrating inside. They also noticed that she continued to glance at the large windows behind her as if expecting the ants to break into the broadcast studio at any moment.
“Blimey!” a man next to Dorbec shouted. “The bloody Yanks have really pulled a canker this time.”
“Wasn’t the damn Yanks!” Dorbec spat back. “Freaking eggs were found in Antarctica. Besides, no sense in posting blame now, the damn creatures are about.”
“Wot happens if they make it here?” another man asked, directing his question to Sir Geoffery.
“Contingencies,” Hamish replied instead. “We’ve got contingency plans in operation if the blighters make it to this island. “We’ll be putting out a news cast at eighteen hundred this evening outlining the plans. I recommend you stay sober enough to understand it.”
“Piss ants wouldn’t want Georgie here,” another man pointed at the first. “Freaking ants would be right soused for a week if they ate’em.”
“I’m scheduled at the Yacht Club.” Sir Geoffery looked at his watch then gave Hamish and Dorbec a knowing glance. It was obvious he had been badly shaken by the news coverage of the ants running amuck in London. “Be looking forward to your tellie report at eighteen hundred.” He lifted his walking stick and quickly left the pub.
“Old boy looks green around the gills,” Dorbec remarked.
“Unaccustomed to the site of blood and violence,” Hamish mused, raising his mug for a refill. Twenty minutes later they both left the pub feeling a bit more relaxed.
They were aware of the reason Sir Geoffery had left the pub so quickly. The Royal family was due to arrive in Guernsey at shortly past sixteen hundred, but they would not be landing at the airfield in La Planque. A plane would arrive there with an SAS Team and several important passengers; however, the Royals would be landing at the Yacht Club. They were being brought in by the H.M.S. Astute, a Royal Navy Nuclear Submarine.
There were very few yachts left in the harbour. Hamish and Dorbec had requisitioned the majority, under the authority of Sir Geoffery, to patrol the coastline. Along with the decent sized fleet and the hundreds of watchers, they hoped to spot any sign of the giant ants before one had a chance to land and lay her infernal eggs.
“Have you told Chantal, Arnaud and Aurelie about the Castle yet?” Hamish asked Dorbec. They had requisitioned quarters for their families at Castle Cornet in the event the ants somehow overran the island. They did not expect this to happen, however, as military men they always considered the unthinkable.
Dorbec smiled. “Of course. And Iona, Rowan and little Wallace, I assume they have made their plans?”
Hamish nodded. Their families may not be royalty, but they knew the inevitable choice of who lives and who dies may have to be made eventually. Even if the ants did not make it to the island, food shortages and massive waves of refuges would likely hit the island. It could turn into a nasty display of, dog eat dog, as the Americans were wont to say.