We didn’t leave the house that night though we could hear others gathered outside talking away. A lot of them were still out when we got up next morning. The street was littered with cans.
The Whelan’s were sayin’ it was the end of days, preachin’ about the final Judgement. That didn’t go down well with The Richmond’s. The young couple clearly didn’t fancy their chances in whatever the trial would be and were determined that if it was the End of Days, they’d bloody well enjoy it.
Someone had found a guitar. Oasis tunes were screeched out from Number 37. A few of our neighbours, those that should have known better, joined the growing entourage on the Richmond front lawn. The chordless wonder never let up, satisfying the beery shouted requests of the group.
Some of the other families, much like our own, crept outdoors during the day at intervals as the time of the trial crept near. Mainly to confirm that we were still without WiFi or phone signal, and that the TV and Radio channels were scrambled.
Looking at the situation a bit more soberly, we agreed that we’d live by the curfew that day. Tomorrow we’d look for answers. Head into town. See who else had heard the voices. Safety in numbers.
When 10pm came around, we were gathered in the living room. Maggie and the two boys on the settee. Holding hands. Her with rosary beads laced through her fingers. Bible on her lap. Hand pressed to it.
“My child,” the voice began again.
I look up and see in my wife’s eyes that she hears it too. It’s a lot quieter outside now. The singing has stopped.
“I am the one true Saviour, although you know me by many names.”
I reach out and take Damian, our youngest, by the hand. He’s in tears. He looks at me, pleading in his eyes. I hear my voice crack as I try to reassure him. Best I can do is nod and smile.
“Now is the time. Heaven awaits. Your trial begins. First come, first served.”
I look to the kids and then at Maggie. We share the same confused look. I’m about to speak before the voice cuts across.
“Kill. Or be killed. I’ll see you soon my child.”
A pop in my ear. Gone. A scream from down the street. Followed by another.
“No. No!” I say and get to my feet, looking outside the window.
“What’s happening?” Maggie shouts after me.
“It can’t be this way.”
People running from the direction of The Richmond’s. Some with blood spatter on their clothes. I see a guitar swing and clatter someone across the face. Others have left their homes, clutching kitchen knives, slashing through the air. The sound of a gunshot.
Maggie has her arms around the boys. They’re crying. “Don’t let them take my boys!”
I turn and watch the faces of my family frozen in fear.
“This can’t be happening!”
A knock on the door.
A young man in military uniform strides into the room and addresses the back of a chair which is swivelled away from the desk.
“What have you got for me Colonel?”
“Well sir,” the man says and takes a sharp intake of breath, “every indication is that the chemical compounds in the deposit have successfully been activated on the human host.”
“At ease Piercy. English. Please.”
The standing man clears his throat. “Certainly, Sir. The chemtrail deposit from our planes appear to have worked on our target.”
The man in the chair swivels around. He is dressed in a sharp business suit, angular cheek bones jutting out from his face. There’s a hint of a smile tugging the tight cheeks. He slowly splays his arms out, sleeves riding up his tanned forearms and plants the palms on the desk.
“So, the trial is live,” the man says, nodding slowly.
“Yes sir. The town is covered in it. Our signal is online.”
“And the program download?”
“Operation Shamrock. They think God is talking to them right now. It’s a blood bath,” the man says, having difficulty suppressing a smile.
“You’ve cut all routes and communication to the town I assume.” The standing man nods. “I’ll need to speak with our convoy there to keep him informed.”
“As you wish sir.”
“Very good. That’ll be all. Oh and Piercy?” The standing man had half turned but straightened up again at the instruction of his superior.
“Let’s try another town. Somewhere a little more challenging than the arsehole of Ireland.” A nod from the standing man. “I’m thinking Libya.”
“Is that a problem?”
“No, sir. Not at all,” the man says although his expression betrays his confidence. “It’s just that logistically, it could be difficult.”
The seated man smiles. “Not without a little faith. Don’t you know? God can move mountains.”