‘As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?’ [Ecclesiastes. 5:16]
In 1984 terrorists planted a bomb in the Grand Hotel Brighton, England, during the Conservative Party Conference. They failed to remove the government of the day -- but what if they had succeeded?
What if the event accelerated Europe into a Federated Union with a centralised government in Brussels, the Presidium, who hold to the premise that security is paramount, sacrosanct?
What if they in turn birthed a regime originally meant to protect the people, but which quickly became a tyrannical organisation -- the Federal Security Division. A force that implements draconian measures in the name of the collective State, where special internment camps spring up for subversives and those who speak out against the Union; where oppression and cold-bloodied murder are rife.
In the summer of 1994, one man is embroiled in this political nightmare, yet at the same time he is faced with the possibility of redemption from a millstone of guilt about his past -- that is, of course, if he can survive.
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Paul Cain would blow his brains out; there was nothing complicated about it--sane or insane, people did it when they’d had enough.
Reluctant at first to leave the skin-tight warmth of his bed, he finally tossed back the duvet and stood, naked and shivering, in the chill of the sparsely furnished room.
Not even a whisky bottle could lie to him that morning. Death loomed with the same clarity as the mental pictures of last night’s ferocious thunderstorm. The truth was, he’d been planning to top himself for ages, and it was pure self-deceit for him to think that it was down to another fitful nights sleep, or to another pointless day raking through the past. This was death then a plunge into freezing waters instead of that warm, comfortable current that drifted in with old age.
Somewhere at sometime, someone told him that it was no hard thing dying if you’ve lived right. That day was long gone, and no doubt the owner of the words long dead--as were all Cain’s friends and lovers.
Hell, he wasn’t certain of anything anymore.
He threw on a towelling robe and trudged downstairs into the kitchen of his Hampshire farmhouse, gripped the edge of the butler sink and let the ice-cold flagstones sting his bare feet.
Ignoring his warped reflection, he peered through the grimy window. The storm had left an early June day swept by persistent drizzle, and a lone vehicle crawled along the main road. Some hapless tourist lost again. What other sort of idiot came out on a day like today.
He slouched in a chair by the oak table, listened to the loud incessant tick of the wall clock, sunk the tepid leftover dregs of scotch and winced as it burned to his gut.
Cigarette in shaky fingers, he stood, puffed at it and stared at the cupboard where he kept his old service gun; a friend that reminded him of better days or were they? Did hell start while one was alive? Was it simply a preview to the eternal horror?
Struggling against the failing hand of reason, he walked to the cupboard and took down the weapon.
Mind transfixed by the lethal power of the Browning 9-millimeter automatic, he played it in sweaty palms, its weight bestowing a familiar sense of security.
Death was preferable to a life-crippling guilt, guilt that no one and nothing on God’s rotten earth could redeem him from. Eyes shut, he took a deep breath, pushed the barrel into his mouth and eased back the hammer...