Luke Gabriel stumbled through the undergrowth, still dressed in nothing but a doctors coat, trousers, and his now muddy shoes. He’d been fumbling about for an hour or so now, not sure where he was, nor whether he was running in the right direction. He was also hungry. Despite being a doctor himself, hospital food and he did not agree, and hunger pangs were now a prevailing ailment trumping wet feet and the darkness. He had to get back to LochTae, find the farmer who knew what was causing half the village to start itching, then have their skin turn bright pink.
He heard a noise…….an engine………lights…..he could see lights………he scrambled towards the source……..at last……at last he’d found a road and civilisation. He sprinted through the trees. He was just about there, when a tree root came between him and the touchline. He was probably not even as ungainly looking as the sack of potatoes he went down like. As he lay there in yet more mud….his potential good samaritan drove on, oblivious to Luke’s unplanned woodland floor tour.
On a slightly different mission, but nonetheless just as dangerous, Janet crept through the wood adjacent to her magical little cottage. She’d managed to escape from the village pub, clattering an unknown casualty in the process, but, was now nearly home. She was sure the soldiers would either not know her cottage existed, or they’d have searched, found nothing, and moved on. Assuming her theory was correct, she’d be back, safe and well, with enough food and fuel to see her through this dreadful episode. It was going to be a bit nerve-wracking, as the rest of the family were off visiting relatives in England but she’d be brave. Janet was now wishing she’d gone with them.
She arrived at the back gate, pulled the latch, and moved towards the back door. She’d picked up a thick branch on the way through the woods, just in case. She had just reached into her pocket for the key when she heard the noise………..she froze……..her Tai Chi classes were meant for moments like this…..she slid behind the wheelie bin.
Calm Janet calm……now deep breaths……it could be a fox, badger, deer, the fairies from the bottom of the garden…..it could be anything……but it wasn’t……..a human sized shadow carrying a torch, appeared round the side of the house, towards where Janet hid, Tai Chi’d beyond frozen, her heart was now dancing to a unstrictly come dancing beat as the intruder reached the cottage door…..
Janet launched herself from behind the wheelie bin….
She whacked the intruder on the back of the head, and down he went like Luis Saurez of a Saturday afternoon.
She grabbed the torch……and shone it in the now distinctly groggy assailants face……
There, lying at her feet was Barry. The villages one man Territorial Army expert. He groaned, creaking open one eye.
‘What did you do that for?’
‘Oh I’m sorry Barry. I didn’t know it was you. What are you creeping around here for anyway?’
Barry, now rubbing the back of his now throbbing skull, slowly stood up.
‘Let’s get inside……….you won’t believe what I’m going to tell you’
Luke estimated he’d been walking along the road for at least half an hour, when another vehicle came into view. The bright headlights blinded him, but he was desperate, so he leapt out into the road, and waved frantically. The car screeched to a halt, managing just enough momentum to lift Luke up onto the bonnet.
‘Jesus buddy. wad’ya doin jumpin about in the dark. This is Scotland, you people don’t behave like this. This….. is also a hire car…. one dent and I’ll sue your ass!!’
‘I’m sorry…..I need your help…..let me explain….’
ten minutes later…………
‘So buddy……you’re telling me that one day into your new job, having left your OCD psycho girlfriend, you were arrested, taken to an isolation ward, probed, prodded and jagged, only to be helped to escape by a nurse who ‘couldn’t resist your blue sparkling eyes’. You then spend half the night diving in mud in a doctors outfit only to jump in front of my car at 2 a.m. and all because of some pink men who stole some sheep!!! Look son……or should i say ‘Luke son’, geddit Luke son…. ‘
Luke feigned a smile.
‘Ok buddy. I’m not sure what medication you’re on, but just in case even half of what you’re sayin is true, I gotta get u somewhere, even if it’s just to one your mental institutions…..Look, you’ll need to get in the back with the girls. They both do karate, so I’d sit still if i were you……I’ve got a shirt in the boot that might fit you and some deodorant…….’
A can of IrnBru and some XL crisps later, they set of with Luke adorned with clean socks and a somewhat tight but clean dry shirt. He was already feeling a great deal better.
‘Okay, I’m Bob, this is my wife Lisa, and guarding you are FT and the one that’s snoring loudly, is Giovanna. We’re from Franklin, Maryland. This is our second visit to Scotland. You have a beautiful country. Last time we were here we stoopidly decided to meet up with some Scots we met through Twitter. Sheesh…..some real doozies. Would never do that again! So this time, we didn’t tell them we were coming, we hired a car and we’re off to explore the Heelands……’
‘Well, my name is Luke, I’m a doctor and no matter how bizarre the story I’ve told you may sound, it’s all true. I need to find the farmer who knows the truth behind the villagers turning pink, get him to tell the authorities, and the whole saga will be over. Hopefully, I can then return to my job, get some peace, tranquility and live a normal village life’
Bob swerved as a car hammered round the corner in the opposite direction nearly careering into them.
‘Jesus man, what’s got into this place? Last time it was fat guys running away from fireworks, haggis n’ neeps, shopping in Edinbro. Now it’s mad doctors, pink men and psycho drivers….’
Despite nearly taking Bob’s car out on the bend, Lolo kept her foot down on the pedal. She had seen the hospital where Luke was being kept on the news. She’d found him at last. Even if he did have a deadly disease, she’d ask to die with him. That would be special. Together to the end.
‘What do you mean they’re Russian?!’exclaimed Janet
‘I’m telling you. I overheard some of them. One minute they’re talking English better than you or I, the next it’s ‘Niet Niet Nietski’
‘but Barry, how could, what, 50 or so Russian troops, arrive here in LochTae unopposed, at the same time as an unknown virus strikes down the village…..it’s impossible!’
‘I’m telling you. We HAVE to phone the authorities and warn them’
Dawn arrived over LochTae and the Village Pub BootCamp was stirring.
‘I hope this is all over soon Ginny. Even surrounded by lots of young fit Rugby players, even I’m getting a bit bored of all this’
‘Never thought I’d here those words coming from your lips Gill’ 🙂
‘Well, since the telly in the pub’s gone bonkers, I can’t even watch the Cardiff game tonight, and, it’s really weird that they’ve confiscated everyones smartphones. Something about stopping the press invading our privacy while the Army sort everything out’
‘I hope Janet’s alright? That was brave of her making a break for it. I wonder where she is?’
‘The phone’s dead’
‘Dead?…….that’s strange………I know you’re in the middle of the woods, but do you normally have problems with your phone?’
‘Nope…..Barry……I do not……I’m starting to think you’re theory might not be as barkingly mad as I thought. I’m not sure how we prove it, and, if it is true, what we do about it?’
‘Well, I plan to take them out one by one…..ping ping ping’
‘Barry! this is getting way out of control. You don’t even know whether you heard them speaking Russian or not. Could you have misheard them?’
‘Okay. It could have been Gaelic, Welsh or Liverpudlian for all I know. I just thought I heard one of them say “Niet” ‘
‘So, based on that, you’re going to load up your snipers rifle and take them out one by one?’
‘Well……..maybe we should double check then’
‘I think maybe we should Barry. I’m not sure what the penalty would be for shooting 50 Scottish soldiers by mistake, but I don’t think you’d be allowed on any more TA training courses……I have a plan which might prove whether you’re right or not…..’
Lolo strode past the front desk towards the lift. At last she’d have the chance to prove to Luke how much she loved him. Minutes later she was outside the isolation ward. Damn! It was keycoded. She rolled her fingers to whiteness. However, it wasn’t long before a nurse emerged from the other side. Lolo barged past her……
‘Excuse me…you’re not supposed to….’
Her words evaporated in the air, as Lolo homed in on her prey………nay…boyfriend (also now known as ex-fiancee 🙂 ) It wasn’t long before she located a room with five males……
‘Stop her, you can’t enter….’
Too late was the cry. Lolo barged past another nurse and burst into the ward….
‘Luke Gabriel…..where is he!!????’
‘I’m afraid you missed him, he escaped last evening’
‘But…..he has to be here he HAS to be….you’re lying!!’
She never had a chance to find out whether they were lying or not, as four suited up staff grabbed her from behind. She turned and lashed out, pulling the mask from one of her assailants. No one could hear what the muffled hospital staff were saying, but it was evident panic had set in as the clearly bonkers woman ladled into them. It was only when another group of staff appeared, that Lolo was finally taken down and restrained.
‘Dr Ratcliffe and Jones looked through the window at the young woman now restrained in an isolation room bed’
‘Who is she?’
‘She’s the girlfriend of Luke Gabriel, the Doctor chap who escaped yesterday. Not much else known about her at the moment. Police are checking her background. She managed to expose three of the staff to the air in the isolation room. We now have fourteen villagers and five staff in isolation. At this rate we’ll all be in there soon’
‘Perhaps not Dr Jones. My initial tests show no pathogen is present in the patients. Also the female staff from the village Doctors surgery, despite being exposed, show no symptoms at all. It’s more like an auto-immune response to some external factor like a chemical or an irritant of some sort. Perhaps you’d keep that to yourself to enable me to do more checks but, at this moment, an endemic pathogen is not on my list of culprits’
Luke peered down at Lochtae. Bob and his family had not only given him a rather tight fitting, but waterproof jacket to go with the tight fitting shirt they’d lent him earlier, they’d also donated a pair of binoculars. Giovanna, who’d snored through most of the trip, had finally woken and had stared scarily at Luke reluctantly handing over her bottle of Irn Bru. Luke had promised them he’d look them up on Twitter once it was all over and pay them back.
He could see vehicles moving around, but that was about it. He was too far away. He looked round the valley. There was a large wood down to the left which might give him enough cover to get close enough. Hopefully, if he wasn’t shot in the process, he’d find someone in command, and tell him the truth about the ‘contagion’. He’d wait until dark and set off towards the woods.
‘So, you’re going to borrow the megaphone from the Village Hall and shout in Russian “the British Army are here!” That’s your plan?’
‘Well, it’s better than your plan to ‘shoot on sight’ for goodness sake. If they understand what I say, and start panicking, then your theory is correct’
‘….and i can start shooting them??’
‘Oh Barry, you are not right of the head…..no, we escape and let the authorities deal with them’
‘What if they take everyone in the pub hostage?’
‘Oh Barry!!! You’re theory is bonkers…..downright bonkers…..I don’t know why I’m even thinking about doing this. There will be a simple explanation as to why some villagers turned pink, and, as we originally thought, these are simply Scottish soldiers carrying out their duties. A Russian invasion in the middle of Scotland! You’re incorrigible sometimes….!’
Meanwhile, in the Doctors surgery just along from the pub……..
‘Okay. Everything looking quiet in the village?’
‘Yes Captain. Everything is fine. The rugby boys are already in full swing and it’s only lunchtime’
‘Any more patients?’
‘No Sir, nothing at all.’
‘We must move quickly then…………..’
At around 11pm Luke finally reached the edge of the woods. The extent of his stealth training was a few paintball sessions whilst at Medical School, and watching Bear Grylis stalking prey on tv. He listened. Nothing. He crept from tree to tree, sometimes waiting minutes before moving on. As he lay on the moss floor of the forest, he contemplated the madness of not just this week, but the previous mayhem of long hours as a medical student and junior doctor, followed by the madness of Lolo. Why couldn’t he have copied his brother, got a job in the City, made his money and retired to Florida by the age of 30. He wondered where Lolo……Laura, was. Probably stalking some other junior doctor and making lists. He almost smiled. It was just then he heard a click and opened his eyes to find himself staring down the barrel of a gun……………
Episode 4 ‘Luke’s Escape’ was brought to you by David Linden aka @qosfc1919 ©Dodo Productions 2015 – if you like my stories you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org