This is a story I am working on. Let me know if it works.
02.23 AM Sunday May 3rd 2009.
Mary opened up the draw on her desk and took out the sandwich she had bought earlier from the petrol station down the street, peeled the plastic sheath back and withdrew the sullen sandwich that had been inserted into it. She sniffed it then took a large bite out of it. The taste of cheap cheese and strong onion flooded her mouth, so she took a sip of the terrible coffee and swallowed the mush down.
After the avalanche of phone calls that came in when the pubs kicked out around eleven pm to twelve am on a Sunday night had begun to abate, and the complaints about drunken fights, stumbling idiots and domestic violence incidents had drifted away into a trickle, all the operators in the Glasgow emergency services call centre could begin to relax and wind down.
Mary Williams had been tasked to take all the initial 999 and non-urgent calls for the night as they came straight through into the centre. It was the usual suspects experiencing the usual incidents as usual. Drunks beating drunks, drunk wives complaining about being beaten by drunken husbands, drunk boyfriends being beaten by drunk girlfriends and drunks falling over in the street. Same old, same old.
Working to a deployment policy, it was Mary’s responsibility to grade the calls as they came into the centre. These were then assessed for urgency and then passed to the Incident Handling Centre who would then deal accordingly with the information received and dispatch either the police, the fire brigade or an ambulance to the scene. It was Mary though who was the primary target of the majority of the drunken abuse off the callers, and it was she and who had to try and decipher the drunken ramblings of those who called 999 for help.
After the idiot hour of emergency calls Mary usually felt frazzled. Having the ability to reason with a Glasgow drunk after he had been stabbed by his drunken wife was an art that few possessed.
Mary sipped again at the espresso in a plastic cup whose vile black contents had been dribbled disgustingly from the coffee machine on the corner of the office and nibbled at her anorexic cheese and onion sandwich. Other call handlers in the centre were sitting back in their chairs and yawning with boredom. A long night lay ahead now until shift change at 8 am. The screen of her computer terminal glowed with a faint silver blue tint in the darkened room, the lines of numbers on the screen the records of calls and incidents all logged in for monitoring purposes earlier during the shift.
Through the tinted black windows of the office she could faintly see the moon drifting through a wall of rain clouds and she could hear the pitter patter of rain drops drumming steadily against the roof.
Just then her headset began to buzz signifying that another call had come in.
She looked at the screen and saw that it was coming in from the area of Kirkwall in Orkney. strange she thought, it was very unusual to get a call from the Orkney islands at this time of night. To get a call at was unusual, to get one at this time of night was virtually unprecedented. Situated 10 miles north of the coast of Caithness, the Orkney archipelago was formed from 70 islands but only 20 are inhabited.The largest town on mainland Orkney, and its main administrative centre is Kirkwall. Reached via a ferry at Gill's Bay near John o'Groats the boat then sails to St. Margaret's Hope on Orkney. The sailing time took around an hour in clement weather, longer in the gales that afflict that area of the coast. With a population of around 20,000 Orkney was a sizeable community, though very close knit and self reliant. The islands have always had a low very crime rate, and most of the calls she had got in the past were domestic violence incidents related to drink. They too were usually in the idiot hour after throwing out time, and she hardly ever got any calls outside the idiot hour.
Mary pressed the call answer button on the console. The number on the screen showed that it was a mobile phone call from a mobile hand set.
“ 999 emergency - how can I help ? “ she said, her finger poised over the keyboard ready to record details of the incident.
The voice on the other end of the line, an older male with the accent of a true Orcadian screamed down the line gabbling “ You need to send help right now “. There was real fear in his voice.
“ Slow down please sir”, Mary said with well practised firmness, “what is the nature of the problem ? “.
The man screamed out, “ We need help here, something has attacked the village”.
Mary looked at her supervisor Joe who was sitting by a desk at the front of the room reading the Sun newspaper. She waved her hand frantically to get his attention and indicated that he was to come over to her desk. He put the paper down with a long sigh and strolled over.
“ Ok sir, who has been attacked and where are you exactly “
“ I am in Skaill just outside Kirkwall. I don’t know what has happened her but there are dozens of wounded and dead people in the village“
“ Ok sir who are you “ her fingers speedily typing out the incident report as an possible armed assault.
“ My name is Dr. John Wells, I live in Kirkwall and I was called out to an emergency call in the village of Skaill from a patient of mine. I have just got to the village and the whole place is in flames. There are dozens dead. I spoke to someone who was hiding in the woods just outside the village…… and they said that something came out of the sky and attacked the village “
Mary looked at her supervisor. He whispered to her “ I will get in contact with Glasgow airport, it sounds like an air crash “.
She felt the andrenalin kick in and the sick feeling of fear rising in her stomach that she experienced whenever dealing with a serious incident. The acid began to burn her stomach as she felt the stress tighten the muscles in the back of her neck.
Christ, she thought to herself, I hope this is not another Lockerbie.
Mary shook the thought from her mind and steadied herself, “ Ok sir, where has the plane hit exactly so we can send assistance straight to where you are “
The man was a silent for a moment, “ It wasn’t a plane that hit the village “
Mary stopped typing, “ What was it then sir “.
The man breathed out loudly “ I don’t know but it wasn’t a plane, ……… the chap I have just treated thinks it was a UFO “.
Mary instantly felt her guard go up. " Sir, I hope you are not joking about this. Wasting the time of the emergency services is a serious criminal offence”.
The man on the other end of the phone immediately shouted down the line “ I am not fucking joking, there are dead bodies in the village everywhere. Something has happened here and I don’t know what. I do not know what has happened, I am just telling you what I have been told “
Her supervisor ran over and pushed a piece of paper over to her, on it he had written ’ No planes are reported missing from the CAA’.
Mary pressed a button on the keyboard and muted the call.
She looked at her supervisor
“ He says a UFO has attacked the village “.
The supervisor looked at her his mouth dropping a little. ” What “ he said with incredulity in his voice.
“ He says a fucking UFO has hit the village “ she said with a raised voice. The face of her supervisor instantly went bright red with anger.
“ Tell the wanker that we are going to report him to the police and get him prosecuted”.
Mary switched the call back to a live feed.
“ Sir, I have to warn you that making prank calls to the emergency services is a serious criminal offence. We have a record of your phone number and we will be reporting you to the police”.
The man shouted back down the line “ Listen to me you fucking idiot, the village is destroyed, there are dead bodies everywhere now get … “.
Mary cut the phone off and sat back in her chair. She removed the headset and reached up with her right hand and began to massage the back of her neck to ease the tension that had cramped it and the headache that was just beginning.
Her supervisor walked away shaking his head “ Fucking arsehole “ he muttered to himself as he walked back to his desk.
Then the computer screen lit up again.
Orkney. The same number. She cut the call and went back to rubbing her neck.
The computer screen lit up again.
She looked and saw that it was not the same mobile phone. It a land line in the same village though of Skaill.
Mary pressed the answer key.
Then she could hear heavy breathing. Jesus, she thought, first a nutter now a pervert. What the hells is happening on Orkney tonight.
She waited for a few seconds and was about to press the end call button when a faint voice whispered “ Help me “.
Mary shook her head, her finger hovered over the end call button, and yet in spite of herself she heard herself saying “ Hello, 999 emergency how can I help “.
She could coughing on the other end of the line, what sounded like the crackling of fire and the inhalations of breath from someone obviously in pain. She could gurgling as though blood was in their lungs.
“ Help me” the voice whispered again.
Mary more firmly said “ Hello, who is this - where are you “.
She could the breathing growing shallow then silence. The breathing had stopped.
She felt a cold chill travel down her spine and goosebumps rise on her skin.
“ Hello, hello “ she shouted down the line.
She cut the call. Her supervisor was looking at her quizzically.
“ What the fuck is going on “ he said.
Mary wiped her forehead which had developed a cold sweat across it. “ I don’t know. Someone from the same village as before asking for help. Then they just went silent”.
The supervisor shrugged and replied “ Its probably the same dickhead as before. Ignore it. “ and carried on reading the paper.
Mary looked at her watch. Christ, still five and a half hours to go. What a night.
Then the computer screen lit up again.
A new number.
A land line.
She pressed the call answer button.
A young womans voice was on the line. She was sobbing, her breathing deep and fast. Her voice was terrified.
“ Send help “ she screamed, “ something has attacked our house and my mum and dad are dead “.
Mary pressed the call reject button angrily then turned round and pulled her cigarettes from her jacket pocket that hung on the back of her chair.
Fuck it, she thought, I am having a fag. Jim can take over for a bit.
As she went to get out of the chair another light came on the screen.
Then another light on the console came on.
Another different number.
And then the whole screen began to light up with call after call from Orkney. All from the same village.
Ten. Twenty. Thirty. The numbers kept rising.
One of them she noticed was a land line call direct from the main police station on the island.
She quickly moved the computer cursor with her mouse onto the call bar on the screen and pressed answer.
The voice on the other end was male and terrified.
“ Get help “, the voice shouted down the line, “ Something has attacked one of the villages on the island. We have dozens dead. “
Mary began to shake with fear.
“ Ok sir who is this ? “
The voice shouted down the line “ My name is DC Watt of Orkney police. I sent a unit to respond to a call we got about ten minutes ago that there had been an incident in Skaill. Christ, theres dozens dead. The village is destroyed. “
Mary typed the name into the computer.
“ Ok then sir what do you know for sure has happened “
“ I don’t know anything for sure”, the male voice said, “ but something, some sort of object has attacked the village according to my officers at the scene. Get the army here straight away and medical help. We have scores killed and wounded “.
Mary looked over at her supervisor Jim. He was lifting the phone to his mouth and pressing the number on the phone to his bosses in the incident command centre.
His fingers were trembling, his face ashen pale.