Being inspired, maybe – 72


A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And, then, the words:


What was hiding behind that wall?

It was a question that had fuelled the imaginations of generations.

The official story was that it was a government-run rehabilitation centre for soldiers who had participated and were injured in past conflicts.

It sounded a plausible, and realistic explanation.

But...

Very few had got near the wall, let alone climb it to see what was on the other side.

There were rumours.

One was that on the other side was yet another wall with a large courtyard in between, and some of the most exquisite gardens to be seen.

Another was there was a low large flat roof building suggesting it went down into the ground, peeps and experimental reverse skyscraper, going down instead of up.

And a final version said that it was exactly what everyone was being told, a rehabilitation centre because that person had seen aged soldiers in uniform, sitting in the gardens.

No one really knew, and when no one has any valid information, conjecture and guesses slowly become fact as they are retold, embellished, and retold again and again.

One of the more fantastic stories told of a huge underground factory that was making an interstellar starship.  And the reason for this supposition, a large crack down the middle of the building, and enough space either side for the "roof doors" retract.

Why else were the gardens kept down to below the roof level with only shrubs, not trees?  It was a good point.

What was relevant was that there wasn't a tall building on the other side because it couldn't be seen from the road.

What else was relevant, there were no tall buildings within a mile of the wall, and each of the sides of those buildings that faced the wall were heavily shaded opaque glass.

No one could get any sort of clear view from any building or other points in the city.

And with the advent of drones, anyone who thought they could launch one and use it to view over the fence, soon discovered they couldn't.

Any drone getting within 50 feet of the wall found their camera transmissions cut by dampeners, and if it went any closer, laser fire took it down.

The first time this happened, it sparked a whole new era of speculation, it was a secret weapons factor working on laser weapons, probably to be fitted on the interstellar starship.

The dampening of visual transmissions was old news, but the laser weapons, that was something else.  It said that life was beginning to imitate art.

So, what really was going on behind those walls?

Did anyone really care?

I certainly didn't because there were some things in this world I didn't really want to know about, and if we didn't know, that was called plausible deniability.

Until it wasn't.

My editor, a crusty old man who been doing the job so long some said there were cobwebs forming between him and the chair he d been there do long.

He was irascible, often scathing, but he knew how to write a good story, and what constituted the news.  The mantra the people have a right to know the truth was not in his vocabulary.
I honestly believed he hated me, so when he yelled out my name, no such thing as calling on the internal telephone, I was filled with dread.  My last piece had been sent back with more red than black on the sheets.

I reluctantly dragged myself to his doorway.

"Yes, sir?"

"Get in here and shut the door," he barked.

I did as I was told and stood in front of his desk.  A mock-up of the next edition was sitting on his desk. We were leading with a teenage heiress kidnapping, which surprised me.  He was firm of the opinion she had arranged it all herself to get back at her over-controlling parents.

He glared at me.

"Got a job for you.  Only you, and no talking about this outside this office.  Understand?"

Obviously, another humiliating job.  The last one was reporting on a poodle show for the rich and idle.  He didn't like my first draft or the second.

"Yes, sir.  I hope it's more interesting than poodles."  And then instantly regretted saying anything, as his expression started to take on shades of purple.

Then a shake of his head, after opening his mouth no doubt to fiercely admonish me but changed his mind.

"No. It's that building behind the wall.  They're allowing three reporters to go in and write a piece.  You're representing us.  Don't make me regret it.  You've got little over an hour to get there.  Now get out."

A scoop. In the old sense of the word.  I nearly tripped over my own feet leaving his office, such was my haste, just in case he changed his mind.

What was behind that wall?

I was, for a moment, not so sure I wanted to find out, but then the reporter in me kicked in.  Come hell or high water, I was going to discover the truth.


© Charles Heath 2019


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