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30. The Cauldron (II)

Updated: Dec 18, 2020



The bodies were piled on top of each other to such a depth that the Recorder could not see the bottom of the pit. The pit itself was very discreet, it was concealed in one of those little dells that you find in Devon and on the roads into Cornwall. It had taken several weeks to find its location, and the Recorder was surprised that it was so far from the main camp. Everything had been done differently in this war. The train was of little use, and there were no sorties across the sea to dispose of the bodies. This had been the war of the unmarked transit van; it took more petrol that way, but petrol was not a problem.

The Recorder walked round the pit. This was his third case; he was used to these scenes now, though he was sure that this time he had found his biggest hit to date. He took out his notebook and pretended to scribble down details about the pit; the essential details for the trial to come, for the men sitting in cold cells somewhere outside London. They had a few names pegged for this one already; and some of the politicians in the new government, freshly returned from exile in Russia, were calling for the death penalty to make a return. Of course, these pits showed that the death penalty had already returned; but the politicians meant, of course, the official death penalty. And, by official, they meant their death penalty and their justice.

This pit was strange. The others had mostly been military-aged men and, the Recorder supposed, boys. He was born and had grown up long before these troubles; he had grown up in a very soft time, just before the turn of the millennium. He did not understand these new children—his own children—who had come up through the troubles. In many ways he admired them; they were so much more responsible and adult than he had been at their age. He also feared them. He feared what the forces he served had helped to make of these boys, and he wondered what their children would be like. Perhaps the children of men who grew up under steel and blood would be honey-sweet, just as he had become so cold despite growing in a time of marshmallow men.

There was no need to excavate all the bodies, except for information control purposes. The pictures and videos would, the Recorder knew, already have been leaked across the social media networks. These were still keen for blood; based on a root network, crisscrossed lines, the social networks wanted to be watered with blood. Despite the great blood letting of these last five years, the networks still wanted to be fed. There were still more than enough people willing to feed.

He watched as a scanner revealed the extent of the graves. The bodies were curiously sharp on the screen. Technology had advanced beyond realism; it was so sharp and clear that it seemed like a simulation. He was watching an illusion, nothing more. The bodies moved a little on the screen. This was the gas inside bubbling to the surface, settling down. He did not mind the smell anymore, though he had retched for days at first. Still, he took precautions, covering himself with a face mask, just like he did when the coronavirus was still the greatest problem. The youngsters did not understand anything about that, either.

A guard beckoned him over to talk. He was after information about his family, but the Recorder was politely dismissive. There was no point getting into a discussion about that. He had tried to help, it did no good. They fell to the usual subjects, complaining about women and the politicians—and the supply of alcohol. At last, there was a whistle. The Recorder returned to the pit. A body had been removed, two men, with red crosses on their sleeves, arranged its mermaid-like hair.

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