Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry

Day 203


Bicyles to freedom
Pulled by white flags and
The passion for life.

It’s a picture but it’s
The truth, and it moves –
To avoid the bullets and
Grenades –
And that other sense,
Emotion and hope.

Bicyles are silent,
Unlike machine guns,
Unless you peg cardboard
To the frame to hit the
Spokes to make a
Pretend motor.
That’s not the plan
For those who want
To escape to live.

The war is almost in its
Third trimester, but has
Already birthed thousands
Of monsters.

Bicycles are ancient
Technology, driven by
Muscle and desperation.



‘Really?’ Aggie winks back at Robert. ‘That’s a disaster. How did that happen?’

‘He appears to have walked out of the door without me noticing.’

‘And where did he escape to?’

‘You must come in first,’ Robert says. ‘In an emergency like this, I do find a cup of tea is the best thing to start with.’ He ushers Aggie and Lilibet into the house, looks around before closing the door. ‘You never know.’

‘No, you don’t,’ Aggie says, walks into the music room without waiting to be asked. ‘What of Marit?’

‘She’s still sulking, although I told her poor,’ and he raises his arms to sign inverted commas, ‘Tom was a plant, had been planted months ago.’ He shrugs. ‘What can you do? Even when I told her it was Martin who’d ordered him killed because the boy was having a crisis of conscience she didn’t change her tune.’ He looks at her bleakly, his pretence at good humour gone, and his face looks drawn and old now. ‘Parenting is the worst job in the world, you know. Never have children. It will never end well.’

Aggie throws her arms around him. ‘Come on, you silly old man. It’ll get better. It has to.’ And all the while she’s thinking of the woman who became her mother, and whom she ended up hating, and who ended up cutting her surrogate daughter’s womb away from her and abandoning her to the bloody snow. She needs to find the village, the woman, the man, her own provenance.

‘Oh, you daft young thing,’ Robert says, drops himself into his favourite chair. ‘Tell me why you’re back so soon. And why your charming companion has returned with you.’

‘I’m fighting on your side now, Robert,’ Lilibet says. ‘And we … we like each other.’

‘Ah,’ he says, and his hands come together in the flat praying position, palm against palm, a steeple against his lips, and pushing his nose up. ‘It’s like nowadays, is it?’ He grins. ‘I might be old, but I do understand. E even understand the speed at which you seem to have decided that you belong together.’ He looks at his watch. ‘If it wasn’t so early in the day, I’d suggest a celebratory drink, but I guess we’ll have to wait until after dark.’

‘We can’t wait that long,’ Aggie says. ‘We’re going straight on to Norwich. I just wanted to check in.’ She reaches into the bag of bloody clothes she brought in from the car, and pulls out the control box she’d somehow plugged in to herself. ‘And to give you this.’ SHe hands it to him, crusty blood and all.

‘Who’s blood?’ Robert says, raises an eyebrow.

‘Aggie’s,’ Lilibet says, and tells him about the fight in the cavern under the air museum, about how Aggie had connected herself into Valentine’s network and released some sort of virus. And nearly died.

Robert’s mouth drops open. ‘Are you mad? You shouldn’t even have survived.’

‘Biological anomaly,’ Aggie and Lilibet say in unison.

‘What?’ Robert says.

‘Personal joke.’ Again in unison.

‘And what do you want me to do with this? I’m no techie.’

‘I bet you know some,’ Aggie says. ‘And I’m not sure it’s exactly the same as the one Lilibet had in her.’

‘And then what?’

‘Catch Martin and put it in him. See how he likes it,’ Lilibet says.

‘Ah,’ Robert says. ‘Talking of Martin.’ It’s his turn to reach into one of the pockets of his tweed jacket. He pulls out a phone. ‘He’s just getting home. A long way to walk if you’ve got no money or cards and you’re not wearing any shoes. How jolly careless of me to let him go in that state.’

‘And you think he’ll get in touch with Valentine and get him to come here and avenge the humiliation we’ve inflicted on his grandfather?’ Aggie says.

‘I hope so,’ Robert says. ‘Which is why I’m puzzled you should choose to go back to Norwich now.’

‘Cassandra told me to, remember?’

Robert nods. ‘I do, but that was before any of us knew Martin was a traitor. And I’m still not sure Cassie does.’

‘Unless she did, and she wants me to get there before either Martin or Valentine do.’

‘We need a secure way of communicating,’ Robert says, and gets up. ‘Just sit tight for an hour, and I’ll get us some very primitive burner phones from the shop down the road.’

Lilibet gets up, puts her hand on his shoulder. ‘I’ll do it. I just need some money. No-one really knows who I am.’

Robert hands her a wad of notes. ‘You’re a very clever young thing.’

‘I try.’ She kisses Aggie on the cheek. ‘If I’m not back in an hour, send a search party.

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