Armageddon Not Averted

Jim Hockley

As the greatest storm to threaten the British Isles since 1957 headed for our shores, I sat in trepidation on Friday afternoon in the Laboratory of Pain. A cold sweat had broken upon my brow and as I dialled the captain’s number into my phone, I noticed my shoelace was undone. I paused, letting the phone ring to see if he’d answer, then quickly lent forward and tied it before he did.

‘Yeah, hi, it’s Jim. I hear there’s a storm tomorrow. I know you’re away and someone needs to stop it. I’ve never done it before, but I can be that man,’ I said, knowing full well that only ten hours remained between now and push-back – precious little time to save Cambridge and most of the UK from a blizzard the likes of which had never been seen before. I headed to Storm Command. I tried to keep calm. Tea. I need tea. As I reached the kitchen, I met Kevin. He looked awful. His skin was pasty, clammy and white and his eyes, normally alight with some plot to avoid returning home to his over-bearing wife, were lifeless, peering out from black sagging bags. He can’t have slept in days. This had definitely been a long week.

‘Do you want a tea?’ I asked as I filled the kettle.

He replied, ‘I want a miracle.’ Little did he know what the next few hours would contain. Kevin was the Chief Oracle or to give him his official title, Principle Advanced Meteorological Analyst. He predicted the weather. He was the broken shell of a man before me now because he’d been tracking this weather front for five days solid. With the rest of his team on a team-building exercise in Inverness, the buck stopped with Kevin on this one, and now me. We drank our tea in silence. Kevin could never learn of the true power contained within these hands, I tried to tell myself as I sipped, warming them on my mug. ‘“We put the Tea in Team”,’ I chuckled – I put the ‘I’ in ‘Incredible’.

It was growing dark outside. The weather was turning, I could feel it. The storm was upon us and the rain was beginning to blot out what remained of the day. Only a few minutes left before I could legitimately leave without raising suspicion. I ran for the car, dodging puddles and watching the thunder clouds curl ominously overhead. I’d made it. Now to save this ancient town and keep the people of Cambridge safe from Armageddon – I’ll deal with Trump, Brexit and Putin on Monday.

I drove to Long Road, the seat of my power and the only place I knew I’d be strong enough to defeat this foe. As I arrived, dusk had fallen and I had to shield my eyes from the driving rain as I ran from the car park to the all-weather pitch. My raincoat buckled under the onslaught of water, a bucket being thrown on to, and into, my face with each gust of wind. I opened the gate and entered the ground. The floodlights were off; it was empty apart from my shadow as I grappled for the pitch handrails. I knew what I had to do.

I flung myself free of the fencing and lent into the wind, pacing forward into the blackened centre of the pitch. I could barely see the other side. My thoughts wandered: would Neil’s new pitch-side shelter withstand this type of assault? Concrete pad or no concrete pad, surely nothing could stop this hurricane of all hurricanes – only I, Dr James Hockley, could put an end to all this madness. I reached the centre spot, ripped my rain-soaked coat, jumper and Topman T-shirt from my back, revealing my to-die-for chest of hair, and dropped to my knees. The rain and wind stung my hair-matted chest and hurt my eyes. I held my arms aloft and hoped. I could feel the air move around me. A fierce roaring filled my ears and I shut my eyes as the sand whipped up by the tornado engulfed me found my face. I held my ground, holding my arms, elbows locked, to the sky.

Then it hit me – like I knew it would. For the briefest of moments, the world seemed to stop. The light was unbearable; blinding, blazing, burning in its intensity. I turned my head away, it was too much. Then quiet. Peace and sleep.

I awoke, my beard drenched, not with morning sunlight but with rain and the chill of the wind. It must have been about 6am. I’d been unconscious all night. I pushed myself up on to my elbow. I was clothed from the waist down but my coat must have been destroyed by the storm. I stood up – I was stiff. I checked my emails, there was one from Jan. The game was off; I’d failed, the storm had won.


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