Note A very rough chapter, this one. It’s my attempt to work out what happened to Paris on the page. To hit 50,000 I should be averaging 1,666 words a day. So far I’m nearer to 1,200. I’ll see if I can raise that, and carry on until I run out of ideas. What I’m producing is far less a novel than very detailed notes for a novel I may one day write.
There used to be shops here, and a church. And the market of course. Now there are trees, saplings really, where the shops used to be and a memorial in the middle of the market place. It’s built from material salvaged from the wrecked buildings, the names of the dead listed on a brass plaque that’s still shiny.
Well, all but three of the dead. The sheet that I picked up in the revolutionary bookshop names the “original martyrs” of the battle, the first to die. I’ve read similar claims on equally badly laid out sheets of paper about other memorials.
“That’s white boy shit, that is.” the asian teenager who’s walked over to see what I’m doing opines, “You don’t believe none of that shit do you?”
“I’ve seen this said about other people.”
That wasn’t quite the right answer. He’s eyeing me suspiciously now. “You one of those memorial freaks? Or you here to recruit?”
“I’m here to find out what happened. I’ve been away a while. But I have seen a few of these memorials in other cities.”
“Well, maybe you don’t look like one of them white jihadi wannabes. Tell you, only the white boys really interested any more We drove the rest of them out. The ones the Yanks didn’t kill.”
“These three were the real deal?”
“Yeah. My bro knew him,” he taps the top name on the list, “says he was a right tosser even before he got fundamentalist. Most of us just want to get on with our lives, make some money, get laid. Our parents don’t like it much, grandparents are worse. But we’re integrating, know what I mean? And people like this, they get some stupid idea about God and want to hold us all back Blow people up and shit and get Police all over us and the white folk calling us all paki and raghead and terrorist, when we’ve done nothing to deserve it”
It’s a weird thing about the memorials, I always get someone coming up to me and telling me the Truth about the local radicals who were assassinated. If the wind were blowing another way I might have got one who told me the three really were martyrs, that the local true believers are just marking time before striking again at the infidels they live amongst. Probably it’s because I’m white, but I like to think it’s because the crazies are in the minority, but I’ve talked to more people like the guy I’m listening to now than the other type. Like him, I want to believe that no idiot’s going to strap a bomb to himself and go off in a crowded place. No-one in their right mind wants any of the remaining western governments thinking “Maybe the Americans had a point.” I’m intrigued, and a little worried, by this talk of white guys coming round and talking about sacrifice and jihad. It’s so hard to tell agents provocateurs from ordinary idiots. If I meet and identify anyone who falls into the latter group I have some photos on my laptops of just what jihad does to a child’s body.
I could be in line for a long lecture from my new friend, that I’d rather not listen to. “This used to be a market. I bought fish from a stall here.”
“It’s all moved now. All the shops are in the old supermarkets over there.” I stare in the direction he’s pointing and nod understanding. In reality I already know this, my bike is locked up outside one of the market halls after all.
The Battle of Longsight Market was the Battle of Paris on a smaller scale. A three way fight where two of the sides had firearms and one had whatever it could get its hands on. It started several months before the first rock was thrown, on the other side of the Atlantic.
There is too little karma in the world, so whoever came up with the idea of stretching the Bush Doctrine to include the use of covert hit squads on individuals in sovereign nations probably isn’t suffering anywhere near as much as they deserve. The reasoning went that there were extremists everywhere, hiding in plain sight in muslim communities and flaunting their radical credentials. These were in countries that couldn’t readily be invaded. Old Europe may not have been the greatest allies in the War On Terror, but the USA couldn’t rightly threaten them the way they could with smaller, darker nations. So they had to be more sneaky and inventive.
They turned to the many flourishing private security companies, for deniability’s sake, presented a list of people they were certain were wannabe terrorists and offered on the head of each one. As with everything Blackwater et al touched, it rapidly became about the profits and within weeks there were multiple teams wandering around Europe tracking down extremists and terminating with extreme prejudice. They managed to correctly target extremists oe time out of three and weren’t all that fussed about collateral.
The team operating in Manchester were right with their first hit. In fact their use of the bomb makers own materials to take them out was inspired. The inspiration was lost on the woman who lived next door, who was also killed in the blast.
Their second hit was on an outspoken, but otherwise innocent, local student. He and his family died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a heater that had obviously been tampered with. The local community had an idea what was going on and had the luxury of being able to jump to the conclusion without the need for evidence that held the Police up. After all, everybody knew what had happened in Paris, Hamburg, Berlin and elsewhere.
And the culprits were easy enough to spot- big swaggering Americans with oversized jackets that likely hid weapons and body armour. They hadn’t been recruited from the top of the covert infiltration class, no matter how good their other skills were. Walking around as a group, dressed as they were, in the middle of the local market just drew attention. Attention became antagonism and then violence, to which they responded with firepower.
By the time the Police got to the market five people were dead, and many more injured The hitmen were holed up in a pound shop that the youth of Longsight were threatening to torch. The first officer on the scene wasn’t even a real policeman. The asian Community Support Officer was known to most of the stone throwers and respected enough that they heeded his calls to back off whilst and take the injured to safety. Then, however, he tried to do the same for the assassins. Trapped, scared and out of their depth, they panicked and shot him Which started the whole process off again. In the end Police marksmen found themselves being stoned by rioters and having to shoot the assassins who were firing into the angry mob.
A lot of blood, a lot of names on the plaque.