7 Days in May
with the Chiefs of Police in both areas please and oversee the setting up of Silver and Bronze agencies.” Looking around
the table the Prime Minister raised a thick eyebrow. “Objections? Questions?” When nobody took the bait, he continued
in a subdued voice, “And lastly gentlemen, please keep the chain of command moving. I want no bottlenecks or cock-ups
like there was during 7/7 regarding communications.”
After passing copies of the CIA report around the table, he made copious notes on a lined pad while he waited for
them to read it. The instructions about note taking obviously didn’t apply to him. Afterwards he gathered up the reports,
flicking through each to check that no pages had been removed, scoring their names from a list as he did so.
“Was that really necessary?” Kenneth Santork barked, his voice leaving no doubt about the insult he felt he’d just
The Prime Minister glanced over at him and gave a quick smile. “Yes Kenneth. After the leaks we’ve had lately, I feel
it is. If you have trouble with that, there’s the door.” The people around the table looked at one another, some raising
eyebrows, others shifting on their chairs, all of them surprised at the steel in the Prime Minister’s voice. “Sir Craig,” he
addressed Holland. “Suggestions please.”
Holland twisted his features and sat back, clasping his hands over his stomach. “Well, if the CIA report is to be
believed?” He waited a beat until the Prime Minister nodded his head, “Then we have no option but to isolate both areas
and prevent any further spread of . . . what is it? A virus or . . .”
“But that would involve thousands of people,” Kenneth Santork interrupted.
“Just over three hundred thousand,” agreed the Prime Minister. “Luckily one area’s an island and the other covers just
ten square miles. Difficult Ken, but not impossible.”
“And how do you propose we keep people from leaving or visiting the Isle of Wight?” Admiral Purser asked. “We can
stop the ferries and planes but the island’s full of yachts and small boats.”
“Set up patrols,” Holland said. “Shouldn’t be too hard if you enlist the help of the coastguards.”
They sat awhile, each thinking about the problems facing them. Holland leant forward, breaking the gloomy
atmosphere that had settled on the room. “We need to keep a tight control on information, that’s vital. The news media
and internet especially. I suggest you talk to the editors of the various newsgroups Prime Minister. For the present we
should stop the Internet and all land and mobile phone services in those areas.”
“But that’ll just cause panic and dissent,” protested General Locke.
“It’ll also keep things under our control,” Holland retorted. “If the Prime Minister makes regular radio and TV
appearances explaining the situation as a suspected terrorist attack, backed up by public service announcements, the public
will accept it and go about their business. They always do.”
The Prime Minister was staring at the table, his eyes glazed as though his thoughts were elsewhere. Then he looked up
and nodded. “Yes Sir Craig, you make a good point. The last thing we need is the media stomping their big feet all over
this. Let’s keep it quiet for the present. We can’t afford to cause panic and have people running all over the place spreading
whatever this thing is even further. Any more suggestions?”
General Locke’s deep voice rumbled across the table. “It’s going to take a day or two to organise medical teams to
back up the local services. We should send in some small teams immediately. Perhaps army medics in full contamination
suits, until we understand what we’re facing here.”
For the next two hours the group threw ideas and suggestions back and forth. They broke up at 9 am and went their
separate ways to set things in motion.
On his way back to his office Holland dropped into a nearby coffee shop and ordered a cappuccino. Spooning the
froth from the top, he took out his mobile and put through a call.
“Tony? Yes it went like a dream. Thanks for getting that report through to the PM so quickly. Will there be any
comebacks? That’s brilliant. I just wish we had as much clout with our secret services over here.”
Picking up the cardboard cup Holland left the coffee shop, an extra spring in his step.