The Labour Planet - A Working Title - Part Nine 1010 words
The Labour Planet - A Working Title - Part Nine - 1010 words
Whittaker and Georgia had managed to speak to most of the people and left others to explain to the rest, but all the while this was going on there were a number of explosions, and the ship was taking a sustained battering. They had gone to stand near where they expected Black to re-enter as they wanted to be in a position to see how he managed to get the door open. As they stood quietly talking, the belligerent man from the first group, whom they now knew as Eric Oldcastle, came over.
‘I want a word with you.’
‘We have told you all we know,’ said Whittaker, pursing his lips and drumming his fingers against the side of his leg.
'Well, I never said before but I’m here now to tell you some of us don’t like the company you keep.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Black! We’ve noticed you two and the boy seem to spend a lot of time with him, and I’ll tell you this for nought; we don’t trust him.’
‘Don’t trust who?
‘Black! Those of us who have been on this ship nearly as long as he has have seen things.’
‘Such as?’ said Georgia.
‘I wasn’t talking to you, young lady.’
‘She is my colleague, if you have anything to say you can speak in front of her.’
‘Black is not to be trusted.’
Whittaker quickly interjected in case Georgia blurted out that Black was not in the containment area.
‘Would you like to tell us why?’
‘Because he gets preferential treatment.’
‘The only preferential treatment I’ve seen him get is a thorough beating if he so much as associates with any of us.’
‘And you don’t find that suspicious?’
‘No. Enlighten me?’
‘Well, why just him, and the beatings are soon dealt with when the medics come round.’
‘There was no disguising the fear in his eyes when he was hauled out for talking to us,’ said Georgia.’
‘No, I’ll grant you he can act.’
‘Didn’t look like an act to me.’
‘Yes, well you’re a woman. You would say that.’
‘What's being a woman got to do with anything?’
‘Never mind, the fact remains most of the people down here don't trust the man.
Whittaker was frowning and biting his bottom lip in case Black should choose this moment to return. That is if he was going to return. There was something about Oldcastle, which made Whittaker bristle. He wondered why the man was so insistent that Black was not to be trusted. It was true he had managed to get out when he and Georgia had not been able to, but taken on its own; it wasn’t enough to condemn him.
‘When you say a lot of you don’t like the company we keep is it just your group or some from the other groups too? What about James Rathbone, the man who spoke to me? Does he feel the same?’
‘Oh, him, he’s another one we need to keep an eye on. Just because he had a bob or two before all this he thinks he’s top dog.’
‘And why is he another one to keep an eye on?’
‘Yes, just because he was well off is that reason enough for him to be thought of as untrustworthy.'
‘You don’t know what you’re up against with the likes of Black and Rathbone.’
‘No,’ said Oldcastle with some irritation.
‘Well, when you’ve got more to go on than that let me know. In the meantime, you are free to look at everyone with suspicion if that is the only way you can deal with this situation. Now if you will excuse us…’
Furious with their response, Oldcastle marched away muttering to himself. They had only been down here a short while, and they had no idea how things worked. He could have shown them the ropes, but no they were too high and mighty to listen. Well, he would just see how long they lasted in this dog eat dog environment. They were fools if they trusted Black or that upper-crust, public school, Hooray Henry, Rathbone.
Whittaker and Georgia stayed where they were, but they were getting thrown about because the ship was taking a fearful battering as explosion followed explosion and at one point they were pitched into complete darkness as even the backup system failed.
However, when the system finally came back on they were amazed to see Black talking to a group of people some distance away from them.
They quickly made towards him and reached him just as he was about to wander off to another group.
‘Hang on, Black,’ called Whittaker, ‘We’ve been looking all over the place for you. Where have you been?’
‘Why what do you want from me?’
‘No, we don’t want anything it’s just that we grew concerned when we couldn’t find you.’
‘Well, if you must know one of the explosions threw me against a metal locker and the impact knocked me out. I’ve only just come round.’
‘Oh, I see,’ said Whittaker.
‘Well, what is it you want with me?’
‘It's Jamie, he managed to get out and we are concerned now about him. We wondered if you could give us some idea of how we too could get out to make sure he’s all right and bring him back.’
‘What makes you think I would know how to do that? No, I’m sorry, I can’t help you. Now if you will excuse me I need to speak with some people over by the main door.’
Whittaker and Georgia watched him walk away and didn’t quite know what to think. They knew that he had blatantly lied about his whereabouts. Because of this they were beginning to lean towards the same view as Eric Oldcastle, which did not sit comfortably with them. They were relying on Black and his insider knowledge to help them, but if he was not to be trusted who could they turn to for the help they so desperately needed.