Peter Johnson awoke in an
unfamiliar bed. He looked at the corrugated roof
above and then along the lines of stark, wooden
bunks which filled the long, rectangular hut.
A young man in camouflage
fatigues and waiving a rifle burst in through a
door at one end of the hut. Right you
bastards, he screamed, its four
AM. Time to start work.
Peter thought it best to
copy the behaviour of his fellows who rose from
their bunks and formed lines ready to be escorted
to their work details. He noted that his
companions, like himself, were in their sixties
or seventies, although, seemingly, physically fit.
He was marched with them
into a compound bounded by electric, barbed wire
fencing. They passed through the camp gate,
overshadowed by sombre watchtowers and under the
intense gaze of youthful, armed guards.
Soon they reached the
quarry where other young guards distributed
sledgehammers and the daily labour of breaking
Peter recalled his last
memory prior to awaking in the hut. He had been
walking his dog as he had done every morning
since his retirement. He had been laughing, as
usual, at those sitting in the traffic jams and
queuing at the bus stops on their journeys to
After what seemed an
eternity of exhausting, back breaking labour, a
guard announced a ten minute break. Peter slumped
to the ground next to an older man. Where
are we? whispered Peter.
No one knows,
replied his companion, despairingly. One
moment we were all enjoying our retirements,
joking with the youngsters that they needed to
keep working hard to pay for our pensions. The
next moment we woke up in the Camp. The guards
wont explain anything. They just say that
well work here until we die - and
theres no escape.
I dont bother
to get up til lunchtime now Im
retired, boasted George Smith, ordering
another pint at the bar of the Rose and Crown.
I lie in bed listenin to all them
poor buggers goin to work. Then I watch a
bit o TV. Then I come down the pub. Then I
go ome and ave a nap til
Im woken up by the sound of all them poor
buggers comin ome again. He
laughed. Aye, its a grand life.
Two young men sitting at a
nearby table finished their drinks and departed.
It would be half an hour
before George left the pub to walk home along the
canal towpath. This was a route he particularly
favoured after lunch as the canal passed through
the industrial estate. He savoured the comparison
of his freedom in retirement to the workaday
drudgery of those he could observe in the offices
and workshops and to whom he habitually gave an
ironically jovial wave.
The two young men reached
their van, parked adjacent to the towpath. They
checked the chloroform and then consulted a map
to confirm their route to the airstrip. Then they
Before long, a two hour
flight would take them, and George, to the remote
Scottish island on which lay the young workers
sponsored IWCSR facility - The Internment and
Work Camp for the Smug Retired.