Fall of the Cities
Planting the Orchard
by Vance Huxley
The world is falling apart. Terrorists spark a worldwide oil and gas crisis while imports grind to a halt. Europe and Britain are erupting into chaos as food runs out and desperate people take matters into their own hands.
As the government begins to seal off rioting parts of the city, Corporal Harry Miller takes an offered discharge to get his sister and her kids to safety. But he’s not fast enough. Trapped in the city with a rag-tag collection of ordinary citizens, Harry struggles to create a small pocket of stability - a place to ride out the coming confrontation between rioters and the Army, and save themselves from complete annihilation.
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Vance Huxley lives out in the countryside in Lincolnshire, England. He has spent a busy life
working in many different fields – including the building and rail industries, as a workshop
manager, trouble‐shooter for an engineering firm, accountancy, cafe proprietor, and graphic
artist. He also spent time in other jobs, and is proud of never being dismissed, and only
once made redundant.
Eventually he found his Noeline, but unfortunately she died much too young. To help with the
aftermath, Vance tried writing though without any real structure. As an editor and beta readers
explained the difference between words and books, he tried again.
Now he tries to type as often as possible in spite of the assistance of his cats, since his legs no
longer work well enough to allow anything more strenuous. An avid reader of sci‐fi, fantasy and
adventure novels, his writing tends towards those genres.
The sergeant got the squaddies all sorted out and lined up by the time the Hercules finished
taxiing from the runway to wherever. By then Harry had made sure his stick was invisible inside
his pack because it wasn't allowed in public. The men were organised purely by their remaining
gear with no reference to what unit they belonged to. Because he had a full set of kit, Harry was
in the first thirty off. They started off as soon as the back door lowered into a ramp even if the
view didn't help.
Harry couldn't see where they were going since the ramp pointed back towards the runways.
The first thing he noticed was the puff of vapour as everyone breathed out. Then the cold bit
through his clothing, reminding Harry, and the rest, that it was January and they were no longer
in a desert. The soldiers wheeled as instructed and came around the end of the plane, and into
view of the terminus.
The view of the terminus wasn't quite as expected. Harry didn't actually think there would be a
cheering crowd, but nobody at all in one of the busiest airports in England was eerie. Nobody
seemed to be in any of the parked planes outside the terminal, and nobody behind the terminal
windows. Not even staff or Army brass to greet them.
There was plenty of debris around the planes as they marched past and a lot of noise
somewhere ahead. There weren't any footprints in the light snow. The place really was
deserted, though still warm inside. The soldiers marched into the main hall and came to
attention in ranks, and an officer appeared.
As soon as he spoke it was apparent from his voice that he was the one from the plane. "There
has been a breakdown in law and order. Martial Law has been declared in London and the
other major population centres, so we are unable to take you to your barracks yet. First the
streets must be cleared. There are no shields or batons available, so we will use fixed
"You are the British Army, and I trust you to uphold the traditions of that Army. Turn in your
ammunition so there are no accidental discharges, and try to minimise casualties among the
civilians. We will organise cover if firearms are used against you." He left and headed back
through the terminal, and the sergeants began to split everyone up into squads.
"What about bricks and stuff, Sarge?" Harry had seen riots on the TV and they always included
rocks and bricks. "Without shields we'll get beaten to death even with helmets." "Move your
packs round to the front if possible. Take some gear out to lighten them, but nothing essential. I
don't know if we're coming back here though your kitbags will catch up eventually." The
solution spread down the line and a very small pile grew behind them. Most of what was in the
packs was essential if they weren't coming back to collect it. The pack felt weird hung in front
but was probably capable of stopping a brick.
"Right, you lot. Outside those doors are the taxi ranks and access roads. We go left, to where a
fairly thin line of London Bobbies is trying to stop the citizens storming the planes."
"Why do they want the planes, Sarge?" Which was a good question since there were no pilots
in evidence. Though another two planes had now landed.
"Since I'm a mushroom as well I wasn't told. Presumably because one of them thinks they can
fly one of those bloody planes. Which they will not be allowed to do. Am I clear?" "Yes Sarge!"
From most of the throats present.
"Let's get at it then, because there's another two planeloads coming through here to sort out
any other little problems. Turn in your ammunition, now. " Harry really started to worry. What
sort of unrest needed three planeloads of squaddies with bayonets?
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