Overheard #8: Sunday Morning

This for today’s  Wednesday Write-in.


Sunday morning. Stir, scratch, stand, stretch. Bare feet on bare floor boards. Toes pressed down against the planks. Sometimes you can feel the vibrations, but rarely during the daytime and even less frequently on a Sunday.

They were active last night. I know they were. I spent at least four hours listening to whatever it is that’s happening down there.

I keep a log. Last night it was, I think, munitions trains. Travelling in the west to east tunnel about one hundred feet beneath my house. That’s one of the tunnels closer to the surface. As far as I can make out it’s only the people carriers and the strategic utility pipelines that are shallower. I know there are tunnels much deeper down. Deeper. If you read my logbook you will notice reports of armies marching, of ambulances, of death wagons. All these have their own dedicated tunnels. And there may be subways and passages I haven’t noticed. Sometimes there is no sound from down under. That suggests high levels of sound insulation. It makes one wonder.

When I first started listening I used a simple stethoscope. You can get them from your local chemist – just ask. Ear pieces in place and chest piece against the carpet. Oh, yes, we had carpets back then. But I needed to listen better so they went into the skip. To landfill. I got a lot from the stethoscope, but I always suspected there was more. So I researched listening devices and bought the latest models. Not the best, of course. Not to military standards. Too expensive. Second level efficiency. I dug a hole in my living room floor. Twelve foot deep. Planted some microphones.  Wired up to headphones so I can sit at my desk and take notes. The sound reception is such an improvement. Now listening is like watching the stars – there is always more.

Of course I need my beauty sleep, so I can’t listen all night, every night. I’ve got a daytime job, you see. As a civil servant. A junior position. Open plan office. Crappy old desk. Crappy old computer. Management is really crap. Inefficient. My computer used to belong to someone senior in a hush-hush role. All his secret codes were left on the hard drive and so I can get to read a lot of classified material.

Of course I’ve signed the official secrets act which means I don’t discuss anything work-related with anyone else. One can get into trouble for that. There are all sorts of penalties that could kick in if you talk. Including the death penalty. But that’s not known to the general public. It’s an official secret. So I don’t talk. I keep mum. Careless talk costs lives, etc. Plus I don’t have many friends. None at the moment, in fact. And my wife left me a few years back. She got all agitated about losing the carpets and upped sticks. She went back to Nottingham. To her sister. They’ve always got on well together.

Anyhow, most people wouldn’t believe half the things I could tell them. I used to be a regular at the Kings Head on Saturday evenings and tried to interest people in what’s going on beneath our feet, but they weren’t interested. And then one day the guy who runs the place, Geoff or Jeff, not sure, asked me not to come back again. He said I wasn’t banned or any such thing – just don’t drink here any more. So I don’t. Obviously my money’s not good enough for him.

Last year I used my lunch breaks to do some research and came across some folders in an old one drawer filing cabinet stuck in a corner just behind the mop cupboard inside the cleaners’ utility room.  One file title read, “Staff Pension Planning 1968”. Lots of numbers and columns – population growth graphs, birth rate forecasts. Tedious stuff. Who would go to such trouble to keep something hidden like this unless it was considered to be of strategic importance? It’s obviously all about something else but heavily encoded. I can’t decipher it. But I’m pretty sure it’s about tunnels. I say this because nowhere else can I find tunnel-related material, and believe me I’ve explored ever hard disk and analog filing cabinet here on the third floor. Ergo, this must be the file. I’m planning to photocopy it sometime and work on it at home.

Sundays would be a good time. I wish my wife was still with me. She could help.

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8 Responses to Overheard #8: Sunday Morning

  1. emmaleene says:

    I really enjoyed this. I love how the details evoke so much. I really loved your narrator’s voice and how the story just meanders along and you are still unsure whether he is crazy or onto something really important! He really drew me in and had me intrigued right to the end! Great job!

  2. Elaine Peters says:

    Scary! I mean the guy not the tunnels, obviously, or I would be paranoid too. But you never know what lies beneath – or who lives next door. I always enjoy your monologues.

  3. SJ O'Hart says:

    I’m intrigued by what’s in those tunnels! And I love the last line – lest we thought he was missing his wife just for her company, he makes it very clear all she’s good for is lending a hand. 😀 Charming! I have a feeling the narrator is a little neurotic, and I wonder how much of this is all in his head. Great work.

    • Thanks. I wasn’t sure where it was going at first. I can put you in touch with some people who sell really good listening devices. And shovels. Let me know.

  4. Tessa Sheppard says:

    An interesting puzzle. Part of a greater story perhaps? Great story. 🙂

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