Школа английского

Dolphin Music - Antoinette Moses

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CHAPTER ONE

Life was good

Tuesday 27 May, 2051. 2 p.m. Richmond, England.

'We have been working on blue with black letters for three hours, five minutes and twenty five seconds.' Saul Grant's computer spoke with a Scottish accent. 'We will now change to black and white for one hour.'

'OK,' Saul told the machine. He yawned and rubbed his red eyes. He had been working for too long today. His computer knew that. His computer knew everything. It knew Saul's voice and Saul could talk to it if he wanted to.

But he did not like talking to his computer. He liked writing and found it difficult to think and talk at the same time. He did not know why, but he did know that many of the Web writers had the same problem.

Saul Grant was a writer. He was a music critic for the Central England Web Guide. He loved music and he loved writing about music. Many people wanted his job, but he was good at it and his bosses were pleased with him.

But next week he had to stop writing and do six months of community work. Saul hated community work.

Everyone had to do it. Saul knew that. There were too many people and too few jobs. Today, no one was allowed to work for more than one year without a break, except for those working for Control. Control managers worked every year. But then Control made the rules. Control ruled the Web. Control ruled everything. Control was short for Control Europe Ltd. It had replaced all other European governments.

And what Control said about community work made sense. Someone had to look after the old people. Today, more than three-quarters of the population of Europe was over seventy years old and needed someone to look after them. So all young people under thirty had to help the old people. Saul hated it. He wanted to stay at home and write about new music.

Today most new music was written by dolphins. And dolphin music was beautiful. Only five years ago they had discovered that dolphins could not only sing, but could actually write music. And now they had taken dozens of dolphins to recording studios, so that everyone could hear their music on the Web. Every dolphin had a quite different song and could write music that sounded as individual as the music written by people. But it was so much better, thought Saul. It was wonderful. He loved listening to dolphin music and enjoyed writing about it.

Saul leaned back in his chair and switched his windows open. It was another burning hot summer day outside. You could not go outside without wearing a helmet or eye mask and special anti-reflection material, called anti-glare. No- one could work outside — the countryside was now almost empty — and it was very expensive to put anti-glare on cars or over gardens.

Most transport was by jet power and wind power and people only travelled when they had to. People lived in small groups of houses and everything was delivered through the tunnels. When you did go out, you always had to tell Control where you were going and why.

Once, Saul knew, people had enjoyed walking in the countryside. They had climbed mountains and swum in the sea. Today everyone went virtual travelling in their exercise rooms. You put on a helmet or mask and chose where you wanted to go, and then the type of sport, and there you were. One day you could be water skiing in the Indian Ocean and the next day you could be walking in Tibet, in the Himalayas.

The virtual world is a happy world, as Control said, and Saul was happy; he enjoyed his work and his life, he met interesting people at virtual concerts and he had a wonderful girlfriend.

Her name was Caroline Fry. She played the cello in the Europa fest Confederation Orchestra and she lived and worked in Neumatt, Switzerland. She and Saul would get together on the Web most nights and talk, and at weekends, when they were not busy, they would go on virtual walks and holidays together. He had never actually touched Caroline. But virtual touching was fun. You could he with the person you loved and imagine what it felt like to touch them. When Saul and Caroline got married, they would meet, of course. But at the moment they both enjoyed their lives. The Web controlled their lives, but that was how things were.

'You've never had it so good,' said the screen every night before it switched itself off.

And, listening to the dolphin music in his comfortable house, Saul would think that Control was right, that life today was good.

CHAPTER TWO

PACE

Monday 2 June, 2.30 p.m. Richmond.

Mrs Ruth Hunter was the third and last of Saul's old people that day. But it did not seem that she needed very much help. She was quite able to use the computer, to do her own shopping, cleaning and cooking. She was a bright, lively woman with a loud laugh. Saul liked her, but there was something about her that he was not sure about. She was different.

'Come and sit down, Saul,' said Ruth. 'There's something I need to tell you.'

Saul sat down. Old people often told him things about themselves and about the past, but they usually said things like, 'Have I told you about the time when...?' or 'I was a great beauty once, you know...' This was different. Ruth Hunter sounded more like his computer.

'Saul,' asked Ruth Hunter. 'Do you like dolphins?'

'What a strange question,' thought Saul.

'Yes,' he replied. 'Of course I like dolphins.'

'We've read what you've written about dolphin music,' Ruth continued, which answered the question he was about to ask. 'And that's why we've chosen you.' We? Chosen? Saul did not understand.

'You didn't choose me,' he said. 'The computer chose you as one of the three old people I visit this month.'

'No, dear,' replied Ruth Hunter. 'I wasn't on your original list. But we managed to change it on the Web.'

'What!' Saul could not believe what she was saying. This was crazy. Perhaps she was crazy. And who was the 'we' she kept talking about.

'We,' continued Ruth. She again answered his question before he had time to ask it. 'We are a group of what you call old people. But we do not feel old. And we're angry. We're very angry at the way the world is now ruled by Control. And we want to change it.'

'You're not allowed to say things like that!' Saul was shocked. 'Everything Control does is for the best. Think about it! There are no wars any more and no pollution. It's not for us to criticise Control.'

Ruth laughed. It was a big laugh. 'I'm old enough, dear, to say what I like. And I'm not alone. There are a great many people who don't agree with Control.'

'You don't say things like that to other people, do you?' asked Saul. 'You mustn't do that. They'll take you away from this nice house and send you to the Education Rooms.' Saul rather liked Ruth even though she was clearly crazy. He did not want the police to take her away. And it would not be good for him, either. After all, he was supposed to be looking after her.

'Yes, I do say what I think,' said Ruth. 'But don't worry. I don't say it on the Web. There is a small group of us. We have ways of sending each other information. The police won't take me to the tunnels. That is, in fact, where they take people, Saul. The tunnels. The Education Rooms don't exist. They were created on a computer. But we won't be going to the tunnels, we know how to avoid the police.'

'You keep saying «we». Who are «we»?' asked Saul.

Ruth looked at him. 'I am telling you this because I think you are a good man. I think you have a great deal to learn, but your heart is good. You must not tell anyone else about this. If you tell anyone, even your girlfriend Caroline, then they really will kill me.'

'You're joking,' said Saul. Then he asked, 'How do you know about Caroline? I haven't told you about her.'

'From the Web,' said Ruth. 'We don't use the Web to talk to each other but we can use it in many other ways.' This was getting too much for Saul. 'But it's not allowed. You really should stop this. If Control finds out, you'll be in big trouble.'

'Saul, dear, please don't talk to me as if I were a small child. I'm old, but I'm not stupid. I know exactly how dangerous this is. They've shot many of my friends already. Please sit down,' she said as Saul stood up. 'What I am saying is the truth. And I need you to listen to what I have to say. We have decided that you are the man to help us.'

Saul sat down again. He needed to sit down. He could not believe what he was hearing.

'But who are «we»?' he asked again.

'We,' said Ruth, 'are a group of people who can remember the world before Control. We call ourselves PACE. That stands for People Against Control in Europe. Control, however, calls us terrorists.'

'You're terrorists?' Saul put his face in his hands.

This was not happening to him. He wanted to be back in his room listening to music. He did not want to be here talking to a nice old lady who he suddenly discovered was a terrorist. This was impossible. Old people working against Control. This was really crazy.

'PACE is not a violent group,' said Ruth. 'But we do work with some other European groups who prefer direct methods.'

'Direct methods?' wondered Saul.

'Bombs, setting fire to Control centres, that kind of thing,' replied Ruth with a smile.

Saul began to ask himself if any of this was true. Perhaps it was all in Ruth's head. Perhaps she thought that she was part of a group, but in fact, there was no group at all. Yes, that was it. A few old people met and imagined that they were terrorists. Perhaps they were remembering the kind of thing that happened when they were young. Perhaps they just wanted to live in the past. Saul smiled.

'How do you communicate?' Saul asked. 'I thought that it was impossible to avoid the Web Control.'

'Of course it is,' said Ruth. 'You can't avoid Control if you use the Web. PACE uses the Web to get information, but it doesn't communicate with its members on the Web.'

'I see,' said Saul. He was right. This was just an imaginary group.

'No,' said Ruth. 'You don't see at all. You think I'm a crazy old lady and I'm imagining all of this. You think that I've invented PACE. You think that tonight you'll go home and laugh about it.' She laughed herself. 'But I'm not crazy and PACE does exist.'

Ruth Hunter took out a large book from her shelf.

'Oh no,' thought Saul, 'a photograph album. She is going to show me pictures of herself when she was young and tell me how wonderful it was.'

Ruth opened the album. 'Look at these pictures,' she said. 'They were taken a month ago.'

'A month ago...' began Saul. 'How...? Who...? No- one takes photographs today...'

'How and who doesn't matter,' said Ruth. 'What is important, what does matter is the photographs themselves.'

Saul looked at the pictures. They were of glass tanks, like big fish tanks. But there were electric wires, lots of wires coming from the tanks. And inside the tanks was water and something else. Was it a laboratory?

'What are they?' he asked.

'Dolphins,' said Ruth. 'These are dolphins in a terrible place called the Music Rooms. These dolphins are making music. They are hurting the dolphins to make music.'

'Hurting...' repeated Saul. It still did not make sense. Ruth explained. 'When they are happy, dolphins do not make music. They make sounds yes, many kinds of taps and whistles, but not music, not the kind of music you have been writing about.'

'I don't understand,' said Saul. 'I've seen the dolphins playing in huge pools. They all look happy.'

'Those are different dolphins. How can you tell the difference? You can't talk to them.'

'No,' Saul agreed. 'But why would anyone do this?'

'Money,' said Ruth. 'Everyone is buying dolphin music.'

'But how do dolphins make music, then?' asked Saul.

'Do you know what a swan song is?' asked Ruth.

'No,' replied Saul.

'When I was young, people thought that when a swan died, it sang. In its very last moments, it could sing. I think that later they found out that this wasn't true about swans, but people still used the expression to mean the last great thing you do before you die. But it is actually true about dolphins. When they are in, terrible pain and dying, they sing. Just before they die, they make a song that is the most wonderful music in the world and that is their swan song.'

'But dolphins enjoy making music. I know they do.'

'You have been told that dolphins enjoy making music. It's not true. To get the dolphins to make music, they take the dolphins and put them into these small glass tanks only just bigger than the dolphins themselves. That itself is terrible for the animals. They are in pain if they can't move. But then to make it worse, they put electricity through them. When the dolphins think they are dying, they begin to sing. And men record them.'

'No!' shouted Saul. 'It can't be true!' Saul was furious. I low dare Ruth say these things. 'I don't believe it.'

Saul stood up. 'You're crazy!' he told Ruth. 'I came here to look after you, and you talk to me about terrorists, and now you try to tell me that dolphins don't enjoy making music. I know dolphin music. I listen to it every day. I write about it. It's the most beautiful music in the world. I've had enough of this. I'm going home.'

'Saul ran out of the house and got into his electric car. The woman is mad, the woman is mad; it's not true, it's not true,' he repeated to himself, as his car took him along the road back home.

CHAPTER THREE

Cello suite

Monday 2 June, 6 p.m. Richmond.

Saul was still furious when he got home. He went straight to his computer.

'Welcome home, Saul,' said the computer. 'Do you wish to work on the Web now or would you like your messages? There is a message waiting for you from Caroline.'

It was all so familiar, it was home. This was the world he knew. What had happened this afternoon wasn't real. It couldn't have been real. It was just a mad old woman and her fantasies.

'My messages first, please,' said Saul. He sat back in his comfortable chair. A face appeared on his computer screen. It was a young woman. She had obviously made the message in a hurry. She was wearing a dressing gown and was drying her hair with a towel. Her long dark hair fell over her shoulders and hid half of her face. Beside her, on a chair, was her cello and she was also studying her laptop computer, which showed lines of music. Beside the computer were piles of printed music and she seemed to be comparing the printed music to the examples on the screen.

She looked up at the screen as if she was surprised that the camera was there, as if she had already forgotten that she was sending a message. 'Caroline always does that,' thought Saul. It was one of the many little things about her that he found both attractive and annoying.

'Oh Saul, darling,' said Caroline. 'I'm here at home for a few hours before my concert. It's now five o'clock European time and I'm not going out again until about eight o'clock. But then I will be out till late, I expect. The orchestra is giving a party for Peggy, you know, the one who plays first violin, the one with the grey hair. The one you always say looks like a rabbit. You're so naughty! Anyway, she's sixty years old now, so she has to retire. Poor old thing, she cried at the end of yesterday's concert. Do phone me for a chat. I haven't seen you for days. Well, two days, but it seems much longer. I hope the PODs haven't driven you crazy yet. Miss you! Love you! Bye!'

PODs meant 'Poor Old Dears' and was Caroline's private language. She called all old people PODs. Caroline liked to invent words. It was one of her methods of escaping from the way life was controlled — inventing words and through her music.

'When I play,' she once told Saul, 'I am in control. No one controls me.'

'If only I could tell Caroline everything about Ruth Hunter,' thought Saul. He wanted very much to tell Caroline, but he was not sure how she would react. Perhaps she would laugh at him, or would she just be angry that he had believed the old woman? 'But you weren't there,' argued Saul in his head. And then he wondered why he was arguing with Caroline on behalf of Ruth. Did that mean that he believed Ruth? Was it true about the dolphins?

'Call Caroline,' Saul told his computer.

Caroline appeared on the screen. She was now wearing a loose red cotton dress and her long hair was tied back with what looked like a piece of string. She was playing her cello and continued to play even after she had agreed to take the call. Saul watched her with pleasure. She was so beautiful with her pale skin and green eyes that he never got tired of looking at her. He loved the way her neck bent as she played. And she played so beautifully. He recognised the music as a Bach cello suite, one of Caroline's favourite pieces of music. She's playing it at her next concert, he thought. He waited until she had finished playing before he spoke.

'That was wonderful,' Saul told her.

'Thank you, darling,' said Caroline. 'It's so nice to have one's own personal critic.' Caroline laughed. 'How are you?' she asked.

'Fine,' said Saul.

'How are the PODs?'

'Shall I tell her?' wondered Saul.

'Darling,' asked Caroline, 'are you listening to me? I enquired how your PODs were today? You have spent today with PODs, haven't you? How were they?'

'There was one, my last one of the day,' said Saul. 'She's called Ruth and she's not very old. She's rather lively, really. So I didn't have very much to do.'

'Oh, lucky old you. I've had an exhausting day.'

'She was very strange actually,' continued Saul. He stopped. Ruth had told him not to tell anyone but… 'Caroline?' Saul began.

'Yes, darling,' she answered, singing quietly to herself.

'Have you ever heard of the Music Rooms?' Saul asked.

'The what?' replied Caroline.

'A place called the Music Rooms,' continued Saul.

'No, I've never heard of it,' replied Caroline.

'It's where they keep the dolphins,' explained Saul. 'It should be quite near you. It's somewhere in the Neumatt Arts Centre.'

'Really, Saul, I don't know what you're talking about,' Caroline frowned. 'I mean, I play in rehearsal rooms and practise in practice rooms. And they are all here in the Neumatt Arts Centre. But I've never heard any of them called the Music Rooms. And I live here. Why are you asking me this?'

How much did he dare tell her? 'Oh,' he said. 'It's nothing. Just a name I heard recently.'

'Dolphin music just gets better and better, doesn't it?' said Caroline, who was obviously not curious about the name of a room. 'Did you hear that new piece by Wind?' she asked. 'Wasn't it wonderful?'

'Yes,' agreed Saul. 'It was marvellous. Caroline,' he began again, 'do you think that dolphins enjoy making music?'

'Of course they do, otherwise they wouldn't do it.' Caroline sounded annoyed. 'You're in a very strange mood today, Saul. Are you depressed? What's the matter with von? Have you been drinking?'

'No,' said Saul. 'No, it's nothing. Just a long day. I'm tied. Just the usual odd thoughts.'

Well, they don't sound like your usual thoughts at all. I've never known you to ask so many questions. I don't think I like it very much. What's this Ruth woman been saying to you? Did you get these ideas from her? You know how old-fashioned PODs are, Saul. They don't like anything that's different from when they were young. And you still haven't asked me about how my recording went or wished me luck for tonight's concert.'

'I'm sorry,' said Saul. 'I wasn't thinking. Do tell me how the recording went. I want to know.'

'OK,' said Caroline, happier now the conversation was about music. She told Saul about the problems she was having with a new sonata. Saul listened and offered advice and encouragement. He promised Caroline that he would watch her next virtual concert, in two days' time.

'I know you will,' said Caroline. 'I love you.'

'I love you, too,' said Saul, but he was not really thinking about Caroline. He was wondering whether he dared try once again to tell her what Ruth had said, but then thought that if Caroline didn't know about the Music Rooms, then she would not believe that they existed. If they did exist! 'Must go,' Caroline was saying. 'Love you,' she repeated. 'Love you, too,' Saul agreed. They blew kisses at each other and said goodnight. But after Caroline had gone and he was alone with his computer, Saul sat full of thought in the dark, listening to the new music by the dolphin, Wind. It was so beautiful, unlike any other kind of music. It took you on a journey.

'But what if Ruth is right?' he thought. 'What if this dolphin was about to make his final journey when he made this music, was about to die?'

Saul found that tears were running down his cheeks.

'I have to know,' he thought. 'I'll go back to Ruth tomorrow and I'll find out the truth about the Music Rooms.'

CHAPTER FOUR

Beatcon

Monday 2 June, 7 p.m. London.

The phrase 'Music Rooms' had an alarm attached to it. So the moment that Saul said the words, his and Caroline's conversation was immediately recorded by BEATCON, the British and European Anti-Terrorist Control Organisation.

The building where BEATCON was based, or B Centre as it was known, was not a beautiful building, but it contained everything that any member of BEATCON had ever wanted. There were the latest Web computers for taking virtual trips and playing games. There was a large swimming pool and gym where BEATCON units could exercise. And there were the latest jetcars and jetbikes which BEATCON officers were allowed to use.

Members of BEATCON were not allowed to get married, but they didn't mind that. They had virtual relationships. And when they were thirty years old, they were offered other jobs. You had to be young in BEATCON. And you had to keep fit. The members of BEATCON were all very fit. There were frequent competitions among the units. And the winners became part of Captain Marrs' special unit. Every BEATCON member wanted to be in the special unit. The competition was tough. Anci those in the special unit, the specials, were very proud to be there. The specials thought they were the best.

Dick Lane was a BEATCON special and Dick Lane thought that he was the best. He was nineteen years old and had been a member of BEATCON for a year and a special for three months. He exercised in the gym every day for an hour and swam for an hour before he went to bed.

Dick Lane listened to Saul and Caroline. He decided immediately that he didn't like them. They were soft, he thought. They talked about music and things like that. What did Saul do that was any use to anyone? Nothing. He wrote about music. And they were terrorists. Saul knew about the Music Rooms. 'Well,' thought Dick, 'Captain Marrs will know what to do with Saul Grant.'

Dick recorded a copy of Saul and Caroline's conversation and took it to Captain Marrs. Captain Marrs was the head of BEATCON. Very few people knew his name, but those who did never spoke it without a certain amount of fear. Dick Lane thought Captain Marrs was wonderful. He wanted to be just like him.

Captain Marrs watched the conversation. While he watched, he drew a picture of Saul's head on a piece of paper. 'Who is this young man who's asking about the Music Rooms?' Captain Marrs wondered. 'Where did Saul Grant hear about the Music Rooms? Who has he been talking to? I shall soon find out,' he said to himself.

He took the picture of Saul's head and stuck it to the wall. Then, taking a laser gun from his belt, he shot through the middle of it. It was a little game he played with every new terrorist that he discovered. He found it amusing.

Although he did not know it, in another room, in another building, another man was watching Captain Marrs on a screen. The head of Control for Europe, the Controller, had many ways of watching people. In his office, in the Control Centre, he watched everyone. He was the spider at the centre of the web. He knew everything that went on. He controlled everything. The Controller sat in a large, soft chair in his office. It was dark blue, like the walls of his office. There was little light in the room except the light that came from all the screens. The Controller was surrounded by screens.

And at this moment, on one of the screens, the Controller was watching Captain Marrs.

'Marrs is quite mad,' the Controller thought to himself, shaking his head. 'Look at him!' He wondered whether now was the time he should do something about Captain Marrs. Sooner or later, he thought, this man was going to create some real problems for him. Last year Marrs had caused a major fire, which burned down a group of houses. And just last week Marrs had blown up a house where a group of young men were having a party. His specials had killed everyone in the house. They thought the men were part of a terrorist group, and it was forbidden for a group of ten or more people to gather in one place without a licence.

Later the Controller found out that the group were only celebrating somebody's birthday and they had forgotten to get a licence. The Controller had to make a statement on the Web saying that another terrorist group had killed the men.

The Controller sighed. He didn't like Marrs' way of doing things, but he also knew that Marrs was valuable to

Control. As head of BEATCON, Marrs had discovered and broken up several organised terrorist groups in the region. It was true that sometimes innocent people died, but there was always a price to pay.

The Controller pressed a button and Marrs' file came up on a screen. Marrs was a man created by the system, the Controller thought as he read the file.

Marrs had joined the army when he was only eighteen, but did very well. He was very quick and very keen. The Controller knew that anyone who blocked Marrs disappeared. The first case the Controller knew about was when a man who was Marrs' senior officer came to see him. The officer wanted to get rid of Marrs because he was scared of him. He was a senior officer, but he was shaking.

That was five years ago, when the Controller first came across Marrs. The officer had had an accident soon after and Marrs took his place. And there were other similar cases, but the Controller could see that Marrs also followed orders, that he wasn't a danger to Control. That's why he had become the head of BEATCON.

The Controller read in the file how Marrs' father and twin brother were both killed by a terrorist bomb in London when Marrs was three years old. His mother went mad after that and, two years later, when Marrs was just five, she threw herself off the roof of a building. Marrs saw her do it. The Controller could understand why Marrs hated all terrorists so much.

That's why he was the perfect head of BEATCON, the Controller thought. He knew he'd never find anyone else so determined, so cruel. So useful.

For the moment, the Controller decided, he would do nothing about Marrs. He would just keep an eye on him.

The Controller turned and looked again at the screen with Captain Marrs on it. Marrs was still shooting at the picture of Saul Grant's head.

'I don't know who Marrs is shooting at,' the Controller said to himself, 'but I don't think he'll be alive for very much longer.'

CHAPTER FIVE

This is crazy!

Tuesday 3 June, 8 a.m. Richmond.

'You're telling me what?' Saul was almost shouting.

'You're telling me that there are eight dolphins locked up in a mountain in Neumatt, Switzerland and you want me to go there and rescue them. Are you crazy? How am I going to do that?'

'You'll think of something,' said Ruth.

It was the next day. Saul had got up early. He had slept badly and when he did finally fall asleep, he dreamed of dolphins. They were swimming in the sea, but the sea was red with blood and they were calling his name. He had woken up covered in sweat and shaking. He had arrived at Ruth's house in a very bad mood.

To his surprise, she was not alone.

'This is Sue,' Ruth said. 'Sue is my granddaughter.'

Saul saw an attractive, slim young woman, with short red hair. She was dressed in black and was sitting in front of a laptop computer, tapping the keys very fast.

'Hi,' Saul said to her. She ignored him and continued to tap for a while, then finally turned to him.

'Look at this,' she said. She didn't seem to bother with 'hello' or 'how nice to meet you', thought Saul. He thought she was extremely rude.

'What is it?' sighed Saul.

'It's the Neumatt Arts Centre. I managed to get in through the back door. There's always a way to get into these places if you know how. But this place is really hard to get into.'

'Sue is obviously very proud of this,' thought Saul. And he was curious. He looked at the screen. There were two small glass tanks like those in the photographs Ruth had shown him yesterday, but these were being pushed along a corridor. 'This is live,' Saul thought. 'This is now. Sue has managed to get into the cameras on the ceiling. I am watching what is happening in Neumatt Arts Centre at this moment.'

'Hold on a moment,' said Sue. She tapped another few keys. 'It's difficult. I have to keep changing codes in order to follow the dolphins.'

Saul couldn't see anything at first, but then he saw them. Two dolphins in two glass tanks that were far too small for them. The dolphins were trying to move, but were unable to do so. They banged their backs against the lids of the boxes again and again. The sound echoed down the corridor. Saul could hear it clearly. He felt sick.

Sue changed cameras. Now they were inside a room. Saul could see people moving about. They put metal things on one of the dolphins. Someone turned on a switch. The dolphin jumped into the air again and again, and then it stopped. Then the music began. It was so beautiful and so terrible. The dolphin was crying.

Saul found that he was crying too. 'You knew about this?' he asked Ruth.

'Yes,' replied Ruth. 'We've been trying to find out for a long time, but Sue has only just managed to get into the Neumatt Web. It's taken her months and months to find the way in.'

'Do the dolphins die afterwards?' Saul asked. 'After the music?'

'Sometimes they do,' answered Ruth. 'But sometimes they are sent back into the big pools to recover. And then they put them into the Music Rooms again. And because the pain is worse the second time, their song is even longer.'

'I can't believe it,' Saul cried. 'I thought that dolphin music was so beautiful, but it's terrible. I'll never write about dolphin music again, I promise you. Is that why you wanted to talk to me?'

'Saul,' called Sue, before Ruth could reply. 'Come here a minute!'

'Who gave this woman the right to order me about?' thought Saul. He decided that he did not like her at all. But he walked over to where she was sitting and looked into her laptop. He saw a door. There was a red triangle on the door and a sign said:

PRIVATE KEEP OUT.

'It's the entrance to the Music Rooms,' Sue told him. 'The door has a special lock which reads your eyes. It only lets in the people who have permission. You can't break a lock like that. But the memory bank of the lock must be here somewhere.' She continued to tap the keys of the computer.

'You can't do that,' objected Saul. 'It's against the law.'

'So is hurting dolphins,' said Sue sharply.

Saul sighed again. He had never met anyone like this woman before. He watched her. She was not beautiful, Saul thought. Not like Caroline. Sue was too thin, all elbows and knees, and her hair was cut almost as short as a boy's.

Her face was odd, too. Her eyes and her mouth seemed too big for her face.

But he had to admit that he liked her energy, the way she worked. He had never seen anyone use the Web as she did. Her hands moved over the keys like a pianist's. She clearly knew exactly what she was doing.

'Go over there,' Sue ordered Saul, 'and look into the camera.'

'Why...?' began Saul.

'Be quiet and just do it,' said Sue. 'Fine,' she said, a minute later. 'You can look away now.'

Saul looked at the screen of her laptop and found his own face staring back at him. Sue zoomed into his face until just his eyes were visible.

'I'm scanning in your eyes,' she said, 'so that I can put them into the Music Rooms' memory bank. When I've finished, you'll be able to walk into the Music Rooms without any problems.'

'I'll be able to do what?' Saul gasped in horror.

'Walk into the Music Rooms,' answered Ruth. 'You're going to rescue the dolphins and take them to the sea. That's the reason I brought you here.'

That was the moment when Saul began to shout.

'Don't you know that Switzerland doesn't have a sea?' Saul demanded. 'Don't you know that the Neumatt Arts Centre is inside the Matterhorn? And the Matterhorn is one of the highest mountains in Europe. Have you thought about that? How on earth can I get dolphins across the Matterhorn to the sea?'

'I know that Switzerland doesn't have a sea,' replied Ruth. 'You don't have to tell me that. I know that the whole idea seems crazy. But we can't leave the dolphins there, can we? You saw them. In any case, Sue will probably find a way,' added Ruth.

'Sue?' repeated Saul.

'Yes,' said Ruth. 'She's going with you. I wouldn't expect you to go on your own.'

Saul shook his head. This was getting crazier and crazier. He had thought for a moment that he might be able to get to Neumatt. He could ask for permission to visit Caroline and ask her to marry him. He had been thinking of doing this for some time. He would be certain to get permission. But to take Sue, who was clearly a terrorist, and had the ability to break into private Web controls...

'Absolutely not,' said Saul. 'No, I'm not going. And I'm certainly not going anywhere with Sue.'

'Don't be so silly, dear,' said Ruth. 'You'll need her.'

'No,' said Saul. 'I know that she's your granddaughter, but I can't allow myself to work with a terrorist. I'm sorry.'

Saul turned to Sue. Sue was not listening. She was watching the window.

'Damn,' she swore. 'It's lucky you were early, Saul. They've arrived.'

'Who, dear?' enquired Ruth.

'BEATCON,' said Sue.

'We'd better move then,' said Ruth, calmly.

'BEATCON?' asked Saul, in horror. 'Here? What have you got me into?'

Sue watched the window. 'It's bad,' she said. 'Marrs himself is here. We must move.'

'But I'm not a terrorist,' said Saul. 'I'm meant to be here.

BEATCON won't be interested in me. I'll go and talk to them.'

'You don't talk to Captain Marrs,' said Ruth quietly.

'Who's Captain Marrs?' asked Saul.

'The most evil man in Europe,' said Sue. She pointed out of the window. 'Watch.'

Saul saw a dozen men in black leather climbing out of a large jetcar. They were led by a tall man with a bald head.

'Now watch this,' said Sue. She tapped some keys on her laptop and Saul saw his own car start up.

'What are you doing?' he shouted at Sue.

Saul's car moved forwards slowly along the road. Captain Marrs turned round. He pointed a laser gun and the car exploded into a thousand small pieces.

'Now do you believe me?' demanded Sue. 'When Captain Marrs comes for you, he doesn't stop to make conversation. Now are you coming, or do you want to end up like your car?'

CHAPTER SIX

Escape

Tuesday 3 June, 9.15 a.m. Richmond.

'Hurry up!' said Sue. 'Captain Marrs will be here at any moment. Come on,' she insisted. 'Hurry!'

Saul continued to look in horror at the remains of his car. 'He thought I was in that car,' he said. 'Captain Marrs thought I was in my car and he blew it up!'

'Yes, yes,' said Sue impatiently. 'Captain Marrs is like that. Blowing up cars is just the kind of thing he enjoys. Now move. He may blow up this house next.'

Saul did not know if his legs could move. Ruth took him by the shoulders and pushed him out of the room.

'Come along, Saul dear,' she said. 'I know that you're shocked, but we really don't have any time to waste.'

'If this is how Saul behaves when a car is blown up, he's going to be useless on the journey,' Sue complained.

'Don't be too hard on him,' said Ruth. 'I know that you're used to things like this, but for Saul it's all quite new. He's never seen BEATCON in action before. He's never met Captain Marrs. He's never seen a car blown up. The first time is always very frightening.'

They were in the kitchen now.

'Where are we going?' asked Saul in a panic.

'You'll see,' said Ruth. She opened a door in the floor that led down to a tunnel. Sue's laptop computer was small enough and light enough to put in a secret pocket inside her jacket. She put it in and straightened her jacket. Then she stepped on to a ladder and started to climb down. Saul followed her. He moved slowly as if he was in a dream. He felt that his legs and arms were not his. Ruth followed him. She continued to talk to Sue over his head. This made him feel even more that he was not there.

'He'll soon get used to it,' said Ruth. 'I think I was right to choose him. He's not stupid. And he knows people in Neumatt.'

'Well, I hope you're right,' Sue continued to complain. But if he doesn't learn quickly, then he's just going to be a danger to both of us.'

'They're talking about me as if I wasn't here,' thought Saul. 'But then I feel as if I'm not here. This is all a bad dream. This isn't happening. Things like this don't happen to me.'

They came to a long tunnel between the houses. To Saul's surprise, a man was there.

'I was getting worried,' the man said. Then he lifted one of the stones of the floor of the tunnel. Underneath was another ladder leading down.

'Captain Marrs will guess we came down here,' said Ruth. 'But he doesn't know about this other ladder and I don't think he'll find it, either.'

'No,' said the man. 'He won't have a lot of time to look for you. I telephoned for help. The Controller wasn't very pleased when I told him that Captain Marrs was here. He said he'd come here right away.'

'Well done, Peter!' said Ruth.

'Good luck, my dear,' said the man called Peter.

'Who is he?' wondered Saul. 'Someone very important if he knows the Controller,' he thought.

'Good luck all of you,' said Peter. 'Don't worry about Captain Marrs. When I shut this stone, no one will ever know that it was .moved. And Marrs won't bother me.' Peter laughed. 'Be careful,' he added. 'I'll send a message that you're on your way after Marrs has gone.'

Saul, Ruth and Sue began to climb down. This ladder went deeper, thought Saul, than any ordinary ladder. Much deeper. It felt very cold. They all climbed down slowly and carefully.

'Who was that man?' asked Saul.

'He's a neighbour,' said Ruth. 'Peter is a very old friend of mine. He used to be a judge.'

'Isn't he in danger staying there?' asked Saul. 'What if Captain Marrs questions him?'

'Oh, I don't think that Captain Marrs will question Peter,' Ruth said. 'Peter is the Controller's younger brother. The Controller is very fond of him. He'll make sure that Peter is all right.'

Saul, Ruth and Sue climbed down and down. The ladder seemed to go on forever. Saul felt again that he was asleep, in a bad dream that was going on and on. He half heard Ruth talking about the fact that the tunnel had once been a mine. But all he could think about was his car. The way it exploded. The fact that he could have been inside it.

'Thank heavens we've escaped from Captain Marrs,' Saul sighed.

'You must be joking,' said Sue. 'We've escaped this time. But Captain Marrs will be looking for us. This is only the beginning.'

CHAPTER SEVEN

Inside the blue helicopter

Tuesday 3 June, 9.30 a.m. Richmond.

At the same moment that Peter was helping Saul, Ruth and sue down on to the ladder, a small, blue and silver helicopter landed outside Ruth's house. The Controller stepped out and looked around him.

He saw the remains of Saul's car and the BEATCON soldiers who had now lined up and were preparing to attack the houses.

The Controller frowned and got back inside his helicopter.

'Send Captain Marrs to me at once,' he ordered.

The BEATCON leader swore silently when he saw the controller arrive. He was furious, but no one would have known. No one could ever tell what Captain Marrs was thinking. His dark glasses hid his eyes and no one had ever been him smile. Marrs walked over to his helicopter, hardly able to contain his anger.

'Good morning, Marrs,' said the Controller. He looked it the BEATCON leader in his black leather uniform with is famous badge of red lightning on white and the word BEATCON in large red letters. As always, when he actually had to talk to the man, he felt a sense of disgust. Marrs was in evil man. It was a pity that he was so useful. But the controller was not going to allow him to disturb the life of his own family.

'Is there any reason why you have chosen to come to these houses?' asked the Controller. 'You do realise, Marrs, that there are many important people living here who might not enjoy the methods of BEATCON and who might complain to the European Control Centre?' he asked.

Captain Marrs did not move. His expression showed that he was not very worried about anyone who might complain to the European Control Centre. He was a man with a job to do and he was going to do it. He did not mind if he upset people. He looked at the Controller sitting in a comfortable chair in the middle of his own personal helicopter. Like the Controller's office, it was all silver and blue, with blue glass to protect the Controller from the glare of the sun.

Captain Marrs hated the Controller, but there was nothing he could do about it. He knew that it was only because of the Controller that BEATCON existed. Many other people at Control, including the Assistant Controller, wanted to get rid of BEATCON.

'We had information that there were terrorists here,' said Marrs. 'We have destroyed one terrorist.'

'Really?' said the Controller. And who was that?'

'His name was Saul Grant,' said Captain Marrs. 'Grant was asking about the Music Rooms.'

'Well, that's not very surprising,' said the Controller. 'Saul Grant was a music critic. A very good music critic.'

'All information about the Music Rooms is secret,' said Captain Marrs. 'If Grant knew about the Music Rooms, then he must have communicated with terrorist groups.'

'I see,' said the Controller. 'And had you thought that Grunt might be using the words «music rooms» in a different sense? He probably didn't know anything at all about the real Music Rooms.'

'But he was asking questions,' insisted Captain Marrs.

'Dangerous questions.'

'Oh, very good,' said the Controller. 'So, you've killed a well-known music critic because he asked questions about music. And why have you frightened a group of important old people? What questions have they asked?'

'We think that they are communicating with other known terrorists in Europe. And Grant worked here the day before he began to ask about the Music Rooms.'

The Controller sat back in his soft chair. 'BEATCON is useful, but it exists to hunt terrorists. If it started to think that it had other aims… if, perhaps, BEATCON thought that it had rather more power than it actually has… if its leader started to think he was more powerful than Control itself...' The Controller shut his eyes for a second. Then he opened them again. He stared at Captain Marrs, coldly.

'If BEATCON started to behave like that, I would close it down. In a second. Do you understand?'

Marrs was silent.

'Do you understand me?' asked the Controller. 'You and your men leave here now and you don't come back. Ever.'

'I understand,' said Captain Marrs. He turned and walked back to his jetcar. His face was white. A moment later the BEATCON unit had gone. Inside the jetcar, Dick Lane turned to Captain Marrs.

'We ran a heat scan over the remains of that car, sir,' he reported. And it showed nothing. There was no one inside it. Somebody must have started it up using a remote control unit.'

'I knew it,' said Captain Marrs. 'Someone is playing games with us. Well, Dick, no one plays games with BEATCON. I don't care who lives in these houses. I don't care if the Controller himself lives there. I want to know everything every one of those old people does. I want to know what they say and what they think. I want to know when they get up in the morning and when they go to bed. I want information.'

'Yes, sir,' said Dick.

Marrs signaled to another member of the BEATCON unit. The young man came up to him.

'That music writer Saul Grant was in those houses on oldie duty. I want you to take his place. Find out who Grant talked to. Search the houses. But don't let anyone know that you're BEATCON. Do you understand?'

'Yes, sir,' said the young man.

'I want information and I want evidence,' said Captain Marrs. 'And I want it now. I'll show the Controller that BEATCON was right.'

'Do you want us to arrange an accident?' asked Dick Lane. 'Perhaps something could happen to the Controller's helicopter.'

'You're a fool, Dick,' said Captain Marrs. 'What do you think would happen next? Well?'

'I don't know,' replied Dick, unhappily.

'Well, think BEATCON has no place for men who can't think.'

Dick thought. 'The Assistant Controller would become the new Controller?' he suggested.

'Yes. The Assistant Controller would become Controller, and you know what the Assistant thinks of BEATCON, don't you?'

'Yes, sir,' said Dick, wishing he had never spoken. 'He hates BEATCON.'

'If the Assistant Controller became Controller, you'd find yourself out of your uniform and down in the tunnels before you could say, «shoot». No. We do not kill the Controller. That is not how BEATCON works. We are here to keep control. Do you understand?'

'Yes, sir,' Dick repeated, thinking that he was now about to be thrown out of BEATCON because of his stupid question.

'Without control there is terrorism,' said Captain Marrs. There is terrorism! You don't want terrorism, do you?'

'No sir, of course not, sir.'

'Right. We do not want terrorism, we want order. We want to keep control. And we want to keep BEATCON.' Captain Marrs turned to the rest of his men.

'It seems that this innocent music critic is still alive. But I don't think he is just a music critic. Do you?' he asked.

'No, sir,' his men agreed.

'No,' said Captain Marrs, thoughtfully. 'Music critics do not know how to make their cars move by remote control. I want to find Saul Grant and talk to him. And I want him now!'

CHAPTER EIGHT

I never wanted to be a terrorist

Tuesday 3 June, 9.45 a.m. Richmond Forest.

The tunnel seemed to go on forever. Saul was tall and had to bend over all the time to stop himself from banging his head on the roof. It was very uncomfortable. His back hurt and he was also colder than he had ever been in his life. He wanted to go home and have a hot shower. Suddenly he realised that he could never go home again. He stopped.

'I've lost my home,' he thought. 'All my things, all the things I've bought over the years, my music collection. I've lost them all. And just because I listened to this woman, Ruth. My life is finished. I might just as well have been inside my car when Captain Marrs blew it up. And it's all Sue's fault. If she hadn't started my car, I could have gone and talked to Captain Marrs and explained everything. And I'd be home now instead of in this awful dark tunnel.'

'What's the matter, Saul?' asked Ruth, behind him. 'Why have you stopped?'

'I've had enough,' said Saul. He was both very unhappy and very angry. He wasn't sure which of the two feelings was the stronger. 'I've lost my home and my job as well, I expect. It's all your fault. I never wanted to be a terrorist. I'm cold and I have no idea where we are or where we're going.'

'I'm sorry about the first things,' said Ruth. 'But it's Captain Marrs you should be angry with, not us. As for where you're going, we're going into the forest. We're nearly there. There's a secret PACE hide-out in a hill in the middle of the forest.'

'You'll really have something to worry about in the forest,' added Sue. 'I bet you've never met any wolves before.'

'She's just saying this to make me feel even worse,' thought Saul. He had never met anyone he disliked more.

'What wolves?' Saul asked. 'What are you talking about?'

'The wolves in the forests,' Sue explained. 'The forests are full of wolves again. Didn't you know that?'

'Is this a joke?' Saul asked Ruth.

'I'm afraid not, dear. It's true. It's because no one goes into the forests any more. The wolves are dangerous but they usually run off when you shoot at them.'

'Shoot at them!' repeated Saul. 'But I haven't got a gun.'

'I've got a spare one for you,' said Ruth calmly.

'But I've never used a gun before. I wouldn't know how to use one,' argued Saul.

'I told you he was useless,' commented Sue.

'Look here,' said Saul. 'I'm fed up with you saying that. I didn't ask to come here. I'm a music critic and I'm a good music critic. I don't know how to get into other people's Web pages and I don't know how to shoot. People who blow up cars frighten me. Guns frighten me. I'm not a terrorist and I don't want to become a terrorist. I don't like guns and bombs and things. I listened to Ruth because I love dolphin music and I can't bear the thought of dolphins being hurt. I love dolphins. But I hate the thought that I can't go home. At this moment, all I want to do is to go home and have a hot shower and listen to some music.

What I really don't want right now is to walk out of this tunnel and into a pack of wolves.'

'That's understandable,' said Ruth. 'But I'm afraid there is no alternative. If you went home right now, then Captain Marrs would kill you. And the dolphins would still be in the Music Rooms. You can't go home now. I don't know how BEATCON found out about you, but they did. Otherwise they wouldn't have come to my house this morning.'

'Yes,' said Sue. 'They weren't following me. I spent hours making sure that no one saw me go to Ruth's house.'

'Yes, I think that may have been my fault,' Saul replied miserably. 'I asked Caroline last night if she'd heard of the Music Rooms.'

'You fool,' commented Sue.

'Oh no!' A new thought had hit Saul. 'Do you think that Caroline is in danger now?'

'I don't know,' said Ruth. 'What did she say when you asked her about the Music Rooms?'

'She said she'd never heard of them. She wasn't even interested.'

'Then I expect she'll be all right,' said Ruth. 'Now, don't worry about Caroline. You just think about yourself. It's not easy to live away from ordinary society. To live away from Control. But it is possible.'

'But you still live in your home,' said Saul. 'Or you did until today,' he added. 'So why are you a terrorist?' It was a question he had asked himself ever since he had first met Ruth.

'I suppose because of Sue,' said Ruth. 'When I found out what had happened to Sue, I was so angry that I decided to light Control. So Peter and I set up PACE.'

'What happened to Sue?' Saul was curious.

'It's a long story,' said Sue. She said no more.

Saul continued to think about what Ruth had said. So she wasn't just a member of this group. She was one of the original organisers. That was why she knew so much about other terrorist groups. That was how she knew about the Music Rooms.

'You organised PACE?' asked Saul. 'You and Peter, the Controller's brother. He's PACE as well?'

'Oh yes,' said Ruth. 'Hadn't you guessed?'

'Does the Controller know?' asked Saul.

'That's a very interesting question,' said Ruth. 'I've often wondered, but I've never asked Peter. It wouldn't be fair.' Ruth stopped as light and warmth began to fill the tunnel. 'Here we are, then,' she said.

They all stopped. The tunnel floor had been leading up for some time and Saul realised that they were now in a cave, which led directly into the forest. Although it was light compared with the tunnel, it was still quite dark. At least you could walk here without an anti-glare mask, he thought.

They walked out into the forest, looking around them.

There was a path from the cave and they followed this. As they walked along, Saul began to smell the forest.

In all the virtual travelling he did, there were no smells. But this forest was full of strange smells. There were tree smells, wet smells and earth smells. It was wonderful. Saul wanted to lie down and enjoy the smells all around him. But then, as the wind blew, there was a strange animal smell. It was very strong and it was not at all pleasant.

Then Saul heard it. A wolf howling. On one side and then on the other side of them. Saul had heard it before. There was a virtual journey that he used to enjoy. You travelled in Russia and were chased by packs of wolves. It was very exciting, but you always escaped from the wolves. And if you didn't want them to be there, you could just get rid of them by changing the programme or the journey. But there was no computer controlling these wolves. These were real. Saul was suddenly terrified.

'Take this gun,' said Ruth. 'But only use it when I tell you to. You just press this button to set it and pull the trigger. It's very simple. OK?'

'I'm not sure,' said Saul. 'I'll do my best.'

'You'll do fine,' said Ruth. Saul saw that she, too, was carrying a gun.

'I don't like shooting animals either,' said Ruth. 'But the wolves are very dangerous here. It's a question of us or them. Now keep together,' she added as the sound of the wolves grew louder. 'The wolves are all around us and they may attack at any moment.'

CHAPTER NINE

Wolves

Tuesday 3 June, 10 a.m. London.

Dick Lane was fed up. In the past, although he was a special and was part of the unit that went out with Captain Marrs, he had always felt that Captain Marrs did not really know that he existed. Now, for the first time, Captain Marrs had noticed him. And he'd said that Dick was stupid. It wasn't fair. Dick decided that he had to do something to make Captain Marrs pleased with him.

As soon as the jetcar got back from Ruth's house to B Centre, Captain Marrs went up to the Control Room to see whether the satellites had seen anything. He looked down on the houses where his men had been an hour earlier. There was nothing to see. He asked the computer to scan an area of ten miles around the houses. Nothing. Only the forest. And whatever the forest was hiding.

Marrs swore. He hated the forests. He wished that he could burn them all down. But the Controller would not let him do that. The Controller said that the forests were useful: 'If any of our friends in the world should decide to become enemies, Marrs,' the Controller had said, 'we'd need somewhere where we could hide people and weapons. Wed need somewhere where their satellites wouldn't be able to see us.'

The Controller was right, thought Marrs. The Controller thought ahead. That's why he was Controller. But, all the same, thought Marrs angrily, when it came to terrorists, the forests were a major problem.

Dick Lane didn't know why the forests were needed, but he could see that they were a problem. He was looking at a virtual map on his computer and was staring at the same area of forest that Captain Marrs was looking at upstairs, in his Control room. 'The terrorists must be in the forest,' thought Dick. He knew that jetcars could not get into the forest, but a jetbike could.

'We could get into the forest on jetbikes,' Dick thought. 'If Saul Grant and his friends are in the forest, they can't have got very far. I'll kill Grant and Captain Marrs won't say that I'm stupid then.'

Dick did not want any of the BEATCON officers to know where he was going, but he told two of the younger BEATCON soldiers to go with him. Since Dick was a special, they followed him without asking any questions.

Dick had never been inside the forests before, but like Saul, he had travelled through many forests on virtual trips. He thought that it would be the same.

The forest was much darker than Dick had realised, but the jetbikes had excellent lights and Dick was too excited to feel scared. He and the two soldiers shouted to each other as they raced their bikes through the trees.

Then there was a scream. One of the bikes had hit a tree root. In virtual forests, trees did not have roots. The soldier was thrown from his bike, which then fell on top of him. Dick raced up to him, but there was nothing he could do. He was dead.

Dick was not sure what to do next. He and the other BEATCON soldier looked down at the dead boy, shocked and worried. It had all happened so fast. Then they heard the howl. And another one.

'What's that?' asked the second soldier.

'It's a wolf, you fool!' Dick used his anger to hide the fact that he was very frightened. There was another long howl. It was right beside them.

'Get back on your bike!' shouted Dick. 'Let's get out of here!'

Then, in the dark half-light of the forest, he saw a huge brown wolf. Dick had never been so scared in his life. He nearly fell off his bike. 'BEATCON men are never scared,' he said to himself. He drew his gun and fired. The wolf fell down dead. Then out of the shadows, between the trees came other wolves, dozens of wolves. They jumped up at him. One of them bit his leg. Dick shot the wolf in the head. He shot at the other wolves again and again. Four more wolves fell down dead.

The other young BEATCON soldier had not yet learned how to ride and shoot at the same time. He found it was very difficult. He lifted his gun and then, a second later, he fell off his bike. Immediately, the wolves were on top of him. Dick drove his jetbike straight at the wolves, shooting crazily, but it was too late. The second soldier was dead, too.

Dick was now terrified. He had lost two BEATCON soldiers and he hadn't even found Saul Grant. All he wanted to do now was to get out of the forest before the wolves killed him, too. He turned round his bike and rode as fast as he could back to B Centre.

Saul, Sue and Ruth heard the shooting and the howls of the wolves. They walked carefully along the path and saw the wolves and the bodies of the two BEATCON soldiers. Saul felt violently sick.

'Should we bury them?' he asked. The wolves were already eating the bodies.

'I don't think there's anything the three of us can do,' replied Ruth. 'I'm sorry, Saul. But the wolves will be less interested in us now.'

They walked on very quietly, their guns ready. Ruth was right, the wolves were not interested. Dick had killed many of them and the rest had enough to eat.

It was nothing like a virtual trip, thought Saul. In virtual adventures, the wolves would have attacked them. But there would not have been any bodies or blood. Or that; smell. That terrible smell. Dead wolves and dead men. The real world was horrible. Saul wanted to go back to his safer virtual life. He wanted to go home.

CHAPTER TEN

Out of control

Tuesday 3 June, 11 a.m. Richmond Forest.

'I never knew that these forests existed,' said Saul. 'I thought that no one was allowed to use paper because there were not enough trees. That's what Control said.' Saul looked around him. 'But there are plenty of trees.'

'It's a typical Control lie. You can't believe anything Control says. Control doesn't like paper; paper can be passed from hand to hand without Control seeing it. Control wants everything on the Web where it can be observed.'

'There are forests everywhere in Europe now,' Sue added.

Saul was silent. There was so much to think about. It seemed that everything he had believed was not true. He had been just a part of a huge machine called Control. All the choices that he thought he had made were really very small.

His life had been completely controlled, every part of it.

'Why don't more people ask questions?' he asked Ruth finally. 'Why didn't people try to stop Control when it first started to take over?'

Many people do ask questions,' replied Ruth. 'But most people are happy. They feel safe, their lives are comfortable. Why should they ask questions? The tunnel people do all the real work that is needed to make life pleasant for everyone else. They don't get paid, of course, and they get beaten if they don't work hard enough, and shot if they try to run away. But no one is ever told about that.'

'Some tunnel people do succeed in running away, though,' added Sue. 'And a few of them live in small communities in the forest. PACE helps them. The largest community is near here. It's run by PACE. And many PACE workers live there. That's where we're going.'

'A community in the forest?' asked Saul. 'But aren't you worried that Captain Marrs will destroy it?'

'Captain Marrs hates the forest,' said Sue. 'His satellites have far less power here. Jetcars can't move in the forest, because there are too many trees, and helicopters can't land here. And this community is hidden in a number of large caves. They are very old and go down deep into the ground. Even Captain Marrs' cameras can't see what goes on in the caves.'

'Captain Marrs did try to get rid of the forests last year,' added Ruth. 'He tried to burn down a forest near London, but the fire very soon was out of control. That was because PACE discovered Marrs' plan. We didn't like burning down the forest but we knew that if we didn't make sure that this fire was huge, then there would be no forests left in England. It's amazing what a little petrol will do,' Ruth added. 'The fire didn't just burn down part of the forest, it also burned down a lot of houses. The Controller was furious. Marrs was told to leave the forests alone.'

'I remember that,' said Saul. 'The fire was blamed on terrorists. Wasn't someone arrested afterwards?'

'Yes,' said Sue angrily. 'But it had nothing to do with them. They were just two tunnel workers that Marrs picked out. They weren't even in England when the fire happened. But Captain Marrs killed them anyway.'

'Its terrifying,' said Saul. 'But isn't there anything anyone can do?'

'Yes,' said Ruth. 'We fight back. That's why we started PACE. But you can't win a war in a day. It takes time.'

They walked on and on. 'My feet hurt,' said Saul, finally.

He had never walked much before. Occasionally he did an hour's virtual walking at home, and that was on a rubber mat. The ground was much harder and his shoes were very thin.

'We're nearly there,' said Ruth. 'See that hill there. That's where the caves are.'

Saul had expected to find a few people in the caves, but it was like a small town. There were dozens of caves inside the hill and they were all full of PACE workers.

'You can rest for a few hours now and eat,' said Ruth.

'Then you need to get ready for your journey.'

'What?' asked Saul. He was exhausted. 'I thought we were going to stay here for a while.'

'I'll be staying here,' Ruth told Saul. 'I have a great deal to do. But you're going to Neumatt. Each of us has their job to do and your job is to save the dolphins. We can't waste time.'

'What about the tunnel workers?' asked Saul. 'Someone has to help them, save them.'

'Yes,' agreed Ruth. 'Of course it's important to save the tunnel workers. But it's not your job. You've written about dolphin music for so long, now you must rescue the dolphins. Other people will rescue the tunnel workers. And soon, I hope. But you are going to Neumatt. That's why you are here. There's no turning back now.'

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Find Saul Grant

Tuesday 3 June, 11.30 a.m. London.

'Now, let me see if I have this correct,' said Captain Marrs to Dick Lane. 'You go into the forest without my permission. You take two BEATCON soldiers without my permission. You take them into the forest, where they are not yet trained to operate. You cause the death of these men. And you fail either to kill or arrest the terrorists. Does that describe your actions t

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