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The History Maintenance Commission frontline office in the battle against meddling timetravellers was located in South Bristol on a Government Buildings Site. As Kai drove towards a wide gate an ominous sign affixed to the brick wall on one side warned in red letters: ‘This Is A Security Controlled Area’. Diamonde displayed the appropriate pass to the gatekeeper in his office and the entrance was opened.

After parking we headed towards a soulless, two-storey, concrete building deprived of windows and covered in ivy. Its only means of ventilation, I could ascertain, was derived from three shafts that penetrated through the roof like huge, blind periscopes in a sea of mediocrity.

‘What’s this Hell forsaken place?’ I commented, grasping my strange phenomenon under my arm a little tighter. The white door opened with a clattering buzz after my companion declared our arrival over the intercom system and it was as we entered that I could see that the walls were a yard and a half thick. The worrying thought occurred to me that I could scream through a megaphone and nobody outside would hear me. My strange phenomenon was my ticket to an intriguing adventure, but I wasn’t willing to die for it. ‘This isn’t a torture chamber, is it?’

‘Don’t fret, mate, the walls are that thick to withstand a nuclear blast,’ he informed me.

Everything about the place hollered Cold War. I was escorted through a labrynth of unpainted, uncarpeted musty corridors. A barren landscape painted from an expressionless, purely functional palette. It was summer, yet the bleak, desolate encompassing walls made me shudder. There seemed to be a dozen or so small rooms leading off the corridor, some just afforded privacy by means of an appropriately grey coloured curtain. Inside, an occasional person could be spotted working at a metal desk adjacent to aluminium shelving stacked with files. Our footsteps echoed upon the hard concrete floor and I couldn’t help but think that my heart was out of kilter with my brain for giving the go ahead to experience this.

‘This, matey, is The War Room,’ Kai declared as we entered a huge, square-shaped area. It was a hive of activity within, an appearance aided by the presence of a giant split screen that took up pretty much the whole of the back wall. There were four sections dellivering news and live video from what I was able to gather were other HMC offices around the globe, on this occasion feeds courtesy of New York City, Munich, Stockholm and Cairo were being deciphered and collated by a team of four who sat at a long desk directly in front of the screens.

‘Wow!’ I gasped and the exclamation appeared to penetrate the cloud of smoke hanging overhead before making its way to touch the high ceiling, which unlike the small almost cubicle type offices, was the full two-storey’s high. It helped convey a feeling of reverence akin to that of a church setting. To my right a map of the world took up the wall with various places illuminated with led.

‘Behind that,’ Kai informed me, observing my interest, ‘is a contingency map should Christopher Columbus ever be dissuaded from discovering the New World by some idiot time-traveller. It just takes a switch of a button and a new, flat Earth map will appear with warning signs on each side to prevent people dropping off the edge. And, pal,’ he continued, pointing towards the opposite wall on my left, ‘there’s something else where you wouldn’t want to venture beyond a certain point!’


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