The flourescent lights were artificial, uniform and bright. They made Sergeant Lennick's eyes screw up as he entered the small room. Already other officers of his rank sat at small desks in the room, and at the front, stood an officer of much higher rank.
–Sorry I'm late,– said the Sgt. Lennick.
–Apology accepted,– said the high-ranking officer. –Sit down, you have a mission tonight.–
The Sgt. Lennick sat down. The small desk was restrictive, yet he ignored his discomfort and stared straight ahead.
–Men,– said this officer, –I have been over this once and I will go over it again for the benefit of the Sergeant. You are on a top-secret mission tonight, to forcibly enter the main rebel camp.–
Nobody questioned the fact that were seven or eight of them in total.
–This is a test attack, to scare the rebels for the final attack. Higher up has decided that this is necessary, and you have been entrusted with commanding a small unit of Policemen. You will enter the barricade, and you will then break it down, ready for tomorrow's attack.–
Lennick shifted. He watched a grey shadow form around the officer's being.
–You are to do this immediately, men. After this brief, you are to go outside, get geared up, and then leave for the barricade. You will attack it by a charge, and break it down as much as you can. You will shoot at any armed rebel.
Those bloody rebels, thought Lennick. His breathing was short.
–Is that all right, men? I am putting Sergeant Lennick in charge.
Lennick sat up a little. He let the other officers look at him, and then said, –Sir.
Three-quarters of an hour later saw him, the seven other officers and a unit of regular policemen approach the barricade, which stood jagged and black against the sky. Lennick, who was in front, held up a hand, and as one, the entire unit leaned against the wall of the building. Cautiously, Lennick waited. He looked out.
Against teh silhouette of the night, he could see shapes moving.
He did not call for a charge, not yet. He watched as they walked towards him, hidden behind the building, in the dark shadows. Two figures, walking up to their hiding-place.
–Should we attack, yet, Sergeant?
He listened closely. The younger man was talking to a policeman. Who was this officer? wondered Lennick. Why was he here?
He heard them talking: and ducked into the cover of darkness as the younger man approached the wall, and leaned against it. In the moonlight, Lennick lifted his visor and peeked round. He leaned against the wall, listening to the policeman. The rebel was so close that Lennick could see slight stubble on his chin and cheeks.
What's happening here?
Was this a trap? Did they already know about the attack?
How could they? This had been decided only hours before Lennick had been awoken, told to get dressed and meet in the classroom. Lennick motioned for his unit to sit down, and then tried to listen.
Any news on a young man called Krasimir Dulka? asked the rebel, and Lennick gave a start.
The policeman said something and handed the rebel a stack of papers.
–What's going on?– whispered a fellow officer.
–For God's sake, shut up,– muttered Lennick. –Something very important's happening out there. You'll sit still until I give the command.–
Lennick crouched against teh wall as the pair of them came very close to their hiding-place. He could hear the policeman: because I believe in your cause. I want to do a report, see what things are like in there...what are they like?
He's in disguise, thought Lennick. One of our own force is a traitor.
Their voices were very quiet, but Lennick could already hear the rebel say to the policeman, Aleksandrov, the whole City's ours.
No it fucking isn't, thought Lennick, and felt his skin prickle underneath the heavy uniform.
Why don't you claim it, then? asked the policeman.
How did you know the Police thought that? asked the rebel, and again, Lennick felt his stomach constrict.
We were all told at the Press, replied the policeman.
Something in Lennick's mind clicked. He wasn't sure what, but he felt the rage against the rebels descend on him again. He breathed. He mustn't let this fury get in the way: he didn't shoot straight when he was angry. His gloved hand flexed on his riot gun. This whole childish game...this whole childish game. This storming of a barricade of rebels...
This was childish...
This was madness...
He had given the shout without thinking about it. The Police descended on the barricade.