I drove into the cavernous car park below the hanger. There was still room for several cars. It was dark. The steel beams were painted a drab grey. The high tensile bolts joining the steels glinted in the minimal yellow sodium lighting. There was no escaping it. It had to be done. We were all determined not to fail this time. We had prepared. We were ready. I stopped the car. We all got out. I dropped the seats to give more room in the load space. We closed the doors, the boot, and I pressed the zapper to lock the car. This was essential here.

We walked over to the massive lift. ‘Maximum 25 persons or equivalent’ it warned sternly next to the poster prohibiting smoking. It rumbled steadily up from the car park into the brightly lit hanger. There was a lingering smell of something familiar – formaldehide? What would we find here? Would they still be here? Had they all been taken away?

We followed the marked route, it was forbidden to deviate from it, some had tried but…We stayed together for safety. No one wanted to get lost in this huge hanger. No one wanted to get separated from the group.

There were pallets and crates piled high. We did not see what we had come for. They must still be here. We could not bear to have to come here again. There were two bedrooms. There was no one sleeping. There was no privacy. Then we saw a trolley.We grabbed it and pulled it with us. We knew we would need it. They were going to be heavy – we knew that. I looked up at the roof far above us in the near darkness, through the faux ceiling. It was painted black, hiding the cable trays and ventilation ducts. What was up there that they didn’t want us to see? What was the need for the pretend ceiling, brightly lit?

We turned the next corner. There was a computer on a stand, high from the floor. One of us logged on, entered the index number and looked at the cross reference to the storage bay, 52B. We checked the on line floor plan, we now knew where to look. We set off along the route. We followed the arrows on the floor, urging us on in our quest. We passed some Venetians with white canes. Why had they come all this way, only to see nothing?  Then there were rows of plants. Huh! Did they think we would be fooled into thinking this was a garden centre – in a hanger?

We finally got to the storage bays. We could see them marching away from us in their orangeness in the gloom. We searched. Where was 52B? here was 27, now 36, now 47, getting closer. There it was, 52B. There were still some there, as the computer had promised – I don’t always believe computers. We wanted two. We helped each other to lift down two from the gantry and loaded them on to the trolley.

We were stopped at the barrier, had to show a card and scan the bar codes, to keep the computer happy and ensure it would not start telling lies. We were released. We had got through. Back in the lift. Still no smoking allowed. We needed something, alcohol would be better, after we left the hanger behind us. I zapped the car. It winked back at me in silent recognition. We would soon be free. We loaded both of them into the car, flat in the loading space. One of us closed the boot. Another pushed the trolley back towards the lift, a brave move. The rest got in the car. I started the engine. I locked the doors. We were ready. I started off. I drove up from the car park. I accelerated. We drove around the roundabout. We were now on the M32. We all gave a sigh and shared high fives. We had done it. We were free. We would never dare to come back. Now for a drink in the Hen and Chicken.

Mission accomplished. Two flat pack bed – side cabinets from IKEA.

© Richard Kefford                                                                                                        Eorðdraca


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