The hanger. Creative non fiction.

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. Some had been tightened more than others during the initial assembly, depending on their loading. They feel this is unfair and still torque about it.

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. What is the equivalent – 4 cows, a small car? There was no minimum warning so we went up with the lift mostly full of empty, but it seemed pleased at the light load. It rumbled happily up from the car park as it fulfilled its destiny. There was no choice of destination – it was top or bottom, just a binary decision. The lift dreamed of being promoted to a new life, a new title  – perhaps a freight elevator – perhaps in New York, in one of those modern warehouse flats or even a high speed  elevator, with a carpet and a mirror, carrying rich business types up to their offices on the 51st floor of a skyscraper. Even lifts have dreams.

The doors opened automatically at the entrance into the brightly lit hanger. Here there was a lingering smell of something familiar – formaldehyde? What would we find here? Would they still be here? Had they all been taken away – disappeared, never to be seen again?

We followed the marked route of huge, coloured arrows on the floor. it was forbidden to deviate from this route, some had tried but…We stayed together for safety. No one wanted to get lost in this huge space. No one wanted to get separated from the group, there was safety in numbers. We were watched over by the black and orange coated guards in everything we did.

There were pallets and crates piled high. We could not see what we had come for. They must still be here. We could not bear to come here again. There were two bedrooms. There was no one sleeping. We did not intend to stay for the rumoured teenager sleepover, we are too old. There was no privacy. Then we saw a lurking trolley. We grabbed it and pulled it along with us. It had rear steering which made it hard to control. We turned it and pushed it backwards, that was easier, not out of control any more, we were now in charge. We knew we would need it. They were going to be heavy, we knew that, we had planned for it.

I looked up at the hidden space far above us in the near darkness, through the false ceiling. It was painted black, hiding the cable trays and ventilation ducts hanging from the concrete roof in the gloom. What was up there that they didn’t want us to see? What was hiding above the pretend ceiling, why was it so brightly lit?

We were now in the kitchen area, no comforting smell of food. Simple rations were available from the industrial style canteen further along the route. Food was only allowed on completion of a mission. The set menu was meatballs today – with optional gravy.

We turned the next corner. There was a computer on a stand, set high above 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. 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 – in a hanger?

We finally got to the storage bays. We could see them marching away from us , safe in their orangeness, strong and solid, secure in their strength, dominant 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 turned the trolley, it was now too heavy to push and steer backwards.

We were stopped at the barrier, we had to show a membership card to show that we were authorised 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. A heavier load this time but still lighter than 4 cows, or a small car. Then descent with a gentle regretful sigh – no New York today. The doors opened, we were almost free. We thanked the lift for its service.

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 reversed the trolley back towards the lift, a brave move – a trolley with steering learning difficulties. The rest got in the car. I started the engine. I locked the doors. We were ready. I started off. I drove up and out of the car park, away from the big blue box. I accelerated. We drove around the roundabout. We were now on the M32. We all gave sighs of relief and shared high fives. We had done it. We were free. We would never dare to go back. We needed something, coffee perhaps, but alcohol would be better, after we left the hanger behind us, to mitigate the trauma. Now for a drink in the Hen and Chicken.

Mission accomplished.

We were the proud owners of two bed side cabinets from IKEA – flat packed of course.


© Richard Kefford                                                                                 Eorðdraca

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