Chapter 19

Within an hour, the two captains came back with another man following them. A man in a white coat with a bag in his hand. He went straight to the table, and started pulling tools out of the bag one by one.

I was sick with fear, and had made myself sick during the previous hour. But when I saw the man with his white coat and tools, I went weak at the knees. Steele saw my face, and winked at Lewis-Sharpe. Then he came to sit beside me. He said kindly,

“Mr. Powell. I have a pretty good idea what’s going through your mind. You’re afraid. That’s natural. You’re flesh and blood. This man in the white coat is a pharmacist. The official pharmacist of the Military Society in Gwynedd, just flown in from Llandudno. PX300 causes pain without leaving any signs of pain on your body. It also weakens your mind – for a while. That is, it weakens your will to such an extent that it makes you ready to believe anything that’s said to you. You can’t think for yourself. Before PX300 has finished its work, you’ll believe exactly what we believe.”

I shook my head.

“But perhaps,” said Steele, “perhaps there’s no need for PX300. Perhaps you’re ready to sign that television contract now?”



“Perfectly sure.”

“Very well.”

Captain Steele rose. He pulled a cigarette out of his gold box, and lit it.

“All right, Winter,” he said in English. “He’s all yours.”

“I don’t like it,” said Winter.

“Shut up, you fool. Get on with it. It’s all for the cause.”

Winter told me to take my jacket off and roll up my shirt sleeve. I saw that Steele and Lewis-Sharpe had their eyes on me, and I thought I’d better obey. After I had thrown my jacket away and rolled up my sleeve, Winter came towards me with a small syringe between his fingers. My courage went to pieces.

“You can’t put that needle in my arm. You can’t!”

Steele and Lewis-Sharpe slipped either side of me and held me so that I couldn’t move. After looking each of them in the eye as if he was accusing them, Winter pushed the syringe into my arm. The pain was terrible. It was as though my arm was on fire and slowly swelling.

“All right,” said Winter. “He won’t struggle now.”

The two let go of me.

“How long does it take to work?” asked Steele.

“About ten minutes.”

The two captains moved to the window to talk to each other. Talking under their breath. About me, as far as I could gather. While they were there, Winter bent over me from behind and pretended to check the whites of my eyes, and whispered in my ear in Welsh,

“You only had half the dose. Pretend to be incapacitated and weak.”

Pretend! I didn’t have to. The pain was still torturous, and I was no good for anything. But Winter’s whisper gave me some encouragement. He, at least, was trying to save me from the worst of PX300. Steele had noticed that Winter had whispered something to me, and asked what he’d said.

“Only told him to open his eyes so I could see their whites,” in English again but rather defiantly.

Steele scowled, and turned to speak to Lewis-Sharpe. Soon, he looked at his watch and came towards me.

“Well, Powell?” he said drily. “How do you feel?”

I heard his voice coming at me in waves, and I saw him as if through waves of water. But my mind was still working. I could yet hold my ground against his persuasion. I understood the kindness that Winter had done for me. The half-dose had put me in pain but without paralysing my will. But the pain… the pain…!

“Are you in pain, Powell?” said Steele then.

I nodded my head.

“Well, now,” he said, sitting directly in front of me, “is it better or worse in Wales now than it was in your day?”

“Better… worse… Oh, I don’t know,” I said.

“Worse, Powell, worse,” he said fiercely. “It was much better in Wales under the English government, much better when Britain was one. Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember, Powell?”

I shook my head.

“Yes, Powell, you remember well. It was wonderful in those days. Life was good. Life was safe.”

“No…” I said weakly. “It wasn’t…”

“It was, Powell, it was!”

I carried on shaking my head.

“Damn you,” he said. “Quarter of an hour, and the stuff still hasn’t worked.” (Then in English:) “Winter, give him another.”

Through thee corner of my eye I saw Winter looking at him in terror, hesitating. Lewis-Sharpe came to Winter and hit him, and said in English,

“Do as you’re told, man.”

I began to squirm and tried to raise my hand to stop him from hurting me again. But I could hardly move it. I saw Steele’s face smiling at me through the waves before me.

“The first dose hurt, Powell, didn’t it? They say that the second dose hurts ten times worse.”

I tried to cry out, but my voice was weak and hoarse. Winter rubbed my arm with some wadding, and then the needle went in again. Steele had been telling the truth. If the first dose hurt, this one… I almost fainted. Having to stay conscious to suffer a hundred knives running over my body was more than should be expected of any man… The terror!

“Well, now then, Powell. Perhaps now you will be more ready to see sense.”

I could hardly see Steele’s face by now. I gathered he was lighting a cigarette. The smoke was going past my face in clouds, and I felt profoundly sick.

“Powell, it’s worse in Wales now than it’s ever been. Worse, you hear, worse, worse, WORSE…!”

He carried on shouting into my face for long minutes, and then began whispering, then shouted again for a while, and then appealed coldly and quietly. He kept at it for all he was worth each time, and I still don’t know what I said in those minutes. But I must have kept refusing, because he got up from his chair and called Lewis-Sharpe over to take his place. He then sat in front of me, a great wide expanse, and started arguing with me again. I felt I ought to give in to him so that I could have some rest, I wanted to give in, but my lips refused to cooperate with my brain. I heard his arguments sinking into my mind, and I was becoming more and more convinced that Britain was best as one and that Wales was safer under the protection of England’s armed forces, but my lips refused to give way.

I heard Steele shouting in English,

“Give him a third shot, Winter!”

But the third shot wasn’t needed. The pain became too much for me. I fell unconscious.

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