Sooner or later the shock wears off. We know this, Lives go on and those who cope can deal with the aftermath until it becomes commonplace.
It started, not in the dark as these things do in novels, but in a light and airy student flat. The plotters, six men and two women, all young, all fired in the belief that they could strike a blow for their religion against its oppressors. They looked carefully at the protest sites using hopefully safe proxy cut-outs; listened to the tales of carnage as the crusader states robbed their people of freedom in order to seize the oil and they hungered for revenge. They held up the Muslim death count and considered its implications; vengeance would be theirs, but how?
The answer came as ever on the news. Bewl Water in Kent, supplier of most of the water to the ever hungry towns and cities of the South East even as far as some London districts. It seemed that repairs to the pumping station had been completed and it could now cope better with the demand. The plotters discussed this. Some were training to be engineers, another was almost an industrial chemist. All saw the implications; the crusaders would pay a heavy price for their temerity. The chemist looked for the means and read up on Bhopal, It seemed ideal; though getting the methyl isocyanate in quantities sufficient enough would be difficult, as would bypassing the various safeguards. Still word was sent to others who shadowed their support from abroad, carefully though, oh so carefully. The infidels were not to be underestimated. Should they get a whiff of this plan then no help would be forthcoming. Word came eventually to the group and the leader travelled abroad ostensibly for a family reunion.
The family member, who was not family, nor indeed, not even a countryman of the leader, was curt. The plan was good, though needed to be refined, but it could be done; a tanker prepared; documents forged and a religion avenged.
Those whose job it is to guard us were aware of the group, though constraints on their time meant that surveillance was not constant and not sufficient to raise alarm and so they slipped through the net. The group busied themselves with their task, taking a trip in early spring to the reservoir with a 13-mile hike around it. All wore western style clothing; none wanted to draw attention to themselves. This, after all, was reconnaissance and who knew where their enemies were watching.
A month later the group gathered to meet a shadowy figure who praised their zeal and handed instructions on how to keep their mission off the radar of the enemy. “Our friends in the East have arranged for the tanker. It will arrive in the summer. All that is needed is a time and place. Be careful, and all will be well.”
Still the problem remained of introducing the chemical directly into the supply. It would have to be placed in the supply after filtration and that meant seizing the pump house without anyone being aware. No easy task, yet their surveillance provided the means; and one of the team joined Southern water as a trainee at the reservoir, another at the visitor centre.
Bewl Water is filled with water pumped from the rivers Teise and Medway in Kent, usually during the winter months when rainfall and the river flows are at their highest.
The water is used in three ways. It is released into the River Medway increasing flows and allowing it to be drawn off downstream at the Burham treatment works to supply the Medway towns. It is pumped through 17km of pipeline to Darwell reservoir to increase supplies to Hastings and Bexhill and it is drawn off directly by Mid-Kent Water and treated at the works beside the reservoir. In addition SE Water take water directly from Darwell Reservoir to supply the Eastbourne area. It was quickly noted that deliveries were made to the three sites, Bewl Water, Burham treatment Works and Darwell Reservoir, of chemicals for the filters as well as parts for the pumps. All the sites were manned, however their friend abroad had promised help to seize all the sites, though the main tasks would take place at Bewl and Burham.
May came and went, word from abroad indicated that the 40,000 litres of a slow acting chemical neurotoxin had been processed and was now underway in a stainless steel tanker. The route would be slow and contain many cut outs. Those who supplied the chemical, for all their support, did not wish it to be traced back to their country. The plotters talked and fretted; not a day went by without the fear of discovery causing one or the other of the group to start at shadows, yet nothing happened, life went on.
June heralded the arrival of several young men who made verbal contact with the group. The plan was gone over. The men disappeared for now, where, no-one in the group knew but it was suspected that they were checking the sites involved.
July arrived along with word of the tanker, another meeting with the mysterious men and a date was set.
The mission itself began on the evening of the 6th of July when several men moved into position around Bewl water. They were seemingly of Middle Eastern origin, though dressed in western clothing. They arrived at the reservoir an hour before closure and moved off onto the walks along the banks, biding their time. At dark the telephone lines were cut and the pumping station seized. No guns were used and the lone security guard cut down ruthlessly before he could summon help.
At midnight a tanker was driven up to the site, hoses were attached and a connection to the main pipe to Burham was connected as well as a hose into the reservoir itself.
At Burham, the group’s chemist as well as some of the supporting outsiders broke into the compound and seized the site. The group’s chemist then helped to bypass the filtration system allowing the chemical direct access to the towns of Kent.
The first casualties began a few hours later. Many were taken sick, having bathed in showers or drunk coffee or tea. It was a burning in the eyes and throat, though, as yet, no deaths.
The next hour brought the first death as a motorist collapsed at the wheel of his car and drove into another causing a massive pile up on the M20 motorway.
All across Kent and Sussex people were now calling in sick or being rushed to hospitals and it was now dawning on the authorities that something was terribly wrong; though no-one as yet suspected the horrifying truth.
It was a further hour before a scientific team had isolated the cause and the news was relayed on every channel of radio, TV and internet.
Police rushed to Bewl and Burham, but too late, the terrorists had gone; only graffiti remained.
Police cars toured the streets using loud speakers, but the damage was done. Thousands had succumbed immediately to the poison and were already overwhelming the emergency services. Hundreds of road accidents had blocked many of the main and minor roads. Ambulances could not reach their destinations; indeed many of the medical staff themselves were afflicted.
By 9am the death toll had reached several thousand and was climbing rapidly as the long term effects of the poison took hold. The Prime Minister, looking as shaken as any had ever seen, urged people not to panic, help was under way and don’t drink or touch tap water until the system had been purged. Supermarkets closed their doors as panic buying of bottled water caused fighting in the aisles and outside their premises.
The authorities desperately tried to keep a lid on who the suspected perpetrators were, giving out vague information as to a chemical spill, yet to no avail. Word leaked out from an internet site based in Pakistan gloating over the infidel deaths and Britain listened and watched in horror.
The first collateral deaths were a group of Muslim men going to a Mosque in London. A car was deliberately driven at them, killing three and badly injuring two others. A mob in Luton gathered and despite police demands that they disperse, set fire to the homes of several immigrants and grew ever more out of control. Soon other riots broke out in cities all over Britain and the police seemed helpless to stop the spiralling tide of violence aimed at anyone deemed to be a Muslim.