Long Live the King

By Rich Cross   Last updated on 20 December 2020, 09:56:14

First published on the Survivors homepage website


Charles and Agnes beneath the new GP flag - Long Live the King

 FOLLOWING THE MAJOR power lines north towards Scotland, Charles, Jenny, Hubert, Sam and Alex discover a makeshift telephone rig wired into the pylons – just like Whitecross's own. Nearby have been strung two enormous banners emblazoned with the words 'message for Charles V', unmissable whether travelling on horseback or by barge. All of these signs point to the presence, and the impressive organisational reach, of Greg Preston.

Hubert finds the message, an urgent appeal from Greg to join him at Felbridge Camp some 100 miles to the South. Sick of the disappointment of missed meetings, Jenny decides to press on northwards with the engineering party while Charles heads off to rendezvous with Greg.

The Captain, escaped from the 'killing fields' of Cawston Farm, is also en route to Felbridge, his new henchmen Mitch in tow. At Adams' farm a feverish Greg had spoken of 'gold' hidden away at Felbridge in his delirium. The Captain plans to seize Preston's 'treasure' for himself. The duo barge in to Mrs Hicks' cottage, demanding food and shelter for the night, meeting her reluctance with thinly veiled threats.

 Vast reservoir

Jenny meets Les Norton, responsible for the phone connection and the message for Charles. Len takes the travellers to a nearby brickyard, where Jenny is reunited with Tom Walters - whose train now services a growing trading network. Tom offers Len a 'chit' for 100 gallons of petrol, signed by Greg, in payment for an order of 2000 bricks. Tom reveals the existence of a vast reservoir of petrol at Felbridge, that will provide the guarantee for these new notes now entering circulation, intended to encourage the expansion of trading relations between communities and individuals. 'It's money, isn't it?, exclaims Jenny.

Charles arrives at Felbridge Camp, a large 'GP' monogram attached its gates, and is directed to meet Agnes at operations HQ. Dressed in army fatigues and cap, sporting a 'GP' armband, and carrying a side-arm, Agnes confides to Charles that she has summoned him and not Greg, who lies stricken with 'smallpox' at Cawston Farm.

Charles, Hubert and Jenny debate their next steps
Charles, Hubert and Jenny debate their next steps

Agnes introduces Charles to the growing federation of trading settlements and the communications infrastructure between them that Greg has been the catalyst for. Agnes announces that the next stage must be the formation of a new government, able to develop and defend the network nationally. Charles fears that Agnes' plans are excessive and overbalanced. Agnes speaks with clarity and determination, yet the intense pressure she feels under to make good on Greg's legacy is clearly a heavy burden for her to bear.

At Mrs Hicks' cottage, Mitch discovers a 'petrol note', revealing the nature of the 'liquid gold' at Felbridge. The Captain's acquisitive instincts have proved sound.

 Felbridge camp

Learning of the bold new socio-economic 'proclamation' authorised by Greg, Sam fears a return to the 'tyranny' and 'corruption' of the past, but his concerns are dismissed by Alex – and by Jenny who is now determined to travel to the Camp. Alex sees in this confirmation that Jenny still loves Greg.

Tom arrives at Felbridge in Albert's brick van. Les arrives on horseback to check out the credibility of the petrol note system for himself and other traders. Tom offers him the petrol he is due, and shows him the underground pumping equipment.

Agnes reveals to Charles that the huge petrol tanks are fictitious, but insists that the deception is necessary to force the notes into use. As long as too many traders do not attempt to redeem their notes at the same time, the 'fraud' will be self-sustaining and will encourage economic and political recovery. Greg will become the symbolic 'head of the nation', and the embodiment of a new central authority.

Charles breaks the deceit and informs them all that Greg is seriously ill


Rich Cross

Les demands to see the million gallon tanks. Agnes insists that only Greg can authorise such a request – and announces that he is in Norway. His suspicions increased, Les demands his petrol and prepares to leave for home.

Jenny arrives with Hubert, and is furious to discover that Greg is once again elsewhere. Charles breaks the deceit and informs them all that Greg is seriously ill at Adams' farm.

Mitch and The Captain arrive at the Camp and, after showing 'their' petrol note at the front gate, find their way to the petrol store and make plans to take possession.

 A proclamation

A desperate Jenny is determined to be at Greg's side to nurse him, and she convinces a reluctant Charles to accompany her to Cawston Farm. Realising that her plans are unravelling, Agnes seals the Camp and calls a meeting at gunpoint.

Agnes and Jenny row over their claims on Greg's affections. Agnes bitterly concedes that Greg's love for Jenny overrode his commitment to her father's plans. She rebukes Jenny for her neediness and vulnerability, and for demanding that Greg embrace family domesticity at Whitecross.

The Captain and Mitch find Joe in the printshop, seizing his gun and taking him hostage. Reading the 'proclamation', The Captain considers the potential of his own tax-raising militia, funded from Felbridge's fuel supply.

Agnes informs her 'guests' of the plan to form a Council of Government in Greg's name, urging them all to co-operate in the necessary illusion. Charles attacks the plan as too rigid and restricting. News of the brutal murder of Mrs Hicks reaches the Camp, just as Mitch is sent to instruct Agnes on the terms for the safe release of Joe. The Captain moves his hostage to a new hideout. On the way, Joe spots his wife Alice working on one of the allotments, but cannot alert her before The Captain hurls him into a hay shed – where he finds and disarms a sleeping Hubert.

A shot is heard, the agreed signal for Agnes' capitulation to The Captain's terms. Forced into the open as Alice approaches pushing her barrow, Hubert arms himself with a rake and strikes at The Captain. The gun goes off killing Alice. Hubert grabs the weapon and captures The Captain, who is taken prisoner alongside Mitch.

 Figurehead

Hubert demands that a trial confirm a death sentence on the murderers. Jenny wonders if Agnes will go so far as to claim to be a judge 'in Greg's name.' Agnes tells Jenny that, in truth, Greg died weeks earlier, and that she buried his body herself. Agnes says that the news can only be revealed once the Council is up and running.

Albert and Les prepare to leave, convinced that without Greg's presence, as organiser and figurehead, the ambitious plans will collapse. Charles tries to convince them of the value of the project, urging them to participate – even if it proves necessary to sustain the 'myth' of Greg in the process – as the first Council delegates begin to assemble. Les wants the Council to settle the question of justice for killers like The Captain. Charles is optimistic that it can do much more, and lay the foundations for a new society.

As Jenny prepares to depart for Scotland, she and Agnes struggle to find some kind of reconciliation and understanding. Agnes still insists that Jenny constricted Greg, and frustrated his potential, but concedes that his love for Jenny was powerfully strong. Jenny agrees not to reveal Greg's death to others. Agnes tells Jenny that 'Greg is the Council now', encouraging her to spread the news of the establishment of a new government in England to survivors in Scotland.

As a 'GP' Council flag flutters over the Camp, Jenny observes, in a mixture of grief, irony and acceptance, that 'the King is dead – long live the King.'

Rich Cross

The Captain, an enemy of the new order in Long Live the King
The Captain, an enemy of the new order in Long Live the King

Cite this web page
11 May 2021202131 January

 Cross, R. (2021). 'Long Live the King,' [online] Survivors: A World Away, 31 January. Available at: https://www.survivors-mad-dog.org.uk/a-world-away/Archive_Rev_LL.php. Accessed on: 11 May 2021.

 
   

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