Episode Three: Dark Days for the Resistance
“Here's another one!” said “Bertie” Berk, listening to the hissing static of the precious crystal radio in the Nantyglo safehouse.
The stalwart Batman and sidekick of dashing Resistance Operative Agent Arrow looked concerned.
“Looks grim, Old Chum”, he said, lowering the bakelite headphone. “Yet another report of strange goings-on at HQ”.
Agent Arrow strirred himself from his light doze. “Oh, God...” he groaned, taking another swig from his Brasso ,Turps and Night Nurse stiffener. With the new revelations of untoward goings-on at HQ coming in on an almost daily basis now, Arrow was finding it hard to remain committed to the Resistance Cause.
“Says that Agent Cyclops has been caught out again. This time it's a fiddle involving ration cards. Offering Fourpence in the Shilling to settle outstanding bills.”
Arrow didn't want to hear any more. Agent Cyclops: the most respected Resistance Leader the Nation had ever known – reduced to such tactics? It was scarcely believable. Agent Cyclops: The virile young Freedom Fighter whom Arrow had first seen on that glorious, sun-kissed day so many years earlier, absent-mindedly brushing back a lock of his tousled hair as he gently, but firmly, took hold of an elderly Supporter's pen, helpfully and forcefully guiding it as she wrote a cheque for the Resistance. “Just make it out to cash!”, the heroic Leader had playfully joshed, before merrily tearing the cheque from the Follower's hand and putting it in his wallet. How Arrow had wished they could be alone together. Just once. How he'd wished Agent Cyclops would take him in his sinewy, muscular arms...
“You alright, Old Chap? Interrupted Berk; “Went a bit flushed there, Kinsman!”
Agent Arrow lit a shredded cardboard, carpet fluff and dandelion cigarette and brought his unique, incisive grasp of the Sinister Ways Of The Searchlight-Controlled State to bear on the matter.
“You're so trusting!” he told Berk; “Can't you see it's more black propaganda and smears from Gable?”
The hated Gerry Gable – Commissar of the all-pervasive Searchlight Directorate and the true power behind the State. This was, Agent Arrow had to keep reassuring himself, nothing more than the latest in the unending series of devious ploys to distract the heroes of the Resistance from their true, holy course - nothing less than wresting their benighted Nation from the clutches of a loathed regime that had allowed coloured newsreaders to appear without dinner jackets on the BBC, a Hit Parade consisting largely of discs by young people of all ethnicities under the age of fifty, and the true, nerve-shredding horror of some vile alien muck called “Chicken Tikka” used as a pizza topping.
“Guess so.” said Berk, sounding unconvinced. “Just that we're getting these reports from our comrades in the Resistance. More and more. Every day! And still no word from HQ!”
“Steady the buffs, Kinsman!” snapped Arrow. “It could be that other Resistance Cells have been infiltrated by Searchlight – we might be the only True Believers left!”
Berk nodded, taking Arrow's sage words on board. “Just wait: We'll hear from HQ and we'll know that Cyclops is as sturdy, committed and stalwart a Leader as ever!”
As if by way of punctuation, the radio crackled into life.
“It's HQ!” Berk ejaculated.
Excitedly, Agent Arrow launched himself the length of the shed and clasped the headphone to his ear, poised with a notepad and stub of pencil to take down the vital message from Agent Cyclops.
Slowly, Berk noticed Arrow's expression change. He stopped writing. His initial, near-feverish anticipation turned, over the ensuing moments, to resigned gloom.
Arrow slowly replaced the headset and switched the crystal set off.
Silently, he passed the notepad to “Bertie” Berk as he poured himself another snifter.
“We need your donat...” it said.
Berk joined his valiant comrade in a glass of the murky liquid.