The Pyramids of Hertfordshire, episode 5

Cur­ruth­ers meets an old col­league; Pren­tiss pulls the plug.


3rd June 2010.

Dramatis Personae

  • Lady Ant­o­nia deVorea Heav­ily-armed Aris­to­crat.
  • Miss Con­stantina Spita Rebel­li­ous Debutante.
  • Cap­tain Ben­son Cur­ruth­ersa Mil­it­ary Police­man.
  • Jack Pren­tiss – a Dodgy Ped­es­tri­an.
  • Miss April Sharpea Self-taught Invent­or.
  • Rod­ney Marsha Par­tially-reformed Thief.
  • Mr Chester – a For­eign Gen­tle­man of the Sci­entif­ic Per­sua­sion.
  • Jack­son – an old Asso­ci­ate of Cur­ruth­ers.
  • Two Anonym­ous Sci­ent­ists.
  • A Scep­tic­al Com­mand­ant.
  • A num­ber of Heav­ily-armed ‘Game­keep­ers’.
  • A large num­ber of Sham­bling Corpses.


After the night’s exer­tions, the team headed for the darkened lounge of the Inn and sev­er­al mem­bers con­sumed a stiff brandy (at least three in Marsh’s case). They prised Marsh’s dis­cov­er­ies out of him and decided that they would vis­it the mys­ter­i­ous camp in per­son the fol­low­ing day, mak­ing no secret of their true authority.

They hired some rid­ing horses and, after much delib­er­a­tion over the best route, led them by the known forest trail over the ridge. They hit a well-packed gravel road to the north-east of the camp at around 1 pm and, sur­mising that it led to the camp, fol­lowed it to the south and west. Marsh fol­lowed them sep­ar­ately though the woods, act­ing as a kind of back-up.

After ten minutes of travel, they encountered a bor­der-style check­point and were hailed by a man dressed in tweeds, armed with what appeared to be a very large double-bar­relled shot­gun. Cur­ruth­ers imme­di­ately assumed an air of author­ity and demand access in the name of the Min­istry. The man looked con­fused, but asked them to wait while he headed inside a hut by the side of the road. The her­oes could hear him talk­ing to someone whose voice could­n’t be heard. A moment later, anoth­er man in tweeds poked his head out of the door and, this time, Cur­ruth­ers recog­nised him instantly as Jack­son, a Col­our Ser­geant he had known in India. They exchanged some pleas­ant­ries while the one-sided con­ver­sa­tion in the hut con­tin­ued, then Jack­son returned to the hut and joined that con­ver­sa­tion. After a minute or so, he returned, say­ing that the ‘Com­mand­ant’ had agreed to see them.

He accom­pan­ied them along the mile or so to the camp, which was revealed in day­light to be quite a defens­ive struc­ture. A long earth ramp led to the main gate of the facil­ity on the cent­ral rise, broken only by a make­shift draw­bridge. A twenty-foot high guard tower con­tain­ing two guards with a machine gun over­looked the main approaches and the bushes around the edge of the rise provided nat­ur­al crenel­la­tions hid­ing snipers.

Watch­ing from the woods, Marsh saw them cross the ‘moat′ and fol­low their guide into what appeared to be a guard­house. Jack­son asked them to wait while he fetched the Commandant.

The Com­mand­ant turned out to be a tra­di­tion­al­ist type who imme­di­ately began to butt horns with Cur­ruth­ers, point­ing out that the pro­ject was a top secret oper­a­tion of the War Office and that the Min­istry (which seemed to know about) had no author­ity there. After much argu­ment, he agreed to show them the exper­i­ments, on the basis that they were nearly com­pleted anyway.

They were led to the open square at the centre of the camp, situ­ated between four pre­fab­ric­ated struc­tures, one of which appeared to con­tain a steam-powered elec­tric­al gen­er­at­or, and con­tain­ing a tall mast, linked by cables to the power­house and the build­ing oppos­ite. Knock­ing on the door of that build­ing, the Com­mand­ant entered and returned, accom­pan­ied by a short, mous­tached man, who he intro­duced as Mr Chester. Chester turned out to be Hun­gari­an, judging from his accent, but was soon per­suaded to explain how they were exper­i­ment­ing with broad­cast­ing elec­tric­al power through the æth­er to vehicles and oth­er devices.

This was then demon­strated as the gen­er­at­or was star­ted up, caus­ing hairs to rise on every­one, before one of his com­pan­ions drove an elec­tric vehicle out from behind one of the build­ings. Miss Sharpe dis­cussed the the­ory with Chester, put­ting for­ward the the­ory that the broad­cast elec­tri­city was respons­ible for anim­at­ing the zom­bies; both Chester and the Com­mand­ant rejec­ted the idea as impossible and refused to con­sider the idea.

The Com­mand­ant now informed them that they would not be allowed to leave until the final exper­i­ments were fin­ished and locked them in what appeared to be a bar­racks. The group imme­di­ately began look­ing for a way out, check­ing the floor, door and windows.

Out­side the camp, Marsh became aware of move­ment around him and spot­ted numer­ous zom­bies sham­bling towards the camp. He pan­icked, trans­formed, after a brief stut­ter, into a rat and bolted for the camp.

Inside the bar­racks, the team were pre­par­ing to break the door down, when they became aware of gun­fire, increas­ing in volume and rate of fire, and soon accom­pan­ied by the chat­ter of the tower-moun­ted machine gun. A num­ber of screams were also heard and it became appar­ent that the guards were being over­whelmed. They renewed their efforts with repeated charges, then Cur­ruth­ers bust the door open and was nearly flattened by a walk­ing corpse. As he battled for his life, aided by Lady Ant­o­nia, the oth­ers tried to fig­ure out how to shut down the elec­tric­al broad­cast. Around them, the guards were attempt­ing to hold a peri­met­er against the sham­bling attackers.

Pren­tiss sprin­ted for the power­house, burst­ing through the door, then duck­ing at the last moment to avoid los­ing his head to a shovel wiel­ded by a pan­ick­ing stoker. Marsh arrived behind the zom­bie fight­ing Cur­ruth­ers, returned to human form and nearly decap­it­at­ing it, fol­lowed up by bow­ing iron­ic­ally to his com­bat train­er. Lady Ant­o­nia decided to try and help the guards while Miss Sharpe powered up her weapon and aimed it at the top of the mast, soak­ing it in a stream of cor­ros­ive liquid. Miss Spit fol­lowed Pren­tiss into the power­house, arriv­ing just in time to see him pull a thick cable out of the steam-powered dynamo, caus­ing a massive shower of sparks which made up for the lights going out.

The dynamo sped up, its whine rap­idly rising in pitch, until the build­ing exploded in a shower of flames and shrapnel…


Ooh! A cliff-hanger!

Will Pren­tiss and Miss Spit sur­vive the explo­sion? Has Marsh finally taunted Cur­ruth­ers one too many times? Did Miss Sharpe really under­stand any­thing Mr Chester said? What will hap­pen if Lady Ant­o­nia gets her hands on a really big gun?

Find out in the next thrill­ing instal­ment of…

The Pyr­am­ids of Hertfordshire!