Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Just another day at the office

university 3 min read

What started out as just another quiet Sunday afternoon of dedicated work in the lab turned into yet another epic Matt Gemmell adventure. One of these weeks I swear I’m going to go 24 hours without having to save someone’s life.

It all started when I decided that I was unlikely to get any work done at home, and since I had nothing better to do, I thought I’d drive in to university and spend a couple of hours in the lab, firming up my module choices, taking a look at the RMI stuff for DAS4, and generally making productive use of my afternoon. I thus set off and, after negotiating heavier traffic than usual due to the Rangers game and some roadworks on the motorway, I eventually pulled into Lilybank Gardens and located a parking space.

I’d texted Lauren earlier just to ask how her night out had been last night, and she’d mentioned that she was planning to drop by the university too, to go through the list of project choices for her 3rd year team project. We agreed that we’d maybe meet up for coffee or something if we both happened to be around at the same time. So far, so good.

I wasn’t too surprised, then, when just as I was parking the car, I saw Lauren walking along towards the back door of the Boyd Orr building, and so I prepared to switch off the engine and go over to talk to her. I was certainly surprised, however, by what happened next.

Before I could so much as blink, the rear double-doors of the Boyd Orr exploded outwards onto the road (thankfully missing Lauren), and a giant robot emerged, clanking and stomping menacingly towards her. It grabbed her with its iron-plated fist, and then a set of wings unfolded from some kind of panel on its back. In less than a further 5 seconds, it was airborne, and fast disappearing over the top of the Boyd Orr.

I was stunned, as you might expect, but naturally not so much so as to not know what to do. It was clear that I had to save her. Reaching under the dashboard, I pressed the hidden switch which converts a Peugeot 206 LX Quiksilver into Flight Mode (depending on which extras package you opted for; you may have a 15-disc CD changer unit in the boot instead).

Gunning the engine, I quickly took to the sky. The flying battle robot was initially nowhere to be found, but once I’ve ascended to above cloud level, I quickly saw it again; it was heading east, towards the city centre. Even though technically it couldn’t have been possible, I could swear that I heard Lauren’s screams of terror even from that range. Pressing the gas pedal to the floor, I began to gain on the mechanical monstrosity that was her captor.

The robot lead me a merry chase high above the rooftops of Argyle St, Buchanan St, across the River Clyde and back, and even around Caledonian University at one point (though it didn’t stay there for long). Eventually, after some rather fancy flying, I finally got within firing range. It’s a little-known fact that, when in Flight Mode, the somewhat ostentatious hazard warning lights switch in a 206 actually controls the built-in laser cannons, mounted within the headlights assembly. Taking very careful aim, both to avoid harming Lauren and also to disable the robot sufficiently to cause it to land immediately, I fired.

One direct hit later, and the robot began to spiral downwards towards the city - it was going straight for the river! Not hesitating for a moment, I swooped down, engaging the 206’s autopilot, and opened the front passenger door. In a daring display of skill and, frankly, recklessness, I managed to grab Lauren as the robot plummeted past. Pulling her inside to safety, I climbed steeply back into the sky, narrowly avoiding the huge spout of water caused by the metallic creature’s impact onto the surface of the river. As we sped away, I glanced into my rear-view mirror and saw the evil machine sink without a trace.

Having checked all relevant news outlets, I can find no mention of the day’s drama, and similarly after a quick overflight just within the last half hour, the Boyd Orr’s structure has been speedily and expertly repaired, leaving no trace of what really happened. It seems that the architects of the nameless galvanised beast are powerful and influential indeed, and may strike again. So be it; I’ll be ready.

With Lauren once again safe, I landed the car at the nearest convenient place, and we found ourselves outside the UGC cinema just north of Sauchiehall St. I thought it might be wise to allow Lauren some time to come to terms with her adventure before she returned home, so on the spur of the moment we decided to go and see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Interesting movie, with a nonsense plot as expected, but certainly entertaining.

Jude Law, at least you had the benefit of a second take (and third, and so on). Glasgow’s real Sky Captain has to get it right the first time, every time. But I ask for no reward, or even thanks; I just see it as doing my civic duty.

Until next time, citizens, keep watching the skies.

Footnote: To those who would accuse me of exaggeration or otherwise, I draw your attention to the fact that Lauren confirms today’s events on her blog.