Our Island Skies


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
This was a one-off we played through recently. It comes with the following certification:

18 Certificate. Contains frequent strong language, scenes of drug use and violence.

Still interested? Then let us begin...

log in or register to remove this ad


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
Running footsteps were heard in an empty Whitehall corridor, as the night-shift researcher ran from the computer room to wake the dozing senior in his office with a single word.

“Aliens,” she gasped breathlessly.


Within thirty minutes, a flurry of phone calls had woken a number of civil servants, and the most senior of these, wearing a rumpled jacket and unironed shirt was on the phone himself.

“Minister, early reports appear certain.” The civil servant spoke slowly and patiently with the air of a man long used to passing unwelcome news on to others. “There have been several reports of sightings and now a police Sergeant has made a formal statement confirming that he was abducted and experiments performed on him by, er, ‘little grey men with big black eyes’ ”. There was a rustling of paper as the civil servant checked his notes and scribbled the time he had confirmed this detail to the minister.


After another five minutes, the Chief of the General Staff had in turn been woken, and informed by a near-panicking cabinet minister that aliens might have landed and that it was now his problem.


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
Twenty minutes after that, the General called back to the minister to tell him that his papers deemed all first contact scenarios to be the concern of the government, and that the single file he had on the issue required the point of contact to be under the codename of ‘Burnplank’.


Forty minutes after this phone call, the dishevelled junior researcher found herself triumphantly dropping a file on her boss’ desk. In her other hand she was still holding a torch one of the security staff had lent her.

“I found it sir,” she announced proudly whilst brushing cobwebs out of her hair. “It was in a filing cabinet in the basement hidden under a broken toilet door, sir. It was filed next to a DIY book on repairing furniture, sir. Oh, and there were a lot of videos in the cabinet, sir. But they’re a funny size.”

As she fumbled one of the tapes out of a pocket, the senior civil servant glanced up from the file. “Ah. Betamax. The ‘80s, then. Good old Mrs Thatcher. She made plans for everything…” He opened the file and reached for his coffee.


Information about the recruits on the file was typed onto flimsy, almost shiny yellowing paper. Two sets of aging papers had been set aside as either dead or untraceable, but three others were still clutched in the minister’s hands.

“So we have three,” he mused. “None of them contacted since basic training at the creation of Project: Burnplank. The information we have is out of date. What have we found out about these three?”

The minister snatched up the first file and waved it at the roomful of civil servants and researchers in front of him. “Morag Lucas. Surely this isn’t the same woman who gave us so much trouble with the News of the World?”

“Yes, minister,” nodded one of the researchers as he lay down a much heavier file containing many glossy photographs of a bushy red-haired woman with sallow skin and nicotine stained teeth. “Trained by MI5, spent a few years as a private investigator, and then hired by Mr Murdoch’s people to dig up information using certain… frowned upon practices.”

“Muckraking, phone-cloning b*tch,” snarled the minister. “How she got those photographs of Bernie in the back room of that shindig I’ll never know. Cost us millions in party funding…”

“Indeed, minister,” coughed one of the more senior civil servants. “And you are going to have to ask this woman for a personal favour within the next few hours. And if you don’t like that, then I’m afraid there is more to come.”

“Alright. What’s the bad news. Surely there can’t be anything wrong with this one. Company Sergeant Major Mills, earned two medals in the Falklands, distinguished service at Goose Green. Though he must be what, fifty by now?”

“Indeed, minister,” purred the civil servant as he slid a blue file marked ‘Metropolitan Police’ across the table. “Left the services in the late 1980’s under rather clouded circumstances; allegations of selling weapons couldn’t be made to stick. Fell in with his childhood friends in the East End, and made his money acting as an enforcer for a family...”

“A gangster?” interrupted the minister.

“Indeed, minister. Sergeant – ahem – Mr Robert Mills is presently serving a 12 year spell of imprisonment for his involvement in a burglary in which two other men died. Linked to the offence due to…” a brief pause to look through the papers. “Ah, blood spatter on his trousers noticed by an officer as he walked near the building. There was, however, no solid evidence that he was directly involved in the two deaths. I would suggest that we offer him some sort of early release scheme to ensure his compliance.”

As the minister spluttered, the civil servant gestured, and several glossy brochures were slid across the table. “I am sure, minister, that the last of the three would be more acceptable. Spent a time working as a police negotiator and then working for BP before going into business in Wales. Now employs seventeen to run his ‘commune’ – a place where those with means and an appropriate inclination can go to reduce stress. As you’ll see from the brochures, he also runs teamworking and meditation exercises.”

“Yes, yes, but the man’s a complete arse! Look at the original file! ‘Norman Davis claims to be psychic.’ He took chemistry and psychology at Toxteth Institute of Higher Learning of all places. Expelled from there after using a laboratory to mix up a drug to feed to other students as part of a ‘study into opening the human mind’. Accused of cheating in his second year exams!”

“But again, minster, never proved. A resourceful, intelligent and empathic individual in other words. Believed as a possible subject for the MI6 ‘mental enhancement’ program, though the results were rather inconclusive. And these three are the only ones we have with the requisite training and conditioning to engage in a ‘first contact’ scenario whilst being simultaneously expendable.”

“Alright,” nodded the minister pushing the files away. “Burnplank it is. Make the necessary arrangements, and start coming up with scenarios to cover our ar*es when these three f*ck it all up…”


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
Some hours later, and the white security van had pulled away to return to the prison. Shackles had been removed and tea provided. Ramrod straight, CSM Mills stood wearing clothes which might have fitted him five years earlier next to two complete strangers in a darkened room. On his left a tired looking woman with bushy red hair, and on his right a bearded scruffy man in a knitted argyle pullover.

There was a sudden flare of light in the dim room as a screen came to life; an old cathode ray television connected to a top-loading VCR on a rolling trolley began to play.

A pale hatchet face surrounded by a crash-helmet of blonde hair, pearl earrings and a matching necklace stared out of the screen.

“Maggie bleedin’ Thatcher,” breathed CSM Mills as the face on the screen spoke in a stentorian, measured cadence.

“You are the agents of her Britannic Majesty’s government. Before you on the desk is a file of papers telling you where to find a cache of equipment necessary for your mission. You have each been trained as members of the Burnplank team, and a situation has arisen which requires your talents. You will also find a file of papers which describes the situation at hand.

“As you were told in your basic training, the situation you will encounter is expected to be significant and unusual, and a sterilisation of the area with military force is not yet warranted. Take the information, and act in the best interests of the British government, and the best traditions of the British people. Act with bravery, discretion and compassion. God speed, and good luck.”

“Awesome,” grinned Norman, the man in the argyle sweater. “Dudes, we are going to have so much fun! We’ll take the van, dudes. This way!”

Jumping from his chair, the bearded man fumbled blindly for the doorhandle in the dark, whilst groping in his pocket for his keys. Mills turned smartly and strode from the door after him before finally Morag Lucas sighed, reached for the lights and picked up the file of paperwork before scurrying after them.

Out in the car park, the ‘van’ turned out to be a deep purple Jaguar XJS with cream leather upholstery. For CSM Mills, the drive to Dulwich was an agonising one, as all the discs contained in the CD changer were either peace-pipes or whale music…


Under a branch of the metropolitan underground line in Dulwich lies a long series of arches which have been converted into lock-up garages. Outside one of these the Jaguar slid to a graceful halt.

It took Morag some moments to pick up the papers from the footwell of the car. She had thrown them there in a panic the first time Norman had turned the car into a space she would have sworn wasn’t big enough whilst adjusting the rear-view mirror to be able to see eye to eye with the big man in the back seat to “connect with him on a more intimate and soulful way, you dig?”

It wasn’t as if the bearded hippie was even a good driver, she reflected nervously. Behind her Mills marched unflappably to the lock-up and started to remove a series of padlocks with the keys she had found in the folder. Norman, she decided, was clearly the luckiest man alive, and also palpably crazy – at one stage when she was screaming at him on the drive, he had told her to “relax” as it simply “wasn’t his time to die”. Clutching the rest of the paperwork to her chest, she slammed the door in a fury and dashed to join Mills at the lock-up.
Last edited:


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
The central feature of the brick-lined lockup cavern was the camper van. It was off white, probably thirty years old, and had a dried out old wasp-nest hanging from the doorframe. To one side of the van stood a folding table littered with boxes, and a single set of footprints in the thick dust led to the single room at the back, which bore a card on the door saying ‘armoury’.

Morag leaned against the table and perused the file she had brought inside.

“Interesting,” she announced in the hope that either of the others were listening. “There’s a town in Surrey which has had three reports of ‘alien abductions’ – all three look similar. The same lights in the sky, the same ‘pillar of fire’, then some kind of pressure, and next they remember was waking up in a curved silver room. They got poked and prodded for a while, then woke up in the same place they were abducted from with some scratches in their arms and a burn mark somewhere on them.

“What makes it odd,” she continued, tapping her teeth with the file, “is that the reports are all very similar. I used to get a handful of these every month at the paper – and none of the reports were ever the same. These three are almost identical, and the witnesses’ve got nothing in common. A kid working in a garage, a farmer’s wife and a police sergeant. It was only the policeman that meant that someone started taking this all seriously. Hey! Are you two even listening?”

It wasn’t altogether clear that they were. Mills was unpacking a burlap sack onto the table. It contained a laminated sheet of instructions, two black tubes marked ‘Stage 1’ and two long black suitcases marked ‘Stage 2’.

Looking at the instructions, Mills snorted and threw them back onto the table before turning his attention to the armoury door. Glancing at the sheet, Morag saw it was headed ‘Alien Containment Instructions’ and a series of pictures showing that a mesh device was to be removed from the round container and flung over the stereotyped alien, and then… “oh, no…” She unfastened the clips on one of the ‘Stage 2’ cases, and nestled in foam padding were two baseball bats wrapped in masking tape. The last series of pictures showed matchstick ‘Burnplank People’ striking a netted alien with the bats.

Norman didn’t seem to be listening either. The last to enter the garage, as soon as he laid his eyes on the van, his right hand leapt to his temple, and he stretched the other hand towards the vehicle. Almost feeling his way inch by inch, he stepped to the van, opened the driver’s door and flipped down the sun visor. The keys dropped down into his hand, and he grinned triumphantly at the turned backs of the other two.

“Oh, no, man, armoury? No way I’m going in there, dude. Bad karma, dude.” He stepped up into the back of the van.

Once unlocked, the others saw that the footsteps continued into the armoury, stopping where a black plastic box had been left on a shelf. Lifting the lid, Mills saw a heap of plastic bags, each with the same label; ‘evidence’.

Tearing open the bags and spreading the guns out across the shelves, Mills checked and stripped the guns with the efficiency of a true expert. A sawn-off shotgun lay next to an antique Sten-gun and a group of pistols; a luger, a revolver and a .45 which had been inexpertly painted gold by its previous owner. Sweeping the guns back into the box, Mills left the police evidence bags behind and carried the crate to the rear of the van.

Still inside, Norman looked up as the back door opened, a look of gleeful excitement over his face. “Dudes! Look! There’s stuff in here! There’s a whole bunch of test tubes and sh*t!”

He snatched one of the test tubes and uncorked it, sniffing deeply and then succumbed to a fit of coughing. “Dust,” he choked as he reached for another test tube with a gleam in his eye.

“Keys,” demanded Mills as he slid the black box into the back of the van. “I’m drivin’.”


It took three hours to drive to the town of Beccles in Surrey where the reports had originated. During the journey, Morag spent much of her time reading the file, whilst despite repeated suggestions, Norman tinkered and mixed chemicals in the back.

The van pulled into the Travelodge car park mid-morning, and the three decamped and went inside. A stressed and brittle-looking blonde young woman looked up and smiled at them.

“Hi, how may I help you?”

“We’re here for the conference,” said Norman; dropping his hand from his temple. The girl flashed the smile on and off at him again.

“I guess you must be. We’ve got two, but you’re not going to be part of the Chinese restaurant awards. Best South Eastern Chip Shops? You’re lucky you have rooms reserved.”

“That’ll be us,” confirmed Morag, shrugging at the others. “Can we have our keys please and we’ll be on our way.”

Bags were moved from the van, and then the three met in Morag’s room at the end of the corridor next to the fire escape. The decision was quickly reached to head straight out to see the closest of the three abductees; Neil West, the teenaged night-time garage attendant.

As they headed out of the shabby hotel, Norman and Morag both spotted a man with spiked hair and a razor-thin beard sitting on one of the chairs near the dining area. As the three walked near him, he looked up, and seeing Mills his mouth fell open.

“What the f*ck do you want, you little ba*tard?” Morag looked apoplectic and her face flushed the same colour as her hair. She lunged at the man in the chair. “Leave him alone, you wa*ker, or I’ll do you, and your mum and dad will weep over your broken f*cking body ‘coz of what I’ll do to you!”

Norman and Mills froze in astonishment as Morag charged towards the man. Mills just had time to note the basic prison tattoos on the man’s hands as he leapt up and looked for somewhere to run. The only way out was past Morag and the others. Turning on the spot, he ran towards a large window, and swung his chair, smashing it before leaping out of the building.

“You’d better run, you little sh*t!” Morag wasn’t finished. She snatched up a concrete angel statuette and flung it at the fleeing man. The throw missed badly, snapping the emblem off the front of a very large Porsche, scraping along the bonnet and then smashing through the darkened windscreen.

“Wa*kers,” muttered Morag as she turned to rejoin the others. “I know I used to be press, but I can’t stand the little sh*ts when they’re looking at me…”

In silence they walked to the van, though as they went, Mills was shaking his head. "I don't reckon he was press," he growled.


Breaks Games
Nice to see this little beastie written up!

Went really well for a one off playest... going to put all that down to what you guys did with the pregens - genius!

That really did throw me a proper curveball when Morag decided to launch herself at that goon. Guess that's what I meant when I wrote 'abrasive and unpleasant personality'. :D


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
The file was comprehensive, and with it finding the address was simple. Knocking on the door, it was answered by a small woman with a cigarette dangling from her mouth.

“Whaddyawant,” it came out as one word, and the cigarette wobbled up and down violently as she looked up at the three. “Who’reyou?”

The three Burnplank operatives glanced at one another. They hadn’t actually discussed this bit...


“So what you’re saying,” the old woman said slowly as she tried to understand, “is that my Neil’s eligible for a £2,000 tax rebate if he’s the right Neil West?”

“That’s it exactly, dude… er, madam. We need to have a few words with Neil to ensure that his P19 is up to date, and then we’ll go back to the office to confirm the payment.” Norman was thanking his lucky stars for those accountancy courses he’d been on.

“Well, you’d bettergoupthen.” The woman sped back up as she lit another cigarette.


At the top of the stairs, Norman breathed in deeply. The strong herbal smell was something he could deal with. He knocked and entered, knowing that the occupant wouldn’t have heard him what with the gunfire and screaming coming from within.

Inside, Norman squinted at the screen, and grinned.

“You are the Neilinator88, then? Are you willing to answer some questions for us?”

“Huh?” The youth didn’t even look up from the screen as he continued to jab at buttons on the Xbox controller.

“My name’s Norman, and I’m from Xbox Live Magazine.” That got a reaction. The kid blinked and missed his shot before his character exploded violently on the screen.

“I’m here to interview you about your fantastic kill streak,” Norman continued.

The boy looked confused, but he paused the game. “Wot, eight?”

“Exactly. Eight’s a fantastically high number. And what’s more amazing is how consistently you’ve been playing.” As Norman kept talking, the teenager went so far as to turn off the television screen and look up from his bed. Norman grinned, and produced a large reefer from his shirt pocket.

“Do you mind if I light up? And then I need you to tell me how…” Norman consulted his notes, “five days ago, all of your playing statistics improved by 4.7%. Xbox Live Magazine needs to know what happened to make your gaming improve so dramatically so quickly, dude.”

The story came out quickly and excitedly then. The young man jabbered about seeing a circle of lights above a copse of trees as he was walking home from the garage. Then there was a column of fire which roared down from the lights. There was a strange pressure, and the next that he knew was waking up in a room. “The walls were silver, right? And there I was strapped to a table. There’s a bunch of little grey blokes with massive black eyes staring down at me. They jabber at one another, then poke and prod at me. Stabbed something into me arm, look!”

The marks he showed the group were three needle like marks just above his right elbow. A few inches higher were a series of dot-shaped burn marks.

“What are those?” It was Morag who asked the question, and the young man took a deep draw on Norman’s cigarette before answering.

“Dunno,” he shrugged. “Aliens must’ve dunnit, but I don’t remember it happening. Must’ve blacked out again, ‘coz the next thing I remember is waking back up lying by the side of the road where I’d been abducted from. I was really dizzy and had a headache, and they must’ve done some experiment on my mouth, ‘coz it tasted horrible for ages afterwards. Say, when you print this, will I get a copy?”

They assured him that he would, and left to the plaintive cry of “Don’tforgetabouttherebate!”


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
The next witness, Jane Frobisher, lived with her husband in a farm three miles out on the other side of Beccles. As Mills drove the van through the centre of the town, there was an alarmed yelp from Norman in the makeshift laboratory in the back. He was pressed up against one of the small side windows, teeth gritted and staring fixedly at something they were driving past.

Looking out of her side, Morag could see nothing all that unusual. They were driving past a small supermarket. “What is it?”

“Clowns,” Norman managed through clenched teeth.

“Clowns?” Looking through the window she could see two clowns handing out fliers outside the supermarket; one incredibly short, the other almost impossibly tall.

“Clowns...” Norman’s teeth were now grinding tightly together as he stared out of the window in the back of the van at the two lozenge-patterned strangers. His mind span back in time…

“Daddy! No!” Little Norman isn’t able to reach the catch in the gate to open the chain-fence as the big red rubber mallet swung again, spinning his father around and dropping him to the floor.

More and more big-haired round-nosed men poured out of the tiny car, adding their massive long-shod feet to the mass of people stamping and kicking at his father on the ground.

Little Norman could only watch, cry, and listen to the triumphant honking of horns and the terrible constant laughing of the clowns…

“Clowns. B*stards. I hate them.” The small voice hissed from Norman like an angry cat.

Neither of the two in the front of the van noticed him, of course. Mills didn’t seem to care about the clowns at all, and was glancing repeatedly into the rear-view mirrors and muttering to himself.

“Can’t be,” he was saying and looking once again. “What could they be doing here of all places?”

“Who?” Morag was clearly more interested in the muttering ex-sergeant than whatever breakdown Norman was having in the back of the van.

“The black Beemer two cars back,” replied Mills. “They’re boys from London I recognise. A couple of Billy’s lads.”

“Billy Bricks?” Morag was aghast as she named one of the most infamous family heads of London’s gangster community.

“Yeah,” grunted Mills. “I ran with him back in the day, but he’s not a friend any more.”

Morag watched the BMW in the wing mirror and saw that it was now directly behind their van, and Mills was slowing as he approached the lights at a junction. In the passenger seat of the car, gesturing wildly at the back of the van was a familiar looking man with one wrist in a sling and half a dozen pale plasters all over his face from the cuts he’d suffered as he had jumped through the window of the Travelodge.

“Why are you slowing down? Surely we want to leave these two behind? And wait – you mean that guy in the hotel was a thug? Oh shi - -”

She was pressed into her seat by the acceleration as the lights went red and the BMW was left behind them. There was a squeal of tyres on tarmac as the dark car behind them tried to pull out in time, followed by an immense collision as it drove into traffic. Looking behind, she could see the mangled front and side of the BMW as it span away from the heavy goods vehicle which had been crossing the junction.

There was a brief faint smile on Mills face as he continued to drive away from the wreckage behind him, satisfied with a job well done.


Ragged idiot in a trilby.
The farm was a series of low white painted buildings next to the road. A long garden sloped up away from the driveway to the left of the house, and a woman in her mid-fifties leaned on her hoe as the van pulled up and the three operatives decamped.

“Excuse me,” smiled Morag up at the woman. “We’re looking for Jane Frobisher?”

“That’s me,” the woman smiled back. “How can I help you?”

It took a little while to explain to the woman that they were there to talk about her experiences of a few nights earlier. “It was over there in the copse that I saw it. I heard a noise, and then there was a massive bright light – God’s own fire, I’d have said. It shot down from just above those trees towards the ground. The sound of it! Made my ears fair quiver, I can tell you.”

The woman sat on a bench, kicking the mud from her wellington boots whilst stroking the head of a labrador which sat near her.

“Then the pressure in my ears seemed to spread over my face somehow; some kind of power the aliens had to simply switch my mind off. I don’t know whether I collapsed, but when I came to my eyes were stinging and blurry. I could barely see as my glasses had fallen off, but I could see the little grey men in their silver room; all lights and metal edges everywhere.

“Aliens were gabbling; I didn’t understand a word of it, and they had me laid out and trussed on a table. One of the creatures reached out with his long boneless fingers, and just touched me.”

She nervously indicated a brushing of her breast with the back of her hand.

“Another of the aliens; little short things they were with big foreheads and massive black eyes, didn’t like that so much. He clouted the first one and jabbered away in alien at him, and he stopped. Then they turned on some kind of machine. I heard it whining, like nothing I’d every heard before. They used it to mark me; I don’t know why.”

Pulling up a tweed covered sleeve, Mrs Frobisher showed them a series of round marks up near her shoulder, and three needle marks could also clearly be seen lower on her arm.

“Really, my dears, that’s all I remember. They must have used their powers on me again, as it all went black again, and I was back lying by the back door of the farmhouse.”

Epic Threats

An Advertisement