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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 34 ‘Writing. Thinking. Reading.’


‘We want shot of the lot of you!’ sneered the voice. ‘You lot and your reading and writing and thinking.’If ignorance and distrust has a voice (which it so clearly does) then it would sound just like this one.Mac listened in stunned silence as the rant continued.‘Culture means nothing to us anymore. Nothing, I tell you. The Past is just a place where you stupid people live. Writing. Thinking. Reading.’The voice’s face came very close to Mac now.‘We’re turning back Time, saving the country from the likes of you and your band of boring biddies.’ The voice was so angry now that Mac’s neighbour renewed her sobbing.‘Now, not another word out of anyone until we get there,’ it yelled.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 33 ‘not another peep’


The inside of the bus was very dark.Mac could barely make out the seats in front of him.‘Sit down, Grandpa,’ said a rough voice and Mac was pushed onto the closest seat. ‘Not another peep out of you.’In the seat beside him someone sat sobbing quietly.‘I’ve been here for three days now,’ she whispered. ‘Some of us have been here even longer.’‘Quiet!’ said the voice. ‘I thought I said no talking.’But Mac just didn’t understand.‘Who are you?’ he shouted. ‘What do you want with us?’‘What do we want?’ mocked the voice. ‘What do we want?’Mac heard a laugh.‘I’ll tell you what we want.’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 32 ‘a slight detour’


‘Are you waiting for this bus?’ asked the boiler-suited man later the next day.‘No thank you,’ replied Mac. ‘I only live close by and don’t have far to go.’‘Come on,’ continued the man. ‘We can take you where you need to be.’‘But I don’t need to be anywhere,’ said the now flustered Mac. ‘Only home.’‘All in good time,’ said the man as he used his shoulder to force Mac onto the bus.‘We just need to make a slight detour.’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 31 ‘oil spills on the filthy floodwater’


Stories began to circulate like oil spills on the filthy floodwater. People disappearing. Not coming home. Old people. Pensioners. Grand parents. Long-loved relatives. Anyone now officially ‘excluded.’At first these disappearances were happening elsewhere but when the wife of his old friend (and fellow Fellow) Professor Giollaiosa Ó Ruairc phoned to tell him that Gilly, as he was known, had been missing for three days Mac really began to worry.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 30 ‘Raze the past and reset’


What could Mac say? He knew where this was all going but what could he do?Emergency Order CBI341 excluded him from taking part and this was what alarmed him the most. Overnight the country became divided between those involved and everyone else. Mac was now part of the ‘everyone else.’Mac received a letter in the post, confirming the fact that as ‘a reward for all you have already done for your country a grateful nation now exempts you from having to take part in Operation TurnBack.’The letter made everything sound so plausible but Mac knew the true purpose of Operation TurnBack.‘This is how civilizations are loosed from their footings’, he said to himself. ‘Raze the past and reset.’‘Everyon...
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 29 ‘a charming idea’


Bureaucracy can be both banal and baleful at once and so the simple issuing of something as official-sounding as an Emergency Order helped lull once more an already docile nation.As the world has learned since lessons began, the trick is to convince a nation to rewrite history together. Collectively. Only personal histories are rewritten with a single pen.And so being the nostalgic nation that it is, the country readily adopted Operation TurnBack as a charming idea.‘We’ve been through such a lot as a nation in recent times.’‘It is time we brought the old times back.’‘Everyone has spent years only thinking about themselves.’‘It is high time we thought about the country again.’‘If only everyon...
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 28 ‘Operation TurnBack’


It was Emergency Order CBI341 that required everyone in the country aged between 16 and 60 to report to their local Polling Station and register for what the television adverts called ‘Operation TurnBack.’According to the Order, anyone not prepared to do so would have their citizenship immediately ‘suspended’ and all income and property ‘pertaining to the individual and their family or families’ held ‘in permanent trust.’Every hour on the hour groups of ‘ordinary’ men and women wearing blue overalls with #TurnBack stencilled on the breast pocket appeared on all available screens and enormous animated billboards that had been specially erected on every street corner.‘It is time to take a stan...
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 27 ‘The price of freedom’


It was while sloshing home through the flood waters that Mac heard the news.Apparently, following an all-night session in the Dáil Éireann the government had ‘temporarily loaned’ control of the country to Crowley-Baird Inc. Mac raced back to his rooms in time for the televised address.‘We are just not equipped as a country,’ continued the Taoiseach, ‘to confront the tasks that now face us as a nation without specialist support.’ The Taoiseach paused.‘But let me assure you all,’ he said firmly, ‘this is only a temporary measure. I know we all know the price of freedom and its being lost.’Unsurprisingly, everyone was convinced, everyone that was apart from Mac.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 26 ‘a simple gasp’


Inteachán weighed up her options.It was simple.Move.Or die.Gripping the rope with one hand Inteachán reached for her belt and there was a high-pitched sound suddenly filling the shaft with blinding noise deafening bewildering and I don’t know why no one will ever know why but Inteachán pulled out her knife her sharp little knife and cut the rope she really cut the rope but she simply wasn’t strong enough to hold on with one hand she couldn’t hold on how could she and with a simple gasp she       fell.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 25 ‘the repetitions of her effort’


The darkness amplified everything in its embrace and as she listened Inteachán could hear someone sobbing and groaning.She had been so caught up in the repetitions of her effort that Inteachán was shocked to discover that the noises were coming from her. She paused but as she did so the enormity of everything crushed her.Was it an hour?Ten minutes?Three miles?A metre?Inteachán couldn’t be sure.All she knew was that she couldn’t climb anymore.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 24 ‘dangling deep in a dead night hole’


To die dangling deep in a dead night hole is the not the way that Inteachán wanted to go so she began to climb back up the rope.Arm over arm. Pulling herself upwards again.And again.Again.Once more.Again.Gravity is happy to let you down always but does everything it can to stop you when you want to move in the opposite direction.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 23 ‘I’ll be back when I am’


But when the crying ends there is still always  something to be done and so with a sniff and a wipe of her sleeve Inteachán thought about her next move.She was stuck in a pitch-black hole attached to a rope that was not moving any more. She could hang in the hole for the rest of her life as far as the world was concerned as only Mac knew where she was and it would be days before he would raise the alarm.‘I’ll be back when I am,’ Inteachán had told Mac as she headed off. ‘I won’t be back before.’But what was bravado then was now something so much harder to explain that Inteachán decided to act rather than reflect.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 22 ‘Tears of fear and solitude’


Fear gripped Inteachán tight like a brand new skin.And as the enormity of her predicament threatened to wrench her free from the precarious perch of her sanity Inteachán began to cry.Salty great tears fell from her eyes and kept falling downwards. Tears of fear and solitude. Desperation. Realisation. Responsibility. No nine year-old should be in such a terrible position.‘What have I done to deserve this?’ whimpered Inteachán.‘Why is it my fault that the world needs saving?’And with the nothing of the darkness as her only answer Inteachán despaired.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 21 ‘the darkest of lights’


Just as quickly as Inteachán descended she suddenly stopped.The rope was caught and no amount of flicking her wrist would free it.Inteachán hung in the darkness. Her harness began to pull tightly as her stilled weight now tested its seams.Inteachán breathed deeply and then swallowed.Her ears popped.She yawned.Inteachán breathed deep again but she couldn’t keep the fear from starting to fill her body like the darkest of lights.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 20 ‘privy to a cosmic truth’


But of course the world couldn’t wait and it was the evening of their return that Inteachán’s parents perished before they had had the chance to reveal the truth and the story as we know it began.Not that we should be too hard on Inteachán’s parents though.Imagine it was you that was privy to a cosmic truth and even though you knew the time had come when you needed to tell your only child everything you knew but were forced to balance this cosmic necessity with the wholly conflicting and much more mundane desire to simply allow a young girl to retain their innocent view of the world for just one more day.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 19 ‘The world can wait ‘til morning’


‘There are some truths we are not meant to know,’ he continued but Inteachán began to doze. She was only young and it was late.‘I really need to tell you …’Inteachán’s mother put her finger on his lips.‘We have time enough to speak of these things and many more.’ She smiled. ‘Let her sleep for now. The world and its saving can wait until the morning.’Inteachán’s father nodded and looked down at the sleeping girl.‘You’re right, my dear,’ he whispered. ‘The world can wait ‘til morning.’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 18 ‘Each star a tiny nail’


As she continued her descent Inteachán could not have known that the sides of the hole were bent and skewed. Occasionally the rope got slightly snagged but a flick of her wrist would free it and so Inteachán felt that she was making good progress.Once she had adjusted to darkness and the silent Inteachán felt herself relaxing slightly. She thought of Mac and how much he had suffered. She thought of her parents and the times they shared. Car rides and camping trips.An open tent at midnight and everyone looking up to the night sky. Inteachán nuzzled closer to her parents.‘It’s all there,’ whispered her father. ‘Each star a tiny nail to hold an important truth in place.’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 17 ‘foot then leg then chest then all’


Down into the darkness then.Inteachán watched as the shadows ate her whole – foot then leg then chest then all. Aside from the gentle creaking of the rope the world was silent now.Not just anyone would be prepared to do what Inteachán was doing.Most of us would still be at home hoping that someone else was doing something.Well, someone was.Is.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 16 ‘groping for a better word’


Of course, lowering a rope is the easy part.Lowering yourself is another thing altogether.Breathing slowly, Inteachán checked her gloves and began her descent.If the sight of child feeding a rope to a hole was bizarre enough then the sight of this same hole slowly swallowing the same child whole would undoubtedly leave any onlooker groping for a better word.Not that the world will be saved by the finding of a better word.We are way beyond that now.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 15 ‘A Hungry Hole’


Lowering a rope at night down a black hole is not everyone’s idea of fun but Inteachán found the answer was not to think about the darkness but to focus only on the rope.Down it snaked into the black and anyone watching might have found it strange that a young girl was out and about at night feeding a hungry hole with a length of rope.Inteachán used a stevedore knot to tie one end securely to the lower hinge of an iron gate.Original link
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