This is my latest piece of fiction. Or could it become fact in the not-too-distant future?
The day they took our cars, was the day they took dad. It was way back in the mid-2020s, right when the crackdown… can I say that now? Dare I? I guess it’s been long enough. Anyway, it was back when the good cars all first started disappearing.
It was early September, and just after three o’clock in the morning, dad must have gotten up for a glass of water, or maybe it was just another excuse for him to take a peek out the window at his beloved classic 1989 BMW 325i in the residential car park below. He’d spent the day washing and polishing it. As he frequently did.
We were all awoken by his shrieks, ‘they’re taking my car!’. Next thing, we heard him running from the kitchen to the living room and out onto the balcony, he was shouting hysterically: ‘Oi, oi! What do you think you’re doing?!’
We were all up by the time he’d switched into his jeans and jacket – he was a little old school, and wasn’t about to rush out in his pyjamas. Mum was pleading with him to stop. My sis and I were half-awake and totally confused.
Was someone stealing his car? What was happening. I rushed to the window myself, expecting to see hooded thieves with crowbars breaking into the BMW. But instead, there were men in dark coats with tablet computers – iPads we used to call them then – plus a sinister looking black van, and one of those trucks with a crane that could simply lift up cars and plonk them on a flatbed.
I raced to the front door. Dad had one foot out already, and warned everyone to stay upstairs and not come after him. ‘I am NOT letting them take my car!’. And then, in a fraction of moment, seemed to have a thought, and instructed me: ‘film EVERYTHING!’.
I went back to the balcony and started capturing what was going on. The men had ignored dad’s shouts and were carrying on about their business. Then I noticed that it wasn’t just the BMW, but some of the other, older cars in the car park, were being taken too. Looking at the road outside, there was a line of recovery trucks.
By this time Dad had emerged from the building and bounded to his car. As he did, I noticed more commotion in the carpark, as the shouting had obviously alerted some of the other car owners who were now also starting to come out.
However, they were being held back… and this was the real shocker… by armed security. Yup, people with actual guns! They were warning people to stay back. Some of the cars at the other end of the car park were already being taken away.
I swung back and noticed an official waving his iPad in my dad’s face and there was a lot of shouting. I had never seen him so angry. Things were clearly escalating. Another official approached, further words were exchanged and then things got even more surreal.
It wasn’t possible to make out what they were saying but later we managed to review the footage back and caught bits of what had been said. Turned out they were ‘contractors’ told to remove all ‘non-compliant cars’ from London’s roads. What ‘non-compliant’ meant appeared to be uncertain. Also unclear was who exactly had contracted them.
Shortly afterwards the second official manhandled my dad and handcuffed him. Further bits of the conversation that we later made out were along the lines of: ‘this is the man, it’s definitely him…. to make an example of…’ and my dad protesting and threatening to ‘expose everything’ claiming he had evidence and proof about what was really going on here.
My mum was running down the stairs at this point and we followed, my camera phone still recording, but I had forgotten about pointing it and filming things now. We were obviously terrified and worried at this point.
When we got to the door two armed men physically held us back, as we saw dad being bundled into the van and his treasured BMW finally lifted off the ground.
Just before they shut the door, he looked back at us and shouted. His final words to us were ‘don’t worry, I’ll be back soon… with my car! And then I’ll tell the world what’s going on.’ Actually, his final, final words were again to me, he simply mouthed: ‘Upload it now!’
My dad had been a car journalist. In the old days, that actually used to be a thing. I uploaded the video straight onto his channels. The video blew up and went viral. Viewing figures blasted up into the tens of millions. He’d have been ecstatic under normal circumstances. But after a few hours the video was deleted suddenly and I was locked out of access to his channels without explanation.
Obviously, we called the police, who claimed they had no knowledge of what had happened that night and feigned disbelief and scepticism. Strangely none of the neighbours would say anything either. We spent the next days, weeks, months and, yes, years trying to find out who those people were, and where they had taken the cars, and my dad.
We never found out anything from official sources, but heard of dozens of similar incidents having occurred around London on the same night, none of which were reported on. Eventually the eye-witness, first-hand reports somehow became the ‘conspiracy theories of loonies’. Worse still, my dad was accused of having pulled a stunt to try and boost his social media following. All these decades later he’s still listed as a missing person, but I don’t think his kidnapping was every really investigated. And I don’t think we’ll ever find out what happened to him. I know this though, he was one of the first car guys to fall, when they started to come for the cool cars, and for the petrolheads.