I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
An interrogation continues
“So, take it from the top, give me a detailed rundown on the operation, from the briefing to coming here.”
That was an interesting request. My usual report would not go into so much detail, and I had been compiling it on the go because if left until the end, crucial details were always omitted.
And, with the explosion, a lot of details had been mislaid in my mind, with more important or over-arching problems, getting a more prominent place in my memory. It was a valuable lesson learned on reporting, we’d received from a man who most of my classmates thought odd, to the point of paranoid.
“I received the text message the night before to report to the midtown office for the briefing. The code word was Chancellor and it was recognised at the security station. If it was bogus I would not have made it in the building.”
“You go there for all your briefings?”
“For the previous five, yes. This last one, a different team. “One of us asked what happened to the previous team and we were told that it was none of our business. We were given orders and sent out into the field to do a job. That job, we were reminded, was not to ask irrelevant questions.”
“The leader told you that?”
“In no uncertain terms.”
“We were given a photograph of the man that I have just given to you. No mention was made of what he had done to warrant surveillance, only that we were to not lose him and to note everything he did.
“We were told where he might be found at a particular time, and a particular place, information that was correct.”
“Your team members?”
“Fiona Davis, Jack Venables, Walter Arbon, and me.”
“I take it you had the target under surveillance, ready to hand off to the next team member?”
“Before the explosion, yes, it was my leg.”
“You’re referring to the explosion in Church Street?”
“Yes. I’d just past it when there was an explosion, and I was caught in the aftermath, and narrowly avoided the shrapnel raining down. Others were not so lucky.”
“That’s where you lost him?”
“He was in front of me, thus avoiding the fallout. It took a minute or so to get my bearings, and even then it was very hazy with the dust and carnage around me, but I did manage to see him in the distance heading towards the next person’s tag point.”
“You didn’t resume surveillance?”
“Couldn’t. Too disoriented. I put out an alert on the comms, but no one answered, not straight away.”
“You didn’t suspect anything?”
“Not then., I put it down to a malfunction from the blast.”
“You said ‘not straight away’?”
“About five minutes had passed when a voice came in my ear, asking for an update. I didn’t think much about it at the time, because of the temporary disorientation, but it was about the time for the next team to take over. There were two rolling teams of four.”
“Why did you think it odd?”
“Because they would know about the explosion. Everyone within a mile radius would. But at the time I simply said I was caught up in the aftermath and that the target was last seen heading towards the takeover point. Then I was told the target was sighted.”
“I assume you then considered your role had ended?”
“Yes. I’d been told to follow the advice of the medical staff on site.”
“Go to the hospital for a check-up.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No. I was heading away from the blast site when I saw the target again. I stopped, watched, got out of sight, and waited. He was coming back in my direction.”
“Was that an expected scenario, that he might backtrack?”
“No. In the briefing we were told it was possible he would be moving from the point where we found him, to another for a clandestine meeting, away from the blast site.”
What did you do then?”
“Checked the position of the next member of the surveillance team. C I found him, and he was dead. I made an assumption that the other two may have suffered a similar fate, and resumed surveillance on the target.”
“Did you report it?”
“Over the comms, yes.”
“Nothing, no one answered.”
“Not even the director?”
She made a note, crossed it out and wrote another with an underline. A thick black line repeatedly, expressing her anger.
“You maintained surveillance?”
“I’d cornered him in an alley, near a railway station. I suspected he might head for it. He’s seen me, and nearly dispatched me in the same manner as the others. Luckily it was only a scratch.”
It was more than that and required 12 stitches but they didn’t need to know that.
“Then, Severin arrived, and out of nowhere, he was shot dead.”
“Did you speak to him?”
“Only to ask what he had done with the other members of my team. He never answered.”
“Did you report that you’d caught him?”
“No. Didn’t have to. Severin arrived just after I had.”
“And that’s all of it?”
“In my report. Yes. When I get to write it, but I’ll need my phone. It has the relevant details, except for the last part where I’d found him.”
“You didn’t know he was one of ours?”
“No. That fact only came to my attention when he told me. When you’re given a target, you don’t ask what the relevance is, or what he’s done. I’m sure you’re fully aware of the current practices and procedures.”
That last sentence slipped out, and by the look on her face, wasn’t well received. I’d forgotten the golden rule. Stick to the facts. No embellishment, no emotion.
She made another note, closed the book, and got up. “I’d like you to stay, just for the time being while we sort through the details.”
Then she left.
© Charles Heath 2019