I’m back home and this story has been sitting on the 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 prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Chasing leads, maybe
When the room was empty and only Richards and I remained, he cut the ties that bound my hands and legs.
“Bad business,” he said.
I sat again, and flexed the muscles that had begun to stiffen up whilst tightly bound.
“I’m assuming you know a woman by the name of Jan?” I said. “She told me she was working for MI6 so I’m assuming you’re her handler.”
“When she chooses to be handled, yes. Jan is just one of her names. She’s currently missing, and I think we now know why?”
“Her work,” I nodded towards the body.
“God no. She’s charged with chasing down leads and then calling the cavalry. We had a tracker on this chap, found him, and had him in a safe facility awaiting interrogation, what we thought was safe at any rate, and Jan and another agent watching over him until the interrogation team arrived. When the interrogation team got there everyone was gone, but with enough blood on the floor to paint a pretty clear picture. Maury had been interrogated and killed there, dumped here, with no indication of the whereabouts of our agents. She told me this guy and another trained you, and others, in rather strange circumstances. A bogus operation. To what end?”
“From what I could tell, a single surveillance operation. Me and a dozen others. Cut loose after it failed, those of us that survived, that is.”
“A lot of effort to achieve nothing.”
“Pity we can’t ask him what it was about?” I looked over at the body. Maury was hardly recognizable. Whoever carried out the interrogation had been either in a hurry or in a bad mood.
“Indeed. She told me this chap called O’Connell was involved. Now so?”
Another rule that popped into my head from the training: never share information with other agencies unless you absolutely had to. I had no doubt if Dobbin was here, he would agree, but he wasn’t.
I wondered if I should tell him she had allegiance to another branch of the secret services, or mention Dobbin.
“He was the surveillance target. We were charged with observing him, but not what he was suspected of. I followed him as far as the exploding shop, got temporarily disorientated after the blast,, but managed to reacquire the target, following him to an alley where I spoke briefly to him before Maury and Severin arrived, and he was shot, apparently killed.”
“Either he was or he wasn’t.”
“The body disappeared. My view is he is still alive, somewhere.”
“That explosion was supposed to be caused by a gas leak.”
“Standard operational doubletalk. A journalist was killed, apparently in the shop waiting for the target. It went up after the target passed, I’m assuming his tradecraft was to check first then go back. Never got a chance. I think now given the circumstances, the journalist was going to hand something off. I’ve been asked a number of times by various people about a USB drive. You know anything about it?”
“This is the first I’m hearing about anything about a USB drive. You know what was on it?”
“Above my pay grade, I was told.”
“OK. What about this Severin character?:
“All I have is a phone number, and that, I think we can both agree, will be a burner.”
“Agreed, but it might be useful.”
I gave it to him and he put it on his phone.
A new team of men in white suits arrived at the door, no doubt MI5 forensic specialists, and two more agents, bigger and tougher, what I would call the muscle.
“I’m afraid you’re going to have to come back to the office to answer a few more questions. It’s not custody, but mandatory co-operation.”
“And if I refuse?”
“It might make their day if you know what I mean.”
I shrugged. One I might be able to take, but not the both of them. And they both looked like they would be happy to teach me the error of my ways if I tried to escape/
“That won’t be necessary. I’m taking him with me.”
“Dobbin just came to the door, flashing an MI6 warrant card.
“I’ve been charged with cleaning this mess up.”
“And so you shall, but not including this agent. Orders from above, reasons why, as they say, are above your pay grade.
I suspect the warrant card said Dobbin outranked him. Did our people have fake MI6 IDs?
“This is highly irregular.”
“Call your boss, if you don’t like it. I can wait.”
I could see the reluctance in his face.
He glared at me. “Go, but don’t go too far. I still might get clearance to have another chat.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2022