NaNoWriMo – 2022 – Day 24

So what’s been happening?

Surveillance is in full swing, both at home and at the external office.

David discovers that Susan has a stepbrother, firstly by overhearing a conversation at the external office where works as the architect of the Russian palace rebuild, a man he has seen before.

He has a rather interesting name, was born in East Berlin to the same father, and different mothers, and has to go on a field trip.

David can see an opportunity to talk to him and follows him to France.

But, someone else is there which takes him very much by surprise and injects a sinister undertone to the visit.  Not everything is as it seems.

It’s also a chance to interrogate one of the new security team, accompanying him on his field trip, one that yields some very interesting information about the leader of the security team, and not-so-good news for the bodyguard.

When David returns, Alisha is discharged from the hospital and insists on helping David with the surveillance of the external office.

They are ensconced in a hotel room opposite the office, and her closeness brings problems for David of a different sort.

More is learned about why the new security team recommended by Prendergast is at Susan’s, and what might need to be done to help get rid of them, sooner rather than later; something that involves an estranged wife and missing daughter.

But just how are all of these titbits of information and characters connected, in what David no doubt believes is another of Prendergast’s elaborate schemes.

Words written today, 1,978, for a total of 55,516

NaNoWriMo – 2022 – Day25

The plot thickens

David and Susan are planning and executing rendezvous, a rather odd thing to do since they are married, not illicit lovers, but Susan likes the idea of escaping her security team, something that is at odds with what Prendergast expects.

Of course, his security chief seems to think that Prendergast simply wants him to do a simple job in quid pro quo for a job Prendergast is supposed to do for him:  free his daughter from a despotic African terrorist that the man once worked for, and failed.

This is the story being peddled to David by the man who accompanied Susan’s agent to France and is backed up in part by Alisha’s investigative team.

David torments another of his team and then sets himself at odds with the man himself when Susan tries to have a discrete lunch with Prendergast.

That sets off alarm bells for David.

Prendergast is far too involved with Susan for David’s liking.

But, it seems if he is to get rid of the security at Susan’s he is going to have to find the daughter, and she is in Nigeria.

It seems that was one of Prendergast’s objectives, to get David to rescue her, but what happened to the notion that he just ask?

In the meantime, the security team’s England base is found, one of Susan’s newly acquired properties, and David has surveillance installed.

He also has new eyes on the castle, and the renovations, because he suspects something else is going on there.

And then there is Alisha at her most seductive best, injured or not.

Chess pieces being moved by various people across the globe, David sets off for Nigeria, to see a rather doubtful contact, of Prendergast’s recommendations.

/Just like the old days, wheels within wheels.  All he knows for sure is that he needs three people watching his back.

Words written today, 4.776, for a total of 60,292

Searching for Locations: Hong Kong, From the airport to the hotel

Sometimes the experiences we have often find their way into stories.  This was certainly one of them:

Remarkably, the Peninsula Hotel experience began at the arrival gate.

The moment we stepped out of the air bridge and into the terminal building, a representative of the Hong Kong airport was waiting with a card with our name on it.  She was there, with driver and electric car (sometimes called a golf cart) to ease our way through the immigration and baggage formalities.

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No walking for us, which was fine by me.  It’s a train ride and a long walk from the gate to immigration.  And after all the sitting on the airplane, walking was not the first thing I was looking forward to.

The drive took a few minutes, slowed down by many other passengers walking towards the same destination, most wondering why two relatively young people like us (even if we are in our 60’s) were getting a ride.

After clearing immigration, which took very little time, and where there was a very short queue considering the number of arrivals they handle, we were met on the other side by our airport representative, and taken to the baggage carousel.

Another simple process, our bags were almost waiting for us.  From there we exited customs, and out representative handed us over to the representative of the hotel.  I thought he was the driver.

He took us through to the limousine lounge and directly to our car, a very clean shiny new looking green Rolls Royce, the ultimate in the airport to hotel transportation.

Inside it was immaculate, and astonishing, and very, very comfortable.  I could image the Queen riding in the back of one.  It took about 30 to 40 minutes, one of the quietest, most smooth rides I’d ever had, and worth every cent we paid for it.

The bucket list now has one less item on it.

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The arrival at the hotel was effortlessly handled.  We were met by two of the check-in staff and escorted to our room on the fourth floor.

There was just enough time to take in the amazing foyer, front entrance and twin staircases leading to a mezzanine floor, before getting into a waiting elevator and taken to our floor.  As an aside, the mirrors in the elevator were like something out of a hall of mirrors, you look into the mirror and see dozens of yourself looking back.

It’s an effect I’ll have to take a photo of.

We have been upgraded, and out room is larger than the one originally allocated.  It has a view of the Space Museum, the Veranda Cafe roof, and parts of Hong Kong harbor.  It is overcast and raining so it does not matter about the view.

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It’s Hong Kong, and that view will change every hour.

Formalities over, we are left standing in stunned silence.

We have arrived.

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They say getting there is half the fun.

They’re wrong.

Or at least in the case of the Peninsular Hotel they are.

If just getting to the hotel via the signature Green Rolls Royce is any indication, there had to be a lot more in store.

We booked a room in the ‘old’ hotel and it was categorized as ‘deluxe’.  The Peninsula adds a whole new meaning to the word Deluxe.  If this was one of their lower priced rooms, then I’d love to see their better rooms.

But the room itself is not the sum of the experience; it is also the aura within the building, the service, which is quiet and unassumingly polite and unobtrusive.  You are ushered from the front door, held open by a very elegantly dressed concierge, to your room without so much as a heartbeat.

The details, well, they are mere details that cause no concern, all taken care of before you arrived.  We arrived early, before the advertised check-in, and this fazed no one.  Room available, tired travelers sigh in relief, knowing a hot shower and several hours sleep would not be possible.

I was more than pleasantly surprised, and exploring the hotel would have to wait.

For a few hours anyway.

The cinema of my dreams – Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 9

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 and a revelation.

 

I think I just about reached that same conclusion just seconds before she uttered it.  But, I didn’t think this was the time to air my own thoughts on the matter.

The question I did ask was, “It appears our service has been compromised.”

She glanced at me almost condescendingly.  “It appears so.  Have you got your cell phone?”

I had it with me and gave it to her.  I had it ready because I knew they would ask for it.  It had a record of orders given, and phone conversations made, before, during, and after the operation.

For a review, or in this case, a search for the guilty.

I watched her put in the passcode, and go to the messages, and bring up the one sent to me, to attend the briefing.  It was all in order, no different to the previous five, with all the right designations and protocols.

“There was no reason to suspect it was anything but a real callout.”

Another glance at the screen, she put it on the desk next to the file.  “No, it looks real enough.”

Thought best kept to myself; how the hell did someone outside our organisation, know so well our inner workings?  I wanted to ask the question but refrained from doing so.

It also explained, now that I thought about it, the reason why the target had said he was one of us.  We had been hunting him so someone else, and enemy organisation perhaps, so they could kill him.  The question was, why?  Had he made a discovery, the evidence he was referring to that a certain Alfred Nobbin might have.

Perhaps a good idea, for the time being, to keep that snippet of information to myself.  After all, this new person in front of me could be one of Severin’s people.

Where I was sitting was not a familiar place to me, though I had been to the building before, which is why I knew where to go for this interview.  AS for the people, everyone I’d met so far, other than the other team members, bar one, I’d known from training.

So, now another expected question from me, or at least, if I was on the other side of the table, it’s one I’d expect to be asked.  “Just who was I working for, if it was not for us?”

Assuming she was one of us.

“That’s what we intend to find out.  Who was the target?”

I gave her the description we’d been given, and a copy of his photograph that had been circulated at the briefing.  I’d kept one of them, and luckily no one noticed it missing.  It was fortuitous that’s I’d copied the photo before I had to give it to her, which was right then.

There was not a flicker of recognition in her eyes.

“So, not one of us?” I asked.

For an interrogation, she wasn’t asking many relevant questions.

She looked up.  “Why would you say that, if your mission was to keep him under surveillance?”

“Which we now know was not sanctioned, so we have to assume that we had been persuaded to find and track one of our own agents.  You look as though you didn’t recognise him?”

“I don’t try to remember every agent we have in the field, here and overseas.  There a few too many for that.  But I’ve got a request out for his identity.  He didn’t say who he was?”

“No.”

“Anything at all that might be useful?”

“That he was one of us, who’d made a mistake, and feared we’d set the dogs on him.”

“Yes.  Someone definitely did that.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

NaNoWriMo – 2022 – Day 23

People change don’t they

The thing is, how much can they change in what sort of timeframe?

I guess at this point of the book it’s a little odd to be worrying about the main characters’ background stories, but I figure it’s better now than later and having to contemplate a major rewrite.

I guess it’s also a by-product of flying by the seat of your pants.

Well, not so much this time, I did have a rather extensive outline for the paths the two characters would take, along with a general idea of Susan’s newly acquired eccentricities, but you know what it’s like when you’re writing, sometimes the story takes hold of you and it’s trying to tell itself, and not exactly as you were envisioning it.

OK, I know I shouldn’t let it get out of control, but it was an amusing interlude, and gave me a new idea, not totally out of reach from where we were going.

Of course, there are the minor players, and one decided to come along and try to steal the show.

Well, for a few paragraphs there, they did.

It’s a delicious role and a character actor would make it stand out as memorable

But…

More on those changes and what they might mean tomorrow.

Words written today, 4.058, for a total of 53,538

NaNoWriMo – 2022 – Day 24

So what’s been happening?

Surveillance is in full swing, both at home and at the external office.

David discovers that Susan has a stepbrother, firstly by overhearing a conversation at the external office where works as the architect of the Russian palace rebuild, a man he has seen before.

He has a rather interesting name, was born in East Berlin to the same father, and different mothers, and has to go on a field trip.

David can see an opportunity to talk to him and follows him to France.

But, someone else is there which takes him very much by surprise and injects a sinister undertone to the visit.  Not everything is as it seems.

It’s also a chance to interrogate one of the new security team, accompanying him on his field trip, one that yields some very interesting information about the leader of the security team, and not-so-good news for the bodyguard.

When David returns, Alisha is discharged from the hospital and insists on helping David with the surveillance of the external office.

They are ensconced in a hotel room opposite the office, and her closeness brings problems for David of a different sort.

More is learned about why the new security team recommended by Prendergast is at Susan’s, and what might need to be done to help get rid of them, sooner rather than later; something that involves an estranged wife and missing daughter.

But just how are all of these titbits of information and characters connected, in what David no doubt believes is another of Prendergast’s elaborate schemes.

Words written today, 1,978, for a total of 55,516

Searching for locations: Eating In, Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Hotel dining can be a very expensive experience, but if you are there as one of those bucket list fulfillments like we were, then it’s not unusual to go the whole nine yards.

Since the stay coincided with my birthday, the first day was set aside to have dinner at the Chinese restaurant upstairs and was one of those sublime experiences.  Of course, it had to be Peking Duck, expensive champagne, and several cocktails.

Oddly enough, breakfast wasn’t included in the room rate, but that seems to be normal for a lot of hotels.  It can be if you want to pay upfront, but we don’t always have breakfast, particularly if we have dinner the night before.

Or can be bothered getting out of bed the next morning because quite often the breakfast hours do go with staying in bed.

During this stay, we decided to have breakfast one morning, cereal, bacon and eggs, coffee, toast, you know, the usual stuff.

No paper placemats here and the silverware was just that, silverware.  This was going to be full on old world charm.

Coffee served from a silver coffee pot, fine bone china from Staffordshire, not Thailand, tea service for milk and sugar, condiments all in a row.
The only disappointment, I don’t think the eggs were free-range.

And, when the conversation dries up, there’s always a steady stream of people coming and going through the front door, and the doorman is always at the ready to open the door.

WE went once for lunch, and yes, we had to go to the famous Afternoon Tea, for which you had to book or stand in a very long line.  We booked and discovered preference was given to those who were staying at the hotel.

Out came the silver tea service, and one could imagine that this was the same as what it had been a hundred years ago.  I had tea, after all, it was afternoon tea!

The cakes were interesting, there were quarter sandwiches rather than finger sandwiches, and though I’m not a fan of fruit scones, I’m always up for something different.
After it, it’s probably not a good idea to go out for dinner too.

Overall, the experience was worth it.

The cinema of my dreams – Was it just another surveillance job– Episode 8

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 and a revelation.

 

Debriefings were like interrogations, only friendlier.  We were trained to withstand interrogation, so it would be interesting to see how I reacted.   I had no doubt what some of the questions would be.

While I had a few minutes to myself, sitting down behind a bare metal table on a hard plastic and uncomfortable chair, with a warm cup of station house coffee, to consider the briefing.

Target, male, 6 foot 3 inches, 200 pounds, Caucasian, thought to be from either Russia or Bulgaria, but nothing to define his as such.  I had wondered, at the time, what that meant.  When I saw him in the alley I knew, then, what was meant, he looked the same as you or me.

No explanation for why he was under surveillance, but we did get a warning that he might be dangerous if he suspected he was being observed.  Right about that, given team casualties.

Main objective, who he met, talked to, and where he went, every place, every detail to be noted.  The unpredictable explosion threw the whole operation into chaos.

The door opened and a woman, middle-aged, conservatively dressed, walked in, closing it behind her.  She sat in the other chair opposite me.  She brought a file, thin, and put it in front of her on the table.

“Your name is Sam Jackson?”

“Yes.”

No introductions, nothing, just a start on the questions.  No nonsense, but I could see she was very, very angry.  With me, or those who had run a failed operation?

“How long have you been with us?”

“Eight months.”

She opened the file and glanced at the piece of paper on top.  A minute passed before she closed the file again.  “Closer to nine,” she said.

I said nothing.  I wasn’t counting the days.

“How many operations have you been on?”

“Six, including this one.”

“Who assigned you to this specific operation?”

“Couldn’t say.  I got the usual request via text message to attend a briefing at the midtown office.”

“What was the designated operation name?”

“Chancellery.”

For a brief second, there was a quizzical expression on her face, then it was gone.

“Who was running this operation?”

“Director Severin.”

A full three minutes of silence passed.  I thought she was looking at me, the sort of stare that would break a lesser man, but in the end, I think she was looking right through me.  I could not read her thoughts, but if I was to guess, they would be rather dark right now.

Then she spoke.

“You should know that there was no Chancellery on the books, and we certainly do not have a Director named Severin.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

NaNoWriMo – 2022 – Day 22

Staring at the ceiling

David has time on his hands, and time to be alone with his thoughts can have a strange effect on the mind, and in David’s case, it gave him time to think about the new Susan.

Yes, it was Susan on the outside, and mostly on the inside, but with a few modifications, some brought on by the elevation to Lady Featherington, in charge of a conglomeration of businesses, others from the treatment her father meted out in the process of creating a clone to steal everything her family owned.

That in itself could be life-changing.

But…

There was something about the new Susan that was odd, because as far as David was concerned, people didn’t change that much, despite circumstances.

Like, she was much less inhibited, the old Susan was, if anything, a person who, even in pyjamas, would have no more than soft indirect lighting.  Not anymore.

The old Susan didn’t like the idea of having a personal assistant, did everything for herself, and had a disdain for all men.  Now, it seemed she had two personal assistants, and a gaggle of men in two wherever she went, even flirted with them.

She had a home office that hadn’t been specifically declared out of bounds, but when he breached it, she moved everything to a new office.  It surprised him that she thought he would not find it.

She professed in the beginning that he would be enough for her security, but that changed, for some reason, after the stay in Greve, and he deduced something had happened relating to him that changed her mind, something put in her head by Prendergast, the godfather who was seemingly more in her life the David was.

There was no doubt in David’s mind that Prendergast had recommended the new security team.  Why, when he knew David’s capabilities were far superior to the new guy?

David’s mind ran through the details and came to the deduction that Prendergast didn’t want Davis spending 24/7 time with his wife.  Prendergast obviously knew some of the detail of the arrangement David had with Susan, that he would walk away if she wanted him to, but she hadn’t.

The opposite was true.  And flirting with danger, David decided to call her and make dates, telling her back to before they were married, meeting in strange places, staying in sleazy hotel rooms, and sneaking out under the noses of the security team.

She did this willingly, so it was not Susan who wanted him to stay away, it was Prendergast.

And by default, Prendergast didn’t want David too close to the new security team, which meant that was not squeaky clean.  A job for Alisha’s research team, just who was he, and every member of that team.  Dossiers were requested.

Prendergast was up to something like he always was, and David was going to find out what it was.

Words written today, 3,740, for a total of 49,480

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 94

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.