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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
The Horsemen's humble scribe here. I've just sent back to Dog Ear books the 3rd set of galleys for their first book, MYRRH. There will be no more! Should have copies available soon; watch this space, and thanks. --K. Griffiths
April 13, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 223: The Weapons Lab Manque

Leah didn't expect this either. “What…Where did this happen?”
“Directly across the street, Doctor, about sixteen hours ago, in broad daylight. A media journalist in a fifth-floor office was attempting to find someone in a window in an upper floor of this hotel. Not sure who, but as his identification has been as pulped as he when he was discovered, we’ll probably never know, either.”
“I can’t imagine that they were in any way involved.”
“Why do you think that if you don’t even know their names?”
“I have found them unfailingly polite and helpful. During the bombing at CERN it was they who got me out of the building in one piece.”
“Well, why do you think they assisted you? Don’t you suppose that they have a vested interest in keeping you alive? To say nothing,” O’Carlan pressed his point, “of how exactly they get about in modern society if they have no identification?”
“As you see from what little I’ve been told, and what little I’ve been allowed to ask, I don’t know the answer to that.”
“Including who hired them to approach your department.”
“If anyone did.”
“They give ’research assistance,’ then.”
“Any other sort of assistance?”
“No, sir.”
“You continue to maintain, and your superiors in the Cambridge Physics and Applied Mathematics Department continue to maintain, that their stake in this phenom consists largely of preventing it.”
“I may be naïve, Mr. O’Carlan—“
“One never knows…”
“Touche. But Peter, David, William and Francis were considered trustworthy by Dr. Bailter when he was in his 30s and new to Cambridge, and I’ve seen no reason to think otherwise.”
“You did say you were glad to help your country. Is that what it still is?”
“I’m sure you’ve found that I have not given up my citizenship.”
A pause, and O’Carlan replied, “I suppose that in a seriously overdeveloped world such as this one, it helps to take your tool kit where you happen to locate it. Whatever it may cost, and depending on the intended purpose. Am I right?”
“You’ll have to explain that…”
“Dr. Bernheim, you have very clearly described to me a fascinating military defense/offense system prototype. I don’t know why you wouldn’t think I’d recognize it. It's my agency's job to know such things. My associates were dead on.” He smiled again, an even less reassuring sight. “As it seems were yours. Whether they chose to inform you, or not.”
This was no minor shock: “You must only have heard about a fifth of what I just told you, Mr. O’Carlan. If that. These occurrences are a by-product of the NHC’s system refit. That is all they are.”
“Absolutely not! It’s very clear that the USA should never have cut off contributions to CERN. We would have had more notice and more control. But it doesn’t matter now.”
“Was there a choice?” Leah barely managed to not say, ‘Did you have a choice?’ Which would not have been taken well.
“No, but with the scales fallen from our eyes and a helpful backer, I think the USA can steal a march on this very intriguing platform. So tell me, Dr. Bernheim, when CERN became a weapons research laboratory?”
“We are no such thing. Where do you get this nonsense?”
“Please don’t lie to me.” He leaned across the table; it was all Leah could do to not recoil. “Of course the NHC is not in itself a tool of war. Nobody saw the link between Robert Goddard’s toy rockets and the Nazi German V-1 prototype either. Not a very well-known comparison, but there you go. True, the Noospheric Hypercollider can’t be dragged out of the ground and put on tank treads. Though what need?” O’Carlan pointed at Leah. “That little problem is now taken care of. Thanks to these new ‘quad magnets,’ so you call them, your delivery system is the ultimate slingshot! Makes of a David his own Goliath. Vedry apropos. According to the satellite radar archive you pointed out to Interpol, and already accessed and analyzed by us over the last 24 hours, the diameters of your circles have on occasion reached the Eastern seaboard. So I think you can see why we’re more than concerned. Forget the old missile range conundrum we’ve had since the Trident program. This is a delivery conveyance which it appears can hit any target anywhere from one location. You yourself have said that there were empty slots as well as sections of the Alps which filled the exact location of your expanding and contracting circles. Who was to have been the test target? What else besides stones were you going to throw across the known world?”
Faced with something as beyond monstrous as this, to her credit Dr. Bernheim did not rant and repeat herself, repeat herself and rant. Classic mistake. All that does, we’ve learned the hard way, is make the uneducated – in other words, the majority of interrogators – shake their heads and mutter some simplified version of ‘Methinks she doth protest too much.’ The more outlandish the false accusation, the more everyone will believe it if one repeats it often enough. Pushed hard enough, maybe even the accused would begin to credit it. Just now, all Leah felt safe to rejoin was to snap with some ice in her voice: “It is not 'my circle.' It is a malfunction! Nothing more. We are trying to alleviate it, not develop it. Show me one memo from anybody to anybody that backs up your assumptions.”
“How would we have got hold of any CERN interior memos?”
‘I’m sure that you have a listening post closer to here than the one on the Quai Charles de Gaulle in Lyon. I have no doubt you can find out what goes on here if you want to.”
O’Carlan answered by refusing to answer. “No, that’s why I’ve stopped in. To see if you will help your country, as you said you’d do. Meanwhile, are you at all familiar with the concept of hiding something in plain sight? Wait, you’re a physicist. Well, when the statue of Siva was first installed in the forecourt of CERN, I was in private practice in your old hometown. I paid it and its context very little attention. Seems I should have, given how you and/or your bosses hid the NHC’s actual purpose using that very non-subterfuge. I had State Department contacts then, too. I could have asked questions. I could have suggested that my friends in the Agency wonder why the statue of Siva the Destroyer from Hindu mythology had been installed in your main building's parking lot. I could have been like Dr. Bailter and cribbed my greatest discovery!”
“Listen to what I am saying, Mr. O’Carlan. Dr. Bailter cribbed nothing. I’ve worked with him for almost 20 years. He worked up his research from a well-phrased question from a novice. It happens all the time. And I deny every one of your accusations, not because I’m hiding something, but because you are wrong.”
“Then you’re a dupe! Just as in your latest paper, perhaps? Why did they do that? Why did they put you at the bottom of the author list? Did they leave you in the dark because you’re smart and very telegenic and no doubt a fitting hostess for the eventual armory show video? Did one of the gray eminences want the fame for themselves? Who exactly paid whom, Doctor? Did Singh at CERN knuckle under when Drs. Bailter or Green called him on it? Or was it the other way around?”
“Again, sir, wrong. My most recent collaboration at CERN is not part of this discussion other than for me to tell you that it was the research, not I, that was important.”
"Didn't want to detract from the seriousness of the moment, then. They preferred to leave your contribution where the old echoes of your own history might dull the sound of the brass section."
Here it came, again. "That was my decision, sir."
“When the setup is 100% complete, I’d think the European Superstate will put that toothy old Hindu god on their letterhead, won’t they? Credit where it’s due! Make known to all the world the ES2’s unspeakable new threat, and put forth the inevitable territorial demands. What will you want? Or hasn’t Dr. Singh told you that yet, either?” Looking quite pleased with himself, O’Carlan saw fit to add, “Assuming, naturally, that the laundry list won’t come from 73 Rue Archimede in Brussels, and you're all out of the loop? Possibly all of you at CERN are patsies.”
“I will repeat to you one last time that CERN is not a weapons laboratory. We never were and we never will be. Keep asking me. Go ahead. That’s all you’ll get. Because it’s true.”
“Very dedicated. Not to what you refer to as 'your country,' but that's all right. Name, rank, serial number.” He reached for something in the left of his ‘mac,’ beneath his suit jacket, but for whatever reason did not draw it out. “I’ve seen actual terrorists after they were, ah, 'processed' who weren’t as steadfast as you are now. Fine. Maybe you aren’t the fall gal. Maybe you’re looking at the equations from the wrong side of the blackboard. No great surprise, given your publishing history. No bother, though! Our accusation, should we need to make it, will be believed because you have nothing with which to oppose it.”
We are trying to save lives.
O'Carlan laughed outright. “Dr. Robert Oppenheimer said the same thing. Ask the 200,000 Japanese who died on August 6 and August 9, 1945 if they agree.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 10, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 222: The 'Unknown' Soldiers

Leah didn't expect O'Carlan's frankness. “Do you actually think we’ve hired them, sir?”
“Mercenaries are not ‘concerned world citizens,’ Dr. Bernheim. That’s just one cavil, here.” Getting no immediate reaction from her, O’Carlan drew out two business cards matching his ID. “One of many. I mean, don’t you teach theoretical physics to graduate and postdoctoral candidates at Cambridge and occasionally drop in on CERN to continue giving names to all the subatomic animals? Where did this come from? To say nothing of them? How did they happen to know your Dr. Bailter?”
“He introduced me to David, Francis, Peter and William earlier this week. They took a community center course with him three decades ago and approached him afterward with questions regarding what has been called ‘the Bailter space.’ To a large extent they were Dr. Bailter’s inspiration for that.” Leah pulled her own wallet from the pocket of her slacks. “He introduced us. While I come to Geneva one week a month to do my subparticle research with CERN’s sub-E scope assembly.”
“Those questions that they had for Dr. Bailter would seem to have all but made his name.” O’Carlan placed the cards on the table. “One for you, one for your 'friends.'” He waited to see if she’d repudiate the word.
“I’ll give it to them.” Leah produced her CERN business card and placed it before him, putting her wallet back. “Why didn’t you knock on their door?”
“We prefer to deal with known quantities. If I disturbed them, especially at this hour, I wouldn’t be certain what sort of reaction to expect.”
“Wise consideration. Do you want me to have them contact you?”
“If they’re willing.”
“Now I’m known by whom, exactly?”
“Your published papers, of course. The most recent, especially.”
“Thanks, but it isn't really what I asked. While I had about a dozen collaborators.”
He indicated the laptop. “How far back did you go to check and see when these manifestations began?”
Leah had indeed heard the word ‘friends’ and decided to let it pass. Among other things. “In the early autumn, after the NHC had had an equipment refit. But why name them ‘manifestations’? Herr Zwinnde of Interpol called it all something else when I explained my research to him.”
“Have you seen his report?”
“He took my e-mail address and said he’d send it on when it was ready. We were interviewed by him and his team only a day and a half ago, Mr. O’Carlan. It may not even have been written yet.”
“’Interviewed.’ Interesting name for it.”
“Wait, if it hasn’t been written, then how do—“
“One topic at a time, please, Doctor!” O’Carlan’s ugly smile widened a tick or two. “You were questioned by Zwinnde and company for over three hours. As were your researchers. Friends. Whatever.”
Dr. Bernheim kept her visible self as constant as possible in response, pointing out, “The Inspector wasn’t happy that Peter, David, William and Francis had no ID on them.”
“Let’s refer to that momentarily. Their last names?”
“Given their profession, it seemed appropriate not to ask. Since I don’t have a copy of the Interpol report yet, Mr. O’Carlan, how did you learn about this?”
His cellular rang; ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee,’ of all things. Leah tried her best not to grimace, but she definitely could have; O’Carlan was too busy drawing it out, looking at it and pressing three buttons. “Pardon me.” He returned it to his inside left pocket. “At the risk of giving away confidences, Interpol’s head office in Lyon is hard by our local consulate, a few doors down on the Quai Charles de Gaulle.” His cellular stopped sounding.
“Consulate and listening post?”
“You’ve had that experience.”
“You did say that I’m a known quantity, and you carefully didn't say by whom. What interests you more, Mr. O’Carlan? My associates or my research? If not both. It’s getting on in the day.”
“May I ask you to join me for a drink in the bar downstairs?”
“Thanks but no thanks. I was up much too early, so now’s much too late. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be brusque. If we could narrow down the scope of…”
“Fine. The phenom itself is the draw. I do wonder that no one else noticed it before your ‘associates’ did. Or did they name-check someone else who told them of it?”
“Oh, it was noticed by others!” Leah recalled her pique of several days before. “It just ended up in all the wrong sections of all the wrong news sites and print. First, the majority of related spots in these circles are blank air, true, but if any of the ‘standing stones’ which have been observed in them had struck an airplane or a building and G-d forbid, someone had been killed, you would have seen it all covered far differently. No, the news about them was treated like something resembling… oh, St. Augustine’s face appearing on a bagel. Nobody has any idea how lucky we’ve been.”
“’Standing stones,’” the old man chuckled. “Are you a practicing Druid?”
“I really don’t think that’s funny, Mr. O’Carlan,” Leah admonished him. “I’m a practicing conservative Jew. My father is German and he married an Irish Catholic.”
“Shades of ‘Carnovsky.’”
“What was that?”
“I apologize. Nathan Zuckerman. American author, before your time. You can keep your friends’ identities to yourself for now. Since you don’t appear to care what they are. We’ll have to hear more on the subject, but as it may be past your usual…” He indicated the screen. “It would be helpful if you gave me the ’25 words or less’ about why these stones and spaces appear? Pretend I didn’t hear the raw transcript of the, ah, ‘interview.’”
Editing herself rather brutally, Dr. Bernheim concentrated upon the refitting of the NHC, the new quad magnets’ correspondence in ‘the ring’ to the stones and the slots which appeared at certain times of the day, and – given O’Carlan’s seeming ignorance – mentioned how the NHC could accelerate particles to meters per second short of the speed of light. Et cetera. Once Leah’s explanation was as complete as she chose to make it, the old man nodded as if he’d heard something this time that was not in the raw tape. Leah finished with “Can you think of anything else you need to know, sir?”
“Is it at all possible that your friends beat the photographer to death?”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 7, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 221: Opening Gambits

Downstairs, Dr. Bernheim took charge rather admirably at first. I had reminded her that the Embassy/ Agency flack was at every disadvantage except via her perception; therefore not to perceive him as such was to render him what he might well be: a bitter old man with middling security clearance and little else. Call that an uneducated guess on my part. Open laptop and cords in hand, Leah stepped out of the stairway, turned on her microphone program and greeted the two men at the door of Conference Suite 6.
“Thank you for waiting, Hans. Mr. O’Carlan. Hans, if I could I’ve changed my mind. Can we have Conference Room 7 instead?”
“Certainly, Doctor.” With another distasteful half-look at the old man, the younger one turned down the hall. “This way, please.”
“Better exposure?” asked O’Carlan, a bit taken aback; she now stood a quarter inch taller than he. Leah decided not to answer; to her satisfaction, she saw he noted how she’d put on heels for the meeting.
Once seated, our protectee – ‘let’s not dwell’ – dismissed Hans with a ‘thanks again’ and began plugging in her laptop.
“I’m here in regard to some research you’ve recently begun. Very good of you to see me on absolutely no notice,” began O’Carlan, but Leah chose to face away from him just then, accessing the suite’s services. To her satisfaction the ‘LAN LOST’ notice went out and a tiny symbol at bottom right went green from red.
“Glad to help my country,” Leah answered with the slightest possible sarcasm – admirable also. “What project is this?”
“The one you and an Inspector Zwinnde of Interpol discussed, yesterday early afternoon. After the bombing.”
“Of course,” she said. “Exactly what do you need to know?”
This piqued O’Carlan’s curiosity. “There’ll be no sop to CERN secrecy regulations here, then.”
Leah signed onto the network. “We are going to want help on this one, sir. It’s very non-exclusive on its face. If you’d like to see the research, I can access it here. My network’s dead upstairs, for whatever reason…”
The older man removed his sunglasses, put them away and drew on a similar set of spectacles. “Good thought, Dr. Bernheim, but I don’t believe there’s a need.”
Leah clicked onto her e-mail program, hit SEND and watched the comparatively huge message for her CERN superiors, ‘attachments’ and all, sail away in its several directions. “Really,” she said to him. Being able to see his eyes didn’t reassure, though having dispatched the e-mail directly in front of him helped.
“…We’re both in the profession of accrual,” he began. O’Carlan hadn’t removed his ‘mac,’ but the room was a bit chilly. Among other reasons, doubtless. “True enough. Differing focuses, however. Your weather satellite plots are good for a laugh but they’re not what bring me. These ‘circles,’ of a sort, however… very interesting.”
Leah punched up the ES2 array anyhow and turned the screen so that O’Carlan could half-see it. “I assume you’ve been sent whatever file Interpol opened on ‘the phenomenon.’ If that’s closer.”
“It is. Did you discover it?”
“So you and I don’t have to go over anything we told them.”
“No. Did you?”
“I only researched it. Peter, William, David and Francis brought it to my department’s attention. At Cambridge. They’re my assistants,” she added.
“Whom for whatever reason we can find no lingering trace of, anywhere. What was their sphere of experience, regarding this?”
“They had noticed it first and came to Cambridge to meet with Dr. Bailter earlier in the week. They’re right downstairs.”
“Physically we know their location. Well and good,” admitted the older man.
“There is nothing else corresponding to them, however, in any location that I’ve accessed. Anywhere. That is definitely one of my concerns. Are they American nationals?”
“I would say, probably not.”
“Probably not. Why were they interested in these ‘circles’ that you speak of?”
“They kept encountering them, Mr. O’Carlan, and as they happened to know my assistant department head, Dr. Bailter, they informed him about it.”
“In their natural course of activity? Whatever that may be?”
“I was told by my assistant head to not ask them too many personal questions, if any at all.”
“What is their profession?”
“They refer to themselves as ‘soldiers of fortune.’”
A very ugly smirk. “So you can pay them enough to kill for you but not enough for them to die for you.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 4, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 220: Who's left?

Clicking off on her mobile, Dr. Bernheim shut the bathroom window, gave her hair a quick brush in the mirror and made for the room desk.

-The action is too compressed ‘here’/ that’s always been the problem –D.
-Yeah. Like you said, we can go forward or we can go back. All our other favorite dimensions are missing… --F.
-Are we even sure we can go back? –D.
-Be constructive! –F.
-Which means what? Who else’ve we not ‘dispatched’? That we were, uh, going to. –W.
-Is that what we’re doing here? –F.
-Clearing the palate/ before the main course –D.
-…A lot of the rest are ancient Romans and they’re all dead. Others are angels and we should probably avoid them… –F.
-Shame we can’t bring Domitian back/ and ‘off’ him again –D.
[-Nice thought but beyond our scope. –P.]
-You concentrate, please. –F.
-Gladly. –P.
-Both of them! –F.
-He’s doin’ it to ya again, Frank. Stop it. –W.
Hovering, my brothers simply had no idea where to go now. Ha-Satan and our angel correspondent must have passed the level of ‘hysterical mirth’ some time back. No wonder we hadn’t seen either of them of late…
-We can’t possibly have settled every score/ how about the Simple Savior? –D.
-We already ‘did’ him twice in th’ last multiverse. Why repeat yerself? Frank gets so PO’d when Petey does it. –W.
-Because it isn't anybody else's time yet/ --D.
-Besides, I see a gravestone with his and his wife’s names on it in Perth Amboy, there. McNair. In that churchyard. –F.
He pointed.
-How did it always go before this?/ We saw a target, we made for it and we took it out/ I see five billion individuals/ I don't see any victims --D.
-...Is that really th' way it worked? --W.
-Wait, wait, the men who interrogated us/ in the SIS basement, after we got our wings cut off… ---D.
-Both dead. I don't know, WIllie, I never thought about it. –F.
-Slow down, Frank, there’s a Propinq who works for MI6, now, yeah? How about him? He’s in that ‘workgroup,’ or somethin’. With Little Miss Off Limits. Petey saw ‘im. –W.
-That’s his son. Petey? –F.
-Rabbi Aller, Mary Magdelena Outre, Tertullian, Megan Culligan…/ this is seriously unfair –D.
-Uh, we shouldn’ be so desperate, ya know? –W.
-And yet, here we are/ --D.
-Might as well go back to th’ universe before the last one an’ put down th’ Usurper. –W.
-Ah, no… Petey! --F.
-He swallowed Sama’il for us/ and he didn’t spit him back up/ we owe him/ well, what’s left of him after Aurelian’s bird army was done –D.
-What you said. –W.
-PETEY! --F.
(-You told me to concentrate. --P.)
A chilling wind blew past them, suspended above the hemisphere. Geist humphed as if to demand what was the hold-up. Midnight followed suit.
-She's not downstairs yet. Did you ever figure out how we found our victims? --F.
-My scales are getting rusty... --F.
(-I didn't. Actually. --P.)
-Never. Really. You just figgered there'd be a inexhaustible supply a' them. --W.
-I cannot believe this/ --D.
(-Anything I concluded, if I had, would have been germane 13.72 billion years ago. There were kill orders... --P.)
-Uh, yeah/ of which we have not received one since we got here --D.
(-Sorry, dear brothers. It would appear that I have let you down. --P.)
-Nah. Maybe this one time, Petey, it wasn't you. --W.
-Who was it, then?! --F., D.
-How many times'd we come across this? We pass into a reality, right? Nobody jumps out at us-- --W.
-So to/ speak --D.
-Lemme finish, bro'! So what'd we do? We'd Travel t' the next reality! And we'd have better luck. Yeah? Well, here there's only one membrane. So?
-We're screwed. --F.
-... Yeah. --W.
Red muttered here; his gathering disgust required no translation this time either.

Copyright 2005 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 1, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 219: Strategy Session

(-By the way,if they do send someone worse, we could just kill them as well... --P.)
{-Do as I ask. Please. --F.}
The ignominy and disgrace of it...
{-Now yer quotin' Nero! Knock it off. -W.}

Upstairs, Leah had closed the bathroom door, opened the window and leaned out, dialing the hotel desk on her mobile…
“Hello, this is Leah Bernheim in 844. I wanted to report my room phone and my internet connection have just gone dead, I’m calling you via my cellular… yes, I’m in my bathroom, and I have the window open.” She tried not to shiver; with the sun long gone, the temperature in Geneva had plummeted. She drew her sweater sleeves down and watched her breath fog. “I need to be connected with 515. Can you do that?... Thank you.” While our phone rang Leah viewed the street back and forth. The emergency services carnival across the street had struck its tent and departed; all lay quiet again. Four moderately loud young men in suits ambled north on the opposite side of the street, nattering; clearly they had no idea what had occurred a few floors above them, earlier in the day. From their general demeanor, they may not even have known of the six women ‘flowering’ all over town the afternoon before.
[-Try not to talk about any of that, OK? –F.]
(-I have done this before. –P.)
Downstairs I lifted the buzzing receiver, faked a sleepy aspect.
-…Room 515… --P.
“Peter! Thank G-d!” came the hiss, both above me and in my ear.
-…Leah? Something the matter…? –P.
With a lack of breath for one so well exercised, Dr. Bernheim clued me in; I tried to think on what she said, and attempted to temporarily forget what I’d actually seen.
“I know it’s late and I’m so sorry to bother you but—“
-No, Leah, no trouble at all. What can I do? –P.
This was not the correct question. “I – I have no idea…” she whispered.
-All right… --P.
Oh, I was supposed to be an expert in such things, wasn’t I… Needlessly I queried about some pertinent details and so forth. Once done…
-It actually looks like you’ve set yourself up well. If your room is bugged, you can’t be heard from where you are. –P.
“Do you know anything about this Patrick O’Carlan? I had the feeling I was about to be arrested or something…”
Yes, someone must have been spreading lies about Leah Bernheim, for without any inkling of what she had done wrong, she was taken into custody one fine morning…
/-Quoting dead authors is my thing/ by the way--D./
-An acquaintance of ours has had dealings with him. He’s Agency-- --P.
A barely perceptible click on the line. I looked downstairs: lo and behold, we had a ‘techie’ executing an ‘overtime repair call’; oh, no it wasn’t. Searching among the thousands of unlabeled wire pairs in the house ‘data room’ below me – well, that’s what it said in Swiss French on the exterior door – an older fellow manipulated a telephone linesman’s set and a small hand recorder. He was not O’Carlan’s vintage, but close. I noted his largely dark clothing, a stocking cap in his back pocket. A fellow small in stature, perfect size for squeezing through junior-size manholes and such. The imperceptibly jimmied door behind him was shut and re-locked. A pair of wires, no doubt Leah’s extension, hung loose at his right. Behind him in ‘the LAN rack’ two cables three levels separate had been unplugged. Yes, it may be we’ve lost our ‘connection’ here as well.
Through six floors of the hotel I smiled a certain smile at our attempted listener; he fell to his left, and lay still.
[-And what was that? I told you-- –F.]
(-Don’t get excited. A TIA. Minor stroke. He’ll wake up in an hour or two with no idea what he’s doing in that room. If the hotel staff don’t find him first. –P.)
“Peter, are you there?!”
[-Subtle. –F.]
(-Hateful. Pardon… --P.)
-Sorry, Leah, I thought I heard something. –P.
-No, no, overactive imagination! As I said, this man is Agency. You know what I mean. –P.
“I do. What would you… I…?”
-Simple enough. Have you sent the e-mail yet? To CERN? –P.
-We don’t use computerized devices, as you know, but I’d assume our internet connection here is also down. I’d suggest that before you meet with this fellow, go to the main desk. Ask to use their connection. Send the e-mail. Then take your laptop up to the conference room. –P.
“Why would I want to do that?”
-Turning the tables, Doctor. I mean, Leah-- –P.
“Well, there’s an improvement.” She sounded a tiny bit more relaxed.
-See, you appear to be at a disadvantage because for all you can tell there’s a ten-man team clambering all over the hotel – wait a moment, he showed you an ID from the US embassy in Bern. That so? –P.
“He… he did.”
-What department, could you tell? –P.
“Something called External Security. He’s a deputy head attaché.”
-Moving up in the world, are we. Yes, well, the last we heard he was significantly lower on the food chain in London, so I’m a little surprised. –P.
“Not too, I hope. I told him I’d meet him in conference room 6 in ten minutes, three minutes ago, Peter, so I don’t mean to rush you but—“
-No difficulty at all! Make every attempt to appear to cooperate. That’s first. –P.
“Shouldn’t I leave you four out of it?”
-If you can, but don’t make us vanish altogether if it isn’t possible. Interpol certainly has a file, I’d assume he’s seen it since he mentioned us. Tell you what, ask the bellman to let you and him into a different conference suite. He won’t mind, he no doubt has a key for each of them. Just in case it’s been ‘prepared,’ let’s say. Can your laptop record sound? –P.
“What, me walk around without the latest toy? Of course it does.” Her tone continued to level out. Good!
-Change of plan. Take the laptop with you to the meeting as suggested. Connect it up and send the e-mail from there, right in front of him. Very much doubt he’ll try to stop you. Directly after, turn on the recording program and bury it. Then punch up the satellite charts. You can tell O’Carlan you want him to see the raw research first hand. If that’s even what he wants. If not, it’ll underline to him that you’re both cooperative and clueless. –P.
“So I’d better not ask Hans to strip-search him before he lets him into the conference room. Much as I’d like to.”
-Hmm, no, that’s unwise. Got a little up your nose, did he? --P.
“Very. I’m not that old-fashioned, but you don’t knock on a woman’s hotel room door at 11:05 PM without at least announcing yourself beforehand.”
-You’re right to be askance. Just remember, he has no standing here. You do. –P.
“But what about the other nine men that you said—“
-They don’t exist, Leah! By disconnecting your room services they just want to make it seem as if he has every exit covered. What do we know about the USA at this particular time, let’s remember? –P.
“Oh, yes. Out of funds.”
-I’d better let you go. – P.
“Peter, I simply cannot—“
-Neither can we, Leah. Call me when you get back. –P.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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"A good writer is an expert on nothing but himself. And on that subject, if he is wise, he holds his tongue." --John le Carre

Exactly how interesting can the author be, anyway, when nobody has any idea where their creativity comes from or how the mechanics of inspiration works? Maybe it's something we all have access to. Maybe it's a sluice that empties into your head when you're facing in a particular direction and thinking a particular series of things. Then again, maybe not.
However benevolent inspiration really is, to say nothing of what it is, I suspect that any good fictional character is a lot more interesting than the person who dreams it up. So mine speak for me here.

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