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MYRRH: First in the Ceremonies of the Horsemen
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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
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February 3, 2016

Ave Atque Vale

'Go on. There are other worlds than these.'
-Stephen King, from THE GUNSLINGER

Serious illness has forced me to stop posting. Thanks to all who have
Visited. -K.G.

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January 16, 2016

The Human Game, pt. 375: Splitscreen IV

“Not able to have a peek out there, right now,” said ‘Pops,’ a bit lower in volume than he preferred.
Outside the door, Patrick said, conversationally, to the two huge crewcuts, “Step back, gentlemen. Way back.”
“Where’re you two headed?” one wanted to know, remaining where he stood.
“Escorting our guest to the privy,” the old recruit answered, and Sir Lawrence, as certain of what would occur as was O’Carlan, gave a similar indication. He recalled something. Returning to the door, he heard the Polycom say, “I doubt we’re all that inaccurate as to the location of your office, Gibstein. The Embassy’s architect used our hypergraphics program. We know where your
telephone extension terminates on your floor. So I’m pretty certain you can see what’s outside your building. Right now. From where you’re sitting. Nobody move, please. Other than to take a gander.”
At this point, Sir Lawrence approached the door, silently opened it and said in as normal a voice as possible, “Silas, is there still time for a question?”
“There is.”
“If I may, ah, what went awry in Paris?” At which point he moved the door shut again. The crewcuts remained outside the door, confused.
“Again I suggest you step back,” O’Carlan told them. One shook his head; the older men headed for the ‘pisser.’
To the remaining occupants of the office, for all purposes as dead now as they would soon actually be, ‘Silas’ announced, “I’m not big on looking back in anger or regret, Sir Lawrence. The way I decided to see it, we fulfilled our objective in Paris with a much lower level of collateral spillage, if you prefer, than we’ve had to previously. The populace is not as terrified as they would have been had seven actual bombs gone off and rendered the carnage they were designed for, but at the end it has been underlined what will occur to the unwary who are without the proper assistance. What actually was lost is replaceable. Spare parts are to be found in every Trenchtown and Soweto and Dacca slum one might care to look in, as you all know. As for help, what are the general populace to do when it’s so obvious that governments the world over are less and less capable or willing to protect their citizens? We can do it; far better and at a far more reasonable rate than anyone else. Better than any of the world’s secret services, in point of fact, who have never been much more than investigative reporters with Berettas. Am I correct? I think I am. That won’t do, gentlemen, as we are about to prove. Won’t at all. Money’s tight, nothing’s free. To quote the old tune. So with our latest endeavor, we’ll put you all out of business. Have you looked down onto Nine Elms Lane yet? We’re on a schedule.”
Within the men’s room halfway across the building, Trier and O’Carlan moved into stalls and sat, waiting. This late in the day, only the two crewcuts, Ted, Gibstein, Sir Lawrence and O’Carlan remained on the floor.
“They know,” Sir Lawrence muttered. The echo in the loo carried. “They can’t not.”
“I never heard his voice before…”
“How could…?” Trier began. There was no point in any further. They waited.
Sweat ran off Ted within the office as he replied, coolly as possible, “We have, Silas. I’m very disappointed.” He hadn’t yet, actually. He never would. He’d been in situations like this. After mention of Paris, there was no need.
“I’d say, considering where my two representatives are, you’ll lose two-thirds to the entire front of the building,” the Polycom estimated in a very reasonable tone. “The problem is, it’s difficult to be certain about where you’d have been when that came to pass. So I had to have you all in the correct place. Happy landings.”
The two men in the office heard a series of four numbers pressed on Silas’ phone; the Polycom exploded.

“Beautiful flat,” Dr. Bernheim said after Fionne negotiated the three locks and ushered everyone in. Leah noted the wall of books, most of them Dennis’; the spotless front sitting area where Al-Adil had pleasantly tortured her weak-willed suitor; the well-appointed dining table where Dima had held forth about Farid, and many other things, some time back. Outside the master bedroom the desk waited, also swept clean. Leah decided to park her belongings there for the moment.
“We aim to please, Doctor,” matron Sheila answered. “Well. I need go to make my report. See you tomorrow for the trip to Cambridge.”
Turning, the scientist attempted to figure it on her watch. “…I believe that I’d have to leave here at five to get there on time.” Fionne made for the televison to switch on the BBC.
“Then that’s when you’ll see me,” Sheila decided. “Fionne, why not deprive yourselves?”
“Possibly there’s something on about all those helicopters.”
“I texted the night supervisor at Field Serv, she’d heard them but had no direct info. I don’t suppose it’s all that earth-shaking. Get settled, and sweet dreams, all.” She opened the front door and left them, relocking it. The junior officer, conceding, moved away from the remote by the TV screen.
About to overtake the remaining three in the safe house, two disguised men and four Horsemen closed in. Had the sliding doors of Al-Adil’s balcony been open they might have heard a concussion some ten blocks east.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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January 12, 2016

The Human Game, pt. 374: The Moat Didn't Work

“I wonder if I might be allowed to visit the necessary,” suggested Trier.
“I’ll take him,” Patrick immediately volunteered. He checked to make certain his Agency ID was visible.
Ted warned, “The client is expecting us all here.”
“We’ll greet him and you’ll take notes until we come back…” Patrick suggested. “There’s no 360 camera in that thing. Can’t be.”
The Polycom rang. Gibstein waved at them, popped the ‘off hook’ button with a “Good evening, Silas, we’re all here.”
“As am I,” replied the client. “Close the office door. This is a private meeting.”
O’Carlan stood, opened and shut same while the Polycom said, “What’s my volume?”
“Looks like 5 on a scale of 10, Silas.”
“Sir Lawrence, I have a confession to make,” said the Poly. “I’m your culprit. I devised the bombings in Mashhad, Aleppo, Belgrade and Geneva.”
“…It does the soul good to confess, I am told,” Sir Lawrence managed. He was not certain what more to add, verbally. He had heard all the rumors, certainly; he had reviewed the evidence in the ‘Silent Running’ workgroup repeatedly and at the odd ‘morning consensus.’ He had discounted it, every bit of it, until there was no longer any possibility of doing so. Even if Leila Al-Adil would get a feather in her cap for having done most of the research, protection of the realm still came first. He had forgotten that in his efforts to harpoon the young American woman and send her back whence she’d damned well arrived. Human society, however it had altered over time, still came before one’s hatreds. He had forgotten that as well. Or what was the good of any of it? Did the young recruits think this way, he attempted to ask, or was it all just a lark to them?
As it had been to him, once. As it apparently had become, again. Just in a different manner. He may have been more like them, possibly even more like ‘the Unholy 3,’ than he’d preferred to think.
“And for some reason, I remain unfulfilled,” ‘Silas’ said. “Care to ask anything?”
Ready to boil over at himself as much as at any other, unable to think, Trier only managed to say, “Why did you want access to the supposed weapons tech from CERN when it so obviously was a malfunction and nothing more?”
“Was it so obvious? Isn’t that the history of weapons research written broad, Sir Lawrence?” the Polycom said. “All research, really. Attempt to invent a new kind of soap out of naphtha, it blows up in your face and you use it when you run out of dynamite. Once you get out of intensive care. Attempt to harness the half-life of certain materials, notice you’re glowing in the dark and you’re rotting away inside, leave a note for your descendants saying this would be a jolly method of dispatching any number of persons you don’t want to live. No, it wasn’t at all obvious that the circles in the sky were due to a malfunction.”
“I’ve said something akin to that,” assented O’Carlan.
“We only chose to have our best subcontractor hit what appeared to be the weakest link on CERN’s chain, from her deep history,” explained ‘Silas.’ “Shrinking violet in the elementary particle physics field. Over a dozen brilliant papers published but no one knew of or knows her. Completely unaffiliated, seems never to even have had a boyfriend. Or girlfriend. Who expected she was a lioness in lamb embryo’s clothing? Maybe her four ‘research assistants’ threw her a few good ones and stiffened her back? Among other things? Matters little. We learned what we needed to learn. It was a malfunction. They weren’t researching it, they were attempting to shut it down.”
“You’ve explained how, not why.”
“How not, actually, Sir Lawrence. We wanted every future possible advantage. That’s all. Turns out we won’t need it, though. Any other burning queries?”
“…Thank you, not at this time.”
“Ted, there will be no reason to swear Sir Lawrence to secrecy, I think.”
“You put me in this position for this very reason,” Trier insisted to his hosts.
“My doing, Sir Lawrence,” Stills admitted. “Entirely. Silas, we’ve already taken care of that. So what’s next?”
“That men I have worked with for decades would…” the peer halted. “Would…”
“It’s OK, Larry,” said ‘Pops’, “the client has said nothing of your green and pleasant.”
“When I vouched for you with my superiors, again and again…” but he could come up with no more.
“Knew you’d you’d be as reliable as the rain, Ted. There is a payment on its way that will cover any fines that your country or your defense team in the World Court is levied for not naming me and my firm, as you’ve by our instructions already indicated to the lawyers that we don’t exist. Since we’ve all but left you holding the bag.”
“No worry, Silas. The U.S. Attorney General himself will file our brief on Monday morning, and that bit of information will be part of same. Sorry, ah, will not.”
“Very good. Patrick, I regret I am no longer in need of your assistance, but I thank you for your hard work. You made the best of the CERN debacle; other than that I’ve no doubt what you’ve done for our project will stand you in good stead for the remainder of your career with the Agency.”
Pretending to bashfulness, Patrick joked, “You’ll write me a letter of recommendation, of course.” Having remained on his feet, he indicated to Sir Lawrence that now was the time. Both soundlessly made for the closed door; Ted waved them off.
About to open same, the older men heard a change in Silas’ voice. “If I thought that would make a difference I’d be glad to do so. A spot on the Roll of Honor at Langley would suffice, though, wouldn’t it?”
O’Carlan turned, said, “Why not?” Behind Trier he walked out and shut the door as silently as possible. He decided not to look at Stills or Gibstein.
“…What brings that up?” Ted asked, though anyone looking though the hallway window at him would notice him freezing. Gibstein did the same on the other side of the desk. They could have been matching moles from matching holes. He managed, “You sent Philomen that letter.” Since the Roll of Honor was a list of agents killed in action…
“I did. Care to look into the courtyard in front of the building?”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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January 8, 2016

The Human Game, pt. 373: Splitscreen III

-“Sir Hal, it appears the ‘Horsemen’’s scrambling software is beginning to malfunction. We have all of them approaching Nine Elms from varying directions.”-
-“Keep tracking, I’ll send Ninteen the go code. Battersea Power?”-
Switching her mike again after hailing us, Edith texted back -“Voice off!”- When he’d done so she spoke aloud, “Certainly a possible target. While if they have put cell eight out of commission they’ve not seen fit to inform us.”
Signal with our trajectories dispatched to CO19, his own ear mike unplugged again, the peer added, “Again, what sort of damnable horses are these they’ve got? No clue regarding cell six, either.”
“According to our map, seven and eight appear to have been aimed southeast of Vauxhall Cross. Six was last recorded in the City, they said.”
“So they’ve told us, but…”
We failed to answer the hail, just for variety’s sake.
Ms. Quecture added, “Pardon my outburst before, Hal…”
“No need, Edith. None at all. Mikes back on, I suppose?”
Having done so, the control voice’s owner checked the other ‘dog teams’’ current locations. -“We can scramble two pairs in the East End to search the Docklands and so forth,”- she suggested. -“Just in case.”- Knowing that was OK by the DG before she asked, the analyst called in the orders; once she received acknowledgments, Edith tried us again. We declined to respond. Light bulb, so to speak. -“Bloody hell, forget the Power Station, those cells in Nine Elms may be going for the US Embassy!”-
-“Damn it,”- fumed the DG via text, -“network’s too spread out. Who do we have closest?”- An instant message arrived from CO19’s commandant, requesting further tactical details.
Clicking up and consulting the London mapover on screen again, Edith replied, -“Dezik and Tsygyan.”-
-“Dispatch them. Bernheim is in the safe house already, with any luck at all she’ll stay there.”- The head of Five next responded to Nineteen, -“Strongly suggest positions on the roofs within two blocks south, southeast and east of the Power Station. Temp safe house is one block east, leave that one out. No one on that roof unless it can’t be avoided. It must also not be evacuated unless absolutely essential.”-
Edith sent the assignment to Philip and Al-Adil, rejoining with -“Unless the ‘Horsemen’ wanted her isolated so that they could take her out.”-
-“Nineteen is all we have to stop them with, Edith. Remaining teams to southeast and south are not close enough.”- His home and encrypted cells rang.
-“They’re plenty, most times.”-
-“Still no archangels or thunderbirds,”- asked the DG, already knowing the answer. Edith did so with a shake of her head. To underline this, we stayed mum on the network. She hailed us again, anyway.
(-Francis? –P.)
[-Yes! –F.]
Sir Hal changed his mind and texted Nineteen’s Commandant to man Leila’s roof as well. –“Make that one the last group to deploy. Still no evacuation.”-- One of his mobiles ceased sounding, then the other.
(-Touchy touchy. I notice you are flying with your eyes shut. –P.)
[- I am still concentrating… --F.]
Nineteen acknowledged, and Sir Hal again cast his thoughts back over the game pieces.
{-Aright. We got some visuals coming up? –W.}
[-…I’ll see what I can do… --F.]
/-We ask no more, brother –D./
Another hail from Thames House. We ignored it. As if in non-response, CO19’s liaison informed Sir Hal’s request with “In position in ten. Last rooftop adjoining BPS in fifteen.”

“Something’s going spare, gentlemen,” Gibstein said once he hung. “Securite Marseilles’ office just blew up.” The Polycom clock read 8:57.
“Our friend Phil?” asked O’Carlan, sitting to the right of a disconsolate Sir Lawrence.
“Fellow from the US Embassy in Paris’d just got off the elevator to have a chat with him about a matter in Brussels they thought he could help with.” Gibstein stared at the desk phone he’d been on as if it might attack him. The spanking-new Polycom did not draw his notice. “Was up the hall walking towards his door when it blew out of the frame and slammed the wall. Letter bomb.”
Trier held his tongue while O’Carlan, sharing a look with his fellow ‘old horse’, demanded, “What the holy hell happened?”
“No idea. Our rep’s a desk jockey like I am now, he completely forgot procedure and called in the ‘flics’, so the Paris Prefecture du Police now have the office cordoned off and he’s being questioned since he went into the crime scene and obviously contaminated it.”
“Did he actually contaminate or it or do they think he did?”
“Walked in, Ted, and took a look around,” answered the station chief. “That’s all. I’d say #2.”
“#2 indeed,” said O’Carlan, starting to wonder.
“Pops, I don’t see what difference it makes to us,” Stills decided. “We hired Phil a few times, he did good work; there are certainly others. We didn’t pay him in a traceable manner. If we were going to shut him up I’d have been informed. How did this Embassy employee know to call you?”
“He’d wanted to use Phil last week and he’d called to bitch that we were monopolizing him.” The second normal phone on Gibstein’s desk tittered.
O’Carlan pointed out, “Which we weren’t. At one juncture Phil did mention to me that ‘Silas’ had been keeping his entire group on retainer for weeks.”
“Until he fired them.” ‘Pops’’ phone rang again.
“But did he?” the old man asked.
“Which means, Ted…?” said Gibstein.
“…Somebody else he’s worked for got pissed that he put them off. Pat, you’re assuming he told you the truth.” Gibstein’s regular desk phone sounded a third time.
“Pride goeth,” admitted O’Carlan. “Are you getting that?”
“It’s Bendall again, and I’m in a meeting, right? Third party did it, then, Ted?” asked Pops. “Educated guess, or?”
Stills shrugged. “Or.”
“8:59, by the way,” Gibstein put in. O’Carlan and Trier exchanged another glance. The phone stopped ringing.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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January 4, 2016

The Human Game, pt. 372: 'Animals'?

“I think I may have become provincial,” offered Leah as the Six car arrived at Al-Adil’s building and she took in the view. “Well, too provincial.”
“You’ve seen it on any number of recording covers and photographs, I’d think,” offered Margo with a nod to the right towards Battersea Power Station. All assisted with the scientist’s bags; Fionne scanned the passing post-rush sidewalkers.
Leah viewed the edifice. “Um, I don’t think so…”
“Pink Floyd’s Animals?” asked Margo, clearly the youngest of the three. “Everybody knows that one.”
Taking two of her smaller bags with a thank-you to Sheila, Dr. Bernheim admitted, “I am sorry but popular culture has pretty much missed me. My brother Mike would know them, I’m sure. It’s beautiful.”
“Looks almost brand new, doesn’t it,” agreed matron Sheila. “Always enjoyed the cathedral effect. Glad they refitted the old thing.”
Having eyes for the sight of the gently steaming forward A and B funnels and the austere face of the building, Leah of course missed the Sikh gentleman back along the kerb towards their far right. He dialed a number, left a voice mail, dialed it again, left another. Odd, because Philomen had answered moments previous. He began contacting his fellow shadowers at Paddington, Folkestone, and so forth; he was still going through the list, asking each what had become of the boss and at what time any of them had last heard from him, when the four women disappeared inside the apartment building and the Six staff car ambled back out into traffic. The Peugeot, driven by the apparent Sikh standing against it, remained.
Some fifteen blocks south of Nine Elms, two adult males wearing ‘hijab’ approached, doing their best to appear as pregnant as humanly possible. Back towards Vauxhall Cross, a small church rang the hour, accompanied by similar echoes all over town.
{-Possible way out, guys. –W.}
/-Do tell –D./
{-Everybody t’ Al-Adil’s. –W.}
We assent all, and make for Battersea Power Station.
[… --F.]
{-What? –W.}
[-Willie, you’re no dimbulb. You guessed a while back. I’d think you all did. –F.]
{-We’re not gonna let anything happen to ‘er. It’s gonna happen to us. –W.}
/-Supposing you don’t make our mistake, Frankie; don’t love them –D./
[-Like you and Petey did… --F.]
/-Still do, in fact, and it does me no good whatsoever, does it? –D./
(-You don’t want to be here to see her grow old, dear brother. However you feel, or think you do. She doesn’t recall what we looked like when she met us in ‘Verse I. Just as well. While it was only a few months, but we saw Ozzy change. We saw the days weigh on him. She’ll forget us. –P.)
[-That’s a lie. She called me ‘my dear.’ –F.]
{-We was there, bro’. We heard. –W.}
(-Then let Leah remember us as what we never were, and would never have been, Francis. Kind falsehood and unbearable truth is all we have. Which of these shall we give her? Since nothing else is available. You ordered us to follow her, that day she walked with her violin and her sheet music to the concert hall in Cambridge. What will you order us, now? –P.)
[-…Thought you were the boss around here, Petey. –F.]
(-Only when no one else steps up. What would you have us do? Ask, and it is done. –P.)
/-Go, Frank –D./
[-Don’t confuse me with one of our victims! –F.]
(-Really. Which? –P.)
/-Victims? I barely recall breaking an egg since we arrived –D./
[-You’ve stopped stammering again, Dave. –F.]
/-Because I already know what you’ll tell us –D./
[-…I don’t get how I feel about her. I’d just like to go back again and hear her laugh… I liked her voice. I liked how she thought. --F.]
{-Hey, I didn’t hate ‘er either… --W.}
[-Really. What did you like? –F.]
{-Not sure… She made fun a’ me an’ I was OK with it? Maybe that. Yeah. She had nerve. Inna nice way. I guess. –W.]
(-Not one other thing, Francis? Just her laugh and her patterns of thought? If so, you’re lucky. –P.)
[-Already know what you liked. –F.]
(-She was pleasant to look upon. Very. I also appreciated the way she thought. I also enjoyed her humor. Towards the end of our last conversation it had in fact become impossible to imagine her any longer, beheaded and torn apart, hanging upside down and dripping from a hook, or cowering and bloody in a corner of a great empty chamber. None of those ends were appropriate any longer. She transcended them completely. It had nothing to do with our orders from the Highest. Those very orders which we have followed slavishly in all our time, but for twice. So do not think you are the only one suffering. –P.)
{-Maybe ya will, maybe ya won’t. –W.}
[-You’re almost right. I was lucky. Fine. Take cell seven for our exit, gentlemen. –F.]
{-We got our orders-- --W.}
[-I saw what happened to ‘your’ Chantal, Petey. I know better. –F.]
On we came, racing the two disguised men to Leila Al-Adil’s building.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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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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