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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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March 5, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 334: Getting Affairs in Order

Back in her flat, Leila bathed, dressed, said her mid-morning prayers and packed a bag that would need last her a few days. Nearly ready to leave again, she decided who, and who not.

“…Mrs. C, this is Leila. I’m calling for Adam and Samantha. Please tell them I love them and I miss them. I’m sorry that I haven’t rung in a while. ‘Rung.’ Listen to me. I sound like a Londoner. Heaven forbid. Kiss them both for me, please.”

“…Hey, Deems, it’s Lei. Out and about being the cultural attaché, forcing eighth graders to pretend they like Brendan Behan, huh? I have been a bit nuts lately. Just calling to give my love.”

“…Nunzi! What, you have the ringer off? You never let anything go into voice mail. Well, I hope you hear this! Give Cleo my love, will you, I have to run out the door and I don’t have time to buzz her right now. I miss you two more than I can say.”

“…Abba, I can’t believe you aren’t picking up! Out on a date this early? Well, you’ll have to tell me all about her. I’m teasing, you know. I just felt like calling to tell you I love you. Oh, wait, it’s your all-day Foundation meeting, isn’t it? Tell Muqtada that your daughter suggests he mind his manners for once. Did I say already that I love you? I probably didn’t. Well, I do, so there.”

No one home, anywhere. No one receiving. The still-early morning Wednesday before Thanksgiving, whatever that was here in London, clattered into life around her: neighbors passing her door as they swept off to work, children muttering about homework assignments and rushing back to get them. From where she sat a moment, Leila kept an eye on the steam drifting from the Power Station’s visible stacks next door. The air was sharp, winter at last arrived. Who else? Anyone?

“…Hi, Pat. It’s been far too long. I’m sorry I have not called in a while. I miss you and your incisive wit. I do. I’ll try to call back soon. Hope you’re well.”

One left. The A4 folder with her last will and testament lay on the dining area table. What would she say? What would her mother respond?
…No. Not now.
The encrypted cellular rang. Leila dug through her small bag, drew it up and
flipped it open. The ADG.
“Yes, Director.”
“Al-Adil, if I am not interrupting…”
With some warmth, she replied, “Not at all, sir, what can I do for you?”
“The DG and I would seem to owe you an apology. We had a discussion on our way to the Joint Committee...”
“May I ask how things went at JIC?”
“You may by all means, and it is part of the problem.”
“I’ll answer your question first, and explain my calling after. It was a major wrangle, but the Committee ruled that Five has all necessary permission to put the Gate out of business in the British Isles. Once Sputnik is wrapped up, CO19 and Special Branch will storm every Gate office and satellite location within the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and place all employees under detention. All files and salable material shall be confiscated. A demand will then be made for the actual plotters of the bombings to come forward and give themselves up for trial in the World Court.”

“Director, the press will scream. Especially the parts that the Gate owns. I mean, ‘own.’”
“Though the evidence we will show may silence them, while Edith’s idea of ‘rogue multinationals’ could give the medias an entirely new bone to chew.”
“Yes, sir. Think of the olumn inches.”
“We have done,” he replied. “All Gate personnel brought in will be released without a blot on their records if the Gate brass cooperates. Their Caribbean head office is out of our reach but one doubts they’ll want further publicity of this sort.”
“Sir Harvin, Sir Hal and yourself must have been very convincing.”
“Sir Hal outdid himself, and we sang along. We hadn’t much choice.”
“Director, none of us had much choice this morning.”
“But we did, Al-Adil, and now for my explanation. If time allows?”
“I am all packed, sir. I already called Dr. Bernheim and gave her her orders. I have to be in Sir Hal’s office at ten for training and for my call to Pestilence; after that I’ll be sent to a Five safe house to wait for nightfall.”
“…You have made your arrangements.”
“Yes, in fact I wanted to discuss that with you. If I could.”
“…Momentarily?” he asked.
“Go ahead.”
“In one of our weekly ‘consensus’ meetings earlier in the month, Sir Harvin noted that I was allowed to give out my own field assignments in a pinch.” The ADG thought a moment and went on. “You’ll recall how I have said you walked in the door and asked to be vetted at exactly the right time.”
“You’re the temp H/IS, sir, who else…”
“But was it really? Note what’s occurred over the intervening weeks. Time and again I have turned to you when an older, more experienced field agent might have been better prepared for what could happen.”
“You claimed that I did well, sir. Generally. And the DG didn’t seem to disagree.”
“Often you did very well. That is not the point. The special delicacy of some of these matters, to say nothing of how even the head of Five could not be told all…” Quecture seemed uncertain how to continue.
“The Director, yourself and I had similar views on similar things.”
“…We did.”
“You feel that my mistakes were not entirely my own.”
“True. The point is that I sent you out again and again because I felt that you were the only woman for the job at hand. Your initial contact with Zenzinger, the return trip to Prague to check on him, your seeking out and locating the evidence of these Horsemen’s identities, the go-betweening for Dr. Bernheim, the call in the middle of the night from this ’Pestilence…’ thing, the liaison with Five, your pursuit of the ‘Unholy 3,’ if I may… to say nothing of your special understanding of the circumstances. While what mistakes you did make, yes, were those of inexperience. Sir Hal faulted you for that. The Director General and I could not disagree more. I don’t know that we backed you up today as we should have done.”
“Sir, the DG did say that Sir Hal would give me a tough going-over.”
“Your response, though…” Again the ADG quieted.
“I couldn’t say anything other than what I did say, Director.”
“Al-Adil, if you harbor the slightest unease about any of this…”
“Sir, as I sit here I am all but shaking. I’m utterly terrified.”
“…You have decided that you will see it through.”
“I will, Director.”
“While if I were to say that in my and in the Director General’s mind, you have nothing to make up for…”
“I’ve already agreed to the deal, sir. It’s done.” When Quecture did not answer immediately, Leila added, “Mr. Goff in Training Section did tell us that the break would arrive, if it ever did, when we were least ready for it.”
“The man is seldom wrong. I suppose I was just thinking of the day we formed our temporary work group, ‘The Goths.’ At that time I said what I assigned you was on me, and me alone. Given whom of the pair of us would have suffered more, that was never entirely accurate… and unprofessional as I am to state it, it pains me more than I can say.”
“You once said you had no field experience, Director.”
”And as such, possibly I had no right to assign you…?”
“Sir, that isn’t what I implied. You asked and I answered. O’Carlan could have shot me dead in Prague.”
“He did have a weapon.”
“Of course he did, sir. I never doubted it.”
“We will hunt him down. Whatever becomes of us all over the next four days, we will find him.”
“I know you will do all you possibly can, sir. You forced nothing on me. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you.”
“There is one other topic, if you would.”
“Of course.”

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.

Send author a comment on this post

March 2, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 333: House Arrest

Trier asked, “These research assistants of Dr. Bernheim's intrigue me. Did she ever ID these men as anything other?”
“She did not, Sir Lawrence,” O’Carlan replied. “While according to Interpol’s rough first draft report on the Saturday bombing at CERN, they were thoroughly questioned by agents when they could produce no ID,” said O’Carlan. “Both the assistant and the department head at Cambridge U’s Dept. of Physics and Applied Math vouched for them as well as Bernheim, and the agents backed off.”
“There’s the weak link, then,” suggested Trier. “Why are they not also your problem, Mr. Stills?”
“Again, we haven’t been told they are.”
“Do you need to be?” Sir Lawrence suggested. “Your solicitor at the Hague can throw as many paint bombs at CERN and the ES2 as he can manage during preliminary hearings. They certainly won’t be present. There’s the denial you force them into. Demand that the ‘researchers’ be produced in order that questions be asked. What will CERN or the ES2 do in response? How long can one stonewall and not incur loss of credibility? They’ll beard you on the name of the so-called ‘client.’ Beard them back on the identity of the four ‘researchers.’”
“I’ll also pass that on to counsel, Sir Lawrence, it may help.” Ted sighed. “When the Attorney General has a free moment. We have 30 days to respond, I hear.”
“Though didn’t we have a few stringers in Cambridge digging in certain professors’ offices late last week, looking for evidence of the weapons program that the client was certain existed?”
“That’s all they were doing, Patrick,” replied Ted. “The client sent a man as well, for the same reason. I think.”
“You think?” asked O’Carlan.
“Well, the client’s man came to observe, he said, but then he entered one of the locations after our teams cleared out. The report said which, but I don’t recall.”
“Didn’t come up with evidence…?”
Stills shrugged. “Didn’t seem to do much good. Well. Let’s work on Sir Lawrence’s re-entry strategy next, why don’t we--”
Another drone, this time on the phone. Excuse the rhyme. “Mr. Gibstein, Mr. Stingy for you.” The intercom pronounced it like ‘dinghy.’
“I’ll take it,” ‘Pops’ replied, picking up the receiver on his desk. “Patrick, shut the door.”
“Already is.”
“Oops. Yes, Mr. S…” spoke Gibsterin into the receiver. “Oh, of course.” He pressed SPEAKER on his phone and hung up. “There you are, sir.”
“Can everyone hear me?” asked the phone.
“We can indeed,” Stills replied. “Just now, we are accompanied by Patrick O’Carlan, ‘Pops’ of course, and Sir Lawrence Trier.”
A complete change of attitude. “Trier does not leave the building.”
The peer almost got out “Wait a moment, now—“
“I mean it, Stills. Detain him or all bets are off.”
“I am clearly not required here,” Sir Lawrence admitted, rising. He was about to approach the door when two large men in crewcuts opened it. Both sported
very obvious shoulder holsters.
“Sir Lawrence, I had no idea that here would be a call from… well, that this call would come while you were on site,” apologized Gibstein. “Schmelvin, Cavatica, give the gentleman a suite on the residential floor and keep him company. Take his mobile and any other toys.”
“This treatment is as ungentlemanly as can be, Mr. Gibstein,” Trier turned to inform him. The crewcuts reached for his shoulders. “While you will instruct your men to keep their hands off. If they do I’ll cooperate.”
“You heard the man,” Gibstein informed the large fellows. They complied. Sir Lawrence handed over his phone and sidearm. “Will you at least call my wife for me? Tell her I’m all right. Considering.”
“I will, sir,” agreed ‘Pops,’ taking it. “The number is in here?”
“Of course it is,” huffed the prisoner, and he turned to follow his jailers out. The door closed, a bit more forcefully than was required.
“What the fuck was he doing here?” hissed the phone.
O’Carlan thought most quickly of the three present. “O’Carlan here, Silas.
Sir Lawrence sprung me from MI6 and brought me here. I await any new orders, of course.”
“Oh. Very good, Patrick. Welcome back.” A decided lowering of the ire. “No need to play with the toys, I’ll give you my position. I’m on the interminable M25, east of Heathrow.”
“It’s round, of course it’s interminable.”
“Thank you, Ted, as obvious as ever. I have a meeting in the City, which is all I’m able to tell you just now. I will want a jaw with you at nine PM tomorrow in this office, please.”
“Can do,” Stills replied. Who will you want on board?”
“All four of you, including Trier.”
“Silas,” Ted temporized, “I was only intending to be here for the day, while I don’t think Six’ll appreciate our holding the head of ICU for 35 hours and change…”
“I want him there, and I want no arguments. A Polycom of your very own is arriving later today or early tomorrow. Can you hook it up in your office, Gibstein?”
“I’ll have a phone line brought in. Mr. Stills will text you the number.”
“Good. Take it out of its box and install it at eight-thirty on the nose. It will ring soon thereafter.”
“Very good. What orders, sir?”
“You’re being kept in reserve for an assignment on the Continent. Nobody will
know of this, including Langley, until you have your orders. Nobody will even know of this meeting until you’re in it.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Of course it is.” A pause. “So much is unsayable, do you know?”
“A philosophical side, Silas,” answered Stills. “Didn’t know you had one.”
“Not at all. I’ll call back then. And the checks will keep coming, don’t ask me.”

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.

Send author a comment on this post

February 27, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 332: A new Ear at the Cross?

An Embassy drone knocked on the office door. Once it was opened, he offered, “Sir Lawrence Trier wants a word.”
“He has it. Come on in, sir.” The peer walked in and took a seat. Stills told him, “We’ve appreciated your patience.”
“You’ll pardon if I haven’t the same respect for your priorities. I did an ally a good turn here and my every rosebush is overspaded in the garden because you did not allow me to go back to Vauxhall on my own schedule,” complained Trier. “My wife is going mad.”
“Told you to call her, Larry!” said Gibstein. “We have a dissipator in the building, on the roof. You make a cellular call, the GPS component is scrubbed out. You could tell her you’re in your own basement and she’d have no way to disbelieve you unless she went down the stairs.”
“Regrettably we haven’t another on my roof. I have left messages, though. She has a mobile hidden in the garden shed. No doubt she will call me back again as soon as no one’s watching. Until then, however…!” he concluded with less patence.
“Patrick thinks you may be the ear at the Cross that we’ve been looking for. Al-Adil certainly isn’t playing. You did us a hell of a favor.” Not wishing to change the subject: “If we’ve kept you here past your freshness date, we’ll get you out of it.”
“I’ll have to request that. They’ll be digging up the cellar in my cottage in Devon shortly.”
“We can’t tempt you.”
“For the last time no, Mr. Stills. We’re too much at cross-purposes. If I take your shilling and am rumbled, Sir Harvin will further credit Al-Adil and let fall my own star. She will remain and if I’m not sacked I’ll be farmed out to, oh, Lord only knows what. He may even make me head of Personnel. Unbearable. I can’t be put in a position that will prevent me from my work.”
“You really have a hard-on for that little bitch, don’t you?”
“Not at all, Mr. Gibstein. She is an American and we don’t need them.”
“I think we’d have to oppose her repatriation, Sir Lawrence. I have not just asked her to listen and report,” noted Patrick. “In Prague I offered her the commission at the Agency that she’d originally applied for. Suddenly, it was a big ‘no.’ I even had an assignment in mind.”
“Then she can stay in London and be a post girl, for all I care. Do you need Brits, may I ask?”
“We need an ear at Vauxhall. Fine, it’s not you. Fine, it definitely isn’t her. We still need an ear. Don’t ask why.”
“Your previous ear was amputated, I’d assume.”
“Told you he was sharp,” O’Carlan observed to Stills.
“We’ll work on your problem shortly, Sir Lawrence. We’d appreciate the benefit of your experience here, anyway. Now. We have been cut out of the loop by the client. Yes, Gib, they continue paying us. This may now be hush money. For what, though?”
“How can it be hush money if we don’t know anything we can tell?”
“You know all the obvious bits, I dare say,” Sir Lawrence suggested. He was a detainee, he might as well try to wheel and deal. “What of future plans as opposed to past?”
“Paris was such a failure, though, have they even got anything on the board?”
asked O’Carlan.
“You have heard nothing at Six, Sir Lawrence.”
“Conjecture about Paris, far too much. Per the next target, God forbid, I have not.”
“Last time I talked to Silas, Gib, he was howling about the court case at the Hague,” added Ted. That was his concern. Does not want his name mentioned. He will remain an unidentified co-conspirator.”
“Listen, their half-assed tactics put our country in this pile of crap. After the condemnations we’re getting for Beijing, it’s the last thing we need.”
“Still need their money, though. Will they ask us to drop in on Cambridge and lighten the Physics Dept.’s personnel list? Or will they do it themselves? Sir Lawrence?”
“Whom, now?”
“Leah Bernheim, their Barbie doll physicist.”
“Your ‘client’ may well decide to do that in-house, so to speak. Given that Interpol does not have Patrick to put through the shredder as well. Makesx her more of a concern. They’ll continue to want no hint of this outside the company.”
“Did I hear the word ‘company’ used’ Without a captal ‘C’?”
“You did,” said Trier.
“We do not need to hear it again, sir. Intended with the greatest possible respect.”
“Of course.”
“Sir Lawrence is right. Bernheim,” O’Carlan put in, “never heard the client’s name from me, though I’ll bet she recorded both our conversations on her laptop anyway. I naturally didn’t consider this at the time, but I seriously suspect it now.”
“Assume you can barely turn on a desktop…” grumped Sir Lawrence. “I certainly need help.”
“If I get my reading glasses…”
“Well, that’s not what we hired you for,” Ted admitted. “I’ve already suggested to ‘Silas’ that the least they can do is pay our court costs, so I’ll add on the fine that we’ll no doubt incur by refusing to name our co-conspirator.”
“Our co-conspirator doesn’t exist,” Gibstein insisted. Tell the defense team that. It was a ploy on our part to get Bernheim to talk.”
“Which she didn’t do, Gib.”
“She talked enough. We have her denial. Nobody believes them any longer.”
“As may be,” Sir Lawrence said. “Though it’s clearly idiocy to assert that CERN does weapons research.”
“Be glad you don’t have our constraints, Sir Lawrence. I don’t have the memo yet but yes, Langley will want a report for the benefit of the defense team. So that’s next. Do we recommend attacking Bernheim’s denial and then submitting one of our own? While the client loved you because of your background, Patrick. Figured you’d be just what this project required. He asks about you still; I’ve had no choice but to tell them you’re still in custody. If they had heeded us, there’s a good possibility they’d now have everything they needed from Bernheim and she’d be in an ‘emergency’ room in Geneva under sedation. They knew better, of course! So no, this is not how they wanted the project to wind out.”
“We still have no idea why they wantd this alleged ‘weapons research.”
Hand in the air, Ted answered, “Told not to ask them, so we didn’t.”
O’Carlan said, “Then give Langley what they want. That’s first.”
“Of course. Now about Bernheim’s turnaround from standard atheist scientist to Torah-thumper. Are we sure it wasn’t simple anger?” asked Gibstein. “Look at her dossier. The American press went after her en masse 30 years ago after this little classmate of hers committed mass murder so that she’d notice he existed. They chased her and her family out of the country, just because it was a slow news year. I expect that there’s some serious rage there, someplace.”
“From the way she talked to me before Interpol showed up,” O’Carlan said,
“I would say.”
“Sir Lawrence?” asked Stills. “Further thoughts?”
“Will you continue to pursue the woman?” the peer asked.
“She’s named in the injunction as one of the wronged parties, and as a witness. She is now too ‘hot’ to make disappear, or anything else. No, for now she’s safe.”
“Until the client orders us to go get her anyway,” said ‘Pops.’
“So fatalistic, Gib. We should work for our money.”
“Again, if they don’t remove her themselves,” Patrick said. “They’re just unhinged enough.”
“Silence the witness that can’t conclusively implicate them anyway? Who are we kidding?” asked Stills. “Of course they might.”
“She’s all the ES2 have, that we know of,” said Stills. “The research assistants were not at any of the meetings between Patrick and the Doc, so…”
“What if it is simply made clear to her that the pile of dog-ends in which she found herself at an early age shall be nothing compared to what may be done to her now?”
“Good ploy, Sir Lawrence, but I would think she already knows that.”
“And may no longer care. Hell hath no fury, they say.” The peer nodded. “Would it help for you to suggest to the client that they keep their hands off her? In case they feel otherwise.”
“Good consideration, Sir Lawrence, but they do not ask us for our opinion. While no one asked you to go to Geneva that morning, that I know of, Patrick,” pointed out Stills.
“I wanted to get her reaction to the Paris situation and re-assert the deadline.”
Sir Lawrence said, “I’ve never spoken to your physicist, but…”
“Well, who would we have to send after her anyway? Philomen Leclerc and Securite Marseilles are out, ‘Silas’ tells me, quote, ‘due to an interminable number of idiotic mistakes.’ They were the only subber the client would allow us to use on this. So we can’t rehire them now. If the client finds out, the checks might stop coming. And can we send any of our men? What with how every country’s security precautions have gone through the roof since Belgrade?”
“If you’d been in place, Patrick, you might have been able to talk the client out of dumping Phil.”
“I’d have been talking to you, Ted, of course I would have.”

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.

Send author a comment on this post

February 24, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 331: Meanwhile, Back at the Castle

They called it the Castle, and so it did appear to the casual eye. Leila walked past it twice every day and by now, I’d think, had edited it out of her sightline but for that one time she and Dima had dropped off Dennis’ bookmarks. A blocky, mirrored affair half the width and depth and twice the height of the old Grosvenor Square location, its moat had begun to freeze with the final approach of cold weather; the waterfall in the rear eastern corner, though, splattered on.
-Figure they got th’ alligators outta there yet? –W.
-O’Carlan was just being disagreeable, I’d think. –P.
On our way from Geneva to Jerusalem it had occurred. That sweep of Divine
judgment reached us. By then, however, it was a spent tide. We’d given ourselves up to circumstance, but all that engulfed us and quickly receded, were a wash of divine Amusement. That was all!
-Very anticlimactic. –P.
-Nobody takes us seriously any more. –F.
Hard to disagree with that.
-If it took Him this long to send us His ‘lion’s paw swipe’/ so to speak/ where do you suppose He is? –D.
-Simple. Not that anyone will confirm, or deny. Holding every particle in this universe in one place means that it takes extra time for Him to do much else. –P.
-Just crazy enough, etc. –F.
-We did back off Al-Adil. --W.
-True, while we received no censure/ after she heard the recording of the discussion in Jerablus –D.
-An’ it looks like we didn’ get this Philomen guy off Leah’s trail yet… --W.
-All he’s doing is watching, though/ and Al-Adil said she’d have people to get her to London/ --D.
-Let us hope, then, for now –P.
-Another reason why I hate this universe/ we could nearly have been in several places at once/ --D.
-Hope, Petey? Gonna teach us how? –W.
The seeming crisis of Judgment now past if nothing else, I cast my ear and eye back to the Castle to find if Sir Hal and ADG Quecture had got it right. So they had; Patrick O’Carlan sat before Head Economic Attache Red ‘Pops’ Gibstein—
-Sounds like Bronko Nagurski’s football coach -- --F.
-Don’t interrupt. –P.
-An’ yer thinkin’ of Red Blaik. Army, 1940s an’ 50s, I think. –W.
Talk about hidden depths. Anyway, the actual chair of the meeting was not Gibstein but a somewhat jet-lagged man in his forties, the infamous Ted Stills of the Geneva Consulate’s ‘Polycom’ in their upstairs conference room at 7 rue Versonnex, from earlier in the week. No, pardon, rue Versonnex 7. Bleary, he held forth about the many imponderables of the day.
“To say that I don’t comprehend is obvious. I don’t comprehend anything. I believe Langley may have sent me over here to pilot a crashing bomber. We may all be repatriated and stuck in the file room in the sub-sub at HQ to work out our 20 years. Anyone at all, feel free to contradict me.”
“Why is the client still paying us, then?” Gibstein thought aloud.
“After what happened in Paris, your guess is.”
“That was not our op,” O’Carlan said.
“We only suggested it! Via a clueless civilian. Though Silas may think differently.”
“Oh, come on, what other city were they going to hit?” asked Pops. “Amsterdam? Brussels? Nothing in the DDR. Muslims are barely tolerated in Germany. Unless you’re Turkish and are willing to work for pfennig and have your mosque in your basement where nobody can see it…”
“So all we contributed to Paris was what?” asked the old man, who under no circumstance would call Gibstein ‘Pops.’ “The time frame?”
“Well considered!”
“Uh, not well considered…?”
“Considering,” Ted Stills agreed. “So who did the brilliant one tell? The client can’t have leaked on itself. They aren’t that incompetent.”
“You must not use their product,” O’Carlan said. “I informed Bernheim about Paris a little after 7:30 Tuesday morning. You should have seen the look on her face. She had no idea. I doubt she informed anybody.”
“Patrick, she also implied she was armed.”
“I never believed that, Ted. Something did change, though. I nearly had a deer in my headlights Sunday night. She fought back, but not very convincingly. Tuesday morning, she bullied me.”
“We sent the wrong man to Geneva, did we?” asked Gibstein.
“With the shitty hand that the client gave us to play, nobody would have got a much better result.”
“So what changed, Ted? Her male harem threw her a couple of good ones to stiffen her spine?”
“I doubt it. She got religion?”
Gibstein said, “Bernheim’s been observed attending synagogues in Geneva. No one in particular.”
“So, not like the Haganah did in 1948?”
“In the reverse manner to how I did, Ted…” cracked O’Carlan.
Irritated, Stills cut him off. “Patrick, you are not spreading more of that marmalade about the end of the world.”
“I only reacted to the evidence of the satellite over Patmos. I sounded Bernheim out about it. She didn’t. I still had to report it, didn’t I?”
“’To whom you reported it’ was my beef. It was not well received,” answered Stills. “There is a messianic component in the Agency but you do not report to them. I want big things for you, Patrick. And soon. Obviously. You also came off seriously winded Monday morning during our chat.”
“I have a daughter Bernheim’s age. I’ve got over the comparison. I think I’ve demonstrated that.”
“Not disagreeing,” Stills allowed. “We also know you don’t believe any of this Center For Good Sound Christian Business Administration hooey. Imitating the think-tank gooney birds does not cut it either. We only pay attention to them when we want their money. Right now, thanks to the client…”
“What is this, again?” Gibstein asked. Stills gave him the short version. Once done, ‘Pops’ turned to O’Carlan. “Did you ever actually think the skies were going to fold up?!”
“Become a scroll. I thought it was worth a try? Shake Bernheim’s tree with it.”
“Incorrect answer,” Gibstein said. “I agree with Ted. She’s a nice Jewish girl, Patrick. Now she is. We have no evidence before last Wednesday that she’d gone near a ‘shul’ more than a few times a year. Since then, it’s minyan every day. Why, we don’t yet know.”
The ancient one replied, “I’m a lawyer. I was fishing. What made her do that? Who are this male harem of hers? Just because we don’t see them doing anything doesn’t mean they are. Besides, she aerated at me for some length about how miserable she was until a few days before. Who or what changed her mind? I think we know. Philomen sent one crew after another to get Bernheim. According to this morning’s raw report accompanying news that he’s been tossed by the client, every one of them was rebuffed. One of his dead wet experts showed up, hanging from a balloon. Two miniature ‘search and assault platforms’ were knocked out of the sky. He was conducting remote surveillance Tuesday night and was told to remove himself.”
“He did?”
“Somebody already knew his cover story. Had no choice.”
“Baseline reaction, Patrick,” requested ‘Pops.’ “If any, on Phil’s performance.”
“No wonder Silas booted him. Bernheim’s ‘research assistants’ are her protective detail. They outsmarted Phil’s boys all ways up. Must have been.”
“Certainly possible. Did they wipe the board in Paris?”
“No. They never left their hotel that night.”
“Do we think Phil’s boys did it?”
“’We’ do not, Ted,” replied O’Carlan. “The client would have exterminated them, or had us do it. They have an enemy we are not privy to, so just as well we are sidelined.”
“Problem is, sidelined service providers do not make as much money. We’ll come back to that. As to Bernheim’s seeming conversion, then.”
“Doubt it has more than immediate significance,” the old recruit said. “Sometimes people change their minds for reasons only they understand. In this case? The ‘research assistants’ told her something that made her decide, any spiritual port is better than none in the upcoming gale?”
“Here we go again…”
“I am not saying I knew what they said it was, Ted. Or that I know what it is, now.”
“Oh-kay. While you are doubting, Thomas… what can we do to the research assistants?”
“Wait for instructions from the client,” replied O’Carlan. We don’t know that they want their asses, and we shouldn’t do a freebie anyway.”
“Seems sound,” admitted Stills. “Gib? Your view.”
“We are being kept in reserve,” Gibstein answered. “I agree.”
“Don’t tell me for what.”

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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February 21, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 330: Team 7 Drops Off

“Which do you suppose it is? Which of the two?”
Thirteen and fourteen were the next to last to be placed. Weeping, the three men aimed themselves toward the Sidcup Bypass, turning left at the Main Road. Joydens Wood extended a few thick fingers toward that street on the left hand side. Two would step off and occupy a tent out of sight of the road, and the last would return for his own assignment.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this…”
“We’re fuckups, Routy. Even in our glory days. Never been anything else. Zenzinger was already dead when we got to him. We should have started right in on the bints yesterday, should’ve given ‘em the backs of our hands before the old nannies arrived.”
“…Mother will be able to retire on what they pay her…” Balthuss muttered. It had all been too much for him.
“And they will pay her. My folks as well. You’ll make sure if it’s mine, I’ll make sure if it’s yours.”
“What about me?”
“…I think you’ll craft a proper response, Tyrell, that’s what. They’re going to send you out with a belt as well. I think you will figure it out for us. I think you will
know what to do.”
The dropoff point approached.
“Will I?”
“I don’t want to leave you here.”
“If you refuse to, Tyrell, they’ll know. These belts don’t transmit unless they’re in the correct grid area. Remember? They told us.”
“So somebody else will blow up Al-Adil.”
“We can hope. The Gate doesn’t care. You know that. If there’s justice, however…”
”Why did the og twitch have to come here? Why? Screwed up everything.”
“Yeah. Everything.”
“Do you know? If she had lain down in my room and said, hand it over, I would not have done it.”
“Really.” Tyrell slipped off he road and parked on the verge. “You seemed interested enough at the time.”
“I have since swotted up. No more American girls. Sid? Still with us?”
All Balthuss could do was nod.
“Don’t blame you, lad. No, Tyrell. I wanted right of second refusal. Who wanted all that hair, anyway.”
“Possibly the remainder of it would not have been where it could have got in your way.”
Balthuss opened the passenger side rear door, pointing into the trees. “If this is the right place, the tent is about 100 meters that way.”
“Eyes on the other prize,” Tyrell said. “That’s our Balthuss.” The young men began to debark.
“These are so heavy…”
“Pregnant women are heavier than they usually are. Makes it easier to fake it. I’d assume.”
“We’ve faked it this long…” Without looking, Tyrell opened the driver side door. A car swerved, horn blasting, and stopped a hundred feet up. Tyrell moved around the Land Rover and grasped for his friends. “This is wrong.”
“‘Ere, now,” said the approaching motorist from the other car. The three young men embraced.
“I know it is,” Balthuss agreed, but could say no more than that. Routledge
elected to let his arms speak for him.
The footsteps in the brush ceased behind them. “Oh, bloody well get a room,” the man said, turned back and trudged away.

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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