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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
MYRRH is now available on and from Barnes and Noble as both an Ebook and as a paperback.
There is a new review of MYRRH in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY's 11-17-14 issue; see --K.G.
November 25, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 300: End of an Imperfect Day

As the angels had nearly predicted – another very irritating habit they have – we were lucky to have arrived at the CERN building after the errant construction worker with the laptop had been discovered in the Collider’s UPS room; by the time we’d got there with the technicians’ caravan, Philomen’s ‘squirrels’ had been and gone, tossed out with the building repair crews. Meeting us, Dr. Singh declared that no one was above suspicion and as such CERN would be closed to visitors and all repairmen until security measures had been adjusted. Fearlessly shaking all our mosaic’d hands, he also made it known that we had asisted in saving the European Superstate of a nearly definite horror and that we were pioneers of a sort that had not been seen since the Vikings had made it to the New World. William naturally saw fit to add…
-‘Preciate th’ comparison, there, Doc. I always liked their helmets. –W.
Dr. Semmel was equally appreciative, pretending to lambaste us because thanks to all the raw information we had helped assemble, he might have to put off retiring by at least a decade. The technical crew got similar praise for ‘sticking to it’ and getting us all back in one (admittedly) rainbow-colored piece. Apparently our manhandling of another universe’s Geneva’s college students or our breaking into a US Federal facility in Brooklyn was not seen as a drawback to the mission. After all, no one had manhandled them but us! No one had even seen them but us. We’d even remembered not to ‘dispatch’ anyone.
“It certainly looks like they got home all right,” said Leah, last to keep us company as the end of the day approached. It had been decided that for as long as our appearance was this singular, we and our mounts might do to stay in an unused storage room in the back of the building. Our Fifth Horsewoman scared up some hay and blankets for the horses, and treated us to a good meal in the cafeteria across from our ‘dormitory.’ “As far as we heard,” she added, sitting with us at our dinner table. William demolished another piece of chicken.
-You told us not t’ hurt anybody, we didn’t. –W.
“And I’m grateful. For that, too. For letting me push you around like, oh, I don’t know what. For being true to your word. You even talked Dr. Semmel into deciding not to retire, without even trying. I was a little worried about that.” She looked us over, pawed about the delivery cartons -- Leah had recalled that the food in the caf was substandard – and poured herself another glass of wine. Viewing us, she calculated a bit. “It may be fading. Soon, I hope, you should be as anonymous as before. How you managed it then, of course, I have no idea.” With some very small rue: “Oops…”
-I think bystanders generally/ consider us to be rich nobodies, and thus pay very little attention/ because it appears to be exactly what we don’t want–D.
“Just crazy enough to be right.” Leah took a sip, watching the stars rise in the cafeteria windows. A security officer knocked on the door of the caf; Leah moved to the door, exchanged greetings with him in Italian. After he left: “You four have utterly corrupted me. I’m having two glasses of wine with dinner for the first time in years, and I didn’t even go for my workout today.”
-You were busy, I/ thought –D.
-Don’t tell me CERN has no gym. –F.
She adjusted the white sweater she’d donned over her black shirt, some hours before. “Would I work in a building without one?”
-It’s nice to see you in such a good mood. –P.
“In these six days, you’ve definitely encountered me at my worst. My best, well...” She considered that. “Though I now see what I’ll be doing for the remainder of my earthly existence. That’s a comfort. Dr. Semmel was exactly correct, It’ll take years to go through all this data. Years.” The thought animated her further, despite her tired aspect. “For all you’ve done for me… I don’t know how I could possibly repay you.”
-You keep saying that. Stop. We completed our job and we’ve had quite the adventure ourselves.–P.
“Really?” she half japed. “You made it sound like such a walk in the park before we opened the CW for you this morning. We all heard you! Once you were across, you only seem concerned a few times.”
-We had a good crew to back us up, though. –F.
“The best technicians, yes. And, me. Dr. Singh may not even fire me, in fact.”
-Why would he…? –F.
“First, he had no idea you were going to participate; second, I received a certain amount of surface noise today from the CERN head counsel for not getting you four to sign releases.”

-They thought we’d/ sue CERN--? –D.
“The tall, very French woman? Somewhat forbidding? She was in the room while Dr. Singh addressed us. Jacqueline, our staff head counsel. She was beyond ‘shocked.’ Dr. Singh may have been almost as much, but I swore upon every Torah in Geneva that they had absolutely nothing to worry about. One, the effect will wear off, and two, if you four at all had got the impression you’d been victimized, you’d just raze the place.” Slight smile as she drank a bit more. “To the ground.”
-Huh. --W.
“Of course, I also reassured them that you would do no such thing.”
-Explains our VIP treatment/ --D.
“You heard Dr. Singh! You’re welcome to stay as long as you like, just please keep out of sight until this ‘effect’ wears off. Although, isn’t this… I mean, don’t you have other appointments coming up? If that’s the right word?”
-Oh, nothing that can’t wait. –P.
“So I haven’t substantially ruined your lives yet…”
-Ah, no –D.
“Thankfully, Jackie had to make for Den Haag to file our brief at the World Court against the USA, its Department of Defense and its security services, so she had no time to raise further objections. Pardon me. ‘Jacqueline.’”
-So it’s done! Very good… --P.
“We’ll see it on the news tomorrow morning! This time I may actually watch it.” She thought a moment. “After the debrief today, I also got some heat from the techs, Tanker and Thermos especially, for not telling them what you did for a living and what methods you’d use to find your man.” Carefully: “That’s another reason why I appreciate your letting me bully you into not hurting anyone. In ‘Verse I. Although… can I ask why you didn’t have your man with you when you came back out?”
-Certainly, Leah. He was taken off our hands in the parking lot outside the building. –P.
“In Brooklyn,” she reminded us, and herself. “Right?”
-Oh, yeah. Ya heard me say, ‘No holds barred,’ that was the hand-off signal. Our client got ‘im just beyond th’ CW in th’ lot an’ we went our separates after that. Made us an’ them harder t’ chase. –W.
“Well, count me as the purblind innocent…” Leah commented. “The techs also wanted me to bring up some of the things we heard you say when the CW opened back up in front of us. I mean, I did too, but I told them I didn’t want to cause you any more embarrassment.”
-…Such as…? --P.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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November 22, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 299: The Target is Located

“Is it not all academic who is in actual charge, Mr. O'Carlan?” pointed out Sir Lawrence. “Does the word you use, 'boss,' mean anything? Who has the money now? Who is it now that needn’t take care of their 'pensioners'? Sack them, they cease to exist. How does a nation-state compete with that? Who has no choice but to keep their infrastructure up? Should they neglect to, they become less profitable and their boards of directors are decapitated. You get my meaning.”
“Not your MPs or your PM. In other words.”
“We’ve become irrelevant. My Service will not be sent against a multinational when its discretionary funds fill Whitehall's corner offices. In a way, I believe I’ve committed this indiscretion so that I will need retire. I do not know that I can any longer keep the farce in play.”
“Although Al-Adil has no standing with these ‘multis’ either.”
“While she has far too much with ourselves!” declared the peer.
“So you’d have them put back in their place, if...”
“Naturally! If only they didn’t lend our banks their laundered Russian and South American mob funds. In comparison we are incompetent, we are compromised every which way, we even blind ourselves with a 'permissible lie' so that our more unwittingly blind HM Government may pat us on the head and insist that we and they yet matter.”
“I don’t know that I can help you right that wrong.”
“Did I ask? No, take the woman and go. I want nothing more from you. Tell them we don’t want her here any longer. That’ll be an end to that. Where I’ll go next, I won’t see the ship sinking.”
“So we’ll deport her for you.”
“As I said…”
“How long will we wait?” asked the American.
“Until rush hour is past. She usually checks in here by seven. If she does not appear we’ll go to her flat.”
Patrick considered this. “What are the charges against, besides her having asked that I be nicked? Which I still don’t entirely credit.”
“Nor do I. Not any more than I need do to make it stick. I may even go so far as to tell my alleged betters that she has been sent to Guantanamo Bay for high treason. They above the salt, or should I say ‘the silt,’ are utterly besotted with her. I suspect that they’ll practically hand her the Service when she turns 40.” Trier considered what he’d said. “Unless I do something now. When she is gone, their minds will clear. Their besotment is platonic, of course. The Whore of Babylon Al-Adil most certainly is not.”
“I can attest.” O’Carlan blinked again at the street; the well-lit interior front of the shop did somewhat wash out the exterior view. He thought of his lost friend Dennis speaking of Leila with a fatherly affection. It bothered O'Carlan that he'd actually believed Dennis. He felt old.
“So you made the sortie.”
“Wasn’t worth it. A beauty, yes, but I’m not converting.”
The peer chuckled. “Don’t be too appreciative. As a result of my DG and my ADG’s sky-high regard of the woman, you figure in two investigations.”
“Although allow me to ask, is Al-Adil five-ten and a half, dark-skinned and curly-haired or is she six-foot Jewish Irish, well-proportioned, with far too much straight light brown hair and blue eyes? It was the latter that got me hauled from Geneva, my friend. Dr. Leah Bernheim, that is.”
“Leopold Bloom’s stepdaughter, was she?” Trier’s eyes raked the window once more. "Oh, wait. One of a brace of scientists and whatnot at CERN who claim we're made of... yes, strings."
“Pretty much. Another difficulty here is, your aim doesn’t really coincide with our interest. We want your agent where we can use her. You want her out of the Cross.”
“She recorded your every approach, sir. We had to slog through volumes of them.“
“Said I was guilty. If I take her back to the, ah, ‘Castle’ on your say-so, she’ll be useless to me.”
Sir Lawrence registered his lack of disappointment. He could only try. “Then can we think of another way to remove her? Cleanly? And can you not find another to listen at doors?”
The older man put his cup down. “What about yourself?”
Too late to reflect on that now, however; the men each saw Al-Adil and Edith Quecture passing in the street, back towards Vauxhall. Behind them, three former employees of both the Gate and Six, hands in bulging pockets. No one looked at anyone else.
Trier and O’Carlan had not worked together before, but one shared look was all that passed between. The former shrugged to his feet and the latter swept towards the counter, presenting the lady in charge with a five-pound note and then belting his own Burberry. Not tying.
“Your change, sir—“
“It’s yours now,” O’Carlan replied as Trier held the shop door open for him. Both felt for their sidearms and joined the chase.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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November 19, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 298: 'No Longer Any Top'

“So who’s buying?”
Entering Leila’s favorite teashop on Nine Elms Lane, O’Carlan and Trier viewed the customers and the counter. They did not at all fit into the crowd. True to form, the old CIA rookie wondered if they had coffee as well.
“I’ll be glad to.” Somewhat at sea, the Six veteran signaled the woman behind the counter.
“Sit where you like,” the proprietor said with a Punjabi lilt. “I’ll bring you menus momentarily.”
“Thanks,” O’Carlan answered her as Trier gave an imperious nod and selected a table with a good view of the street and the door.
“Been unbelievable, you know, O’Carlan.” On the walk from the Cross the head of CT’d had difficulty not looking over everything like a tourist. “Had the occasional test operation here at night, among the derelict warehouses, in and out the Power Station.” Sitting, he left his coat on. “Old days. That sort of thing.”
“Couldn’t much manage it now,” O’Carlan replied. Noting his rescuer, he left his ‘mac’ on as well, taking the chair opposite.
“I’ll warrant you, had the US Embassy not moved, the money would not have followed.” He indicated one of three empty chairs.
“The world society props up what it can.”
“Do you think so?”
“I’d say, Sir Lawrence. At one time the US government would have taken on this entire area while the embassy was under construction. Made a theme park out of it, practically. Can’t possibly afford that today, but any number of multinationals have thrown in their dime instead. Power Station’s burning garbage, all the apartment blocks have solar panels on the roofs, and the upshot is it appears all is well and the USA is still on top. Appears.”
Trier thought of The Gate and decided not to mention them. “Mr. O’Carlan, I would have to say at this time that there no longer is any top.”
“Unless ExxonMobil wants pole position.” Not entirely certain what Trier had in mind, the older man asked, “When they discover both you and I are missing…”
“I’m not above suspicion any longer, I suspect, but they’ll still concentrate on you.” He pulled at his cellular again. Still no calls. “Why I brought you here.”
“They’ll assume I went to, what do you in the Service call it…?”
“The Castle,” Sir Lawrence said, eyeballing the street.
“We shouldn’t be complimented.”
“Not overly.”
“Better assist you while I’m able, then.” Their route here had been direct, but the night traffic remained at full blast so anyone looking for them on the Net of Steel would have their work cut out. O’Carlan waited to see how Trier would reply. When he didn’t, the Agency man added, “Are we improvising?”
“We are going to attempt to collar an agent about whom I have suspicions.”
“And you need me, why again?” O’Carlan at last demanded. In a friendly tone. The lady in charge appeared, handing over menu boards.
“I want to turn her over to you.” Without looking at the proprietor, he intoned, “Earl Grey, strong, please, and a plate of assorted biscuits.” She nodded and turned to O’Carlan.
“Is coffee available, ma’am?”
“Only the usual, sir, nothing out of the ordinary.”
“I was a police officer once, I’ll take ordinary. Black, please.” Away she went.
Once she was out of imagined earshot… “The US Dept. of State would be interested…”
“You know her quite well. Or, would like to.”
“So this is it.”
“While also I have chosen to do Gibstein a favor and get one of his men out of the Cross before a major disagreement ensues.”
“I’ll admit I couldn’t believe I was taken.”
“I am not convinced that our target had no hand in that.”
Now it made sense. “Young, female, Arab…”
“Arab-American. Quite. I want her out of Six and out of the country.”
“You think I can get her into the Embassy? What? Chloroform?”
“We both know the SIS has no ‘arrest’ capability by Britain’s unwritten constitution,” the peer answered, unwilling to fence. “They will not contact Scotland Yard or, say, CO19 to do the dirty work; too much loss of face. While the Agency doesn’t always ascribe to similar constraints. Let us put it that way. Take her and go home, is my way of looking at it.”
“So I’m as unwelcome, or less so?”
“You of course are your own affair, or Gibstein’s.”
“Generous of you. Appreciate your letting me call them.”
“You had every right to tell what really occurred.”
“Thought you wanted to prevent a scrum.”
“Indeed.” The goodies arrived. “Thank you,” Trier told the woman, ever more preoccupied with the street. “I am not above, or below, the truth either...”
“Now, Sir Lawrence…” O’Carlan had at the coffee. Black, hot, not at all bad. He cast an eye about for the newspaper table. There it was. Too far away. “You asked that I call Bern down the street from here, so that the the tidal wave started offshore.”
“Which is where it should.”
“To give yourself time to escape?”
“Escape where, sir?” The peer tried out the Earl Grey. “This is my country. All I have done is correct a callow agent’s overreaction.” The tea appeared to satisfy. “They’ll eventually thank me. Very eventually.”
“But my arrest, I’d think, was OK’d by someone with far more avoirdupois than she.”
“Our ‘young hopelessness’ goaded them to accept her conclusions, I’ve no doubt.”
“Still, if you had me call the Embassy up the road, there’d have been giants in crewcuts doing an American football play straight into the Cross’ lobby and upstairs to get at whoever gave the order to have me detained. Everybody would have arrested everybody else, and we'd all have ended up being towed home in disgrace. Since Bern got the ball first they’d naturally protest to your local consulate and ‘cc’ Langley. And who knows how long it'd be before that e-mail was opened? There's as far as it might get.” Another ‘go’ at his coffee. “Since you requested that I not tell them from where I’d called.”
“Well thought out.” Trier sipped the tea. "Would they trace their own agent's call? Possibly not. Possibly. So, then. I will assist you in convincing her. Once she is gone from our shores, I will make the appropriate obeisance and resign or be retired forcibly.”
“Toss your career, Sir Lawrence?” O’Carlan eyed the ‘biscuits,’ but decided against. “Just to get an American out of your midst? I can’t entirely believe this is me talking, but she is very sharp. Parries my every jab. Refused to even listen to my suggestions she double for us. Only reason I bested her in Prague was, I’ve been around longer.”
“You do realize to what you’ve just now confessed.”
A challenge. “I do.”
Neither needed point out that there was no recording in process. Trier thought a second and went on, “Were you armed, that day?”
O’Carlan placed a hand on his invisible holster. “With this.”
Trier nodded with some respect. “While you implied before ‘skyhooking’ out that you were not.”
“Only reminding the ‘girl child’ that she ought to defer to her elders. One day she’ll still be our boss, though.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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November 16, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 297: Causal Distribution

“Our Dear Leader neglected to perform a full count, that’s the explanation,” Edith observed while she and Leila, appropriately coated and scarved –especially scarved -- made their way towards Nine Elms and Leila’s mosque. She reconsulted her list. “We will never get all these done today.” Most probably not, as dusk had come and night all but followed. A limn of color remained in the visible west, not a lot more.
“We have some advantage here, at least they know me.” Leila was pleased for the exercise and that she had expected to shiver more. Looking for the correct folder in the hated black solicitor’s bag, she viewed Edith’s shoes, somewhat more stylish than her own almost-flats. “You’re not in pain yet.”
“Give me a few more seconds.” Busily on her ‘e-notebook’ she wrote as they walked, far too neatly, ‘Abrar Mosque, Chelsea Embankment: Less than forthcoming. Pretended not to speak English. L.A.-A.’ scotched that. Keep this one! Received flyers, promised to cooperate.’
“There’s a tea shop on the main drag over there.” They’d been deposited in Chelsea at about three by a Five staff car, they’d shown their badges and dropped off flyers at half a dozen mosques; having crossed the Thames at Queenstown Road Bridge, Leila at last took note of the Christmas decorations here and there. Oh, yes, that time of year. Wasn’t it. They’d probably been out some weeks as many had begun to tatter. “If you’d like to stop,” she continued to Edith. “It isn’t that far.” Asking her home did not seem proper, but aching feet were aching feet.
“’Main drag,’” Edith pretended to disapprove. “You need more time ‘in country.’” The railways rumbled beneath the auto and pedestrian roadbed.
“Very amusing,” Leila pretended to snip. She’d begun to enjoy Edith’s company. The older woman was hardly glib but she had a dignity and a keep-calm-and-carry-on cynicism that Leila enjoyed countering. Edith had even sat without complaining outside the sanctuary while Leila prayed ‘asr’ in the fourth masjid they’d visited. To preserve her feet, perhaps, but once Leila was done Edith had asked questions about Islam that were a cut above those most Westerners might; not as probing as Dennis’, but she’d also proved quick-witted and genial enough once one got past her standard urban female defenses. “We will get to them all,” Leila insisted. “What was Sir Hal’s latest window?”
“Compensating for the passage of time, GMT, thirty to forty-seven hours.”
“I admire your precision. Do you mind me saying that?”
“Most of it’s faked, Leila.” The rush hour was well under way, passers going hither and yon, but the women kept their pace less brisk, allowing others to amble by. “We didn’t even synchronize our watches.”
“Don’t they only do that on spy movies?”
“That I know of, it’s not even ‘the done thing’ in spy films any longer,” Edith quipped. “Maybe I last saw it attempted in ‘Topkapi.’ But there are always levels of information we can’t reach. Its unavailability doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. So all precision really isn’t, to my mind. Like time. What governs how it moves quickly to our perception now, not at all when you’re waiting impatiently on the kettle?”
“Certainly explains Philip’s crack about ‘cloud castles’…” The Nine Elms Islamic Center, unused minaret to left front and left rear, welcomed them to the South Bank.
“He would! You want to watch him, he’s one of our best.” They crossed the Road with the light; Edith cast an eye towards the newly rebuilt Battersea Power Station, steam just now rising from the right A and B funnels. “He’s been our ‘fixer’ for ages, and he gets it right the vast majority of the time. Also a gentleman of the old school. Not a lot of those about, either. Another Islam question for you?”
“I’ve heard you and your fellow Arabic speakers use the word ‘hamdulillah’ or ‘alhamdulillah’ repeatedly tonight. Can you give me the translation?”
“Of course. It means ‘All praise to G-d.’”
“One can’t argue with that! Pardon. Church of England to the bone,” Edith dissembled.
“No need! I appreciate your thoughts about our informant’s situation.” Leila had wished to say this for some time. “By the way.”
“When I tell you something, when I tell anyone anything of this kind, it’s exactly as I see it, you understand.”
“Of course.”
“Unless there’s another layer of slag under those we can evaluate, as I’ve already held forth, and no doubt there is, she may have less to worry about than you think.” The mosque approached, Edith touched up her scarf once more.
“It’s fine, Edith, they’ll be grateful.”
“Good to be doing this bit of ‘outreach’ with an expert! You’re kind to worry about Dr. Bernheim, you know, but if you do this too often you won’t make it to your thirtieth birthday, especially with the Ministry of Intelligence.”
Leila here recalled Edith’s ‘older relative’s’ tale of ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ and decided only to say, “Understood. Thanks.”
“Any answers on my questions from earlier?”
“According to my boss 90 minutes ago, O'Carlan’s in an interview room waiting for his first appointment. Ah, your other question…” Leila removed her encrypted mobile, had a look. “IT will know soon.”
“I can wait…” Edith cast about while Leila reholstered her phone. “Cleaned this area up nicely, didn’t they. I’ve counted far more than nine new elm trees.”
Something she did know something about… “I saw photographs of the neighborhood twenty years ago. Unless I’d come to live here I’d never believe it looked this way now.”
“May yet live up to its hype,” Edith agreed, adjusting her scarf anyway. Again. “It’ll to some extent depend if they actually scoured out the dirt it’s built on. An awful lot of chemical spills over the years.” She opened the mosque door and let Leila enter first. Voices sounded from the right. “Should you grow a third ear…”
“Thanks. Maybe.” Slipping out another flyer from the appropriate folder, they entered the mosque office to find three familiar, unwelcome faces, armed, and a very intimidated Imam Itab.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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November 13, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 296: An Early Release

It had been any number of hours. O’Carlan was grateful for the heat in the basement interview room but removing his ‘mac’ didn’t appear a good idea. Anything he did would be considered evidence he was getting worried. He wasn’t. There had to be a camera in this room somewhere. Remaining stock-still, he let the minutes pass. And pass. And pass.
The room and his position in it didn’t allow for a view of the door. Too busy concentrating upon remaining as he was, O’Carlan near to cursed himself for not hearing it open.
“No turning around.”
Very unpleasant order, even here, but O’Carlan had no problem obeying.
A cultured older male voice, definitely not Al-Adil. O’Carlan was just about to make known his displeasure…
“Here. Now. Are you shackled in any way?”
“I am not. Where is Agent Al-Adil?”
“She will not be coming. You, however, are leaving. With me.”
“To what do I owe the--?”
“Steady on. Stand and walk towards me. Even movements, as if you were just stretching your legs. I am in the doorway. The camera in this room won’t see you if you stand directly in front of me.”
O’Carlan did so; turning he saw a man about ten years his junior, parade-ground moustache, well-tailored business suit, overcoat on one arm. Sir Lawrence Trier. When O’Carlan arrived at the doorway the head of ICU proffered a cloth cap. The older man put it on, gave a crocodile smile of sorts. “So we’re not going anywhere by cab.”
“An American I can deal with,” Sir Lawrence replied. “Ask me nothing at the moment. It is essential that I get you out of here. Give me your mac.” O’Carlan did; without stepping back or forward, Trier shrugged into it. It almost fit him. He handed his winter coat over to the older man. It almost fit him. “I am going to step from this room and move left,” Trier added. “Follow me exactly.”
Obeying this man that he did not at all recognize, O’Carlan drew the cap brim down and allowed the slightly younger man to lead.
“There is the odd blind spot in the hallway camera net,” Trier informed him. “We are going to leapfrog from one to another.”
“I appreciate what you’re doing, Mr.--?”
Trier introduced himself. “I’ll shake your hand later. We have to prevent a mare’s nest or two, here.”
“If only Mr. Propinq had thought the same…”
“With any luck at all he won’t be missed for a bit longer. That I expect, everyone believes he is in your interrogation room.”
“What about the camera in–?“
“Remotely disabled.” The men turned a corner; O’Carlan saw how Trier did not keep his own head lowered, and did his best to follow his orders. “Or it was, twelve minutes ago. I don’t know how long it was or will be before someone notices.“
“How did you manage that?”
“I keep up on all sorts of things. They don’t believe that I would, but as soon as I was told in the morning consensus the other day – AM debrief, I suppose you Yanks’d call it – that you’d had a file opened on you by certain of our higher-ups, I went to the IT department and pretended an interest in these, ahm, IP cameras, I believe they’re called.” In a hall door and up a set of stairs. “Easy enough to poll them if you’re ‘dialing in’ from within the facility, so said a young fellow. Paraswaram-Rehm or some such.” Trier stopped and looked straight up the stairwell. “Inadvertently showed me how to knock ‘em out as well. Can you make five flights?”
“I’ll give it my best. Where’s Propinq?”
“Off telling Al-Adil’s mother in New York City that she is missing.”
“…Is that so?”
“No, at Five doing liaison. I recall when that was my job...”
“Since when do section chiefs make phone calls regarding missing agents?”
“I informed Matthias that Mrs. Al-Adil is actively hostile to her daughter’s choice of countries to reside in, so someone senior would be needed to inform. Someone with gravitas. Someone she wouldn’t hang up on, straight off.”
Three flights. “Ah,” said O’Carlan, not puffing yet, “a hangup wouldn’t be considered a proper inform.”
“According to her file, Al-Adil’s mother and she don’t get along so they do not talk very often. It would be easier for her mother to believe the bad news.”
“While she wouldn’t be able to act on it quickly.”
“Divorced middle-aged Muslim woman living alone in Brooklyn? Quite.”
Four flights.
“Almost there,” Sir Lawrence announced. “Over here, by the by. Face me.”
Apparently another camera blind spot. Taking a deep breath, O’Carlan did so and received his wallet, keys, firearm and CIA badge. “Very good. Thank you, Sir Lawrence.”
“Certain of us are ready with the ‘eject’ button but as was learned in the war against Japan, I think, old allies work best together.”
The men turned and made it to the next flight. “What’s our assignment?”
“What else? Save your country.”
“Yours or mine?”
“Oh, very well,” Sir Lawrence approached the stairway exit to the lobby. “Both. Best we swap coat and ‘mac,’ now…” Another blind spot. That done, Trier listened for the ‘bong’ of a nearby opening elevator; hearing it, he opened the door and the two meandered out into the homegoing traffic. On the near wall today outside the building, the day’s new banner read:


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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