Being Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 60

"One of us needs to be on watch from now on in case somebody friendly comes," Simone says. "I suggest we do it in one-hour shifts so it does not get to be too much at one time."

"I'll go first," Joseph said.

"You need to take the chair so you can see out, and take a distress flare. If anyone we know comes down the path, use it to get their attention," Simone instructed.

"That's anybody we know and trust," I added.

"Good point," Simone stated. Joseph took hold of the chair and carried it off with him.

"What are we going to do?" I asked.

"A damned-good search of those stockrooms," Simone replied.

We must have been going through the shelves of the first stockroom for about half an hour when Simone said, "Bingo!"

"What have you found?" I asked, going round to see what she had. I was not disappointed. She had just opened a large cardboard box. In it were six boxed-up Very pistols.

"I hope there are some flares for those," I said.

She pulled out the box that was next to it, opened it, and there were the flares.

"These could be very useful," she stated. I thought that was an underestimation.

We spent another half hour searching the storeroom but did not find anything which was of immediate use to us. I went and relieved Joseph. When I got into the cell, I noticed that the bucket was missing, a fact I commented on.

"I put it in the cubbyhole place off the rec room. I remembered Steve had said it was probably used as a toilet area. Thought it would be better there if someone wanted a shit," Joseph told me.

"Good idea," I replied.

"How long will the lamps run for?" Joseph asked.

"No idea, though I would expect them to last a few hours. Might be an idea to refill them about four, just to be on the safe side," I commented.

Joseph just nodded, then went off to help Simone with the search. I climbed up on the chair and looked out of the window, a task which quickly became very boring. It is surprising how long an hour can be when you are standing on a chair just looking out of a window. Every now and then, I would glance at the clock, thinking that the hour must be up, only to find not more than five minutes had passed. The thing was, there was not much to see out of the window, just the path rising to the top of the Nase, and, on the very left, I could just see the edge of the ruined hall and its tower.

Simone and Joseph had just come into the cell when something caught my attention. I was certain there had been some movement in one of the windows of the hall tower. When I looked, though, there was nothing to be seen. I mentioned it to Simone as I handed the watch over to her.

"I thought I saw something there, too," Joseph said. "Didn't say anything because I thought it was probably my imagination."

"More likely the lookout they have in place to keep an eye on us. I bet he can see the entry clearly from that tower. It is the only way in or out," Simone pointed out.

I was glad my stint on watch was over for a bit as I desperately needed to have a shit. I grabbed one of the rolls of toilet paper and then went to the cubbyhole where Joseph had put the bucket, taking one of the lanterns with me. It was a very relieved me who left the cubbyhole some ten minutes later, though I pitied anyone who wanted to use it after me.

Joseph and Simone had finished searching the first storeroom. Although they had found a lot of stuff of interest, they had not found anything that might help in our immediate situation. Joseph and I moved on to the second storeroom. About twenty minutes after we had started, I pulled out a cardboard box that was quite heavy. When I opened it, I almost felt like crying Eureka! Instead, I told Joseph to come and see what I had found.

"What is it?" he asked as he came round to the shelf unit I was working on.

"Carbon-dioxide fire extinguishers," I informed him. "Twelve of them. I wonder what it would be like having one of those go off in your face."

"Not nice and bloody cold, I expect," Joseph said.

"I expect you are right."

We moved them out and put them in the rec room, where we had already put the Very pistols. There was, though, one thing, which I mentioned to Joseph: although the fire extinguishers would be useful, it would be difficult to carry one of those and a Very pistol plus its flares. Joseph thought about that, then stated he thought he might have an answer. He went off to the first stockroom and came back a couple of minutes later with a roll of one-inch nylon webbing. He also had some needles and thread.

For the next twenty minutes or so, we rigged up some harnesses that not only carried the extinguisher but could also carried a number of the Very pistol flares. Joseph was a lot better at doing that than I was, so I took his turn to relieve Simone. It was now quarter-past-five, and Simone suggested we should eat the last of the sandwiches, which we did, with me standing on the chair, munching on a cheese and pickle sandwich whilst watching out of the window. Then she told us we needed to move all the equipment we needed into the cell and close all the blast doors. She also told us to douse the hurricane lanterns.

"Why?" Joseph asked.

"Because the light will start to fade outside. If we have a strong source in here, it is likely to show, and they will know something is up."

"But what if we have to use the bucket?" Joseph asked.

This led to some discussion. Eventually it was agreed we could keep a lantern going in the cubbyhole, as it had no window and there was a door on it. Simone did insist that we do something to block any stray light from showing in the window of the rec room. This was achieved by putting some cardboard across it, though this plunged the rec room into complete darkness.

We had all found standing watch on the chair tiring and a bit too much to do, so we agreed to change every half hour. As a result, I took over the watch at quarter past seven. There had been nothing happening all day, except we were all certain we had seen some sort of movement in the tower of the old hall, though none of us were certain that we had actually seen something but we were certain that there was something there.

Then, about half-past-seven, I clearly saw movement in the tower. I told Simone. She checked that the drop bars from both cells were inside the cell, so the cell door could not be secured from the outside, then she pulled it shut. I asked why, as it was not a blast door? She informed me it was just in case.

Keeping watch from the window, I clearly saw a man exit the ruins of the hall and start to walk across in the direction of the path to the blockhouse. Then more figures appeared, coming into view from behind the rise that hid the far end of the path. There were about six of them walking down the path. I could clearly make out the tall figure of Master Hans and the figure of the woman. I could also clearly hear them; they were speaking German. Though It was, I realised, a funny sort of German, not like the modern German I was used to hearing. I commented on the fact to Simone, who said it was probably pre-war German.

Simone reached up and pulled on my shirt sleeve, then indicated for me to get down.

"We don't want to risk them spotting you as they get close," she said.

She then helped me put on the harness and attach the fire extinguisher and put the spare flares for the Very pistol in place. Joseph had already got his harness on, though he did not have a Very pistol. He did have some of the distress flares that we had found. They were the type that shoot a ball of flame in the air, a bit like a Roman candle.

Once dressed in this manner, I assisted Simone in putting her own harness on. Then we waited. We heard them pass by the end of the blockhouse, only a few metres from the window where I had been watching. They were still openly speaking in German. I was glad I was the only one who spoke the language as what they were discussing for our fate did not sound at all pleasant.

Then nothing. We waited. Nothing happened. Minutes passed. The clock ticked, and nothing happened. Then we felt, rather than heard, the explosion. A vibration rocked the whole building. Simone kicked the cell door open and ran across the rec room. I followed with Joseph tight upon my heels. The blast door between the rec room and the comms room opened with no problem, as did that into the corridor. The final blast door, though, was another matter. At first it would not give, it took all three of us pushing on it to force it open. When we finally did, we entered the first room and saw the exit door not only open but blasted from its frame. I ran to the opening. About two metres beyond it was the door, flat upon the ground, with the arm of a man sticking out from under it. Two other bodies lay to either side of the door. A bit further away, the woman lay crumpled on the ground; beyond her were more bodies.

I caught a movement to my left. Turning, I saw a man about four metres away, getting up from the ground. As he did so, he pulled a gun from under his jacket. I did not give it a moment's thought; I just raised the Very pistol and fired the flare straight at him. The blazing ball of fire hit him in the centre of his chest. He screamed as his clothing caught fire. Then there was another scream, I turned to my right to see the woman being engulfed in flame. A gun had been dropped by her side. Simone was standing, her Very pistol pointing at the woman. I broke my Very pistol open to load a new flare.

"Very clever. Unfortunately for you Very pistols take time to load," a voice said. I looked in the direction of the voice. There, about six metres away from us, stood Master Hans, a gun in his hand pointing directly at me.

There was a loud bang. The right side of Master Hans' head disappeared in a mass of bloody fragments that blew out.

I turned in the direction of the shot. There, at the top of the path stood Marius and Dr. Chapman. Marius had a funny looking gun in his hand. It looked like a couple of elongated boxes stuck together. They started to walk down the path; Neal and Allen appeared just behind them. When they got to the bodies who were scattered around, Dr. Chapman checked each one.

Finally, he stopped about a metre away. "Four dead and one who will be soon, no doubt. Three are going to be in need of serious medical care for some time. What the fuck did you do to them?"

I started to say something, but Dr Chapman held up his hand. "Don't say anything to anyone. Not yet, at least. We've got a lot to clear up."

I looked around for Neal and Allen. They had stopped just outside the circle of devastation. In the distance I could hear the whomp-whomp-whomp thumping sound of a helicopter.

"Marius, you'd better give me your gun and take mine," Dr. Chapman said, holding out a small pistol in Marius' direction.

"Why?" Marius asked.

"Because nobody will believe that my Berretta did that," Dr. Chapman said pointing to Master Hans. "And you are not allowed to have that gun here."

"And you are?" Marius asked.

"You'd be surprised what I'm allowed to carry."

Marius handed him the funny-looking pistol that he had been holding and took Dr. Chapman's gun. Dr. Chapman shoved it into his belt. He then turned and asked Joseph if he could use the fire extinguisher. Joseph handed it to him. Dr. Chapman took it and walked over to the woman, whose dress was now smouldering. He pressed the lever on the extinguisher and smothered her in CO2. Then he did the same with the man I had fired at.

"You three, take off those harnesses and go over to Neal and Allen; they'll take care of you," Dr. Chapman ordered.

We slipped off our harnesses. As we did, the helicopter landed. A few moments later, armed men in black combat outfits came running down the path. They came to a stop at the bottom of the path. Dr. Chapman walked over to them. The man in the lead saluted. Dr. Chapman returned the salute.

"Captain," Dr. Chapman said.

"Yes, sir." The lead man in black said.

"Get this lot cleared up."

"How clean sir?"

"It never happened."

"Right, sir."

"I'm taking the chopper; I'll send it back for you," Dr. Chapman said, then shouted. "Marius, I've got us a ride." He walked across to where we stood with Neal and Allen. "Can your chap get the boat back?"

"Of course," Neal responded.

"Then I suggest you get a lift with me." That said, Dr. Chapman led us up the path to where the helicopter waited. He indicated we should board it through the open side door. The soldier who was standing in the doorway toting a gun looked surprised, then Dr. Chapman took a leather wallet from his pocket, opened it and showed the soldier something. The soldier saluted. Dr. Chapman climbed in; we followed. He told us to fasten ourselves in as it might be a bit of a bumpy ride. He then went forward to the cockpit. The soldier closed the door, then helped us to strap ourselves in. We had only just finished when the rotors started up and we felt the machine lift off. The flight could not have lasted more than five minutes, and most of that must have been us going up and coming down.

Dr. Chapman came out from the cockpit and indicated to the soldier that he should open the door. He then told us that when we got out, we needed to keep our heads down and run to our left until we were well beyond the rotor blades. Marius went first, then one by one we jumped out of the door – it was about a metre drop down to the ground – and ran to our left. Once I got to where Marius was standing, I stopped and looked around. I realised where I was. It was the rough ground at the back of the walled garden.

Dr. Chapman was the last person out of the helicopter. No sooner had he got to where we were standing than the door was closed and the helicopter took off. No doubt to go back to where it had picked us up from.

"We'd better get you lot into the house," Allen said.

We walked down the path and past the forge, went through the back gate, past the end wall of the Stable House, then through the gate between it and the Coach House, bringing us into the yard. It was full of people, no doubt drawn out of the house by the arrival of the helicopter. The moment we walked into the yard, there was a gasp. Suddenly, I felt myself grabbed and pulled into a hug. It was Mum. Dad was not far behind. I saw Uncle Bernard grab hold of Joseph in a similar hug.

"What happened?" somebody asked.

"I think," Dr. Chapman announced, "that it might be best to leave the questions till later. For the time being, all three need a good meal, a good bath and a good sleep. Not necessarily in that order."

"I'd like a good cup of coffee," Joseph stated.

There was laughter.

After that, I do not remember much. I suppose I must have come down from an adrenaline high. Mum told me the next morning that I had flaked out almost the moment I got into the kitchen. She also told me that Joseph only lasted a few minutes longer, just long enough to get his coffee. Apparently, Dad and Uncle Ben had carried us both up and put us to bed.

It was gone eight when I woke up in the morning, my mouth feeling like a dragon had built a nest in it. I also woke up with a realisation. Colin could not be the spy. Whoever was the spy had access to the Priory when the server was hacked. Colin was not around then. So, it could not have been him who gave us away. On that, Joseph was wrong.

That raised a question: where was Joseph?

I climbed out of bed, and as I did so, I realised I was in my boxer briefs, the same ones I had been wearing on Thursday before everything started. They were now into their third day of wear. Not a nice thought. I stripped them off, then went and got under the shower. Twenty minutes later, showered and dressed in clean clothes, I made my way down to the kitchen. Joseph was there, drinking a mug of coffee.

Grandma was at the stove, cooking. I poured myself a mug of coffee.

"Bacon, sausage, eggs and mushrooms?" Grandma asked.

"No black pudding?" I responded.

"We're out. Anne didn't get to Tesco's yesterday. She had other things on her mind."

I took a seat at the table, across from Joseph.

"How long have you been up?" I asked.

"Not long. 'Bout half an hour," he replied. "You were fast asleep. Would have stayed but needed my coffee."

I realised it was probably Joseph leaving the room that had wakened me.

"I wonder how Simone is," I said. "I wonder where she is."

"She stayed over at Lee's last night," Grandma informed me. "He was running her home this morning."

"What I want to know is: what is Dr. Chapman?" Joseph stated. "He certainly took charge yesterday."

"Also, what is Marius?" I responded. "And what was that gun he was carrying?"

"Oh, that's easy. Marius is Mossad. I worked that out a couple of weeks ago," Joseph informed me. "The gun was an Uzi pistol. From the damage it caused, I think it's point-four-five calibre, probably dumdum."

Grandma put the plate with my breakfast down in front of me. Looking at it, I realised how hungry I was. In a few minutes I had scoffed the lot, plus about five slices of toast, variously loaded with marmalade or honey.

I had just finished with my second mug of coffee when Dad came in through the back door. He looked as if he had been up all night. When he came in, he came over to the table and gave me a hug.

"I thought we might have lost you," Dad said. There were tears in his eyes.

I was a bit embarrassed and looked across the table at Joseph.

"My Dad said the same to me last night," he commented.

"Dr. Chapman wants to debrief everybody at ten," Dad informed me. "We have been using the small barn as an operational HQ, so he's asked if we can all be there at ten.

"Also, you might want to watch the news, but don't be surprised by what you hear."

I poured myself a third mug of coffee and went through to the lounge. Joseph joined me. We switched on the TV and changed to BBC News 24.

The commentator was talking about nominations for some book award. I was not really listening when they announced the news headlines; then it caught my attention.

"Police have confirmed that four men were killed during a joint operation to rescue the kidnapped son of TV presenter and science-writer Michael Carlton and two of his friends. The two boys and a girl had been kidnapped on Thursday afternoon on their way home after collecting their exam results from Southmead College.

"Police this morning confirmed that a rescue was successfully attempted late Friday evening. During the rescue attempt, there were a number of shots fired, and four men were killed. At the moment, none of those killed have been identified."

"What the fuck!" I exclaimed.

"All basically accurate and totally misleading, just as it should be," Dr. Chapman said from the lounge door. He came in and took a seat.

"Johnny, Joseph, as far as the world is concerned you were kidnapped on your way home from college. You were drugged, and when you came to, you were in the back of a van parked in a garage. Shortly after, a group of armed police raided the place and freed you."

"But what about Die Vereinigung and Master Hans?" Joseph asked. I had the same question.

"Die Vereinigung does not exist," Dr Chapman stated. "It cannot exist."

"Why not?" I asked.

"It would be politically very embarrassing for a number of people, not least our US allies."

"But what about the explosion? How are you going to explain that to Steve?" I asked.

"We will get the local news in a few minutes. I think that will explain things."

He was right. Five minutes later the local news came on. It led with a recap of the kidnapping news, then went on to the explosion.

"Dunford fire service have confirmed that an explosion that was reported to have been heard across a wide area around the Blackwater yesterday, killed a man and woman. It was caused by some improperly stored gas cylinders. The Fire Chief stated at a press conference this morning that the cylinders had been stored in a disused, war-time blockhouse many years ago. The property had only recently been acquired by a local man, who had not had time to sort the contents of the property out. The exact cause of the explosion will probably never be known, but it is believed that the victims were vagrants who had been using part of the property for shelter. Fire officers speculated that they probably lit a fire to keep warm as temperatures dropped yesterday evening, causing escaping gas to explode."

"That's bullshit!" I said.

"Of course, it is," Dr. Chapman stated. "But it does cover what actually happened quite effectively."

"Why so misleading?" Joseph asked.

"Because, if we let the public know about the real events, they would know about Die Vereinigung. That could cause problems. There are enough right-wing idiots out there setting up their own little empires without giving them something to emulate, or worse, even join. The last thing we want to do is give Die Vereinigung any publicity. We don't even want them to know that we know they exist. So, we explain their actions as individual unconnected incidents."

"But they're not," I stated.

"Of course, they're not, but we cannot admit that. The far right are a far more dangerous threat to the liberal democracies than Islamic terrorism or organised crime. Though, a lot of the latter is controlled by the far right. They already control the tea party and evangelical Christians in the States. Within five years, they will be controlling the Republican party, then the world will be in a mess.

"Over here they are running UKIP and the right wing of the Conservative Party. We see similar things developing in France, the Nederlands and Germany."

I noticed Dr. Chapman said Nederlands, not Netherlands.

"So, we're not to say what really happened," Joseph said.

"That's right," Dr. Chapman confirmed. "We will give you a cover story at the meeting. You will find it easier as it will avoid awkward questions."

"Like the fact that we killed people," I pointed out.

"An unfortunate, but, in the circumstance, necessary action," Dr. Chapman stated. "One, though, we would prefer not to come out to the public."

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Are you sure you want me to answer that?" he replied.

I thought about it then realised I probably did not want to know the answer.


"Just so you know, I do have a serious academic interest in lost monastic sites, and I am convinced that this is actually the site of Southmead Abbey. My academic credentials are valid, and I am a tutor at Cambridge."

"But you are something else as well," I pointed out.

"Aren't we all?" commented Dr. Chapman. His phone beeped. He pulled it out and looked at it. "Well, we are supposed to have a briefing about things over in the small barn we have been using as a control centre. That's in fifteen minutes. How about we walk over there?"

I looked at Joseph, who nodded. We both got up and made our way to the kitchen, where we grabbed our coats. It looked a bit damp outside. Dr. Chapman followed. As we stepped into the yard, a large Jaguar pulled in. It pulled over and parked on the far side of the yard. Stanley got out of the driver's door and opened the rear door. Miss Jenkins got out.

As she got out of the car, Neal and Maddie came out of the Stable House. A moment later, Simone and Lee came round from the back, accompanied by Chief Inspector Manley. Joseph and I joined them, followed by Dr. Chapman.

"Good morning, Johnny, Joseph, I hope you are somewhat recovered from your ordeal," Miss Jenkins stated.

"I'm not sure," I replied.

Miss Jenkins asked Simone how she was, and Simone was replying as Antonio's car pulled into the yard. He parked up not far away. Getting out, he walked across the yard toward us. As he came close, Miss Jenkins spoke to him. "Grüß Gott"

"Grüß Gott," Antonio replied, then stopped dead in his tracks.

Antonio spoke German! Then I realised he had a gun – pointed at me.

"Get in that car," he instructed, indicating the Jag. "You too, Joseph. The rest of you move away; otherwise, I'll shoot Johnny." They edged backwards.

Across the yard I could see Grandma standing in the back door. I started to move towards the Jag. Grandma vanished back into the kitchen. As I got to the door of the Jag, Grandma reappeared in the kitchen door; her arm swung back, then forward. The gun fired as Antonio fell forward onto the yard's cobbles, blood pouring from the back of his head. The ula from the kitchen wall crashing to the ground next to him. Neal and Stanley pounced forward, jumping on Antonio, pinning him.

From behind me I heard a very unladylike, "Fuck".

I turned to see Miss Jenkins holding her left arm, which was bleeding.

"So, that's our spy," Simone stated.

"It appears so," I said.

"But I thought it was Colin," Joseph said.

"Couldn't have been," Simone said. "Colin did not have access to the Stable House until after the computer hack. He could not have been our spy. The only person who made sense was Antonio."

"You'd better look to Miss Jenkins," I said. Simon, Neal and Maddie turned and looked at Aunty, then panic ensued as she slowly crumpled to the ground. Stanley lifted her and placed her in the back of the Jag. Manley started to give orders to somebody over his radio. He said something to Stanley, who got in the driver's seat. Maddie and Neal also got into the car. Then it set off. A moment later I heard sirens.

"I've ordered a police escort to the hospital," Manley said. "So, this is our spy?"

"But how did he know where we would be?" I asked. "I never said anything to him."

"I suspect he must have had a bug and overheard your plans," Dr. Chapman stated. He was now kneeling at the side of the prostrate form of Antonio, fastening his wrists behind his back with some cable ties. He then pulled out his phone and made a call. Shortly afterwards, Marius arrived in the yard. Dr. Chapman explained what had happened.

Antonio seemed to be coming around. Dr. Chapman pulled him to his feet. As he did so, Antonio looked at me with hate. Then I knew who Master Hans reminded me of — Antonio.

"What's going to happen to him?" Joseph asked.

"There are some people on their way who will take care of him," Marius stated. "In the meantime, can I suggest the rest of you go to the barn? We are due to have a meeting."

We started to walk around the end of the Stable House on our way to the barn. As we did, a dark-blue van drove down the back drive. Two men got out. Marius went over to talk to them. He appeared to be giving them instructions. I followed our small group into the small barn. Marius joined us as we were entering. I looked at him; he just shook his head.

The next couple of hours were spent with Simone, Joseph and me going over in some detail what actually happened. We were then told, also in some detail, what we were to tell people as to what happened.

"What I would like to know," I said eventually, "is how you found us."

"Well, they knew about the tracers on your watches and phone," Neal stated. We all nodded. "What they did not appear to know about was the tracker on your car, Johnny. They also did not know about the drone that was keyed to that tracker."

"How did that help?" I asked.

"Well, the drone was tracking you from about a thousand feet above you from the moment you left the college. It was keying on the position of your car, so when they sent your watches and phones off with their drone – I must say that was a nice move on their part – our drone just stayed over the car. It kept sending the video signal to us. From one thousand feet, it can actually cover a ground area about two hundred metres in radius. Fortunately, that covered the public dock. When they knocked you out, we were able to follow you being carried down to the motor launch. We were also able to identify the motor launch.

"What we could not do is get any help out there in time to intercept the launch. By the time we got extra drones up to cover Long Creek and this side of the Blackwater, there was no sign of the motor launch, so we knew it must have gone to ground somewhere close by. It was then a matter of covering the area with observers until it showed up again.

"We picked it up just after seven, coming from the other side of the Blackwater. After that, it was just a matter of observing and getting resources into place. We knew from their path they were heading for Long Creek, so we got into positions where we could. What we did not expect was for you to have managed such a resourceful response."

It had gone one when we finally finished discussing events of the previous two days.

Of course, the big problem was that the press wanted to interview us. Uncles Ben and Phil's publicity people had been asked to deal with it. With the assistance of Miss Jenkins, they had arranged for a press conference to take place at the Belmont, so we were driven down there and taken into the hotel through the goods entrance.

There must have been about forty-plus reporters and cameramen in the ballroom when we eventually went in. Dad sat with me; Aunt Debora was sitting with Joseph. Simone, I noticed was missing. Allen, Inspector Mallory and Uncle Bernard were also there to answer questions.

Of course, the press wanted to know why the girl was not there. Uncle Bernard took that question and informed them that she was still very upset by the ordeal, and medical advice was that she should not take part. The reporters did not seem very happy with this but there was not much they could do about it. Chief Inspector Manley then made a statement describing the operation. What he described sounded like a classic, armed-police operation. It was nothing like what took place.

Then there were questions to Joseph and me. We could give them a lot of information on events up to the point when we were drugged. After that we just said we were in the back of a van until rescued by the police, that we did not see anyone or hear anything. I think the reporters found our part all a bit boring, which no doubt it was intended to be.

After three quarters of an hour, Uncle Bernard called the proceedings to a close, and we were taken back to the Priory. Once there, Uncle Bernard and Aunt Debora insisted that Joseph go home with them. It was, they pointed out, still Shabbat. It would be three weeks before I would see him again.

About half an hour after we had got back to the Priory, Neal came in and handed me my watch and phone.

"How'd you get these?"

"I don't know what they intended. I suspect they meant the drone to run out of power somewhere over the North Sea and crash into the water. However, there was a strong onshore wind on Thursday afternoon. I think it blew the drone inland. It crashed just South of Ipswich. One of our people located it and its cargo yesterday morning, but I only got the cargo back today."

"What's happened to the drone?"

"Some very clever people are examining that. There is a good chance there may be evidence on it of where their base was. I am sure they would have tested it before they used it. People do not realise how much information about its flights a drone stores in its memory."

"How's Aunty?" I asked.

"She's got a nasty fracture of the humerus; the bullet hit it and messed it up. She also lost a lot of blood. However, she's in no danger. Though, I suspect she is going to be out of action for some time."

"So, who's in charge?"

"Maddie, of course, and I'd better get back to her."

I thanked Neal for bringing the phone back, then went to switch it on. It was, of course, dead, so I took it up to my room to charge and set about dealing with my emails. The moment the phone had enough charge to switch on, it started to ring. I answered. It was Tony.

"God, Johnny, are you alright?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered.

"I mean, really are you alright? I heard what happened and not the rubbish they are saying in the press. So, are you alright?"

"Yes, I am. How did you hear?"

"Remember, Simone and Neal are my cousins. How's Joseph?"

"He seems alright. Not had much time to talk with him privately, and his parents have taken him home."

"They are probably feeling protective, Johnny. Simone is complaining about hers."

I laughed. The idea of anybody trying to protect Simone struck me as being a bit ludicrous.

We chatted for another ten or fifteen minutes. Then we finished the call. I felt tired, so went to lie down on my bed. I must have been really tired, for the next think I knew Mum was calling me for dinner. I was not surprised to find that Dr. Chapman was there.

After dinner, Dad asked Dr. Chapman and me to join him in the study.

"Is the threat over now?" he asked Dr. Chapman.

"Yes. At least, the immediate threat is," Dr. Chapman replied. "We have rounded up a number of people this afternoon who were involved with Master Hans and his friends. We are fairly certain we have closed down the whole of the Die Vereinigung operation in the UK. Our little spy, Antonio, is being quite informative."

"Isn't it going to be difficult when it comes to the trial?" I asked. "They will be telling a different story to the one you have put out."

"Oh, there will be no trial," Dr. Chapman said. "You can only try the living."

A sudden chill ran down my spy.

"But Antonio's only seventeen or eighteen," I said.

"His real name is Gustav Schrifter, the son of Hans Schrifter. Marius's people identified him on Thursday, unfortunately too late for us to do anything. Turns out he is twenty-seven. The Israelis are keen to speak to him about a bombing of a Jewish kindergarten in France a few years ago. Of course, as Gustav Schrifter was never legally in the country, we cannot object if he is removed from the country without the correct legal process."

There was a smile on Dr. Chapman's face, which did not bode well for Gustav. He continued. "On the whole, we prefer to avoid the formalities; they normally require paperwork, and my people prefer to avoid paperwork; it leaves too many trails."

"What I can't work out is how they knew we would be where we were when?" I stated.

"Those are questions we would like to get the answer to," Dr. Chapman said. "You are certain you did not discuss your plans with anybody other than what you have said."

"I'm certain."

"Where were you when you spoke to them?"

"Well, I spoke to Joseph on the phone. I was in here. Told Dad at the same time."

"I wonder!" Dr Chapman said, then there was a pause as if he was thinking. "Do you have any talcum powder?"

Dad said he would go get some. Dr. Chapman asked him to meet us outside the study window. I noticed he picked up a couple of sheets of paper from the printer. Dr. Chapman pulled out his phone and called a number. It was clear he was speaking to Allen, and he was asking him to bring Neal with him and meet us outside the study window.

Neal and Allen joined us outside about five minutes later.

"Neal, you said you had checked Mike's study for bugs. Did you check for a bounced laser on the window?" Dr. Chapman asked.

"Of course," Neal replied, sounding a bit upset at the question.

"How did you check for it?"

"Infrared scan," Neal replied. "Why?"

"Because I am convinced that the only way Antonio — er, Gustav — could have got the information about Johnny's and Joseph's movements to pass onto Hans Schrifter would be by bugging Mike's study. However, given that both you and Allen have swept the study for bugs, I am fairly certain that it cannot be inside the study."

"So, it must be outside," Neal observed.


"But I checked for lasers," Neal asserted.

"Infrared, yes, but what if it is not infrared?"

"Shit! Never thought of that."

"I don't suppose you did. Well, let's check."

Dr. Chapman took the tube of Johnson's Baby Powder off Dad and removed the top, he then poured a quantity on to one of the sheets of paper, before handing the tube and top back to Dad.

"I suggest we move upwind of the window because this is going to be messy," Dr. Chapman said.

We did. It was now starting to get dark. Dr. Chapman threw the talc that was on the paper into the air. It spread out as a white cloud in front of the window. Lancing through the cloud of talc were two scintillating lines of light.

"Fuck!" Neal exclaimed.

"I hope you've got plenty of talc," Allen said to Dad.

"With a three-week-old baby, we have tons. Why do you need it?"

"We need to trace those lines back to their source. Never seen that trick done before, but it will give us a way to locate the laser devices."

"Can I leave it with you now?" Dr. Chapman asked Allen.

"Yes, I'll get people on it immediately. When we find them, I expect you'll want them."

Dr. Chapman nodded, then suggested that Dad and I go back inside. We did, with Neal and Dr. Chapman following.

Once back in Dad's study, I told Dr. Chapman I did not understand what is going on. Dr. Chapman looked at Neal and nodded.

"Johnny, one way to bug a room is to direct a laser beam at a pane of glass in the window of the room. The laser beam will be reflected. When anyone speaks in the room, the glass vibrates; that will produce distortion in the reflected beam. The distortion can be interpreted into sound waves," Neal stated.

"It's not particularly good-quality sound," Dr. Chapman stated. "But for human speech, it will usually do. Generally, such systems use near-infrared or infrared laser sources. Because of their longer wavelength, they are less subject to disruption by things like rain or smoke. However, the downside is that the longer the wavelength, the lower the sound quality is.

"It occurred to me that Neal would have checked for a bounced laser bug. In fact, I had already asked him about it. What I realised tonight was that he probably had not checked for an ultra-violet laser."

"And talc fluoresces," I stated.


"Definitely," Allen said, standing in the doorway holding two plastic bags. "Found these up in a couple of trees, I reckon that the batteries would last about a week. That is what Antonio was doing in the woods; he would have had to change the batteries every week."

"Radio transmitter?" Neal asked.

"Looks like Wi-Fi," Allen replied.

"That's why he had to come into the Priory to do his translations, so he could download the captured conversations," Neal stated.

"I'm going to make some coffee. Anyone else want anything?" I asked. Nobody did, so I went to the kitchen. No sooner had I stepped into the kitchen than I was grabbed in a hug.

"I was so worried about you," Colin said, holding me tight.

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