Later that evening
“She said they’re doing it tomorrow?” Dragon exclaimed, almost spilling the cup of strong, dark tea clutched in her hand.
“That’s what she told me. And that we should go to Deep Storage, er, seven. I think it was seven, but she said it weirdly,” Ben answered, taking a sip from his own mug. He had filled Dragon in on what had happened while she was asleep, and was calming down with tea and a lump of ice cracked from the freezer door on his face.
“Looks like we have some travelling to do. Ever hotwired a car?” She was already getting up and heading back upstairs to get ready.
“Not a skill I’ve ever found the need to practice I’m afraid.”
“Time you learned,” She said with a wink, and ran up the stairs to the bathroom.
170 miles later
The car whizzed past the wooden sign proclaiming an area of outstanding natural beauty at top speed, which admittedly wasn’t much for the small hatchback, but was possibly faster than Ben had ever been in his life. He couldn’t believe they hadn’t been pulled over from London to, well, wherever they were.
Another sign post shot past, and he just had time to read the words ‘Much Wenlock – 2mi’ before they had left it far behind. They had completed the journey in a little over two hours, going well above the speed limit the entire way. He had grabbed some sleep on the drive, but was well awake now they seemed to be nearing their destination.
Another thirty minutes and they were approaching a retail park, and a self storage unit. Written in large black lettering up the side was the title proclaiming it to be ‘Severn Self Storage.’ That solved that mystery then. They screeched into the car park, coming to a jolting stop and Dragon immediately jumped out the drivers door and marched towards the building. Ben unstrapped his seatbelt as quickly as he could and rushed after her. They didn’t lock the car, mainly because they didn’t have the keys. Opening the glass door, they went inside.
The reception area was bare and clinical, with some demonstration cardboard storage boxes and padlocks for sale. A bored looking girl sat behind the counter, barely registering their presence as they strode in. She didn’t even look up from her phone, and waved them at a sign in form on a clipboard sitting on the customer desk. Dragon hesitated, glancing back, then picked up the pen and scribbled something beginning with C, but before Ben could see what it was she was away and pushing through the doors into the main storage space. He followed quickly, determined not to be left behind.
They rushed down rows of doors, padlocked and silent, hiding the possessions of countless others from view. Dragon suddenly halted beside one of the large storage spaces, and pulled a key from her pocket. Removing the padlocks speedily, she flung the door back, which crashed against its metal housing, making Ben jump. He followed her inside, pulling the door shut behind him.
Sitting inside the metal room was a chair, a sleeping bag, a wholesale packet of all in one breakfast bars and a filing box, right in the centre. Dragon flung herself at the box, ripping off the cardboard lid and flinging it across the room. Inside was a large stack of files, neatly bound in unmarked brown covers, held together by a ribbon. She pulled them out, slipped the ribbon off, discarding it, and began to rifle through the layers of paper.
As she pulled the files out of the box, Ben noticed something else fluttering against the bottom of the box. Bending down, he saw it was a piece of paper, with something written on the reverse side. He pulled it out and began to read:
They tried to take me, but I evaded them. It wasn’t too easy, but I got away without much harm. I think they underestimated the power of an individual of unknown capacity, anyway, they were woefully under prepared. I think I killed one of them, though of course that won’t make the news. I leave you one copy of the files here, I have another copy with me, in case of the unlikely event of this being discovered.
I will now be well away, so don’t worry about finding me, but rest assured that I am myself resting for a while. Let things cool down a little. Catching a break among my brethren. You’ll see why.
See you soon
“Hey, Dragon, I think this is for you,” he said, and handed her the scrap of paper as she looked up from the files. She scanned the contents and smiled knowingly.
“What, do you know where she is now?” Ben asked.
“I do. Oh yes. And I know why she went, too, it’s all in the files,” she smiled, then broke into a laugh, dropping the files in a pile on the floor and throwing her arms around him. The sudden show of emotion took him by surprise for a moment, but he found the sudden joy infectious and smiled back, returning the hug. Then, as if coming to her senses, the smile dropped off her face and she pulled away.
“Come on, we’ve got to get these where they can do some good. The diplomats meet this evening, let’s give ’em something to think about,” She winked, and shoved the files into a bag. Turning, Dragon walked right out of the storage unit, leaving Ben to shut the door and click the padlock into place.
A few hours later
Their car pulled into a car park in Birmingham city centre, fuel indicator on red. Dragon wiped off any surface that might hold fingerprints, and they got out, into the cold air of the city. Walking away, Ben looked back at the little car.
“Isn’t this a pay and display here?” He asked, jokingly.
“We’re about to display some very important information, very publicly, and certain people are going to pay for it, hard. I think the public interest can forgive us a parking ticket!” she replied as they joined the crowds on the street. And hopefully the auto-theft, Ben thought to himself.
Their destination was a small office in a run down building, and on ringing the buzzer the door clicked open straight away. They went in, up the stairs and pushed through into a messy room with a single occupant. A man in his late forties, bald patch spreading and wrinkles across his face, stood waiting for them. He smiled when he saw Dragon, frowning in turn at Ben, but relaxing once Dragon nodded, as if to say he was OK.
“My dear, how good to see you! I gather you have something very important for me to disseminate. Pass it right over, there’s a good girl, thank you. Now, you’d better be off. I believe you have a flight to catch,” he chuckled, and immediately turned away, opening the bag Dragon had handed him and pulling out the files. Dragon put a hand on the desk, pausing for a second as if to say something, then withdrawing and heading back out the way they had come. Confused, Ben looked after her, then back at the stranger whose office he was stood in.
“Well, off you go,” the man stated, “There’s a ticket for you too,” He raised his eyebrows, shook his head and turned away again, ignoring Ben. Shrugging, he hurried after Dragon.
He caught up with her as they left the building, electronic lock clicking shut behind them. He walked beside her in silence for as long as he could before blurting out.
“Who was that? Why did we hand the files over to him, I thought they were important?”
“Of course they’re important, but he’s the best at making sure they get seen by the right people. It’s the only way to get it done.” She replied, dodging his first question. He decided not to pursue the matter.
“So, where are we going?”
Ben picked up the two teas, walking through the terminal towards where Dragon waited. As he approached she smiled and brandished two tickets and a passport at him. He swapped a drink for a ticket and the passport, checking it. Apparently his name was James, and he was from Stroud. A turn up for the books.
“Thanks for the tea. We’re ready to go now,” she gestured at the papers in his hand, “That’ll get you through no problem, you’ll see.”
“But where are we going?”
Dragon smiled again, turning to go, but swivelling back towards him to walk backwards as they headed for the check in gate.
“Where the pandas live. We’re going to find my friend.”
Ben looked down at ticket. Beijing, China, it read. This was going to be a long flight. He grinned and sped up to catch up with Dragon. He’d never been to Asia before. Think of it as a holiday. Yeah right.
As they passed security they heard the voice of a news reader drifting from the guard’s radio:
“Today we can report that a whistleblower has revealed a shocking scandal involving foreign powers, the civil service and members of Parliament, including seven yet to be named high profile ministers. More to follow…”
….More to follow…