Four weeks later
Ben sat back at the breakfast table with a sigh. They had been waiting at the hotel in Beijing for weeks now, waiting for their contact to, well, make contact. So far, he had not been forthcoming. On reaching China they had found a message waiting for them from Dragon’s friend, telling them where to go and who to meet. They were to gather more information on the corruption links between the Chinese and British governments, and try to discover who had fed them the information from the Chinese side in the first place.
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.
Somewhere outside London
Ben wondered how he had gone from meeting a stranger in a coffee shop to trailing back and forth across the city to drop a tail, and ended up in a damp and cramped little terraced council house in a tiny suburb all in one day. The entire situation was absurd. They had left the coffee shop, intending to return to his flat to pick things up, until Dragon had grabbed his arm and pulled him down a different street. Someone had been waiting at his door. It was the unmarked car trailing them through another street that really convinced him they were being followed, and so when they broke in to a run and a glance behind showed two determined, grim looking men in pursuit he was no longer even surprised.
This one appeared from thin air while thinking about an awesome line I thought up. Weirdly, the line never ended up in the story at all, and it went in a completely different direction to what I expected. I guess that’s how it goes!
The city was already asleep as Linus crept down the alleyway, toolkit in hand. He was sleight, short, sharp featured and dressed all in black, perfectly at home in the dark, preferring the cloak of night to the stark revealing glare of the day. And besides, it was when he carried out the majority of his business. And a lucrative business it was, he reminded himself, stopping below a first story window, and he was very good at it.
Below lies a tale of intrigue, deception and subterfuge. Proceed only if you are ready. Also I apologise if it makes no sense, I’ve never tried to do a mystery kind of thing before. Here we gooooooooooooooooooo…
Three weeks ago
A shallow pool, hurried footsteps. A quickly drawn breath, a thud on the bare earth. Retreating footsteps. Branches rustle, ripples break.
Ben sighed and looked up from his desk as the door opened. Perhaps this would be a welcome distraction from filling in police reports. The life of a PI could be rather dull at times; half the cases were lost cats or wayward husbands.
“You’re the detective? I’ll pay you 200 a day, but you’ll drop your other cases and focus on mine. This file should give you everything you need to know. Give me a call when you’re ready to start,” a young woman had opened the door, and having thrown a thick dossier on the desk, promptly made to leave. She paused at the door and turned back, “My number’s on the back.”
The door slammed shut, leaving Ben shocked and mouth agape at his desk, alone again. He looked down at the cardboard folder, then across at the reports, then swept them onto the floor. It had better not be a cheating husband, he thought, pulling the folder towards him and beginning to read.
Number 772. Nearly there. Robert burst through the door into the next Room to the right, stopped to catch his breath and looked around him.Yes, he thought, this was it! Three three nine. All he had to do was cross to the opposite door that he would need to take him to the Home Room, 884. Easier said than done.
In which darkness falls; Sam falls over; nobody likes Bob and doors present more of an obstacle than normal.
Level Six, Administration Wing
“Hey, Sam, you get lost again?”
“Some of us have lived here for less than a month, Fen. Couldn’t someone at least spruce this place up a bit? It’s so grey! The corridors all look the same,” Samuel complained as he stumbled at last into the rooms Aerfen shared with her Uncle. She looked so smug sitting in one of the big comfy chairs furnishing the living room, and he had to laugh as she put her feet up on the coffee table and yawned.
“I could have died waiting. Aren’t you supposed to be fast after all that exercise?” She continued to tease him while pretending to inspect her nails for dirt, “You spend so much time in that gym, and yet then you just go and stuff yourself every night. No wonder you’re always late.”
In which secret experiments are revealed; we meet a man with a mohican; cars are dangerous and Samuel makes a friend.
“And this is the main kitchen and canteen. Most personal come here for their three daily meals. We cater for most tastes, so don’t ever worry about eating here; you won’t have any problems.”
The tour had been going on for an hour already and so far Samuel had not seen anything particularly interesting. There were all the facilities one might expect in a complex that employed a large number of staff, if on a larger scale than most. Real estate was apparently not hard to come by underground.
In which we meet a tall man; Samuel receives the truth; a large hole is revealed and we find out what a wall is when it isn’t a wall.
There was a moment of silence, then a door, yet unseen by Samuel, clanged open on the other side of the room. He broke the stare of the black tom and looked instead at the now open doorway. Beyond he could see faint sunlight coming from an overcast sky, and the bricks of another building. And the rungs of a fire escape. A very familiar looking sight. The alley they’d cornered him in! So he’d barely moved then.
His chain of thought was broken when the doorway was darkened by the figure of a man entering the room. The stranger paused for a second on the doorstep, his gaze lingering on Samuel. His frame was tall, but slim and athletic. Dark hair flopped forwards on to an equally wiry face, tilted to one side and smiling quizzically at Samuel. Stepping into the room he broke into a full beaming grin, extending his hand down to him and pulling him off the floor.
In which things turn orange; we meet the wider cast; thousands of taxpayers sterling is saved in demolition costs and Samuel has to run a lot.
Samuel ran. It was amongst a number of things he had become accustomed to in recent weeks, along with people trying to kidnap him, mind control of small to medium-sized mammals and extreme acts of violence aimed directly at him. He was still deciding whether or not he liked guns. As another crack echoed from behind and a nearby wall showered him in brick-dust and plaster he added another point to the ‘not at all’ tally. It was substantially larger than the pro-gun tally.
More gunfire brought him back into the moment. He sped up, using his last burst of energy to take a running leap at the fire escape ladder in front of him, pulled himself up and diving through the open door, which slammed shut behind him. He looked up from where he lay, exhausted, to see a pair of feet filling his vision. Attached to the feet was a man he knew only as Roger.