“Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock Charles old chap, come on, must think of a plan soon.” Charles was talking to himself, sat in the dark, in a chair by a fire, that had gone out many hours ago. He was thumbing the well worn locket of his first wife that he wore for good luck and had put away the best part of half a bottle of scotch.
Tomorrow was the funeral for his second wife and unless something happened during the day, the trail of the man who was seemingly bent on revenge had gone cold. To all intents and purposes the man was dead. There were no traces of him other than the notes Charles had received and Charles most definitely was at a loss of what to do next.
This made Charles incredibly angry. He’d built a career out of knowing what to do next and now here he was, alone, having lost two wives, on the verge of being an old man, with a young son that he had no idea how to raise and an enemy that he couldn’t see, let alone begin to fight.
“Well, when you can’t fight, may as well sleep.”
They had taken so much fire as they crossed the German lines that the plane was barely staying in the air. Charles had made his way to cockpit to help the injured man, but he was dead by the time he got to him.
“We’re going down!” The remaining pilot shouted over the engine and wind noise. “I need you to help me keep the nose up, to try and get us as far as possible. Pull back hard on the stick and don’t let go.”
Charles nodded in understanding, grasped the stick and pulled back. It was like pulling back on a barrel of lead. “Jesus Christ” he muttered under his breath. Subconsciously he released a hand from the stick and reached for the locket containing Alexa’s picture that he always wore around his neck for good luck. They would need all the luck they could get.
The pilot swung the plane round and aimed for a field on the far side of a wooded area. He motioned for Charles to let go of the stick and the plane began to speed towards the ground, clipping the top of the last few trees.
“BRACE, THIS IS GOING TO HURT!”
“Look, it just isn’t the done thing over here my dear. My family, not to mention the staff! Would be in bally uproar if they knew I was spending the night in bed with a woman who wasn’t my wife!” Charles had been making the case throughout the entire train ride from Southampton to London. It wasn’t working.
“Isn’t your wife, yet, Charles.” Alexa replied
Charles didn’t respond to this. Well he didn’t respond vocally, his face wrote an entire novel for Alexa to read.
“Why does discussing us getting married, make you look like you’ve swallowed a red hot bowling ball Charles?”
“Ah, bla, er, it, I don’t know, it’s just not something that is done in England.”
“I am damn well fed up with all these things that are ‘just not done’. I am staying in your bed, with you and I don’t see how you can possibly stop me. If you have a problem, I will simply return to New York. Alone!”
“Fine.” Charles replied, picturing Cook’s face, when she heard what the new master was getting up to upon his return from America. It was going to be an interesting few days at the very least.
Charlie had left everything in the station house, his dead phone, his wallet, his keys, everything. He had only realised this on the second night of walking and this was a problem. Because, by the end of the second night, Charlie was cold, hungry and in the depths of a paranoid psychotic episode.
He had felt it coming for a while before it finally arrived and absorbed him. He welcomed its warm embrace in the end, the final loss of a clear logical idea of what he was going to do, replaced by a manic stream of thoughts and visions. None of which made any sense, especially to Charlie. His brain had triggered the episode, in response to the utter despair that Charlie was now experiencing. A protection mechanism, for whilst the higher brain descended into anarchy, the base brain triggered survival instincts that would stop the higher brain doing something silly, like jumping in front of a train.
At that point a train went past, narrowly missing Charlie as he lay gibbering on the stones. The driver had literally shit himself as he went by and called the incident into the line controller who in turn called the police.
“Sir, do you have a moment?” Daniel had waited behind after the daily briefing to speak to his boss.
“Yes, what do you want Daniel? I am busy.” came the terse response.
“I think we should talk in your office sir, what I have to say is not for a public space.”
“OK, lead on.”
The two walked down the corridor in silence, the boss’s office was a solid 4 minutes walk and it passed slowly. By the time he had been shown to a seat in the office, Daniel had a knot in his stomach the size of his fist and was battling dry mouth.
“What is it Daniel?”
“I know about the senior under secretary sir.”
“What do you know about him?” The head of MI6 said without looking up from the report he was reading.
“I know about him and you sir.”
“Him and I?” The chief looked up from his papers. “What about him and I?”
“That you are lovers sir.” Daniel said staring his superior dead in the eye. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small plastic slide viewer, which he handed to the man opposite.
“I think this should prove it.”
“I’m not sure I believe you Charles.”
“Well you bloody well need to Alex, I’ve traced him through the records. The handwriting on this letter matches the ones in the registry. It is him, as hard as it is to actually believe that after all these years.” Charles replied to his cousin.
‘He’ was a man that Charles and Alex had first met a long time before, in the mud and blood of the first war. Behind enemy lines, on a mission that had gone badly wrong, the two had ended up trapped, trying to work out how to get back to their own lines whilst dressed as German soldiers, their original mission having become completely impossible to carry out. Despite their efforts, they were captured, treated as spies and tortured mercilessly before they managed to escape back to their own lines.
The man that caught and tortured them, was the same man that just killed Charles’ second wife. The same man whose wife and family had been killed by one of Charles’ agents in the second war, in an attack that was meant for him. This wasn’t blackmail, this was a cold, brutal revenge attack, intent on destroying Charles.