The punch had hit Charles, quite literally like a fist to the face. He hadn’t seen it coming, as it had been delivered by a man stood beside him, whom he had not been paying much attention to. It almost made Charles swear out loud in English, which was of course the point of the sucker punch, but he managed to change his outward expression to German just in time.
“Du Fickfehler, geh zum teufel!”
The man opposite smiled a thin smile, then spoke in a very accented English to Charles.
“Very good, you have managed to maintain your cover, such a shame zat your pilot friend did not. We know everything zat happened Charles. Zat is your name, is it not, Charles?”
Charles sat still and steady, saying nothing. The punch had cut his lip and the front of his mouth was slowly filling with blood. The silent standoff lasted for a full ten minutes, until the man stood and came face to face with Charles in his chair. As he came within range, Charles spat the full mouthful of blood that he had been building up, into the face of his captor.
“Fick dich und deine Mutter, Schwein!”
Kath and Alexa had ridden back to the house, Kath reverting to her usual riding style, had gone up to bed once the horses had been stripped, with Alexa choosing her own room, so as to not wake Charles.
After saying goodnight, Kath had gone to her room, but was so full of energy after her invigorating night ride with Alexa, that she simply could not get comfortable to sleep. Her room, like all the rooms, was freezing cold at night, so she huddled a blanket around her, sat at her desk and busied herself writing an entry into her journal.
It was a deeply private item, hidden away under a loose floorboard she had discovered as a child, which now housed her dearest possessions. She wrote fluidly and fast, trying to capture the emotion and energy she was feeling. The sense of freedom she had experienced had been exhilarating, she had felt as if she could do anything when she was with Alexa and had begun to see why Charles was so smitten with this creature from the new world.
Eventually she wearied and climbed into bed fully dressed before quickly succumbing to sleep, where she stayed until morning.
The rabbit looked a little odd Charlie had to admit, but it was definitely a rabbit. Two floppy ears, a little nose and the large haunches, absolutely signified that he was looking at a rabbit. He was so engrossed in ascertaining all of the details in his cloud rabbit, that he missed the tell tale noises of approaching containment officers.
Unlike the satellite, the officers were equipped with thermal imaging goggles and as such the team of fifteen that had been tasked with collecting Charlie, knew exactly where he was and other than their own fight with the crops in the field, were approaching unimpeded.
Charlie became alerted to the incoming officers when one of them called out his name.
“Charlie, we don’t want any problems OK. We are here to bring you back in, you’ve been gone a long time.”
“Fuck.” Charlie said. “OK, I’m standing up, don’t shoot me.”
One of the containment officers clicked the safety off of his taser pistol and took aim at the body temperature area visible in his goggles, he wasn’t taking any chances. As Charlie’s centre of mass became visible, the officer squeezed the trigger and hit Charlie with ten thousand volts.
By the time Daniel had left the senior man’s house in the light of early dawn, they had worked out the rudimentary beginnings of a plan. He checked his watch, a few minutes after five. There was no way he could make it home to sleep before having to head into the office, so he straightened his tie and decided to go and sleep at his desk.
The walk through the not yet quite awake city was a pleasant enough experience for Daniel and he decided to make it more pleasurable by diverting through Hyde Park. He entered off the Bayswater Road, walked down past the Serpentine, exited by Wellington Arch, into Green Park, across the front of Buckingham Palace, then down to Westminster over the bridge and on until he arrived at the office. 100 Westminster Bridge Road, Century House, the worst best kept secret headquarters in the history of spying.
He bought cigarettes from the petrol station on the ground floor and headed upstairs. It was almost six thirty, he had two hours until the secretaries arrived and three before his superiors appeared doing the morning inspections of their teams. He would need to be awake by then.
The clink of cutlery, well the fact that all you could hear was the clink of cutlery. Was a telling sign, of the pressure currently being felt, at the small table of four dining on the first floor of a luxurious house in a very sought after part of London. Outside, a pea souper fog had rolled in, blanketing the city in a cloying choking greyness, as if the very clouds were trying to exterminate life beneath their shadow.
The four were sat in silence mostly due to crushing hangovers, but also, in part, because no one had been brave enough to ask Charles just what the hell had gotten into him the night before. Eventually however, the silence was broken by Charles’ younger brother Thomas.
“Oh I can’t bear this. Why did you attack that man yesterday Charles?”
Kath managed to inhale two more glasses of wine, before Charles lowered his cutlery and looked at his brother.
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes Charles I do.”
Charles began to talk.
He spoke for over an hour, starting in Germany 1918 and ending with the events of the day before.
“That man killed my wives.” Is how he finished.
It had been no use. There was no way they were going to be able to fight their way out of it, so the three of them had quietly gone with the police officer and were now languishing in the cells of the local military police station. They were waiting for the officer in charge to finish checking with their supposed units, as to whether they were allowed to be on leave at this time. The three men knew that once it became apparent that their alter egos had never existed in their supposed units, things would get very spiky, very quickly. The cousins were holding things together, the pilot was visibly shaking.
“Listen up, both of you. Don’t say anything not in German. It will take them longer to deal with us if they think we’re German than if they learn we’re British. Just play dumb for as long as you can, I’ll think of a way to get us out.” Charles said quietly in English to the two men. “No more English from now on. Right?”
The two men nodded back. Charles knew he could trust Alex, but the pilot he wasn’t so sure. He’d soon find out.
Kath had rarely been out in the gardens after dark, let alone this late, but time with Alexa seemed to fly and Kath was finding her attitude to life equally terrifying and refreshing. She had never experienced such an independent woman before, growing up in a house of overprotective men and being the youngest child, had kept her closeted away from danger, but also excitement.
The two women were on horseback at the furthest boundary of the estate. Kath was riding side saddle as she always did, whilst Alexa was fully astride her horse, another very new experience for Kath, who had never seen a lady ride a horse in such a way before.
“Kath, it really is much easier if you ride the horse properly my dear.” Alexa said, as Kath caught up to her, their horses’ breath leaving clouds of steam in the cold night air.
“I’ve never been taught how to ride like that. Ladies always ride like this.”
Alexa jumped from her horse, walked over to Kath grabbed her right leg and with difficulty pushed it over the bridle until Kath was sat astride her pony.
“There you go, now you’re a real woman.” Alexa laughed.