I got comfortable. That was my mistake. After moving from place to place and surviving more attempts on my life than I want to remember, I guess it was bound to happen. I mean, I’m a writer, not a spy.
The fact we were still in the same house that Six found for us weeks ago had given me the chance to catch up on some work and actually be a writer – rather than someone who calls himself a writer but pretty much spends all his time trying not to die.
I was also supposed to be investigating the death of retired detective Robert Gentry and trying to find a file he’d hidden somewhere. A hitman from a parallel land had appeared and said he’d kill me if I didn’t. Then there was the young woman with the long auburn hair. She’d spied on us and followed us. She’d also saved my life. I just wished I knew what she saved it for.
I had a spreadsheet in my head. It had three columns:
Whoever this woman was, she was firmly in the “Don’t Know” column. She wasn’t the only person there either.
I put the mental spreadsheet to one side. Our safehouse in a chocolate box little town on the edge of the quaint English countryside was starting to feel like home. I was getting some work done and I was tired of constantly moving around.
We were starting to relax and venture out more. We used the local shops. We’d even drive into town sometimes. I knew I was taking less care about staying hidden, that more people were seeing my face. But surely no one would find me there.
But then an instinct crawled out of the depths of my brain. Wondering if someone had found me. Wanting something to happen – to be part of a story again. To see new stories happen as they unfolded.
I began to convince myself that I could feel someone watching me.
Or it was just that I wanted someone to find us?
“Members of the security services are already beginning to suspect your existence and the work of your organisation,” Wolsingham said. He gave a sneering laugh. “Mondial. But they are unaware of mine and I need it to stay that way.”
“It is my understanding that there is a specialised agency dedicated to bringing you down.”
“Not for much longer,” Wolsingham replied. “As no one else knows about them, their demise won’t even make page 11 of the Evening Standard.” Wolsingham finished his tea, dabbed his mouth with a serviette and got to his feet. “I need the writer taken care of. In return, my people will provide assistance when you need it. I hope you gleaned everything you needed to with this visit.”
“I did,” Hoyer smiled. “And Jason Rybak will be dead before his first book charting the exploits of your people hits the internet.”
I slammed my laptop shut and bowed over in my chair, trying to suppress the urge to vomit. Two of the most dangerous men in the world, never mind just the UK, and I was their next topic of discussion.
I took a deep breath and read on.
“Jason Rybak,” Wolsingham said. “The second people start taking the content of his work more seriously, we will both be in trouble.”
“I attempted to have him killed,” Hoyer replied. “As I know you did.”
“But he has help,” Hoyer continued. “I know nothing about this helper. None of my people have even seen his face. But their accounts suggest he belongs more to your world than mine.”
The man at the table gazed at Hoyer with contempt.
“I know you Gromas love to linger behind the scenes where no one can see you and revel in your genetic superiority,” Hoyer said calmly. “But it makes you lazy and sloppy. I would take a well-trained ordinary, but talented human being any day of the week. You should spend more time in the real world, Mister Wolsingham.”
“You would not be in your position without people like us. I would hate to see you lose everything you have built by starting a war with me.”
“I would like to see you try. So far, your people have been as much use as your bartender’s little parlour trick. Our secret weapon in our war against Ciprian’s criminal cooperative failed in spectacular fashion.” Hoyer leaned forward. His jaw clenched. “And worst of all, your deficiencies and our defeat are soon to be made public – by a writer.”
I woke up with a jolt and sat bolt upright. I stared into the darkness until my bedroom materialised in front of me. My eyes trained on a shape that shouldn’t have been there. A figure. A person standing in front of my bed.
I froze with fear, staring at the intruder, not even daring to blink. Then he took a step back. I couldn’t see him anymore. I scrambled for the torch on my bedside table and flashed the beam around the room. He was gone. But I wasn’t imagining it. I know he was there.
I was too afraid to get out of bed. I lay there, my heart hammering at my chest, waiting for him to return. I didn’t sleep.