Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chapter 11.5

"Bloody Chuck Wainbridge," Watson thought to himself as he re-tuned the radio, trying to find something half-decent to listen to. That man was such a show-boater. 
  "Ooh, look at me, I'm double-oh one!" he lampooned in a mock upper class English accent.
  "I can shoot people in the head, whilst hanging upside-down by my feet after chasing them across roof-tops for half a mile."
  Never mind the fact that if he was a bit better at the secret part of being a secret agent, he would not get involved in so many high speed chases or near-death gun fights.  Alec Watson, on the other hand, had a soft Welsh accent, so was obviously only good enough to drive around upper-class pricks with silver spoons up their arses. Sometimes he felt that he only had a license to kill time.
  Still, no point crying about it; fortunately for his superiors, Alec Watson took his job seriously and found that success was its own reward. Success and not getting shot at four times a week.
  Giving up his quest for good tunes, Watson reached down below the radio and twisted a dial, tinting the car's windows from the outside until they were one-way mirrors. He then entered a secret code using the radio station select buttons and the centre panel of the dashboard slid silently up to reveal a sophisticated computer panel, with a slight excess of flashing lights.
  Watson hinged the keyboard out and flicked a switch, converting the whole windscreen into a giant heads-up display. The satellite upload connected him quickly to HQ in London and he deftly typed in his twelve-character password using all ten digits. He smiled. To think that Wainbridge had petitioned for machine guns and rocket launchers in the space that housed the advanced information technology at Watson's fingertips. Fortunately, Control had seen the sense of letting Intelligence Officers apply their intelligence in the field. If they wanted uncontrolled use of automatic weapons, or large explosions, they could call the police's Armed Response Unit. Or even the army.
  Watson wiggled his fingers whilst he decided what - or who - to run a search on first. He had begun a background check on Johnson earlier in the morning but that had been de-railed by the unwelcome news that Sir Henry wanted him to drive them both to Swansea again. It had not come up with anything, so he decided to turn his attention to Ricky the Janitor. (Even in his subconscious, Watson found himself deliberately trying to annoy Sir Henry by using the American job description.)
  It did not take him long to find the first irregularity. There were no staff listed at BIRD-FLU named Ricky or Richard. He thought back to yesterday’s meeting and pictured the janitor’s ID badge: Ricky Edwards. His fingers danced. Edwards got a hit. The caretaker’s bearded face loomed large on the windscreen in front of him. Patrick Francis Edwards.
  Watson frowned. Patrick Edwards. No wonder his previous search had failed.
  He pulled up a scan of Patrick’s job application and driver’s license. That was when he found his second irregularity. Under criminal record, Watson could clearly see “YES” crossed out and replaced by “NO”. The official electronic entry clearly said “NO”, however: said “no” and listed the applicants name as “Ricky Edwards”. The name had clearly been replaced with his real name before the contract had been set up but the document used for background checks was clearly altered and misleading.
  Did BIRD-FLU have some kind of criminal infiltration? Was there someone on the inside planning something? Had Professor Greenwood discovered this?
  The furrows on Watson’s brow deepened as he scrolled down looking for the name that could blow the case wide open: the individual that had signed off on the doctored documents. There!
  Professor Anthony Reginald Greenwood.
  Watson sat back. Greenwood? Why would Greenwood want to infiltrate his own facility? He already had access at the highest level.
  Feeling his lead slip away and his heart rate return to resting, Watson called up the police database and entered the name and National Insurance number of Edwards. He did indeed have a record but it was not exactly sinister: a mild drugs possession charge just over three years ago. Hardly a matter of national security but enough to stop him from getting a job at a high security NATO research lab.
  Watson sat back in the driver’s seat and nodded as his brain made the connections. He flicked the driver’s license into centre view and focused on the address. Patrick Edwards was not just Professor Greenwood’s employee, he was his neighbour.
  Suddenly it all made sense. Greenwood and Edwards were probably friends and Greenwood pulled a few strings - and turned some blind eyes - to get Edwards a job at BIRD-FLU. No wonder Ricky was looking uncomfortable yesterday: as well as being concerned for the Professor, he was probably worried about being found out and losing his job if people started digging.
  All of which left Watson with something of a conundrum. If he mentioned this to Sir Henry then Edwards would certainly lose his job: Ponsenby-Brown would make sure of it. Sir Henry not approve of people breaking the rules. On the other hand, Bloody Chuck Wainbridge was on the case now and Watson would probably be reassigned in the morning. He should probably just leave it to 001.
  As if on cue, Sir Henry emerged through the double doors of BIRD-FLU with Professor Johnson and Miss Mabel Middlebottom in tow. Alec pressed the cigarette lighter and the display on the windscreen winked out as the computer gadgetry slid silently back into place. Had he been looking at the screen at that moment he would have spotted a blinking red “entry updated” box flash up just before the system powered down. But he wasn’t, so he didn’t.

Chapter 11.6 ☛

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