Read Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger Online

Authors: Stella Rimington

Tags: #Mystery, #Espionage, #England, #Memoir

Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger (9 page)

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
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‘Ah,’ said Arthur triumphantly, when he heard Maureen’s report. ‘So he
waiting for him.’



Dave was walking carefully to his desk in the agent-runners’ room, balancing a sheaf of surveillance photographs on top of a mug of coffee, when the phone on his desk began to ring. The flashing red light indicated that the call was coming in on one of his agent lines. In his haste to get to it before it stopped ringing, he banged into the corner of his desk and lurched forward, dropping the photographs all over the floor and spilling hot coffee on his hand. Cursing under his breath, he grabbed the handset and said, ‘7827.’


‘I’ve got something for you,’ said a hoarse, Ulster voice that he didn’t recognise. It sounded middle aged, certainly not young.

‘Who’s this?’ asked Dave, his pulse quickening.

‘You don’t know me, but I’ve got something for you.’

‘What sort of thing?’ Dave pressed the button that activated the recorder.

‘Information. I’m not saying any more. I need to meet.’

‘You’ll have to tell me a bit more before I can do that. What’s the information about?’

‘It’s about what’s going on now.’

‘What do you mean, going on? Going on where?’

‘I’m not saying any more over the phone. I’ll only talk if I can see you.’

‘Just give me a steer. What are we talking about here?’

‘I was a Provo volunteer. We’re supposed to be on ceasefire. But there’s things happening. I know what’s going on and who’s doing it.’

‘You mean the breakaway groups? How do you know about them? Have you spoken to the police?’ Dave was desperately trying to keep him on the line.

‘It’s just for you, not the police. You can’t trust them. I’ll ring again at twelve o’clock and you can give me the meeting place.’

The phone clicked and the light on Dave’s handset went out.

Hooray, thought Dave, picking up the photographs from the floor and grabbing some tissues from his desk drawer to mop up the spilled coffee. This was what he liked. Action.

He turned on his computer screen and pulled up the list of available operational premises – safe houses suitable for meeting a source.

Liz Carlyle was examining the surveillance photographs taken by the A4 team outside Fraternal Holdings. It was a cold, sparkling morning and the sun was glancing through the window onto the prints on her desk. The new offices were well heated, almost overheated. She was feeling hot in the thick polo-neck sweater she had put on when she saw the frost glittering like snow in the children’s playground outside her bedroom window. She was just contemplating removing the sweater, wondering whether the T-shirt she had on underneath was decent enough to reveal, when Dave walked into her office.

‘You look very bushy tailed,’ she said, observing his flushed cheeks. ‘What were you up to last night? Do I detect the effect of lovely Lucy?’

‘No, I haven’t seen Lucy for weeks. It’s strictly work,’ Dave replied with a wide grin. ‘I’ve had a phone call.’

‘Lucky you! Sit down and tell me more. Who from?’

‘That’s the interesting part. I don’t know. But I’m going to find out pretty soon.’ And he gave Liz the gist of the message from the anonymous caller. ‘Call came from a phone box, of course. He’s calling back in …’ Dave looked at his watch – ‘two and a half hours.’

‘What are you going to say to him?’

‘I’m going to meet him in Blue Lagoon,’ Dave replied, giving the code name of one of the safe houses.

‘Which one’s that? I haven’t seen what we’ve got in the way of operational properties.’

As Dave described the location of Blue Lagoon, Liz’s mind was turning over the situation. She was not used to being Dave’s boss and she hesitated to start throwing her weight about at this early stage, but she felt uneasy at Dave’s breezy approach.

‘How did he get your number?’

‘I don’t know. I didn’t ask him. But it’s a number I’ve used for some time and it’s known to the police. Frankly, he was pretty cagey over the phone. He said he’ll only talk in person – he claims it isn’t safe any other way.’

‘He’s probably right there,’ said Liz. ‘Though face to face isn’t any guarantee of safety either – his or yours. I can’t say I like the sound of this.’

Dave shrugged. ‘Come on, Liz; we’ve got nothing to lose.’

‘What back-up are you planning?’

‘I don’t need back-up for this. It sounds straightforward. There is a ceasefire on, you know.’

Liz hesitated for a moment. She was unwilling to have a confrontation with him. After all, she was a new arrival and Dave, who’d been here longer, must have a better feel for the situation. But, though she rated Dave very highly, she knew that he had one flaw as an agent runner – impetuosity. He was never reckless, but when action competed with caution, action would usually win. This didn’t feel right to her; it could easily be a set up.

So she said, ‘There may be an IRA ceasefire, but he’s offering information on the breakaways. And they’re certainly not on ceasefire. He’s already said there’s stuff going on. I think you should have full anti-surveillance back-up for this meeting and that means meeting him out in the open, outside the city, and definitely not in a safe house.’

‘He’ll be looking for surveillance. I don’t want to scare him off.’

‘You’re not going to. You know how good A4 is. He’ll never see them. You should meet him somewhere he’s got to make a bit of a journey to get to, so we can watch him – make sure he hasn’t got anybody else with him. If he’s any good, it will reassure him that we’re looking after him too.’

Dave looked at her unhappily. ‘That will take a lot of resources, Liz. I’m not sure Binding will agree to it. I don’t want to lose this guy because we’re being over-cautious.’

‘I don’t want to lose you because we’ve been
cautious, either. Leave Binding to me; I’ll go and see him straight away. You line up A4 and I’ll meet you in the Briefing Room in half an hour.’

‘OK,’ said Dave unhappily. ‘You’re the boss. But I hope we don’t blow this.’

I hope not too, thought Liz. If this didn’t go right, her reputation as head of the agent runners would be mud, and mud that would stick for a good long time.



Liz had not yet been to Bangor, up the coast of Northern Ireland from Belfast, but thanks to Google Maps she was beginning to feel she knew it pretty well, at least the layout of the streets in the centre of the town, which she and Dave had pored over with A4 the day before.


Now she was in the A4 Control Room, a smaller affair than its equivalent in Thames House, though the equipment was just as comprehensive. Unlike in Thames House though, the whole set-up was sparkling clean. It looked almost unused and Liz thought she could detect a faint smell of fresh paint still hanging around. There was only one blot on the newness and that was the old saggy-bottomed armchair that was parked by the door. Liz assumed this was the small brother of the ancient leather sofa in Thames House, kept for case officers to sit on when an operation was in progress.

The Control Room was the domain of Reggie Purvis, the operational controller. Liz was one of the few whom Reggie would allow near him when an operation was in progress. He liked Liz; she kept calm whatever happened and would only intervene when asked. Now she stood carefully positioned where she could see all the monitors, but well out of Reggie’s way.

Michael Binding had proved surprisingly amenable when Liz had asked for approval for the resources for this operation. Indeed he’d been so interested in this new source and what he might have to say that for a moment Liz had worried he would insist on taking over the whole operation. Fortunately he’d been called to a meeting in Thames House, but as he’d left for the airport he’d told Liz to make sure to keep him closely informed.

Little squirms of tension were chasing each other in Liz’s stomach. Reggie’s jaws were moving rhythmically as he chomped on a wad of chewing gum. Each of the monitors in the bank in front of him was flickering like a television set tuned to a channel that has closed down for the night. Everything was ready for Operation Brown Fox to begin.

Suddenly a voice said, ‘The eleven thirteen has arrived at platform three.’ It was Mike Callaghan, sitting at a cafe table on the concourse of Bangor Railway Station, with a copy of the
Belfast Telegraph
and a large cappuccino.

Reggie Purvis spoke into his mouthpiece. ‘Brown Fox should be wearing a green anorak and carrying a Marks & Spencer carrier bag.’

There was silence for a minute. Then: ‘Got him. He’s heading towards the main exit.’

Suddenly on one of the monitors Liz could make out the figure of a man, walking rapidly past the concourse cafe. The image was transmitted by Callaghan, using a miniature device that looked like a standard mobile phone, but which sent at high bandwidth and resolution. The image was slightly blurred, nonetheless, and the man passed by Callaghan too quickly for Liz to see much detail. But she knew the pictures would come up nicely when Technical Ted worked his magic on them later.

‘Okay. Bravo, he’s yours now. You’ll see him in ten seconds.’ Maureen Hayes was parked in one of the short-stay bays, engine idling, as if she was waiting for an arriving passenger. ‘I have him. He’s walking up towards the roundabout.’ And then, after a short pause, ‘Brown Fox has turned left on Dufferin Avenue. He’s clean.’

‘As instructed,’ Purvis said, turning his head towards Liz. ‘So far so good.’

Liz looked down at Reggie’s desk where a laptop showed the satellite map of this small area of Bangor. They’d chosen it because it was outside Belfast, yet easily accessible by train and by car. As she stared down at Dufferin Avenue on the laptop screen, ten miles away Terry Fleming walked slowly down that road in the direction of the railway station. When he saw the man across the street walking in the other direction, he said in a voice barely louder than a whisper, ‘Brown Fox moving north. There’s no one behind him.’ The miniature microphone under the lapel of his overcoat relayed this instantly to the Control Room.

At the corner of a small residential road called Primrose Street, the target turned right. A couple sitting parked in a Mini two hundred yards down the street stopped squabbling and reported that Brown Fox had stopped at a public phone box.

Liz thought how lucky they had been to find a call box in a convenient place. Probably one of only half a dozen left in the whole of Bangor, she had remarked to Dave, wondering what on earth they were going to do for this kind of an operation when there were none left at all.

The phone on the desk in front of Reggie Purvis gave a long, low buzz. He parked his chewing gum in his cheek as he pressed the button and spoke at once in low, controlled tones. ‘Listen carefully. Walk back down Primrose Street, then continue right on Dufferin Avenue. Turn right onto Gray’s Hill and walk towards Queen’s parade and the harbour – you’ll see it ahead of you.

There’s a large car park right next to it – go in from your end, and walk towards the fountain in the middle. You’ll be contacted.’


The caller said nothing and hung up. Seconds later, Maureen Hayes reported, ‘All clear on Dufferin Avenue. We’re across from the harbour now.’ She had collected Terry Fleming and driven on another street to the car park.

‘Okay,’ said Purvis. He spoke over his shoulder to Liz. ‘It all looks quite clean, but let’s get an overview, shall we?’

He flicked a switch on the console and suddenly a
phut phut phut
came over the speakers. ‘Air Three, can you hear me?’

‘Loud and clear. We’ve circled the harbour and are just coming inland to turn round.’

The helicopter appeared to be searching for something off the coast, just coming slightly inland to turn around. The manoeuvre gave the pilot and his A4 passengers an unrivalled view of the network of streets that lay between the flotilla of yachts in the basin and the railway station less than half a mile away.

In the Control Room the camera positioned on the helicopter’s front right strut began transmitting to the second monitor. It was like a moving version of the satellite map, but infinitely sharper – Liz could see individuals walking on the streets below. Including a lone figure approaching the car park.

A minute later, a voice spoke over the chopper’s dense fluttering. ‘All clear on Queen’s Parade and back up Gray’s Hill Road. No sign of hostile activity.’

By then another parked car had reported that Brown Fox had entered the car park. Suddenly on the third monitor a misty view of the car park appeared, shot through the windscreen of Maureen Hayes’s vehicle. Liz watched the street-level view of a man in a green anorak walking towards the little fountain that sat in a kind of miniature garden in the middle of the car park.

Maureen zoomed her lens and the image grew sharper and closer – the target, an oldish man, in his late sixties at least, with a pinched face and grey hair cut short on the sides. Liz craned forward; he looked familiar.

The watchers in the Control Room heard the sound of a car starting up and a metallic grey saloon appeared beside Brown Fox. He must have heard it coming, as he turned and stepped to one side to allow it to pass. But as it drew alongside it slowed down sharply and stopped. Brown Fox stood still, looking startled as the passenger door opened. Then Liz heard Dave’s voice on the audio say, ‘Good morning. I’m your contact. Climb in.’



Dave had re-parked his car in an uncrowded corner of the car park. It gave him a clear view in all directions; equally, it allowed the two A4 cars discreetly stationed to cover the exits a clear view of him and his passenger. Further up on Gray’s Hill Road another car sat, watching for new arrivals, whether on foot or by car. Above them all, the small unmarked helicopter moved at an altitude of a few hundred feet. Apparently focused on the harbour and the sea, it flitted in and out of the area quite unobtrusively.


‘I’m Simon Willis,’ said Dave, offering his hand, which his passenger slowly shook.

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
2.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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