332 500 произведений, 24 800 авторов.

Электронная библиотека книг » Mark Dawson » Ghosts » Текст книги (страница 15)
Ghosts
  • Текст добавлен: 4 октября 2016, 23:37

Текст книги "Ghosts"


Автор книги: Mark Dawson






сообщить о нарушении

Текущая страница: 15 (всего у книги 15 страниц)

Chapter Forty-Eight

Milton and Pope wandered across to the wide windows of the observation lounge. It was a dark night, the moon and stars hidden by a thick blanket of low cloud. The 747 that was liveried in the colours of Aeroflot lumbered down the runway, raised its front wheel from the tarmac and struggled into the air. Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko would be back in Moscow in four hours.

“Have we spoken to the Russians?”

“I believe so.”

“And?”

“They’re not unhappy. As far as they’re concerned, you did what you said you’d do.”

They strolled to a couple of empty seats and sat down.

“Here,” Pope said, proffering a new passport. Milton flicked through the pages; they were clean, unstamped, virgin. There was something to be written there. Possibilities.

“Thanks.”

“Look at the last page.”

Milton did: the passport was in his own name, not an alias.

“You’re in the clear, John. You are officially retired.”

“That’s easy for you to say.”

“I’m serious. It’s finished, John. You can do whatever you want to do.”

“You know that for a fact?”

“I do.”

“And does Control see it that way?”

“He isn’t going to be a problem any more. Not for you, anyway.”

“They got rid of him?”

Pope paused, an awkward grimace on his face, and Milton connected the dots.

“Seriously? They took him out?”

“He’s been given a file.”

“But?”

“But he can’t be found. His car was found at Beachy Head last night. The keys were still in the ignition.”

“No way,” Milton said. “He’s faked it. He didn’t jump. He’s a cockroach, Pope. It’s going to take more than that to get rid of him.”

Pope nodded his agreement. “They’ve searched the rocks and they didn’t find anything. We don’t think he jumped either. He’s running. I don’t even want to think what they’re going to find out when they dig into what he’s been doing all this time. The number of files he passed down to us for actioning … how many of those were people he wanted out of the way? I can deal with it if I know that the target deserves what’s coming to him. If they were to cover for him, though, that’s something else.”

“I’ve been thinking that, too.”

“Shcherbatov would have been pleased.”

“He would have said the job was only half done.”

“Yes, but we’ll finish it. He can’t run forever. We’ll find him.”

Milton stopped, looking at his old friend. “Hold on,” he said, a slow realisation dawning. “Who’s replacing Control?”

Pope shrugged.

“You?”

“They asked me yesterday.”

“And you said no.”

He smiled ruefully.

“You said yes? Don’t be an idiot, man.”

“It’s the only way they’re ever going to get off your back.”

“You don’t have to do that for me.”

“It’s not just for you. I’m the same age as you. You think I want to be in the field for ever? I’m old and slow. I was sloppy last time. I got lucky.”

Milton protested. “But you’re not a politician. Get into private security. Go and be a consultant somewhere. Make some money. You think you can work with the government? They’ll eat you up.”

“Ouch,” he said. “A little more credit, please. It’s in your interest to see me do well. I’m the one who’s saying there’s no point in chasing you halfway around the world anymore. I’m the one saying you’re free to do whatever you want. I rescinded your file. That was the first thing I did.”

The two of them paused; Milton didn’t know what to say. He knew that Pope was a superb agent, not as good as he had been but good, and that having him ride a desk was a criminal waste of his talents. But, as his old friend smiled with patient affection at him, he realised that, maybe, his promotion had benefitted from a little good sense. Pope was solid and dependable and, after the corruption and avarice that had latterly been exposed in his predecessor, those were not unhelpful qualities to have. He was strong-willed, the kind of man who would question his orders and, Milton thought, that too would be a useful trait.

“You’re not going to congratulate me?”

“For accepting a poisoned chalice? You couldn’t pay me to do that job.”

There was a moment of awkwardness between them. Pope slapped his hands on his knees, dispelling it. “What are you going to do next?”

Milton thought about that. “I don’t know,” he said. “If the Group isn’t looking for me, I don’t have to hide.”

“No,” Pope agreed. “You can go wherever you like. You need money?”

“Does it look like I’m begging?”

“No. I think it looks like you’re leaving with nothing.”

“What else do I need?” Milton shrugged.

“No luggage at all?”

“If I need something, I’ll get it when I arrive. I’ve always travelled light.”

“You know where you’re going?”

“I’ve made a habit of not telling people that,” he said, and then when Pope frowned at him, he added, “Wherever seems right.”

“I can’t persuade you to stay around?”

“There’s nothing for me here.”

Milton really didn’t know what he wanted to do or where he wanted to go. His plan was to walk into the departures lounge, look at the flights that were leaving in the next couple of hours, pick one, buy a ticket, and go.

“You want some advice? If it were me, I’d find somewhere I liked and I’d stay there a while. Put down some roots.”

“That’s not me,” Milton said. “I’ve been on the move for six months. I’ve got no ties. Don’t think I want any.”

“You don’t want a woman? Get a family?”

“Do I look like a family man? I’ll leave that to you. I’ve never been cut out for it.”

And, he thought, I’ve got too much that I need to do. Too much to make amends for.

“Alright, then,” Pope said. “I’ll leave you to it.”

He offered his hand and Milton took it.

“Thanks,” he said. “You didn’t have to do what you did. I won’t forget it. If you need me, you know where I am. Alright?”

Milton felt a moment of hesitation.

He looked up at the screen with two dozen destinations on it.

“Good luck,” Pope said.

“You too.”

Milton put the new passport in his hip pocket and walked towards the nearest ticket desk.

Chapter Forty-Nine

Pope had left his car in the short-stay car park. They had offered him a driver and a better car but he wasn’t interested in either; the old Control had been in post for so long that it felt like the time was right for a change in approach. He would do things his own modest way, and if that meant doing them quietly and without extravagance, then so be it. He could only be himself.

He unlocked the door and sat down. He was reaching for the engine start button when he was aware of someone in the car behind him.

“Easy.”

He felt a prickle of tension across his shoulder blades. “Who are you?”

“It’s Beatrix Rose.”

He looked into the rearview mirror: it was dark but there was enough of a glow from the courtesy light to see her sallow face and long blonde hair. She was sitting back against the seat, unmoved and unconcerned, her cold blue eyes staring at him in the mirror. She was wearing a tight-fitting leather jacket.

“Relax? Are you serious? I’ve seen what you can do. And you’ve broken into my car.”

“I needed to speak to you,” she said.

“You couldn’t make an appointment?”

“I’d prefer it if we could keep it between us.”

The courtesy light faded out and Pope could only see her as a dark shadow. “You don’t have anything to hide from any more.”

“Old habits die hard.”

“No-one is looking for you, Rose. Control has gone.”

“Yes,” she said. “That’s what I want to talk to you about.”

Pope rested his hands on the wheel. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where he is. No-one knows. You have my word.”

“You understand why I want him?”

“Yes. What happened to your family. I know. Milton told me.”

“And you know I can’t let that stand.”

“Yes, of course. I’d be the same.”

“So I need you to find him and give him to me.”

“I know I owe you. What you did for me will buy plenty of favours. But that’s going to be very difficult to arrange.”

“Difficult but not impossible.”

“No. Not impossible.”

“I’m not expecting favours, Pope. I can pay my way.”

“With what?”

“I know you’re replacing him.”

“How do you know that?”

“Never mind. You want to know how I see this? Control has left you a group of agents that you can’t trust. He picked all of them and you don’t know which ones were involved with him and which ones weren’t. For all you know, they all were. That would be the safe assumption. Five of them are dead and you’re out of the game. That leaves six. I don’t know about you, but not being able to trust them wouldn’t make me feel very safe. If you agree to work with me, I’ll vet all of them for you: surveillance, background checks, whatever you need. All off the books. You and I would be the only ones who know.”

“And if we find any of them are crooked?”

“I’ll take care of them.”

He knew what that euphemism must mean. “We could talk about that.”

“You need to know something else, too. I don’t want to get our relationship off on the wrong foot, but I have the evidence to prove what Control did. Milton gave it to me. I sent it to the government. They have it just as they want it at the moment: Control is gone and you’ve taken his place with no fuss and no noise. Smooth and seamless. But it wouldn’t take very much to rake over those coals again. I could easily send it all to a newspaper.”

“That sounds like a threat.”

“Depends how you take it,” she said. “That’s not what I want it to sound like.”

“What do you want it to sound like?”

“I want you to have all the information you need when you make your decision to work with me.”

She was confident and she had reason to be; she had a strong hand. “What exactly would you want?”

“Oliver Spenser is dead. I want the four agents who were responsible for the murder of my husband and the abduction of my little girl. Their names are Lydia Chisholm, Connor English, Joshua Joyce and Bryan Duffy. Chisolm might be dead. If she is, I want solid proof of it. The other three are out there somewhere. I want GCHQ to make finding them a top priority, and then I want you to pass me the information. I’ll take care of what happens after that.”

“But we wouldn’t have to worry about them?”

“They’ll go quiet. You wouldn’t have to worry about them.”

A car went by, sweeping its headlights into the cabin and, for a moment, he saw her hard, implacable face. “No,” he said. “I don’t think we would.”

“And most of all I want Control.”

“That’s five,” Pope said. “How are you going to get all of them?”

“One at a time.” He heard the door open. “I’m going to get out of the car now. I’m not unreasonable. I know you’ll have to give this some thought.”

“I’ll need a couple of days.”

“You can have a week. I’m not going anywhere.”

“How will I find you?”

“You won’t,” she said. “I’ll find you.”

Beatrix Rose stepped out of the car. Pope found he had been holding his breath. He looked in the wing mirror and watched as she stepped between the two cars parked behind him, turned to the left, and then disappeared. He stayed where he was for a long minute, staring into the dark and watching the lights of the stacked planes as they patiently waited for their chance to land. She was a dangerous woman, he knew that much for sure. Dangerous didn’t even cover it. Ten years of enforced exile would have filled her to the brim with spite and bitterness and there was no telling what consequences that might have.

How reliable was she? How much could he trust her?

She did have a point, though: he had no idea about any of the men and women that had been bequeathed to him. Were there any bad apples? Which ones? Were they all bad apples? And she had the evidence of Control’s corruption. It was difficult to imagine how deep down the rabbit hole that would go if it ever saw the light of day.

He heard the sound of a high performance motorcycle engine somewhere behind the car. A single high beam headlight cut through the dusk and a red, white and green Ducati 1098 roared by the outside of the car. The engine growled and the rear light cluster glowed red as the rider braked at the exit and then, as the gate lifted, the engine howled again as the rider fed revs and accelerated onto the road and away.

Pope shook his head. The way he saw it, he really didn’t have any choice. If he didn’t take up Rose’s offer, she would probably find them all herself. It would just take a little longer. In the meantime, she could bring down British intelligence. Didn’t it make better sense to take advantage of the very particular set of skills that she could bring to the table?

Pope started his car and pulled away.

The motorcycle was already long gone.

Chapter Fifty

Milton smiled at the steward and handed him his boarding card. The man checked it and smiled in return, welcoming him on board and directing him down to the right, into economy. He had a window seat just in front of the wing. He nodded at the woman sitting in the aisle and she unclipped her belt and stood so that he could sit. He sat down and stuffed the copy of Great Expectations that he had bought in the airport shop into the mesh pouch on the back of the seat in front of him. Space was a little tight and his knees bumped up against the seat. He looked out of the window at the runway and the terminal buildings beyond. The headlights of the service vehicles that buzzed around the big jet raked across the runway.

The woman next to him bumped her elbow against his as she gripped his armrest by mistake.

“I’m sorry,” the woman next to him said. “My nerves are awful. I’m a terrible flyer.”

“Quite alright,” Milton said.

She was quiet as the plane rolled down the taxi-way, following the queue of jets waiting for their take-off slots. As they swung around at the end of the approach, perpendicular to the start of the runway, the angle allowed them to watch the BA flight ahead of them as its engines boomed and it climbed slowly into the air.

“I hate take off the worst of all,” the woman said.

Her face was a little pale. Milton gave her his most reassuring smile. “You probably know the statistics. You were more likely to get into a situation on the way to the airport than you are now.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I’m Sadie.”

Milton didn’t really want to get into a conversation; he would have preferred to read his book for an hour or two and then try and catch some sleep. “I’m John.”

“Is this business or pleasure?”

He thought about that; it was an excellent question.

“A bit of both.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m between jobs.”

She carried on talking, vague sentences tumbling out with nervous energy. Milton kept an open, friendly expression to his face and made the appropriate responses when they were required, but he quickly zoned her out. This was business, not pleasure. He had been unable to decide upon his destination after Pope left and so he had bought a newspaper and a sandwich and found an empty seat. He had opened the newspaper and started to read, trusting that something would present itself. The story that finally caught his eye was on the tenth page, buried in the international news. It had snagged his attention and, no matter how much he tried to think about something else, he could not. He made up his mind. He finished the sandwich and went to buy a one-way ticket from the desk.

The pilot jockeyed the jumbo around until it was on the runway, nose pointing straight down the centreline. The engines cycled up and the jet lurched forwards. The woman stopped speaking, gripping her armrests so hard that her knuckles showed white through the skin on the back of her hands. Milton looked out of the window as they sped through the buildings, the lights merging into a multi-coloured blur. They roared through the terminal and out the other side and the cabin tilted gently as the jet took to the air. Front wheels, back wheels, and up. Milton kept watching as the airport opened up beneath them, and then the lights of the towns and villages that surrounded it, the cars on the motorway, the late night train that snaked its way east towards London. He looked down on England wondered when he would see it again. Perhaps he never would.

John Milton closed his eyes and thought about what he was going to do next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Dawson is the author of the breakout John Milton and Soho Noir series. He makes his online home at www.markjdawson.com. You can connect with Mark on Twitter at @pbackwriter, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/markdawsonauthor and you should totally send him an email at [email protected] if the mood strikes you.


    Ваша оценка произведения:

Популярные книги за неделю