CXVI:Secrets Broken(10)

By: Angie Smith

Monday 11th June

Barnes was now alone. She went over to one of the windows and, using her little finger, moved the blind just a fraction to glimpse out. She carefully reached up and tried the opening catch. Damn! Although on her own, she was still his prisoner: locked in. After he had left she’d immediately tried to use the phone in the office area. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t connected to the network. Williams had gone across to The Mansion House, saying he would return shortly with an update and a duvet. Slightly miffed, she collected a ham sandwich from the table; she required sustenance, brain food, in order to focus and contemplate her next move. She’d been informed that the village of Briestfield was about half a mile away, and situated farther across the valley were Thornhill and Whitley. The problem she wrestled with was that Williams had openly divulged his location. Surely he would realise she would do everything in her power to escape and get that information to Woods. Why was he so convinced she would consider working with him? What did he know?

While these questions swirled around she’d decided to formulate a plan to call his bluff; in other words, to do exactly what he’d expect. She would persuade him of her desire to work together to prove her innocence, while her true intention would be to contact Woods and entrap Williams. She could explain to Woods exactly what had happened in Albion Bedford’s offices, giving her version of events, and getting him to look closely at what the intelligence services claimed.

The sound of the door unlocking downstairs indicated Williams’ return. She moved away from the window and glanced up at the prints on the walls. Most were wildlife photographs, extremely good ones, but her attention was drawn to one which was a newspaper front page. She wandered over to it, just as he arrived at the top of the spiral staircase, duvet in hand.

“I thought there was something familiar about you,” she said, munching the sandwich.

“Ah, yes... my fifteen minutes of fame.” He smiled and looked as though he was going to add something, but didn’t.

She was perplexed. “How did you go from saving three hundred lives to being the cold blooded killer you are today?”

Now he looked agitated. “You know the answer to that,” he snapped.

“You claimed never to have flown an aircraft.”

He nodded. “Actually I’m a qualified pilot, but not under this identity. So I couldn’t divulge that. I bluffed my way through. There was no-one else on board that could save the aircraft, the captain had been killed outright and the first officer badly injured. I was seated in first-class and stepped forward. The mid-air collision had critically damaged the plane. I used engine power to adjust the direction and pitch. I had no other controls, so I needed the longest available runway, knowing even if I got on the ground, I probably wouldn’t be able to stop in time. The landing was fast and hard… The rest you know.” He pointed at the poster.

“You were hailed a hero.”

“A shy, reluctant one. The newspapers got hold of my photo and I had one hell of a job keeping a low profile. I disappeared until the fuss died down.”

She meandered closer to the log burner, which was dying down now. She put what was left of the sandwich on the coffee table and glanced at him.

“Well, have you decided what to do?”

She sighed and was totally bemused. Although she was less than ten feet from him she didn’t feel under threat. “If what you say is true, and they’ve planted evidence incriminating me, how can we prove my innocence?”

“Sit down,” he said softly, gesticulating at the sofa. “Let me update you.”

Sitting on the couch, she slipped her shoes off and brought her legs up, tucking them under her, almost kneeling, to give him the impression she was starting to relax.

He went to the adjacent sofa, placed the duvet at one end and seated himself facing her. “Foster’s been on site, he’s already suspicious, and now he’s on his way to visit Woods.”

“Is he okay?” she asked.

He raised an eyebrow. “His condition’s stabilised and he’s out of danger. He’s in a private hospital, not far from Northwich. But they’re watching Foster closely.”

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