Pilkington’s Gamble Scene 1

As he made his way through Horse Guards Parade Pilkington wondered who the anonymous caller was.  His Volksempfängerfon’s unencrypted number was issued only on a Need-To-Know basis.  The caller had not used the distress words to indicate the communications network was compromised.  Or that there was an imminent danger to his or the caller’s wellbeing.

He recalled the weekly test of the Parliamentary Divison Bell was due around lunchtime.  Much as in one of the alternative injects the exercise controllers could have used over the weekend.  A small group of Parliamentarians and their Private Offices had agreed to participate for real, diaries permitting.   
Perhaps that was a factor in the anonymous caller’s suggested rendezvous point?

Whilst the shortest route to the Duck Island was diagonally across the parade ground, he chose to shadow one of the groups of tourists on their guided walking tour.  It would mean that if anything untoward were to happen there would be surveillance footage from the surrounding Departmental offices.  That could provide investigators with a date/time of his last known whereabouts.

As he crossed the road, careful to avoid the horse droppings, Pilkington’s phone rang again.  This time it was on an encrypted channel.  He punched-in the general code.  After a brief pause a voice “Good morning.  I hope you don’t mind this slightly unorthodox use of official kit.  I’m the guy feeding the ducks on the lake – just to the right of the Duck Island hut.  From a blue plastic wrapped loaf of sliced bread.  If you’re OK with this then please come across.  If you’re not OK – then please continue on your walk and this will never have happened.”    

“We’ve not formally met before.  You recall the Exercise Pause when Liaison Officers were asked to take a “comfort break” for 15 minutes.  Well, I was one of the undeclared personnel who had to vacate the tinted glass cubicle before the non-UK observers were escorted in”.

Pilkington remembered several such pauses.  It had given him and fellow smokers a chance for a “fag break” in an alcove off one the subterranean tunnels.

“If it’s OK with you we’ll go for a little stroll.  I know it’s corny to use this park but it’s still a great place for having those conversations that don’t exist.  The exercise went well, don’t you think.  Shame that all the planning for a declaration of a state-of-emergency went to waste.  I suppose testing all those emergency powers introduced during COVID will just have to wait.”

After allowing a couple of joggers to pass and out of earshot he continued.

“The time I spent in my cubicle allowed my colleauges and me to observe the Liaison Officers. We’ve checked-out your and others’ clearances and looked into the other hats several of you wear.  It seems there are a few whose personal circmstances and skills would potentially make for an ideal fit for a special operation that’s been mooted.  It’s entirely informal at the moment.  The sort of thing that gets thrown up in conversation after accepting a “fancy a beer after work”.  You don’t have to commit to anything right now.  There’s a hot wash up this afternoon and you’ve got my ID on your phone.  Let’s keep in touch.”

On that note Pilkington and the gentleman looked each other in the eyes and shook hands. There appeared to be a tacit understanding between them. Each went their separate way, saying nothing further.