I collected what I needed for my trip to see the place that I was born, and having psyched myself up for the trip I left the house. Almost as soon as I did I saw Rosie coming towards me at a very rapid walking pace and with a serious determined look on her face.

She was only about ten feet away when I noticed her.

“Hi, Rosie!” I cheerily greeted her.

“Back inside. Quickly!” she replied, grabbing and spinning me round as she got to me without slowing down. As soon as we were inside Rosie apologised for handling me, “Look, I’m sorry about being rough on you, but it’s important that we stick together for a bit. Have you seen Charlie or Cat recently?”

“I haven’t seen Charlie since yesterday morning, nor Cat since about tea-time yesterday. Why?”

“Charlie hasn’t called in like he arranged and there was an awful lot of police activity yesterday.”

“Do you think that he has been arrested?”

“I’m pretty certain of it, but can’t be sure. He may just be lying low in his deep cover identity and playing it safe by not contacting us. Either way I need to wrap things up here and make sure we don’t also get picked up.”

“You need to get away too?”

“Not just me, you and Cat also, we’re all in danger of being arrested because of our connection to Charlie.”

“Well I can see that the police might want to know what I know about him, but I haven’t done anything wrong and I don’t know what he has been doing that would make them arrest him.”

“Pandora, you are so naïve sometimes. We’re all GM. When we do things that the authorities don’t like, they can lock us up almost indefinitely without charge. They use the prevention of terrorism card which gives them powers of arrest and detention without trial for up to 56 days at a time. After 56 days they release you from prison, and the special branch pick you up on the way home to start another 56 days.”


“Exactly. Do you have a grab bag ready?”

“Grab bag?”

“I guess not, grab a large handbag and stick some clean underwear in it. We need to move out of here for a bit.”

I ran back upstairs to my room and threw a couple of changes of clothes into my satchel, which was already mostly packed with the things I valued. I also threw in the tablet Charlie had given me.

When I left the room Rosie was carefully opening Charlie’s bedroom door on the other side of the landing. I went over to help, but she waved me back.

“Wait there for a minute, I just need to make sure that it’s safe.” Rosie got the door fully open, and I could see an extremely tidy bedroom. On the made bed was a terminal set laid out neatly like it was there for an inspection, with the glasses neatly folded on the pillow and the terminal box square below that with the projector camera to its left. At the foot of the bed was a small black canvas messenger bag that I’d often seen Charlie with. Between the bag and the terminal was a small stack of three or four silvered plastic bags, of the sort that computer components usually come in.

Rosie stood in the doorway for about a minute just having a good look around. She pulled back and projected a picture on the wall outside the door, which was the same interior. “OK. It looks untouched, let’s get Charlie’s bag and terminal and get out of here.”

I noticed when I picked it up that Charlie’s terminal was still switched on. It appeared to the outside world that he was still at home.

“Switch off your terminal and put it in this bag” Rosie said, holding open one of the silvered bags. “They’re Faraday pouches. There’s metal mesh in the plastic that stops your terminal from being detected.”

When I took the pouch from her Rosie took another off the bed and put her own terminal it it too. She also slung Charlie’s messenger bag over her shoulder.

“Do you want me to put Charlie’s terminal in one of these pouches?” I asked Rosie.

“No, we need to establish Charlie as still being free and active, even if he isn’t.” Rosie took Charlie’s terminal from me and put it on. She then took the extra Faraday pouches and asked, “have you got anything else electronic with you?” I nodded and pulled the tablet that Charlie had given me out of my bag. Rosie took it and slipped it into another Faraday pouch before handing it back to me. “OK. Let’s get out of here and go find Cat, we’ve got some work to do.”

Continued … Imperfect: Scene 2 – Deception

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