Angel In The Shadows
My name is Andrew Markham. I’ve worked in the British secret service, MI5, for some
eight years. I am used to my everyday work of following people and reporting their movements, etc., but these last few weeks, for some reason, have been the most difficult for me.
During this cold war, I kept tabs on any foreign nationals from the Eastern bloc, especially the USSR and East Germany. Fortunately for me, I don’t get the dangerous assignments as do my cousins, MI6. These guys risk their lives daily, working abroad, especially in Europe: Germany, Russia, Poland, to name a few. However, you’d think I’d be safe in London, wouldn’t you?
Well, take last Saturday, I was shadowing this Russian diplomat (supposed). It was in the evening about 8 o’clock; he had just turned the corner into the street, on his way to the Russian Embassy; When out of nowhere, this burly ape of a man elbowed and winded me in the stomach, saying sorry, in a Russian accent. This obvious deliberate maneuver gave the diplomat time to vanish.
That same night on my way home, going down an alleyway towards my flat around the corner, two youths pulled out knives asking me for money. Just as I was ready to fight them off, a dark stranger appeared from nowhere and chased them away. I didn’t see his face. He was wearing a Fedora hat and a macintosh. The mystery man never came back my way.
Things started to get serious only a few days ago. I was waiting at the St Paul’s underground station for my train home; during rush hour. As I saw the incoming train, I stepped forward when suddenly I felt someone deliberately shove me from behind, nearly knocking me off the platform. Luckily for me, a man grabbed my arm and pulled me back; otherwise, I would’ve fallen on the track and been a goner. It happened so fast I couldn’t even say thanks; the man who had saved me was gone.
If someone was trying to kill me, I’d better be on my guard. I had told my section leader what had happened, and he said it was probably an accident. And if I’m that worried, why don’t I get permission to carry a gun. I said, thanks, I might just do that. However, to be truthful, guns make me nervous; I’d instead try and use the unarmed combat moves I was taught in the army while doing my National Service.
Back at my flat in Hackney, London, I sat listening to the radio; when there was a news broadcast. The Russians had invaded Hungary with squadrons of tanks and thousands of soldiers. Well, that wasn’t the news I wanted to hear. It would mean a great deal of extra work for us MI5 operatives. Dam it, I was already working long and unsociable hours as it was. I suppose one positive from all this is more money - eventually! Anyway, I will soon find out more when I go to head office in the morning.
Back at MI5’s head office, I had to see the Colonel. Us agents have to call him Colonel (our boss); we don’t know his actual name.
“Come in, ah yes, it’s Markham, isn’t it?”Said the Colonel at his desk.
“Yes, Sir,” Markam replied.
“Now I suppose you’ve heard about this dam inconvenient Russian Invasion of Hungary yesterday?”
“Yes, sir, It certainly isn’t cricket!” Said Markham grinning.
“Yes, Quite.” the Colonel replied as he stood up from his desk.
“Not only have we got the Russians to deal with, we now have to consider the bloody Hungarians coming in, spying on the Russians as well!”
“Anyway, this is where you come in, Markham.”
“We happen to know that there is a delegation of Hungarians visiting London tomorrow. They are going to stay at the Hilton hotel for a few days.”
“What will they be doing here, sir?”Markham asked.
“They’ve booked a hall in the hotel to spread the word about what atrocities the Russians are doing.” The Colonel said, pouring himself a whiskey.
“We just want you to keep an eye on things, Markham.”
“Just sit in the meeting as an interested party for their cause. Take any literature they provide and ask some questions about what the Russians have been doing in Hungary.” “Report back in a couple of days.” Said the Colonel.
“Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen; thank you for coming to the Hilton hotel.; my name is Jozsef Nemeth, and this is my wife, Hanna. I was born in Hungary fifty-four years ago,” He continued, “I’m glad you are interested in our cause.” “In a moment, some of my colleagues will pass around some leaflets and photographs. Please feel free to ask any questions.”
“Hello, My Name is Andrew.” Can you tell us how bad the situation is in Hungary?” He asked Jozsef, trying to look concerned.
“Yes, I’m afraid. It is the worst for my people. The Russians have no right to invade our country!” “They are keeping us, prisoners. There are stories of rape and torture. It is terrible! just terrible!”
After an hour of talks and looking at leaflets and photographs of Russian tanks, Markham mingled a little and asked some of the Hungarian delegates more questions, then he finally left the hotel.
Shortly after getting back home, he heard the phone ring.
“Hello. Markham, the Colonel here, I’m afraid, Jozsef Nemeth was killed in a car accident this evening." "It looks like a hit and run!" Said the Colonel.
" Oh, no!"He paused. "I'm sorry to hear that, sir," Markham said, genuinely feeling shocked. “I suppose I will have a new assignment now then, Colonel?" He asked.
"I still want you to keep with the Hungarians and speak to his wife, Hanna; she is continuing Jozsef's work." She is still raw after losing her husband, but “Just keep an eye on her, wherever she goes.”
“Right, sir.” Said Markham, rushing over to get a brandy from his kitchen. His hand shook as he sipped the drink. He liked Jozsef Nemeth. He was one of those few people who cared about humanity. Shortly afterward, he got a black cab to the Hilton hotel. Just as he arrived, Hanna was getting into a black car with two men.
“Cabbie, can you follow that car in front of you, please?” Markham asked, wondering where Hanna was going. The cab driver chuckled.
“You know, mate, I've always wanted someone to ask me to do that!” “I bet you're one of those secret agents, ain't ya?” Said the cabbie, laughing as he followed the car. All he could do was smile back at the cabbie.
After some fifteen minutes, the car Hanna was in stopped outside the Russian embassy. As Markham asked the driver to pull over, he watched the two men escort Hanna inside. Then he promptly got out of the cab and popped into a nearby phone box, phoning the Colonel:
“Sir, I've just followed Hanna and two men to the Russian embassy.”
“Interesting!” Said the Colonel.
“Stay there and follow her, wherever she goes next.” The Colonel ordered. “I’ll get Watkins to meet you right away.”
“Okay, sir,” Markham replied.
It was dark now as an hour had passed. Finally, Hanna and a man came out of the embassy and got in a car.
“Alright, Watkins, follow them!” He ordered.
“What do you think she is up to?” Watkins asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s a bit fishy!” He replied, lighting himself a cigarette:
“It’s very odd going to the Russian embassy when she is a Hungarian, and only less than twenty-four hours ago, she had lost her husband!” Markham said.
“For a bereaved widow, she certainly gets about!” Said Watkins. “They’re on their way to Surrey.” He continued.
“ I better let the Colonel know.” He grabbed the car phone:
“Sir, Hanna, with two men, are on their way to Surrey.”
“Right, keep me posted.” Replied the Colonel.
“Hold on, Markham, we may have company!” Shouted Watkins, catching sight of a black car in his rearview mirror.
“That car’s been on our tail for the past twenty minutes!” He said.
“Okay, increase your speed and see what these guys will do,” Markham replied, looking behind me as the mysterious car continued to follow them. It was now getting closer.
“It looks like they want to overtake,” Watkins shouted.
“No, I’ve got a bad feeling about this!” Markham said as his heart raced and his stomach tensed.
“Whatever happens, don’t let them catch up to us.”
“They’ve turned on full beam. I can’t see in the mirror; it’s too bright!” Watkins replied. Just then, the other car smashed into their rear end.
“I can’t control the car!” “We’re going to crash!” Watkins screamed. With that, the car rolled on its side and hurtled into a tree - Smash! Boom! The vehicle burst into flames. The other car following them drove close by, to the car now on fire. Just then, Markham started recovering, now semi-conscious; he could see the two men in the car grinning and laughing like two men possessed as they drove off.
“Watkins!Watkins! Quick, Wake up! Wake up!
Markham tried to revive him by shaking him, but it was no good; he was dead. The car was now becoming an inferno, and it was becoming unbearable for Markham as he struggled to try and unfasten his seatbelt. He just couldn’t free himself.
Markham was now drifting into unconsciousness. He felt his lungs filling with smoke, causing him to choke. Just then, he began to have flashbacks of when his Mum took him on his first day to the nursery. Later he saw himself as a young boy playing football for his secondary school. Moments after, he was on his first day at work as a young postman.
Suddenly a voice jolted him back to consciousness; he heard someone call out his name: “Andrew! Andrew! You are safe now. Remember, you are protected!” “Open your eyes!”
With that, he slowly opened his eyes and found himself now sitting on the grass, twenty yards away from the charred car, with smoke billowing out of its windows.
He checked himself over and noticed just a minor burn on his left hand. After reviving himself, he thought it odd how he came to be so far from the car? And why wasn’t he dead or badly injured? Finally rested, Markham decided to walk along the road, hoping to get a lift to a phone box; so he could tell headquarters what had happened.
Finally, after walking over a mile, he was able to get a lift to a phone. Later the emergency services arrived, as did the police. The police asked some awkward questions, but Markham could only say it was an accident and that the other driver panicked and sped away without stopping. Later the police drove him back home.
The following day back at MI5, headquarters.
“Yes, It is tragic that Watkins was killed!” Said the Colonel. "But, those who did this will pay dearly!”
"Right, I will have surveillance around the clock watching the Russian embassy."
Because they think you are dead, I will have someone else watch the hotel." "I will let you know if she leaves." Said the Colonel. "Then you can take over and follow where she goes."
"Right, sir." Replied Markham.
He sat at home waiting, tapping the arm of his chair.
A few hours had passed, daylight turned to night. Then the phone rang.
"Hanna has just arrived at the Russian embassy." Said the Colonel.
With that, Markham rushed out to his car and drove to the embassy. There he waited for her to come out. A couple of hours passed when she went in the car with two men and drove off.
Markham followed them, being careful not to be conspicuous. They were driving towards Surrey again.
After an hour, they turned off and went down a side road. Markham followed them as they came up to some large metal gates, and then the car beeped. He slipped his car over to the side and waited for someone to open the gates. A moment later, a man came and opened them. Letting the car in.
After the man shut the gates, Markham contacted the Colonel to let him know where he was.
He then grabbed his torch from the dashboard and walked around the perimeter of the grounds to look for a way in.
Scanning with his torch beam, he came across a brick wall. He was able to scale over the wall into the grounds.
As he walked along the grounds, he saw a large ornamental pond with a big statue of a lion and some statues of Zeus and one of another Greek God. The pond itself was lit up by floodlights.
Walking past the pond, he saw a large house with large pillars leading upstairs to a large black door.
Markham stealthily walked along the building and spotted a ground-floor window with its lights on. He saw the curtains were open and peered carefully through the window.
In a sitting room, he saw Hanna sitting in an armchair with two men sitting on a settee opposite her. The silver-haired man in an army uniform spoke to her:
"Comrade, Belka, because of your long, astounding service to our Russian Motherland, I award you this medal." The silver-haired man stood up and walked up to her, and pinned the medal on her army uniform.
"From Captain, I will promote you now to Major in the KGB!" He then kissed her on both cheeks.
Belka looked at the man and beamed a big, proud smile.
"Thank you, Comrade General !" She said, clutching her medal, "It Is a great honour!"
A moment later, the other man said:
"It is a pity Jozsef Nemeth didn't defect to our country!"
"Such a shame he had to be silenced!"
"Yes, Comrade, Deputy Chief Andrei, he just would not listen to me!" Said, Belka.
Markham flushed with anger and shock as he looked on.
It’s only now that he wished he’d carried a gun.
He slowly made his way back towards the car when - “snap” a cold sweat suddenly poured from his forehead as he stood on a large twig:
“What was that?” Shouted the General, moving to the window.
“It’s probably a fox!” Said Belka, “this country is smothered with the beasts!”
Markham waited until things seemed safe, then he continued towards the brick wall he had climbed over earlier. Passing the pond, he heard someone behind him. A swift judo throw saw the heavily built man tumble to the ground. But out of the blue came another man punching Markham in the face, forcing him to the ground. One of the men now had him in a headlock, pulling him towards the pond edge. Then both men pushed his head under the water. Markham began to feel his life ebbing away from him; at that point, he mentally called out to his mysterious stranger friend for help. But by now, he was fading fast.
Moments later, he heard a sound whooshing, then groaning, and after a scream. Suddenly he felt Able to lift himself up and look round. There he saw both men unconscious. After Grabbing one of the men’s guns, he thanked the Guardian angel for saving him.
Soon after, he rushed to the house and went through the open sitting room window.
“Alright, everyone sit on the settee,” Markham shouted, pointing the pistol at the three Russians. Throw your guns on the floor over there.
“Hello, Markham!” Said the Colonel, “I got your message.”
“Are our men outside?” Asked Markham.
“They will be along shortly.” The Colonel replied.
“Markham, pass me the gun, and I will look after these while you check on our men.”
“Right, get over there, Markham!”
“Colonel, what’s going on?”
“Firstly, I’m not a Colonel; I am a General.”
"Secondly, I am Comrade, General Dima,
Sokolov of the KGB."
"I have been Russian most of my life, Markham."
“Since after the war, I have been working for the Russians.”
“Anyway, less of this chit-chat, hands up, and turn around!”
Just then, Markham called out for help again but said it loudly. All the Russians suddenly burst out laughing.
“You fool, you believe in angels; they won't help you!” Said, Belka.
Suddenly Markham heard a whoosh sound and lots of activity going on behind him. With that, he turned around, and the Russians were gone.
There on the carpet, he saw a white piece of paper with some writing and a white feather next to it. He picked them up and read the note:
“ Dear, Andrew, your Russian enemy are now believers and have now given themselves up to the police!
Yours with affection
Your Guardian Angel
P.S, forever looking over you!!