Tiberius found, p.13
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Tiberius Found, p.13
 

          
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
CHAPTER 13

  Daniel turned into the alley alongside his hotel and checked to see if he’d been followed. Not that he was really sure what he was looking for, but it made him feel a little safer when nothing appeared out of place. It seemed as if he’d spent half the journey back from Chinatown looking over his shoulder, looking for the man in the trench coat.

  It didn’t matter to him that he didn’t recognise the man outside Pickford’s building and he may not have had anything to do with what was going on, but his father’s words came back to him; better safe than sorry. If the man in the trench coat had been looking for him then he must have followed him there, which meant he’d known where to start looking, and that meant he must know where Daniel was staying.

  It was all speculation of course, but better safe than sorry was sounding more and more like a sensible attitude to have.

  He made sure no one was looking then climbed on top of a dumpster and had to jump to reach to lower edge of the fire escape, pulling down the spring-loaded ladder. At first his hurried steps rang out loudly against the metal of the fire escape so he slowed his pace. He didn’t want people looking out of their windows to see who was moving about.

  When he reached the fourth floor he slid his fingers into the gap he’d left in his bathroom window and eased it up then slipped into the room, pulling the window down behind him. He didn’t have to put the room light on; the street light coming in from the windows facing the main road made it easy enough to move around, and it took him less than five minutes to clear the room of his belongings.

  There was one more thing he wanted to do before leaving. He took out his new phone and held the piece of paper Eleanor had given him up to the light. It was late, perhaps too late, but for some reason he just wanted to hear her voice. He dialled the number and realised his heart was racing.

  ‘Yeah?’ her sleepy voice came to him.

  ‘Eleanor?’

  ‘Yeah, who’s this?’

  ‘It’s Daniel. Did I wake you?’

  ‘What time is it? Geez, Daniel, it’s late. Is something wrong?’

  ‘No. Look, I’m sorry; I just wanted to let you know that I’ve got a cell phone.

  ‘That’s great but couldn’t it have waited ‘til morning?’

  Stupid! Daniel thought, she’s going to think I’m some sort of psycho. ‘You’re right,’ he said. ‘I’ll call you tomorrow.’

  ‘Hang on. Are you calling me on a withheld number?’

  ‘I think I might be. To tell you the truth I don’t even know what the number is myself.’

  She gave a faint laugh. ‘Are you sure you’re not on the run?’

  ‘Positive. I’m sorry I woke you.’

  ‘Daniel, are you alright?’

  ‘Of course. I’ll call you tomorrow. Goodnight.’

  ‘Night.’

  He took one last look around the room, making sure that he hadn’t left anything, and left the same way he came. His next stop would be Giuliani Central Station.

  Cross sat in his car outside Daniel’s hotel, waiting for the boy to return, for two hours before frustration got the better of him. At least he told himself it was frustration. An impartial observer may have described it as anger.

  Not only had he been placed in the embarrassing situation of having to call in the temporary loss of his target, he’d also had to endure the taunts on the other end of the line. And William Cross didn’t take well to taunts.

  Cross climbed out of the saloon, moved across the street and entered the hotel lobby behind a group of Swedish teenagers. As the manager sorted out their room keys, the man in the trench coat slipped past unnoticed. Cross made his way quickly to the fourth floor and along the corridor to Daniel’s room. He pressed an ear to the door, but there was nothing to hear on the other side. The lock took him less than three seconds to pick.

  He moved across the room and closed the curtains before switching on the light. There was no sign of Daniel ever having been there. Cross opened the drawers and wardrobe searching for any clue, but they were all empty. He moved into the bathroom, but the small cabinet on the wall also contained nothing. He rested his hands on the sink basin and considered his next move when the slight movement of the shower curtain caught his eye.

  It fluttered gently in a breeze which came from a half centimetre gap where the window was not fully closed.

  Cross pushed the large window up and looked out onto the fire escape.

  ‘Smart kid.’

  William Cross entered the train station concourse and headed straight for the baggage lockers. Even at this time of night the place was still busy with people hurrying to catch the last trains out of the city. He moved up to locker #1643 and attached a thin metal plate beside its key-code lock. He activated the decipher programme on the plate and a series of numbers scrolled across its digital readout.

  In the ten seconds it took for the plate to identify the six digits of the locker’s combination Cross became aware of a station guard paying him more attention than was ideal. A man hanging around the lockers at this time of night was bound to arouse suspicion.

  Cross removed the plate and keyed in the six digits, the locker door clicking open.

  ‘Everything alright here?’ the guard asked at Cross’s shoulder.

  ‘Uh-huh.’ He slipped the plate into his coat pocket and turned to face the man.

  ‘Is this your locker?’ the guard asked.

  ‘Sure is,’ Cross answered with a Texan accent. ‘Is there a problem, officer?’

  The guard unclipped the firearm at his hip. ‘We’ve had a number of thefts from these lockers in the last few days. All of them late at night.’

  ‘I see.’

  ‘So this is your locker?’ the guard asked again. ‘Only you were taking your time opening it.’

  ‘Sometimes I have trouble remembering the numbers for these things,’ Cross said with a smile. ‘You know?’

  ‘If it’s your locker, what do you have in there?’

  Cross paused. ‘Nuthin’’

  ‘You won’t mind opening it then?’ The guard put his hand on his gun.

  Cross smiled. ‘Sure.’ He’d already taken note of the position of the other guards in the concourse, the nearest exit and assessed how much of a threat the man before him would be. He could easily get away, if it came to it.

  Cross pulled open the locker door. The space inside was empty.

  ‘Sorry to disturb you, sir,’ the guard said fastening the clip on his holster. ‘But we have to be careful.’

  ‘I hear ya,’ Cross said, forcing another smile.

  The guard returned the smile and bid him good night. Cross waited for him to move away before easing the locker door shut. He ran a hand over his chin, and gave a smile that resembled admiration.

  ‘Damn smart kid.’

  Daniel eased into the chair in his new room and rubbed his eyes. He’d spent most of the cab journey to this back-street Brooklyn hotel looking through the rear window. The cab driver had smiled when Daniel had asked if he could make sure that no one was able to follow them and said that it’d “be his pleasure”. It was late now, though; he was tired and wanted nothing more than to go to bed, but if the man in the trench coat had been sent to follow him then now seemed as good a time as any to see if Pickford’s special programme in his phone worked.

  He glanced at his watch. It would be early evening in London, but that didn’t matter. If the dampening field software worked then he’d know within a few seconds. If it didn’t then he would’ve given his position away. It was a chance he needed to take.

  He opened a web-browser and searched for “Dryden, Gregory”.

  When Chris Matthews saw the “Alpha Alert” warning flash for the second time in as many days he decided to track the source before informing Control. It was then that he realised there was a problem.

  ‘What do you mean there’s no source?’ Dryden asked in his customary, cold voice.

  ‘Just that, sir. As far as the location programm
e is concerned we’ve no idea where the alert originates from.’

  ‘That’s impossible.’

  ‘I know.’

  ‘Then I suggest that you do something about it.’

  Matthews knew that his answer would not be well received. ‘We can’t, sir.’

  Dryden took a breath before speaking. ‘You have state-of-the-art equipment. “Can’t” is not a word I want to hear.’

  ‘Yes, sir, it’s just that there’s nothing to trace. Whatever’s being used isn’t hard-wired, which tells us that it’s a mobile device, but even that isn’t giving off a reflective signal for us to operate a reverse hack. It’s as though the device just isn’t there. Which, as you say, is impossible.’

  ‘Send what’s being viewed to my screen,’ Dryden spat. ‘And I don’t care how you do it but close it down.’

  ‘Yes, sir, I’ll do my best.’

  ‘No, Matthews; no trying – do it!’

  ‘Sir.’

  Dryden turned to his screen. It was as though someone was researching his life story. Page after page of news reports from his time in politics scrolled across the screen; TV, print, online articles. Hundreds of them.

  The usually calm man slammed a hand against his desk when he saw confidential government reports appear on the screen; top secret documents that should never have seen the light of day again.

  ‘He’s accessing Ministerial “eyes only” documents,’ he screamed to Matthews. ‘Stop this son of a bitch now!’

  ‘We can—’ Matthews began, and then corrected himself knowing that if he said that word then Control would go ballistic, ‘we’re not able to stop him, sir. There isn’t anything physical for us to lock onto. It’s like trying to catch smoke.’

  Daniel’s smile was the widest it’d been for days. The tiredness had gone from his eyes and had been replaced by a spark of enthusiasm. If Pickford’s guarantee had been nothing more than an idle boast, his search wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds. He started laughing out loud as the file count reached two hundred. Then he spotted a small red exclamation mark in the lower right hand corner of his phone screen.

  He tapped on the icon and a message appeared “hack programme unable to acquire”. Hack programme unable to acquire? What did that mean? He expanded the icon and read the detail it listed – “hack programme attempted”; the time and date; IP and physical address of the hack source – a building in London; along with a phone number. He laughed again. They were trying to close him down, just as they had in the library, but it would seem that Pickford’s programme had indeed made him invisible.

  Daniel isolated the phone number and dialled.

  ‘There’s a call for you, sir,’ Matthews said.

  ‘Not now,’ Dryden barked back, ‘for God’s sake.’

  ‘You don’t understand, sir,’ Matthews continued. ‘You’ll want to take this call. It’s him.’

  ‘Him? Him who?’

  ‘Him.’

  Dryden paused for a moment as he took in Matthews’ emphasis. ‘I see. Well put him through.’

  Matthews connected the call and quickly hung up.

  Dryden listened to the silence on the line for a few seconds before speaking. ‘Yes?’

  ‘Is that Gregory Dryden?’

  ‘To whom am I speaking?’

  ‘Is that Gregory Dryden?’

  ‘I see that you’re being busy, Daniel,’ Dryden said. ‘What on earth could you find so interesting about me?’

  ‘You killed my parents.’

  ‘No, Daniel, I didn’t and I can only guess where you got that malicious idea from.’ As he spoke he typed a private message to Matthews’s screen – Trace this call. Find out where he is. ‘Whatever you’ve been told up to this point has been a lie. I’m not your enemy; I’m your friend. I simply want to help you, that’s all.’

  ‘If you’re my friend then why have you sent one of your men to get me?’

  A reply appeared on Dryden’s screen – Using same device. No reflective signal to reverse hack.

  ‘What man, Daniel?’ He typed another message – FIND HIM!!!

  ‘You know who I’m talking about. He wears a grey trench coat.’

  ‘No, I’m afraid that I don’t.’ Dryden took a breath. ‘I don’t know who you think I am, Daniel. I’m a retired politician, that’s all.’

  Nothing to hook onto, appeared on Dryden’s screen.

  ‘A retired politician who shuts down specific computer terminals thousands of miles away, just because someone types his name into a search engine?’

  ‘I really have no idea what you’re talking about.’

  ‘Don’t try playing games with me. I’m going to say this once, Mr Dryden; leave me alone, or you’ll be sorry. Some of these government files would make for fascinating reading, don’t you think? Particularly the one concerning the mine in Guatemala.’

  ‘That’s interesting, Daniel, because I don’t think I’ve ever been threatened by a child before,’ Dryden muttered with a smile.

  ‘Then you’d better get used to it.’

  ‘You may have found a way to hide yourself for the moment, but you really haven’t thought this through, have you? What about those around you? What about the coloured girl, for instance?’

  ‘What? What about her? She’s got nothing to do with this.’

  ‘Hasn’t she? Well forgive me if I don’t take your word for it. I might just have to find out for myself. Is she as invisible as you, I wonder? I doubt it. You see that’s the thing about threats, Daniel; there has to be something of value to threaten with. You can’t touch me therefore your threat is empty and meaningless. You’ve been able to find a way of looking at material online. So what? If that material ever found its way somewhere else – a newspaper, perhaps? – then how difficult do you think it would be for me to get an injunction against them or just have them closed down?

  ‘Now the coloured girl on the other hand is an entirely different matter. I’d rather not involve her in this, Daniel, I really wouldn’t but I will if I have to – if you force me to. Look, I’m a reasonable man, I’ll tell you what; why don’t you hop on a plane and come see me? We can talk about this face to face and there’ll be no need for her to know anything about it? What do you say? Are you still in America?’

  ‘Do you think I’m stupid? If I give myself up you’ll kill me.’

  ‘Kill you? Kill you? My dear boy, killing you is the last thing I want to happen. Someone has been filling your head with all sorts of nonsense, haven’t they?’

  ‘Then why are you after me?’

  ‘Come and have a chat, Daniel. Let’s sort this out like men.’

  ‘I’ve seen what your men do: they shoot innocent people in cold blood. Leave me alone, and leave—’ he had to stop himself from saying Eleanor’s name ‘—just leave her out of it. This is your last chance.’

  Dryden sighed. ‘It’s like that, is it?’

  ‘Yes, it’s exactly like that.’

  ‘I have to tell you that I’m frankly disappointed,’ Dryden muttered. ‘I had hoped that we could settle this as reasonable, rational adults but I see that you possess neither of those qualities.’

  ‘Leave. Me. Alone.’

  ‘Daniel?’

  ‘What?’

  ‘I’ll see you soon.’

  Dryden pressed a button and the line went dead. His earpiece beeped with another call. ‘Yes?’

  ‘There was no possible way we could trace him, sir,’ Matthews murmured. ‘I’m sorry.’

  ‘I’m astounded, Mr Matthews. I was under the impression that you were going places, that your star was ascending.’

  ‘Sir –’

  ‘But now it seems the star is plummeting.’

  ‘I can find him, sir, I will find him. Please, give me the chance to prove myself.’

  Dryden sighed. ‘You have one day, after which, should you fail to deliver on your promise, I expect your desk to be cleared.’

  ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.’

  On Dr
yden’s screen more documents continued to be viewed; Daniel was continuing his search. ‘One other thing.’

  ‘Yes, sir?’

  ‘Do we have anyone on the ground following Tiberius?’

  ‘No, sir.’

  ‘No, I didn’t think so.’

  ‘Just the visual surveillance as you requested,’ Matthews said. ‘It’s probably just his paranoia. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s seeing ghosts everywhere.’

  ‘Thank you for that wonderful insight,’ Dryden muttered. ‘I really am most fortunate to have you as an advisor.’

  ‘Yes sir.’

  ‘Make sure that none of the data he’s looking at reaches anyone else. And get Brennan for me.’

  He hung up before Matthews could reply.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll

Other author's books:


Add comment

Add comment