Chapter Two: The Deadly Dead Letter Drop
Agent Arrow - the craggy, wordly-wise leader of the Resistance - lit a precious cornflake, coffee ground and catlitter cigarette and nervously opened the door of the safehouse.
This was the first time he had left the shed in six months, and his sharply honed undercover senses told him it was a risky venture. He knew the agents of the Searchlight-controlled State were everywhere: The old lady at the bus stop, the seemingly friendly policeman on his bicycle, the young children playing in the park – any one of them could, even now, be reporting his movements directly to Chairman Gable himself; sitting in his plush Whitehall lair smoking a fine Romeo y Julieta and flicking idly through his ermine-bound copy of “What Moustache”.
Arrow knew he must take care, but the stakes were too high to remain underground now. “Bertie” Berk, his faithful batman and fellow operative, had received a message from their Control – the Resistance Leader known only as Agent Cyclops. There was a top secret communiqué to pick up from the Nantyglo dead letter drop, and it must be done immediately.
As Arrow walked nervously along the road, staying close to the hedgerows in the knowledge that he may need to dive for cover at any moment, he remembered with a swell of pride his earlier undercover service in Northern Ireland.
In those far-off days, fighting the Fenian menace, Arrow was famed among his comrades for adopting a disguise so cunning, so effortlessly convincing, that anyone would have assumed he was Belfast born and bred. The orange woollen wig and beard, the bright green jacket and matching top hat set off with a large, felt shamrock. The whole finished with a corncob pipe and a nuanced accent perfected only after carefully studying “The Quiet Man” a dozen times or more...
Thanks to this impenetrable disguise, he had felt safe. Whenever he greeted a suspected terrorist with the words “Top o' the mornin' and beggorah! T'will be a foyne day fer plantin' a bomb of good auld Oirish gelignoyte under the bedevilled English, so it will!”, he had known that he went entirely unsuspected; instantly accepted by one and all as a fellow Papist.
Here, today, it was different. Although he had improvised a disguise to pass himself off as one of Gable's UAF henchmen, the safety pin through his septum was beginning to sting and the threadbare tee shirt (bearing the legend “I Luv Alvin Stardust” – Agent Arrow knew full well how influenced were young Marxists by their incomprehensible adherence to punk rock) was cold in the brisk Welsh air, even when worn over several stout layers of potato sacking.
More unsettling than his discomfort, however, was the feeling of being so totally alone: Unable, in some cases, to trust even fellow Resistance fighters. Barnbrook of the Yard – the sterling detective with a nose for trouble; “Honest” Eddy Butler – stalwart of the London Resistance; both had been unmasked in recent months by Agent Cyclops as slavering Marxist traitors, bought and paid for by the state in return for Tesco Vouchers beyond the dreams of avarice. Lately, Arrow had even begun to suspect that their man in Belgium, the Agent known only by the codename “Ex-Nazi”, had been turned.
These were dark days indeed.
So far as Agent Arrow was concerned, there were only a handful of true Resistance Fighters left. Agent Cyclops, of course, and dear old bumbling, well-meaning Agent Berk. These and a mere handful of others were the last survivors of the Resistance.
Arriving at the Ffoesmaen Inn, Arrow approached the door with understandable trepidation, tapping the accepted code – three short taps and a long scrape – on the side window.
He tried again, with greater insistence. Still, there was silence.
Furtively checking that no-one could see, Agent Arrow bent down to the letterbox and shouted the Special Emergency Code Phrase inside.
“John has a long moustache!”
Still there came no reply.
Gingerly, his hand tight on the trusty .177 Gat Gun in his pocket, Agent Arrow entered the Public Bar. The landlord seemed nonplussed to see him. “A cunning ruse. The poor man's terrified we're being watched by Agents of the State”, thought Arrow.
“What can I get you, Sir?” asked the Landlord.
Clearly this was another code, thought Agent Arrow. “It's. A. Very. Nice. Day. Today.” he replied, slowly and deliberately, while winking.
“Bitter? Lager?” Continued the Landlord.
This wasn't working. Perhaps the unfortunate fellow knew their conversation was being monitored.
Taking his courage in both hands, Agent Arrow realised he would just have drop any subterfuge and come straight to the point; when the bullets started to fly, he'd take his chances.
“Look. Have you got a letter for me?” He asked. The Landlord sighed.
“Oh, it's you is it?” he said, taking an envelope from beneath the bar and handing it to Arrow. “Sent to the wrong address”.
Agent Arrow took a pint of fine (if strangely cold) lager and sat in a corner to read the secret communiqué.
Was this it? Was this finally the message from HQ that all staunch fighters of the Resistance had so long awaited? The announcement that the elements were in place and the final battle was to begin?
He allowed himself to pause, before opening the envelope. This had come from the hands of Agent Cyclops himself: The same hands that he would occasionally use to brush back his lustrous, dark hair. The same hands with which he would stroke his broad, manly chest and possibly reach down to...
“You alright there, Sir?” interrupted the Landlord; “looks like you're getting a bit flushed.”
Agent Arrow shook himself from his reverie and tore open the letter.
“Dear Fellow Patriot” the letter began.
“The British National Party urgently needs your dona...”
Agent Arrow's heart sank. He finished his pint.
Don't miss the next thrilling episode: The Name's Morris - Paul Morris