(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
I thought as I put the phone down that I should have told him I was only paying by results, so he owed me for the last two assignments—that would have got him going, then again, the next time he has to save my life he may just stand over my body and say—“Okay, I won’t charge you this time.”
My phone peeped. “Professor, there’s a Chief Inspector Perrins on the phone he’d like to make an appointment to see you, as soon as poss. I could move your meeting this afternoon if you’re happy with it.”
“If he can make it—what’s he want, anyway?”
“He wouldn’t say other than it was urgent.”
“What’s he a chief inspector in?”
“No you dingbat, what is he CID, Special Branch, British Transport Police?”
“No idea, but he’s arriving at half past one.”
That was in an hour’s time—where has the morning gone? It only seemed moments ago that Trish was laughing at pictures of boys in skirts in Exeter because they said it was too hot to wear trousers and the school didn’t permit shorts to be worn.
Asking her what she found funny, she replied that if they had to wear them in mid winter when an icy gale blew up your hornpipe, they wouldn’t find them so comfortable.
“So do you regret wearing skirts or dresses to school?”
“No, but I do it because I’m a girl, they’re doing it as a protest because it gets attention. When girls wear trousers, no one makes an issue of it.”
“But in some schools girls have the choice of skirts or trousers, boys don’t.”
“Well give them the choice then, I’ll bet there won’t be many who take it.” I was tempted to ask if she’d have worn them as a boy if she’d had the chance, but she already answered that, she was a girl, in her mind she was never a boy something with which I concur wholeheartedly. I might have been raised as a boy but I never felt like one.
She also had a point, these were boys making a fuss about uniforms in a way that always gets attention, because there is something considered weird about boys or men wearing female garb unless it’s for a joke or theatre. Then because it’s not real it’s okay. If it becomes real, then society tends to jeer at it considering the person doing it to be contemptible. I lived with that most of my adolescent life until Stella launched my career as a flying cyclist. Since then I haven’t looked back—partly because if I saw Stella coming up behind me in a car, I’d probably die of fright.
I went across to the refectory and grabbed a tuna sandwich and a glass of elderflower cordial. It was still very warm with temperatures in the low thirties centigrade. Our little heatwave was apparently heading towards the warmest spell for forty years, or before my time as they say.
Back in my office I tidied myself up a fraction before the arrival of the plod, who I suspected was Special Branch. Twenty minutes later, I discovered he was. I asked to see his warrant card and though taken aback he showed it to me. “Sorry but you could be anybody,” I offered as an apology while returning it to him.
“What if I’d been in uniform?”
“I’d still have asked for it.”
“You don’t need to, the uniform should be enough.”
“It might be to someone who hasn’t dealt with bogus police officers.”
“You’ve had a rather chequered career as regards the police haven’t you, Lady Cameron?”
“I suspect honours are even.”
“I think they favour you, but no matter.”
“What do Special Branch want with me a dormouse counter.”
“We’re interested in your dissident student, and also the anonymous letters.”
“Why should you lot be interested in a young woman who is too blinded by indoctrination to be able to see that evolution is fact?”
“That isn’t the part we’re worried about—well not quite.”
“Please don’t beat about the bush, either tell me what’s going on or please go and leave me in happy ignorance.”
“I’m not sure I can tell you everything because information is still coming in and the position changes by the hour.”
“Okay, so it’s dynamic, what else is it?”
“Have you heard of Genesis?”
“Is this a trick question?”
“Not at all.”
“So are we talking about the Old Testament or Phil Collins band?”
“The Old Testament would be closer.”
“Ah, a link with creationism at last—did you know that Darwin invented the term for religious dissenters from his theory.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Oh well your trip hasn’t been entirely wasted.”
“Not at all. Genesis is a covert fundamentalist group.”
“Of Christians, Jews, Islamists, nectar card holders?”
“Please be serious, Lady Cameron, this is life and death stuff.”
“What creationism?” I laughed.
“Not it per se, but the fanatics who support it as a religious fundamental.”
“So are they in danger of extinction and you’re asking me to ease off, or what?”
“Actually, no. They are under no short term pressure of extinction...”
“So who is?” I asked now I had the bit between my teeth.
“In a word, you.”
“But why?No don’t tell me but worshipping the goddess of dormice puts me at risk of being asked to quit the Sunday school rotation rota...”
“I’m sorry, Lady Cameron, but I find your levity both annoying and misplaced.”
Oops, guess who’s the policeman? “I’m sorry, but so far all you’ve told me is that there is a group of religious nutters out there. That has been the case, more or less, since the days of the Old Testament.”
“But how many exist as assassins?”
“These days, probably very few.”
“It’s very small number between zero and two.”
It was tempting to make a joke about it demonstrating natural selection in action, but I didn’t think my current audience would appreciate it. “What about Islamist fundies?”
“They don’t seem to operate in the same way. The Israeli’s have assassination teams as do the Americans but they both deny it. I half expected you to joke about the small numbers as being evolution in action.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“Actually, it doesn’t.”
“So have these people actually done any assassinations or was I first on the list?”
“We suspect Professors Dawkins or Cox to be their primary targets but they’re too important and therefore harder targets.”
“So I come in at the less important level—gee thanks.”
“Ah no, you’re up there with Cox and Dawkins but for a different reason.”
“Indirectly yes, but because you’re married to a millionaire aristocrat who owns a bank, or his family do. Killing you would be quite a kudos to them.”
“So why didn’t they?”
“We think this was a trial run, it also served to point out the error of your ways.”
“In not supporting their superstitious nonsense about the evolution of life.”
“So this is like the US with their gun toting anti abortionist activists?”
“A not dissimilar picture.”
“So how do we stop them killing me or any of my contemporaries?”
“That’s a bit harder.”
“If they succeeded in killing me, I’d be more than a trifle miffed.”
His face actually cracked into a smile and he said, “Your sense of irony is very evolved, Lady Cameron.”
Recognition at last.
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