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It’s Monday, I’m late. Here is my offering for Steph’s Inmon challenge. This week I chose ‘Insecurity System’ as my prompt, for no other reason than to give my Steampunk pair a bit of an airing.

* * *

INSECURITY SYSTEM

“Stone the crows, guv’nor!” The cabby flipped open the hatch above the occupants of the hansom cab, “A bloke could get lawst comin’ dahn all them alleys!”

“Nonsense!” Fortesque new the fellow was fishing for a bigger tip, “But there’s an extra florin for you if you wait here for us.”

“Well, Sunday nights is busy, y’know.” He rolled has hands together and blew into them for warmth, “Can’t afford to waste time just ‘anging abaht.”

“I’ll make it half a crown, and expect to find you here at ten thirty.”

Fortesque didn’t wait for a reply; he and his colleague got out and vanished into the darkness beyond a pair of black iron gates.

At the house Fortesque pulled the brass handle to the right of the door. There was no sound, but a few moments after the door opened, slowly, just wide enough for the butler’s face to appear in the gap.

“We’re here for the meeting.”

“Meeting, sir?”

“Yes, Sir Oswald Pickersgate is expecting us; Dr Joshua Fortesque,” and he indicated to his colleague, “Mr Samuel Smythe.”

“Ah, that meeting. Of course, sir. Do come in.”

He took their hats and top coats and led them to the drawing room. The door opened and they were greeted by a fug of billowing cigar smoke, and a glass of port.

“Made it then!” Sir Oswald thrust out his hand, “Shame you missed dinner, rather good salmon tonight, I thought.”

With introductions complete the meeting began.

By a quarter past ten a conclusion was reached. The only way to defeat the enemy’s infiltration of the security system, would be to give them access to ‘the insecurity system’, as Sir Oswald called it.

“I know just the man,” Fortesque twisted his moustache and smiled. “A man to whom money is more important than his meagre life.”

Fortesque and Smythe climbed into the hansom and the hatch above them opened.

“Where to, guv’nor?”

“How would you like to turn the half crown into a guinea?”

“I thinks that sounds like a job where I don’t ask no questions.”

“I think you are quite correct. Drop us at St Paul’s. When we are gone you will find an envelope on the seat. It would be rather convenient if it was to end up at the German embassy, for the attention of the Kaiser.”

“But what about me payment?”

Smythe cut in, “It will be delivered to your house at noon tomorrow, by a street urchin called Arthur.”

“How do you know where I live?”

“The same way that we will know you if you have delivered the envelope.”

Alone next to a solitary gas lamp outside the cathedral, the cabby ran his finger over the envelope’s seal. Moments later the cab disappeared in to the dark side street. At noon the next day, as promised, Arthur knocked on the cabby’s door. There was no reply.

* * *

© 2016, K Patrick Moody

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