The following post is by guest author Nick Whittle. If you enjoy Nick’s story, you can find more of his work at nickjohnwhittle.com or freelance-writer.org.uk or follow him on Twitter at @scriptergram.
The following are excerpts from the controversial memoirs of Conrad Makepeace, out soon. Certainly one of the most notorious intelligence officers MI6 operated under ‘deep cover’ between 1995 and 2006, Makepeace – code named Patsy – emerges as both a man of blind conviction and someone in possession of a significant amount of luck. [Due to OSA restrictions, all names have been changed and any similarity to actual events is purely coincidental.]
Originally I worked at Ed Schudel’s studio in Bern, Switzerland. I remember when I first arrived, there was only me and someone called Franz Kegelkopf, a young and annoying sculptor from Thuringia – the type you don’t see much of these days. Among other habits, Kegelkopf couldn’t stop salivating and in the evenings he grinded his teeth incessantly, which I finally took as a cue to break his jaw. I’m not violent and I always talk before I hit but Kegelkopf was a first rate order of tofu, and besides for the first few weeks I was edgy because I kept getting assaulted and beaten up by frustrated bohemians. After a few months though, things settled down and I fitted perfectly into my cover as a young apprentice painter, even managing to put daubs of colour on a canvas to create what Schudel jokingly called, ‘faecal emptiness.’ However, the progress which Schudel could see did not really mean much to me since all the while I was waiting for orders from my Field Controller.
Robin Greenshanks was my field controller back then. A tall, stubby man with bushy ears, he was a shrewd MI6 operative with an eye for a good pair of tweezers. He was also a liability. Like the greediest of Rajahs he went night-clubbing and danced till dawn, enjoyed the company of the roundest pigs and had fingers in pies – dirty, sticky pies that were baked fresh every afternoon somewhere just off the Kremlin Embankment. Soon, it became obvious to everyone he was making his money by what we would now call ‘backing a state-sponsored cartel,’ but when the subject was touched on he always claimed to be selling office supplies. In the end, he was hit outside a bar in Winkelriedstrasse by two mallets which came out of nowhere. His last words to me were, ‘An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.’ To this day no-one knows what he meant.
Next day to the minute, I got a new controller called Erika Eifurz – a redhead hermaphrodite who wore tailored suits, sometimes two or three at a time. One of the first things she did was get decapitated by a speed boat while out swimming on the Wohlensee at three in the morning. Why she had been swimming at all remains a mystery. I remember after that I had to get used to working with a succession of controllers since one-by-one they died under mysterious circumstances and usually within minutes of us having met. After contact at Loosli in town, Ian Skelley was abducted and returned to Vauxhall Cross a few days later in forty eight separate kinder eggs. Then Adolf Glanzmann committed suicide by strangling himself to death and Janet Strongfellow was found in a submerged wardrobe in the lake after having jumped off a cliff. I recall these were dark days for us all but even after scaremonger rumours abounded that there was an assassin on the prowl I still dressed smartly.
A month after Strongfellow’s death – I think it was the 29th of June – I got moved to a rented apartment in the Lubyanka district of Moscow for my own safety. It wasn’t my idea of a good time (the town was crawling with Russians) but there wasn’t much debate on the subject and the balalaika playing was enchanting. Hell, I just did what I was told, that’s how I got respect and a salary. I was suddenly 6’s Man in Moscow and a stone’s throw from the headquarters of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), a descendant of the KGB. In fact, we ended up so close that I could look out of my bedroom window directly up to the offices of the FSB’s surveillance team.
I remember the evening I met my new controller, Ori Tarat – a bronzed and bearded Turkish hippie with beady eyes. He stood out like a sore thumb and we had a mild disagreement over both the concept of overt surveillance and his use of a Geiger–Müller counter over dinner. However in the end we hit it off and I predicted great things from our time together. Over the Soljanka amuse-bouche, Tarat began briefing me on the British government’s next big move.
A year previously, several operatives had been victims of a dirty campaign the PM believed was designed to destabilise the State and leave some of us with crumpled suits. Reports were coming in of our guys being bullied and taunted on their way to work and even hit with water bombs. It came to a head when Maurice Guthrie from Cagey Sector was held down in his front room by two goons while a third set upon his face with a vacuum cleaner nozzle. The man became a gibbering wreck overnight and Philemaphobic to this day, as far as I know. The PM was convinced these were Russian agents marking their territory because the attacks coincided perfectly with the inception of the FSB plus they all wore crew cuts.
After dinner we headed back to the safe house. Tarat became irritable when he realized neither of us had picked up the check or his umbrella, but he continued with the story nonetheless. In retaliation for the attacks, the government wanted to fire a warning shot across the bows of the FSB and hadn’t yet ruled out a pre-emptive nuclear strike. In the meantime, a subversive move on the ground was opted for without prejudice which would naturally be led by Tarat and me. The plan was simple: to gain entry to FSB headquarters disguised as PAT testers, even dress up for the occasion. We would get underneath the desks of top-ranking officials and tie their shoelaces together, leaving them helpless. It sounded simple and well – magnificent – but I preferred not to think about the hazards and pitfalls of its execution.
While he was talking to me I noticed how my field controller shifted uneasily with his hands behind his back as if hiding something. Suddenly, Tarat draws forth a Makarov semi-automatic and points it between my eyebrows, and he asks me calmly now that I had listened to him all through dinner whether I had anything to say. Well, you could feel the tension in the room especially when I suggested we call it a night. He just laughed diabolically and admitted to being a double agent and not only that but the one who had single-handedly bumped off each of my previous field controllers. He told me if he could get rid of my controller it would make me an easy target but when I kept not dying the only other way to do it was to bring me within a stone’s throw of the FSB and after that I couldn’t fail to be liquidized. Then he went on to say there were a great number of other mind-blowing revelations which he’d rather not go into. It was humiliating and it was driving me crazy but before I could tell him how cross I was, he pulled the trigger.
Luckily there must have been a mix up at the armoury because when he took the shot a little flag dropped down from the barrel with Bang written on it. Seeing a chance to stay alive, I lunged forward in a lightning move, broke his jaw and tied his shoelaces together. Within seconds I was joined by a group of FSB agents eager to help me and awed both by my bravery and ability to squat down and do one of those Russian dances.
In the end, Tarat escaped from custody but ran headlong into a brick wall and ended up spending the rest of his days working at a launderette on Zatonnaya Street. As for me, on my return to the UK I was hailed a hero for foiling the worst case of treason since Phil Kimby danced seductively around the statue of Lenin in 1963. But the celebrations were short-lived. One year later I was reassigned to Cagey Sector after Maurice Guthrie got hit by two mallets which came out of nowhere.