Christopher Brookmyre - Parlabane 04

Christopher Brookmyre - Parlabane 04
Book Jacket
None
be my enemy

or,

fuck this for a game of

soldiers

Christopher Brookmyre

An
Abacus
Book

First published in Great Britain in 2004 by Little, Brown This edition published in 2005 by Abacus

Copyright c 2004 Christopher Brookmyre

Blackjack
written by Art Alexakis. From the Everclear album
Slow Motion Daydream
. Copyright c 2002 Evergleam Music/Montalupis Music/Commongreen Music/ Songs of Universal (BMI). Lyrics reproduced by kind permission of Art Alexakis.
The Heater
words by Don McGlashan, music by Don McGlashan, Ross Burge, Alan Gregg, David Long. From the Mutton Birds album
Salty
.

Copyright c 1994 Warner Chappell/Mana Music. Lyrics reproduced by kind permission of Don McGlashan.

Envy of Angels
written by Don McGlashan. From the Mutton Birds album
Envy of Angels
. Copyright c 1997 Warner Chappell/Mana Music. Lyrics reproduced by kind permission of Don McGlashan.

The Heater
and
Envy of Angels
also appear on
Flock: The Best of The Mutton Birds
. The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Ramen.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 0 349 11681 4

ISBN 0 316 72522 6

ISBN 0 316 72614 1

Typeset by Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Polmont, Stirlingshire

Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Clays Ltd, St Ives pic

Abacus

An imprint of

Time Warner Book Group UK

Brettenham House

Lancaster Place

London WC2E 7EN

Contents

Prologue:: Burial and Exhumation

1

November 11, 2001

3

December 16, 2001

11

Friday, October 25, 2002

19

Margaret Thatcher's Rotting Corpse

21

Motivational Oratory (i)

39

Purple Hail

49

Buggery and Aperitifs

71

Best Kept Secret

85

Night of the Eighties Undead (Parental discretion advised)

91

Troubled Sleep

103

Motivational Oratory (ii)

113

Saturday, October 26, 2002

117

Torture

119

What's Under Your Feet

127

Running Up That Hill

137

Mysteries of the Flesh

157

A Matter of Taste

161

The Mark of a Man

173

After-Dinner Games

177

Sunday, October 27, 2002

185

Much to Digest

187

Repulsion

197

Recoil

213

Information

215

Medieval Bastards

223

Improvisation

231

Night of the Eighties Undead 2

239

Stronghold Opposition

259

Good Time for a Bad Attitude

267

Spectators of Suicide

277

Learning How to Smile

283

The Trap

287

Later

291

Later Still

293

Extract:

295

For Roger Dubar

Thanks: Marisa, Art Alexakis, Don McGlashan

When everything is simple in the white and the black

You will never have to see the grey anymore

You will never have to be afraid. . .

Please don't tell me that this isn't what you asked for. . . Be careful what you ask for

Blackjack
, A. P. Alexakis

from
Slow Motion Daydream
by Everclear

Prologue:

Burial and Exhumation

November 11, 2001

'Bin Laden? A fucking charlatan.'

'Be serious for a minute,' Williams told him.

'I am being serious. That's my point. Everybody's so reverent about this guy. Strip away all the mythologising and hocus-pocus and what have you got? Patty Hearst with a beard. Bored rich kid playing at soldiers. He's in the huff with his family, for Christ's sake - the psychology's pitifully mundane. If he'd been born into a semi in Surbiton he'd have painted his bedroom black, got himself a Nine Inch Nails T-shirt and hung around swingparks drinking cider from plastic bottles.'

Fotheringham's rant was attracting admonitory glances, more in disapproval of the growing volume and vehemence than the content, which wouldn't have been clearly discernible above the whipping wind. Raised voices were not decorous at a funeral; they suggested that your thoughts were not respectfully concentrated upon the memory of the departed, even if, in Williams's case, that was not strictly true. Nothing was more prominent in his mind than the man they had just buried or the consequences of his loss, not least the fact that Williams now had his job.

Fotheringham gestured apologetic acknowledgement and Williams led him in the opposite direction to the dispersing mourners.

'Bin Laden's about a lot more than thrill kills and power trips,' Williams chided, measuring his condescension precisely. 'And there's three thousand dead people in New York of the opinion that you should be taking him more seriously.'

'I'm taking him entirely seriously, sir. I just don't think it will help us if we buy into the hype and start thinking of him as some kind of formidable genius. Look at the Black Spirit, if you need a primer. Remember what a bogeyman he was? Turned out to be a fucking oil-biz wage slave from Aberdeen.'

'Quite. Something, I should remind you, that we only learned after the fact. Didn't make him any easier to catch, did it? And besides, I don't think there's much ground for comparison. For all his theatrics, the Black Spirit was essentially just a mercenary, prepared to do horrific things on other people's behalf if they paid him enough. Bin Laden represents the possibility of
ten thousand
3

Black Spirits, all of them prepared to do horrific things merely because it's Allah's bidding. We've never had to face this kind of fanaticism before: there's no fifth column to cultivate, no disaffected factions to encourage, no waverers, not even anyone we can bribe and corrupt. Just total, unquestioning, homicidal,
suicidal
commitment to the cause.'

'With respect, sir, that's what I mean by believing the hype. For one thing, there is no cause. Bin Laden's too smart to marry himself to anything as cumbersome as a coherent or even consistent political ideology, because such a thing could be debated, held up to scrutiny, and, worst of all, alienate potential followers. "The cause of Islam" is expediently nebulous. You scream loud enough about Allah and nobody's going to ask you to clarify any awkward specifics before signing up. Through religion, Bin Laden can posture as all things to all Muslims. But there's one specific he does deliver, and that's the thing he needs more than Allah, the thing that's really motivating your

"unquestioning" footsoldiers.'

'What? The promise of all those virgins in paradise?'

'An enemy. Somebody to hate, somebody to blame. The US, the Jews, the West. The Muslim fundamentalists aren't looking to Bin Laden because he's a genius. They're looking to him because he's the one who's currently got a team together to give the infidel a kicking. That's his main leadership credential: that right now, he's the one doing some leading.'

Williams grimaced a little, his features hardening less against the growing drizzle than in strain at tolerating his subordinate's less-than-focused reflections. David Fotheringham was tagged in Williams's mental files under 'Useful But Flaky', sub-section 'Intelligent But Scheming'. He'd been indispensable as an infiltrator ten or fifteen years back, boyish looks allowing him to pass for someone much younger, combined with a sly talent for winning people's trust. He wasn't out in the field these days, partly because his knowledge and experience were more valuably applied in managing the operatives who were, but also because there were question marks over his ability to remain emotionally detached. It was a charted symptom of chronic exposure to his particular field of analysis: spend all your time identifying potential threat and subversion and your instincts could get a little defensive, to say the least. Revulsion was a natural response, but hatred clouded your judgement. Now that Selby was gone and Williams was in charge, it would be up to him to harness Fotheringham's abilities: the trick was finding a way of loosening his leash but keeping him on-side.

'Forgive me, Fotheringham, maybe it's the circumstances this morning, maybe it's last night's whisky and maybe it's just the damp, but I'm having trouble understanding why one of my most respected intelligence officers is standing before me doing a very good impression of trivialising the biggest threat to 4

security that this nation currently faces.'

'I'm not trivialising, sir. I'm saying these guys - Bin Laden, Al Qaeda - are only as dangerous as they've been allowed to be.'

Williams looked around the cemetery, thrusting his hands into the pockets of his coat.

'Where are you going with this, David? It's fucking freezing out here and I've a pressing appointment with a sausage roll and a pint of bitter.'

'Are sausage rolls still mandatory at official funerals?'

Williams gave a small, stiff grin.

'Sausage rolls are mandatory at all funerals, even vegetarian ones, and I couldn't half do with one right now. So enough procrastination: what are you saying?'

Fotheringham took his own turn at casting a slow eye across the headstones.

'Do you know the joke about the two hunters, out of ammo, who come across a lion in the grassland?'

'Can't say that I recognise it so far, no.'

'Well, the lion clocks them, so one of them drops his gun and just starts running. His mate tells him he's mad, there's no way he can outrun a lion. The first guy says: "I don't need to outrun the lion: I only need to outrun you."

'Al Q hit the Twin Towers because the Yanks made it easy for them. I'm saying we should make it no fucking picnic to be an Al Q operative in the UK: present ourselves as the hardest option and let the rest watch their own backs.'

'Far be it from me to pour cold water on your enthusiasm, but I'm obliged to remind you that counter-terrorism isn't really your area of expertise.'

'No, sir. My area of expertise is idealistic half-wits looking for some cause to make their lives seem meaningful and their selves feel important. I've seen them of every stripe, every colour, every political hue, and the one thing they all have in common is, to use an appropriately jingoistic phrase, they don't like it up 'em. For every truly committed suicide bomber, there's two dozen easily-led romantics who'll go looking for a new hobby if things start to get hot.'

'Meanwhile my sausage roll is starting to get cold.' Williams began walking as directly towards the carpark as the headstones allowed. 'I came here to bury a colleague, not to listen to your head unravelling, Fotheringham. Sounds like you should stay out of what you clearly don't know.'

'With every respect to his memory, I know our departed boss has exited the stage not a moment too soon.'

Williams checked his stride, casting an eye towards the dispersing mourners and the growing cavalcade of slow-departing cars.

5

'Gracefully,' Fotheringham continued, 'with his legacy and dignity intact, before the likes of Al Qaeda exposed him as an anachronism. They've changed the game beyond anything Selby could recognise, ripped up our definitions of the unthinkable and made it easier for the next nutter along to contemplate atrocity. This isn't a war, not even a cold one. You said it yourself, there's no generals to assess or outsmart, no rifts or factions to exploit, and you don't get to see troops massing before the strike comes.'

'Justin Selby was a man of honour and principle.'

'Unquestionably, sir. He believed in democracy and good old-fashioned fair play. These fuckers don't.'

Fotheringham stopped and stood still. Williams ignored his punt at dramatic effect and ambled onwards, charting a straighter course towards the exit.

'It's time we started playing dirty too, sir. I'd like to see how many of their

Other books

The Journey by Jennifer Ensley
Over the Knee by Fiona Locke
Any Price by Faulkner, Gail
Grand Junction by Dantec, Maurice G.
Wild Thunder by Cassie Edwards
Jack, Knave and Fool by Bruce Alexander
A Tale of Two Tabbies by Kathi Daley
Pleasure and a Calling by Hogan, Phil
Running Towards Love by Adams, Marisa