A Plague of Dissent

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A fast paced thriller, bursting with political intrigue and corruption. It paints a picture of the UK, where media companies hack into personal communications at will, in search of their next headline. Of politicians lining their pockets with falsified expense claims and crooked practices operate within the police force. Where government contracts can be bought and sold by those that have the Prime Ministers ear, that to, on sale for the right price; and where banks and corporations make millions at the expense of the man in the street.

A story of greed and corruption; where riots and civil unrest are turning the country upside down and a small group of men attempting to use this anarchy that is spreading across the country to further their own agendas.

Into this nightmare scenario are dragged a young man Adam, his girl friend Isobel and his brother Dan a professional rugby player and England wing forward. They are pursued by the faceless men who believe they are party to information that could compromise their mission and have two choices, to run or, to turn and fight for their lives.

Rosie had been sitting there all that night in the dark, not daring to turn on a light and far too frightened to sleep. She wondered what she should or could do now; she knew that there were men outside, waiting for her to leave the house and that knowledge terrified her. The men banged on her door, shouted through her letter box and checked every accessible window.

She’d seen them arriving outside the front of the apartment a few hours before, only minutes after she arrived home, parking her car in the car park just around the corner, rather than outside the house, not wanting to advertise her presence. She couldn’t be certain whether they knew she was home or not, but she was convinced they wouldn’t leave until they’d found her.

All night, whilst sitting in the dark, huddled up on the couch, fearful of every sound outside and each creak of the old house, in panic that the men had somehow got inside. She chewed over the events of the past week, wondering how they had discovered what she’d had done.

Everything had been arranged by text, no one could have over heard a thing, but evidently someone had. And that news had spread so quickly. Over the past hour her thoughts had inevitably, turned to escape.

Sneaking out the through the rear garden, into the back lane and to her car, before it got light, seemed like her best option to escape them. It was now nearly 6 and less than an hour before dawn. It was decision time.

She dressed and put on pair flat shoes. Packed a small bag with little more than a change of underwear, her passport and purse containing what cash she had at home, along with her credit cards. She could buy what she needed later; the priorities now were to get the hell out of town before the shit hit really the fan.

Easing out of the back door, it was dark out in the garden, what little light the moon would have provided was soaked up by the thick black rain clouds that hung directly over head. Tentatively she made her way down the garden path, taking care not to kick one of the numerous plant pots that lined it, towards the gate and the back lane.

After checking the lane was clear; she could see the car park where she had left her car the night before and none of the men were yet in sight. She thought, it’s now or never, they would spot her soon and the chase would begin.

Should she walk or run?

Easing open the gate which thankfully didn’t creak, she entered the lane. There were street lights at each end of the short lane, which would silhouette her to anybody at either end. She took her first steps just as two men appeared under the street light at the far end. Too late now, they’d seen her. The shout went up

“There she is, she’s going for the car park”.

These words were quickly supplanted by the sounds of running feet. There must have been close to a dozen men coming around the corner, illuminated under the street light.

She had no choice now. Running was her only option. 300 metres to the car park, into her car and away. It was still possible, she thought.

Rosie ran down the lane, heedless of the numerous holes that had collected rain water during the night. And the randomly placed waste collection bins overflowing with rubbish, awaiting collection at some point during the week. Then across the road at the end. As she crossed it she could hear the splashes the men’s feet made in the puddles getting closer. Venturing a glance over her shoulder, she could see they were gaining on her but she never saw the double-decker bus. Not until it was far too late.

As she turned her head back, the bus was almost on top of her, the shock on the driver’s face clearly visible as he tried to brake and steer away. She screamed. The scream quickly followed by a sickening crunch, as the bus knocked her 10 metres through the air, to crash like a rag doll into a parked car.

The seduction had been going on from the moment she first began to temp in his office. Yes, of course she knew Alex Great was married but his power and all that money he controlled as Chief Secretary to the Treasury was such a turn on. After all, all the politicians did it didn’t they, the more senior they were, they more they slept around and the office temps seemed to be the nature of the game. At least that was what her friend Jonathan had told her.

For the past five years, ever since her divorce, she’d had a succession of temp jobs, firstly in the International’s office, where she had met and had a brief fling with Jonathan Mason. And then at one Fleet St office or another, never being able to find the job she really wanted. The men she worked for saw only one thing, her stunning figure, which if truth be told, she’d always displayed and used it to her advantage. She, employed as a temp, was easy to fire when she was tired of, or didn’t give up what was required of her.

She wanted more, much more; one day the right job or man, perhaps both would come along, but until then, she would make the most of her situation and her assets.

So, when she ran into Jonathan again recently at a party, she told him of her new job and the attentions she was getting from her new boss; she jumped at the offer Jonathan made.

The Chief Secretary had been pleading with her to have dinner with him for several weeks, she now capitulated. An invitation to dinner at the penthouse he kept at the Soho Hotel, he, not wanting to be seen out in public with her, she assumed. The thoughts of the eventual big pay day that Jonathan had promised removed any residual doubt she might have had.

That fateful night, Rosie knew she looked very good, she always did. Her office attire was revealing enough but the dress she wore tonight, was little more than a spray on. A sheath of red, clinging to her every ample curve, revealing more than it concealed. She’d expected that they would eat before she got her clothes off, but it hadn’t happened like that. No sooner was the door closed, than Alex began to hungrily pull off that tantalizing dress, quickly revealing her splendid body.

A little later; lying back on the bed she thought, for an old fat balding guy he was quite an attentive lover. It had been far better sex than she had originally anticipated. He certainly talked a lot in the office and his tongue was quite good at several other things, she had just discovered.

A knock on the suite door followed by “Room Service”, was all it had taken to get Alex to open the door and invite in, what appeared to be a waiter with a service trolley. The waiter pushed the trolley through the doors and into the centre of the room that comprised the lounge of the hotel suite and then proceeded to remove one of the silver domed lids covering the plates.

As he did so, it struck against a metallic object underneath, the sound of metal upon metal catching Alex’s attention. As the lid cleared the plate, Alex was perplexed to see not a plate of food but a camera.  This, the waiter playing paparazzi quickly picked up, shooting five frames per second before he even had his eye to the viewfinder. It captured, the balding fat politician wrapped only in a towel, with his pretty blond temp in bed behind him, clearly visible through the wide open double bedroom doors.

It was over before they knew what had hit them; a little like the double-decker bus that would take her life not 12 hours later. The paparazzi gone within a minute; his memory card full, containing over a 100 compromising shots of them. It really was far too late to panic, but that is precisely what the politician did.

As soon as the paparazzi had picked up the camera, Alex Great raised his hands to try to cover his face, letting go of the towel around his waist as he did so, which had quickly slipped to the floor. The last of the shots captured him naked, red faced and screaming obscenities at the photographer. He was still screaming obscenities now directed at Rosie; how she had set him up, that his career was over and his life in ruins.

It had all seemed like such a good idea at the start. The plan as suggested to her by Jonathan had been very simple. Sleep with him for a few months and get something on him, which Jonathan could use. The affair in itself would probably be enough and she would be amply rewarded. The five figure sum Jonathan mentioned would be very useful indeed.

She hadn’t bothered to think what Jonathan was getting out of the arrangement, or why he was prepared to pay so much for it. She had worked with Jonathan as his secretary at the International and should have been aware of his unorthodox methods. But, like most dead certainties, it really wasn’t turning out the way she expected, although this was exactly what Jonathan had planned. He wanted the dirt on Alex Great now, not in a few months.

Rosie unfortunately hadn’t anticipated this result at all. It found her lying in bed with a hysterical and profusely sweating politician standing naked in front of her. Screaming obscenities at her and others, as they poked their heads around the door, to see what the all commotion was about. Definitely time to leave town for a while. One thing was for sure he was not going to be a minister much longer and he was no use to her any more.

Grabbing her things, she slipped back into her dress. It wasn’t the sort of thing she would wear underwear with, so there was no need to search for them. She ran as fast as she possibly could, pulling on her shoes as she ran down the hotel corridor. She arrived home minutes before the hordes of the press arrived at her door.

The bus driver had not seen the men chasing Rosie, so hadn’t realized quite how the accident had happened. Nor did it occur to him to think how the press had arrived so quickly.

Rosie was splayed, motionless, over the bonnet of the parked car, her head sagging down over the front, her neck broken. She was clearly dead, having taken the full impact of the bus as it accelerated away from the bus stop.

The driver immediately phoned for an ambulance and was then quickly out of his cab, checking for a pulse, that he felt sure was not going to be there. He grimaced as he did so and tried to look away. Streams of blood were running down the bonnet, over the front of the car and pooling on the street, the tips of her long blonde hair, already beginning to stain the colour of her blood, as they nestled in the widening red pool.

Her eyes were wide open and her crimson blood ran from both her mouth and nose, clearly illuminated by the cameras’ flashes.

…………

Dubious methods of information gathering had always been employed within news organisations. They needed to get information for their stories from somewhere. With the prevalence of electronic communications, that’s, now, where the bulk of this came from. But, Dandelion thought, rather than allow those that knew how to get this data scattered be about his media empire, why not centralize them and provide them with all the tools to excel at it?

In essence, this created a very powerful information gathering tool. A tool Dandelion wanted total control of, hence the reason to run it from the International Building not somewhere else more deniable.

Jonathan and his five colleagues supplied; phone intercepts, text messages, voice mail, e-mails and computer files as well as the human intelligence to reporters and TV crews of the International group, on anybody of interest. From Prime Ministers to murder victims, if it was in an electronic form or on the airwaves and they wanted it. They had had everything they needed at their disposal right here in these rooms to gather it. For several years, they built this capability with state of the art equipment and employed the best in the business to run it.

That was, until public scrutiny began to examine how media organisations, particularly that of the International Group obtained their information.

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