65th Octave – Chapter Six

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Content Updates

65th Octave

65cover

CHAPTER SIX

The cursor on the computer screen blinked and flashed, taunting Robin with the end of the page.

He grabbed the printout and began to read again.

Could there be more from Ian? Or had the notes have stopped for reasons he did not want to think about?

Then MacAllen saw faint outlines on other pages. Ian had written more notes on different page, almost as if he had anticipated someone finding them.
Robin began deciphering again. The screen slowly focused on the shadows. His screen blinked; images formed and the notes sprang clearly into view.

After breaking the lock, I walked in and saw that Thaxton Cottage looked as dreary within as it did on the outside. The decor was so old and decrepit that the parts I could see were almost indistinguishable. Little could be seen because decades of neatly folded Financial Times papers were piled over everything and stacked up against the walls.

Along with all the papers, the cottage contained only an old pine table and two chairs, all gray with age. A kettle and one dirty teacup sat on a wood-burning stove in a kitchen that was also full of Financial Times. The smell of damp rotting newsprint was overwhelming.

I had to use all my willpower not to gag and was about to leave when my curiosity was engaged by a most peculiar fact.

I was not cold. At first, I thought the stone walls were simply stopping the raw whipping wind, but as my numbness from being outside wore off, I realized that Thaxton Cottage was distinctly warm inside.

This was odd. There wasn’t any source of heat, not in the kitchen, living room or the potato scuttle on the side of the house. No fire was burning. The stove was not warm and the cottage was not wired for electricity.

A cottage such as this would never have its heater upstairs.

The place was little more than a big chimney anyway. But whatever the source of heat, it had to be upstairs and it had to be immensely powerful to send heat downstairs and make the cottage like a steam bath.

I decided to investigate and shouted several times up the stairs. The last thing I wanted was to shock an invalid, or even worse, an armed resident. I climbed the steps, which were nothing more than ancient crumbling stone wrapped in a circle around the chimney. There were two rooms and in the first I found files. There were hundreds of them in boxes, in meticulous order, dated and alphabetized. Dusk was falling and the fading daylight came dimly through a tiny upstairs window.

What I saw was enough.

These were records of T. Milow Smythe’s account at Howe, Puddle and Rudd. Thousands of orders dating back over a hundred years. Yet that was not all. Those documents were just the beginning, because all those profits had been put into other accounts and magnified many times over.

There were dozens of double-blind accounts, lent to a company formed in the Isle of Man. The shares of that firm appeared to be owned by other companies registered in tax havens and in many other parts of the world. There was the Milow Company of Hong Kong, T. Smythe Trading in Karachi, Milow and Smythe Investments in Georgetown, Cayman. There were so many in different countries I could not study them with care, but I could easily see they went back for years.
The most amazing part was the money. Every account seemed to be as profitable as Mr. Smythe’s personal account in London. They all appeared to accrue money, week upon week, day upon day. I did not see a single purchase that had lost value. None of the investments seem to have been held long either. The shares were bought, went up and were sold. It was as if the buyer could somehow see into the future!

This trading had taken place all over the world in dozens of stock markets. The cash was taken each and every week and filtered into a large number of different company accounts, where it still appeared to be. I found the figures hard to believe because not one had any withdrawals. From a quick calculation, it appeared! was looking at the records of a conglomerate with assets in the billions of pounds. None of these billions had been spent. They were just sitting there, mainly in cash and bonds.

Robin stopped and rubbed his forehead that was beginning to throb. This appeared to be insider trading,. He could understand a scam like that. Yet insider trading on such scale simply couldn’t have gone on for decades without notice. Surely con artists would have spent the money! Just sitting in stocks and bonds didn’t make any sense.

He pushed away his doubts and returned to Ian’s words.

Have I made some monstrous mistake? The implications are so horrendous I cannot even comprehend them. I was looking at what could mean the end of the entire financial world as we know it. And it was all sitting there in a tumbledown cottage in the middle of nowhere.

The records were current, up to the very day I discovered them in Thaxton Cottage. Yet no one was in the cottage. No one had been going in or out either. The house was surrounded by mud; nobody could have entered or left without sinking into the slime. I checked when I left. My footprints were as fresh as when I entered.

That mystery was nothing whatsoever compared to what I found in the second room. My time may be very short now and as I cannot explain what I found, I’ll write what happened in the hopes that it adds some sense to all this.

The other room was where I found the source of the heat. There was an orb unlike anything I had ever seen – small, about the size of a fish bowl and colored gold. In fact, it looked as if it were made of pure gold. Although I am not an expert, I do know that gold has an inner luminescence not seen in any other metal.

I cannot say how that orb was the source of heat because I did not feel any warmth radiating from it. I put my hand close to it and didn’t feel any heat. But the closer I got the warmer I felt. I was compelled to touch it. I wet my finger and touched it quickly to see if it was hot. It was not. But what I did experience was an improbable and astounding thrill. I put my hands on the globe once more and felt warmth coming from deep inside me. It was comforting. Suddenly I realized I was being watched. I looked around. No one was there, but somehow they knew me, knew everything I knew, everything I had done and everything I had seen. Someone was reading my mind!

Again, MacAllen stopped reading. How could someone know what the hell Ian was thinking? And who? Were these notes a joke. He wanted to laugh, but then he remembered last night and being crushed by something or someone he could not see. He returned to the notes.

I cannot tell how or what they knew or even who they were.

All I can write even now is that I knew. I thought I saw shadows just outside my vision staring intently at me, as if they were piercing my brain. They had focused their total attention on my thoughts, memories, and emotions. My whole being, my entire history was clear to them. I let go of the orb and ran from the room. There was an old book lying there and for some inexplicable reason I had to have it. I grabbed it and continued running. There’s little else I remember that night besides the penetrating cold, splashing through mud and rain, and then catching the train. I don’t know why. I can only recall I felt driven to grab that book and then hide it!
When I woke the next morning, to my astonishment I was in my London apartment. I was clean, dressed in my nightclothes and the papers in my briefcase indicated I had been working on an audit case in the City. I cannot express the bewildering feeling that stayed with me through the day. It was as if all that had happened were a dream. No one in my office knew anything about the case with the Cheltenham stockbrokers.

I called Howe, Puddle and Rudd and talked to one of the partners. He thought I had lost my sanity. He denied we had even met. Everything that had happened seemed to be a fantasy. I started to think I was going mad.

Only two things convinced me otherwise. First, I knew I was being followed. Someone seemed to know every move I made. I tried to throw them off track by taking the Underground to places I had never been. I would jump off one train unexpectedly and get onto another. I watched and made sure that no one was trailing me.
I’m not experienced at this sort of thing, but I do know I was not being followed. Yet when I reached my destination, I knew they were there, watching and waiting. What were they waiting for? I never knew, nor did I even know who they were. I could never see them straight on. All I could catch were fleeting glimpses at the corner of my eye, or indistinct outlines in a mirror. When I looked, they were always gone. But I knew they were there!

The second reason was the book. I checked and found it was where I had hidden it.

The next day, my seizures started. Some invisible force was grabbing me and crushing me while I slept. When I woke up, I knew they had been there looking for the book. I kept the secret where they could not see. I am not even sure I could see myself. I believe I did not want to ever lay eyes on that book again. Doing so would confirm that what had happened is real. I preferred to think, or at least hope, it was all a dream and soon I would wake and all would be well.
I knew they, whoever they were, had followed me, but I also knew what I had to do. I had to get this book into someone’s hands without their knowing.
There was a London phone number in the journal. I felt pressed to call. The man who answered was expecting me. I was flabbergasted, until he mentioned your name and said that you needed the book. I came totally undone then. How could he know you?

He told me how to write these notes and where to hide the book at the White Stag Inn in Cheltenham. He said he would get it to you. Tomorrow I’ll return to the White Stag and leave it. What will happen then I can’t even guess.

I feel trapped in some mystifying illusion, like I am a character in a Franz Kafka story that takes on nightmarish unreality. I don’t know if I am sane, but I have written this just in case there is some logic in all these events that I can’t see.

If they take me, Robin, you’re my only hope. If you or anyone else gets these notes, if you get my call, for God’s sake come and help me!

Robin closed his computer. He stood and walked slowly to the window. How could he find Ian? His instincts told him to leave it alone. This had to be white-collar crime of the highest order. He should call the police and be on his way. This was a matter for them. It was clear that Ian had lost his mind.
He reviewed his options. Best not to get involved. As the words turned over he realized he couldn’t abandon Ian. The constabulary would never believe him anyway. If he didn’t help Ian, one would.

I have a few tricks of my own. Now, it’s time to get out of sight. With these notions whe slumped in his chair and caved in to utter exhaustion. He slipped into a deep sleep, with troubled dreams of golden orbs, Ian, dark shadows and piles of cash. A face appeared, of a wizened old man, wrinkled, creased and very ancient. “Follow the money. Follow the money,” the old man said. over and over in a powerful unchanging voice.

He was awakened, stiff and sore, by the ringing of the phone.

The innkeeper was worried. Its nearly time for the evening meal. Are you okay? Robin ordered a Ploughman: onions, bread and cheese. Coffee too. Strong and black.

The food arrived. Robin ate slowly and reviewed his plan.

Whoever this is, they’re the best. Only caution will; keep me alive and help Ian.

He finished his meal, left the tray in the hall and walked slowly down to the ancient oak registration desk, where he picked up a night key. I’ll be back late sleep most of tomorrow. Don’t disturb me, please. He walked out the door.

The evening air hit him like an ice-cold saw cutting hungrily into his flesh. Shrinking into his coat, he walked carefully on the icy pavement. Fog had dropped again. Spotlights from the inn illuminated swirling fog as they fought unsuccessfully to cast light into the night.

He slid into his rented Audi, thought of last night’s attack and shivered, not only from the frigid air. A sound from the thick mist caught his attention. He turned the key quickly and locked the doors. What a bitch, he thought. If they’re here, I can’t see them. If they follow me, I won’t know. Then, he thought, if I can’t see them, they can’t see me.

He turned the car’s heater to defrost, backed slowly out of the car park, turned right and drove into the mist.

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