The polished silver doors of the elevator eased open and Father Unwin stepped out into the reception area on the twenty-fifth floor.
“Good morning! Welcome to Tomorrow, Today Inc. May I help you, Sir?” an efficient receptionist asked politely.
“Good morning. I have an appointment to see Mr Monday, he’s expecting me at half past ten.”
“Ah yes, Father Unwin, of course,” the receptionist glanced at the row of clocks showing the time in London, Paris and New York, “You’re fifteen minutes early. If you’d like to have a seat in the waiting area around the corner, I’ll let you know when Mr Monday is free.”
“Most kind, thank you.”
Father Unwin followed the illuminated wall arrow around the corner to a spacious waiting area with a large panoramic floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the Thames.
He set his briefcase down on the thickly carpeted floor, lifted a copy of the morning newspaper from the table and took a seat in one of the comfortable leather chairs.
The waiting room was empty, but Father Unwin spoke discretely nonetheless.
“In position, Matthew. The coast is clear.”
“Right you are, Father,” Matthew’s voice came through the receiver disguised as Father Unwin’s hearing aid.
With a small click, the briefcase opened and Matthew’s miniaturised form appeared. As the case began to close again, Father Unwin pulled a small device from his pocket and clamped it onto the window at floor level.
The touch of an activation switch sent the device spinning about its axis for a few seconds until it came to a stop.
Once again, Father Unwin gazed around discreetly, verifying there was no one else in sight. Then he removed the device from the window, taking a small circular section of glass with it.
“All set, Matthew? Right, off you go. And be very careful.”
With a small wave, Matthew slid his head and shoulders through the hole in the window, which was just wide enough for him to squeeze through.
As soon as he was on the ledge on the far side, he got to his feet, gave Father Unwin a thumbs up and began cautiously making his way along to the edge of the window.
Father Unwin pushed his case against the hole in the glass, screening it from view. He knew they were too high up for any city noises to give the game away. Absently, he flicked through the newspaper, listening carefully to Matthew’s voice on the radio.
“I’ve made it past the end of the window, the next ledge runs straight along the back of the reception area, then one more should take me to the vent that leads to the file room.”
“Whatever you do, don’t look down, Matthew.”
Matthew laughed, “I’m not planning to! Twenty five floors might as well be a hundred when you’re my size. Hold on a moment.”
Father Unwin heard Matthew grunt with effort.
“Is everything alright?”
“Yes, just moving around a tricky bit of brickwork. I can see the air vent. I should reach it in a few minutes.”
“I understand. Do your best. If needs be, I shall stall Mr Monday until you’re ready.”
“It shouldn’t be necessary, but I’ll let you know.”
In the waiting area, Father Unwin looked at the clock face. It said 10:23.
Outside, Matthew reached the small metal grill sent into the wall above the ledge. He reached into his pocket and extracted a small vial of yellow-brown liquid.
Carefully, he broke the seal and poured some of the liquid along the edge of the vent cover. In moments it began to smoke as the powerful acid ate away at the metal.
Then, with a tiny clang, it fell inward into the vent.
Matthew gave the reaction an extra few seconds to stop completely. He spoke into his radio once more.
“Vent cover is gone, I’m about to go in. I shouldn’t be more than— Oh good grief!”
Father Unwin tensed at Matthew’s exclamation, “What is it, Matthew?”
“A seagull, Father. Almost as big as me! It’s been circling for a bit, but now it’s spotted me and I don’t think it’s too happy that I’m here. It’s diving straight for me!”
TO BE CONTINUED…