Philip woke early, bothered by how he seemed to have found himself in the wrong, when he was the injured party. He wanted to go for a run to clear his head, but the fear of another abduction kept him inside.
Instead he tackled his more-than-a-week beard, ruining two blades and creating several nicks on his face, he was finally clean shaven again. It took over half an hour. In the shower he noticed how only his hands, lower arms, neck and upper face were sunburnt. The rest of him was far less brown as the autumn was well advanced. He remembered the tight burning feel of his skin in captivity and realised this was a real tan, not one he could easily wash off.
Then he made breakfast and left early for the embassy.
The Ambassador was not yet in, and without his laptop, Philip couldn’t even read his own mail.
He went through to the library, to read back copies of the newspapers. He was horrified to see the editions that covered the bombing he was supposed to be involved in. Looking closely at the photographs of the later editions, and the tracking back to the planners camp in the desert, he realised the one man photographed wearing the kind of outfit he had woken wearing at the airport looked like himself. Even the watch on the arm was the same. He removed his jacket, rolled up his shirtsleeve and looked again. He had a deep tan but his watch strap mark was very clear against it.
He sat and read more, all of the details in every one of the older papers. Then he sat with his head in his hands, wondering just how far this persecution of himself was going to go.
When he looked up one of the TNS men was standing there watching him. The man said, would you like to come through to the Ambassador’s office?
Philip stood and led the way. The second of the TNS men was there pointing out something to the Ambassador on a laptop. It wasn’t the same model as Philip’s one so he realised his hadn’t been returned.
The Ambassador looked up at Philip and shook his head slightly. They both waited while the TNS man explained about how the e-mail trail between free mail accounts had been traced, and how comment chains on blog sites had been traced, the ones agreeing and organising Philip’s trip. The e-mail contents had been found on Philip’s laptop, and the same e-mail address had been used to put in the on-line comments that apparently came from Philip.
The TNS man looked at Philip and said, “Sir this is out of our hands, we are now simply watching for our country’s interests. All laptops and PCs in the embassy and related offices have been scanned by us, and the servers as well. So far only yours has shown any non-official business that can’t be linked directly to family or friends back home. You are now the only suspect from here. The international Security services for home, here and 3 other countries worst affected by the bombing are all involved. There is no way we can keep any of this quiet.”
The TNS men left. The Ambassador looked expectantly at Philip. Philip began explaining about the abduction. The Ambassador asked “Just why did you want this leave? Your original explanation of just wanting time to relax no longer seems correct.” Philip could feel himself flushing. How could he explain he wanted to watch all of the evidence against Anthea be released in the press, watch it ruin her wedding, maybe even cause it to be cancelled.
He just sat. The Ambassador said, “all those stories about the queen, it was you setting it all up, wasn’t it?” Philip looked at him in horror. The Ambassador merely said “I had it all shown to me and you identified by the forger from a photographic line up.” I could have protected you from the consequences of that simply by letting you leave for another posting, but this, this is something I cannot protect or help you with!” He shook his head. “You had better go and stay at home until some conclusion is reached”.