The Bulgarian ambassador is found eviscerated in his London quarters, and Major Sonja Slade of the Prussian Army searches for his killer while trying to forget her own ties to the dead man.


Week 5

Kitty, the Cub Reporter

Forgive my shaky script. They’ve just given me a shot of something brown that tasted like burning, and they said it should help me to calm down, but I want to write everything before I start to forget. I’ve had… I suppose I’ve had something of an adventure, and not the fun kind, like taking a picnic to the park and watching the rabbits playing tag.

The first and not very subtle hint of trouble was when that aeroplane started bucking and dropping like a ball being bounced around by a little boy. A stewardess stumbled through the cabin row by row, pale and trembling, and leaned in to say something to every passenger. When it was my turn, she said, ‘Make sure your seat belt is fastened tight, dear, we’re running into some unexpected weather conditions,’ and she did her best to give me a reassuring but entirely inauthentic smile.

Outside, what had been clear skies with oceans of shaving cream below slowly turned into a boiling expanse of blackness, creeping up and up until we were completely enveloped. After some minutes, I could see nothing but the odd dazzling flash as a bolt of lightning cracked from one cloud to the next. Then I couldn’t see even that, as my window covered over with hoarfrost. It grew so cold in the cabin that I thought I might crack a tooth from chattering.

Then there was a horrible keening noise in place of the drone of the engines, and then a dreadful silence. The engine had stopped. The plane was still tossed up and down and around by the terrible storm outside. Someone two rows up from me shrieked in terror, setting off the rest of the passengers — cries and pleas for mercy. I was too overcome with vertigo to tell whether we were plummeting toward death in the deep sea.

I scraped at the ice on the window to try to see outside and get my bearings. I caught a glimpse of something out there — a ghastly face made from clouds, tall as a skyscraper, with lightning crackling in its mouth like terrible teeth. It was my imagination, of course, in a moment of duress. I blinked, and the clouds had changed into something else entirely, just black clouds once more.

And then we shot out of the storm, so suddenly it was like someone had changed the station on the radio. The sky was blue and clear as crystal. We were over the wide green fields and forests of Britain, but falling, falling in our plane with no engine. I squeezed my eyes shut and hugged myself and wished and wished that I had a longer temper, than I hadn’t poured that coffee on Mr. Barton, and then---

And then the engines coughed and started up again. The sound had changed into something whining and sickly. We still pitched and rolled toward the earth. I could just imagine the pilot struggling with his controls, trying to right the plane, and just when it felt like he’d won, there was a terrible cracking sound, a scraping, and then came the JOLT that bounced my skull against the side of the plane. By the time the stars cleared away, the plane was still and quiet. And I was not dead.

The stewardess came around again to help us out of our seats and get us off the plane as quickly as we could. We weren’t at the airport. We’d had an “emergency landing” on a strip of smooth-paved country road just outside of London. You could see where we flew low over the trees in those last minutes, branches torn off. Some nice men in an ambulance gave us all scratchy black blankets and that drink — whiskey, probably, or maybe brandy, if there’s any difference. And then they checked us over to make sure we weren’t harmed, and asked us to recollect what had happened, and for our details in case they had questions for us later. I have my bump on the head, another woman had a broken ankle, and everyone had a few scrapes and bruises, but thankfully it’s nothing worse than that.

I was sure to shake the pilot’s hand and thank him soberly for saving our lives, but he had a haunted look in his eyes and he didn’t answer me. I’m not sure he even knew I was there, not really.