Friday Night Story

Living Legend

I’ve been with the KGB for years. Call us what you like, now, the FSB, or the President’s men, it does not matter. After Gorbachev did what he could to neuter us, we surged back and seized control of our country from the mafias and the criminals and the hand-wringing liberal cretins.

Feliks Pronichev died in Moscow in 1998, from small-cell lung cancer. However, twenty years before, he gave his name and citizenship in the United Kingdom to an agent, his “live double;” this is as opposed to the “dead double,” a real person whose death is erased from public record and replaced- an increasingly unwieldy tactic in this computer age. Parts of the agent’s background and history were fictionalized through faked documents, a process called creating a legend. The new Pronichev functioned as a low-level controller. Through political agitation, augmented by other legends, he infiltrated local government. Pronichev has been celebrated a dozen times by different leaders, within our organization and within our government, for the length and unwavering quality of his operations.

But Pronichev has been doubling for sixteen years. He has sold the names of Soviets, and sewn corruption among the agents he controlled; it would be a proud day for his trainers if he were doing these things to the British and not his own people.

Because of the sophistication of his deceit, he knows that we know. He’s hidden himself away in Slough, which seems a foolish thing but for the fact that we do not have maps of it. We can buy a commercial map, you understand, but we don’t have any of the detailed, secretive maps we assembled for the better part of the country. Government installations, warehouses and offices that for whatever reason are kept from official documents, are all lost to us. Here, we are blind.

Slough and Reading, the twin testicles comprising the nut sack of Great Britain; I imagine he chose this hole in the muck for the stench it periodically belches into the sky, to hide his own rat stink from me.

He’s done well to hide his trail, staying away from old acquaintances, not using any prior aliases, or dipping into resources we’d monitor. To complicate matters, the British Box has become concerned about their mole, and are now combing the local countryside for Russians. We’ve lost a pair of agents already down to their tightening net.

He’s in this city with me, breathing in its foul air, but he’s gone to ground, leaving cold crumbs in a dozen directions, with no indication any of them are real. Intelligence put Box outside the city this morning, leaving me with hours, if that. My English is pedestrian at best, and will certainly not hold up under any more than a moment’s scrutiny, and I find myself caught in the worst maze the British government could have ever devised: one of their horrible, little cities. The chill of this terrible place is in my bones; I just want to kill someone and go home.

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