Operation Camilla

By: Tabitha Ormiston-Smith


First and foremost, of course, he would need a computer expert. The degree of computer skill necessary to this project was, he knew, far beyond him. He knew where to get one, though. His nephew, Josh, had graduated from RMIT last year, and was now working at PCs R Us, just three doors down from the Commercial Club. With the right cover story, he might not even need to pay him.

That would take a bit of thought, though. Josh was a smart boy, very smart, and it would take something special to get him to work free. Something idealistic, he thought. All these young kids were all about saving the planet, and all that goody-goody rubbish. But at the same time it had to be cool. That was what young people cared about. Being cool. He gazed around his messy, cluttered office, looking for inspiration. His eye fell on the paperback he was reading. Ah yes, now he had it. That would get him. He reached for the telephone.

***

Ben leaned back in his chair, letting out a sigh of satisfaction. “Ahhhh. Best thing I ever did, moving in here. You keep this up, you minx, I’m gonna have to spend every night in the gym.”

Tammy eyed him fondly. He certainly could eat for England. How nice it was to have someone demanding third helpings every night. Ben’s uncritical appetite made her feel like Nigella Lawson. “I don’t think you’re putting on weight, Ben. You look great to me.”

They enjoyed a sappy moment. Then Tammy rose to start on the dishes. “Haven’t you got packing to do?”

“Shit, yeah.” He leaped up. “Nearly forgot. Shit, three whole weeks. I’m going to miss you, Tam. And your cooking. And you, you little scoundrel.” He bent to lift Tom to his shoulder. “You won’t forget to worm him, will you, Tammy? It’s due on Friday.”

“No, Ben, I won’t forget to worm him. And I won’t forget to feed him. And I won’t forget to give him cuddles. Go on, get out of here.” She flicked the dish towel at him as he exited the kitchen, Tom draped around his neck like a black fur scarf.

***

“… a matter of national security.”

Josh regarded his uncle sceptically. “Seems odd they don’t have their own computer people, though. I mean, a big organisation like Asio.”

Blackman tapped the side of his nose. “It’s a black op, Josh. Full freedom, but no support. I’m on my own with this. And I need the help of someone I can trust. I need your help, Josh. For the children,” he finished, with a significant look.

“Children? What children?”

Damn, he’d laid it on too thick. “Figure of speech, mate. I mean the security of our nation, and the country our children are going to inherit, see what I mean?”

“Alright, Uncle Don. What was it you wanted me to do?”

“I need you to hack into a website. This website.” He passed over a slip of paper. “I want to know everyone they have dealings with.”

Josh stared at the paper. “Uncle Don, I know this site. It’s a dating agency.”

“Ostensibly. Huh? Huh?” He waggled his eyebrows in what he hoped was a meaningful way.

“I want to know everyone who’s on their list, and the codenames they’re using. If you can get copies of their communications in and out, that would be ideal.”

“But Uncle Don, a dating agency?”

“Think about it, Josh. Communications going in and out all the time. People using code names. Meetings being arranged. Think about it. We want to know where and when those meetings are taking place.”

He had him now. The kid’s eyes were shining.

“Can you do it, Josh? Remember, no risks. I may risk my own life for my country, but yours is not on the table.”

“Let me see what I can do, ’kay?”

“And no talking about it on the phone. If you see me anywhere but here, don’t say anything. This room’s been swept for bugs, but…”

Josh nodded. “Say no more, Uncle Don. My lips are sealed.” He made a zipping gesture across his mouth.

“We’ll meet back here in, say, a week. If anyone asks, I was having some trouble with my computer. Everyone knows I’m a technophobe. It’s useful for them to know that, if you know what I mean.”

“Geez. Do you have, like, a Batcave under here?”