Operation Camilla

By: Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

Now to ensure that the right people saw it. Blackman had given this careful thought. He didn’t want to be too direct. It would be best if someone else, some real person, was the one to bring it to the attention of the victims’ wives.

He started by creating a Facebook account in a generic name. He uploaded a random picture of a fluffy cat as the profile picture. Josh had explained all this. Apparently it was quite usual for young women to use pictures of animals instead of their own pictures. Now to get some friends, so as to look like a real person. Join some groups, Josh had said. Since he was already using a cat as his profile picture, he typed ‘cat’ into the search box. There was an interest, so he ‘liked’ that, and joined something called Family Share. He applied to join a group called ‘Cat Lovers’, one called ‘Black Cats Rock’, and one called ‘Jellicle Cats’. He hastily found a picture of a black cat and made that his profile picture instead, to justify his interest. Pretty soon his membership application to Cat Lovers was approved. He surfed about, liked some cat pages and shared some pictures of cats to fill up his timeline. He liked some bible study pages as well. Getting some friends would be the trick. He knew he needed to do that, and quickly, or he was just not going to look real. Then, biting the bullet, he entered random strings in the search field and sent friend requests to half a dozen people. God knew why anyone would accept a friend request from a total stranger, but Josh had said people did it all the time. He logged out, locked up his office and went through the connecting door into the house.


By the time she had to leave for work, Tammy was depressed. Dinner for one was no novelty; Ben, a police detective, worked varying shifts. But having dinner alone when your partner was just a phone call away and would be home at 11:30 was one thing, and having dinner alone when he was hundreds of miles away and wouldn’t be home for three weeks was quite another. Just to put the icing on the cake, Tom hadn’t come home from his morning jaunt. It was nothing to worry about, she told herself. Tomcats did roam. Tom could look after himself. Still, it had been a sad little meal, and she’d left half of the lasagne she’d microwaved. She scraped out some of the meat filling onto the top of Tom’s untouched dinner. He’d enjoy it when he got home.

Tammy’s shift at the supermarket started at ten p.m., when the store closed to customers. For the next six hours she would stock shelves, the monotonous work relieved only by the frequent smoke breaks called by her fellow workers, none of whom could be called exactly dedicated. Tammy often wondered how many people it would take to work the night shift if everyone just buckled down and worked, instead of mucking about. But it was easy work, they were a friendly bunch, and it didn’t take anything from your brain. She generally listened to an audiobook through most of her shift, so it was almost like leisure time, with gentle exercise. She turned out the lights and locked the door. Tom would get in through the broken pane at the bottom. She really must get that fixed. It had been broken during her rental tenancy, before settlement had taken place, so it should have been fixed by the vendor as landlord, but despite many promises he had never turned up. Anyway, it was useful for Tom, saving her the expense and trouble of a catflap. She didn’t make much from her supermarket job, and although things had eased when Ben had moved in and started sharing expenses, she still had to be careful, always mindful of the possibility of a major expense with her old banger of a car.


Once a few people had accepted his friend request, Blackman sent requests to a few more, selecting people who were already friends with his existing friends. Each time he sent ten or so requests, there would usually be at least one person who accepted. In this way he got up to a respectable twenty-seven friends over the course of a week. Then he started to search for people living in the local area. This was a bit more risky, as he was a fictional entity, and people might well expect actually to know him, but he had chosen one of the surnames that belonged to an enormous extended family; Yarrangong was full of Somervilles; they were, so to speak, legion. Therefore for any given Somerville, he reasoned, it would be quite on the cards that one might know them without really knowing them. The name itself was almost a kind of bona fide passport.