To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/
Syafika woke up shivering and realised that she didn’t have a blanket over her. She put her hand out and searched for one in the dark but couldn’t find one. Then she realised that she didn’t know where she was sleeping. She thought she could see the shape of a bedside lamp so she put her hand out and felt for a switch. The lamp turned on automatically when she touched it and Syafika saw that she was lying on a bed, on top of the blankets.
It took Syafika a few seconds to remember where she was and why she was there. Her stomach felt better now but she was thirsty so she got up to get a glass of water. When Syafika passed the door of the main bedroom she could hear snoring so she tried to walk as quietly as possible. Syafika gently opened cupboards in the kitchen as she looked for a glass. She found neat stacks of bowls and plates, a modest pantry and a juicing machine before she came across the cups and glasses.
Syafika took her glass of water and walked around the flat. First she looked out at the harbour and noticed that there were no boats moving around. Then she noticed a flash of lightning and as she watched it start to rain she hoped that D’arby had followed her instructions and gone home.
When Syafika remembered D’arby she remembered that she’d met up with Anthony for a purpose. Syafika realised she should look be looking for clues to what Anthony was up to and imagined she might find some on his computer or phone or maybe some paperwork. Then Syafika remembered the transmitter D’arby had given her and wondered where she could hide it. Syafika decided to go back to her room to get the transmitter from her bag but on the way she noticed a door to another room. She turned the door handle slowly and gently, then stopped to listen. When Syafika heard Anthony’s snoring she decided it was safe to continue. She went inside the room and turned on the light.
Inside the room there was a desk, bookshelf and a couple of filing cabinets. The filing cabinets were locked but the desk drawers weren’t. Syafika had a quick look in them but only found stationery. Syafika wondered where Anthony kept the key to the filing cabinets. There wasn’t anywhere obvious to hide a key so she felt the top of the bookshelf but only found dust. Syafika sighed with frustration and wished she’d taken more notice of what was in Anthony’s room when she’d walked through to go to the balcony. Syafika considered trying to creep into Anthony’s room to have a look for his phone or computer, but when she imagined how embarrassed she’d feel if he woke up Syafika decided not to.
Instead Syafika went back to her room and got the transmitter then walked around the living room with it looking for somewhere to put it, but she couldn’t decide on a good spot because all the good hiding places were so out of the way that they probably wouldn’t pick up anything Anthony said and she didn’t want to risk putting it somewhere where Anthony would find it. Syafika was about to give up and go back to bed when she noticed a jacket hanging on the back of the door. Syafika took the jacket down and inspected it. She decided that the collar would be a great spot to hide the transmitter so she quietly got a sharp knife from the kitchen and cut a few of the stitches joining the underside of the collar to the jacket. Then she tured the transmitter on, slid it inside the collar and hung the jacket back up.
After Syafika returned the knife to the kitchen she went back to bed and lay there feeling exhausted but also guilty for not having made the most of this opportunity to look throught Anthony’s things.
Not long after Syafika fell asleep again she was woken by the sound of her phone ringing. She turned the light on and saw that her bag was on the bedside table so she quickly took out her phone and answered.
“Hello?” said Syafika. She was really curious to know who was calling because she didn’t think anyone but Anthony knew her number.
“Are you alright?” asked D’arby.
“Yes” said Syafika. “I feel much better now”.
“What are you doing?” asked D’arby.
“I was sleeping” said Syafika.
“What is Anthony doing?” asked D’arby.
“Sleeping, I guess” said Syafika and she realised that she couldn’t hear him snoring anymore.
“Have you had a look around?” asked D’arby.
“Yes but he hasn’t left anything accessible” said Syafika.
“Are you sure? Why don’t you have another look? What about in his room?” asked D’arby.
“I’m not going in there. He might wake up and catch me” said Syafika.
“You could make an excuse if he wakes up. Tell him you were looking for headache tablets” said D’arby.
Syafika sighed loudly and decided that D’arby was right and she should be making more of this opportunity.
“Ok” said Syafika. “I will do it now. Bye”
Syafika sat and listened for the sound of Anthony’s snoring but couldn’t hear anything. She had a really bad feeling about sneaking into his room and realised that she ought to be able to come up with a better plan. Syafika concentrated on her breathing until she felt calm. Them she got up and gently knocked on Anthony’s bedroom door.
When there was no answer Syafika knocked again and this time she thought she heard something so she gently opened the door and walked in.
Anthony turned on his bedside lamp and sat up in bed, looking a bit startled.
“Sorry to wake you but I have a terrible headache. Do you have something I could take?” asked Syafika. As she said this Syafika felt guilty, but not as guilty as she’d have felt if she had been sneaking around Anthony’s room in the dark. Syafika noticed that Anthony looked different when he was half asleep. His hair was sticking up messily and he seemed to be having trouble registering what she was saying.
Anthony briefly covered his face with his hands as his eyes adjusted to the light. Then he nervously scratched his hair. Syafika made the most of this opportunity to have a discreet look around the room. She noticed that Anthony’s phone was on his bedside table and so she sat down on the floor next to the bedside table and held her head.
“Ok. Just a minute” said Anthony and he got up and left the room. Syafika waited a couple of seconds and then grabbed Anthony’s phone, but soon realised that was a waste of time because it was locked and needed a fingerprint to unlock it.
Syafika put the phone back and, realising that it would take a lot more planning for her to be able to steal Anthony’s secrets, but that there was one thing she could have a go at – she could see what Anthony would tell her.
When Anthony came back he handed Syafika a glass of water and then put two tablets in her other hand.
“Thanks” said Syafika and she put the tablets in her mouth then pretended to take a sip of water and swallow. She had a thing against headache tablets and didn’t want to take them, even when she really did have a headache. When Anthony looked away Syafika spat the tablets into her hand and stood up.
“Will you be ok now?” asked Anthony.
Syafika looked at Anthony and wondered whether she should try to talk to him now or in the morning. She thought he seemed a little bit annoyed at being woken up, which made Syafika think it would be better to wait until the morning. But at the same time, Anthony’s tiredness made him less sharp and Syafika thought she’d have a better chance of getting information out of him now.
Syafika sat down on the corner of Anthony’s bed and sighed loudly.
“This game was fun, for a while, but I’m getting sick of it. Why don’t we both admit we are spying on each other and just tell each other what we would like to know – it would save a lot of time” said Syafika.
Anthony suddenly perked up. He sat down next to Syafika, put his arm around her and said “That sounds like fun. Let’s make some coffee and then we can talk until the sun comes up”. Then Anthony got up and went to the kitchen. Syafika waited behind so she could throw the headache tablets under Anthony’s bed, then she followed Anthony to the kitchen, feeling terrified.
Syafika watched Anthony grind coffee beans and put them into a stovetop percolator.
“I need to watch the temperature carefully and it takes a while so please forgive my silence until the coffee is made” said Anthony. “If you think it is too boring you can go and try unlocking my filing cabinets again. The key is hidden in that room somewhere. See if you can find it”
Syafika’s face became hot with embarrassment and she felt like hiding in one of the kitchen cupboards but instead she had to look Anthony in the eye.
Anthony smiled and took a small digital voice recorder out of his pocket. When he pressed the button it started making a snoring sound.
“Don’t worry. I’m not angry. I would have done the same if you’d let me sleep at your place” said Anthony. “Plus I know D’arby made you do it”.
Syafika tried to hide her surprise when she heard Anthony mention D’arby and wondered how Anthony knew who D’arby was. If Syafika hadn’t been about to bluff her way through a secret-trading session with Anthony she would have asked him how he knew D’arby, but instead she tried to look as if she already knew.
Syafika walked over to the look at the harbour, and on the way she noticed Anthony’s jacket hanging on the back of the door and wondered if Anthony also knew about her hiding the transmitter in the collar. As Syafika looked out the window she noticed that it had stopped raining but she could still see lightning in the distance. Syafika realised that her heart was beating really fast and tried to calm down by staring at the water and not thinking about anything.
“Coffee’s ready” said Anthony and he carried the coffees over on a tray and put it down on the coffee table. Syafika sat down on a chair that was facing the window and Anthony sat opposite her. When she looked at the tray it reminded her of the tea that Ousman had made for her at breakfast time, and she felt like that was a million years ago. Syafika saw that Anthony had made her a coffee with milk and had sprinkled chocolate powder on top and he’d made himself a black coffee.
“It was your idea, so you go first. Tell me something” said Anthony.
“Wouldn’t you rather ask a question?” said Syafika.
“Asking questions is a more dangerous version of the game. I don’t think you’re ready for that level yet” said Anthony.
“I’m not ready? Or is it just that you think you’d be able to control the information you give me more tightly if I can’t ask for the things I want to know?” said Syafika.
“Both” said Anthony. “Go, before the sun comes up. When we see the sun, we stop”.
“Ok” said Syafika. “Today… I mean yesterday, Celine and I went for coffee and we talked about you”
Anthony tried to keep his face blank but Syafika could tell that what she’d said had made him angry.
“That’s not much information” said Anthony, and not what I wanted to know. I don’t follow you to see who you go for coffee with”
Syafika wanted to smile but couldn’t. She was pleased with herself for having made Anthony admit that he’d been following her.
“Sorry. I’ll think of something more interesting next time it is my turn. Your turn now” said Syafika.
“Nelson is a psychopath” said Anthony.
Syafika hadn’t expected that. She had heard D’arby talk about psychopaths but didn’t really know what they were.
“Your turn” said Anthony.
“According to Nelson, Christine is helping the Minister steal money” said Syafika.
“That is more interesting” said Anthony. “But you shouldn’t trust anything Nelson says”.
“Who can I trust?” asked Syafika.
“You should trust Christine” said Anthony. “That was my turn. Now it’s your turn”
Syafika was glad to hear that she could trust Christine because she liked Christine, but she realised she liked Nelson too.
Syafika felt like she’d run out of things to say that might be of interest to Anthony professionally and she couldn’t stop wondering why Anthony had been following her – had he been doing that for his work? Or was he following her because he was personally interested in her? She was tempted to admit that she was obsessed with him but frightened of how he’d react.
“Let me think for a minute” said Syafika. “I need to take in what you’ve said and work out what I should tell you next”
Syafika realised that she needed to rethink everything she’d assumed about Anthony. She’d assumed that he was interested in her because he wanted to know what was going on at her work, and that Anthony was interested in what went on at work because he was involved in some kind of corruption. She’d also assumed that Nelson and Celine were working as spies for Anthony, but if Anthony had two spies, why would he risk trying to find out information from her? Hearing that Anthony thought Nelson was a psychopath and that he thought she could trust Christine made Syafika realise that Anthony didn’t trust Nelson. The way Anthony had got angry when she told him she’d had coffee with Celine made Syafika suspect that Anthony didn’t trust Celine much either. If all that were true then maybe Anthony tried to find out information from her because he trusted her more than he trusted his spies. That seemed like a sensible explanation but it didn’t explain how Anthony knew D’arby, or why Anthony had followed her home.
Syafika wondered what interest Anthony could have in D’arby and remembered that D’arby had started a new job recently but she didn’t know what the job was. When Syafika thought about how D’arby had suddenly become interested in spying on Anthony she wondered whether D’arby might also have his own reason for spying on Anthony. But even if that were true, what business did Anthony have following her home?
Syafika wanted to think that Anthony had followed her home because he was in love with her, but she forced herself to think through other possibilities and realised that there was another reason that Anthony would follow her home – what if Anthony was spying on her because he wanted to find out something about her family? What if Anthony hadn’t been following her when he saw her running barefoot – what if he’d been spying on her house and saw her arrive home? When Syafika thought of her family the idea that Anthony would want to know anything about any of them seemed ridiculous because none of them ever did anything suspicious, until she remembered how she’d followed Rose and had seen her give a bundle of cash to a lady who lived in the park near the train station.
“Ok. I’ve got one. I saw my Mum give a bundle of $50 notes to a lady who lives in the park near the train station” said Syafika. Syafika paid careful attention to Anthony’s face as she said this because she was using it as bait and hoping that his reaction would tell her whether he was interested in knowing about her family or not.
Anthony opened his mouth slightly, as if he wanted to ask a question but he didn’t say anything. He just stared at Syafika.
Syafika held Anthony’s gaze for a couple of seconds and then it became too uncomfortable so she glanced over his shoulder and noticed that the sky was getting lighter.
“I think the sun is coming up” said Syafika. Can we watch it from the balcony?”