Tompkins placed the three devices onto a parked lorry that he thought was heading to the north of England and then went back to his vehicle. He started up the car and drove away, slowing down, and then speeding up just as the light turned to red. No other vehicle followed him, and he increased his speed as the traffic lightened.
His journey to Newhaven took him close to Stalky Stark’s place and on a whim, he thought he’d pop by, and see whether any vehicles were in attendance. If there were, he could take their number plates and send them off to Daisy, so she could cross-reference them with her friends in places where such things were easily done.
Tomcat knew there would be a risk in heading to Stalky’s, but he reasoned his car could outstrip them all in a race, so he took his chance. He approached the crossroads and turned left for Stalky’s knowing this next two miles was the riskiest part of this escapade, as the road was narrow and could be blocked.
Once at Stalky’s there was another crossroads within a mile and the road was wider. Coming from that direction was also risky because most of the road was visible from the upstairs of Stalky’s house. “Swings and roundabouts” said Tompkins to himself as he motored along the road, scaring the pheasants over the hedges as he did. He rounded the final bend and then slowed down to take in the scene at the end of Stalky’s driveway.
Two vehicles were parked facing the road as though they were about to go somewhere. Tompkins made a note of their numbers, neither of which he recognised, and sent them to Daisy from a laptop using the secure channel she’d provided him with.
Before driving away, Tompkins performed a little amateur sabotage. He took out the hunting knife from under his seat and cut the walls of the tyres on the passenger side of the two cars. The expulsion of air felt satisfying and reminded him of his days when he was President of the Baked Bean Society at the University. He hoped his opponents would feel as deflated as he did after he’d stuck his backside out of the college windows all those years ago. Filly always wrinkled her nose up when he told her the story.
“Oh my,” he said, “Filly, she’ll be arriving soon – it’s time I wasn’t here.” He stowed the knife under the seat and looked up. He thought he saw someone in an upstairs window looking in his direction.
“Time to leave,” said Tompkins to himself and reversed his car before heading back the way he’d come. He hoped this manoeuvre would confuse his opponents, who would expect him to go straight on, where they could watch him leave and see which direction he was going in.
Tompkins arrived at Newhaven to find the ferry already docked. He scanned the vehicle queue and saw Filly in the front passenger seat of the minibus. Tompkins looked around and saw two familiar figures watching the ferry closely. Ingram and Evans hadn’t seen Tompkins, so he crouched down and tried to think of a plan.
He looked again and saw something more sinister. A car parked close to the exit had four occupants who were all watching the ferry. The two in the back were sitting as far apart as possible, almost as though they were keeping a space vacant between them. The driver was a female and when she turned to speak to the front-seat passenger, Tompkins recognised Mrs. Stalky Stark, she of the amazing muffling technique.
“Well,” said Tompkins to himself, “I think this shows the police and the opposition aren’t in cahoots, as they are not aware of each other. Now, what to do? How do I warn Filly? I know, how about an owl hoot? I must get closer. I don’t want to be recognised, so I have to find a disguise.”
Tompkins looked around and saw a man selling sausages, wearing a hat and overalls in a rather jolly blue colour. He sidled over and saw that the man was selling cooked sausages from Poland.
“May I have two sausages please,” said Tompkins.
“Of course, sir, would you like anything on them?” replied the man with just a hint of an accent.
“Oh, just Polish mustard, where are you from?”