Benton behind bars by ElsieMcC

Summary: An escape is being planned by a gang of inmates at Chelsfield Military Prison and Sergeant Benton is sent in undercover to infiltrate the gang. Will he manage to persuade the leader to accept him? Will UNIT, with the assistance of Miss Hawthorne and Iolanthe Grosvenor, be able to solve the mysterious death of an informant and find the weapons stolen by the gang? And will Benton live to tell the tale? NB a revised version of this story is now at

Rating: Teen
Categories: Third Doctor
Characters: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Other Character(s), Sergeant Benton
Genres: Action/Adventure, Mystery
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: The Hawthorne and Benton Mysteries
Published: 2021.09.09
Updated: 2021.09.10


Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Chapter 16: Epilogue

Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Benton behind bars

Chapter 1

In her office at UNIT HQ, Iolanthe Grosvenor was finishing off a report. She typed steadily, pausing to turn the pages of her notebook. She had spent the last couple of weeks on secondment with a police force in Yorkshire, helping them with the evidence that led to the arrest of a fraudlent psychic, who had been preying on vulnerable clients. Her notes completed, Iolanthe resisted the temptation to type “the end” and pulled the page from her typewriter with a flourish, then started guiltily as the phone rang.


“Lily? The Old Man wants to see you, pronto.”

Iolanthe wasn’t sure how her given name had become “Lily,” but, given the possible alternatives, she didn’t really mind that much. She replied,

“OK, thanks Bob,” to Private Jenkins, who was on the other end of the line, and hung up. She gathered up her report, in case that was why the Brigadier wanted to see her and set off briskly down the corridor.

As she approached the Brigadier’s office Iolanthe stopped short as she heard a commotion and shouting from within. Other members of the UNIT team came out into the corridor as there was one final crash, followed by silence. The door opened and a military policeman came out, leading a UNIT soldier in handcuffs. Another officer followed, closing the door behind him. To the astonishment of his comrades, the soldier under arrest was Sergeant Benton. The policemen positioned themselves on either side of their prisoner and steered him towards the exit. Benton scowled at his escorts, then, catching sight of Iolanthe, suddenly winked, throwing her into even deeper confusion. As sound of footsteps faded down the corridor, the bewildered UNIT personnel looked at each other in horrified silence. The silence was broken by the sound of the Brigadier clearing his throat.

“Ahem! When you’ve all QUITE finished sightseeing ...”

He didn’t need to say any more. His subordinates fled without a word, leaving Iolanthe, her eyes wide, her report clutched to her chest as a child might hold a favourite picture book. The Brigadier came out of the doorway, a bloodstained handkerchief pressed against his nose.

“Miss Grosvenor,” he said, somewhat indistinctly, and stood back for Iolanthe to enter the office and closing the door behind them. The interior of the office was far from its usual military neatness. The Brigadier’s desk had been shoved sideways and his chair upset. Papers were strewn across the surface of the desk and his in tray and telephone had been knocked to the floor. Three chairs near the desk had also been tipped over. The Brigadier stepped forwards and set one of the chairs back on its legs, gesturing to Iolanthe, who sat down. Having pushed his desk straight and righted his own chair, her commanding officer sat down himself, then fished in the mayhem on the surface of the desk, finally grunting in satisfaction as he found the file he was looking for.

“I must say,” he remarked, after cautiously removing the handkerchief from his nose, “when Sergeant Benton does a job, he does it thoroughly.”

Iolanthe opened her mouth, but couldn’t think which question to ask first, so closed it again. The Brigadier watched her, a hint of amusement in his eyes.

“I’m sorry to have startled you like that, Miss Grosvenor, I had hoped to brief you in advance, but we were rather overtaken by events. I can set your mind at rest about one thing though, Sergeant Benton has committed no offence.”

“Oh, then?”

The Brigadier opened the file.

“A couple of weeks ago we were contacted by the Governor of Chelsfield Prison, it’s a military establishment, about 20 miles from here,” he added in answer to Iolanthe’s questioning expression. “The Governor had been received intelligence from an informant that an escape was being planned, led by this man, Ronald Baxter.”

The Brigadier passed a photograph across the desk. The photograph showed a man of medium height wearing a captain’s uniform, gazing haughtily at the camera. His short hair was reddish brown in colour and showed signs that it might be curly if it had been longer. His nose had been broken at some point and healed slightly out of alignment and his downward curving mouth was strongly marked. It was not a handsome face but, looking at the picture Iolanthe felt a strong impression of charisma. This was a person who would be followed, who would inspire loyalty, she felt. The Brigadier went on.

“Had it just been the escape plot, I would have hesitated to get involved, but there are further complications. Before he was arrested, Baxter was responsible for the theft of a quantity of weapons and ammunition from a storage facility near Beconswood. It’s believed that the arms were stolen with the intention of selling them to a criminal gang. The police and the army have combed the area, but they can find no trace of either arms or ammunition and, as far as the organised crime squad are aware, the guns haven’t turned up on the market yet. The authorities believe, and I’m inclined to agree with them, that Baxter and his gang are planning to break out of the prison, retrieve the arms from wherever it is they’ve stashed them and make contact with their customers. That’s the only way they can be sure of profiting from the theft.”

“I see.” Iolanthe frowned. “Did the informant say when the break out was likely to happen?”

“Unfortunately not. He was due to meet the Governor yesterday but,”

another photograph was passed across the desk. This picture showed the body of a man, lying on the floor of a cell.

Iolanthe took the photograph and looked at it in silence. Then she asked;

“How did he die?”

“The cause of death has not been established. He doesn’t show any outward signs of having been poisoned, but it only happened yesterday and tests are still underway. He appears to have been in good health, with no sign of heart problems. It may be that there was some underlying problem that the medics didn’t know about, but the timing of his death was a bit too convenient for Baxter and his cronies for the authorities to ignore. He was found in his cell early yesterday morning, when the doors were unlocked and he failed to come out for breakfast. The doors are locked electronically at night and the computer record shows that they stayed closed, there’s no evidence that anyone was in the cell but Webster.”

“He had a cell to himself?”

“Yes, as with most prisons, cells are usually shared, but Webster had been moved to a single cell after he got into a fight with his previous cellmate, another member of Baxter’s gang. If the fight had anything to do with his informing on the gang, it would have been only a matter of time before Baxter took his revenge.” The Brigadier paused, then went on, “as I say, tests are continuing and we should have the autopsy report in the next few days, but, as it stands, it appears a healthy man dropped dead alone in a cell, and that seems unlikely to say the least.

The powers that be wanted an investigation by people who understood the setup, but had no connection to the regular army, so they contacted Geneva, who contacted me. It was decided to place a man on the inside, and that man is Benton. His job will be to try and get close to Baxter and find out when the escape is planned to take place and, if at all possible, where the arms are hidden.”

“Does anyone at the prison know why he is there?” asked Iolanthe, looking up from the photograph of the dead informant.

“The Governor does. It was he who requested the investigation, along with General Gibbs, who was investigating the theft for the Army. As far as the rest of the prison staff is concerned, Sergeant Benton has been accused of involvement in a gambling ring and, ahem, of striking a senior officer and resisting arrest.”

Iolanthe carefully avoided the Brigadier’s eyes. Events were moving so quickly she had begun to feel slightly hysterical, and the thought of Sergeant Benton being required to punch his commanding officer in the face had her on the verge of giggles. She took a deep breath and listened as the Brigadier gave her more details of the operation.

“We haven’t shared any details with anyone other than the Governor because he suspects that at least one of the senior staff, and possibly one or more officers might be compromised. His informant hinted at it and, frankly, I’d be surprised if Baxter hadn’t either bribed or coerced someone on the staff into working for him. From what I’ve read about him, it would be his style and a major breakout from a place like Chelsfield would be almost impossible without the cooperation of at least one officer, if not more.”

Iolanthe looked serious.

“Then he has no help? Apart from the Governor?”

“Not quite.” The Brigadier sat back. “We do have an agent placed in the prison library. Of course, Benton won’t have a lot of contact with her, but she will be there three days a week and if he can get to her, she will be able to give us the latest intelligence.”

“She? but, I thought, is it a mixed prison?”

“There are two wings, one for male prisoners and the other for females. But this person will be on the staff, or at least a volunteer. There are a few female members of staff in the men’s wing, and our agent will be one of them.”

“Oh, I see.” Iolanthe didn’t think to ask who the ‘agent’ was, she was too busy trying to remember all that she was being told and wondering where she fitted in with the plan. As if he had read her mind, the Brigadier said;

“I assume your next question will be how do you fit in to this operation? Yes,” seeing Iolanthe blush, “I thought so. I want you to be Benton’s contact on the outside. He will be allowed visitors eventually, and I want you to be his visitor, either as a colleague or relative. With your skills he may be able to get more information to you than he would to other people and, to put it bluntly, a female visitor is less likely to arouse suspicion than a man.”

The Brigadier looked sharply at Iolanthe as he said this, but she showed no sign of having been offended, instead she frowned, apparently lost in thought. She assumed that by “skills” the Brigadier was referring to her ability to sense the motivations and emotions of others, and, possibly the experiments in thought transference that she, Benton, the Doctor and some other volunteers had been working on. The results had been promising, but there was no guarantee of success and, in any case, they hadn’t really got beyond the basics. Iolanthe looked at the Brigadier.

“And when can I, when will he be able to have visitors?”

“Not for at least a week, I think. Prisoners are kept in isolation for the first two days after they arrive, then integrated with the rest of the inmates after that. Visits aren’t permitted during that time. But, in any case, it’s unlikely Benton would have much to report.”

“No, I see that. Thank you, Sir. And how many people here know about what’s happening?”

“I’ve tried to keep the full particulars of the case to as few people as possible, although, after this morning’s performance there will have to be a general briefing. But apart from that, access to the file is limited to myself, you and Records personnel. You’ll need to consult them and they may have to make amendments to Benton’s record and to yours to fit with the story we’ve devised.”

The Brigadier stood up and handed the file over to Iolanthe.

“I think that’s about all for the time being, Miss Grosvenor. I’d like you to take a look at the report into the robbery and the postmortem of the informer, there are peculiarities in both cases that you may be able to shed some light on. Other than that, I’ll keep you informed of any developments and brief you before your first visit. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good, then I won’t keep you any longer.”

Taking the hint, Iolanthe stood up and made her way out of the Brigadier’s office and back to her own, her mind in turmoil. The initial shock of Benton’s arrest had faded after her briefing, but she was still concerned about her friend, even as she told herself that he was a soldier and had gone undercover before. She wondered what the Brigadier had meant about peculiar aspects of the robbery and the death of the informer. This train of thought took her to the door of her office. Once inside, she sat down at her desk, put her own file back in her in tray and opened the folder the Brigadier had given her. Then, her chin resting on her hands, she began to read.

A military police jeep drew up outside the entrance to Chelsfield Prison. An officer got out of the driver’s seat and went round to let the backboard down. Another officer got out, followed by the tall figure of Sergeant Benton. Benton looked up at the prison building as he was escorted towards it. His previous experience of prisons had been limited to the raid on Stangmoor in pursuit of the Master. Unlike that rambling, stone fortress, Chelsfield was on a more compact scale, a square, brick-built, three storey construction, with small, barred windows set round the upper floors. The sergeant and his captors entered through the imposing metal doors that formed the entrance and went through to the reception area, where Benton’s details were checked and his few personal belongings taken from him and listed, then put to one side to be stored. His uniform was exchanged for the prison uniform of grey trousers, shirt and jacket and he was taken to another room, where the prison doctor completed a brief examination and asked him questions about his health. The doctor, a small, wiry man in his sixties, recorded the answers on a clipboard, smiling at Benton as he did so.

“Good, very good,” he remarked, for all the world, Benton thought, as if he was appraising livestock.

“That’ll be all thank you, Mr. Benton,” he said eventually, “Thank you Mr. Hooper,”

This remark was addressed to one of Benton’s escort, who was waiting by the door. Hooper replied drily, “right you are Doc” and led his prisoner out of the room. Benton had the impression that, although the officer was polite, he didn’t have much respect for the doctor. Interesting. Benton was led down a corridor to the Governor’s office, where he was given a short speech about the conduct that would be expected of him while he was at Chelsfield. As the warder was in the room, the Governor could say no more than he usually did to new prisoners. Looking at him, Benton could see signs of strain. The Governor wasn’t a young man, the Sergeant guessed his age to be in the mid-sixties, and the current situation was clearly taking its toll. Benton stood to attention, only answering “Yes, Sir,” when he was directly addressed. Having concluded his remarks, the Governor instructed Hooper to escort Benton to an isolation cell, which he did. Standing in the doorway, Hooper, a tall, fair-haired man with an expression that suggested that he took a certain cynical amusement from his work, informed Benton that, as he would be there for the next two days at least, he should make himself comfortable. Sergeant Benton rewarded this remark with a scowl, which drew a laugh from Hooper as he closed the door with a bang. Left alone, Benton took stock of his surroundings. The cell was sparsely furnished, a metal framed bed stood against one wall and a desk and chair against another. The window, as he had seen from the outside, was small and placed high up in the wall. It was glazed with toughened glass and the bars set into the frame cast shadows on the floor. Basic toilet facilities completed the furnishings. Benton sat down on the edge of the bed. Here he was then. He hoped he hadn’t hurt the Brigadier too much, but he’d been told to make his assault look real, and it was difficult to pull a punch at such close range. Three days. Three days to try and work out how to get close to Baxter without him suspecting, then he would have to try and put any plan he had formulated into action. Benton was not a coward, but he felt some trepidation. From all accounts Baxter was a ruthless man and he had a gang of his fellow prisoners under his command, and probably some of the staff too. Benton frowned, then his brow cleared. He knew that at least one member of the prison staff could be trusted. Despite the seriousness of his situation, Sergeant Benton smiled, and wondered how soon he would be able to visit the library.

In a cell off the main corridor, Baxter was in conversation.

“So, who is this new bloke?” he asked.

“Benton, his name is. He’s from UNIT. He’s on remand pending a court martial.”

Baxter whistled.

“UNIT eh? What did he do?”

“Ran a gambling den and thumped his C.O. when he got found out,” was the reply.

“My word. He’s got a temper on him then. Shame. We could do with a new man after Webster grassed us up, but he’ll have to be able to keep his head.”

“Could be a one off,” said his companion, a stocky man with the appearance of a heavyweight boxer gone to seed.

“Maybe. We’ll keep an eye on him anyway.”


Baxter shifted in his chair.

“And did our friend have any other news?” he asked.

“Not so far.”

“Right, you’d better clear out then, and we’ll wait and see how this new bloke works out. He won’t be out of solitary for another two days, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“Right.” The other man got up off the edge of the bed and moved towards the door, “see you later then.”

“Yes.” Baxter stood up and turned his back, making it clear that the meeting was at an end. After his informant had left, he stood for a moment, deep in thought. He had suspected that there was a mole in the operation for a while, but the discovery of Webster’s treachery had still come as a shock. That problem had been dealt with though, Baxter thought, smiling grimly, and Webster’s fate would encourage the others to think carefully before they considered grassing on him. This had left a gap in the team though, so if this new man from UNIT could fill it, so much the better. He would have to wait and see.

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Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Iolanthe turned the pages of the Brigadier’s file, frowning as she did so. As requested, she had focused her attention on the robbery and the death of the informant, whose name, she had learned, was Arthur Webster. The weapons had been stored in a secure and unmarked warehouse on the outskirts of Beconswood. The gang had attacked under cover of darkness and had made away with ten cases of rifles and an equal number of small arms, together with ammunition. As the Brigadier had said, there were some peculiarities. Firstly, the alarm had not been triggered. That was accounted for by the presence of an inside man, who had fled with Baxter and been arrested with the rest of the gang, but the other circumstances of the raid were not so easily explained. When the guards arrived for the morning shift, they found the doors open and their colleagues asleep. So deeply asleep that it was assumed that they had been drugged, and they were taken to hospital for examination. The men woke later in the day, confused, disorientated and with no memory of the previous night. Blood tests had so far been inconclusive, but the samples had been sent for further analysis. To Iolanthe, the symptoms suggested some kind of hypnosis. Would the guards have been hypnotised one by one, or together? Hypnotising all six of the guards individually would have taken time, especially as the men guarding the warehouse were soldiers who would have been trained to resist coercive interrogation techniques including hypnosis. If the possibility of hypnotising the guards individually had to be discounted, that left the question of whether they had been rendered insensible all at once. Iolanthe’s frown deepened as she got up from her desk and went to fetch a book from the shelf under the window. Mass hypnosis, while theoretically possible, could only be performed by an extremely skilled practitioner. And if Baxter had such a person in his gang, or if he, himself was the hypnotist…? Iolanthe sat back in her chair and stared into space for a moment, then leaned forward again and picked up the phone. Sitting worrying about it wasn’t going to get her anywhere, she needed proof. She dialed the number for Records.

“Hello, Records?”

“Hello, Dan, it’s Lily.”

“Oh, hi, Lily, what can we do for you on this sunny afternoon?”

The records clerk was an irrepressibly cheerful young man whose ability to find almost any subject interesting meant that he was happier in his job than practically anyone else at UNIT. Iolanthe smiled then replied;

“I need some information on the background of some military prisoners.”

“Ours, or regulars?”

“Regulars, all from the same regiment.” Iolanthe read off the list of names.

“Right, got it. It’s pretty quiet in here so we’ll get on to it right away. When do you need the stuff by?”

“Oh, you know, the usual, ten minutes ago,” said Iolanthe, quoting the Brigadier.

Dan laughed.

“Of course! Very well, Miss Grosvenor, I’ll be in touch when we have something for you.”

“Thank you, Dan.”

“My pleasure.”

Iolanthe hung up and looked at her notes. She couldn’t do much more about identifying her chief suspect until she had heard from Dan, who, she was sure would be able to find out information about the gang members that they didn’t know themselves. Until then, she might as well read up a bit on group hypnosis. Turning to the relevant chapter, she settled herself more comfortably in her chair and began to read. In the back of her mind, a flicker of concern for Benton refused to go away. Iolanthe sighed and tried again, forcing herself to concentrate.

The following morning, she arrived early. She checked her pigeonhole, but there was nothing from Records. It was too soon, she told herself, even Dan couldn’t conjure up information that quickly. Iolanthe went to the staff kitchen and, armed with a mug of tea, headed for her office to try and pick up where she had left off the previous day. By mid-morning she felt some progress had been made. A call from the laboratory at the hospital where the guards had been taken had confirmed that follow up analysis on their blood samples had revealed traces of a sedative. Not enough to incapacitate the men but enough to make them relaxed and drowsy and, therefore, less able to resist hypnosis. Iolanthe was relieved, though she felt sorry for the guards, as it meant that the hypnotist, though still dangerous, was not quite the threat that she feared they might be. The drug had presumably been administered by the inside man, (Iolanthe glanced at her mug of tea) and then the victims had been hypnotised when they were unable to resist, the hypnotic trance erasing their memories in a way that the drug could not. That didn’t get her much closer to identifying the hypnotist, but it was one question answered. She could only hope that Records would come up trumps with the background information. As if in answer to her thought, the phone rang. Iolanthe grabbed her notebook and reached for the receiver, realising at the last minute that the rapid double ring meant the call was from an outside line. Putting the notebook aside, she adopted what she privately thought of as her “office voice” and answered.

“UNIT Headquarters, Miss Grosvenor speaking.”

“My dear girl! How very official you sound!” replied a familiar voice.

“Oh! Hello!”

“That’s better,” said Miss Hawthorne, “now, do you have a minute to talk about this muddle the Brigadier has got us into?”

“Yes, of course,” replied Iolanthe, “I’m waiting for Records to send me some files and ...” Her mind caught up with what she had just heard. “Us? But you ... oh! The library lady?”

“Yes,” replied her friend, “I am indeed the library lady. Quite what good I will be able to do, I’m not sure, but the Brigadier was most insistent that someone be placed on the inside, as it were, and when the volunteer post was advertised, he thought it too good a chance to miss.”

“I see. How long have you been there?” asked Iolanthe.

“Two weeks. I’m not working every day, but I go in three days a week and help out with the shelving and getting the new books ready to go out, that sort of thing. Every now and again the better-behaved prisoners are allowed to come and choose books and spend a bit of time out of their cells reading.”

“Right. You haven’t seen ... oh but it’s only his second day.”

“Yes, I’m not expecting to see him for at least another day or so, but I hope our paths will cross once he is out of isolation. Do tell me,” Miss Hawthorne’s voice sank to a conspiratorial whisper, “What did he do when he was arrested? The Brigadier was somewhat cagey when I spoke to him yesterday.”

“Oh. Er. He wrecked the Brigadier’s office and gave him a bloody nose.”

“Heavens!” Miss Hawthorne was temporarily breathless at this news. “Well, I suppose he would have had to have done enough to convince the arresting officers, but … my word.” Miss Hawthorne paused to recover from the shock she had just received and asked,

“And how are you getting on with the case file? Do you think the gang used hypnosis to subdue the guards?”

“I think so,” Iolanthe brought Miss Hawthorne up to date with the latest news from the laboratory and explained her conclusions about the purpose of the sedative.

“I see, yes, I agree with you. Then there’s the question of the unfortunate Mr. Webster.”

“Yes, we’re still waiting for the autopsy report. I know the first report says he doesn’t seem to have been poisoned, but that seems more likely than anything else.”

“I agree.” Miss Hawthorne paused, then continued, “Well, my dear, I must let you get on. I really called to let you know where I was and give you the number here, so I must do that before I go.”

“Oh, you aren’t? No, I suppose you wouldn’t be at home.”

“No, too far for me to travel. I’m being put up in a UNIT safe house, well, safe flat, in Chelsfield. It could do with redecorating, but it’s comfortable enough. Let me give you the telephone number…”

Iolanthe wrote down the number, then said,

“I don’t suppose we can meet until this is over?”

“No, I think not. We shouldn’t be seen together, and I shouldn’t come to Headquarters. But I will call you when I’ve seen Sergeant Benton, and you can do the same for me when you’ve got any further with the evidence.”

“Of course, I’ll ring as soon as anything comes up. I’ll probably need your help for some of it.”

“I don’t know what help I can give you, but I’ll certainly try. Let me see, I’m at the Prison on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it takes me about half an hour to get back to the flat, assuming the buses run on time! Then I’ll be in for the evening. There isn’t much in the way of nightlife in Chelsfield and what there is, is definitely for the youngsters!”

Iolanthe grinned at the idea of Miss Hawthorne going out on the town.

“I see, so you won’t be going to the disco?”

“Now you’re teasing me! But no, I certainly won’t! You are working your usual hours?”

“Yes, though I might need to stay a bit later.”

“Very well, then we know where we are. I will wait to hear from you, unless I have any news. Goodbye my dear.”


Iolanthe hung up, smiling. She suspected that Miss Hawthorne had called partly to cheer her up a bit and, if that was the case, she had succeeded. A knock at the door brought Iolanthe back to her responsibilities.

“Come in?”

The door opened to admit Dan, a bulging file in his hand. He put the file down on the desk and stepped back, saluting smartly.

“Ma’am! The information you requested! Hot off the press!”

Iolanthe returned the salute, then laughed.

“Thank you, Sir!”

Dan watched as Iolanthe opened the folder, then said,

“Anything else you need, just let me know. The sooner we can get this cleared up, the sooner we get Sarge back. Oh, I know,” as his colleague looked at him, “the CO wouldn’t have sent him if he didn’t think he was up to it, I’m sure he’ll be fine. But these aren’t nice people, Lily, and if someone from the prison staff is working with them…”

Iolanthe sighed.

“I know, I’ve been trying not to think about it. Well, we can only do what we can do. Hopefully there’ll be a clue in here to how they did the robbery at any rate, and the autopsy report on Webster should be here by this afternoon.”

“Yes.” Dan went to the door, “well, good luck.”

“Thanks.” Then as something Dan had said sparked an inspiration, “Could you get me the prison staff records too? There might be a connection to the gang that nobody has spotted yet.”

“Good idea, I’ll get on to it.”

Dan left, leaving Iolanthe to start work on the prisoner’s background reports. The midday signal alerted her to the fact that lunch time had arrived, so she got out her lunchbox and began on her sandwiches at the same time. Dan hadn’t been joking when he said the gang were not “nice people,” between them they had amassed a whole list of offences, from petty thefts, to extortion, to bullying and violent affray, to the final theft of the guns and ammunition. The only mystery, Iolanthe thought as she read, was that they hadn’t been cashiered long ago. Separately they had been bad enough, then an unhappy accident of transfers had brought them together and given them a leader in Captain Baxter. Baxter seemed to be Iolanthe to be a type that went back to Shakespeare. Vicious, scheming and frustrated, he seemed to be waging war on the army and the world for thwarting his ambitions, refusing to accept that the reason he had been consistently overlooked for promotion was his personality and conduct. It seemed though, that rather than court martialing him, his commanders had moved him around, making him someone else’s problem. Well, now he was UNIT’s problem. His personal file didn’t seem to show any sign that he might be trained in hypnosis, but it couldn’t be ruled out, of course. Looking for more positive evidence, Iolanthe set Baxter’s particulars aside and moved on to the other members of the gang.

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Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Sergeant Benton was finding time hanging heavily on him. Without his watch he had no way of marking the course of the day, apart from the bells that marked lights on and lights out, and his meals, which had been delivered by a silent, unsmiling warder. He’d exercised, if a few press ups and sit ups in the morning could be called that, and he’d tried to plan for what he would do when he met Baxter, only to abandon those plans and replace them with new ones, and then abandon the idea of plans altogether and just see what happened, then the determination to plan would begin again. The only reading matter available was a Gideon’s Bible, and, after the first day, Benton had turned to that to occupy his mind for a while, but he wasn’t really in the mood for pondering eternal salvation, he would rather have been getting on with his mission. The Sergeant was very glad that he would only be isolated for two days, it was no wonder that prisoners held in solitary confinement for months or years lost their wits. It was mid-afternoon on the second day, as far as he could tell. He had had lunch, (the food at the prison was, as he had suspected it would be, like the mess at UNIT but worse) and was sitting on the bed reading when the cell door opened. Benton looked up, surprised. The same warder that had brought his meal stood in the doorway.

“Come on, it’s your lucky day.”


“We need this cell for someone else, the Governor’s decided to move you on a bit early. Grab your stuff, I haven’t got all day.”

Benton picked up the washbag, pyjamas and laundry bags that constituted his “stuff” and followed the warder out of the cell and along the corridor in silence. They passed through a heavy door that led to the main block. The cells were along one wall of the corridor, with a broad walkway along the other. The corridor arrangement meant that sections of the prison could be isolated from the rest, simply by locking the doors at either end. Telling Benton to walk in front, the warder directed him up two flights of stairs and through another door into the second floor cell area. The cells were, for the most part, empty as the prisoners were in the central yard. The Warder stopped at the last cell in the row, and said,

“In you go.”

Benton scowled at him but said nothing. The warder remained calm but said,

“If that isn’t good enough for you, I’m sure we can arrange something less comfortable.”

Benton shrugged and walked into the cell. He put his belongings down in a heap on the floor and then asked,

“Now what?”

Benton had decided that a bit of bad temper wouldn’t go amiss, particularly as the prison staff would know about the circumstances of his arrest and would be expecting trouble.

“Well, you got out the wrong side of the bed this morning, didn’t you?” replied his escort, “you can drop the attitude, by the way, it doesn’t impress anyone. This way.”

Benton preceded his escort out of the cell and through the door at the end of the corridor. They went downstairs again, and through into the area that contained the canteen, the Infirmary, and the library. A look through the door sufficed for the canteen, but they went into the Infirmary, where Benton was reintroduced to the doctor, who gave him a friendly, if slightly distracted greeting as he was directing a prisoner who was unpacking boxes of dressings.

“Yes, in that cupboard, Sims, then you can put the boxes outside. Ah, Benton, good. I’m Doctor Glede as you know. I would say it’s nice to see you again, but we both know you don’t want to be here so,” he smiled, nervously then said, “thank you Sims, that’s all for now. Where was I? Oh yes. I hope you won’t be needing our assistance during your time here, but, should you need us, we will be here to help.” Another smile and he turned away, making it clear the visit was at an end. Benton wondered what had brought a man like that to work in a prison, and a military prison at that. He contrasted Dr Glede’s manner with the calmness under pressure of Dr Summers at Stangmoor. Deciding he might as well ask, Benton turned back towards the warder as they went on towards the library.

“What’s he so twitchy about?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” the warder replied calmly, but Benton noticed a slight hesitation before his answer. Interesting. So the staff weren’t sure about the doctor either. Benton filed that information away in his memory to consider later on. The warder reached past Benton and pushed open another door, and they went into the library. The library was a surprisingly large room, the walls of which were lined with shelves. Tables and chairs were dotted about the room, and low racks held magazines and newspapers. A central service desk was surmounted by a toughened glass screen, making a safe refuge for the staff from which they could observe the whole room. Benton noted that the furniture and racks were all firmly fixed to the floor and that there were none of the private corners that could be found in a more conventional library. As the prisoners hadn’t come back in from the yard, the only people in the library were two members of staff, one of whom, a tall, heavily built man wearing jeans and a jumper came forward to meet the visitors.

“Who have you brought us today, Mr. Fulton?”

The warder said, curtly,

“This is Benton. Benton, this is Mr. Schapp.”

Benton grunted something that might have been a greeting, keeping up his surly persona. Schapp wasn’t put off by this, however, and smiled.

“Hello, Benton. I hope we’ll see you in the library while you are here.”

He almost made it sound as if this was a holiday camp, thought the Sergeant, but he appreciated the warmth of the welcome and allowed himself to thaw a little.

“I hope so, Sir.”

Fulton smiled grimly.

“Bookworm are we? Wonders never cease. Want to take one away with you now?”

“If I could, Sir?”

“I don’t see why not. Mr. Schapp, or,”

At this moment another door at the back of the library opened and Schapp’s assistant came in.

“I’ve found the delivery, Mr. Schapp, the inkpads had gone to the infirmary by accident, though goodness knows what the people in supplies thought they would do… oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see we had visitors.”

“My assistant, Miss Hawthorne. Miss Hawthorne, this is Benton, he’s just being given the grand tour and would like to borrow a book today.”

Miss Hawthorne smiled.

“Well, he has come to the right place for that. What can we interest you in? What do you usually like to read?”

“Um, thrillers, mostly, Miss,” replied Benton, reacting as he thought a man in his position would to Miss Hawthorne’s manner, which he mentally termed “Sunday school teacher or church flower lady.”

“Ah,” Miss Hawthorne replied, indicating a shelf to her left, “that will be this section over here. Take your pick and bring it to us at the desk when you’ve chosen.”

“Thank you, Miss.”

Fulton stood back and watched with obvious amusement as Benton made his way over to the shelves. Schapp and Miss Hawthorne got back to work, leaving observation duties to the warder. To Benton’s surprise, the section was well stocked with up to date books, but, seeing Where Eagles Dare, he decided to go with an old favourite. He didn’t expect to have much time to read it, but just having the familiar volume in his hands felt somehow reassuring. He took the book to the desk, where it was stamped and returned to him by Miss Hawthorne, with a smile. Fulton looked at his watch.

“No point you going outside now, might as well go straight back upstairs.”

As before, Benton went out of the room in front of the guard, Miss Hawthorne calling out a goodbye as they left. When Fulton and his prisoner reached the second floor, the other prisoners had still not returned from the yard, so Benton had the cell to himself. He could see his unknown cellmates clothes on the top bunk, so he tucked his pyjamas under the blanket on the bottom one and then sat down on the edge of it, leaning forward so as not to knock his head on the underside of the other bed. As he could do little until the other prisoners got back inside, Benton opened his library book. Tucked in under the date label in the front was a scrap of rice paper. The Sergeant took it out and read, in Miss Hawthorne’s unmistakable handwriting,

“Chin up, Sergeant, we are all behind you, O.H.”

Benton smiled to himself, then put the paper in his mouth, chewed it up and swallowed. Good old Miss Hawthorne. She might be an unlikely ally in this setting, but seeing her had cheered him up. The sound of the corridor doors being open told him that his fellow prisoners were about to come back in. Time for the next stage. Benton got up and arranged his belongings more tidily, the washbag on a shelf by the door and the laundry bags under the bed, then sat down again and began to read, wanting to appear lost in his book when his cell mate arrived. A few moments later, footsteps were heard outside and man entered the cell. Looking up, Benton recognised Sims from the Infirmary, a small, wiry man of about 40, whose uniform jacket carried a blue armband, a sign that he was trusted to work with the Doctor. He stopped for a moment, then came forward again, his hand outstretched.

“Ah, I wondered if it would be you. George Sims, pleased to meet you.”

Benton stood up and shook hands.

“John Benton.”

Sims pulled out the chair from under the desk and sat down, gesturing Benton to sit on the bunk again.

“So, John Benton, word is you’re from UNIT.”

“Yes, and?” replied Benton, with a hint of the touchiness he had shown with Fulton.

“Oh, nothing at all. So, what did they get you for?”

“None of your business.”

Sims looked at Benton curiously.

“I see. Like that is it? You might as well tell me, secrets have a habit of getting out in this place, might as well start off with everything out in the open.”

Benton looked down at his feet, seemingly wrestling with his emotions, then looked up.

“Alright, if you must know, I was running a book on the horses.”

“Really? That all?” asked Sims.

“It’s enough isn’t it?” Benton’s tone was injured.

“I’d have thought UNIT would have kept you locked up there for something like that, or cashiered you straight away. You’re sure there wasn’t anything else?”

Another look down, then, without looking up, Benton said in a low voice,

“Yeah. I ... when I got arrested, I punched the C.O.”

Sims laughed.

“My word! Yes, that is something else!”

Benton looked hurt, as if torn between shame at his actions and anger that his crime was being belittled.

“Look, I lost my temper, OK?” He got up from the bunk and loomed over his cell mate, who hastened to reassure him.

“Ok, Ok, I get the picture, I’m sorry I laughed at you, didn’t mean anything by it. Phew. Sit down mate.”

Benton sat down again, his anger seemingly subsiding.

“It’s all been so fast. I thought nobody knew about the betting, then I was called in by the C.O. and there were these two red caps there and I just...”

“Took you by surprise, eh?”

“You can say that again,” replied Benton, in slightly warmer tones. “I had no idea they were on to me, and if that wasn’t bad enough ...” he hesitated.

“Yes?” asked Sims, leaning forward on the chair, an expression of keen interest on his face.

“Well ... I ...” Benton hesitated again.

“Come on mate, you can tell me.”

Benton appeared to think it over, then sighed.

“Ok, I’ve got nothing to lose I suppose. I had to pay out a lot all at once and I borrowed some money to cover the losses. I’ve only got to the end of the month to pay it back and the interest is already killing me.”

“Who’d you borrow it from?”

“I can’t tell you that. They’d find me, even in here. I’ve got to get the cash to them or I’ve had it.”

Benton stood up and began to pace the cell. Sims watched him, for a moment, then said.

“Right. How much?”

“Five hundred. But it’s almost double that now. And it’s not just me, they said if I didn’t pay them back, they’d go after my kid sister.”

Sims stood up and put a hand on Benton’s arm.

“Alright mate, that’s enough of that. Come on, sit down. We’ll sort it out.”

“We? But I don’t even know you. Why would you want to help me?” asked Benton, back on his guard.

Sims sat down again.

“We’re mates aren’t we? I know we’ve just met, but we have to look out for each other in here. I’ll have a word with some people and see what I can do. I can’t tell you too much now, but what if I was to say you could get out of here, get the money you need and a bit more besides?”

“Get out of here?” Benton was shocked, “What, go on the run?”

“You said yourself, you’ve got nothing to lose. What happens if you stay? You get court martialled, thrown out of UNIT and the sharks will be waiting wanting their cash.” Sims moved to sit next to Benton on the bunk.

“Think it over. You don’t have to decide now, but think it over and I’ll put in a word for you.”

Benton shifted nervously, not wanting to seem too eager.

“Ok. I’ll think about it. You’re probably right. But I still don’t see why you’d help someone you’ve only just met.”

“Honestly, you’d be helping us out too. We’re a man down and I...”

A loud bell interrupted him.

“That’s dinner. Leave it with me, will you.”


“Come on then.”

Sims got up from the bunk and led the way out of the cell. Benton followed him. Anyone who had happened to be watching would have been surprised at the change in Benton’s expression. The harassed, defensive look he had worn in the cell vanished, replaced by a smile. This was the opportunity he had hoped for and he intended to make the most of it.

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Chapter 4: Chapter 4

Chapter 4

At HQ, Iolanthe had finished her examination of the gang’s personal information. She felt she hadn’t learned much more than when she started, though there were a few points that could be followed up. One of the gang had been released from barracks in the evening for a month to attend classes in advanced first aid for a few weeks, shortly after he had met Baxter. That wasn’t much, Iolanthe made a note to check who had taught the classes and who else the soldier might have met while he there. She sucked the end of her pencil thoughtfully. Other than that, the files were much of a muchness. As she was about to pick up the phone and call records, it rang.


“Lily, it’s Dan, I’ve just had a call that the autopsy report on Webster is due over this afternoon. It’s taking a bit longer to get the staff files from Chelsfield, might not be until tomorrow. Sorry,” as Iolanthe sighed impatiently.

“No, it’s OK, it’s not your fault. Let me know when you get the autopsy report in. Oh, and could you check something else for me?”

“Your wish is my command, Miss Grosvenor.”

“Could you find out who was teaching advanced first aid at the …” she consulted her notes “Branswick institute a year ago, between 15th March and 15th April? Private Christopher Hunter took the class, just after he met Baxter. And if you can, can you find out who else went to the classes, oh and what else was being taught on those evenings?”

“You don’t ask for much, do you?” replied Dan in an injured tone, then reverted to his natural cheerfulness. “I’ll get on to it right away and I’ll run the autopsy file up as soon as it gets here. You’re thinking Hunter might have met someone at the class who helped them with the robbery?”

“I hope so because I can’t see any other clues. They didn’t steal the drugs from the infirmary at the barracks and that kind of hypnosis can’t really be learned from a book, you have to be taught it, and have a particular aptitude for it. This is the only possibility I’ve found in all their records.”

“OK, Nil desperandum, Lily, I’ll get you the gen. Now, when did you last have a cup of tea?”

Iolanthe looked at her mug which still held the chilly remains of her morning brew.

“I thought so,” said Dan in answer to her silence. “Get yourself to the kitchen. Everything makes more sense with tea.”

Iolanthe laughed, in spite of herself.

“Ok. I’m on my way.”

“See that you are! Bye, Lily.”

“Bye Dan.”

Iolanthe hung up, still smiling at Dan’s good-natured bullying. He was right, of course, she needed a break and to look at the documents with fresh eyes. She picked up her mug and left the office, heading for the kitchen and a fresh cup of tea.

The prison dinner bell signaled the end of the working day for Schapp and Miss Hawthorne. Having locked the library, they made their way to the locker rooms, where their belongings were stored during the day. Miss Hawthorne put on her cloak and gathered up her handbag, pausing to fasten her wristwatch. She made her way to the door, then stopped just inside as she heard voices in the corridor. The voices were low but could be heard clearly through the half open door of the locker room. Both the voices were male, and Miss Hawthorne listened intently as she tried to place their owners.

“It won’t be much longer,” said the first voice calmly.

“It had better not be,” replied the second, in an agitated whisper, “I had enough trouble getting hold of the stuff, now the Governor wants to bring in an auditor to inspect, there’s no way I can account for having it.”

“Calm down,” put in the first speaker, “and stop whispering, do you want everyone to know you’re up to something? Look,” (as his companion tried to begin again) it’s all arranged. I spoke to Baxter this afternoon. If the new man is good enough, they will be ready to move in the next two days. I’ve been in touch with the customers and they are waiting for the call. All you’ve got to do is get them ready to go and then you can sit back and wait for your share.”

“That’s easy for you to say, I…” but the speakers had turned away and were moving down the corridor.

Miss Hawthorne peered round the door. One of the men was wearing a warder’s uniform. Miss Hawthorne didn’t recognise him from the back, she hadn’t met all the staff, but she noticed blond hair under the back of his cap. The other man she recognised. Wearing a white coat and turning to argue with his companion was Doctor Glede.

The autopsy report had still not arrived and Iolanthe was on the verge of giving up on it. She had almost decided to call it a day and go home, when Dan appeared with the envelope.

“Here it is. Sorry about the wait, they took their own sweet time getting it over to us.”

“Thank you.” Iolanthe took the envelope and turned it, removing a brown folder from inside.

“We’re closing up now, I’ll see you tomorrow,” said Dan.

“Yes, thanks,” said Iolanthe absently, spreading out the photographs of the cell and of Webster’s body on her desk.

Dan closed the door quietly, a thoughtful expression on his face. He walked quickly down the corridor and rounding a corner, nearly ran into the Brigadier.

“Corporal Wood!” snapped the Brigadier, stepping back sharply.

“Sir, sorry Sir,” gasped Dan.

“I should think so. Do look where you are going, Corporal, this isn’t a school.”

“No, Sir.” Dan replied, looking rather like a naughty schoolboy.

“Now, have you anything to report in addition to what Miss Grosvenor has discovered?”

“No, Sir, but the autopsy on Private Webster has just arrived, I’ve just dropped it off to Miss Grosvenor.”

“She’s still in her office?” asked the Brigadier.

“Yes, Sir,” replied Dan, hoping he hadn’t dropped his colleague in it.

“Thank you, Corporal Wood, as you were.”

“Yes, Sir.” Dan went on his way at a slightly more careful pace and the Brigadier, after thinking for a moment, went back to his office and picked up the phone.

Iolanthe pored over the report, bracing herself for the details of the autopsy. It appeared that, despite the first impressions of the prison doctor, Webster had indeed been poisoned. He had been given a lethal dose of a commonly prescribed sedative. Traces found in his mouth suggested that he had ingested the drug, rather than it having been injected. The question of how the drug had been delivered remained unanswered. Webster’s few personal effects had been examined, and no trace of the drug had been found. The drug had a rapid effect, so the dose would have to have been taken either just before or just after lock up. Webster had been alone in his cell, so whatever was used must have been prepared and planted in advance. Iolanthe put her head in her hands and leaned over the photos again. There must be something she was missing… something missing… There was something on the edge of her mind, some obvious detail that she wasn’t seeing. She sighed and sat back, then turned in her chair as the phone rang.


“Miss Grosvenor? I hear you have the autopsy report on Private Webster.”

“Er, yes, Sir.”

“Good, I’d like to see it, I’m in my office.”

“Yes, Sir, on my way.”

Iolanthe gathered up the photos and paperwork and put them back in the folder. She had already made her report to the Brigadier that day, and had been hoping not to have to speak to anyone for the rest of the evening, but if the C.O. wanted her to go to his office, she would have to go. In his office, the Brigadier finished reorganizing his desk and called “come in” in answer to Iolanthe’s knock.

“Ah, Miss Grosvenor. I just, ah, bumped into Corporal Wood and he told me that he had given you the report.”

“Yes, Sir, I,”

“Good, I suggest we pool our resources and look at it together. I’ve had an update from Miss Hawthorne that may shed some light on the case. In the meantime ...” the Brigadier stood back, revealing the surface of his desk, which, as well as the usual paperwork, had two plates, two bottles of beer and a large bag of fish and chips, “we needn’t starve while we work. Have a seat and let’s get down to business.”

The tension that had been building in Iolanthe’s mind seemed to ebb away a little. She laughed with the relief and release of the moment and handed the file to the Brigadier, who smiled briefly, then ushered her to a seat and set about unwrapping their meal.

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Chapter 5: Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Dinner in the canteen at the prison was as unpalatable as it had been in the cell. Benton had picked up his tray and quietly made his way over to an empty table in the far corner of the room, feeling the eyes of his fellow prisoners following him as walked. He was tempted to turn his back on them while he ate but felt it would be safer to face the room, so he sat down with his back to the wall and tried to appear unconcerned. The meal passed largely in silence, with a few remarks exchanged between some of the prisoners, the presence of a number of warders discouraging unguarded chatter. Benton glancing up, caught sight of Sims, who was at a table with Baxter and his cronies. Seeing Sims gesture in his direction, Benton lowered his eyes quickly. He felt as if he was at school again, being sized up by the bigger boys to see if it was worth their while trying to nick his lunch money. Another bell signaled the end of meal time and, with some grumbling and shoving, the prisoners got to their feet, carried their trays to racks that stood by the door and then filed off back to their cells. Talking wasn’t permitted when moving between the cells and the dining room, but Sims, who had caught up with Benton on their way out, nodded emphatically and put a finger to his lips, suggesting that he had important information to share as soon he could do so. Once they had reached the cell, Benton took up what had become his usual seat on the edge of his bunk, while Sims looked quickly up and down the corridor, then pulled his chair closer to the bunks and leaned forward. In a low voice he said:

“I’ve had a word with Captain Baxter. He wants to see you tomorrow. I think he might want you in the group.”

Sims sat back, looking pleased and excited. Benton, who knew quite well what he meant, decided to show a bit of caution.

“Who is he? What would I have to do?”

“He, well, he’s the sort of person you’d want to have on your side. He’s going to get out of here, soon and he’s got a big payday lined up, but they need another man who can handle a bit of action, after, well…”

“After what?”

“Well, one of the other blokes...look I’d best not say too much. It’s your choice, but once you’re in, you’re in. Captain Baxter will do right by you if you’re loyal, but he’s not a man you want to cross.”

Benton looked down, seemingly weighing up his options, then sighed.
“Ok, I’ll give it a try. When do I go and see him?”

Sims smiled and clapped Benton on the shoulder.

“Good man! We’ll meet up tomorrow morning after breakfast, there isn’t time now before lock up.”

“Right…” Benton appeared lost in thought once again, then asked, “can we call people? I know we don’t get visits straight away but I’d really like to talk to my sister, she worries, you know? I won’t tell her anything I shouldn’t, I just…”

“Oh, that’s alright mate, we’ve all been there,” replied Sims, “didn’t Fulton tell you when he showed you round?”

“If he did, I’ve forgotten.”

“Probably forgot to tell you himself, he’s all swagger and no trousers that one. There’s a payphone near the library, you get one call a week given you and the rest you have to pay for. I’ll show you tomorrow after we’ve seen the Captain.”

Benton’s shoulders sagged,

“Thanks mate,” he said, sounding relieved.

“Don’t mention it. Oh” as the bell for lock up sounded. “they’ll be along to shut the doors in a minute, so we’d better stop talking about it now.” Sims patted Benton’s shoulder again, then picked up a book from the desk and swung himself up onto his bunk. Benton, taking the hint, tried to recline comfortably on his and opened Where Eagles Dare. A moment later, one of the warders looked in and, seeing them apparently reading quietly, grinned and slammed the cell door.

“Git,” remarked Sims.

Benton grunted in agreement as the electronic lock engaged with a clanking noise to shut them in for the night. Sims, having said his piece earlier, remained silent for the rest of the time between lock up and lights out, which suited Benton fine. He read steadily, trying to put what might happen the next day out of his mind and rest. When the lights went out, Sims said “Sleep well, lad,” and Benton replied, “you too,” but that was all that was said. With one last clank, the lights went out and there was darkness and silence in the cell.

Having served himself and Iolanthe with fish and chips and opened the beer, the Brigadier opened the autopsy file and spread out the contents on what remained of the surface of his desk. He and Iolanthe then looked at the evidence together, trying not to get greasy fingermarks on the photographs. Iolanthe explained that she had felt there was something missing, something that should have been present that wasn’t.

“Humph,” grunted the Brigadier, “Well, there isn’t much in a prison cell to start with.”

“No, and that’s why I thought...”

she looked down at the photograph of Webster’s personal effects, his pyjamas, uniform, washbag with flannel, soap, safety razor… suddenly light dawned.

“Where’s his toothbrush?”


“There’s no toothbrush here, or toothpaste.”

The Brigadier looked at the photograph.

“No, you’re quite right. I suppose he might have used up the toothpaste and thrown the tube away.”

“But the brush at the same time?” Iolanthe pulled out the written report. “It says here that traces of the drug were found on his tongue and gums. I bet that’s how it got in to him. Someone put it in the toothpaste and then when he brushed his teeth that evening … they wouldn’t need to be there because they’d already committed the crime!”

The Brigadier frowned.

“Are you suggesting the sabotage was done by a prisoner or a member of the staff?”

“I’m not sure. Whoever it was would need access to the drug and a syringe? I think it must have been injected into the tube.”

“I agree. And then the evidence needed to be disposed of. Who found the body?”

Iolanthe consulted the report from the scene.

“One of the warders. A man named Hooper.”

“Ah, that’s interesting. I haven’t told you yet, but Miss Hawthorne called to say that she had overheard a conversation between a warder and the prison medic that suggested that they are involved in the escape plot. If that’s the case, they could also be connected to the murder of Webster.”

“I see. Yes, that makes sense. The doctor could have supplied the drug and Hooper could have contaminated the toothpaste and then taken the evidence away with him when he ‘found’ the body… unless someone else did the toothpaste…”

“Who was Webster’s cellmate, the one he had the fight with?”

Ioanthe looked back at the report.

“A man named Sims. It says here that Webster claimed that Sims had started the fight and that he had no idea why, but, as Webster had previously been involved in fights before and was a known associate of Baxter, and Sims is a trusted prisoner the staff assumed Webster was lying and removed him to solitary confinement.”

“Sims is a trusty, eh? Does it say where he works?”

“No. We’d need to find that out. Could he work in the Infirmary?”

“It’s a possibility, of course if he did he wouldn’t usually have access to drugs but if the doctor is involved in Baxter’s scheming..?”

“He could have given the drugs to Sims, who contaminated Webster’s toothpaste, then started the fight to get Webster isolated, so he’d be alone when he died, because he wouldn’t have used the toothpaste until just before lights out.”

“And then Hooper, I think we can assume that the warder who Miss Hawthorne overheard was Hooper, makes sure that he is the one who finds the body and scoops up the evidence before anyone else gets to the scene.” The Brigadier looked at Iolanthe, his eyes alight.
“I believe we’ve got it Miss Grosvenor,” His face became serious again, “but as we have to let the escape take place for the gang to lead us to the guns, we can’t take any steps to pursue the perpetrators yet. However, what Miss Hawthorne heard suggests that we won’t need to wait much longer for that. I wish we could get in touch with Benton, but we can’t risk his cover by flouting the visiting rules.” The Brigadier leaned forward and rested his chin on his hands. “We’ll have to wait until the day after tomorrow for Miss Hawthorne to get back in the library, unless he manages to make contact in the meantime. Now, tell me, did you get anywhere with the gang’s personal data?”

“Not very far, I’m afraid, I’m hoping for more information from Records tomorrow, and I’ve requested the staff records, so I hope I can find some connections there.”

“Mm. I’ll see what I can do about speeding those up, said the Brigadier, making a note.

“Thank you, Sir. About Sims, he isn’t in the list of Baxter’s original gang.”

“No. It looks as if he has been recruited by Baxter while in prison, I’d say he was certainly capable of attracting followers, he seems to be a charismatic sort of chap.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Iolanthe felt a sudden urge to laugh at the Brigadier’s tone, he clearly distrusted charisma. Keeping a straight face, she replied,

“Yes, all the reports suggest that. That was what made me wonder if he might be the hypnotist, but I can’t see anything in his record to suggest it. We might need to leave that aside for the time being anyway and concentrate on the escape and finding the guns.”

“Yes, the members of the gang who gave evidence, and who, by the way are in other prisons and who have escaped Baxter’s vengeance for the time being, confirmed his involvement. It would be satisfying to prove how he did it, but, for the time being, the location of the weapons and tracking the escape are our main concerns.”


“However,” said the Brigadier, getting up from his chair, “my immediate concern is making sure that all the members of my team get home safely. Come along, it’s too late to be thinking about buses, I’ll run you back in my car.”

Iolanthe smiled with weary gratitude and followed her commanding officer to the car park.

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Chapter 6: Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The following morning, Benton woke early. He climbed quietly out of bed and had shaved at the basin and was ready to go to the showers before the waking bell sounded. Sims groaned and stretched, then rolled out of his bunk and down to the floor. He rubbed his eyes and looked at his new cellmate.

“Blimey! You’re a bit keen aren’t you?”

“Couldn’t sleep. Didn’t seem to be much point in staying in bed,” replied Benton.

“I suppose not, oh well,” as another bell sounded and the cell door unlocked, “let’s get this show on the road.”

Sims led the way out of the cell and into the mass of prisoners on their way to the showers. Once they had showered and were dressed in their uniforms, the prisoners filed down to breakfast, mostly in silence. Sims sat with Benton, but they exchanged few words. Benton contemplated the floppy toast and thin coffee with gloomy resignation. The alternative to toast was porridge, and that, as far as the Sergeant could see, could easily have been exchanged for wallpaper paste without anyone noticing the difference. Breakfast over, the prisoners were herded out into the yard for the rest of the morning. Benton had brought his library book with him and sat down on a bench to read and wait for his summons from Baxter. He didn’t have to wait long. Benton had barely started to read when two men approached. One was Sims, the other was unknown to Benton, though he had seen him with Baxter in the canteen. Looking at the other man, Sims said, “This is Benton,” then left in the direction of the door to the infirmary. The unknown man, who Benton mentally named ‘bruiser’, looked down at him and said,

“Baxter wants to see you.”

Benton stood up and tucked his book under his arm.


He was escorted to a corner of the yard, where, he noted, there was likely to be a blind spot in the security cameras that were mounted on the wall. Oh well. It was too late to back out now. Baxter was leaning against the wall, talking to two other men, both of whom Benton recognised from the canteen. The ‘Bruiser’ nodded to Benton and said,

“This is Benton, Sir.”

Baxter smiled and held out his hand,

“Good to meet you, Benton, I’m Captain Baxter.”

Benton shook hands.

“Pleased to meet you, Sir.”

“Sims tells me you’re in a bit of bother, Sergeant.” (Interesting. Benton hadn’t told Sims his rank, Baxter must have more than one source of information.)

“Er, yes Sir.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Tell you the truth, I’m in a bit of bother myself. I’ve got an operation planned and I’m a man down on my team. I wondered if you might consider filling the vacancy.”

Even though he knew about Baxter’s history and personality, Benton still felt some of the Captain’s personal magnetism. Baxter’s concern for him felt almost genuine, he could see how soldiers would feel attracted to join this charismatic and genial villain. Benton decided to be cautious once again.

“I, thank you, Sir. But, if you’ll forgive me, it seems almost a bit too good to be true.”

One of the other men started forward, but Baxter put up a hand to stop them.

“No, Sergeant Benton is right to be cautious. Very well, Sergeant. Before we were sent to this, ah, institution, we had secured a quantity of arms and a ready source of custom for those arms. Our plan is to leave here, to recover the arms and to sell them, securing a healthy profit for all concerned, which includes you, Sergeant, if you decide to join us.”

Benton looked astounded.

“Blimey, Sir, I ...”

“I need not say that if you decide against joining us, we will expect you to remain silent about our project. People who cross me do not tend to survive for very long.”

Two of Baxter’s companions closed in behind Benton. The Sergeant glanced nervously at them, but then looked directly at Baxter.

“Yes, Sir. I’m with you, Sir.”

“Good, Sergeant, I hoped you would be. Your share of the profit should more than take care of your own difficulty and I always repay loyalty in kind.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“There is one thing, Sergeant. I need to be sure that my men can keep their heads in a crisis. I hear that you assaulted your Commanding Officer.”

Benton looked straight ahead.

“Only once, Sir, it won’t happen again.”

Baxter smiled grimly.

“I can assure you it won’t. Still, I expect absolute obedience from my men, so, if you will allow me, I think a small test is in order.”

He fiddled with a signet ring that he was wearing, in direct contravention of prison regulations, then suddenly turned and hit Benton hard across the face, splitting his bottom lip.
Benton flinched but stayed upright, turning back to face Baxter and ignoring the blood that was trickling down his chin. Baxter held his gaze for a few seconds, then smiled and held out his hand once again.

“Good, Sergeant Benton, welcome aboard.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Benton shook Baxter’s hand, then saluted, which seemed to be the appropriate response. Baxter’s smile broadened.

“Thank YOU, Sergeant. Hunter?”

He turned to one of the other men, who fished a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it out. Benton took it and folded it against his lip, nodding his thanks to Hunter. Baxter spoke again.

“That’ll be all for now, Benton, I’ll brief you fully this evening. In the meantime you’d better get back to your book. It doesn’t do to hang around in groups for too long.”

Benton took the hint. Repeating, “Thank you, Sir,” he turned and made his way back to the bench, which was still empty. Baxter looked at Hunter.

“Get anything off him?”

“Seems straightforward enough, Sir, I think he’ll do.”

“Good. We can move now. Get hold of Sims and tell him to alert the Doc.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Hunter slipped away and Baxter looked across the yard to where Benton was sitting, then turned away to speak to one of the other men.

As Miss Hawthorne had the day “off” she had decided to spend it catching up on some reading of her own. Her morning coffee brewed, she sat at the dining table of the safe house, maps and books spread out around her. Some of the books concerned the history of the Beconswood area, others to do with the use of hypnotism and mind control in military operations. The maps were of various ages, all of Beconswood and the surrounding area. Leaving the hypnotism aside, that was really more Iolanthe’s area of expertise, Miss Hawthorne concentrated on trying to find a likely location for the missing weapons. She looked from books to maps to back again, sighing as she did so. Unfortunately the area was singularly bereft of mines, gravel pits or abandoned factories, which would have made handy hiding places. Miss Hawthorne sighed again and sipped her coffee. The telephone rang, and she got up to answer it, grateful for the interruption.

“Hello? Olive Hawthorne speaking.”

“Hello Miss Hawthorne, Lethbridge Stewart here.”

“Brigadier? What can I do for you? I’m afraid I’ve made little progress in locating the arms dump.”

“Never mind that for now, Miss Hawthorne, I’m sending a man over with a package. You remember the equipment the Doctor showed us?”

“Ah, yes.”

“Well, it sounds from what you said as if Baxter is about to pick up the pace, so we need to get it to Benton. You’ll need to take it with you tomorrow. Can you do that?”

“If it is disguised well enough, I’m sure I can.”

“You can trust us for that, Miss Hawthorne, expect the delivery in the next couple of hours.”

“I shall, thank you, Brigadier.”

“Thank you Miss Hawthorne, you’re sure you can operate it?”

“Yes, thank you, the Doctor was quite clear in his instruction.”

“Ah. Good. That’s all for now then, Miss Hawthorne, I’ll wait for your report.”

“Indeed. Goodbye Brigadier.”

“Goodbye Miss Hawthorne.”

Miss Hawthorne hung up and went back to the table. The Doctor’s device should help, but she would rather have at least some idea of where the gang might be heading. And, as she would need to wait in for the delivery, she might as well get on with the task in hand.

No sooner had Benton sat down on the bench again and opened his book, than a shadow fell across the pages. Benton looked up and saw Fulton looking down at him. Seeing the blood stained handkerchief and Benton’s lip, which had started to swell, the warder shook his head.

“Dear me Benton, in trouble already?”

Aware of being overheard, Benton looked the warder directly in the eye and said, calmly,

“I ran into something, Sir.”

“Did you indeed?” asked Fulton, looking searchingly at him. “Well, if you say so. Sims tells me you want to make a phone call.”

“Oh, yes, Sir,” said Benton closing his book and standing up.

“Right, follow me.”

Fulton led Benton into the building and to a payphone that hung on the wall between the Infirmary and the library. The warder took a token from his pocket and handed it to the Sergeant.

“You get five minutes, no funny business or you won’t get any more calls for a month. Or visitors for that matter. When you’ve finished, go to the Infirmary and get something to put on that lip of yours.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Oh, and Benton?”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Stay away from Baxter. You’re in enough trouble as it is.”

“Right, Sir.”

Fulton walked away, leaving Benton to his call. The warder stood a little way off, close enough to see, but out of ear shot. Benton appreciated the courtesy and the warning, he would have been glad to stay away from Baxter, but, unfortunately, Baxter was why he was there. He had wondered how Fulton knew, then he guessed that he wasn’t the first to have taken Baxter’s test of loyalty. Benton dialed the number, a direct line that couldn’t be traced to UNIT HQ, then inserted the token and heard it drop as the call connected and Iolathe’s voice said,


“Hello, kid.”

“John!” Iolanthe didn’t need to feign her relief, but, wary of the call being recorded, she added a bit more sisterly concern, “what have you done? What are they going to do to you? They said I can’t come and see you yet, I’ve been worried sick!”

Benton smiled as she rattled on, then spoke up.

“Listen, kid, I’ve only got five minutes, I can’t talk for long. It’s going to be a court martial, there’s no way round it.”

“Oh, John.”

“I know, but it’s too late now. I don’t want you to worry though.”

“It’s a bit late for that!”

“I know, I’m sorry. But I’m alright, really I am. I’ve met some decent blokes.”

“In prison?”

Feeling Fulton’s eyes on him, Benton turned away so the warder wouldn’t see his smile at Iolanthe’s appalled tone.

“Yes. Anyway, they are going to help me out a bit, so if you get any calls or anything, you can tell them I’ve got it covered, OK?”

Iolanthe had been briefed on Benton’s cover story, so she knew what he was driving at.

“Ok. If you’re sure?”


“Do be careful, John, you’re in so much trouble already.”

“Don’t I know it.” Benton looked over at Fulton who held up two fingers, “We’ve got a couple more minutes. How’s college going?”

‘College’ was code for the investigation.

“As if I’ve been able to… oh it’s OK, I suppose, I had a chat with Mr. Gordon about my project and it looks like I’m on the right lines with the criticism of the Locked Room.”

“Good stuff. I’ve got to go. I’ll let you know when you can come and see me.”

“Oh, ok, but do take care John.”

“Same to you, kid”

“Bye, John.”


Benton hung up and stood still for a moment, thinking. Mr. Gordon was the Brigadier’s alias and the Locked Room was Webster’s murder. So they had made some progress with that. Good. And now UNIT would know that he had made contact with Baxter and been accepted in the gang. He hoped he had been vague enough for anyone who happened to have been listening, or that the Governor would intervene if the matter was reported to him. Fulton came over and said, not unkindly,

“All OK at home, Benton?”

“Yes, Sir, at least, yes. I’d better get to the Infirmary. Thank you, Sir.”

Fulton watched him go, pondering. He hoped that Baxter wouldn’t get his claws into Benton, but it might already be too late. He should probably mention it to the Governor, see if they could move Benton to another floor. On the other hand, he wouldn’t want Baxter to think that Benton had betrayed him. Webster’s death was officially unexplained, but Fulton was under no illusions as to who had been responsible for it, even if indirectly. Shaking his head, Fulton went back out into the yard, ready to escort the prisoners into the canteen for lunch.

Back to index

Chapter 7: Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Iolanthe hung up and let out a long breath. It had been a relief to hear Benton’s voice and it sounded like he had made definite progress too. Iolanthe picked up the phone again to call the Brigadier, but the line was engaged, so she hung up again and turned her attention to the prison personnel files, which had arrived that morning. So far, she had concentrated on Hooper and Doctor Glede, but was having trouble finding a connection to Baxter and his accomplices. Finding that trail leading nowhere, Iolanthe considered a different angle. Supposing Baxter was blackmailing them? He and his associates had a history of extortion, perhaps the two prison officers had something in their past that was being held against them? Iolanthe went back over the files again. Hooper seemed a similar personality to Baxter, disaffected, passed over for promotion, no actual misconduct recorded, but problems with his attitude to his work and to the prisoners were mentioned frequently. Perhaps he was a more likely target for bribery than blackmail. Baxter could already have some income from his dubious endeavors, he could be using that to keep Hooper sweet before the final big payoff. Doctor Glede on the other hand? From what Miss Hawthorne had said, he had sounded much more nervous. If he had wanted money, would he risk his career and professional reputation to get it? His record showed that he had joined the prison a year ago, after working as a GP in a small town in Yorkshire. His personnel record didn’t go back any further than that, which was frustrating. Iolanthe picked up the phone again.


“Dan? Have you got the medical register there?”

“Yes, just a sec…” there was a pause as Dan went to fetch the relevant volume.

“Right, who am I looking for?”

“Doctor Arthur Glede, currently at Chelsfield Prison, previously a GP in Stoneford, West Yorkshire.”

“OK,” Iolanthe heard the rustle of pages, then silence.

“He’s not there.”


“Honestly, he’s not there!”

“But, he must … sorry Dan I’m not doubting your word, I just…”

“I know, if he’s a doctor he should be in there and why would the prison hire him if he wasn’t? Hmm, hang on, there’s a Doctor Gledhill, he worked in Stoneford, qualified in London, 1955, so he’s about the right age.”

“So he could have changed his name?” asked Iolanthe.

“Possibly. Strange,” said Dan.

“Very, oh, did you get anywhere with the evening classes?”

“Oh, yes, sorry! They sent a prospectus, I’ve got it here, I’ll run it up to you if you like.”

“No, that’s OK, I’ll come down, I can do with the change of scene.”

“Okey-Dokey, see you soon.”

“Bye, Dan.”

Iolanthe hung up and picked up her notebook and pen. People did change their names, of course, she knew that only too well, but for a medical professional to do so did seem odd. She hesitated then went back and picked up Doctor Glede’s file from her desk, then left the office.

After visiting the infirmary, where the Doctor had tutted, put a Steri strip on his lip and given him an icepack, Benton had gone straight in to lunch. Hiding the icepack in his jacket, he had taken his tray of food to what was becoming his usual corner and tried to eat as carefully as he could without disturbing his lip too much. A few moments later he was joined by Sims, who raised his eyebrows. Benton nodded, at which Sims smiled, but said nothing. After the meal, Benton asked for and got permission to go back to his cell, where he spent the afternoon with the icepack on his lip for as long as it remained cold. The afternoon flowed into the evening broken only by the dinner bell and another carefully consumed meal. Benton and Sims had just got back to the cell, when Hunter appeared in the doorway.

“Benton. Captain Baxter wants a word.”

Benton nodded and followed him out. Baxter was sitting on a chair in his cell, the two other men who had been in the exercise yard with him standing on either side rather like guard dogs. Benton looked at them guardedly. Baxter waved him to a chair, brought in from another cell. Benton sat down and looked around, questioningly.
Baxter smiled at his newest recruit.

“Sorry to take you by surprise, Sergeant, but I did say I would be briefing you.”

“Yes, Sir,” said Benton quietly, trying not to stretch his lip too much.

“Good man. We’ll be leaving here the day after tomorrow.”

Benton looked astonished. “Sir?”

“It won’t be pleasant, but it will be worth it. You’re a soldier though, you can take a bit of unpleasantness, I’m sure.”

Benton turned in his seat to look at Hunter, who was now standing directly behind him. As he did so, he felt an odd sensation. The last time he had felt like that was when he and Miss Hawthorne had attended Iolanthe’s performance. Someone in the room was trying to look inside his mind. Rather than push back, Benton concentrated on Baxter and what he was saying, treating the situation as if it was completely new and unexpected, which, to an extent, it was. Baxter was holding out a matchbox. Benton got up and took it from him and looked inside. In the matchbox was a green capsule. The sergeant said nothing, but looked at Baxter.

“We’ve all got them. Tomorrow just after lunch, we’ll be taking them one after another, about ten minutes apart. The effects will be almost immediate.”

Benton sat down again. “What does it do?”

“Vomiting, chiefly, with some fever.”

“But …?”

“Don’t worry, Sergeant, the effects don’t last and are purely a means to an end. That end being to get us into the infirmary.”

“Oh, then…”

“Then, Doctor Glede is going to declare us dead. Not all at once, you understand, but with a decent interval in between. We will be removed in what will appear to be a mortuary van and make our way to the place where the arms are stored and retrieve them, which is where your assistance will be necessary. Our customers will meet us and we will exchange the guns and ammunition for cash. The customers will leave and we will be free to pursue whatever course we wish. You, for instance, can pay off your creditors and secure your sister’s future … oh yes, Sims told me about her too. We will be legally dead, so with a change of name, we will be able to live as we wish without let or hindrance from Her Majesty’s Government.” Baxter’s voice hardened on the last words and Benton saw a light of fanaticism in the man’s eyes. The Sergeant didn’t need to feign astonishment at this plan, the whole thing was fantastical. His mouth fell open.

“You’re surprised, Sergeant?”

“I … yes, Sir.”

“You didn’t think we were going to shoot our way out, surely?”

“I … don’t know what I thought, Sir, to be honest,” replied Benton. At that moment he felt the pressure leave his mind. His thoughts were his own again, but they were a muddle in any case. He paused, then said, “But won’t people wonder, when the mortuary van doesn’t arrive?”

Baxter smiled, more naturally this time;

“Ah, I see not a lot gets past you, Sergeant. We are prepared for that eventuality. An accident will befall the van, and our bodies will be assumed to have gone with it.”

Benton said “ah” and tried to gather his frantic thoughts. He didn’t like the mention of his “sister,” for a start and he was becoming increasingly convinced that Baxter was not only ruthless but actually mad.

“And, sorry Sir, I know you’ve thought of everything, please tell me to stop if you don’t want me to ask, but, how are we going to pretend to be dead, supposing, I’m not saying they will, but supposing someone else asks to see the bodies?”

Hunter came closer to the back of Benton’s chair, but Baxter held up a hand.

“No, Sergeant Benton has every right to know what he is getting himself involved with. Are you familiar with the works of Shakespeare, Sergeant?”

Both the real and the put-on Benton were flabbergasted. He was glad to be able to answer honestly;

“Er, not since school, Sir.”

“Fair enough. In Romeo and Juliet, the heroine is given a potion that makes her appear to be dead. We intend to employ similar means, but for a shorter length of time and without the fatal consequences.”

“Will we, will we be asleep?”

“By no means. We will be conscious throughout. It will be an uncomfortable sensation, but it won’t be for long. By the time the van leaves it will have worn off completely.”

The lock up bell rang, and Baxter stood up.

“That would seem to be all the time we have for now, Sergeant. I take it you are still ready to take part in our project?”

“I, yes, Sir.”

“Excellent. And I need not remind you that no word of this must be spoken to anyone. Even Sims only knows the barest outline.”

“Yes, I mean, no, Sir.” Benton didn’t add that he doubted anyone would believe him if he did tell them.

“Good, then you had better be going.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You will be informed of the signal tomorrow morning. Good night, Sergeant.”

Benton saluted, feeling slightly hysterical.

“Good night, Sir.”

He left the cell and walked quickly back to his own, shaking his head as he went. He had expected Baxter to be a vicious crook, but this? This was something else entirely. Fortunately, there wasn’t enough time between lock up and lights out for Sims to question him properly. Benton merely nodded when asked if the evening had gone well.

In his cell, Baxter had dismissed his two bodyguards and was talking to Hunter, who was his cell mate.

“Still clear?”

“Yes, Sir, he was bewildered and surprised and a bit suspicious, but I couldn’t feel any trace of him wanting to betray us, or anything to suggest he isn’t what he says he is.”

“Good, he is our man then.”

Baxter smiled. His plan, which he had been working on ever since he arrived at the prison was finally going to be set in motion. Hunter had a question.

“The doctor, Sir, are you sure you can trust him? I saw Hooper yesterday and he thinks the doc is coming to bits.”

Baxter smiled again, grimly this time.

“Oh I’ve made sure of him. I’ve left a letter with my solicitor. If I don’t contact him within two days of the mission, he will open it and the doctor will be in the soup.”

“Ah, right, Sir.”

“Now get some rest, we’ve got a busy few days ahead of us.”

“Right Sir.”

Hunter climbed into his bunk as the lights went out.

Back to index

Chapter 8: Chapter 8

Chapter 8

By the time Iolanthe had reached Records that afternoon, Dan had put the kettle on and raided the drawer where the emergency biscuits were kept. He held a mug out to her as she came in, which she accepted gratefully, and pushed the Medical Register and the Adult Education College prospectus across the desk.

“Thanks,” said Iolanthe and sat down to have a look, sipping her tea. As Dan had read her the Medical Register entry, she turned to the prospectus first. Smiling a little at some of the courses on offer, “balloon artistry?” she leafed through, paying particular attention to the photographs that showed tutors taking classes. When she found the page for the first aid and health courses, she gasped.

“What?” asked Dan, through a mouthful of biscuit.

“It’s him! At least I think…” she reached for the staff files and found one of the photographs,


She held the photograph of Dr. Glede up next to the illustration in the prospectus. The photo of the class was small, but there was no mistaking the person who was standing at the front, indicating the joints of the human body on a model skeleton.

“Who does it say he is there?” asked Dan. Iolanthe read the caption.

“’Doctor Maurice Gledhill instructing students in advanced first aid.’ Gledhill. So the entry in the register is him.”

“Yes. And sometime between him teaching that course he changed his name and ended up working at Chelsfield Prison. Why though?”

“He wanted to hide from someone, or something?” suggested Dan. “Perhaps there was a scandal. Not enough to end his career, but enough that he had to move away and wanted to leave his name and his past behind?”

“Maybe. Either way, we know he taught Hunter first aid. Did he also teach him hypnotism?”

“Dunno, but we can look at the local papers between the time he left there and the time he arrived at Chelsfield.” Dan pushed off from the desk and moved his chair over to reach a telephone.

“Irene? Can you bring up the ... let’s see, the Branswick Gazette for the last three years? Yes, thanks a lot.”

He hung up and rolled his chair back over to Iolanthe.

“I’ll have a look at the fiche and see if there’s any mention of him. We’ve got the dates of the course, I can start from there and work forwards.”

“Great, thanks Dan. And we’ve got a definite link between him and Hunter, oh, just a moment.” Iolanthe was looking at Hunter’s file again. “It says here that he was seen appearing to intimidate a new recruit, but the recruit refused to give evidence against him. At the time the CO thought the man was too frightened, but he said that he didn’t remember seeing Hunter and when he was shown a photograph from the base security camera, said it wasn’t him.”

She put the file down and exclaimed in exasperation.

“How did I miss that?”

Dan, who was engaged in sorting through the folders of microfiche that his colleague had provided, looked over at her.

“Missed what?”

“Hunter must have hypnotised the recruit. He wasn’t afraid, he genuinely didn’t remember.”

“So Hunter is our hypnotist and he didn’t learn it from Doctor whateverhisnameis?”

“Yes, he must be. Perhaps the Doctor Gledhill supplied the drugs?”

“Maybe. Hmmm ... not a lot so far...” Dan took out one sheet of film and exchanged it for another, “How about you report to the C.O. and I’ll keep looking. We know those two met, at least.”

“Yes, OK, I’ll let him know.” Iolanthe gathered up the files and prospectus and was about to leave when the Brigadier himself walked in.

“Oh, Sir, I was just coming to tell you...” began Iolanthe.

“Well, you can tell me now,” replied the Brigadier, “I take it you’ve made some progress?”


Iolanthe explained the connection between the prison doctor and Hunter, and their theory that he was being blackmailed, possibly because of a connection to the robbery.

“So,” replied the Brigadier, “You think he might have supplied the drugs?”

“I think we have to consider it,” replied Iolanthe.

“Hmmm. But why would a man like that go and work at a military prison? Wouldn’t he be scared off from working with the army after mixing with Hunter and his ilk before?”

“Yes, you’d think so.” replied Iolanthe thoughtfully. She was about to go on when she was interrupted by a triumphant whoop from Dan.

“Got ‘im! Er,” seeing the Brigadier, “I mean I’ve found out why he went on the lam.”

“Corporal Wood!” said the Brigadier disgustedly, “talk sense man.”

“Yes, Sir, sorry Sir,” replied Dan Wood, not noticeably chastened, “It’s here.”

He pointed to the screen of the microfiche reader. His colleagues joined him and craned over his shoulders to read.

The story was not very prominent, being tucked away on page four of that week’s edition. The headline read ‘Local GP resigns over drugs rumours.’ Iolanthe read aloud,

“Respected GP, Maurice Gledhill has resigned from his practice amid rumours that he has been involved in the illegal supply and sale of drugs. Dr. Gledhill insists that he has not been involved in any wrongdoing and points to his work in the community as proof of his good character.”

Dan whistled. “Phew! I can see why he’d want to leave that behind him, whether he did it or not.”

“Yes,” replied the Brigadier, “and Hunter and his friends, being stationed in Branswick, would probably have read the paper and known all about this.”

“Yes. And when they arrived at the prison and found out who was running the infirmary… well,” said Iolanthe, “he’d be an obvious target for blackmail.”

“Quite,” agreed the Brigadier, “do you still think he supplied the drugs used in the robbery?”

“Umm, I’m not so sure now,” replied Iolanthe, “I think you’re right that if he was fleeing the chance of a scandal relating to that crime, he wouldn’t have chosen to work at a military prison. But if he met Hunter at the classes, his name would have been familiar to the gang, so the story would have caught their attention. It seems more like an unfortunate coincidence.”

“I agree,” said the Brigadier. “Unfortunately we can’t stop the escape, General Gibbs thinks it’s our only chance of finding the arms dump, but with this evidence, and Miss Hawthorne’s report, we can certainly link him to the escape plot.”

“Yes.” Iolanthe looked thoughtful. “And it looks like we won’t have long to wait for the escape, if what Miss Hawthorne heard is true.”

“Yes indeed. We can only hope that she is able to contact Benton again before they begin, or we’ll have trouble tracking the convicts once they’ve left the prison. In the meantime, I suggest we occupy ourselves with trying to find a possible location for the stolen weapons. General Gibbs and the regular army may be content to follow Baxter and his men, but I’d like to get ahead of the game if we can.”

With that, the Brigadier turned on his heel and went to the door, pausing briefly to pick up a biscuit on his way out. Dan and Iolanthe looked at each other.

“And so, we will,” said Dan.

“Yes,” replied Iolanthe, “I needn’t ask if you’ve got maps.”

“Indeed no,” her colleague replied, getting up from his chair and going across to the map chest that stood under the window, “so we had better make a start.”

The following morning, Miss Hawthorne arrived in good time for her shift at the library. She underwent the obligatory searches of her handbag and her person with good grace, exchanging greetings and pleasantries with the female office responsible for them. Once she reached the locker room, her manner changed. She took off her cloak swiftly and pushed it into the locker, then fished in her handbag, taking out a small plastic cylinder resembling a lipstick. Miss Hawthorne looked around hastily, then put the cylinder in the pocket of her cardigan, closed the locker door and took out the key. She paused to smooth her hair and straighten her skirt, then walked calmly out of the room.

Sergeant Benton hadn’t slept well after the revelations of the previous evening. He had lain awake staring into the darkness, trying to make sense of what he had just heard and failing. The thought of putting himself in the hands of a doctor who was either a criminal, or being blackmailed by criminals, seemed a risky proposition to say the least. Going over the story that Baxter had told him again, Benton made a decision. If he had to be sick, he would be sick, but he wouldn’t be taking the pill in the matchbox. He would have to take the risk of the second drug, but he was determined not to chance the first. Light began to filter through the window, the bars throwing their shadow onto the far wall of the cell. Not much longer till the first bell of the morning. Benton turned carefully onto his side, so as not to make any noise and risk waking his cellmate. He really wasn’t in the mood to talk to Sims. The bell rang at last, and Benton got up and went over to the basin, soaping his face so that he could use shaving as his excuse for not talking. Sims, woken by the bell, groaned again and got slowly out of his bunk, watching his cellmate while gathering his towel and washbag.

“So, you’re in then?”

Benton nodded.

“Good. Can’t come with you, but I’ll be there in spirit.”

Benton grunted through his towel a word that might have been “thanks.” Sims smiled.

“Good lad, come on, they’ll start to ask questions if we don’t hurry up.”

Grabbing his washbag and towel, Benton followed Sims out of the door. His lip had stiffened overnight, so breakfast was an ordeal. Benton sucked, rather than chewed his toast and Sims, seeing his discomfort, decided to leave him alone, much to the Sergeant’s relief. As they left, Benton pocketed a salt cellar, hoping nobody had seen. As he wasn’t stopped, he assumed he’d got away with it, and went out to the yard, his library book under his arm. Not wanting to seem too keen, he sat down on a bench, keeping a careful eye on the library. A few minutes after the door was opened, he got and strolled over to the outer door that led from the yard to that part of the building and asked permission to go to the library. The warder nodded and escorted him to the entrance. When Benton went into the library, Schapp was opening a box of new books that had been delivered to the prison on the previous day, and Miss Hawthorne was sorting books on a low shelf. In keeping with the bashful persona he had assumed on his previous visit, Benton walked up to the desk and cleared his throat shyly. Schapp looked up from his box and smiled.

“Ah, Benton, that didn’t take you long. Yes, just leave it there, I’ll check it back in in a moment.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Benton moved across to the shelves, and glanced at Miss Hawthorne, who gave a tiny nod and stood up, with an armful of books. The next moment she turned and fell, apparently catching her foot on the stool she had been sitting on. The books flew out of her arms as she fell, and she cried out in alarm as she landed on the floor. Before Schapp could move, Benton ran over and helped her to sit up, asking with concern,

“Are you alright, Miss?”

“Oh, Benton, thank you, yes, silly of me!” replied Miss Hawthorne, then, in an undertone, “is the escape on?”

“Right, just a moment Miss, I’ll get that stool,” replied Benton, muttering as he turned away, “yes, today and tomorrow.”

“Thank you, I feel such a fool.”

Miss Hawthorne drew the plastic cylinder out of her pocket and removed the lid, hiding her hand in the folds of her skirt. Benton fetched the stool and helped Miss Hawthorne onto it. As he did so, she put her arm round him, so that the hand that held the cylinder was on his neck, just inside the collar of his shirt. As Benton turned to lift her, Miss Hawthorne pressed down on the end of the cylinder, and a needle inside it pierced the Sergeant’s neck. Benton winced as the needle went in, but made no comment and Miss Hawthorne took her hand away quickly and dropped the cylinder back in her pocket. By this time, Schapp had come out of the central enclosure and made his way over to them. Miss Hawthorne was sitting on the stool, looking flustered and disheveled, and Benton was picking up the books she had dropped. As the library supervisor approached, the Sergeant looked at him nervously.

“I’m sorry, Sir, I shouldn’t have ... I mean we aren’t supposed to ... you won’t tell anyone, will you?”

“You have nothing to apologise for Benton. I know you men aren’t supposed to approach members of staff, but, in this case I think we will say no more about it, eh Miss Hawthorne?”
“No, indeed,” said Miss Hawthorne, emphatically, “I am most grateful to you Mr. Benton, now... oh, but your lip.”

Benton put a hand up to his face. The wound on his lip had opened and blood was beginning to ooze from under the dressing.

“Mr. Schapp,” said Miss Hawthorne briskly, “I believe there are some paper handkerchiefs in the storeroom, would you be so kind as to fetch them?”

Forgetting that he wasn’t supposed to leave his colleague alone, Schapp left. Miss Hawthorne looked at Benton.

“Now, Sergeant, we haven’t got long, what’s the plan?”

Benton explained Baxter’s escape plan in as few words as possible, watching for Schapp’s return. Miss Hawthorne was both fascinated and appalled by his description.

“Heavens! Whoever heard of such a thing?”

“I know, it’s mad. And he’s mad too, but I’ve got to go through with it.”

“I think you are wise not to take the emetic. For the other substance… oh” the door of the storeroom opened and Schapp emerged carrying a box of tissues. Miss Hawthorne whispered, “Good luck, John,” then, as Schapp would have heard their voices, if not their words, went on to say, “I’m so sorry to hear that. Gambling is a terrible temptation for young men and look where all that trouble has got you.”

“Yes, Miss,” replied Benton, looking ashamed. Then, on apparently catching sight of Schapp, “Oh, thank you, Sir, that’s kind of you.”

Benton folded one of the tissues and held it to his lip, then, to give the impression that all was as normal, chose another book. After issuing the book, Schapp called a warder to escort Benton back to the yard. Benton sat back down on the bench and rubbed the back of his neck. The injection Miss Hawthorne had given him had implanted a small tracking device under the skin. The Brigadier had held off from giving it to him before he left UNIT for fear that it might turn up on an X-ray or during his physical examination. Now, however, there was no time to waste. Benton could only hope that the device would work and that he could pass off any outer sign of it as an insect bite or similar blemish.

After Benton had left, Schapp looked at Miss Hawthorne, who was still sitting on the stool.

“Are you alright, Miss Hawthorne? I hope you didn’t hurt yourself?”

“Ah, no, thank you Mr. Schapp, I don’t believe so,” replied Miss Hawthorne, slightly breathless, “a little shaken, perhaps.”

“I’m not surprised. Are you sure you feel up to the rest of your shift? I can always ask for assistance if I need it.”

“Well, really that is most kind of you, but I’m quite well, I ...” Miss Hawthorne got up off the stool, wobbled and sat down again quickly. “Perhaps you are right. It doesn’t seem fair to leave you on your own though.”

Oh, I’ll manage,” replied Schapp, smiling, “like I said, I can always call one of the warders if I need to. You go home and put your feet up for a bit. Will you be alright to get to the bus stop?”

“I think so, it isn’t far from here. If you could just …” Miss Hawthorne held out a hand and Schapp helped her to her feet, “thank you. I will let the warder at the door know what is happening as I leave. I think we will say that I have had a small accident, we needn’t bring Benton into it, I wouldn’t want to get him into trouble.”

Schapp agreed, and Miss Hawthorne made her way to the locker room and out of the prison, walking more slowly than usual. Truth be told, she was a bit shaken by her fall, even though she had planned it. Once outside the building, she made her way, not to the bus stop, but to the nearest phone box, where she dialed the number for UNIT HQ.

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Chapter 9: Chapter 9

Chapter 9

In the communications room at HQ, the Brigadier and General Gibbs were watching a small, illuminated spot on a green screen. A plan of the prison had been overlaid on the plain green background and the spot flashed at regular intervals, though it wasn’t currently moving. The General looked at the Brigadier with a doubtful expression.

“And you’re sure this will work, Lethbridge Stewart?”

“Yes Sir,” replied the Brigadier, with more confidence than he actually felt, “with this equipment we will be able to track Sergeant Benton’s movements and report to our men in the field. We also have a portable device that we can use at close range.”

“Good. We must recover those weapons. I’ve been in touch with Scotland Yard and they think they have identified the buyers, but they can’t act until the sale takes place. I just hope your man can evade detection.”

“Sergeant Benton may be relied on completely, Sir,” replied the Brigadier, offended at what he saw as a slight on the abilities of his men.

“I’ll have to take your word for it,” replied the General, frowning. Whatever else he might have been about to say was interrupted by one of the communications officers saying,

“Urgent call for you, Brigadier, Sir.”

“Thank you, Jenkins,” replied his commanding officer, taking the receiver.

“Hello, Lethbridge Stewart here.”

“Brigadier! Thank goodness you were available. This is Olive Hawthorne. I’ve just come from the prison and the escape attempt is imminent!”

“Did you speak to Benton?”

“Yes, only briefly but,” Miss Hawthorne went on to relate what she knew of the escape plan, to an accompaniment of exclamations from the Brigadier. With a final “Good grief!” he paused, then said, “Very well, Miss Hawthorne, we will expect them to be on the move tomorrow. Thank you. I’ll be in touch.”

“Thank you, Brigadier, goodbye.”

The Brigadier hung up and turned to the General.

“News from my agent, Sir, the escape attempt will begin this afternoon, with the men intending to leave the prison tomorrow. I can’t tell you much more at the moment, but we will be in position and ready to track them. Meantime, my team is working to try and locate the weapons dump.”

“Humph. Good luck to them. We did already look for it,” replied the General.

“I’m aware of that, Sir, I just want to explore all the possibilities.”

“And what about the escape? How are they planning to get out?”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more about that at the moment, Sir,” replied the Brigadier, adding silently ‘and anyway I doubt you’d believe me if I did.’

“Very well. I don’t like it, but you are leading the investigation, so on your head be it if it goes wrong.”

“Yes, Sir,” replied the Brigadier, escorting the visibly angry General to the car park. As he watched the General’s staff car pull away, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart sighed and muttered,

“What have we got you into this time, Benton?”

The Brigadier walked quickly back into the building and went through to his office. Once inside, he picked up the phone.

“Chelsfield Prison, Governor Heybridge speaking.”

“Ah, Governor, Lethbridge Stewart here, at UNIT. I have news. The escape attempt will take place in the next two days.”

“Good Lord. Do you know how they plan to get out?”

“Not exactly, Sir,” the Brigadier wasn’t prepared to share the details of the escape plan with anyone outside UNIT, at least at present, “But whatever happens, you must not intervene. It’s imperative that the gang think they have succeeded.”

“Yes, yes of course, I understand,” the Governor sounded dissatisfied, but he knew he couldn’t argue, “I’ll do whatever you suggest.”

“Thank you. When the prisoners have left, under any circumstances (what on earth did he mean by that, wondered the Governor) you must inform UNIT immediately.”

“I understand, thank you Brigadier.”

“Thank you, Governor Heybridge, goodbye.”

The Governor hung up and leaned forward, putting his head in his hands. He had been in command of Chelsfield for several years and had never had to deal with an affair of this kind. He had weathered other escape attempts, and episodes of unrest, but nothing on this scale. He sighed. He must just do what he could, which was, according to the Brigadier, nothing. The sound of the dinner bell interrupted his thoughts. He sighed again. Chelsfield had been an experiment, in some ways, and the military authorities had expressed serious doubts over the ability of a civilian, however experienced he might be, to run a prison with a military population. It looked as if their predictions of doom were about to be proved right. And now Fulton had mentioned that he was concerned at Benton’s associating with Baxter, forcing Heybridge to lie to one of his most trusted and reliable officers. He had wished to take Fulton into his confidence at the start, but the Brigadier had been insistent that as few people as possible should know of the operation. Fulton had left the office with an unsatisfied expression and the Governor could only hope that the warder wouldn’t begin to investigate off his own bat. A knock at the door proved to be a kitchen attendant with lunch. Heybridge thanked him and took the tray, then sat at his desk, gloomily turning over the contents of his plate with a fork. Then he sat up, rebuking himself. Benton was the one putting himself at risk and the Brigadier was the one organizing the operation. His job was to support them in any way he could, even if it meant letting his most dangerous prisoners escape. And at that his mood sank again and he hoped the prison board would see it that way. The Governor ate his lunch slowly, trying to distract himself with paperwork. So successful was he, that he barely realised the lunch hour had gone past until the second bell rang. The clanging of the bell coincided with another knock at the door. In answer to his “come in?” Hooper appeared, looking alarmed and disheveled.


“What is it, man?” asked the Governor, alarmed. He often described Hooper as one of the coldest-blooded individuals he had ever met, what could have got him in this state?

“Sir. Doctor Glede sent me. Four of the prisoners have been taken ill.”

“All at once?” it was the Governor’s turn to be alarmed.

“Very nearly, Sir. Baxter was first, then Hunter, then Briggs and Sloman, and now Benton has gone down too.”

“Did the Doctor say what’s wrong with them?”

“He doesn’t know yet. He said vomiting and abdominal pain, could be food poisoning, could be a virus. They’re in a bad way Sir, he wants your permission to take them all to the infirmary and isolate the rest of the men on floor 2 until he’s sure it isn’t catching.”

Heybridge thought rapidly. This could be a coincidence, but, after Lethbridge Stewart’s call it was more likely to be part of the escape plot. Which he was obliged to let happen. He paused long enough that Hooper asked “Sir?” and replied,

“Yes, yes, that sounds like the best idea. Tell him he has my permission to proceed and let me know as the situation develops. Call all of the remaining floor 2 prisoners back to their cells and isolate the corridor. Get the kitchen to bring their evening meal up and leave it at the landing, we can distribute it from there.

“Yes, Sir, right away Sir,” said Hooper with unusual keenness. As the warder turned on his heel and left, the Governor looked after him with a frown. Was Hooper the inside man? The trouble was he had come to suspect everyone. In any case he should tell the Brigadier. Heybridge reached for the phone.

Benton had joined his fellow prisoners in the canteen for lunch with some trepidation. Having decided to make his own arrangements to induce sickness, he hoped he’d be able to get away with it. As he moved from the serving hatch to the table, Hunter brushed past him and whispered “finish eating, then get up to your cell, we’re ready to go.” Benton nodded and walked on, giving no other sign that anything had passed between the two men. The Sergeant had little appetite for his lunch, knowing that he would be about to bring it back violently, but he knew he had to preserve an appearance of normality, so he ate it all, chatting to Sims about nothing much in particular and trying to keep an eye on Baxter and the others. As the bell rang for the end of the meal, Benton saw Baxter reach into his pocket, then take a swig of water from his cup. So, he would be the first, thought Benton. And in this he was correct. Whatever was in the capsules worked quickly. The prisoners had no sooner left the canteen than Baxter leant against the wall, groaning and clutching his stomach, then vomited. Hunter went over to help him, but was held back by one of the warders. By now Baxter was lying on the floor, curled up and groaning, his face white and running with sweat. Hooper, who was standing nearby, radioed for the Doctor then bent down by Baxter.

“What’s wrong, have you taken anything?”

“No. No, I… ohhh.”

Hooper looked up at his colleagues and snapped,

“Get the men out of here!” Then looking past one of them, “You, Hunter, what’s the matter with you?”

Benton glanced at Hunter, whose face had gone almost as pale as Baxter’s. He stepped back, then bent almost double against the wall.

“I … don’t know, Sir, I…” then he became incapable of speech.

The warders acted quickly, steering the prisoners back to their cells and standing by for further instructions. Doctor Glede arrived and requested Sims be allowed to stay to assist him, so Benton was alone in the cell. The first thing he did was to take out the matchbox and wash the capsule he had been given down the plughole. The next was to fish the salt cellar out of its hiding place and empty about a quarter of the contents into his tooth mug. He concealed the salt cellar again, then filled his mug with water from the tap, stirring the contents with the end of his toothbrush to mix in the salt. Closing his eyes, Benton poured the mug full of salty water into his mouth and held it there while he rinsed the mug, then swallowed. The effect was instantaneous. Benton held the edge of the basin as he vomited, then gasped and slid down onto the floor. Fulton, who had been attending to the two other members of the gang, looked round the door as he passed.

“Benton, are you alright?”

“Not really, Sir” gasped Benton.

The warder came into the cell and crouched down beside Benton.

“Do you think you can walk?”

“I … dunno, Sir. Maybe?”

“Right, stay there, I’ll get someone to help you down to the infirmary.”

“Thank you…” Benton turned his head away, as if overcome by nausea, which he almost was. Fulton left the cell and called to two of his colleagues, who helped Benton to his feet and half walked, half carried him down the stairs to the infirmary. When they arrived the other patients were already in bed, with basins handy and drips standing by incase their fluid levels dropped dangerously. Sims and Doctor Glede were attending them, wearing gloves and masks in case of infection, as the Doctor explained. Sims helped sit down on the edge of a bed and took off his boots, then lifted the Sergeant’s legs to lay him down. Benton curled up, his hands on his stomach, partly in imitation of his fellow conspirators, but also because he really didn’t feel at all well after his saline cocktail. Once the warders had departed, Doctor Glede surveyed his patients with a wry smile.

“Well, gentlemen, I congratulate you on your commitment to the cause.”

Baxter scowled.

“What the hell was in those things?”

“You said you wanted a dramatic episode, and you’ve had one. It’ll wear off soon. In the meantime, keep drinking water, you’ll need to replace the fluid you’ve lost before you have your other dose.”

Baxter scowled at him again, but reached for the cup that stood by his bed.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, Doctor. Don’t forget who is in charge, will you?”

Doctor Glede turned away without speaking, and Baxter’s scowl changed to a nasty smile. Benton lay still. There would be time to drink later and he hadn’t been as ill as the rest of the gang.

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Chapter 10: Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Once news had come through that the escape attempt had begun, the UNIT team dedicated themselves once more to trying to locate the arms dump. As she wouldn’t be going back to the prison library, Miss Hawthorne had joined them. The Brigadier had set up an operations centre in the conference room and the tracking equipment and the maps from records had been brought there and set up, with radio and telephone communications. Iolanthe, Dan and Miss Hawthorne were poring over the maps when the Brigadier entered.

“Any progress?” he asked.

Miss Hawthorne looked up from the map.

“We may have narrowed down the field a little,” she said, frowning slightly.

“Good, Miss Hawthorne, what have you got?”

“Well,” replied the white witch, moving aside to let the Brigadier see the map properly, “We began by ruling out any places that had previously been checked by the army.”

“Makes sense,” the Brigadier nodded.

“Then we, or rather Corporal Woods, looked at the files of the original robbery and we calculated the approximate distance the gang might have travelled before and after they abandoned their vehicle, which left us with these two possibilities…” She indicated two places ringed in red on the map. The Brigadier looked more closely.

“Sheptown Mill?”

“Yes, Sir,” put in Dan. It’s a steel works, or rather it was. It was working when the robbery took place, but has closed since. We weren’t sure, but we didn’t want to rule it out. Seeing as how the gang seems to have connections everywhere, they may have had one at the mill.”

“Mph. And the other?”

“Hangingflood reservoir,” replied Iolanthe.

“You think they’ve hidden them underwater?” asked her commanding officer incredulously.

“No, but the reservoir is nearly 200 years old, and there are some tunnels that survive from the 18th century that haven’t been in use for years.”

“I see.” the Brigadier stroked his chin, “both of those sound possible. Good work. We’ll wait for Benton to leave the prison and hope that gives us a lead on which it might be, if it is either of them. Get the coordinates and route mapped and up on the board,” he indicated a noticeboard where updates had been pinned.

“Yes, Sir,” said Dan, and picked up his notebook and ruler.

Miss Hawthorne looked at him and then at Iolanthe.

“It seems we are making progress at last,” she said.

Iolanthe nodded, then looked round in surprise as the “unmarked” phone that had been put through from her office rang. Hushing the others, she went over and picked up the receiver.


“Is that Miss Benton? This is Doctor Glede, I am calling from Chelsfield Prison.”

“Oh, hello. Er, is John alright?”

Hearing this, Miss Hawthorne and the Brigadier came over. Iolanthe listened as the Doctor said,

“I’m very sorry to have to tell you this, Miss Benton, but I’m afraid I have bad news.”

“What do you mean? What’s wrong with John?”

“There has been an outbreak of severe illness at the prison, I believe it may have been food poisoning, or an aggressive virus. Your brother was taken ill this afternoon and he…”


“I’m afraid so. Now, I don’t want to you to feel you are under any pressure to come, but, because of the circumstances of his death, we feel it would be appropriate for a relative to come and formally identify his body.”

“What did you do to him? I spoke to him and he was fine! He was fine!”

The Brigadier looked at Miss Hawthorne over Iolanthe’s head, both of them praying that Benton’s supposed demise was part of the plan, as he had been told, and that they had not been double-crossed. Iolanthe’s voice became calmer.

“I want to see him.”

“You shall. Can you come over this evening? I can let you in through the outer door of the infirmary, it’s in the west wall of the prison. Under the circumstances we can forgo the usual procedures, provided you don’t bring any kind of bag with you.”

“No, of course,” said Iolanthe, dully, “I’ll come as soon as I can.”

“Good. Do you need any assistance getting to the prison?”

“No, I can get a taxi. I’ll be there … maybe in half a hour?”

“Very well. We will see you shortly. I can only say how sorry I am.”

Iolanthe laughed, mirthlessly then hung up. Miss Hawthorne fetched a chair for her to sit on and went to get her a drink of water. The Brigadier, not usually demonstrative, put his hand on her shoulder.

“Well done, Miss Grosvenor.”

Iolanthe turned a worried face to him,

“You don’t think they’ve really killed him? I know Miss Hawthorne said it was part of the plan, but?”

“I think the fact that they have asked you to identify him is a strong indication that he is alive,” replied the Brigadier. “Your identification will make their cover story more convincing.”

“I suppose so,” Iolanthe replied, sipping the water that Miss Hawthorne had given her, “I just, I don’t know. Shall I call a cab to get there, or would you prefer...?”

“I think it would be better if you were escorted,” replied the Brigadier, “strangely enough we do have a taxi in the garage. Yes!” as Iolanthe looked at him in astonishment, “one never knows when such a thing might come in handy. Give us ten minutes to get it ready and the driver will meet you at the door.”

“Thank you, Sir. I’d better change, I’ll be down as soon as I can.”

Since the operation began, Iolanthe had kitted herself out with an outfit that made her look younger than her twenty-odd years, in case she had to visit the prison in her role as Benton’s sister.” She went up to her office and changed, and then went back down to the carpark, where a taxi waited, Private Smyth behind the wheel. The Brigadier waved them off, then went back inside, frowning.

Two hours had passed since the gang had been taken to the infirmary and Doctor Glede judged them in a fit state to receive the drug that would enable them to fake their demises. He came into the room, accompanied by Sims and by Hooper. Sims carried a tray with syringes on it. Benton looked warily at Hooper. He had come to the conclusion that the man was, as he put it, “hired muscle” for the gang. Why was he here now? Doctor Glede cleared his throat to attract his patients’ attention.

“Ahem. Right gentlemen, I’m going to give you your doses now. The sensation will be unpleasant, so I will also give you a sedative.

“Oi!” interjected Briggs, the heavily built man who had informed Baxter of Benton’s arrival, “you said you weren’t going to knock us out.”

“And I’m not. This is merely to help you relax. Now, Mr. Hunter?” he looked to the occupant of the first bed, who swallowed and nodded. “Good, Mr. Hunter if you could roll up your sleeve?”

Hunter did as he was asked, and Glede injected him with the sedative in his upper arm. “Now, if you could lean forwards? Mr. Hooper will support you.” Hunter leant forwards, Hooper stepping in to hold him in position, and Glede lifted a second, larger needle from the tray. Benton watched in horror as Glede swabbed the back of Hunter’s neck, before injecting him with the drug, then moved on to do the same to the other men. Hooper laid Hunter back down and he began to shiver, the tremors gradually subsiding until he was motionless, his eyes open, his chest barely rising and falling. Hooper brushed his eyelids closed and moved on to help the Doctor with the next man. Baxter had decided to stay awake until the others had all been put under and watched with interest as the Doctor proceeded. Benton sat almost frozen in his bed. There was nothing he could do. He could only hope that Doctor Glede didn’t see the tracker under his skin or would mistake it for something else. Briggs and Sloman succumbed to the drug, then it was Benton’s turn. He tried to control his breathing, to stay calm. He rolled up his sleeve and the sedative was injected. Benton didn’t feel the effect immediately, he watched intently as the Doctor prepared the second injection, then closed his eyes, hoping with every fibre of his being that the tracker would go unnoticed. He felt the chill of the swab on the back of his neck, then heard a quiet exclamation.

“What do we have here? Mr. Benton, are you aware you have a lump on your neck?”

“Er, yes, Sir, I think it’s a cyst, I’ve had them before,” said Benton, improvising, as he felt the Doctor’s fingers on his neck.

“Hmm. I haven’t seen a natural growth this shape before, I wonder, Sims, could you...” Benton was appalled to see Sims approach, holding a scalpel. He moved forwards on the bed.

“Here, I didn’t expect to be cut up, what do you think you’re doing?”

Baxter looked at him, quizzically.

“On the contrary, I think the Doctor should investigate. Hold him, Hooper!” the warder sprang forward and gripped Benton’s upper arms, forcing him back towards Glede.

“Thank you Mr. Hooper. Now Mr. Benton, if you’d just hold still…”

Benton gasped in pain as the scalpel cut into his neck. He felt blood running down his back, which, at a word from Glede, was staunched by Sims.

“Well, yes, thank you” Glede took up a pair of tongs and removed the tracker from Benton’s neck, then held it up to the light. “How extraordinary! I had no idea that UNIT was in the habit of microchipping their soldiers.”

He passed the tongs to Baxter, then busied himself with putting a stitch in the wound he had created. Baxter turned the tongs back and forth, looking at the transmitter.

“It’s a tracker, isn’t it?” He asked Benton, “You are a rat after all.”

“No!” Benton replied, trying to put on a façade of outraged innocence, “I don’t know what that is, I told you, I thought it was a cyst. I don’t know how that got there. You’ve got to believe me.”

“I’m afraid I don’t.” said Baxter, coldly, “but we don’t have time to argue now. I need you to work for me, willingly or otherwise. And if you aren’t interested in the money, I will need to find another way to encourage you.”

Benton stared at him. But Baxter was looking at Glede.

“Put him under, please, then go and telephone Miss Benton.”

Benton didn’t need to feign his horror at this.

“No! Leave her out of this! It’s got nothing to do with her! I said I’d do what you wanted, and I will, you’ve no business involving her.”

“Oh, you certainly will do what I want, Sergeant, but I see no harm in having some insurance. After all, someone will have to identify your body. No!” Benton tried to free himself from Hooper’s grip, but the sedative was beginning to take hold. He blinked woozily at Baxter as he felt the needle in the back of his neck. A strange chill spread from his neck, to his back, to his arms and legs. All his limbs seemed numb and made of lead. He shivered as the chill took hold, then, suddenly, he felt himself become still. He tried to move one of his hands, but he could not, nor could he turn his head to look at it. The ceiling light above split and danced as he looked at it, then there was darkness as Hooper put out a hand and closed his eyelids. Glede looked at Baxter.

“And will you be going under too?”

“No, I don’t think so. Especially since we’ve found out Benton’s secret. I can play dead for long enough to get into the van.”

“Somehow I knew you would say that.” replied Glede. He looked down at Benton. “Are you sure you don’t want to deal with him now?”

“No, I need him. He’ll do what I ask, willingly or not, then we’ll see. I might have Hunter wipe his memory. In the meantime,” he held the tracking device up to the light again, “I’ll hang onto this. If I destroy it now, UNIT will know we’re onto them. We’ll try and lead them up the garden path later. Now, Doctor, I can keep an eye on your patients, so if you would…?”

“Yes, I’ll do it now,” replied Glede, before going into the next room to make the call. Hooper raised his eyebrows.

“I wasn’t expecting that. Do you need me for anything more? It’s nearly lock-up and I ought to be getting back.”

“No, that’s all for now, Hooper, thank you.”

“See you later.”

Hooper walked out of the infirmary, whistling. Sims, who had been cleaning the instruments that Glede had just used, looked over at Baxter.

“Yes, you can go too, Sims, thanks for your help.”

“My pleasure, Captain.”

“Ha! I’m sure it was. Now get back to your cell and not a word to anyone. You’ll be well paid for your trouble and if you split on me, I’ll find you and pay you back double. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” replied Sims, nervously, “perfectly clear Sir.”

“Then get out of here, you make my skin crawl.”

Glede had come back in at that point and nodded in answer to Baxter’s raised eyebrows.

“She’s on her way.”

“Good. Now, see if you can get hold of Hooper again and then you’d better call the Governor and give him the good news.”

“Yes, yes of course.”

“And don’t forget that what I said to Sims goes double for you.”

“How could I?” Glede turned away, sighing and went to the radio to locate Hooper.

Baxter smiled to himself and got back into bed. No doubt the Governor would want to come and see for himself that three of his prisoners were dead and one was gravely ill and not expected to survive the night (this was the story that he and Glede had decided on) so he’d better get on with looking ill. When Glede returned, Baxter was lying on his side with his knees drawn up, the end of a drip tube tucked in under his blankets, to make it seem as if he was receiving fluids intravenously. He opened one eye and looked at the Doctor, who shrugged.

“All done. The Governor is on his way down, and Hooper will be along shortly. He can help me move Benton into the side room ready for when his sister arrives.”

“Good,” replied Baxter, closing his eye again.

Glede watched him in silence. This was more than he had imagined he would have to do. He had agreed, reluctantly, to providing the drugs and the alibi, but he hadn’t thought kidnapping would be involved. But what could he do? He was so deeply involved that he dared not try and give the game away. Glede shrugged again and went out into the corridor to meet the Governor.

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Chapter 11: Chapter 11

Chapter 11

The UNIT taxi drew up outside the side door of the prison and Iolanthe got out, then leaned into to the window as if paying the driver.

“Right,” she said, “if I’m not out in half an hour ...”

“Call the C.O.” replied Smyth, “good luck.”

“Thank you.”
He drove away, intending to stop in a side turning out of view of the prison security cameras and anyone who might be looking. Iolathe drew a deep breath. At least, she thought as she went to the door, a young woman in her position would be expected to be nervous, so she needn’t try and disguise her trepidation. She pressed the bell and the door was opened by a tired looking man in a white coat, who she recognised as Dr. Glede (or Gledhill) from his photographs. He held out his hand and she shook it, timidly.

“Miss Benton?”


“Do come in. My name is Glede, we spoke earlier.”

“Oh. Yes.”

“I realise this has been a dreadful shock to you…”

Iolanthe suddenly burst out,

“But he was fine! He was! He would have told me if he’d been ill. I don’t understand!”

Glede put a hand on her shoulder and steered her gently through into the infirmary.

“I am so very sorry. Some forms of food poisoning can be very serious, and we think that was the most likely cause. This way…”

Iolanthe glanced into the main ward, where she could see three beds whose occupants had been covered with sheets, and one where a man she recognised as Captain Baxter lay, apparently asleep. Glede guided her into a small room to the side of the ward. Benton lay on a bed in the centre of the room, still, pale and to all appearances, dead. Iolanthe’s heart seemed to contract as she looked at him, looking for any sign that he was, in fact, alive and that the escape plan was still being carried out. Glede had moved over to a table just inside the door and came back with a clipboard and pen.

“I’m sorry to ask you, Miss Benton, but can you confirm that this is your brother?”

In a tiny voice, Iolanthe said “yes.”

“Thank you. Now…”

“Can I … is it OK if I sit with him for a bit?”

“Of course. Wait here, I’ll get you a chair.”
Glede left the room and Iolanthe, after making sure he had gone, stepped forward quickly and put two fingers on Benton’s wrist. There was a pulse. Slow, barely detectable, but the pulse was there. Trying not to show how relieved she was, Iolanthe stepped swiftly back to her previous position. Glede came back in, accompanied by a warder who was carrying a chair. Iolanthe recognised him as Hooper, Baxter’s inside man. He put down the chair by the bed and the Doctor said, “please, do sit down.”
Iolanthe lowered herself slowly onto the seat, looking at the men with a nervousness that was only half put on. No sooner had she sat down, than Hooper grabbed her wrists and pulled them behind the chair, fastening on a pair of handcuffs. Iolanthe struggled frantically to try and free herself, shouting

“What are you doing? What’s going on … get off me!”

This as Hooper put his hands on her shoulders, forcing her down onto the chair. Iolanthe continued to protest, but her words were muffled by Glede, who wrapped a length of crepe bandage round her head, covering her mouth, and fastened it behind her head. Iolanthe stared, wide eyed, at the men. Glede dismissed Hooper with a nod, then turned to his hostage.

“I’m sorry, Miss Benton, I truly am, but Captain Baxter has decided that your brother is not as loyal to him as he was first led to believe. That being the case, he thought a little extra, ah, motivation would help to keep his mind on the job in hand. If he completes the task he will be assigned, I see no reason why you had he will not be allowed to survive after your memories have been removed.”

Iolanthe tried to speak again at this, her words lost in the bandages.

“Oh, yes, we are able to do that. It’s a necessary precaution. On the other hand, should you try to escape, Baxter will kill your brother and, should he try to escape, Baxer will kill you. Now you know what the position is, I will leave you. Your transportation will be here very early tomorrow morning, and there are still arrangements to make. Iolanthe bowed her head. Glede went out of the room, locking the door behind him. Once he had gone, Iolanthe raised her head again and looked round the room, desperately looking for something that might help her. The chair was heavy and she couldn’t lift it without the risk of the legs scraping on the tiled floor and attracting attention. She was not completely unarmed, a slender knife, its blade made from reinforced plastic, in order to avoid discovery by metal detectors, was hidden in her sleeve, but that was little use to her now. In any case, even if she were able to free herself, she couldn’t get Benton away without assistance. Iolanthe looked at the Sergeant, wondering when the drug would wear off, and if he was conscious inside his silent, motionless body. She thought for a moment, then took a deep breath in and then out, attempting to calm herself, and closed her eyes. Iolanthe tried to clear her mind, focusing on Benton and on the word “John.” She waited her eyes still closed. After what felt like an eternity, a single word appeared in her mind, as clearly as if it had been spoken. “Yes.” Iolanthe gave a sob of relief into the bandages that covered her mouth, then breathed deeply and began again.

“Did you hear?”

Another pause, shorter this time and then “Yes.”

“I’m sorry. Shouldn’t have come.”

“Not your fault ... found tracker ... wanted leverage.”

“They don’t know who I am?”

“No ... don’t ... don’t think so.”
Iolanthe paused and opened her eyes. Looking carefully, she could just see Benton’s chest rise and fall, but the movement was so slight that it was almost undetectable.

“Are you ... is there any pain?”

“No. Feels ... numb ... heavy ... cold.”

“Do you know where they are taking you?”


At that moment, the door was unlocked, and Hooper looked in. He smiled at Iolanthe, who glared at him above her bandage gag.

“Ah, good, all still safe and sound. Better try and get some rest, you’ll need to be ready for your outing later.”

Grinning unpleasantly, he closed the door and turned the key in the lock. Iolanthe looked at Benton. So, they were both being taken. She had wondered if she was going to be held in the infirmary, but it appeared not. She closed her eyes again.

“Looks like we will find out soon.”

“Yes.” Another pause and then, “Careful ... with others ... Hunter can sense minds.”


Iolanthe opened her eyes again. All they could do now was wait.

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Chapter 12: Chapter 12

Chapter 12

In a side street, near the prison, Private Smyth looked at his watch. Half an hour had passed and there was no sign of Iolanthe. The private reached for his radio.

“Greyhound 10 calling trap one, are you receiving me, over?”

The radio crackled and Private Jenkins’ voice was heard.
“Trap one receiving.”

“Looks like they’ve got Miss Grosvenor, waited half an hour and she hasn’t come back out.”

“Understood Greyhound 10, hold please.”

Another crackle and the Brigadier spoke.

“Return to base, Greyhound 10. Nothing you can do at present, I’m afraid.”


“You can’t go in on your own, you wouldn’t have a chance and you might endanger Sergeant Benton and Miss Grosvenor.”

“Understood, Sir, returning to base. Out.”

“Understood, Trap one, out.”

The Brigadier passed the radio receiver back to Jenkins and walked to where Miss Hawthorne and Corporal Wood were sitting. He leant on the table and said in a low voice.

“I’m afraid it looks as if Miss Grosvenor has been captured.”

Miss Hawthorne looked up from the formulary she had been consulting.

“Oh! But ... does that mean that Sergeant Benton’s cover has been blown?”

“It looks like it, but we can’t be sure. He may have been betrayed, although only the Governor was supposed to know why he was there or ... could they have found the tracking device?”

Miss Hawthorne looked back at the formulary, then back at the Brigadier, her face pale.

“I, I think they may have done. I was trying to find the drug that Glede used to mimic the appearance of death and, well, if it’s this one…” she opened the book wide on the table and pointed to the entry, reading aloud. “’Recommended delivery method, transdermal injection in the nuchal area.’ That’s the back of the neck.”

The Brigadier stood for a moment in silent thought. Then he said, “so we will have to assume that, not only has Benton’s cover been blown, but that the gang has the tracker, so any information we get from it will be misleading.” He paused, then made a decision. “Right, tracker or no tracker we will have to move.” He raised his voice. “Corporal Smith?”


“Get in touch with the police and ask them to send a driver in an unmarked car to Chelsfield Prison, quick as you can. They are to follow a vehicle which will leave from the entrance marked Infirmary at the side of the building. Do not, repeat, do not attempt to engage. If they think they have been spotted they are to break off pursuit immediately. We cannot risk either the mission, or Sergeant Benton or Miss Grosvenor. The driver should also report any developments to Scotland Yard, they will want to be ready to arrest the gangsters and depending on the numbers involved, we might need reinforcements.”

“Understood, Sir.” Corporal Scott turned to her radio to give the order. The Brigadier leant on the table again.

“We’ll have hedge our bets with this one. I’ll send word to General Gibbs to move on the Mill and we will take the reservoir. If one team comes up empty, they can rendezvous with the others. Have you got the route there, Corporal Wood?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dan spread the map in front of his C.O. “If you take this route to the A road, here” he pointed out the interchange, “you won’t need to turn off again until here. Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of cover at the site, unless you manage to get to the tunnels before the gang arrives, but there is this,” he indicated a wooded area about 100 yards from the reservoir. The Brigadier considered.

“I see, yes, we could park there and go on foot from there, then make for the tunnels or here…” pointing to a place where the ground rose at one end of the reservoir. Not much cover, as you say, but we’ll just have to do the best we can. Private Jenkins!”


“Get me a line to General Gibbs, then sound full alert, I want three jeeps outside in the next ten minutes, all men to be fully armed. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir. Destination?”

“Hangingflood reservoir, but I’ll brief them myself.”

“Very good, Sir.”

The Brigadier turned to Miss Hawthorne.

“Miss Hawthorne, I’m going to ask you to accompany us. If anyone could make contact with Miss Grosvenor it would be you.”

“I, of course, Brigadier, if I won’t be in the way.”

Despite the gravity of the situation, the Brigadier smiled.

“Not a bit of it.”

“Then I shall be happy to come.”

“Good, meet outside in ten minutes.”

“Yes, I shall be there as soon as I am ready.”

Miss Hawthorne got up and left the room. Jenkins called,

“Sir, General Gibbs on the line for you,”

and the Brigadier went over to the telephone to try and persuade the General to launch a speculative attack on an apparently abandoned steel works, without giving away the extent to which the mission might have been compromised. After five minutes wrangling, the General was finally convinced and agreed to have his troops investigate the steel works and then rendezvous with UNIT at the reservoir if the weapons weren’t there. The Brigadier looked at his watch, then went to his office to collect his revolver and made his way to the front of the building to brief his troops. Miss Hawthorne was already on board one of the jeeps and, following the briefing, the troops piled into their vehicles. The Brigadier took his seat in the front jeep and the detachment moved off.

At the prison, the Governor had given permission for the bodies of Benton, Hunter, Briggs, Sloman and Baxter (who was reported to have died in the night) to be removed from the infirmary. A large, unmarked van pulled up at the side door, and two men in white overalls entered the building. In the isolation room, Iolanthe had fallen into a doze. She woke with a start as the door opened and Glede and Baxter came in, followed by two men carrying a stretcher. The prison doctor and the captain stood to one side as the men lifted Benton onto the stretcher, covered him with a sheet and then secured a strap across his chest. Baxter nodded in satisfaction.

“Get him out of here and then come back for this one,” he said, indicating Iolanthe. The men grinned, said “Right you are Sir” and left. Baxter bent down so his eyes were level with Iolanthe’s.

“Now, Miss Benton, I will need you to think very carefully before you answer this question. Are you prepared to be quiet and still when we move you to the van, and stay quiet and still, or will I have to ask Doctor Glede to sedate you? I’ll give you a moment to consider, but bear in mind, the consequences of any trouble you cause us will be visited on your brother.”

He stood back, then, after a moment’s silence said,

“I think that’s long enough. A nod will suffice. Are you prepared to keep still?”

Iolanthe nodded.

“Good. I hoped you’d be reasonable.”

The stretcher bearers had returned by this point and Iolanthe was released from the handcuffs that had held her in the chair. She tried to stand but staggered as the circulation returned to her legs. Baxter and Glede caught her by her arms and laid her down on the stretcher, where her wrists and ankles were secured with tape and Glede’s makeshift gag replaced with another piece of tape. Then, as with Benton, a sheet was placed over her and a strap fastened to hold it, and her in place. Iolanthe tensed for a moment as the stretcher was lifted, but then tried to relax her muscles as she was carried out of the building and put into the van. Baxter, who had disguised himself in a spare overall and cap that the driver had brought with him, got in the back and the doors were closed by the other men, who got into the cab. As the van pulled away, the Governor, who had been watching from an upstairs window, went to his office to alert the Brigadier and a dark-coloured saloon car pulled away from the kerb and drove off in the same direction as the van.

The UNIT jeeps were speeding down the main road when the Governor’s call was reported to the Brigadier. He acknowledged the call and then radioed to the other jeeps.

“They are on the move. We haven’t got much of a head start because they are closer to the reservoir than us, if that is their target, so we’ll have to go carefully.”

He spoke to HQ again,

“Any more news, Jenkins, over?”

“Yes Sir, Corporal Scott reports tracker signal has been lost. It was still at the prison, then it vanished.”

“So, they did find it. Thank you, Jenkins, out.”

The Brigadier looked at his driver, who accelerated, and the jeeps sped on towards the reservoir.

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Chapter 13: Chapter 13

Chapter 13

In the back of the van, Benton’s hands twitched as the feeling returned to his fingers. He winced and groaned as the muscles in his legs cramped, a sound that was echoed by the other members of the gang. Baxter grinned and began to undo the straps and pull the sheets off the members of his team. He paused near Benton, then pulled down the sheet so the Sergeant could see out.

“I think we’ll leave you for the time being Benton, I don’t want to risk any trouble in this confined space.”

Benton coughed, then tried to moisten his lips with his tongue. He spoke hoarsely.

“Where’s my sister? What have you done to her?”

“She’s quite safe,” replied Baxter, glancing at the stretcher where Iolanthe lay, still covered with the sheet, “and as long as she honours our agreement and behaves sensibly, she will remain quite safe. As will you. Any trouble from either of you, though, and that position will change.”

He reached up and pulled the sheet away from Iolanthe’s face. She turned her head as he did so, her eyes wide and frightened. Benton coughed again.

“If you touch her…”

“I won’t. Unless you give me cause to do so. Now, do we understand one another?”


Baxter looked round at the puzzled looks on the faces of his team, who had been under the influence of the sedative when Benton had been unmasked and raised his voice.

“I regret to say, gentlemen, that Sergeant Benton is a rat. He was carrying a device that would have meant we could have been tracked by the authorities. Obviously, I couldn’t allow this to happen, but as moving the stores is a four-man job and I had no time to recruit another man, I have secured the Sergeant’s cooperation by inviting his sister to join us. After our mission is complete, I may ask Mr. Hunter to erase their memories, or we might just dispose of them…”

Benton cried out at this.

“But I said I would do what you wanted! What are you talking about erasing our memories? We won’t talk.”

“No, indeed you won’t. The consequences you will face for your treachery will depend on the situation and my state of mind, so I advise you to keep quiet and do as you are told. In fact…”

Baxter reached into a toolbox and took out a roll of tape, tearing off a strip and putting it over Benton’s mouth. “There, that should stop you from making a nuisance of yourself for a while. And you needn’t think your colleagues will be able to find you. I left the tracker in a jar of acid in Dr. Glede’s laboratory.” Hunter, who was on the opposite side of the van, glared at Benton, then looked at his commanding officer.

“Do we really need him, Sir? Wouldn’t it be easier to finish them off now?”

“Unfortunately, we do. If we are to get the arms and ammunition out of the tunnels in time for our rendezvous, we need him. Once we’re finished, well…”

Baxter left the sentence unfinished, and Hunter smiled. Baxter stood up again as one of the men in the cab knocked on the hatch that divided the cab from the body of the van. Baxter shouted “Yes, what it is?” and the hatch opened.

“Think we’re being followed Sir.”

“Dammit. Slow down and check.”

“Right, Sir.”

“I do hope this isn’t any of your friends, Sergeant, or I might change my mind… ah…” the van slowed, and a car pulled out and overtook, then accelerated, “it appears not. Good. Now,” he turned back to the others, “we are nearly there. When we arrive, Hunter will take Miss Benton to the barn and secure her there, then join the rest of us in the tunnel. Briggs and Sloman will bring the tools and they and Sergeant Benton will begin to remove the obstructions from store room. Our customers are expected to arrive approximately one hour after we do, so we haven’t much time. You two,” he turned and spoke to the driver and his mate, “will dispose of the van in the reservoir then take your bikes from the barn and leave.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“The rest of us will remove the arms and ammunition to the tunnel mouth, where they will be collected by our customers. Once payment has been received, our customers will leave and we will go to the barn to pick up our transport and decide what is to be done with the Sergeant and his sister. Are we all clear?”

In concert, the convicts answered “Yes, Sir.”

“Good, then get your legs stretched out, we won’t have time to wait for stragglers, and yes,” he reached up and released Benton from his stretcher, removing the tape from his mouth with a force that drew an exclamation from his prisoner, “that does mean you too. And you’ll all need something to eat. Don’t want any of you to have a fainting fit!”

He tossed a packet of sandwiches and a bottle to each man, to general laughter. Benton rolled over on the stretcher, pins and needles prickling his legs. He perched on the edge, flexing the muscles in his arms and legs until full sensation began to return.
Shortly after this, the van turned sharply to the right and stopped outside a gate. The gate was fastened with a heavy chain and a notice warned that trespassing at the reservoir was not only forbidden, but also dangerous. The driver’s mate grabbed a pair of bolt cutters and jumped down. He cut through the chain, then opened the gate, jumping back into the cab after the van had driven through.

The Brigadier consulted his map and looked at his watch. The gang had had a head start and were probably almost there by now. The Brigadier reached for the radio as the voice of Private Jenkins was heard coming through.

“Yes, Jenkins?”

“Sir, report from the police driver. He had to break off pursuit but confirmed that the van was heading for Hangingflood. Scotland Yard has been informed.”

“Thank you, Jenkins. Out.”

The Brigadier sighed impatiently and hoped they would be in time.

At the reservoir, the van stopped close to the entrance of the disused tunnel complex. The driver opened the rear door and Baxter and two of his men got out, followed by Benton and Hunter, who was carrying Iolanthe. Baxter reminded them all of the plan, then signaled to the driver’s mate to cut the chain that secured the gate at the tunnel entrance.

“Right,” said Baxter, “we’ve got no time to lose. Briggs and Sloman, you get the tools out and Hunter, you secure Miss Benton and then join us. Sergeant,” he drew a gun from the pocket of his overalls and pointed it at Benton, “You will be coming with us, of course. Move it!”

Briggs and Sloman reacted instantly, fetching three pickaxes and the toolbox out of the van and setting off into the tunnel. After a word with the driver, Baxter gestured with his gun and he and Benton followed the others into the tunnel. Hunter turned and walked to the barn, a ramshackle building that stood a little way from the tunnel entrance. A jeep and two motorbikes were parked next to it, in the ruins of what might have been a stable. The door of the building was open, and Hunter carried his prisoner inside. At some point an attempt had been made to refurbish the building, which, on the inside, resembled an ancient farmhouse, rather than a barn. Looking around, Iolanthe could see that some of the doors looked almost new, as did the window frames and fresh cement could be seen in places on the stonework. Hunter set Iolanthe down on the floor of what might have been a larder and inspected the tape on her wrists and ankles. He grunted, then left the room and returned with a length of twine. Taking out his penknife, he slit the tape on Iolanthe’s wrists and pulled her arms behind her, securing them with the twine, which he then attached to a metal staple which had been put in to support the wall.

“That’s better. Now, I wonder if you could do with being put to sleep for a while?” Hunter looked at his watch, “no, there isn’t time. See you later, Sweetheart!”

With that he left, locking the door behind him. Iolanthe glowered at the door, then began to take stock of her situation. The door might be an insurmountable obstacle, she was inexperienced in picking locks and, in any case, had no tools to help her, but, if she could get to her knife, she might be able to cut through the twine, which would be a start. Iolanthe shifted her position and began to twist her arm, flexing the muscles and bending her wrist and elbow to try and release the knife. One final twist and the knife came loose and fell out of her sleeve and onto the floor. Iolanthe turned and scrabbled with her fingers until they touched the hilt, then picked up the knife and, turning it in her hands, set the blade against the twine and began to move it up and down.

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Chapter 14: Chapter 14

Chapter 14

The interior of the tunnel was dark and damp. Water dripped from the ceiling and ran down the walls and Benton could almost imagine they were under the reservoir, although he knew this was not the case. Briggs and Sloman had torches as well as the tools and lit the way along the tunnel. The storeroom Baxter had mentioned wasn’t far from the entrance, but round a bend, so no light reached it. At a word from Baxter, the men set down the tools. In the torchlight, Benton could just make out an archway, blocked by rubble. This would be the “obstruction” they had to clear. Looking more closely, the Sergeant realized that the heap of debris was actually not as high or as dense as he had first thought, and that it had the appearance of having been constructed, rather than having fallen due to an explosion or other rockfall. Baxter stepped forward.

“Right, let’s get on with it. We need to take these two,” he indicated two boulders, “out first, so get the crowbars and get busy. Pile the stuff up over there,” pointing further down the tunnel, “and watch out for falls. It looks the same as it was when we put it together, but you never know. Benton, you work with Briggs and remember, no funny business, understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” said Benton, quietly.


The men set to work, shifting the boulders with crowbars, then working to clear the smaller rubble that showered down when the boulders were moved. After a few minutes they were joined by Hunter, who grinned at his Captain’s enquiring glance and then joined in with the earth moving. In far less time than Benton would have imagined, the entrance had been cleared, and the cases of guns and ammunition exposed. Holding the torch in one hand and continuing to cover Benton with the gun with the other, Baxter made a brief inspection and then nodded.

“Excellent. Get these outside. Two men to a case, quick as you can. We haven’t got much time now.”

The men began to clear the room as he had ordered. A heap of rope, some of it rotten with the moisture from the caves, was piled in a corner, and this was cut and slung around the cases to make handles. Benton walked with Briggs, a case of rifles between them. He wondered if the Brigadier knew about the tracker. He must do, Baxter had destroyed it when they left the prison. Would UNIT be able to find them? Despite being unmarked, the van was quite distinctive, and might have been spotted. Benton stared ahead, trying to keep his mind in the present. And Iolanthe? She was resourceful, but so was the gang. Would she have any chance of escaping? Having reached the mouth of the tunnel, the two men set down their burden and went back inside to fetch another. Despite the situation, and the strong possibility that he would be killed once the mission was completed, Benton refused to abandon hope. UNIT might find them, Iolanthe might be able to free herself, he might see an opportunity to make a run for it. Keeping a watchful eye out for any chance of escape, the Sergeant took up the handle of another case and, at Briggs’ command, lifted it and the two men set off again down the tunnel.

The UNIT jeeps pulled up a short distance from the reservoir, close to the area of woodland that the Corporal had pointed out on the map. The troops formed up by the jeeps and the Brigadier gave them their instructions. They were to approach the tunnels as quietly as they could and in two groups, one from the direction of the reservoir and the other from close to the main driveway. The police had indicated that they had spotted three vehicles, two cars and a truck, moving in convoy not far from the turn off from the main road, it was likely that these were the buyers on their way to collect. Police officers, including marksmen were on the way, but unlikely to arrive for at least another 15 minutes. The Brigadier ended by warning his squad that the escaped prisoners were to be considered dangerous, as were their buyers.

“With the obvious exceptions of Miss Grosvenor and Sergeant Benton, who we would like to get back in one piece.”

The Brigadier turned to Miss Hawthorne, who was standing to one side, her eyes closed and an expression of concentration on her face. Suddenly she opened her eyes.

“Anything?” asked the Brigadier.

“Not at present, I will continue to try,” replied Miss Hawthorne, “May I accompany you part of the way?”

“I’d prefer it if you didn’t,” said the Brigadier, honestly, “but if it helps you to contact Miss Grosvenor… very well, but only a short distance.”

“Thank you.”

The troops made their way to the entrance gate then split into two groups as ordered. Miss Hawthorne walked with the Brigadier, paying little attention to her surroundings, but focusing all her mental strength on trying to contact Iolanthe. Suddenly she stopped. The Brigadier turned to look at her. Miss Hawthorne closed her eyes and stood still for a few moments, then opened her eyes again and looked at the Brigadier, relief written in her expression.

“She’s there! We found each other. She is in a building, close to the tunnel entrance. She is locked in and has heard vehicles arriving at a distance.”

“That will be the gangsters, come to collect the weapons,” suggested the Brigadier.

“Most likely. She said she does not believe herself to be in immediate danger, but asked us to hurry, she fears that Baxter intends to murder Sergeant Benton and her, as soon as he has secured payment and the gangsters have left.”

“Then we’d better get on. Thank you, Miss Hawthorne, please go back to the jeep. You can leave the rest to us.”

Miss Hawthorne agreed and walked back down the path towards the woods. The Brigadier turned to his men.

“Right, you heard what Miss Hawthorne said. We’d better get a move on.” Breaking into a run, he led the way up the drive.

Sloman and Hunter had fetched the last case of ammunition and set it down with the others at the entrance of the tunnel, when the three vehicles swept up the drive towards them. Baxter smiled grimly and turned to his men.

“Good. On time. I’ll handle it from here. Briggs,” passing over his gun and indicating Benton, “cover him and Hunter, go and get the girl. We’ll deal with them as soon as our buyers leave, and I don’t want to waste any time.”

Briggs took the gun and jabbed it into Benton’s ribs and Hunter nodded and ran back towards the “barn.” Two men, clad in dark suits, got out of the first car and walked towards the soldiers. Two more followed behind, both armed, one carrying a large holdall. Baxter stepped forward.

“Gentlemen. I apologise for the delay in supply, circumstances beyond our control.”

One of the men from the first car spoke.

“Yes, we know all about that. The merchandise is still in good condition?”

“Yes, all of it. I assumed you would want to inspect?”

Baxter held out a crowbar, and the man signaled to his subordinate, who took the bar and levered open one of the cases. His superior stepped forward and took out a rifle, looking it over with the air of a professional, while his colleague inspected one of the crates of ammunition. After a minute or two, he replaced the rifle in the case and nodded.

“Yes, we’ll take them. The amount as arranged, minus five hundred for the delay.”

“We didn’t agree that!” said Baxter, visibly upset for the first time since Benton had met him.

“I know, but your inability to supply has caused delays in several of our operations. We will take the merchandise, but at the reduced rate. Take it or leave it. And good luck with finding another buyer at such short notice.”

Baxter opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again, rage coming off him like steam. He breathed in and out deeply three times, then became calm again. He turned to his men.

“Well, gentlemen, what do we think of this offer?”

Briggs spoke first.

“I say we take it, Sir. We’ll still get a bigger share than we thought because of…” he nodded towards Benton, “and it’d be over and done with.”

Sloman agreed, “I’m with Briggs, Sir, and I think Hunter would agree.”

“Very well.” Baxter turned back to his customer, “We will accept.”

“Good. I thought you would see reason.” The gangster beckoned to the man holding the bag, who came forward and set it down in front of Baxter. Benton craned forward as Baxter opened the bag. Inside it were bank notes, fastened together in bundles with the paper sleeves used by banks. Baxter bent down and checked the bundles briefly, making sure that each of them contained bank notes, then stood up and nodded.

“Thank you, gentlemen. We have a deal. Will you need assistance loading the merchandise?”

“No, we can take care of that.” The man beckoned again, and the truck was driven closer to the tunnel and two more of his subordinates got out and, with their colleagues, began to load the cargo into the back. Baxter picked up the bag and he and the others watched while the loading took place. Seeing his captors distracted, Benton took a chance. Turning towards Briggs, he grabbed him by the wrist and shoved, trying to wrestle the gun away from him. Briggs cried out and the gun went off, then flew out of his hand and the two men dived for it, rolling on the ground as they tried to regain possession. Two of the gangsters drew their weapons, but suddenly there was a sound of running footsteps and a shout of,

“Stay where you are! Drop your weapons! Hands up!” as the two parties of UNIT soldiers converged. One of the gangsters fired and was instantly felled by a UNIT bullet. The others stood, almost bewildered, their hands raised. Baxter turned to run back into the tunnel, but the Brigadier and his men were too quick for him. Benton, having secured the gun, stood up and covered Briggs, breathless after the fight. The Brigadier took two of his men aside.

“You two, go to the house and find Miss Grosvenor then come straight back here.”

“Yes, Sir.” The soldiers set off at a run. The UNIT troops closed in on the gangsters and the escapees, and Benton held out Brigg’s gun to his Commanding Officer.

“Thank you, Sergeant,” said the Brigadier, “it’s good to see you’re in one piece.”

The Brigadier was about to issue an order, when his voice was drowned by the howl of sirens and three police cars and a van came roaring up the drive. A uniformed Inspector got out of the leading car and ran over.

“Inspector Harries, Sir, we were here to offer support, but it looks like you’ve taken care of it.”

“By no means, Inspector,” replied the Brigadier, “we’re very glad to see you. You can take these prisoners off our hands and…” he paused as more engines were heard and two army jeeps appeared, followed by a staff car, “here comes General Gibbs to get his weapons back.”

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Chapter 15: Chapter 15

Chapter 15

The cord holding Iolanthe’s wrists had given way just as Miss Hawthorne had made contact. Following the exchange, Iolanthe had taken the tape off her mouth and sat, her knees drawn up, sobbing with relief. After a minute or two she attempted to calm herself and used the knife to cut into the tape around her ankles, then stayed sitting on the floor, flexing her muscles and rubbing her lower legs and feet to try and restore the circulation. The walls of the old building were thick, but she had heard the sound of the van driver and his mate departing on motorbikes and the gangsters arriving at the tunnel and wondered how long it would be before someone came to find her, either from UNIT, or from Baxter’s men. She shuddered at the thought of Hunter’s smile and, with one hand on the wall, got cautiously to her feet. Hobbling, Iolanthe made a circuit of the room, then rested a moment, leaning against the wall, before trying again. The second attempt was more successful, but she was tired and hungry, and the room span before her eyes as she bent forwards, trying to get her breath back.
Suddenly, she straightened as footsteps sounded outside. Iolanthe picked up her knife, and moved towards the door, flattening herself against the wall. The door opened and Hunter stood on the threshold, brought up short by the sight of the apparently empty room. As he turned to look around, he felt Iolanthe’s knife in his thigh, and doubled up in pain. His former captive shoved him to the floor, then ran out of the room as fast as she could. The front door was open, and she ran through it, almost into the arms of the two UNIT men who had been coming to find her. Gasping, she pointed back through the door.

“In there! He’s in there. He’s dangerous, don’t look him in the eye.” Then she sagged and almost fell, but one of the soldiers took her arm and supported her. He lowered her gently on to a nearby tree stump, then he and his colleague went inside, where they found Hunter rolling on the floor in pain and cursing. One of the UNIT men radioed to inform the Brigadier that they had found Iolanthe and that they had a prisoner who was in need of a first aid kit.

“Very good,” replied the Brigadier, “stay where you are, we’ll come to you.”

“Yes, Sir.”

About ten minutes later, a party of UNIT troops and police arrived at the building. Three police officers, one of them carrying a first aid kit, went into the building, guided by the men from UNIT. Following them were the Brigadier and three more of his men, including a grimy and disheveled Sergeant Benton. Iolanthe smiled as she saw the Brigadier, who hailed her with,

“Well, Miss Grosvenor, none the worst for your adventures, I hope?” but the next moment she sprang from her seat and almost flew into Benton’s arms, with a force that made him stagger. He returned her hug with interest and they stood for a moment as she whispered.

“John, I thought we were, you were ...”

“Me too, kid.”

After what he felt was a decent interval, the Brigadier cleared his throat.

“Ahem. We’d better get moving. General Gibbs is overseeing the transfer of the weapons and Inspector Harries will take care of the prisoners.” He smiled wryly, then spoke into his radio.
“Attention. Operation concluded. Rendezvous at the jeeps as soon as possible. Out.”

The Brigadier looked at Benton and Iolanthe and at his men.

“And that means us too.” Then, unexpectedly, he crooked his arm. “May I offer you some support, Miss Grosvenor?”

Iolanthe, torn between exhaustion, bewilderment and relief, accepted. The Brigadier raised an eyebrow at his Sergeant.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to manage by yourself Benton.”

To which Benton replied, with a weary grin, “Yes, Sir, I’ll do my best.”

The party made their way back to the jeeps, more slowly than their colleagues, to spare Benton and Iolanthe’s tired legs. Miss Hawthorne was standing by the lead jeep and ran forward to welcome her friends, embracing them both warmly and calling to one of the soldiers who produced blankets and a flask of coffee. The two prodigals sat on the steps of the jeeps, drinking the coffee and beginning to feel more like themselves. The Brigadier smiled, then looked at his watch.

“Right! We’d better be getting back. Reports to write. You two will need to debrief of course…” he paused, “but not until you’ve both had a good meal and a change of clothes. Think you’ll be up to it?”

Looking at each other and then at their commanding officer, his subordinates answered, “Yes, Sir!”

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Chapter 16: Epilogue

It was, in fact, three days later when Benton, Miss Hawthorne and Iolanthe joined the Brigadier in his office. Both of the adventurers had been almost on the point of collapse when they arrived at HQ and the medical officer, on seeing them, ordered them to the medical wing immediately where they were given hot baths followed by a meal and then sent to bed, despite Benton’s protests that he was “alright, really I am, Sir.” The MO kept his patients under observation for the whole of the next two days, then finally declared them fit to get up on the morning of the third day, instructing them to limit themselves to light duties for the rest of the week.
In the office the Brigadier closed the file he had been reading from and looked at his visitors.

“So that about wraps it up. The weapons have been recovered. Baxter and his men are under military arrest and facing an imminent and final court martial, before they are turned over to the police for their part in the gun running operation and the gang members are under police arrest and complaining to anyone who will listen to them that they have been set up,” the Brigadier smiled grimly, “which won’t get them very far, though I’m sure they have excellent lawyers. The men who drove the van are still at large, the police found the van at the bottom of the reservoir, and they’ve put out an alert for the motorbikes, but they don’t hold out much hope of catching them, unless one of Baxter’s gang informs on them.”

Miss Hawthorne had been thinking of someone else.

“And Dr. Glede, or Gledhill?”

“He, Sims and Hooper were arrested as soon as the escapees had left. It’s not clear what the future of Chelsfield will be. The Governor has handed in his resignation and morale among the remaining staff is, understandably, low. However. That is not our problem to deal with, I’m happy to say.”

Iolanthe looked at him.

“Do we know who supplied the drugs that Hunter used in the robbery? Was it Gledhill?”

“No, the drugs were supplied by a contact of the gangsters. Baxter and his men were, one might say, stealing to order. Hunter had been using his powers of mind reading (Miss Hawthorne made an impatient movement but said nothing) and hypnosis since he was a kid, mostly to take advantage of others and get himself out of trouble. When he met Baxter, the Captain realized he could use Hunter’s talent to their advantage and the pair of them began to research methods of mass hypnosis. They identified a likely substance to help Hunter subdue the guards at the warehouse and their customers supplied it. You were correct in assuming that Glede, Gledhill, rather, was being blackmailed. Hunter had attended his first aid classes and read the story in the local paper about the drugs scandal. When he, Baxter and the others arrived at Chelsfield, he recognised Gledhill immediately and didn’t hesitate to start blackmailing him. By the time Baxter had got his plan worked out, Gledhill was pretty close to being a nervous wreck and was completely in their power. By the way, he still maintains that he was innocent of the initial accusation, though the local police are fairly sure he did it, they just didn’t have sufficient proof to arrest him at the time.”

“I see,” replied Iolanthe, thoughtfully.

The Brigadier leaned back in his chair.

“And now, you two,” looking at Benton and Iolanthe, “are going on leave for a few days. Yes,” as Benton exclaimed in surprise, “you’re both due some time off and I insist that you take it. I will see you both in a week’s time, so you, Sergeant had better go and pack. Miss Grosvenor can pick up her things on the way.”

“Right, Sir,” replied Benton, “but, er, on the way to where?”

“Devil’s End,” said Miss Hawthorne, before the Brigadier could reply. “It’s just the place for you to recover. I can promise you there will be no dancing, it’s the wrong time of year for maypoles, so you can just have a nice, quiet few days. Besides, after all this fuss and bother, I want to have both of you where I can keep an eye on you for a while, or who knows what you’ll be up to next!”

Benton was about to protest that it was hardly his fault, but saw Miss Hawthorne’s smile and simply replied,

“Yes, Ma’am.”

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