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By Robert Jackson Bennet

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Hence the cover story you’re giving me. I remember when we used to do this stuff to dupe other nations, not our own. ’ ‘Things do continue to worsen in Ghaladesh,’ Pitry admits. ‘The press likes to describe Shara as “embattled”. We’re still suffering from the last round of elections. ’ ‘Imagine that,’ Mulaghesh says. ‘I still remember the parties when she got elected. ’ ‘The voting public remains quite fickle. ’ Mulaghesh pulls her prosthetic arm in closer, as if it pains her. Pitry feels like the temperature in the room has just dropped ten degrees.

One of the owner’s friends – a young man with a formidable unibrow – casts his eye over Pitry’s satchel. ’ ‘Ah, well, no,’ says Pitry, trying wildly to think up more of his improvised cover story. Of all the things Shara taught me, he wonders, why did she never teach me to lie? ’ ‘So a way to get money,’ says the other friend, whose mouth is lost in an abundance of ill-kept beard. ‘Anyway, my aunt,’ says Pitry, ‘is about so high’ – he holds out a hand – ‘about fifty or so, and is very . . how shall I put this .

I know how this goes. ’ He holds out the handful of money. ’ says the unibrow. ’ ‘No! ’ ‘The bag,’ says the bearded man. ’ shouts the bearded man. Pitry looks back and forth between the two of them, feeling as if he’s in an echo chamber. ‘B-b-but it doesn’t have any money,’ he says, smiling madly. ‘Look! ’ He fumbles to open it and shows them it is full of files. ‘But you know how to get it,’ says the unibrow. ’ ‘You have a bank account,’ says the unibrow. ‘You have an account number. ’ shouts the bearded man.

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