Author: Paul Williams

Siblane started work when his phone told him it was 9 am in the United Kingdom. He connected to the network, listening to the clicking of the automated dialer. He never saw the numbers called, just the location. The United Kingdom, full of old rich people. Gullible people who failed to hide their numbers.

“Hello.” The voice of an old, rich man. It was clearer with the headset and without the distractions of the contact centre. Siblane enjoyed working from home. He spoke slowly his best British accent, “Good morning. This is Police Constable Sam Berkshire. I’m calling from Interpol’s fraud squad. I’m very sorry to tell you that we have detected a virus on your computer. Have you ever heard of Time Stop? It affects about one in five of all home or business computers, and has the power to access all your personal information.”

“Oh, oh dear.”

Siblane smiled. “Don’t worry, sir. There is a solution and Interpol have been asked to help roll it out to give your computer complete protection. I need your permission to proceed.”

“Of course.”

“First we need to verify your identity.”

“And my address?”

It was an odd question. Siblane hesitated just for a second. “We actually have that on file. For victims based in the United Kingdom, we only ask for the house number and postcode to confirm identity.”

“Is this call recorded?”

“No sir, any details will only be heard by me and destroyed securely after verification.”

“Okay, it’s one. GL20 4EU.”

Siblane wrote it down, with a pen so that the sounds of keyboarding tapping would not sound suspicious. Later he would pass it on to the duplicate identity team. Within hours transactions would appear on the old man’s accounts. Small ones at first, to see if he noticed. “And your name? We only need the surname and initial.”

“S. Lahim”

“Really? That’s the same…”

“As you have on file?”

Siblane quickly tapped S. Lahim into a search engine. Thousands of people. Thousands of names. Coincidence. There was money in this. The man must have had Indian ancestors. He carried on. “And a credit card number.” His namesake slowly read out twelve digits. Siblane wrote them down on his pad. They looked familiar. He hit mute and pulled out his wallet to check them against the numbers on his credit card. A card in the name of S. Lahim.

“Is that the same too?” asked the voice. It sounded closer.

“Yes,” admitted Siblane. The others were playing a trick on him. Jealous of his success at the top salesman. Wanting the right to work from home like him.

“Have you ever heard of time travel? It’s a curse that infects about one in every fifty million humans.”

Siblane turned just as the knife slid into his back.

The old man picked up the credit card, lifted Siblane’s headset, depressed the mute button, and spoke into it. “Hello, this is you or will be soon. Get yourself over to Delhi, about five minutes ago, and bring a knife.”