This is the 79th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Spencer Saviour of the World, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 18th February 2013 (finally I’ve caught up, been one day behind every day last week).
Word count: 900
The odd thing about Spencer Redhill was that he had an aptitude for virtually nothing… Except for one solitary thing. He was a skilled hunter, not of games but of patterns. The guy was a genius with patterns, but he lacked qualifications, interpersonal skills, and ambition to put these skills to use commercially.
Nor was he like Sherlock who could pull patterns together from non-congruous data, it was a peculiarly singular and focused a special skill. If you were struggling on a word search, Spencer was your man.
So it was quite a shock to everyone when he became famous for saving the country from bankruptcy. It was all so shocking that this unassuming man would get tied up, be in a car chase, and a shoot out. It was a spy novel breaking out in real time, with the least likeliest protagonist.
I suppose I should start at the beginning for those in a coma or not yet born on the 5th October 2015.
Britain had just had an election, and a new government was in place. Almost immediately the national financial crisis hit home as the government was forced to default on payments. On the 5th October it was the third announcement in a row of defaulting on payments. It was a huge crisis, the credit rating had tanked, services were being cut to the wick, to no avail.
The treasury announced they were releasing a full seven years of accounts for every area of government, and they invited the country to access this huge data and help it identify savings.
It caused quite a stir, the blogosphere and news media were buzzing with revelations, controversies. A few found some cost cutting measures, but no one found enough to make a dent in the historic, or future debt.
Spencer did though. In an usual fit of personal ambition he emailed several news organisations. He didn’t include specifics, I guess he wanted his moment in the lime light. However he did tell the world two things:
He had found monthly savings of seventy five million, which were from historic bad practice, and potentially fraud
From the seven years alone this amounted to six point eight billion
Such large sums, caught the media’s attention. There was a press on to secure the rights to these revelations, while treasury stooges spoke out publicly, though unofficially of the duty of this gentleman to come straight to them.
However it was none of these possessed a threat. Within hours of Spencer’s discoveries being made public he was receiving death threats, and threats against his nearest and dearest.
Being sensible and afraid he decided to go to the government, which was harder than advertised, he was met with resistance or disbelief by the people who answered his first few calls.
Then his small house in Sheffield was hit with molotov cocktails, and he took his data and ran.
Being far from an expert on being on the lamb, he made many mistakes. He didn’t know where to go, or what to do. He dare not go to the authorities, since the fire bombing only happened after he tried to contact the government, his paranoia had connected the two together. If you ask me, there was a high degree of logic there, he had claimed to have identified fraud.
In his panic Spencer came to me. We weren’t close, we only knew each other because I had dated his sister a decade ago. But I liked the oddball and had kept in contact.
You’d think with such a loose connection it would have been safe. It wasn’t to be, in the middle of the night the day after he arrived someone snuck into my house, went into the guest bedroom and fired two shots into the sleeping figure.
Fortunately, or unfortunately if your me, I was the sleeping figure. I’d put Spencer in my bed as the spare bed was broken and unless you were used to it, it was nearly impossible to sleep on. That awkward sleeping position saved my life, though I got two bullets one in the upper arm, the other in the stomach.
My part in the tale was short lived, but it did help. Spooks quickly circumvented the police and got Spencer out of there. That’s when there was a cross country chase as the spooks sought to get Spencer to safety.
It turns out the gunman who shot me was linked, unofficially, to a hedge fund who were later inestigated for market manipulation. Basically, as I understand it they were heavily betting against Britain, and stood to gain many millions if Britain went the way of Greece or Spain. Spencer’s work threatened to give Britain a lifeline, and if Britain didn’t collapse they would lose a lot of money.
Even a human life had a price.
I survived, and so did Spencer. Spener told me afterwards that the accounts he had investigated contained fourteen point eight billion – and that was just the ones they could get to within the first few months. That plus the crackdown on anything that could be considered especially dubious market manipulation was enough to give Britain it’s lifeline. Only time will tell if we recover or not. That’s not the point of the story, it was all about Spencer, the loner, the odd ball, he gave us that lifeline, against all odds. Thank you Spencer.