Trevor Baylis’ eyes twinkled when he realised James had not been aware of his secret; in that one observation, Trevor found the confirmation he had looked for from the world at large, that no-one had a clue.

“So,” James was asking, gesturing at the walls of the shed they were both stood in, “all of this is a smokescreen?”

Trevor nodded.

“You just pretend to be a doddery old inventor?”


“But in reality, you’re a spy?”

“I’m amused you’re so surprised.” Baylis stroked his moustache with his thumb and forefinger. “How else would a wind-up radio win design awards?”

“I don’t know; I thought it was a pretty good idea to be honest. People in Africa-”

“-Don’t care about owning a radio. A radio doesn’t help them feed their cattle, or water their crops.”

“But I thought the idea was to keep people informed about goings on in the country?”

“By whom? No one knows anything, anymore. No, James, the wind-up radio was exactly that: a wind-up. I needed a reason to go to Africa.”

James blinked a couple of times, as if the realisation was blinding him, preventing him from looking at Baylis. “Why did you need to go to Africa?”

“I’ll show you.” Trevor picked up the wind-up on the workshop bench, and slowly unfolded the handle. Slowly and deliberately, he began to turn it.

“You’re turning it the wrong way, Trevor.”

“Ah!” Those twinkling eyes again. After a few more turns, there was a click, and the back cover of the radio popped open. A thick sheaf of ribbon-bound paper spilled out, and slid over the edge of the bench. As it thumped to the floor, a cloud of dust leapt up in surprise, then started drifting back down to the ground in a lazy waltz. James bent down to pick the bundle up.

Trevor grinned. “You won’t be able to read it. It’s in code.”

“Hey?” James looked down at the top sheet of paper. “You mean this? Kampala, January 20th - it is becoming increasingly obvious that our asset in the Ugandan government has been identified-”

Baylis jumped in alarm. “How are you doing that?”

“Are you serious? This isn’t in code.”

“It is!” Baylis puffed his chest. “I used a substitution cypher!”

“But you haven’t replaced anything with anything!”

“Look,” Baylis replied shortly. “The Caesar cypher shifts each character along by three. I picked a larger number, that’s all.”

“What did you pick?”

“My age when I built the first radio: fifty-two.”

James boggled at this. “There are 26 letters in the alphabet. If you shift each letter 52 places you’ll get back to where you started.”

Trevor’s brow furrowed. “Are you sure?”

James peeled off the top sheet and handed it to him. “See for yourself.”

As Trevor thumbed the paper, his lips traced the outline of his code. It only took a few seconds before he crumpled the paper in his hand, and looked up at James. “Shit.”