The spy who couldn’t spell COVID-19

Whatever nostalgia he might have felt for his old school was tinged with bitterness. It was here that he had suffered some of life’s early humiliations: taunted by classmates for his apparent dimwittedness; held in low esteem by his teachers.

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COVID-19

If they remembered Brian Regan at all; they would remember him as the boy who had difficulty reading. The boy who was so bad with spellings. His bearish frame may have protected him from physical bullying; but combined with his severe dyslexia and his social awkwardness; it had also cemented his image as a dolt.

That image had stuck with him; despite a successful career in US intelligence; where he had been given access to some of the country’s most valued secrets. Being underestimated – by family; classmates and colleagues – had been the theme of his life; a curse he had borne silently since childhood. But for the mission he had now embarked upon; it was a blessing. None of his co-workers or managers in the intelligence community could have imagined that he of all people was capable of masterminding a complex espionage plot.

 

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From the parking lot; he walked to the edge of the school grounds. Squeezing through a hole in the barbed wire fence next to the handball courts; he stepped into a wooded area that separated the nearby highway from the school perimeter. Walking a few yards; he stopped by a tree and dug a hole in the ground. He took a laminated list of phone numbers out of his pocket and buried it there before walking back to his van; confident that nobody had seen him.

He had already pulled off what was then the biggest heist of classified information in the history of American espionage. In just a few days; he hoped to execute the final step of a meticulous plan to exchange those secrets for millions of dollars. If he succeeded; he would have enough money to pay off the mortgages of his brothers and sisters; settle his personal debts and secure the financial future of his children.