Ian Fleming had been planning for a while to introduce Turing and Wheatley. While the two men were, in his opinion, unlikely to get along, they also both had inquisitive, fast-moving minds, of the kind that in Fleming’s view was needed to get the most out of the work the intelligence services were doing. If they didn’t end up murdering each other, they’d spark enough ideas between them to shorten the war by a year, if only a decent pretext could be found for bringing them together.
The opportunity had finally presented itself. Now Turing realised that the documents involved the occult, Wheatley’s area of expertise, he’d been positively eager to meet the man, and had travelled down to London with Fleming, to meet at Wheatley’s club as his guest.
Turing looked completely out of place in the confines of a luxurious gentlemen’s club, and seemed almost to be twitching. Fleming knew that Turing had met with far more important people than Wheatley, even the Prime Minister himself, but it didn’t seem to be the people as much as the objects that were setting him on edge. Turing just didn’t fit in in an opulent background, and it showed on his face.
Wheatley was sitting at his usual table, and gave a faint nod to the two men as they approached.
“Dennis Wheatley, this is Alan Turing. Alan, this is Dennis.”
Ever since the idea of the two men working together had first been mooted, Fleming had been very interested to see how they would react to each other. Sadly for him, they barely acknowledged each other, Turing merely reciprocating Wheatley’s nod. Wheatley gestured to the chairs nearby, and Fleming and Turing sat down.
“So Alan, I believe you have some questions to ask Dennis.”
“I do. I don’t know how helpful he will be, but…Mr. Wheatley, do you actually have much knowledge of the world of the occult, or is the research for your books less accurate than it appears?”
Wheatley thought for a second. “That’s a difficult question to answer. I have little first-hand, practical, experience, but I have spent enough time with those who have that I have a much better understanding than most laymen.”
“I would like, if I may, to ask you to have a look over some documents for me. Now, understand that these are top secret – Mr. Wheatley does have the appropriate classification, doesn’t he, Ian?”
“That’s a relief. Now, may I take it that you will treat these documents with the utmost secrecy.”
Wheatley nodded, the ghost of a smirk appearing although he tried to hide it. “You may.”
Turing passed the papers across, and Wheatley spent a few minutes examining them in what Turing thought was an excessive amount of detail.
Finally, Wheatley put the papers down, and looked thoughtfully at Turing.
“Young man, you asked me if I would treat these documents with the utmost secrecy. Now I must ask you something similar. In order to explain them to you, I shall have to reveal to you secrets which, should they enter into the wrong hands, could do the most frightful damage.”
“You can trust me not to reveal anything you say to anyone, Mr. Wheatley.”
Wheatley nodded. “I believe I can. But it’s not simply a matter of trust. I have sworn oaths, as part of initiation ceremonies, and consider those oaths to be sacred bonds with very real consequences. I have also, however, sworn an even more sacred oath, of loyalty to His Majesty the King, his heirs and successors. That higher oath does, I believe, allow me to give you the information, but only if I am certain that you are bound by equally strong oaths.”
“Mr. Wheatley, I promise you, I am an honest man. I give you my word, and I consider that word to be at least as strong as any oath it is possible you have sworn. I cannot swear on anything but the truth, but I swear on that, and hope that is enough.”
Wheatley nodded. “I see. Yes, yes I think that will do.”
He put down the papers, and leaned back in his chair, as if to tell a long story.
“This ritual,” he began, “is intended to revive England, and bring her back to a supposed past glory.”
Turing interrupted. “But this is from the Nazis! Why would they want to revive Britain?”
Wheatley smiled. “Note that I said England, not Britain. That’s one of the important points here. This ritual would, if carried out, bring about the revival of a very real spirit, that of the Saxon people who inhabited England before the Norman conquest. As a Germanic people, the Nazis believe that the Saxons would ally with them. They want to conjure up the spirit of the English people – not the Norman aristocracy, and not the Scots or the other Celts, but the old, pure-blooded, Anglo Saxons. They think that something in the English people will resist rule by the Norman French. A demon encouraging a treasonous uprising against the ruling classes, in the name of freedom.”
“But isn’t it the ruling classes themselves who are doing this? And aren’t they rather against freedom?”
“Oh, Hitlerism is just a route to a greater anarchy at the end. And Crowley and his ilk believe that they will naturally rise to the top, once freed from the shackles of law and society. Filth.”
“So this ritual is merely intended to conjure up a ghost?” Fleming asked.
“Oh, it’s more than that. This ritual would, if carried out, destroy the British Empire.”
“Destroy the Empire? Nonsense! The British Empire is the greatest the world has ever seen! She’s at the height of her powers. How could a simple magic trick destroy that?”
“Empires do fall, Ian,” replied Turing. “I’m not saying that this makes any sense, but empires do all fall, eventually.”
Fleming turned purple.
“The Empires of the past fell because they became decadent, because they became weak, and allowed subversives to undermine them from within. That is not the case for the British Empire, and never will be!”
Turing nodded. “You may well be right. Of course I hope so.”
Noting the tension between them, Wheatley took a calmer tone. “Of course the Empire is as strong as she ever was. We all know that. The question is whether Herr Hitler does. We have already seen that he has quite an outsize opinion of Germany’s importance on the world stage. It is not difficult to imagine that he has an equally inaccurate opinion of Britain’s unimportance.”
Fleming nodded. “All right. I can see that.”
“Let me have a think about how to proceed with this, Ian. Meet me back here in a week, and by then I should have the beginnings of a plan.”
This is an excerpt from my novel, Destroyer. If you like this chapter, please buy the book. It can be bought in hardback from Lulu. The Kindle and paperback editions are available from Amazon (UK) and (US). For non-Kindle ebook versions This Books2Read Universal Link will give you links for your preferred ebook retailer.