Seven people wake up in an isolated country house. None of them remembers how they got there, or why. Each one has a secret they want to keep. And scattered about the house are paintings, photographs, or figurines that look like them, but aren't them. Who brought them here, and why? Can they get away with their secrets still intact? And why is there room for an eighth person in the house?
"I can't be prosecuted, even," said Philip, "but, let me assure you all, I am quite guilty." He gave a short, low, mirthless laugh. "Confession, they say, is good for the soul - isn't that right, Don?" Confused, Don made no reply.
"I was in the Army, as Mohsin has so tactfully reminded us," said Philip. "Some years ago, I was operating in - well, let's just call it a third-world country. Our intelligence people had had a tip-off about a terrorist cell, one of quite a number in that country. My unit was tasked with eliminating the menace. There were several considerations - well, we won't go into that either." His voice was level, but his face was twisting with emotion. "You won't have heard about this, any of this. All nicely classified and kept away from the general public.
"We made our way to the place our informant had identified as the terrorists' base of operations. We approached under cover of darkness - I remember how the place flared and glowed in the night-vision glasses. It was some kind of abandoned storehouse, and they'd lit a fire, inside. We joked about how easy they were making it for us.
"We caught them completely by surprise, there were seven of them, all unarmed. At the time, unarmed. But we knew what sort of people they were, and we knew that if they came to a fair trial, they would make things public that - that couldn't be known. Does that surprise you? There are atrocities, still, in this world that would turn anyone's stomach, and governments are complicit in them. We knew these men were guilty of things that -" He stopped, abruptly.
"You killed them," said Alison. It was not a question.
"Yes," said Philip. "Hardly in the finest traditions of the British Army, but - we killed them. I killed them. They were shouting at us, pleading, telling us they were just workmen whose truck had broken down - We knew they were lying. We lined them up and we shot them down. As the officer responsible, I walked along the line with my pistol, and I put a bullet into the back of each man's head."
For the first time, a slight tremor came into his voice. "The terrorists, of course, had identified our informant days before. They - we won't go into what they did to him. But they changed their plans and they covered their tracks. By the morning, we'd heard news of an explosion they'd set off in a nearby town. And we'd found the truck, the broken-down truck. The men we'd found were only workmen looking for shelter. We'd killed them anyway.
"We should have stood trial. I should have stood trial. We didn't. The whole wretched operation was too many levels of secret for any of it ever to come out. We blamed the seven dead men on the terrorists, and no one even thought to question it. And since the day of my final debriefing, I have never spoken of any of this with another living soul. Until now."