Challenge: The Mysterious Painting – HINT

Peter awoke with a sharp intake of breath and jerked bolt upright, his right wrist clipping the top of the whisky glass and sending it tumbling to the floor with a sharp crash. As the room came back into focus, so did the frustrating realisation that he had passed out on his desk once again. A quick glance at his binary clock revealed that it was 000 100 : 010 000. He gave a short, dry laugh. No, he needed a clear head; this job required absolute focus.

Wearily he nudged the mouse in front of him to wake up the computer screen. The colourful image snapped into view, still open in the middle of his desktop. He glared at the painting impatiently.

“Come on… come on… what are you hiding from me?” he mumbled at the screen.

The sound of a distant police siren carried across the cold night air and in through his open window. He shivered slightly as his thoughts began to drift back over the recent work he had been doing with the security services. He had always prided himself on his ability to keep a clear head, but the last six months had really shaken him.

The division he had consulted for had never lost an informant before, not a single one since the day they were established. Now one had turned rogue and two others were dead. It didn’t make any sense… why hadn’t he seen it coming? He cursed under his breath as he replayed the facts in his mind.

The long-standing asset codenamed Daedalus had always been one of their most reliable sources of information, right up until his death in 1997. There had been no reason to suspect that the old man’s son would be any less trustworthy. After all, with his extensive business connections, Daedalus had made information brokering into a wholesome family business. But there it was in the case file, in black and white. The son had gone bad, and worse still he had already executed two other top assets. This was seriously bad news. Peter hardly dared to think about how messy it would be when the wet works crew finally caught up with the young man.

But all of this was somebody else’s problem now. He had his own issues to focus on, and he was losing valuable time daydreaming. The cheap black plastic of the mouse creaked awkwardly in his hand as he started closing down applications on the task bar.

“One thing at a time, Peter,” he muttered to himself. Eliminate the clutter, eliminate the distraction.

He sighed slightly as he closed the steganography software he had “borrowed” from the internet. He’d tried applying it to the image several ways round, but ultimately he had to admit that low order bits simply weren’t Kolyo’s style. The guy was old school. No, there was something more important missing here.

Peter switched back to the image and stared at it intently, gazing deep into its bright, washed-out tones. And then, quite suddenly, something in his mind clicked into place. It all felt very, very familiar…

Back to the challenge…