Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunday Morning Going Down

(Author's note: Once again trying the Flash Fiction stuff, this time working out of the "Icarus' Flight to Perfection" blog. Worked the starter sentence in at the beginning and stayed five words under the 1300 limit. I'm also a week early from the stated deadline. Now if this could translate to the big project I'm on working I would be in heaven.)

It was Sunday, and there shouldn't have been a letter in the mailbox, but there was. It was a simple business sized envelope laying on the bottom of my open mailbox without any name or address written on it. In normal circumstances such a thing would be of no concern, neighbors or even businesses often use such message drops to relay information or solicit their products or services. The problem is being a retired spy, what is common among normal people needs to be greeted with a healthy dose of paranoia by anyone with a past similar to mine.

While it is said that you can't quit the mafia you can leave the spy business behind if you agree to a few simple rules. First, for those for whom being among the general population would place them in danger if a retired spy wants to stay breathing they can chose any number of excellent resort-like facilities on isolated islands or in the middle of empty deserts. If, like me, the headshrinkers deems you safe you can live out your days integrated into civilian society trying to reclaim something of the life you abandoned when you entered the shadows.

So, for five years I had lived in Columbia, South Carolina as a community college instructor situated in the middle of a pleasant neighborhood of old houses filled with young urban professionals. Giving the headshrinkers and paper pushers at Langley credit, it was as an innocuous a cover story and reintroduction to civilian life as they come.

Still though, the people on my street had largely welcomed this real widower and semi-fake teacher going as far as to fix me up on numerous blind dates and include me in their holiday celebrations. Over those years, I relaxed believing my past was behind me until the Sunday morning I walked out into the street to stretch before I began my usual run.

I opened the sealed envelope. Inside was a piece of typing paper with the words “I’m alive” printed on it. Those two words brought the paranoia and all my old instincts roaring back.

Common sense offers you two choices. The first being that it was a setup and that I had the crosshairs of a rifle fixed on me right then. If that was the case, I was sure to die in the next few seconds. The second possibility was that it was someone announcing their return from the dead. Given that the letter was unsigned and anyone wanting to kill me would want me to know who it was, I let out a short breath assuming I was safe for the moment. However, this meant I was the unwilling rodent in a sudden game of cat and mouse.

With this surprise, I walked back into my house but not before turning around and scoping out my street. Someone was certainly watching me but the street was empty and the houses along it seemed quiet. Most of my friends were either in church or out doing other family activities. What worried me was the possibility that someone was still home and being held prisoner with his or her captors watching my reaction.

Normal professional behavior would prohibit any action that might draw close attention or harm civilians in a closed off area like my neighborhood but I didn't want to take that chance. So I quickly changed, retrieved my favorite Sig P226 pistol, grabbed my cell phone, and drove away to await the next move in some very public place.

My idea was to find a seat at an open-air diner located beside the university frequented by obnoxious professors and pretentious student types and just wait for the cat to make the next move. It didn’t take long, the waitress had just given me my coffee when my cell phone rang.

"Scott, find the Reeves warehouse off Bluff Road, be there in fifteen minutes,” was all the synthesized sounding voice said. While the voice was bad theatrics, what got me was the hearing the crying in the background of a little girl that I took to be the daughter of one of my neighbors. Another concern was the caller using my real name, not my assigned cover.

After arriving I found the entranced unlocked and entered the dark building without drawing my pistol. It was certainly a trap but I didn’t want to endanger Rebecca any more than she was already. My eyes had just begun to adjust when I felt the muzzle of a pistol pressed into my back and my own weapon being taken.

Minutes later my hands are bound behind me with plastic handcuffs looped through a wood chair. Rebecca was sitting next me also tied to her chair and terrified, but otherwise unharmed. Here is where clear thinking comes into play, the warehouse we were being held had all sorts of welding goodies located on a nearby table. I had only seen two of our captors but I heard enough to guess at least two more were hiding further back in the shadows loading items onto a moving van.

Training demanded I play the role of captive to figure out what was going on but getting Rebecca out was my first priority. Twisting the cuffs hard against the slats on the back of the chair I was rewarded with the sound of cracking wood. Once free, a little effort with a steel welding file from the table popped the plastic cuffs.

A fire retardant divider separated my area from the assailants who were still busy loading the van but just as I was about to cut Rebecca loose I heard the leader tell someone to go check on us. Weapons were in short supply but the welding table did offer up a rattail file. The file being long and thin when the husky guy came around the divider I was able to position myself to jump him from behind and plunge it up his nose after jerking his head back. The guy died without a whimper but it forced me to take his submachine gun and assault the others.

Surprise and luck being the best allies the three others went down without a long fight. Mopping up I found my pistol, cell phone, and the van loaded up with boxes containing biohazard material, a lot of it. Just as I was about to call in the cavalry my phone buzzed.

Twenty more of my people will arrive soon, you have to blow the building quickly or thousands will die if they retake that van,” the synthesized voice said before hanging up.

Without actual C-4, improvising an explosion on short notice would be impossible except for where we were. The welding area had rows of oxygen bottles lined up; all I needed then was a detonator. The break area supplied a microwave and after ripping out the surge suppressor and throwing in a bunch of metal, I had one. Opening up the valves on the oxygen bottles, I set the microwave for five minutes and got Rebecca and me out of there.

We were three buildings over when the explosion knocked us both to the ground. The sound of police and fire on the way followed seconds later. Picking Rebecca up I saw a car coming toward us, I pulled my pistol out as it stopped and saw the smiling face of my dead wife.

You’re getting rusty Scott, I damn near wrapped everything up in a neat package and you barely got out. Quick get in, Rebecca and her parents will be safe now but we aren’t, you have much to learn. Looking at Isabella more curious than scared, I did just that, I didn’t like retirement away.


Oso said...

Better and better man. Once Hollywood comes calling either George Clooney or I can fill the starring roles-we're almost twins but I work cheaper.

Beach Bum said...

On a short personal note to the person who sent me the email criticizing my writing you can kiss my ass. I don't recognize the address but I have a little bit of an idea who you are.

Oso: Thanks man, I'm actually just happy I finished under the word limit and before the deadline. Something I expect will be impossible next time.

PENolan said...

Only people with nasty bad juju send anonymous notes like that, Man. Must be some jealous bastard, that's all I can say.

You accomplished your writing goal, and you got to pretend to be a retired spy - Huzzah!

Tim said...

You know I never really looked before but it's uncanny. Beach if you grew a mustache you and Oso would be mirror images of each other.
Yeah when you do make it big, big guy I want a bit part as the cranky old scary guy in your first movie. It would be s stretch but I think I could pull it off..;)

btw...when you find out share as I would love retribution. I'm crazy so I can get away with it..)

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I've enjoyed and been lost in your fiction each time I've read it...
good job Beach! Enjoyed, yet again.

LORD TRUTH 101 said...

Given my short attention span I give the the ultimate compliment I can give BB. I read the whole story and not once was I tempted to say screw this and get to the comments before heading back to one of my stock research sites.

Well done my man.

Liberality said...

That's a wife who provides lots of excitement!

Pixel Peeper said...

Two thumbs up! Enjoyed your story.

Definitely George Clooney, not so sure about Oso...

Beach Bum said...

PENolan: I admit, I watch way too much Burn Notice. In the Walter Mitty side of thing I picture myself as Bruce Campbell's character.

Tim: Oso are brothers of different mothers. The diner I mentioned is real and I wanted to blow it up but the word limit forced me to cut that part. Bummer.

Gwen: Thanks, I find I'm running from my big project since its a mess and will post another short story soon just to stay away from it.

Truth: Thank you. Wanted to explain more and get deeper in the characters but couldn't.

Liberality: I figure she was a Cuban defector who joined American intelligence. Then was "killed" forcing Scott to retire.

Pixel: Hell, let me loose about twenty pounds and I could star in my own story. Okay, stop laughing.

Wild West Joker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Plunging the rattail file up his nose AFTER you jerked his head back. Now that is what I'M talkin' 'bout! Exceptional kill scene, dude.

sunshine said...

Just when I thought I was out-they pull me back in!

Great story! Kept me interested, which isn't an easy thing to do these days... I'm very scattered lately. :)


Beach Bum said...

Brian: Now you came completely out of the blue. Will give you a call this weekend, some of us still have to work for a living. Douchebag!

Will: Yeah, and I was talking about the opposite and very pointy end as well. I figure it could easily go through the soft nasal tissue and into the brain matter. Not that I have ever done anything like that...that anyone can prove.

Sunshine: Thanks, just playing around and tell me about it. Came up with this crazy idea during a short, quiet period at the house and low and behold everything goes to poop once I sit down and start.

The "party season" started for my son and of course he has to drive, never good for my blood pressure, and my daughter starts getting hit with school projects. With the election down here D-Wife and her department are up to their eyeballs with the transition.

Marja said...

I ot hooked from the beginning to the end. Nice surprise to see "the smiling face of my dead wife"
Only a bit easy to get rid of plastic handcufs beach. Is this part of your upcoming book your project you are workingon. Just fishing
Anyway that would be exciting Good luck

The Moderators said...


D'oh, I forgot to tell you congratulations, and that you're on the Author List. Your story will be up this Saturday morning.

Cloudia said...

Heart pounding!

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral



Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

It's all about covering your tracks, double b....All about covering your tracks.

Beach Bum said...

Marja: No, my "book", if it ever sees the light of day, will be a crime comedy about South Carolina. Right now its a mess and I need serious time to work on it but things are crazy around the house.

The Moderators: Cool, this was fun and I will jump back in on the next one.

Cloudia: Aloha, and while I have yet to get to your side of the planet I should be in the Caribbean in January.

Will: Yeah, got to do better on that one. Made a small mistake and low and behold an old army douchebag shows up bugging me.

Randal Graves said...

More good stuff, dude. But I hope that as you were writing this, you didn't excise anything from the flow to get under the word count. Or if you did, you plan on sticking it back in.

Beach Bum said...

Randal: Yeah, I had to cut the backstory about Scott's wife. A Cuban defector that joined American intelligence and "died" years later in a car explosion down in Panama. Of course his cover story would not have mentioned that, just that he was a widower.

Another piece I cut involved blowing up the diner next USC here in Columbia. My wife's BFF is married to a chemistry professor who goes to that diner often. The guy is a major A-hole.

TomCat said...

Sucked me right in, as always, Beach.

this meant I was the unwilling rodent in a sudden game of cat and mouse.

It's better to be the cat. Trust me. ;-)

Joyce said...

Wow. This was the slickest thing I've read in a long time. Grabs you right from the beginning and doesn't let you go. You get so caught up... Really enjoyed this one!

Border Explorer said...

This prose is amazing. I feel embarrassed that you visit and read my blog. Or I feel honored. Not sure which. Anyway, this is wonderful, Beach!

Beach Bum said...

Tomcat: I truly believe you but hope to never have that confirmed.

Joyce: Thank you so much, glad you liked it.

Border Explorer: Please I got lucky, even with that more that 95%of the stuff I ramble about is pure crap, the rest is virgin crap.

Flannery Alden said...

Neat story! It seems like this could easily be blown up into a bigger story.