Thursday, December 16, 2010
Carolina Burn Notice (A Flash Fiction Story)
(Author's note: Once again trying the Flash Fiction stuff working out of the "Icarus' Flight to Perfection" blog. Went over the word limit, so sue me! No mercenaries were harmed in the writing of this story. This is the sequel to "Sunday Morning Going Down")
"When you say you're in, you're in. Get it?" My wife, I thought dead for five years, said to me as the barrel of my pistol rested mere inches from her forehead with my right index finger ever so slightly squeezing the trigger. The fact that she was still naked from our very recent physical reunion did nothing to take my attention off her eye movements, a sure hint that she might try to take my weapon.
After picking me and the young Rebecca up a few blocks away from the warehouse I improvised into exploding we quickly reunited the girl with her parents and after grabbing my rabbit hole bag from my house hauled ass out of Columbia. We hardly spoke on the drive out and once we found the seedy motel on a secondary state road, the shock of being together again and our physical needs overwhelmed everything else. After exhausting ourselves we finally talked, I learned she wanted me to join her in finding out who planned the fake terrorist attack in Columbia. But I needed answers to some questions with her reluctant to give them, never a good sign, forced me to pull my pistol. Following procedure I also called Langley explaining that I had stumbled upon and stopped the attack but I didn't mention anything about Isabella.
Through it all, she kept that warm smile on her face as if we were a normal couple having a spat. All I could say was it had been a long day in which my carefully constructed, but fake life had popped out of existence like a damn soap bubble. "Calling Langley was stupid Scott, if it was that simple don’t you think I would have involved them in the terrorist plot you foiled? You are nothing but a liability now that will have to be terminated."
"Maybe," I said to her, "but I need to know where you have been for the last five years and start from the moment your car exploded down in Panama and I better understand the details or I'll kill you here and Langley will be cleaning up the mess." A far more serious and appropriate expression came over Isabella's face and I let her back away slowly to sit on the cheap couch in our motel room.
Isabella had started her spy career in the Cuban Dirección de Inteligencia in the closing days of the Cold War. Our first few meetings resulted in various wounds, and scars on both of our bodies as the power blocs we worked for jockeyed for final position in the geopolitical endgame. What brought us together was as the Soviet bloc collapsed a few rogue elements tried to engineer incidents that would have extended the Cold War, or start World War Three. Isabella's uncle, a general in the DI, recognize the warning signs and had no desire to see the world go up in flames and both defected to the West to stop a petulant Fidel from throwing a nuclear fit.
When it was all over, Isabella and I were in love and assigned to track down other rogue elements. I thought it all ended down in Panama when a Russian arms merchant, trying to smuggle nuclear material into the United States, installed a bomb under the car she was driving. Days later, I killed that man slowly demanding an answer as to how he had gained access to her car. As his blood seeped down the stainless steel morgue table, I took his inability to answer my questions as a stoic resolve to frustrate me.
Isabella, settled comfortably on the couch and covered with a blanket, began explaining that she had never got in that car. Our cover back then had us a more than slightly shady business couple eager to make big money channeling sophisticated weapons to the highest bidder. She had supposedly left our house to meet with another client, from our rooftop patio I watched her car exploded and go off the cliff into ocean below.
She explained that a secret branch of American intelligence had forcibly recruited her and for the last five years she had been running operations for them. Seeing pictures of me in the crosshairs of a sniper scope made her agree to work for a group called "Unit 17." They specialized in assassinations; something Cuban DI agents were generally good at with Isabella a master of the craft.
Unit 17 played to her strengths and talents and before long she fell into the grove but her assignments were easy and obviously evil people. Recently she was assigned projects with American mercenaries operating in the United States and the final straw came with the staged terrorist attack in Columbia she drew me in to stop. Feeling the truth in her story, I put my pistol on safe and after sitting beside her on the couch placed it on the table next me. She wanted me to commit, it was then as I looked into those dark eyes that I decided I would but as I pulled the blanket covering her away I figured we still had a couple of hours before things went critical.
One of the first things they teach you in spy school is to access possible threats and your available resources. My case officer told me over the phone earlier to be in Charleston the next morning for debriefing but if Isabella was right and Langley was compromised we could expect visitors sometime that night given that my Agency issued cell had a nifty GPS feature. Since they thought I was alone we figured a heavily armed two-man team would be our visitors that night and Isabella and I began working to greet them.
Our first piece of luck was that while all the rooms in the motel had washer/dryer combos underhanded electricians had installed circuit breakers for them only in every other room with the cutoff for ours next door. Our second piece of luck was that except for a drunk staying on the far end of the motel it was empty so we were able to move next door after picking the lock. Back in our actual room I cut the power cord to the dryer and stripped it back exposing conducting material then embedded it into the dirty shag carpet. Isabella went to work after finding several cans of aerosol furniture polish which after being taped together and joined with a small improvised flash-bang device was wired to a spare cell phone then placed in a flower pot outside our room door to greet any stragglers.
As Isabella went to the motel clerk to convince him to look the other way for several hours I drenched the carpet in our room with water. When she joined me in our new room I worried for a moment that she might have killed the guy but was relieved to hear she only knocked him out after giving him the five-hundred dollars to buy his silence, my wife called it insurance. After that we just had to wait.
Much later that night a non-descript sedan pulls into the motel parking lot and parks a few spaces over from mine. From our new and very dark room Isabella and I watch three casually dressed men, all with silenced weapons drawn, approach the door of our old room. They hesitate for a moment then the lead man kicks in the door and he and a teammate rush inside while the third man stays outside to cover them.
With timing that comes only from really knowing your partner I flip the circuit breaker sending electricity to the power cord embedded in the wet carpet next door the same time Isabella hits send on her cell phone calling the one wired into the package outside in the flower pot. The two guys in the other motel room lucked out and lived since the breaker tripped sooner than I expected but both were unconscious. The guy outside was not so lucky, he took a piece of flower pot shrapnel to the forehead. In a matter of minutes we collected and bound the surviving members of the hit squad and cleaned up the mess with only the drunk coming out of his room for a few minutes scratching his head apparently wondering if he was dreaming.
Cuban DI agents are also good at extracting information and Isabella had the surviving two talking by morning. They were mercenaries working for one of the big independent military contractors and after they gave up passwords to their smart phones we had a long list of contacts but the surprise came as I looked through the wallet of the leader. The dumbass had left a Capitol Hill pass in his wallet saying he was a bodyguard for the junior senator of South Carolina, Chad Beauregard Lee Lewis the Fourth. Isabella and I looked at each other and realized we would be heading down to Charleston very soon to visit the good senator. The bastard was going to burn one way or the other.