Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday (Cycle 52) A Special Kind of Hell

Flash Fiction Friday Cue: Tell the tale of two people pulling up in a car to a remote lake.
Length: As of 10/14/2011 under massive rewrite sure to exceed the word limit by thousands.
Genre: open

The cold case file that landed on my desk one morning was from the early days of the Cold War. The official investigation had ended back in the late-80's for lack of any leads and had long been assigned to the third-level subbasement of CIA headquarters in Langley,Virginia. A place where dead cases are stored, usually forever, and careers languished under life-sucking fluorescent lights and among a rat-like maze of cubicles. It is where I now find myself confined after a string of unfortunate operational disasters in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In some ways, I should consider myself lucky that I am still an active agent and not euphemistically running CIA operations in northern Greenland. The agency is not a forgiving place, especially when a disaster embarrasses some elected official to the point he, or she, might lose their privileged position of power and influence. Trying to put an even more positive spin on things, at times I find myself thoroughly engrossed in the old cases that the basement mainframe randomly assigns me to review with me praying one would rescue my career.

Just when I was about to give up any hope of finding redemption a very special case was dropped on my desk. Right from the start, I was intrigued because it dealt with a couple, a male and female, of identified Soviet spies extensively trained in the arts of infiltration and sabotage that had disappeared as the Cuban Missile Crisis began.

Reading the file I learned the male, codenamed “Serge”, during that time was the best agent the KGB ever produced. He was fluent in seven different languages and scores of dialects, a master in weapons, explosives, hand-to-hand combat, and if that wasn't enough was a skilled SCUBA diver. From the ancient picture of him taken at some unknown embassy function I was not surprised to find he resembled a young Sean Connery. Reports also suggest he enjoyed a similarly glamorous Bond-like lifestyle with the ability to melt the heart of any woman. Nearly nothing was known about his life before joining the KGB although it was a given he was probably a member of Red Army special forces.

A little more was known about the female, codenamed “Isidora.” She was a beauty who was a combat aviator back when the very mention of female pilots in the United States Air Force would have ruined your career. The picture of Isidora in the file showed her wearing a tight fitting flight suit and posing next a MIG-21 fighter loaded with missiles. After leaving the Red Air Force, she supposedly married a senior Soviet diplomat but it was a safe assumption that was just a cover.

Individually, from the mid-1950’s until they finally fell off the face of the earth they were extremely effective agents successfully counter scores of Western intelligence operations. In fact they had caused so much trouble that both the CIA and MI6 still had active “kill on sight” orders issued for both.

After reading through the file, the crux of the whole affair came from a reliable report from one of our Russian moles back then of a list of KGB operatives chosen for training as sleeper agents with Serge and Isidora’s names at the top. These”sleepers” were to infiltrated a western country and live there quietly for years without drawing any attention to themselves. But, if war ever broke out they had specific orders to assist the Soviet Union by aiding other agents or performing active sabotage on their own.

From corroborated reports inside the Soviet Union Serge and Isidora were given the granddaddy of all sabotage missions. Their training involved the placement of a duffel bag-sized nuclear weapon inside the Washington D.C. area in an attempt to behead as much of the United States government as possible.

My assignment was, of course, to locate and capture if I somehow found them still alive although given the problems they caused the West I am sure my supervisors would reissue the kill on sight order if I asked.

Given the nature of their talents and with the reports that their mission was to nuke Washington the entire spectrum of American intelligence agencies began moving heaven and earth to find them after they disappeared. During those tense and dangerous years rumors surfaces that no less than two assistant directors had heart attacks because of the stress coming down on them from the White House to find and kill those two. After the Cuban Missile Crisis subsided the pressure to locate Serge and Isidora eased to the point that some clever bureaucrat was able to sweep the entire affair under the proverbial rug with the case being suspended until new leads developed. Except that no new leads ever appeared and after the Soviet Union fell the case was mostly forgotten until it fell into my lap. 

At first the situation seemed hopeless, after reviewing seemingly countless reports neither of the two Soviet super spies had ever reappeared, even briefly. I went as far a to contact long retired American and British agent asking their opinions with the consensus being that the two were probably dead. But it was technology that supplied the new lead that made locating them unbelievably easy.

Being sleeper agents trained to act as a “normal” American married couple for however long it took before World War 3 began it was a safe assumption that they had kids. Rightly or wrongly Soviet trainers back then believed that spies working under the cover story of being married had to produce children, otherwise they might be tagged as "odd" drawing unwanted attention which might endanger the mission. 

Finding Serge and Isidora meant running the pictures of Virginia and Maryland high school students of the 1970’s through facial recognition software designed to find characteristics of the two suggesting they did indeed have offspring. It took a couple of weeks but I eventually narrowed it down to a group of siblings whose aging parents still lived fifty miles outside Washington. Which made sense Serge and Isidora would need to live close to Washington to respond in time if orders came down to fulfill their mission. Researching the parents, I knew I had hit pay dirt when under close examination their personal histories fell apart before 1962.

After winning approval to proceed with the investigation from my bosses I located their home in a gentrified subdivision in northern Virginia. Given what I read of their glamorous lives among the powerful before becoming sleeper agents it was quite the shock to see two highly skilled Soviet spies that in their day utterly terrified Western intelligence agencies living a mundane suburban existence.

After bugging their house, I discovered not a nest of cunning spies still await orders from a country that no longer existed but a bickering old couple who hated the sight of each other. Serge, far from the dashing spy of the 1960’s, now looked like a permanently disgruntled old man whose best days had long since passed him by. The beautiful Isidora had become a hypercritical old woman whose grandchildren avoided her at all costs.

How do I know they even remembered their days as glamorous and dangerous spies? The thing I found extremely curious while I had them under surveillance was their habit of driving to a nearby lake and just parking in front of it for hours without saying anything to each other. The look of utter misery that took over their faces was overwhelming. After days of surveillance, I was struck by the thought that the lake represented some sort of escape from their wretched existence.

That caused me to scan the lake with a radiation monitor were I found the nuclear weapon they had smuggled inside the country. A team of Navy SEALs secretly removed the watertight container holding it soon after. As for Serge and Isidora, I thought long and hard on their ultimate fates. It was clear from their recorded conversations that their covert assignment had become its own special kind of Hell. I suppose that if I wanted to be merciful I could terminate them both but some sick side of me realizes letting them live is a far worse punishment.


Glen said...

Only you could come up with that! great work.

John Myste said...

Firstly, it is depressing! Good, but depressing! I feel sorry for the spies that would have killed as many Americans as possible.

Secondly, it's 944 words, not a max of 750! Please correct and resubmit.

Mike said...

Sounds like a fairly normal marriage to me, a no time limit Hell in the Cell match between Classy Freddie Blassie and the Great Moolah. Twisted nicely,good work.

Sue H said...

Oh boy - this was a joy to read! Such a wonderful concept - I am mightily jealous! And I thoroughly enjoyed the closing, vindictive sentence! Well done, sir! ;-)

Windsmoke. said...

Reminds me of the russian sleeper agents that were caught recently in America without the twist of a nuclear bomb :-).

Pixel Peeper said...

LOL! Now you've got me wondering about this old couple in my neighborhood...

Ranch Chimp said...

I read this yesterday Bum, anywayz, Thanx for the classic spy story read. A duffle bag sized nuke in DC to do a head count of poitician's, eh? Brilliant, why didnt I think of that (just kidding : )

Later Guy ....

Ranch Chimp said...

The only thing I would probably be decent at writing, would probably be a drug transport/ smuggling piece, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh : )

All shit aside though Bum, I once had wrote a 8/ 9 part series I put together that was fiction, of a character who was a serial killer ... but I actually pieced it together from actual serial killer's and such that I was in contact with on Death Row, etc ... after getting a tad deeper into their lives and their childhoods etc during conversation's. I done it about a decade ago, so year's before I had a computer (I bought my first computer here 2008) it was a series, a few of them were printed in a couple alternative underground magazine's. I thought about doing them again and including the original's online, but it been tough to decide, I will tell you that they were very graphic though is why ... I detailed them from chosing the victim through the killing's. At the same time they had a romantic undertone, hard to explain, but I used real life scenario's of daily engagement's, meeting, etc ... then I used the method's and thought's of the killer's I dealt with, if that make's any sense. My point also was even though the serial killer is considered viscious for such act's, it doesnt have much to do with anger ... in some cases it was a sort of bizarre love affair and being one with the victim.

Randal Graves said...

You cruel, cruel bastard.

Beach Bum said...

Glen: That evil wizard David limited me on my number of words forcing a bloody edit. And while I am still a little under 200 words over the limit I think I kept the main theme about marriage.

I plan on expanding this story soon.

John Myste: My friend that is impossible, in fact I plan on expanding this story to far greater detail including a segment at Serge and Isidora's house.

Mike: Thank you sir! Luckly my wife does not read my stuf or she might get ideas.

Sue H. I figure Hell has to be more than fire and brimstone.

Windsmoke: Yeah, and the redhead was smoking hot!

Pixel: Actually I knew several people who fit Serge and Isidora's type, and its scary.

Ranch: Your story sounds very interesting, I'd like to read it.

Randal: Hey, they paid the price for trying to defeat the United States of America. And it was a heavy and terrible one at that.

Pearl said...

Thoroughly engrossing -- and entertaining! -- from start to finish.

Have added you to my blogroll so I can keep tabs on you...


Profex said...

Good ole spy story. Very entertaining read.

Ranch Chimp said...

Give me an address/ box number, etc, you can send to my PO Box listed on my blog/ journal with my home phone, I can snail mail you a copy if you like. One of the serial killer's I based a few on in another state asked me just a couple year's ago for a copy as well, but when he got it the prison had a fit and sent it back to me with a letter Why ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh : ) (how can I contaminate the mind of a person who received multiple death sentence's already and is in maximum security? ... dumb asses : ) But yes ... I have sent out several copies that are still requested from time to time, even though it had to be at least a decade since I wrote them Bum.

Nance said...

I like the image of them sitting in the car, staring at the lake. I've never tried Flash Fiction; I'm worried that nothing whatsoever would come of it!

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw said...

Very compelling read... it pulled me right along.

I really like your take on the prompt, and the explanation there at the end for why the couple kept returning to the lake... very good! Adds a whole layer to the story... how they dealt with the guilt, which seemed to be the only thing that kept them together all those years.

Yes, Hell isn't always fire and brimstone... sometimes it is the dark corridors of one's own mind, and the dread knowledge of walking them... forever.

Excellent read, Beach... very well done!

David Barber said...

Beach, that was great. Well written, full of detail and a great ending. If you do a re-write and expand it I'd love to read it.

Your storytelling and writing improves with each one I read. Well done. TFFO sub's are opening in a week or so and I'd like to see one of your stories in the inbox. 1000 words though buddy, if you can do it. ;-)

lime said...

ya know i could see this being both a comedy and a tragedy, even simultaneously. quite enjoyed it.