Excerpt - Spy Thriller Writing Project
October 03, 2011
The American! When was the last time their paths had crossed? One? No, three years ago. Oh, he knew his name and knew it well. He would never say it though as the man so reviled him. Referring to him as the American with as much disdain as possible was all he could muster. His mind flash backed to that time. They were working together in Istanbul: the American, himself, and Sophie. Their cover, a husband, wife, and her brother, running a small restaurant, was built over several months. All was going as planned and, then, the unforeseen happened: a random robbery at the restaurant. As he emerged from the kitchen, the would-be robbers smashed a bottle across the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. When he came to, the American was there without a scratch and Sophie was gone. Her body discovered two days later on the rooftop of a building, two over from the restaurant.
Resisting the overwhelming urge to burst into the cabin and strangle the American with his bare hands, the killer, Bernard, dug his nails into the soft, wet wood alongside the knothole, scrapping them downward until moss and slime became caked underneath. The rain began to shift directions and pound the side of the cabin where Bernard stood. Water flowed like a running stream down the walls and over the backs of his hands, leaving dark streaks reminiscent of mascara running down the cheeks of a woman in tears. His dark brown hair, plastered to the sides of his face, had absorbed as much water as it could. The remainder ran down his forehead and into his eyes. He was trained to ignore such inconveniences but the sight of the American had distracted him to such a degree that he could not help but swipe at the drops collected in the corners of his eyes. In doing so, he stumbled backwards a step and snapped a twig in half. The sound was deafening to him and the fear of discovery instantly invaded his mind. He rushed to peer through the knothole, snapping a second twig in the process. The American and his companion were still standing and staring off in opposite directions. Possibly cracks in the plaster for all he could see. He remained free from discovery, at least for now. He watched as they lied down on the bed and shut off the light. Carefully and quietly, he slinked away from the knothole. Turning, he spotted a tree, sat down with his back against the trunk, and waited.
“The opportunity of a lifetime” repeated Arthur Coffee as he parachuted from the plane. The chance to examine, disassemble, and re-engineer nuclear weapons from a competing nation, was a challenge. He had been behind a desk for the last several years but was still regarded as the best in his field. What he did not know was that the weapons were going to be redistributed to terrorist cells whose loyalties had been bought by his government. Namely, those individuals who sought power. His ride through the air came to an abrupt halt as he met a giant maple tree.
Coffee could be described as an intelligent man: a kind and incomplete, if not generous, description. He was a trusting soul and it never crossed his mind that HRH would lie to him, even a lie of omission. He was a man that was not used to change. Everything he did was routine. He ate the same thing for breakfast; he took breaks to surf the internet, etc… each at the same time every day. It was a pattern he had grown accustomed to and did not wish for it to change. Being bombarded with too much attention or information at once was something that he despised as it had a tendency to overload his senses. With the exception of one individual, no one knew that he had Asperger Syndrome. So, although he could dismantle a thermonuclear device in his sleep, he was as clumsy as a one-year-old learning to walk. Getting down from this tree was going to be impossible.
From his vantage point, he spotted two figures, the American and Ginger, moving at a quick pace off to the East toward the airfield. Calling out to them would do no good as they were too far way. His priority: extract himself from this precarious position. He swung himself upward at the waist, trying to grasp the right side of the branch vee. A miss. Back down he swung with a an unintentional force, causing his leg to slip from the vee and him to fall to the ground, landing with an thud and a loud grunt as the air was expelled from his lungs. On his way down, he accumulated scrapes and bruises as he crashed through branches of various sizes. Of course, as he was not a trained agent, his drawn out scream of terror was interrupted only by his small cries of pain as the tree branches dug into his flesh and echoed throughout the wooded area.
Meanwhile, at the airfield, Gunther lay in wait for his prey, like a cat stalking a mouse. Now what would make Gunther consider himself the cat in this game of cat and mouse? Others would assume it was because of his physical characteristics and mannerisms. He was trim, sleek, and moved with the speed and stealth of a black panther. He, on the other hand, believed he was intelligent and devious, both traits he shared with a cat. Those who knew him, as much as any could under the circumstances, would agree about the devious part but not the other. They felt his physical prowess was what made him a valuable asset. Trained well, there was never any indication of fear and he performed feats of sheer … idiocy. Yes, they were treacherous but he did so voluntarily instead of thinking of a non-destructive solution. He could sidle up to someone, twist an arm around their back, disarm them, and even kill them if necessary before he/she could say, “Huh.” So, if he uttered this cat claim in public, laughter would not ensue. Oh, those in the vicinity would love to laugh uproariously, especially if sitting around in a pub drinking but they were not friends. The others were acquaintances and several members of the spy underground whom he trusted. Although, none of them enough to tell them his real name. Gunther it was not.
The so-called professionals as Gunther called them were not as naïve as he would like to think. Before hanging up, the director informed Emerson that ground transportation was on the way. When they heard the approaching plane, they knew it was a possible ambush and quickly set up a diversion. Luckily, for them, the hangar they found themselves in was used to store fuel for the small propeller planes. Fifty or so barrels were randomly stacked along one of the walls. Ginger and Emerson approached the barrels that were made of metal and had a fine coat of rust covering most of their exteriors. There was grunting, cursing, and shouts tinged with anger as they tipped over a barrel and rolled it close to the hangar doors. Positioning the barrel properly with release cap located at about ninety degrees, they unscrewed it and allowed the contents to spill out. The fuel flowed toward the entrance, indicating that there was a slight decline of the floor. When the laws of physics were satisfied and no more liquid could escape from the barrel, they repeated the process with another barrel, creating a line from the front to the remaining barrels keeping guard against the wall.
What Gunther missed while lurking on the other side of the plane was the toss of a lit match into the fuel. Exploding with a deafening thud after thud after thud, he instinctively crouched to the ground, throwing his hands up in the air and then bringing them down to protect his head. He quickly recovered his senses, got up, and ran toward the plane, its small folding stairway still extended, began increasing its speed for takeoff. As Gunther approached the plane from the front, his own pace quickening, his left foot slipped and shot backwards. Propelled forward, he fell onto the ground and directly in the path of the oncoming plane. Using his hands, he attempted to push himself up and out of the way. Unfortunately, they too slipped from underneath him. His screams silenced by the roar of the engine as the plane rolled over him. As Gunther writhed in pain with a crushed femur, his hand rested in something warm and sticky. He hoped that he had not cut a vein in his wrist or he would be done for. In agony, he slowly lifted his hand to his face. “Shit”, he said. “You gotta be kiddin me.”
Indeed, it was shit. Goose shit to be exact. The tarmac was covered in it and was responsible for his fall. As he laid there, cheek on the ground, elbows bent, and his hands, palm side down, resting on both sides of his head, a goose wandered over. They eyed each other for a moment. Gunther tried to reach out and swat it away but to no avail. The goose let out a squawk like laugh and gave him a look. A look saying “And you’re the cat? Humpf. You should have been more observant.” He then turned and walked away, leaving a fresh donation to the tarmac.
Written: Winter 2011
Posted on BC: October 04, 2011
© C Berger
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