Here is my latest entry to Silk's Fictional Friday exercise. As you will undoubtedly recall, this is the writing exercise that has bloggers crafting a 1,000 word story from a picture or two or three from the trio that Silk provides. You can use one or more. I find it more challenging to work all three pictures into my story, but that is just a personal foible.
As usual, I will update this post with links to the other participants when they are up. Also, if you are new to the SpySistah Chronicles, you may wish to go back and read from the beginning. Links to each of the chapters are in the sidebar under Greatest Hits. I only ask that you leave a comment and let me know how you liked this chapter. Too blah? Am I losing my edge? Let me know.
Here we go...
Samantha was blown violently to the ground in the wake of the explosion. She shook her head to clear the shock, feeling the heat burning her cheeks. The grass was green beneath her, but all she could smell was burning wood. There was no retrieving the data now. It was gone.
“Fuck, fuck, FUCK!” She thought to herself.
That’s when the bullets rang out. These assassins were apparently not content with assuming she was dead. They had decided to strafe the area and do a body count too. Lovely.
She belly-hugged the ground, creeping to cover. She’d have to wait them out. They hadn’t been firing at anything in particular, she knew, so if she didn’t make herself known, they might assume she’d gone the way of the marshmallow. Terrorists were big on martyrdom, but short on brains sometimes.
“China?” Samantha asked. “What’s in China?”
Davidson was getting weary of dealing with agents. “We have a courier going and I need to provide her with increased protection based on intel from an asset.”
“A babysitting job?” Samantha asked.
“Look, you are going in as the granddaughter of the courier. You’ll meet up with her at O’hare. Here’s the op specs.”
Samantha opened the folder and read the brief, committing it to memory. “When?”
“Grammy!” squealed the young woman, tearing through the waiting crowd to reach the side of the elderly white-haired lady dripping in beads. The elderly woman looked up from the clacking knitting needles she held in her lap and smiled at the young woman.
“Oh, Child. Do slow down before you knock someone over. You make me tired.”
Chastened, the young woman dropped her head and kissed the old woman’s soft wrinkled cheek. “Sorry, Grammy.”
Samantha and Cyrilla Halifax casually scanned the crowd of tourists at the Beacon Tower. The crowd was buzzing with excitement as the Great Wall Marathon was in full swing, with runners, organizers, tourists, and performers as far as the eye could see.
“I wish I had known there was a marathon,” Samantha said casually, “I would have brought my running shoes.”
Grunt. “It makes me tired just thinking about it.”
“Do you need to rest, Grammy?”
“No, no. Let’s go listen to that.” She nodded toward a large group assembled on the wall.
They listened to the performer weave them into the sad but enchanting story of Meng Jiangnu and her husband. When the crowd was suitably awed, he segued into the Legend of the Beacon Tower and King You’s attempt to make his Queen smile.
Cyrilla nudged Samantha in the ribs, as old women are wont to do to their boisterous and younger companions, indicating that she was interested in walking a bit. The two wily women strolled along the wall, finally settling in to watch a performance. A group of young woman, dressed as warriors and dancing with swords arrested their attention.
The symmetry of movement, the grace of the dancers, the swinging of the long black hair gave the impression of music playing, though none did. The crowd was speechless in awe, recognizing real artistry. Samantha’s attention was captured by the exquisite artisanship of the sword, thinking it would make a nice gift for Mark’s birthday, if he ever got home. Even a replica would be pricey, but well worth it.
Cyrilla feigned fatigue as the performance ended. The dancers milled idly around, posing for photographs for the tourists. Cyrilla, as arranged, slumped to her side in a near faint, prompting the attention of one of the young dancing girls.
“Ma’am? Are you all right?” the young woman asked in accented English.
“Could you help me get her into the shade?” Samantha asked.
“Yes, of course. I have some bottled water too.”
“Now, don’t fuss…” Cyrilla began before giving up to the two women’s careful movement of her to a quiet corner that fell in the shade of the tower.
All of the players continued their ruse, but in the relative safety of the shade, their conversation changed.
“I’m in trouble.” The black-haired young woman whispered urgently without accent. “I need extraction.”
“So much for a simple courier’s job.” Samantha thought.
“Yes, yes.” Cyrilla said. “But do you have it?”
“Not here, but it is safe.”
“Can you meet us in Beijing tomorrow?”
“Here’s what you do….” Samantha leaned in further and whispered the plan before gently taking Cyrilla’s arm and leading her out of the shadow.
Samantha accepted the hand-off of documents in the hotel lobby on their way out as Cyrilla paid for their stay at the front desk of the Grand Hyatt. The rest of their day was spent shopping in the bustling streets of Beijing. At noon, they went to the restaurant as arranged and requested a table for three.
Before long, a young Chinese man sat down opposite them at the table. He was dressed in typical American teenage boy fashion, wearing Levis and a rugby shirt.
“Jonathon,” the old woman admonished, “we are traveling in a foreign country and you look like a slob. Don’t you know that you represent your country when you are abroad? What must the Chinese think of you?”
The threesome finished their meal and loaded into a taxi they hailed at the curb, departing for the airport.
They were stopped at security and at customs, but nobody questioned the identity of Jonathon Halifax, adopted grandson to the formidable Cyrilla.
And nobody questioned what was contained on the memory card that resided in Jonathon’s camera.
As they touched back down in Chicago, Samantha’s tension eased. All was well. Maybe she’d have time to see her mother before flying back out. It wouldn’t hurt to do some shopping either. She could use a new bra. She’d worn out her best one in that explosion and grass-dive in Ukraine. It was hell trying to find a good bra. They just don’t make them strong enough. And forget about finding one with a hidden cleavage holster that actually fit.
Silk's story is entitled Sword of Honor. It is an incredible read, but not for the squeamish.
Dawn has a fiery story that left me wanting more.
Jeffers has another story up, this time about a man who gets what he's got coming, and again the end is a bit unsettling.