Friday, April 20, 2007
Friday Fiction
My submission for the Friday Fiction project is below. As always, the story is limited to 1,000 words and draws inspiration from the pictures provided last week. If you have participated, leave me a comment and I'll link to your story.

SpySistah Chronicles Chapter 18: Poison!

Samantha had just landed at Heathrow and was efficiently wheeling her bag behind her. Her flight attendant’s uniform was crisp with no evidence that she’d been seated for several hours. Her cell phone rang and she reached into her jacket pocket to retrieve and answer it.


“Sam. Mark here. There’s been a slight change of plans. Take a cab to the safehouse.” Click.

Samantha made her way past the bustling crowd of tourists arriving and holiday-takers leaving and soon found herself seated in the back of a black cab. The cab driver moved deftly into the traffic, easily negotiating the press of cars. As the driver made his way to Knightsbridge, the traffic dwindled and Samantha relaxed. The driver soon stopped in front of the address. He came around the side of the car to let her out and help her with her bag. She thanked him and tipped him generously before watching him drive away.

When he reached the end of the block, Samantha turned and looked at the door. The red door with the lion’s head door knocker was one of the most famous of CIA safehouses. The house had real history, but that was for another time. She approached the door smartly and rapped twice with the door knocker.

The door opened and Mark stood there in the foyer. “Hey.” It wasn’t much of a greeting, but like an old married couple, they had their own way of communicating. This “hey” meant “really glad you are safe, we’ll do a proper hello when we can be private.”

Something was definitely wrong. Samantha parked her roller bag in the foyer and followed Mark, her black heels clacking on the marble floor. They walked down a hallway and were soon standing in the doorway of what looked like an office. There was a Queen Anne desk and chairs, and several nice oil paintings on the walls.

None of this really absorbed Samantha’s attention, however. That was focused on the beautiful young woman who lay dead on the floor. The handset for the phone lay near her body and a chair was overturned, but beyond that, nothing seemed out of place.

“What’s going on?” Samantha asked Mark. “Is this Aimee?”

“Yes. I got in earlier this morning. We introduced ourselves and then I went upstairs to shower before you arrived for the briefing. When I came downstairs about an hour ago, I found her like this.” Mark seemed sincerely rattled, that in itself was highly unusual.

“Do you think we should call the authorities?”

“I’ve already called and left a message for Carstairs. He should be calling back very soon.”

“Then we’d better collect some information so that we have answers to his inevitable questions. I’ll go find some gloves.”

The speakerphone crackled softly.

“Sam, Mark, I hear things are not so good in London. What have you learned?”

Samantha looked at Mark and began to speak. “Carstairs, there are no obvious wounds. She’s been dead less than two hours, but already her skin has a slight blue tinge. I suspect she’s been poisoned, but I can’t know for sure. An autopsy would confirm that, but I doubt we have that kind of time.”

“Did you find anything else? Anything at all?”

“Nothing that doesn’t have an innocuous purpose. I’ll do a more thorough search of her belongings when we hang up. She wasn’t an agent, so anything strange should stick out.” Mark absently scratched the back of his hand.

“Okay. Call the local guys in, but stick to the cover stories. We don’t want to jeopardize the mission. In the meantime, I want you both to be very careful. Don’t eat anything in the house or use any of the toiletry items until we identify the COD. We’ll hobble together a plan here and call you back in an hour or two.”

The click came through the speaker indicating that Carstairs had hung up. Mark and Samantha shared a look over the desk. This should be fun.

The local authorities were called and quickly descended on the crime scene. Photographs were taken, Aimee Hall’s body was collected, and cover stories were provided. In an amazing four hours, the safehouse was safe again. Mark scanned the main rooms for listening devices while Samantha did a quick inventory. Their examination of Aimee’s belongings before the British police arrived had told them nothing new.

Carstairs rang back at 8 pm local time and they ran through the known information.

“Okay,” Carstairs began, “we know that Aimee suspected that one of her regular passengers on the London-Rome route was planning a terrorist attack. Samantha is already credentialed to join this route beginning tomorrow as a flight attendant. Mark, I’m going to have you ticketed on the flight as a passenger. Sheffield is emailing you the details. He has also made you some hotel reservations. You should check in as soon as possible, just in case anyone is watching the safehouse.

“For now, until we learn more, we are going to play it cool and observe. Sam, see if you can find out anything from the crew. We know that the name of the man Aimee suspected was Edward Kaji. Both of you make the flight to Rome.”

Mark left the safehouse dressed in the same clothes as when he arrived, looking very much the college student with a backpack his only luggage. He checked in to the Prince William Hotel and went to his room. After stowing his belongings under the bed, he took his wallet and left the hotel through the kitchen’s service entrance.

Two hours later, an Italian business man pulled up to the curb in front of the Prince William in a limousine. The driver held open the door and the man slid out of the back seat carrying his briefcase. He checked into the hotel, disappeared upstairs briefly, and returned to the lobby lounge where he proceeded to nurse several bottles of fine Italian wine until midnight.

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posted by Phoenix | 12:12 PM


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