From Jazz to Tango

crashing airliner

The dance lessons were not working. First of all, he hated to dance. Of all the things he was good at, dancing wasn’t one of them, in spite of the fact that he was at least adequate at several sports.

Secondly, she hadn’t noticed him. Hardly surprising since he was one of the worst students in their jazz dance class. He only joined so he could observe her without arousing suspicion, but he needed to get closer, and that meant interacting with her.

Their instructor Raoul could be bought, which was how Edison managed to land a spot in an already full class to begin with. Each student was supposed to choose a partner next week and he needed to be hers. A little more flirting with teacher and a stronger hint that he might be interested in some “personal tutelage” after hours would probably do the trick (he’d have to convince the little French tight ass that he was “bi”).

“Kathy, right?”

They were sitting on a mat facing each other, legs open, soles of their feet touching as they stretched.

“With a ‘C’, yes. Can’t you stretch more than this? You’re not really flexible.”

Oh, terrific. She’s snobby and critical. He’d hoped she’d be the type to take pity on one of the less accomplished dancers and offer a few pointers.

“I know. I need to work on it. Name’s Edison.”

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Stepping Back

swanage pier

© Sandra Crook

“It’s not real.”

The building and pier are quite real, Jonathan.”

“But the scene inside the cafe looks like a painting, Raven.”

“Simply step through the door as you did previously.”

Jonathan Cypher walked toward the painting on the building in the English coastal town. Then there was an actual door and everything changed.

“It is now 1927. The men inside are members of the Communist party. A Soviet agent has recruited them to assassinate the King of England. You must stop them.”

The man without a past stepped back in time ninety years on his mission to rewrite history.

I authored this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 26 January 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I did a Google image search and discovered the Pier Head Cafe is located at Swanage Pier in Southern England. The Bizarro comic strip for 24 January 2018 depicted a one-panel joke set in 1927 so I had the year stuck in my head. I looked up 1927 at Wikipedia and discovered the following items:

  • January 19 – Great Britain sends troops to China to protect foreign nationals from spreading anti-foreign riots in Central China.
  • March 24 – Nanking Incident: After six foreigners have been killed in Nanking and it appears that Kuomintang and Communist Party of China forces would overrun the foreign consulates, warships of the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy fire shells and shot to disperse the crowds.
  • November 12 – Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin with undisputed control of the Soviet Union.

So I hatched a plot of the Communist party of China to assassinate King George V of England. The man who is passing himself off as a Soviet agent is really working for the Chinese (I edited this paragraph to be more historically accurate as per my conversation with Neil below). The word limit prevented me from explaining things in more detail.

I once again am using the characters Jonathan Cypher and Raven last seen in The Kepler Tomb. Of course there was no real plot to assassinate the King of England in 1927, but I needed to make up something.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Game Over

checkmate

Image depicting a checkmate in chess

"I've got Mzimu."

A few days after Mikiko had last seen Timothy Fleming, he had sent her a text with his (untraceable) number so she could contact him when she had evidence the Organization’s leader was dead. Colins said it probably had been easy for him to pick up her cell’s number remotely as long as he was in close proximity, even from the phone issued to her by the Agency. It had likely happened when they spoke in the church.

"You have proof of his death?"

He was using a secure text app so even though Mikiko and Fleming could exchange messages, Colins, or rather his computing and electronics expert Danae Parker, couldn’t locate him. Colins told her that should be immaterial since they’d located the farmhouse on the Romney Marsh where he was holding Sienna Thomas over a week ago.

"I have Mzimu in person. Do you want to meet?"

“He’s got to be thinking this one over hard, Mikiko. It’s the sort of trap we’d set up for him. On the other hand, he did say if possible, he’d like to meet Mzimu face-to-face and finish the job personally.”

“But it is a trap, isn’t it, Geoffrey?”

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The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Gardens of Peace

mi6

Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) building – London – Found at manchesterhistory.net

Chapter Nine: Gardens of Peace

December – MI6, London

“Glad to see you up and about, Dennis. I hear it was a near one this time.”

Ian was sitting in the office of Benjamin Cross, Director of the British Secret Intelligence Service. Although Cross’s name and background were a matter of public record, at the agency he was always referred to only as “The Director” or “Sir.”

“Yes, so I was told. Thank you for your concern, Director. Doctors said that if either shell had hit just a few centimeters one way or the other, I would have been killed instantly.”

The Director chalked up Ian’s stoicism to the attitude of a career agent, not knowing that during his recovery, the man had worked out the events of the night of Hall’s death in great detail.

“I’m sure you realize I didn’t call you in just to inquire about your health.”

“No, of course not, Sir.”

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The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Another Shot

Port Louis

Port Louis, Mauritius – Found at Mauritius Life

Chapter Eight: Another Shot

“He gave up his two mates so we should have this case tied up fairly soon, Ian.”

Police Lieutenant Winston Permalloo on the island of Mauritius where this whole mess began had finally gotten a break. A DNA sample of one of the four robbers who had been in Krista Bernham’s flat the night she was assassinated was matched up with a petty thief named Cassam Denmamode who was subsequently arrested in the aftermath of yet another heist. His attorney suggested he might be better off turning over his two accomplices rather facing a murder rap alone.

“What did he say about the fourth man, Winston?” Ian didn’t need to speak louder just because it was an international call, but decades of habit were difficult to break.

“Their boss, though Denmamode doesn’t know much about him. He planned all their jobs, emailed them their instructions for the robberies, and in addition to what they got for each haul, wired additional funds for them into an offshore account. The three we have here are small timers, but whoever put them up to this was a stone cold professional.”

“Qian.”

“Quite, Ian. It seems clear that the robberies were just a front for the real objective, the assassination of Ms. Bernham. Once that had been accomplished, the fourth man disappeared again and he stopped sending them any further crime plans.”

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The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Messenger

nicosia1

© Dickelbers/Wikimedia Commons

Chapter Six: Messenger

Ian Dennis flew into Larnaca International Airport on Cyprus, but he had another airport in mind.

In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and the Nicosia International Airport, once the island’s principal air hub, was the site of extremely violent encounters between Turkish and Cypriot forces and was heavily bombed. Today, it is deserted, officially closed and, located within the UN controlled buffer zone, has been declared a Protected Area used as the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force.

Fortunately, Ian has a few connections at the UN and in Cyprus security so he arranged for a private visit. He had a meeting this morning with her.

She stepped out from behind a security wall at what was once the Health Control centre.

“I see you continue to abide by the rules of British punctuality, Ian.”

“And you remain mysterious as ever.” He indicated a direction by waving his right arm and she joined him on an uncharacteristically casual stroll through the ruins.

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The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Patterns

Port Louis

Port Louis, Mauritius – Found at Mauritius Life

Chapter Four: Patterns

In spite of Ian Dennis’s determination to keep working, he found his brain too clouded to concentrate on even the idea of addressing Krista Bernham’s work. Krista was a brilliant researcher with the unique gift of taking data which seemed absolutely unrelated and finding patterns that even the most complex computer algorithm might not associate.

After her divorce from Malcolm Bernham, she moved with her son Ian from their home in Edinburgh to the island of Mauritius. Frankly, she could work from anywhere with internet access that could be secured by her employer, but her grandmother was originally from the island and she found she wanted to go “home.” Krista recalled visiting “old Gran” many times as a child and loving the beauty, the serenity, and even the profound loneliness of living on a tiny bit of land surrounded by thousands of kilometers of ocean.

She thought raising her only child here might give him a better life than in the UK. That might have been true for many other mothers of many other sons, but not for Krista Bernham. She had been set up on Mauritius with a cover identity by the British Secret Intelligence Service, provided with very expensive, highly secure hardware and software with which to work, and for the past five years, had broken some of the most profound and delicate intelligence cases for SIS.

Now she was dead. The only witness to the murder, her eleven-year-old autistic child Ian, a boy the MI6 agent had befriended and then further traumatized for the sake of his investigation.

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The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Tattoo

assassin's tattoo

Assassin’s Creed tattoo

Chapter Three: Tattoo

In the hospital parking lot, MI6 agent Ian Dennis was standing by the undercover police car and rapidly thumbing through photos related to the Krista Bernham murder case. “I know I saw it. I know I…oh yes, here it is.” He looked up at Winston Permalloo, his liasion with the Mauritius police force. “Don’t you have a better photo of them than this?”

He held up a photo taken by a security camera on the street outside Ms. Bernham’s home that momentarily captured her four alleged assailants.

“Well, not on hand. We have the original stills taken from the security tape, plus the tape itself back at headquarters.”

Dennis immediately got into the passenger seat and shut his door, then called out the open driver’s side door. “Let’s go, Winston. I need to be sure of what I saw. This photo is too grainy.”

Lt. Permalloo got into the car and slammed the door. He liked Ian, but the agent was getting on his nerves. As he fired up the motor, he asked, “What are you looking for?”

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The Dossier

Trump and Putin

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Aleksey Nikolskyi/Getty Images and Jim Watson/Getty Images.

Ex-KGB Chief Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in the back of his black Lexus just blocks from the Kremlin. The cause of death had not been revealed, but it was under mysterious circumstances.

Thousands of kilometers away, MI6 Agent Christopher Steele bought a “burner” phone and made a call to a number less than a dozen people knew about.

“Station Sahara. The line is secure.”

“This is Christopher Steele. I have the dossier. I want to come in.”

“Requesting identity confirmation.” The voice on the other end was deliberately distorted and Steele realized he had minutes before they traced his call.

“November three sixteen charter gulf forty-seven.”

“Identity acknowledged. Continue.”

“I want to be brought in by Adam Hunter personally. I will call this number again in twenty-four hours and will give the location of the meet only to him.” Being brought in from the cold by MI6’s Chief of Operations was a lot to ask, but they’d do it. The dossier was that important.

Steele didn’t wait for a reply. He broke the connection, threw the burner on the concrete floor of the basement apartment he had rented, and crushed it under his foot. In twenty-four hours, he’d be in a different country. He had to come in before the Kremlin reached him.

Ten minutes later, he had hired a taxi and was headed toward the Athens airport. He had the dossier on a thumb drive. Everyone, including his colleagues at MI6, believed it held incriminating evidence against America’s newly inaugurated and widely hated President Donald Trump.

The Russians had killed Steele’s confederate Oleg Erovinkin so he couldn’t reveal the truth and now they were after him. Steele found Trump as reprehensible as many others in the western nations, but he was not the subject of their exposé, and it was worth his life and the lives of anyone who he’d come in contact with to reveal his information.

Steele made the mistake of allowing himself to relax in the back of the taxi, so he didn’t immediately realize it was pulling over on a nearly deserted stretch of road.

“What?” Steele opened his eyes to see a silencer fitted over the barrel of an automatic. “Time for you to join Erovinkin.”

The taxi driver emptied his clip into Steele’s chest, relieved him of the thumb drive hidden in the inner lining of his jacket, dumped the body on the side of the road, and then drove away.

An hour later, the assassin was on a flight to Moscow, the dossier once again secure in Russian hands. No one must know President Putin’s true ally in the American government. Not until it was time to act.

This story, including the characters, is based on an actual news story published at a number of independent sources including this one. It strongly suggests that the Kremlin had former KGB Chief Oleg Erovinkin killed because he had helped compile a dossier implicating Donald Trump in illicit cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. MI6 Agent Christopher Steele is currently in hiding, supposedly because his life is at risk as well.

I decided to twist the information into the realm of fiction for the sake of suspense and intrigue. I have no idea how true any of the information is at my original source, but it seemed worthy of a small, modern-day spy story.

The story is somewhat similar to one written by J. Hardy Carroll which was also based on a true event. Hopefully, my spin on the tale makes it unique.