Hellspite

scarecrow

Scarecrow of Romney Marsh – from the Official Disney Fan page

“Why the bloody hell wasn’t I notified earlier? Never mind that. I want every available agent to comb Orly. Thomas might still be in the airport. And get people on her daughter’s disappearance. I don’t mean the local police, I mean our people. Tell them they don’t need warrants, they just need to produce results.”

Geoffrey Colins had been in bed fifteen minutes when the cell on his night stand rang. Amanda Thomas had abruptly left London by air over five hours ago, no explanation and certainly not on her schedule. Ever since Mikiko Jahn had discovered her identity and that she was tied to the Shadow Man, now revealed to be high-priced attorney Richard Singleton, his agency had been routinely monitoring her digital communications, but for some reason there was a foul up and the recording of her conversation with her daughter Sienna’s apparent kidnappers hadn’t been reviewed until less than an hour ago. By that time, Amanda’s flight had already touched down at Orly International Airport just outside of Paris. Agency staff reviewed Paris police computer records and discovered that her nineteen-year-old daughter hadn’t attended classes all day long. Presumably, she had been taken very early this morning by parties unknown.

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The Man in the Dark

shadow man

Black soul – Foto Giovanni Dall’Orto – Wikimedia Commons

Autumn 2017 – London

“Here’s what we’ve got from your video and description of the suspect. Amanda Thomas, 48 years old, born Zuhal Amanda Clarke, Father George Sanford Clarke, British, a nationally syndicated columnist and novelist, Mother Aliya Fowler, moderately successful painter of mixed English-Arab descent.”

Mikiko expected to be debriefed or briefed or whatever in some official government office, like the British Secret Intelligence Service building where MI6 was headquartered, but she found herself sitting in an uncomfortable wooden chair with several other people, none of whom she knew, listening to Geoffrey Colins speaking to them in a darkened room in what seemed to be an out-of-business clothing boutique, or rather the break room of said-business. A small, portable projector was throwing images on the blank wall behind him, showing a loop of the video she’d taken last night of the woman now called Amanda Thomas.

She didn’t get back to her hotel room at the Premier Inn Heathrow until after midnight this morning. She’d walked back to the nearest bus stop from the house she’d been watching and then, in her normal identity, got on board a bus traveling in the general direction she had come from. She’d received a text from Colins as to which stop she’d exit the vehicle. Once on the street and with the bus out of sight, she heard a car engine starting two blocks away and then drive toward her. At the same time she got a text from Colins stating “Get in the back.”

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First Flight

 

Salerno

© Pacific Press/LightRocket/LightRocket via Getty Images – The bodies of 26 young migrants arrive at the Italian port town of Salerno on Sunday (5 November 2017).

The Present – Salerno, Italy

The young Japanese woman looked as if she were just another curious spectator in the crowd watching the corpses being offloaded from the vessel sent to retrieve them from the Mediterranean Sea. Mikiko Jahn felt the tears welling up behind her eyes and almost overwhelming grief and anger like a weight in the center of her chest before the neural circuitry in her brain suppressed those feelings and replaced them with an impassive calm.

Well, it was mostly impassive. The residual emotions she experienced moments before remained, but they were well contained. How had she come to this?

Two Weeks Ago – The Project – An Unknown Location in Japan

“He’s called the ‘Shadow Man’ for the simple reason that his true identity is not known. What is known about him is that he is a British national and one of the leaders of a cartel that siphons refugees, mostly young women and children attempting to reach Europe from Libya, from sanctuary into sexual slavery. We estimate that as many as twenty to thirty percent of these victims are currently in the UK with the rest distributed in Europe, Russia, and Asia.”

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The Search for Armageddon

 

camera

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“It’s just a camera. Where’s the special device you told me about?”

“It’s quite special Mikiko, if you’ll allow me to explain.”

Everyone called Desmond Llewelyn an “old curmudgeon,” but the Japanese agent found him endearing, sort of how she remembered Sofu. For the past year, he’d been outfitting her for missions assigned by their two governments.

“It’s a sophisticated sensor that detects specific rad levels from weapons grade uranium.”

“Then I’m going into North Korea…”

“Not precisely. During World War II, your government conducted secret operations to develop the atomic bomb. After VE Day, a U-boat transported Nazi uranium to a base in occupied North Korea. A working prototype was developed but the war ended before they could use it.”

“So you want me…”

“Intelligence says that Kim Jong-un is bluffing and has no nuclear weapons, but they are actively searching for the prototype. You have to find it first.”

Seven years ago, Mikiko Jahn had been horribly mutilated in a nuclear power plant disaster. Her “reconstruction” had been extensive and left her with a body more than human, but the frightened little girl inside didn’t know if she had the courage to face her personal atomic holocaust again.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 5th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I leveraged two series I’ve been working on. The first is the saga of MI6 Agent Ian Dennis and his discovery that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development is a fake. The second involves Mikiko Jahn, a young Japanese technician who was horribly disabled and mutilated in a nuclear plant accident and who has been reconstructed using advanced synthetic materials and techniques to become more than human and an agent working covertly for the Japanese and British governments.

I did find out that the Japanese were working on the atomic bomb during the war, they did have a secret base in North Korea, and after Nazi Germany fell, a U-boat carrying the remaining Nazi uranium was sent to the Japanese. In real life, the U-boat was intercepted, and the confiscated uranium was used to make the first four American nuclear weapons. I thought I’d tweak history a bit.

Oh, “Desmond Llewelyn” is the name of the late actor who played “Q” in the first twenty or so James Bond, 007 films. I have a sort of affection for the character, so I thought I’d pay homage to the man behind “Q”. Also, “Sofu” in Japanese means “grandfather.”

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

To read other stories about Mikiko, visit:

  1. The Reconstructed Woman
  2. Burn Victim
  3. Woman Under Repair

The next chapter is The Swimmer.

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: The Woman is Deadly

Chapter Five: The Woman is Deadly

“Phillip is at football practice, but Marcie and Roger are right here, Ian.”

It was good to hear Evie’s voice again. They’d divorced not because they lost their love for each other, but because of the stresses of his career. Even if he’d have quit MI6, his history with the agency was such that he’d always attract the “interest” of certain parties. He’d never be completely safe, and as long as he lived with his family, they’d never be safe either.

“It’s okay, Evie. I’d love to talk with them.”

“Here. Let me put you on speaker.” Then in the background Ian heard her say, “It’s Daddy calling.” He could hear Marcie and Roger squeal.

“Daddy, Daddy, how are you? When are you coming to visit?” Little Roger was all of five and always full of enthusiasm. He didn’t recall a time when Ian actually lived at home or the family living in London at all.

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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 Mauritius Robbery Affair: Arrival

airport

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport – Mauritius

Chapter One: Arrival

Ian Dennis hated long flights, not because he didn’t like to travel but because he could never sleep while in transit. He was here to work and jet lag would get in the way. True, there was only a three-hour time difference between London and Mauritius, but the flight was nearly twelve hours long. Fortunately, he’d been able to get a direct route from Heathrow, otherwise he might not have gotten here for another twelve.

Everyone who saw him arriving at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport supposed Dennis was just another British tourist on holiday. Only a few police officials knew the MI6 agent was here to investigate the murder of an accountant from Scotland and the brutalization of her autistic son. The recent string of robberies was unusual for a small island but he suspected and feared this might not be a robbery.

“G’morning, Dennis. Good flight?” He and Winston Permalloo shook hands. They’d met on several previous occasions and Ian liked the younger man who currently was a lieutenant on the local force which handled police, security and military functions on the island. His superiors knew Permalloo to be the only covert agent native to Mauritius, but what few of them suspected that he was also an MI6 double-agent.

“Bloody didn’t sleep a wink as usual. Thanks for the pick-up, Permalloo. Everything set up?”

“As well as could be, Dennis. We can talk more once we get to my car.”

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Mauritius Intrigue

airport

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport – Mauritius

Everyone at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport supposed Ian Dennis was another British tourist on holiday. Only a few police officials knew the MI6 agent was there to investigate the murder of an accountant from Scotland and the brutalization of her child. The recent string of robberies was unusual for a small island, but this was no robbery.

“G’morning, Dennis. Good flight?” Winston Permalloo shook hands. Supposed casual chauffeur, he was actually a lieutenant on the Police Force, which handled security and military functions. Permalloo was the only covert agent native to Mauritius and an MI6 double-agent.

“Bloody didn’t sleep a wink. Thanks for the pick-up, Permalloo.”

Dennis’s bags retrieved, they arrived at the car.

“All secure. We’re free to talk, Dennis.”

“Just how the hell did enemy agents assassinate a top SIS data analyst who had the perfect cover?”

“That’s what you’re here to help me find out, Ian.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a location and Google street maps image and use them as the prompt for writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the island of Mauritius which is in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. The island has a fascinating history and culture and would certainly be worthy of a vacation visit someday.

Doing my research, I discovered that last July, the murder of a 47-year-old woman was reported. The act was supposedly to have been committed by robbers and witnessed by the victim’s ten-year-old autistic son.

I used that as the jumping off point for my small story. It does seem strange that on such a small piece of real estate, it would be possible to commit what amounts to a crime spree and not be detected after very long.

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

The mystery continues in The Lady is Murder.

I’ve expanded the original stories into a small series. The first chapter is called The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Arrival.