The Hunted

Frankfurt Christmas Market

The Frankfurt Christmas Market – image found at frankfurt-tourismus.de – no credit listed

The Israeli had been born in Frankfurt, so the Christmas market was familiar. He used to sneak out with his Christian friends as a boy to sample the lights, the music, and the smell from the food vendors (though he was still observant enough not to partake).

Elon Rosenberg, late of the Israeli Air Force, victim of a tragic air crash after his F161 fighter had been shot down by a Syrian missile, horribly mutilated, and rebuilt from scratch by an eccentric Scottish scientist, had altered his appearance to look like a typical Frankfurter. His would-be assassins did not recognize him, but he saw the pair very clearly.

“I could just walk away,” he muttered. “But no one must know my secret.”

Hours later, a cook found the two bodies in a garbage bin. By then, the synthetic man was halfway to Wiesbaden and his next assignment.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 147.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Frankfurt, Germany. I discovered that there’s an annual Christmas Market in Frankfurt. Also, being a child of the 1960s, I love a good cold war thriller set in Europe, so I borrowed a character introduced late in my Mikiko Jahn/Synthetic Woman saga and inserted him here.

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

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The Red High Heels

red shoes

© Yinglan Z.

George looked admiringly at the shoes on his wife’s delicate feet. This was the finest shoe store in Hong Kong.

“What do you think?” She turned her ankle, modeling the heels.

“They look lovely. Another wedding gift, Edith?” He smiled at her as only a newlywed can.

“Would you?” She clapped her hands and laughed.

George turned to the salesman. “We’ll take these as well. Can you have our purchases sent to our hotel? A dozen pair would be a little difficult for us to carry.”

The salesman stood and bowed. “Of course, Sir. We would be glad to be of service, but since I am the last person in the store this evening, they won’t arrive until tomorrow.” He internally scoffed at the American tourists. Frivolous fools. They could never suspect he was an intelligence analyst for the Communists. His cover was perfect.

Edith and George gave each other knowing looks. The two American agents were there to kidnap and interrogate their adversary. By dawn, they’d know everything about China’s complement of nuclear weapons.

I wrote this for the 176th FFfAW Photo Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I forgot about the word count and was over 300 words into writing my spy thriller when I remembered, so I had to edit it down quite a bit. Now it feels somewhat forced and hurried, but I hope I got my idea across successfully. Never trust appearances.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit 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: 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: God Rolled the Dice

north korean train depot

Chapter Seven: God Rolled the Dice

Four Months ago – Pyongyang, North Korea

Jun Ho was only six-years old and this was his first train ride. Daddy couldn’t come, but Mommy said they were going all the way to Russia.

Soo Mi took her only child by his hand as the train pulled into Pyongyang station. It would take eight days to reach Moscow and anything could go wrong in that time. She showed the forged identity papers to the conductor. It was unlikely her husband would suspect they’d attempt to escape this way.

Her son was so excited as they took their seats. He giggled when the train started moving. They would never see North Korea again. Her long assignment as a sleeper agent was over. She was taking her precious boy and North Korea’s astonishing nuclear secrets back to the west with her.

Her husband, a Major in the Korean People’s Army, would search for them in vain, or so she prayed. If they were caught before reaching safety, given what she knew, both Soo Mi and her little boy would be killed immediately. The North Korean military couldn’t risk the information getting out in the open. That’s why it was so important for Jun Ho and her to reach home.

Today – London

In 1963, a John le Carré novel was published called The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and later made into a movie starring Richard Burton. The novel had not been on Krista Bernham’s book shelf and the only reason Ian Dennis thought of it was the messages that flashed on his computer screen. He had sent out a coded query that anything having to with North Korea, nuclear weapons, high level assassinations, Kim Jong-um, and related topics trigger an alert that would be routed to him. Since this was, for the most part, internal information, he wasn’t fed details, but he was given a contact so he could further inquire.

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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: 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: Ian

boy in hospital

Found at BabyCenter.com

Chapter Two: Ian

“Good morning, lad.” Dennis peeked around the corner of the door so as not to startle the boy. He saw young Ian had been working on a sketch pad, probably the one that Winston mentioned. “Mind if I visit you for a bit?”

The eleven-year-old eyed him suspiciously. His sandy blond hair looked disheveled but his blue eyes were red but otherwise clear. He’d been crying. He was sitting up in the hospital bed, covered to the waist with blankets and dressed one of those awful patient gowns that opened in the back.

“You a doctor?”

The older Ian stepped into the room and let the door close behind him. “No. I used to know your Mum. Came to see how you were doing.”

The child seemed to brighten for a second that it was a friend and not a doctor or the police come to question him, but then he closed up again. “Don’t remember you. Who are you?”

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