The ice is thin
The commissary was fairly full; at this time of the morning, it provided breakfast for agents arriving early and unfed, or returning from late missions (also unfed). It was a good time, therefore, to introduce a new colleague to the male talent on offer. The older men, their home lives providing not only stability but also a more relaxed and healthy breakfast, were already at work in their offices. The talent on offer, then, was worth seeing – to set the blood racing for the day – being younger, fitter, and often very good looking.
It's a child!
The terrible sound of explosions died away, leaving smoke and flames around and inside the house; the bodies of several people could be seen strewn about the site, including, appallingly, those caught in crossfire. The two agents, dressed for the operation in camouflage, emerged from their place of concealment and approached the building warily, weapons in hand.
Only one part, the far end, was on fire. Carefully avoiding two bodies, they climbed the steps to the slightly open front door, and still wary, pushed it open and entered. The hallway was clear of smoke, so far; they moved on, glancing into a sitting room – empty. Ahead was a kitchen; through the open door they could see a hob, and cupboards.
The man leading stepped over the threshold and stopped suddenly, with a little intake of breath; his partner bumping into him, looked beyond him and saw what had startled him so much.
It was a child.( Read more... )
Mending a heart and a broken friendship.
Title and chapter headings from a sonnet about parting, by Michael Drayton (1563-1631). See notes below.
Shake hands forever
Prologue. 1968. Come let us kiss and part
He was in a very deep, dark hole. No light seemed to penetrate into his mind and give him back his insouciance, or his love of life. He had become an automaton, acting out the part he had played so successfully for so many years. No-one seemed to notice, so it worked for a while.
But before his eyes, every moment of the day, and in his nightmares, was the sight of that execution squad. It wasn’t as if it hadn’t happened before. They had been rescued at the last minute many times, but this time even his partner had run out of useful tactics – he had stood apparently unmoved, not reacting to anything; numb. It had been sheer chance that it had been called off. They might have died. It wasn’t the dying, though. It was the nightmare helplessness. In a way, he had died.( Read more... )**********************************
Chapter 1. 1983. Nay, I have done, you get no more of me
Still youthful, his sun-streaked hair untouched by frost, Vanya’s age showed in an inexplicable bitterness that had recently begun to draw lines in his face. Increasingly quick to anger, impatient, sarcastic, he could nevertheless be endlessly kind and helpful to anyone who tried hard, or whom he liked. There must have been several of those because his staff adored him.
It didn’t, however, include the former partner in his old life who had left him high and dry with no explanation. He had never spoken of him or, for that matter, the Organisation he had worked for, especially since Yugoslavia. So, why were they trying to contact him now? He wouldn’t answer. He wasn’t to be found; didn’t want to be found; refused to come to the phone. It had been too long and no-one had ever tried to make contact before; there could be no forgiveness for betrayal.( Read more... )
“Short Affair” Challenge. August 14 2017. (Routine, green)
You want what?
His partner hadn’t been gone long, but he was already feeling uneasy. It was a simple affair, really. The trouble was, the volume wasn’t kept on the open shelves of a library for the simple reason that it would be in tatters within hours. It would have to be obtained by special request, to be retrieved by some specially trusted minion with a key, from a locked store in the basement containing unsavoury, fragile, or otherwise embargoed books. Mind, it wasn’t a book many people were likely to actually ask for, unless they were peculiarly uncaring about being overheard. That was why the microdot had been put there in the first place, so it should be safe enough and easy to find.
( Read more... )