SILHOUETTES - Eleventh instalment - Chapters twenty-four, and twenty-five. For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.
Jo had been studying Dave closely, and there it was again. He had a slight twitch on the outer side of his left eye. Nothing prominent, probably no one would notice it without close scrutiny. She was giving him this close inspection because she fancied him like mad, it was an instant and magnetic attraction. She had to have him. She couldn't wait to have him.
He turned his gaze back on her. They had been deciding on the pros and cons of she and Debbie going to the police with the information they had about the mugging this afternoon and giving up a description of the attacker. They would discuss it, the topic of conversation would somehow move on to something else, they would agree on another round of drinks, then they would start up the subject again. All the while, time was passing, afternoon was now early evening, the drink was taking effect, and the consensus now was moving to the opinion that it may be better to talk to the authorities tomorrow morning with a clear head.
Debbie had a blinding headache which she kept to herself. Jo was fussing enough over her without giving her a prompt for more attention. Besides, she was going flat out for Dave boy there. She suspected Dave would be sharing the breakfast table with her and Jo in the morning, well, with Jo at least. Debbie had decided she was taking tomorrow off and having a long lie in, and hopefully be back to full health when she did finally decide to rouse herself.
Dave and Jo were beginning to talk between themselves more and more, Debbie was beginning to feel a bit gooseberryish. She contented herself watching the independence debate programme showing on the pub TV set. The barman had raised the volume to allow some interested customers to hear the issues discussed. There were murmurs of different opinions from various groups at the bar and from several tables. Debbie was just beginning to realise how important the debate for the independence of Scotland was becoming. The referendum was a newspaper topic now almost daily. Every mass circulation newspaper had opinions about the issue, the television news media always had it high up on the agenda, and she suspected there was more than just blatant bias towards the view of the Westminster London unionist views. Much of what was said about the plus side of independence was disparaged and put down in a way that not only demeaned the unionist argument, it was also insulting to the majority of the people of Scotland. She, for one, even though she hadn't worked her way through all the good and bad points of each proposal by either side, had already decided that life in an independent Scotland couldn't be any worse than it was at the moment attached to the UK, so she would be voting for independence. Jo was of the same mind, though far more outspoken about it, and had in fact set up several blogs and helped in various websites to promote the cause of independence. A dedicated Cybernat was the way she described herself whenever asked about her political views.
The discussions around the topics started during the TV debate continued well after in the pub. The news came on the TV next and there was a uniform rally of boos when the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, was giving a brief sound bite about Scotland. His party, the Conservatives had but one MP elected in Scotland. In effect, Scotland was being governed by a UK government that no one in Scotland had voted for. This was not true democracy, thought Debbie. It was beginning to dawn on her exactly why the Scottish National Party had such strong support in Scotland. In the whole of Westminster in London, the Scottish people had no one with any real clout that could speak up for them, promote their views, and defend their corner in the UK. Democracy had broken here.
She had become engrossed with the TV, not something she usually did in a bar, and noticed Dave had placed yet another drink on the table in front of her. This was becoming a serious drinking session, but her headache was becoming tiresome and she felt she'd have to go home soon. She was just about to mention she would leave the two of them and phone a taxi for herself when the local news began, and she froze as she saw the grainy facade of the mugger from this afternoon, displayed on the television screen.
'Look,' she cried, and pointed.
Both Jo and Dave followed her pointing finger. The newsreader was commenting on the police looking for this man to assist with their inquiries into an incident that took place in the centre of Glasgow this afternoon. Nothing was said about the mugging, or the reason for the inquiry.
'That's the bastard,' said Jo, loud enough that a few people at surrounding tables gawked over.
'This must be serious, Jo,' said Debbie. 'That old man must have died.'
'Yes,' said Jo, 'they wouldn't show a mugshot like that for just a routine mugging. It must be serious.'
'We don't know that yet, they never mentioned why,' said Dave, trying to be diplomatic. 'Perhaps he's a serial mugger, or something.'
'It doesn't matter,' said Debbie, 'we've no choice now but to go to the police.'
The man had an air of authority about him. The black suit was just a prop to add to the effect, whereas others would look ridiculous, this man would carry authority if he were standing there naked. Dave thought he was military intelligence, but he carried an aura of someone way up the ladder in the organisation.
'Good afternoon, Dave,' he said, 'if I may call you Dave?'
'Fine,' said Dave.
'You've had a bit of an adventure today,' he stated, 'we'll get down to the nitty-gritty in a minute...'
'It was all a test?' Dave asked. He knew it was. It had never occurred to him at the time of the event, but on reflection, he had heard of similar set-ups used to gauge how Agents would react under stress, in life-threatening situations. He had been drugged, not shot, so it was an exercise. He was here in a secure hospital, or at least a medical room in some military establishment. No one had questioned him about the events of earlier in the day (though it could have been yesterday, he had no notion of the actual time he had spent here).
'My name is Jon Evans,' said the man in the black suit. 'I work for the CIA, and you responded to one our requests for new people interested in travel.'
'The special project?' asked Dave.
'Yes, the special project.'
'The request didn't mention the CIA,' said Dave.
'They never do, or would anyone apply?' smiled Jon Evans. 'Besides, would you want your compatriots to know you had left your present position to join the CIA, if in fact you decide to do so?'
'Who were the guys in the car this afternoon, and are they alright?' asked Dave.
'That would be yesterday afternoon. A couple of local FBI we borrowed for the exercise, no serious injuries, though a bit of bruising and soreness each will have to put up with for a short while. You also broke the nose of one.'
Dave smiled. 'They're lucky I never shot them.'
'That would have been impossible, Dave. We switched your gun's magazine for one containing blanks.'
'Ah, just in case...'
'Well, we do try not to get anyone killed in these little tests. Fatalities cause paperwork.'
'So, what happens now?'
'What happens now is that you sign some papers and I'll officially welcome you on board. If you still want the job?'
He spoke to Jon Evans a few times after that visit, and more regularly once he graduated as an overseas CIA operative just over a year later. That year was a blur to Dave, most of each day he did not know what he would be doing till a five minute briefing at the start decided the task or training to be undertaken. In a year he had learned to pick locks, hack computers, commit credit card fraud, evade and bypass both home and commercial security systems, change his identity entirely (he had changed it four times in exercises, had valid documentation for each, including driving licence and passport, and several valid and usable credit cards). He was trained in fast driving, discreet following and violent evasion techniques, taught how to set up surveillance on a subject or organisation by planting covert hearing and camera devices, installing Trojans in computer systems. He was also made familiar with and taught to use a variety of common in use military hardware from Kalashnikovs to Uzis, from shoulder launched missiles to urban grenade launchers.
One morning he was dragged from his bunk in t-shirt and underpants, not allowed to dress, escorted aboard a new type of helicopter, at least it was a new type to him. It was the second time though, he realised, that those rumoured black helicopters mentioned in various conspiracy websites and publications actually existed. But it was a true surprise to the system to see one up close, never mind be taken a ride in one, undrugged. They were almost completely silent in operation, could go into a special mode called Stealth 3D. He wasn't sure how it worked, but the result was the craft, as well as being silent in operation, was completely invisible to the naked eye.
He was given a briefing as they flew across the countryside. The briefing was to get from the drop-off point, to another point in mainland USA in under three days with $10,000 dollars. He was, of course, not allowed to rob or kill any individual for the money, industrial and commercial targets seemed to be fine.
The chopper was flying low over a small lake when the crew slid the door on the side open. One of the crew placed something discreetly in his hand, and placed a finger to his lips to mean quiet. Before he knew what was happening, he was grabbed firmly by the arms by two of the crew and unceremoniously thrown through the gaping hole on the side of the craft. He fell backwards to earth, the surprise of weightlessness just coming to awareness, watching the chopper door close and it begin to turn for home. The panic was just about to hit, but he smacked the water first, sinking down, suddenly wet, breathless, couldn't breathe, cold, dark, he sank. That was when the panic hit in earnest.
Although a strong enough swimmer at the local pool, where the water was calm, warm, clean, and forward motion through the water was little more than gentle exercise, here the cold hit him as suddenly and as sharp as a knife blade, he was sinking down, but he was also being pulled along, an undercurrent had him, and try as he might, resistance was naught but a slowing manoeuvre, not an effective practical attempt at reaching the surface and air to breathe. He rolled over in the drink, his eyes hurt, his arms were rapidly tiring, and he was beginning to think it better to stop and just let go when he saw the light above, and it looked so bright from the depths it could not be that far away. He thrust upwards with his legs, his arms too tired to assist now, he still had the item the crew member had given him clasped in his hand, he kept kicking back his legs, he was still being forced along by the current, a sideways motion now, rather than downwards. He kept momentum, thrashing his legs in a concentrated swimming motion. The light was becoming brighter, he was getting nearer, he would be able to breathe again in just another few kicks. He kicked and kicked, and finally broke the surface, and gulped down the fresh morning air with joy and thanks.
The surface wasn't smooth though despite it being a calm day. The water was choppy, there was a slight squall with the southerly breeze coming from the nearest land point. He would have to swim against the wind, but first, he had to get his breath back, restore his body to fully functional, before he even attempted a swim that was probably around half a mile. There was no sign of the helicopter, it was either gone from sight, or in stealth mode now, silently and invisibly watching from above. He cursed the day he joined the CIA.
Next instalment coming soon...
Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved