Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
TITLE: Mission: Impossible - Flight from danger!
By Gregory Kane
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Jones cursed and turned away as the single sheet of paper burst spectacularly into flame. He was sick and tired of these lone wolf missions. In the early days he had routinely been sent out as part of a team. It was good to have someone to talk to in the small hours of the night, someone to watch your back in times of danger, someone to help you keep your focus. But these days they always sent Jones out alone. True, he had risen to become the best agent in the organisation, but not even the best could hope to live for ever. His last mission to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon had nearly ended disastrously with a stiletto between his ribs. And now they wanted to send him on a suicide mission to northern Iraq.
A faint breeze scattered the grey ashes that were all that remained of the chemically impregnated paper. Its fleeting impermanence brought Jones to his decision: he would walk away from this unending madness. They would look for him of course but Jones knew all too well how to disappear.
First his porsche went over the edge of a precipice, the explosion destroying all evidence that the sports car had been empty, an overcast sky impeding any satellite coverage. The organisation would be sure to look for traces of residual DNA so Jones had poured two units of his blood over the driver's seat. So long as a technician didn't look at the blood under a microscope, no one should realise that it was frozen. Instead they would conclude that he had perished in the fireball.
Thereafter, disguised as a peasant woman, he slowly made his way to the coast. One further costume change and he secured passage on board a trawler, the emptiness of the barren sea a further protection against prying eyes. The days dragged by in dreary tedium but at least no one was looking to take his life.
The storm blew up from nowhere, cracking the keel and tearing off the radio antenna. It didn't take an expert mariner to know that the boat was doomed. While crew members ran to the bilge pumps, the ship's captain rolled out his prayer mat and shouted frantically at his god. Jones sneered at the man's futile superstition. Salvation was right at hand if they only knew it: one sharp twist of his watch face, two rapid key presses on the secondary button and the organisation would immediately respond to his distress beacon. Perhaps a helicopter, more likely a passing submarine. But then they would know where he was.
A sudden trough dropped the boat violently, rotating the deck through ninety degrees and propelling Jones over the side. His memory of what followed was indistinct: the suffocating weight of the water; an odd sense of being swallowed whole; most remarkably of all, the presence of pungent but breathable air. Three days later he found himself staggering through the foam of a narrow bay and collapsing in complete exhaustion on the pebbly sand.
He never saw the parachute float down out of the sky. Jones simply looked round and there was the familiar blue package lying beside him. Pulling off the silken tendrils, he tore open the envelope and extracted his mission instructions. The words were exactly the same as before: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it.” Wearily, Jones dragged himself to his feet. All this time they must have known exactly where he was. But, thanks be to God, at least they were willing to give him a second chance. And this time he would complete his mission.
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