~~ A fictional tale ~~
It was three o’clock in the cool of the morning, early autumn. Willia, aka “Slingshot” sat up in bed, exhilarated. She loved that autumn smell of chlorophyll in the morning, wafting on the cool breeze, fluttering through her bedroom curtains.
Responding to the buzzing jolt in the stillness, she reached for her encrypted iphone, and read the urgent orders from her Superiors.
“Good morning Slingshot, Find ‘The Hidden,’ protect it at all costs. Assemble your team. Wheels up at noon today. Good luck.”
Immediately, Willia phoned Naval Intelligence Officer, Cam Whitfueld aka “Vertical” her point person in the field, and her brother.
“What’s up lil’ sis’?”
“We need the three of us for this one. Wheels up at noon. We need her. Do you think she will help us?
Willia sighed as she contined, “You know how difficult it is to get her to agree to a job. Can you pick me up at eight? Let us ask her together. After all, she likes you better. And, maybe this time she won’t shoot me.”
“Oh don’t be like that Willia! You had your body armor on. And to be fair, it was just a bruise from an accidental stray rubber bullet.”
“Yes, my dear brother, it is “accidental,” until you’re the one getting shot.”
“I will pick you up at eight sharp. See you sis’.”
True to form, Vertical was early. He parked and killed the engine to enjoy the stillness outside Willia’s cottage, high in the Catskill Mountains.
Suddenly, breathlessly racing, Willia jettisoned out her entrance door and fled down its wooden steps.
Sensing danger, Vertical started the engine and pushed open the passenger side door to his Jeep Renegade Trailhawk.
They raced away from her cabin hideaway just ahead of the booming explosion which engulfed its tall cedar logs, in a Viking funeral pyre meant for Willia.
For several miles down the mountain neither spoke.
Finally, about fifteen miles out of the Catskills, Vertical pulled in at a MacDonald’s rest stop, and got out. Moments later, he strolled back to the passenger side of the Jeep, when Willia said,
“This is our worst nightmare brother. Maybe we are already too late. Someone seems to have control of, ‘The Hidden.’ My home security picked up a targeted missile, just in time for me to get out. I think my phone was tapped.”
“But, that means…” Vertical said, getting back into the Jeep, “That the government’s internal computer system has been compromised. We have to get to her fast. If someone was listening in on our call earlier, then, she would be a target also. We gotta move!”
Making good time they sped along the highway to meet her. A few miles from the exit turn off to their planned destination, Willia, pointing across the highway median, at a cherry-red, Tesla S Plaid said, “Isn’t that her car?”
“Sure is, can’t miss it,” Vertical uttered, pulling onto, and stopping on the scant remnants of the highway’s shoulder. In haste, he reached for his encrypted Satellite phone and dialed.
“Hello, it’s me, can we meet? Willia and I have a job for you. We really need your expertise. Wheels up at noon today.”
The woman’s voice on the other end of the line said, “I am retired. So, to quote Hamlet Act III, Scene iii Line 87, ‘NO!'” Then, she hung up.
Willia said, looking at the dejected disappointment in her brother’s face. “Didn’t go so well huh?”
“She’s warm to the idea. I can tell,” Vertical responded, “She is only quoting Shakespeare. If she had quoted Nietzsche then we would have more of a problem!”
And then, for the first time today, they both laughed heartily at Vertical’s trademark dry wit.
“All jokes aside, what’s our next move team leader?” Vertical asked.
“We have to get to our flight. Okay, try this.” Willia said. “Call her again, please. We know she will let the call go to voicemail. Therefore, leave our secret distress code, and include the airport address. Fingers crossed, let us hope she joins us before takeoff.”
One hour later with about half an hour before their corporate jet was scheduled to depart, they arrived at their employer’s private airfield. The usual guards at the entrance were nowhere to be seen. The entrance gate was wide open. And, the Cessna Citation CJ4 scheduled for their flight was engulfed in an explosive fireball. Among the devastation and the acrid smell of burning jet fuel, they saw the pilot, face down on the tarmac, motionless.
Suddenly, behind them, a sound…
****To be continued next week****