Lithium (Finale) – A Sunday Story

Image credits: Dana_Keli, adrianwerner / Twenty20

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Nestled and hunkered down in the back seat of the Fiat Panda, Lithium opened the getaway package that Mr. A. had prepared.

Thoughtfully, Mr. A. had provided all the essentials the former elite assassin turned spy-for-hire would need in a ‘care package.’ It included: a clean US passport, a disposable untraceable phone, a large lightweight waterproof bag, a change of clothing, and a first-class one-way train ticket from Talkeetna to Denali, Alaska—her home.

Her driver was an amiable young man in his late twenties. His chiseled face was focused on what clearly was his talent. He was a getaway driver. And, one of considerable skill, from the agility with which the Fiat Panda slithered under his guidance through Siena’s narrow streets. Lithium sat back to enjoy the ride through Siena’s tranquil succor—its serene vistas, a healing balm to the battle-scarred huntress.

But, this serenity was about to end…

Her driver spoke, “Call me Everglade, Signorina. I will see to it that you arrive at your next pickup point in one piece.”

“Nice to meet you Everglade. And it’s just Lithium if you like.”

Then, looking in his rearview, Everglade commented rather casually, as if they were out on a Sunday drive, “We have company Signorina. Keep your head down, please.”

Everglade effortlessly hemmed and stitched the Fiat Panda, in and out of traffic. He lurched to a halt in an alleyway. An unmarked rollup door on the left suddenly opened in response to a remote on the Fiat Panda’s driver-side sun visor. He drove in. Quickly, the door rolled down.

Everglade spoke gingerly, “Forgive me, Signorina I think you have some kind of tracker on you. You may wish to discard your clothing immediately.”

While Lithium quickly rent and discarded her clothing in a discreet alcove outside the vehicle, Everglade too walked away from the Fiat Panda towards a small portal window next to the rollup door, to keep a lookout.

Lithium realized to her chagrin that only two persons whom she had considered friends were close enough to her today to plant a tracker on her: BMG at the cafe and Goliath at the tent. Her money was on BMG as the culprit. He had made it easy for the first assassin this morning to try to pick her off like a clay pigeon. Perhaps the tracker was his plan “B.”

Lithium shrugged off her disappointment. She had to remain focused to seize this day, and get from it—life.

Now changed, Lithium surveyed her current environment, for the first time.

From the looks of it, they had just driven inside a concrete-floored storage facility the size of a football field. Along the furthest wall was a large cache of weapons neatly arranged and tagged; they were secured behind a wrought iron-barred cage.

About one-third of the remaining space was a makeshift garage with a small workbench, a hoist and an incredible array of tools neatly organized. The rest of the space was void of any furniture or equipment including an unobstructed stone wall with skid marks leading up to it.

Then—all hell broke loose…

“Oh merda!” said Everglade—showing alarm for the first time. “They are here. Two vehicles four persons total…armed with small firearms—look like semi-automatics. I suspect a group of assassins. Friends of yours, Signorina?”

“Everglade,” Lithium replied with a deep sigh, “Before today I would have said that, “I had no friends that wanted me dead.”

“Is there another way out of this place? By the way—what is this place?”

“Polizia di Stato (Police) lockup for confiscated weapons destined for disposal. Mr. A. has the contract for that work.”

Then he pointed to the stone wall. “Your exit strategy, Signorina. Let’s move!”

Before he finished speaking, one of the vehicles lurking outside—a Land Rover, smashed through the rollup door. The rollup door flew across the inside of the storage area crashing onto one edge of the weapons cage which, miraculously withstood the tremendous blow.

The second vehicle swerved beside the first, blocking the now wide-open doorway. The four occupants of the two cars collectively marched side by side into the storage facility. No emotion registered on their faces. Their well-pressed expensive suits barely moved as each assassin took aim with their respective GSh-19 semi-automatic, and opened fire. Their target—Lithium.

Lithium ran to the Fiat Panda, opened the door, and dove in the back seat. Her five-foot-ten inch frame hurdled onto the seat with alacrity. The force of her body hitting the car’s inside back upholstery caused the door of a small niche to open. She looked hurriedly inside. Concealed within was a Smith and Wesson 357 already loaded, with a box of extra ammunition.

Lithium armed herself.

“Don’t bother!” Said Everglade—who had by now via a spirited dash, reached the driver side door and lunged headlong inside. “This car seems innocent; but, she is armored and full of many tricks. I built her myself!”

Seating himself upright, Everglade pressed the remote on the Fiat Panda’s sun visor—the same remote that he has used to open the rollup door earlier. The gesture seemed to Lithium of no practical use, considering the rollup door’s current forlorn state.

Then, Everglade started the Fiat Panda’s 95-horsepower diesel engine. Clearly, from its sudden revving roar—in dramatic contrast to its previous contented feline purr—the engine had been modified for cheetah-like speed which could be accessed at the press of a button.

Next, Everglade did the unthinkable…

He drove the Fiat Panda with Lithium horrified inside towards the stone wall full tilt!

Meanwhile, a hail of armor-piercing 9-millimeter bullets hammered the Fiat Panda’s back window. The back window began to crackle and buckle from the mortar-like assault. The car’s armor held for now…

With screeching tires as he coaxed even more speed from the Fiat Panda, Everglade headed the Fiat Panda for the stone wall—hell-bent it seemed on smashing into it.

Inexplicably, with no more than three seconds to impact—the wall disappeared!

Everglade then swerved onto an alleyway and blazed full speed ahead. Behind them in the distance, the stone wall had somehow reappeared shielding their escape.

Lithium said gasping from the thrill ride, “Nice exit strategy. However, that’s not going to hold them off for long. They will be on us again soon.”

Smiling, Everglade replied. “Unlikely Signorina. I deliberately tripped the silent alarm alerting the Polizia di Stato on the remote a few moments before our exit. Your “frenemies” will be too busy escaping the authorities to think about you.”

“And the…the wall?

“Oh just a little gift courtesy of Mr. A. Let’s say he has friends in high-tech places. The remote is the key to the whole system,” Everglade replied, pointing to the remote control unit clipped to the Fiat Panda’s sun visor.

“Entering through the rollup door triggers the real stone wall to retract into the floor. Simultaneously, three cameras, concealed in the ceiling, beam a hologram of a stone wall in the empty space where the wall once was. Then, upon our “exit” through the hologram wall, the real wall surfaced to shield our escape. We use it often, as you can well imagine.”

***

A few minutes later, the Fiat Panda with Everglade in the driver seat, slowed to legal speed limits as he and Lithium merged into the bustling Siena traffic glistening in the Tuscany sunshine.

Exiting the city limits, the Fiat Panda came to a halt, it seemed, in the middle of nowhere.

“This is where I leave you, Signorina, safe travels. Your next ride will pick you up shortly. Hurry!”

“Thank you Everglade…for everything. By the way…You sure can drive!”

Lithium bundled her belongings into the waterproof bag which Mr. A had provided, slung it over her shoulder, and exited the Fiat Panda.

She assessed her environment. She was in the middle of a vast clearing of some kind behind a sprawling lush Tuscany vineyard.

Then suddenly from the sky—the sound of thunder.

A few moments later, the distinct rumble of Pratt and Whitney turbo engines powering flight pierced the airspace in the distance. A cargo plane with no markings approached from over the horizon on her right.

The ground shook all around her as the plane approached. The warm Tuscany wind swirled around her, kicking up dust from the lush green fields beneath her feet. Barely visible, a rope suspended from the cargo plane’s underbelly arched and swayed from the effect of the massive plane’s lift.

The dangling rope advanced towards her in mid-air. She had to time it just right. Then, in a move she had performed many times before, Lithium jumped vertical and grabbed the rope. She held on.

. ****

Almost immediately, Lithium was hoisted into the plane. She steadied herself inside the belly of the plane, still holding the rope as the plane climbed. Stepping off the rope to the plane’s floor, Lithium assessed her new surroundings.

She was alone in the vast cargo bay of a Boeing C17. The door to the cockpit was locked. Overhead: the seatbelt sign was on. A note pinned to a long comfortably padded bench bolted to the floor and wall with a seatbelt attached read:

Welcome Huntress, sit back and rest.
It will be a long flight.
(Signed) — “A.”

Lithium strapped in and promptly fell asleep. Three hours into the flight in the middle of her snooze she awoke to the sound of the cockpit door opening. Through it, a diminutive figure of strong build with a familiar gait strode towards her.

It was Mr. A.

“Hello, Huntress. I chose to take you home myself. When I do an exfiltration personally—I work with my family only. You met my son, Everglade your driver earlier.”

Pointing to the cockpit behind him Mr. A added, “And, my son-in-law is your pilot. Trusting one’s safety to family in our business is safest. At least, I think so.” His signature gold incisors gleamed as he spoke.

Leaning forward, Mr. A. pulled a camouflage tarp from a small jet-propelled hang glider (aka a Switchblade) invisible to radar.

He extended his hand to the Switchblade…”Your ride home Huntress.”

“You have got to be kidding!” Lithium gasped.

“O! don’t be so squeamish. Here’s your wet suit and mini scuba tank in case you land in the water. We will try for a dry landing, but the shoreline is craggy and unpredictable in your neck of the woods up there in the 55th parallel. So, a water entry may be safer really.”

“We will control your descent and the Switchblade’s return trip, from here. Rest up, we have another five hours flight time. If you feel any jostling, not to worry we will be re-fuelling in mid-air. Sleep well, Huntress. See you soon.”

From a restless sleep where she dreamed she was falling and falling… Lithium jumped awake to Mr. A’s voice—”Suit up!”

Lithium donned the wet suit and diving gear. She hooked the mini scuba tank—good for six to ten minutes of air, on her chest. And, she placed her waterproof bag over her shoulder.

“Ready?” chuckled Mr. A.

“No!” quipped Lithium, sarcastically.

Then, Lithium climbed into the craft’s uncomfortable seat. The Switchblade‘s electronics came alive closing its tinted canopy above Lithium’s head while it pressurized the space within with a hissing sound reminiscent of opening a bottle of Coca-cola.

A computerized winch rolled the Switchblade to the edge of the cargo plane door. Mr. A. pressed the release and waved to her.

Now, much to Lithium’s relief— the Switchblade/glider dove from the cargo plane slowly and gently.

But suddenly, it accelerated at breakneck speed diving like a cormorant plunging for fish. Its jet-propelled engine whined as the Switchblade’s electronics steered the tiny craft vertically from twenty-eight thousand feet to 250 feet in what seemed, to Lithum’s horror, a mere sixty seconds!

Sympathizing with her stomach quarreling at the whole affair while it threatened to return its contents via their original entry point, Lithium was glad she had had little to eat thus far today.

***

Meanwhile, it was 2 a.m local time in The Last Frontier (aka Alaska). It will be sunrise in one hour.

The jet-propelled glider/Switchblade with Lithium sardined inside continued its precipitous descent into Alaska’s short Summer night.

Then, without warning, the tiny craft jettisoned Lithium into the welcoming arms of The Yukon River near Talkeetna. Despite her startling baptism, Lithium was grateful to be home, safe and sound.

*** The End***

Published by Suzette Benjamin

Positive thinker, inspirational, writer, faith

35 thoughts on “Lithium (Finale) – A Sunday Story

  1. What a homecoming
    The return to the Yukon River
    On the wings of a Switchblade

    So much symbolism
    I must read the finale again and the penultimate chapter again, in the quiet of the night.

    👑in the distance, rested like an ornate brown and marbled cloche on a lavish Tuscany dinner table👑

    Beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said!
      I love your summary..”on the wings of a switchblade.”
      Yes, much intended symbolism there..which you captured well, my friend.
      Happy reading. Blessings to you.

      Like

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