The objective was clear: Retrieve the girl.
The obstacles were obvious: Two independent organizations sought after her.
Agent Colt passed the first apartment in the hallway, Glock cocked, and stifled a surge of apprehension. His fingers clutched the metallic butt as he carried back to the first assignment. It had been a bloody end.
He hoped for a different outcome.
Two feet forward, Colt spotted a spider dangling in a thin web in the top corner of a wall, legs parted in a scare. Its fading pink abdomen slipped through the hole between layers of web. The spider’s thorax hung above, unwilling to follow. Scared.
Colt paused. A minuscule shard of glass lay in crumbs beneath his black Oxford. His assignment required no attention. He heard movements far down and slipped to the wall, engaging a chipped pillar as blockage. A door opened, feet padded the hallway, then movements faded, succeeded by a slam.
Graffiti festooned the hallway as Colt resumed his walk, breath drawing faster with each closing step. Some writings in Chinese marked an apartment before the girl’s. Colt leaned in, picked out a heated exchange in the apartment.
A step away from the girl’s, Colt observed a dent in the doorway. He pulled to a stop, walked sideways, ceasing when his fingers were brushing the knob.
Operation Eagle had taught him not to be negligent with such matters as approach. Never ignore the warnings. Be watchful. He’d been lone survivor, a bullet to his right shoulder being his punishment.
Colt flexed the healing shoulder and felt the stiffness a woman attempting to lift her leg eight months into conception would have.
He checked his watch, waited for the red blink, tapped a pin to give a blue ‘okay’ response, watched for approve from headquarters, and exhaled.
Spotting a mouse far down, he engaged the thought of shooting when he remembered he was yet to attach a silencer.
Half a minute later, Colt was ready.
He leaned into the door, noticed it had no peephole, heard heavy breathings but no movement, and turned.
Two images registered at once. Armchairs unoccupied on either side of a couch, and colors from the television brightening the surface. His gaze swept to the floor. Blue and white lights. Large canvasses that weren’t the girl’s. Above the wears, past the overgrown trousers floating in the dawning silence, beyond the heavy buckle that was guaranteed death if applied to the forehead.
Attached to the torso was an ovoid with black wavy hair, square jaws, and a shaved face. The man had a gun at Colt. Berreta. The man smirked, his beak-like nose expanding.
“I’ve been waiting,” Arab said, not smiling.
Colt slammed the door and stepped full circle into the room. His target was donned in a pj’s. She had drawn her hair in a bun. Arms were bound by a rope, folded on her laps. Save the restraint, and a passing shock she had displayed upon Colt’s intrusion, she appeared comfortable.
Colt weighed chances. A direct shot wasn’t beyond him if his right arm could be trusted. The Arabs were swifter with guns than a chameleon with blending. There was the girl to consider…
“Gun where I can see it,” Arab said.
Colt obeyed, thrusting the gun forward.
Arab waved his weapon to the seat adjacent the girl’s. “Seat.”
Again, Colt found himself obeying.
Arab sat beside the girl, weapon to her head, and with no smile, said, “I know why you are here, Mr. Colt Freeman. I have you. I have the girl. I’d say it’s a lost battle, don’t you think?”
That Arab knew his name didn’t intrigue Colt. That he had them at hostage didn’t unnerve him. What surprised him was the girl. She didn’t show a flinch when the gun was pointed at her.
In fact, Colt supposed she smiled.
He checked again, and he thought her lips, dry from neglect, cracked.
“What do you propose?”
“Good,” Arab said with a taut face, “I want the location of the safe and its password entered here.” Arab produced a device from his suit-pocket. Colt knew why his hands weren’t tied behind then.
The girl smiled.
Colt met her gaze, so did Arab. Arab jabbed her with the butt of his gun, eyes claiming Colt.
Colt looked at his gun on the table and considered going for it. Arab, reading his intention, shoved the girl up. “You try something funny, she loses an eye.”
Colt did a quick flip of the girl’s face with one eye. A phrase returned to him: One-eyed monster. He smiled at the girl. She smiled back. Arab fired at the couch.
“Okay,” Colt said, startled. “The location is with me, but there’s a condition.”
“No,” Arab said, thick accent surfacing. “I call the terms. I have the –”
“Girl. But the girl alone has the password.” He paused to exchange a stare. She did a slight wink. “I will give the location on the condition that you release the girl.”
“Agent Colt. I see you take me for a fool.”
The girl muttered.
Arab smacked her on the lips, her torso hitting the arm of the couch. He pulled her up to reveal blood seeping from her lips.
“Not a word from you.”
The girl gave no reaction.
Arab let the device drop to the table. Colt paused to consider the stupidity of the ongoing transaction. Arab, flipping his gun, sneaked a look at the leather strap he carried. Colt faced the girl.
She darted her eyes to his weapon on the table.
Colt shook his head.
The girl flattened her cheek, sat straight, and dipped her head briefly.
Colt read the code.
“Location,” Arab barked, prompting a break. “And password.”
“Alright. You get the location and password. Just keep it calm.” Cliché, but it worked.
Arab slid the rectangular device across the wooden surface, watched as Colt picked it to type the location, and made the most fatal mistake of his career. He inspected the girl.
Colt kicked the table towards him.
Arab’s reaction was spontaneous. He let loose a shot that grazed Colt’s right arm. Arab positioned for a successive one, but Colt was already moving, doing a flip over the table and landed in front of Arab. The gun flew outta Arab’s reach as he grunted.
They crashed behind the couch. A punch connected with Colt’s tummy. He collapsed back, kicking Arab in the torso. The attack didn’t faze Arab.
Colt managed to stand, met a towering Arab, and wished he hadn’t provoked those dark black eyes.
Arab launched, throwing himself full force. Ducking, Colt fell to one knee to bear the enemy’s weight, and, drawing all strength, threw Arab.
Without turning, he heard the enemy crash into the wall behind him, heard his ahhhhhhh fade as he passed out.
“Huh. That was easy,” Colt said. He hadn’t broken a sweat.
“Hm.” The girl. The mission. Colt ran to her, taking a leap over the fallen couch.
The ropes fell apart in a flash.
“You took too long,” she said.
Colt blinked repeatedly. “What?”
“I could handle him faster,” she responded, glancing at the slugged Arab. “MI5.”
“What difference does it make. What’s the plan?”
Colt remembered his boss. He stepped back and gave a full report.
“Finish the girl and withdraw.”
Colt felt he’d collided with an army of Arabs.
“Repeat,” Colt said, unsure he heard right.
“Finish the mission and disengage. There’s a change of objective.” The girl tugged at his sleeve. “007?”
“Copy,” Colt said, then broke contact before the ‘brief when done with task.’
“So? What’s the plan?”
The last twenty minutes played in his mind. Colt felt himself smile.
The girl acted like she knew what had transpired. She stepped past him for the door.
“Wait,” Colt called, putting a slug to Arab’s head before retrieving his gun and the device.
“Was that necessary?”
“The shot? Yes.” Colt reached her. “What’s the password?”
She expressed her first surprise – cheeks puffing, cheekbones closing up, brown eyes appearing to draw inside – gave the apartment a last look, and wept the door wide.
Afterword: I decided to write fiction today. What do you think? This isn’t a deviation from the ‘Love’ serials…
Thanks for reading.