Million Word Story
Chapter 1 Chapter2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter6 Chapter 7
I sat there alone again, with tears streaming down my face. Cathrin was on my mind again. It had been a long time coming I guess, and now this note. Funny how she left it hidden in the pocket of the jacket that she had given me for my birthday last year. It was there all along for me to find someday, maybe. When did she put it there I wondered? I was sure she knew how much she meant to me. The thought of being without her now was too much to bear. I read it. “William, it's over between us. I'm tired of the rat race life you're living. Buying that stupid SUV was the last straw; I remember when you used to ride your bike, but now you're just a fat-arsed motorist like all the other plebs. I'm going to New Zealand to grow organic lettuce and raise chickens. Have a good life, dick”.
The thought left me agitated and full of wind. The long binge on junk-food, alcohol and cigarettes after what seemed like a lifetime of healthy living with Cathrin was finally taking its toll. I leaned back in boredom, doing what only a man can do best. I tried to refocus, until a sudden look of horror consumed my face. It couldn’t be..…..Cathrin’s ambition to grow lettuce and raise chickens did not ring true. For one thing, she despised lettuce to an unusual extent, often ridiculing the over-priced yet understated leafy green meals that occupied menus. In addition, her unpleasant reaction to eggs had instilled a profound fear of chickens inside her. This realization fueled a momentary relapse into the binge lifestyle I had become accustomed to…. If it wasn’t for gardening and poultry, why did she leave? Thirty minutes and two bottles of Merlot later I forced myself to concentrate on the training I was about to undertake. In two weeks time my life would once again transform; my physical transformation would be dramatic.
The package I had received detailing my identity for the next mission lay unopened on the table beside me. I had been meaning to open it ever since my contact, an albino Aboriginal unbeknown to me, had delivered it under the cover of darkness. I surveyed the shape and weight of the package and it appeared to be the same as those I’d received before. Hints of the wine I had just consumed resurfaced in my throat as I opened the package. A quick scan of the contents revealed the usual: photos, documents, contacts. Yet the wording and large font of the top page definitely stood out as it conveyed the words “I’m Sorry”. I gulped on first sight of this page; in my line of work, those are two words you never like to see on a mission briefing. “A hollow gesture” I thought to myself, that’s all it was. I’m sure there wasn’t anybody who was really sorry. My work had progressively been getting more dangerous ever since the new government had resumed office and began their “justified” wars on the rest of the world. Taxes and death were not the only things guaranteed in life……I could rely on my life being put in danger for my government in exchange for a life full of lies and a.k.a.’s. I almost didn’t make it out from the last operation, but I was not known as the Latin Leopard for nothing. That mission had seen me go by the name of Roger Chiselback into the land that had created Crowded House and the great Russell Crowe. Yes, the country that had invented the delicious Pavlova, Australia. My escape would not have been possible if it had not been for my dilapidated appearance due to lack of sleep, over-exertion and overgrown facial hair, allowing me to blend in perfectly with the rest of the crowd at the most popular hangout in Australia….the pub.
But that was history. I now had to concentrate on my next objective. Upon closer inspection of the package’s contents, it became obvious that this was a high priority mission. Some of the photos were of the notorious Alforzio, one of the most wanted villains in the world. I’d heard stories of his ruthless tactics to manipulate the enemy. He was a man who feared nothing, and who’s accomplices feared him. A man who had trained with all the big terrorist groups. Confirming the status of this mission were the passports. There were twelve in total; in the past the most I had received was seven. There were other photos and documents, but my attention was drawn to the mission objectives. Looking over them it looked like I was being ordered to build some type of time traveling device out of an iPod, Mentos, and an unopened bottle of Diet Coke. It did not make sense to me at first, but after I spent some time researching the chemical reaction between the Mentos and Diet Coke I found that it would be a great way to produce just the sort of makeshift sound-triggered propulsion device that could get me out of a sticky situation or two. Out in the field with few tools, it was often our ability to improvise that meant the difference between life and death. The lesson in weaponry cryptically disguised as a request for building a time machine, signaled to me that maybe one of my superiors knew what lay ahead. Clearly, someone had been trying to get a message across, and I was not one to refuse assistance. There were only four days before my departure to New Zealand. I was dedicated to making them memorable while I could still enjoy the freedom that my current alias provided. Tonight I had planned on heading out to see a local band play. They were a funky ensemble called the Mint Chicks, and they were supporting The Faint. I loved listening to live music when I had the chance…it made me feel like a normal member of society for the few hours the show lasted.
From across the room, the phone rang. I took a step towards it. Another should have followed, but my apartment swerved to the right. My other foot stomped to the floor in an attempt to steady the world. I swore softly. I'd drunk enough to become angry; perhaps I needed a bit more. From the tabletop, the glossed black-and-white Alforzio glared up at me. More wine to relax? In reality, more wine to forget the mission, and more still to taper the sickening pain I felt over Cathrin. The phone rang out again, an appropriately effeminate two-toned pulse Cathrin favored over the pre-set ring.
Again the phone, but before answering it I practiced saying hello a few times. It felt like weeks since I had talked to anyone and in my current state English seemed like a foreign tongue. Picking up the phone I was not given the chance speak as a loud laugh bellowed in my ear... “William, where the hell are you, it’s Nathan’s opening night….it started two hours ago, you’ve missed the free beer” Paul repeated himself a few times confirming where the free beer had ended up, I could only manage to get a few words in before music muted Paul’s yelling and he hung up. Given this new piece of information, it looked like I was not going to make it to the concert after all. Instead it was off to the gallery for conceptual discussions on Nathan’s work. I wondered if forgetting my best friends exhibition opening was a cliché side effect of the current disorder in my life. I stumbled out the door and waved down a taxi.
His work was undeniably good. It came across as an esoteric, existentialistic portrayal of man’s dependence on the byte; or at least that’s what Nathan’s new found friends were bullshitting next to him as I introduced myself. Amongst this group of art critics was a peculiar looking fellow. A small, fragile looking man of Asian descent. His preference for charcoal-filtered Mild Sevens led me to believe he was from Japan. Amid the humming babble of the group he stood silently intense, breathing smoke in large doses. I don’t know if it was their samurai past, but there was a quiet authority I’d felt common between many of the Japanese I had met. A chill ran up my body, was something wrong? Instinct told me the plan had changed. The plan was elaborately dispatched- hidden in a public webspace. It was a tool used by my agency to communicate quickly with me. I logged on, oblivious to what I was to see next.
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