Presenting the latest installment of Ageless!
By James R. Colbert Jr. and David R. Smith
Book One: Lazarus
Between noon and one o’clock, the rubbish-lined streets swarmed with people. Lucy chose, this time, the busiest part of the day, to make contact. After selecting a crowded part of the makeshift market, she accessed the pre-programmed line and stood in the cold holding one hand up to her left ear pretending as though she were attempted to satisfy a nasty itch. Beforehand she deliberately disabled the holographic imaging system in the small electronic device, opting for just audio transfer to make the call. Regardless of the fact that she alone could see the images played out across her eyes, Lucy felt that her vision might best be used to watch for any unwanted observers. That, and despite the tattered clothing and seedy appearance she now donned, Lucy knew from experience even the smallest inconsistency in behavior could be enough to have her recognized as a government operative. This was a chance she was unwilling to take.
The contact service was not new to her. On nearly every mission Lucy had been on it was used as a means to acquire further instructions. Cautiously, at the sound of the prompt, she gave the password, looking around the marketplace first to be certain that no one was watching. The last thing Lucy needed was for someone to see her appear to be talking with an invisible person in a crowded public place. Almost instantly she was connected with a satellite agent on the other end of the line.
“Listen, but don’t speak,” the agent’s gruff voice echoed in her ear. The sound seemed so loud that Lucy glanced around once again just to be certain no one else had heard. Nobody was paying any attention to her. Shoppers wandered among the horse-drawn carts of produce and handcrafted wares, going about their daily business as usual. “Cough if you acknowledge,” the voice ordered, and then there was a moment of silence.
Lucy placed one hand to her mouth and coughed quietly. In her head, she could picture the agent’s face staring down at her hard with unquestioned authority. And then he spoke again. “Good. Now we may continue.”
She did not recognize the satellite agent’s voice and considered that he must be new personnel. “Big turnovers, these days,” Lucy thought. But that, she knew, wasn’t an effect of people quitting. Agents and operatives held their positions for life, and there was no exception to that rule. If one were replaced it was the result of a ‘failure to comply’ situation – which, needless to say, implied disciplinary actions that Lucy did not want to think about. Tensely, she again coughed.
“At this time, you should have already reached your final destination and acquired the tools needed for the completion of a successful mission.” The voice spoke with command authority. “And, as you are aware, the role you will be playing is that of an out of work electrician making your way up north in hopes of finding permanent employment.” The receiver was put down and the muffled sound of footsteps came to Lucy’s ear. It was then followed by a short burst of stifled speech and the quick slam of a door being hastily shut. The satellite agent then returned. “As I was saying,” he said hoarsely and then continued.
“The town you are in utilizes a nearby park as a marketplace,” the voice said. “Here, people are able to buy, trade, and seek employment on a regular basis – as need dictates.” Lucy surveyed her current surroundings. “No shit,” she thought, considering how the voice at the other end of the line had no idea she was at that very moment standing in the middle of the place just described. For all he knew, as they spoke Lucy was standing on a dirt road somewhere far removed from the park and its inhabitants. His not knowing her current location made her feel a bit more at ease.
“Acknowledge,” the Agent said curtly. Lucy coughed.
“It is there that you will find a local trader by the name of Darin West. Not only is West considered to have pertinent information regarding the whereabouts of Dr. Lyle Eugene Stewart and access to his person, but it is also believed that he has gained the doctor’s trust and holds knowledge of certain aspects of his most personal life.” The voice paused for a moment, possibly attempting to place greater emphasis this last statement, and then continued. “Your objective is to approach Mr. West under the pretense of employment and through him gain access to your primary target. Again, acknowledge.”
Lucy coughed slightly.
After a short pause, the voice continued.
“Darin West may be identified in two ways. First: he is known to wear a large brightly colored hat. And second: he is missing one eye.”
This time, Lucy coughed without having to be ordered to.
“Until either positive identification of your primary target has been established or events are arranged with the potential of leading to your primary target all further communication is to be discontinued.” Lucy coughed in agreement. “Must I educate you on ‘failure to comply?’” the voice questioned.
Lucy quickly coughed.
“Good. Miss Haverling, you may now return to your mission.”
Lucy ended the transmission with a touch to her left ear and instantly headed for the park square. In moments she found herself pushing through a dense pack of people crammed into a disjointed and hastily prepared bazaar of various food and supplies. She knew no one would notice her there, but she was also well aware that finding the one eyed man with the brightly colored hat could be difficult. After about three and a half hours of waiting, he finally arrived. Now all Lucy must just get him to believe she was who she was not.
*Copyright 2016, House of Darkness Publishing, All Rights Reserved