You’re sitting at a café when a stranger approaches you. This person asks what your name is, and, for some reason, you reply. The stranger nods, “I’ve been looking for you.” What happens next?
Rebecca was just sitting there minding her own business. She enjoyed her Sunday morning ritual… a well-deserved sleep in, followed by getting up and putting on a load of washing and then getting dressed and heading down to her local cafe for a late breakfast.
She enjoyed doing this because she knew her washing would take just under two-hours to complete, but she could barely concentrate when it got to the spin cycle, as the washing machine would start dancing across the floor, and vibrating so loudly. It was unbearable.
This particular sunday, was the second week of spring, and the sun was out. Rebecca had missed feeling the sunshine on her skin, and as she walked out on her balcony after she woke, she knew it was going to be a great day. People were already out playing with their kids in the nearby park; several people were out mowing their lawns – the smell of petrol and cut grass wafting through the air. It was that distinct smell of spring that she had looked forward to for so many months.
Rebecca had a quick shower to wake herself up, slipped on a singlet top and some shorts, and a pair of thongs; her pale-white skin on display for all to see. She wasn’t going to let such fantastic weather pass her by, and had planned to stop by the park on her way home and sit in the sun and read her book for a little bit; get a bit of Vitamin D onto her skin.
She took her regular seat at the cafe, sliding the ‘RESERVED’ sign across the wooden bench to the side. As she took a sip of water, one of the staff approached her, asking her for ‘the usual’ to which she grinned excitedly and nodded. Soon afterwards, her giant coffee was sitting in front of her steaming, as she began to flick through the daily Sunday paper.
She was about a third of her way through her coffee, when a waitress came by, placing a knife and fork in front of her. ‘That was quick!’, she said as she leant back, making room for the giant plate that followed. ‘Thankyou! This looks delicious!’, she said, leaning back in to get a closer look at the food that had been placed in front of her.
It was a large round, black matte plate, and in the centre was some thick-cut, well-toasted freshly-made multi grain bread, smothered with an avocado and fetta smash, which was topped with a giant mound of light, fluffy, golden scrambled eggs, some rolled up pieces of smoked salmon, and then garnished with cracked black pepper and some fresh parsley. This was Rebecca’s favourite breakfast to eat whenever she ate out, and it was the only breakfast she ate at this cafe. She said it reminded her of her dad, who would always cook this for the family on a Sunday morning when she was a child.
She missed those days, and decided to relive the tradition again as an adult. Hence the waitress asking if she wanted ‘the usual’.
Rebecca moved her plate to the side, and folded the paper over to continue reading her article, when another woman sat down right next to her. Without looking up, Rebecca noticed this woman right next to her, in her peripheral vision. She was instantly annoyed. She knew that there were still plenty of other seats in this cafe, and she was surprised that somebody would go out of their way to sit next to a stranger. She exhaled loudly through her nostrils and continued to chew her mouthful of egg, avocado and toast, and continued to read her article.
As she continued to ignore the woman beside her, she also noticed that this woman wasn’t moving. She didn’t have a menu, and she hadn’t spoken to a waitress either. Rebecca rolled her eyes, and turned her head to quickly glance at the woman. She smiled awkardly, and returned to her breakfast and paper. She felt quite uncomfortable, as she now realised just how close this stranger was sitting to her. She was far too close for comfort; intruding on her space, as as Rebecca was sitting next to a wall, she began feeling quite oppressed and claustrophobic.
Rebecca swallowed her mouthful of food, and grabbed her coffee, as she took a sip, the woman next to her said, ‘Hi, what’s your name?’ Ignoring her, she assumed she was talking to a waitress, and continued to drink her coffee. Then she tapped Rebecca on the shoulder, ‘Hi, what’s your name? I’m Hannah.’
‘Hi Hannah. My name is Please-Leave-Me-Alone-I’m-Trying-To-Eat-Breakfast!’, Rebecca snapped. She glared at Hannah, who was taken aback, as Rebecca turned her back slightly towards Hannah, to continue drinking her coffee.
‘I told you, I’m trying to eat breakfast! Please leave me alone. I’m not interested in speaking to you!’. Rebecca began to raise her voice, drawing attention from the other patrons in the cafe.
‘I heard you, but I was merely politely waiting for you to finish your breakfast Rebecca. There’s no need for your rude, anti-social behaviour. Now, we can either do this calmly and casually, or we can create a scene…’
Rebecca stopped reading her paper and sat upright, still facing away from Hannah. ‘How did you know my name?’, she asked quietly.
Hannah let out a small smug chuckle, ‘Oh, honey, I know all there is to know about you. And we need to talk. I suggest getting that coffee and coming with me.’
‘Look, I don’t know who you are, or who you think you are, but I’m not going anywhere with you. I don’t know what you’re selling, but I’m not interested in it.’
‘Is that so… well, I’ll take that as you want to do things the hard way then. Shame really, I thought you might like to see your son again…?’ Rebecca turned her head to look at Hannah. As she turned, Hannah sprayed her face with a light mist, and Rebecca began to feel instantly sleepy.
‘What… the… fuuu….’, and collapsed onto the table.
Hannah replaced the cap on the small spray bottle, ‘It’s a knockout gas, bitch!’ and as she stood up, two large men in police uniforms appeared behind Rebecca to carry her out of the cafe into a waiting Police van. Hannah went over to the barista to pay for Rebecca’s meal, and ordered two large take away coffees.
A short while later, Rebecca began to wake up. Whilst her vision was still blurry, she was surrounded by darkness. There was dampness in the air, and she was sitting in a cold, metal chair. Her hands were bound to the arm rests, as were her feet. She had a gag in her mouth, and a blindfold covered her eyes.
Rebecca tried screaming, but it was of no use, only a feint, muffled sound came from her body. She struggled and wriggled in an attempt to loosen her ties, but it was of no use. She heard some footsteps coming towards her. As they got louder and closer, she heard somebody exhale, not too far in front of her.
‘Tsk tsk tsk… I gave you a chance, but you clearly wanted to do things the hard way. If you had’ve just cooperated in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this situation, now, would we?’ That voice! It was Hannah. ‘I tried to keep things calm and civil, but you weren’t having it. In fact, you were actually quite rude, and there was really no need for it. Now, Ms Sayers, if you’re able to promise me you’ll play nice, then I’ll consider removing your gag. Now, if I remove your gag, do you promise not to scream?’
Rebecca’s nostrils flared, and she nodded her head. She stopped quite abruptly when she heard what sounded like a gun being loaded. ‘Because I’d hate to have to use this if you decided to scream!’, and she pressed the barrel of the gun against the back of Rebecca’s head. Rebecca whimpered in fear, and went quiet.
Hannah slowly undid Rebecca’s mouth gag, throwing it onto the ground. Rebecca gasped for air, reveling in the abundance of oxygen she was now getting.
‘Who are you? What do you want with me? Whilst she still couldn’t see anything, she began to try listening to any other sounds around her. From what she could tell, it was only herself and Hannah wherever they were.
‘Who I am, is of no importance. It is you, howeve, we are more interested in. For you seem to be a bit of an asset that hasn’t been in play for quite some time, and my client believes that it’s time for you to come out retirement!’
‘I… I don’t understand. What are you talking about? You’ve got me mistaken with somebody else! I don’t know what you’re talking about!’
‘You put on quite a good act, it’s almost believable. Almost. But you don’t fool me. I’ve read your file. I know exactly who you are!’
‘I guarantee you, you’ve made a huge mistake! I… I….’
‘Oh save it. We know everything. We know all about Moscow. And Berlin’, Hannah began throwing open files onto the table in front of Rebecca, ‘We know about what happened in Denmark as well – although I don’t quite know how you managed to bungle that one up, it looked like a pretty simple in-and-out operation.’
Rebecca stared at the files in front of her, examining reports and various photographs, ‘I’m telling you, you’ve got the wrong person. I’ve never been to ANY of those countries, I’ve never even been out of THIS country. You’ve got the wrong person, I’m telling you…’
Hannah turned away whilst Rebecca pleaded, ‘I wonder if your son knows what his mummy does for a living? I wonder if he knows that she’s not dead?’
Rebecca went silent, her eyes widened, ‘Wh… what did you say?’
‘We know about your son, Ms Sayers. We know everything.‘
Rebecca had put all of this behind her. She tried so hard to forget it all and get on with her life, and she had made it so far. Until today. ‘What… um… what do you know about my son?’
‘Oh, so now I’ve got your attention, have I? Well, this is where we get to play a little game, it’s called ‘You-give-me-information-and-I-give-you-information’. How does that sound? But first, you need to start talking. We need information about…’
‘My son… what do you know about my son?’
‘I’ve told you, you need to cooperate and tell us what we need to know, and then we’ll be able to give you information regarding your son.’
‘YOU BITCH!! I SWEAR TO GOD… IF YOU’VE HURT MY SON… I’LL…’
‘You’ll what, exactly? You’re tied to a chair in an undisclosed location.You’re in no position to be making threats. All you need to know is that he is okay. He’s been put in protective custody… with the FBI.’
‘WHAT? WHY DO THE FBI HAVE HIM? IS HE OKAY? I NEED TO KNOW HE’S OKAY!!’
‘Look, Rebecca, can I call you Rebecca? He’s okay. He was taken into custody purely for leverage should you choose not to cooperate with either us or them. Although, I’m sure you can forgive my questioning you as to why you suddenly seem to be so concerned for his welfare now?’
Rebecca sat there in silence, her nostrils flared and he lips grew tense, ‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Well, I mean it’s just interesting that after all these years of trying to deny his existence, and trying to forget about him with all your counselling and psychology appointments, not to mention the countless hypnotherapy treatments you’ve had, which, clearly didn’t work, you suddenly feel so emotional and protective of him. I mean, let’s face it, you abandoned him from the beginning and then spent the past seventeen years trying to forget him. Trying to forget what happened. Trying to forget him. Trying to forget that he was the product of the moment YOU DECIDED TO BETRAY YOUR COUNTRY AND SLEEP WITH YOUR TARGET!!’, Hannah slammed her hands on the desk, ‘NOW I SUGGEST YOU START FUCKING TALKING!’
Tears had begun rolling down Rebecca’s cheeks as she recalled all the efforts that she had gone to to try and forget about her son, but no matter how hard she tried, there was a small piece of her that could never forget. She would forever remember that she had a son; she would forever feel as though a piece of her was missing; she would forever know that he was born out of shame and betrayal. Rebecca had thought that if she could forget about the past, try and erase it from her memory, that she would live in happiness… but it was never meant to be.
She watched her tears fall onto the files on the table, and exhaled loudly, ‘You’re right. You’re completely right. I did betray my country. I let my heart interfere with my mission, and I paid the price. I tried to forget it, because I’m so full of shame and guilt about what I did, that’s why I got out of the business. I moved on with my life, I spent so much time and money TRYING to forget all the shit that I’ve experienced. TRYING to forget the countless bullets that have been fired, the people that have been killed, all at my own hand. Then there was Ethan… and he… well… we all know how that played out.’
Rebecca took a moment to catch her breath, ‘I just thought that it was all behind me. I try not to think about him, I know he’s out there. I sometimes want to go searching for him, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m so overwhelmed with guilt… I… I… I just don’t want him to end up paying for what I’ve done. He’s not involved in anyway, he needs to be let go, I’ll cooperate. I’ll tell you whatever you need to know, just promise me that he’ll be released and left alone. He doesn’t need to be held or questioned. He knows nothing.’
Hannah and Rebecca stared at each other in total silence for a few moments, before Hannah pulled out her phone and dialed a number. She held the phone to her ear, ‘Who are you calling?‘
‘Somebody from the FBI. I want to know the location of your son, so we can arrange to release him from custody once you and I are finished here.’
‘Hang up the phone!‘, Rebecca interjected
‘I said hang up the phone. I know to contact. Given the number you just dialled, we’re clearly still in the country, and he’ll be on the next flight here. He’s the only one I trust to interrogate me. You want answers, I’ll give them to him, and only him!‘
‘Look, you’re not really in a position to…’
‘I said I’d cooperate, I just didn’t specify it would be with you… I don’t know who you are or who you work for, and it’s not CIA OR FBI, so you’re clearly separate… And I’ll only talk to somebody I trust. It’s up to you.‘
‘I’m listening’, Hannah queried.
‘His name is Bennett. Peter Bennett. Last I heard he was still with the Bureau?’
‘Sorry, did you say Peter Bennett? As in FBI DIRECTOR BENNETT??’, Hannah felt quite shocked by this revelation, catching her quite off-guard.
‘I’m going to recite a number. I want you to enter it directly as I give it to you. You will place the call on loudspeaker on the table and wait until I give you further instruction… Do I make myself clear?‘. Rebecca recited a number which was nineteen digits long, and Hannah dialled accordingly, the line rang twice, and she placed the phone on the table in front of Rebecca.
An computerised voice broke the silence, ‘Authentication required’
Rebecca leant forward, speaking slowly and clearly towards the handset, ‘ID four-five-gamma-six-sierra-two-eight-halo-five-five-alpha‘, and sat back to wait. After a couple of beeps on the line, she heard a voice, ‘Line is secure, Bennett speaking’. Rebecca exhaled with a smile on her face. It was a voice she had almost completely forgotten.
‘Who is this? How did you get Alpha-access to a secure line at the FBI?’
‘Pete, it’s me, Rebecca…’
‘Rebecca…? Is that really you?’ Where are you? Are you okay?’
‘Pete, I’m gonna need to call in a favour… I’ve been detained by somebody called Hannah. She’s not Government. She’s something off the books. She knows who you are though. She’s demanding answers and says FBI have my son! I’m happy to cooperate, but I’ll only talk to you!’
‘Is she there?’
‘Yeah, she right here, you’re on speaker’.
‘Hannah, is it? Identify!’
‘Sir, yes sir. Hannah Blacklaw. Level 6. Badge Sierra-Charlie-six-four-seven-seven-bravo-eight-three-bravo-niner. Confirm’.
‘Confirmed. Hmmm I see. So you’re part of Hill’s little crew. Off-the-books. Covert. Dangerous. Bec, you were right not to trust her. But tell me Agent Blacklaw, what does Hill want with Rebecca?’
‘She has information Sir. Information that is sensitive to National Security.’
‘Yet, so sensitive that I’m not aware of it! Outstanding. Well, bout time we have a chat, a team has already been dispatched to your location. We’re bringing you in Agent Blacklaw, I have a few questions for you. As for you Bec, sit tight, I’ll see you soon!’
‘Thanks Pete! I knew I could count on you!’
‘Don’t mention it!’
Hannah grabbed the phone, her face was flush and she had sweat on her brow and upper lip, ‘I don’t know who you are, or how you did that, but you’re clearly not being honest with me!’.
Rebecca leant back in her chair, ‘There’s a lot that you don’t know about me; a lot that certainly isn’t going to be found in any of your files; and a lot that you perhaps will never truly understand, but that’s okay, your security clearance will keep most of it out of your hands.’ Rebecca stood up out of her chair, rubbing her wrists as her restraints fell to the ground, ‘Just a tip, you should always read the notes in somebody’s file before you apprehend them… if you did, then you’d realise that I can get out of pretty much all restraints..‘
‘How did you…’ Hannah stood there gawking, resting her hand on her gun holster as a precaution.
‘Oh, please, there’s no need to resort to that. If I wanted to escape, I would’ve done so already. If I wanted to kill you, you’d have been dead a while ago, so instead, you’re going to move your hand away from your gun, you’re going to fit me with your standard-issue handcuffs, and you’re going to march me out of this building to the FBI team that are approaching from the…. east, I think,‘ Rebecca cocked her head to the side, ‘yeah, pretty sure it’s the east. Perhaps only a few blocks out. I’m guessing we’re about only two or three stories underground?’
Hannah’s eyes widened, and jaw dropped. She was completely astounded. ‘How… how…’
‘I told you, you should’ve read my file! Right, shall we go. You’ll probably get a big shiny medal or something for bringing me in, even though you and I and FBI Director Bennett all know you actually got played, but we’ll just keep that between ourselves, shall we?’
Hannah, still speechless, led Rebecca through the dark corridors of the building up to the FBI team that had arrived on the street level. She had been completely played, and didn’t even realise it. She felt so foolish for not doing her research, but she had learnt a very important lesson. As Hannah opened the doors, the sun was blinding, and as she shielded her eyes, she began to make out the kind of ‘team’ that Bennett had sent… four SUV’s full of agents, two helicopters with sniper rifles.
A very official looking fellow began walking towards Hannah and Rebecca, ‘DOUGLAS?’, Rebecca squealed. Hannah rolled her eyes, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’
‘Rebecca, is that you?’ Douglas called out, ‘Well, now I know why Bennett asked me personally to handle this!’. He walked up to Rebecca and kissed her on both cheeks, ‘He said that it was a simple in and out rescue job. Precious cargo. Hehehe, precious cargo, yeah right!’ Douglas looked over at Hannah, standing just behind Rebecca, ‘You’ll probably score yourself a promotion for this one, Missy. Great work! I’ll take it from here.’
Hannah rolled her eyes and shook her head in disbelief at the entire situation.
Douglas lead Rebecca over to one of the SUV’s, and went to unlock her handcuffs, but Rebecca flicked her wrists and presented the handcuffs in her palm, with a smile on her face. ‘Newbie back there didn’t do her homework!‘
Douglas looked at the handcuffs and then back over to Hannah and grinned, ‘Oh, she’s green, give her a break!’, and guided Rebecca into the SUV.