This is is my first entry for the August 2019 Blog Battle. The challenge is to deliver a piece of fiction in 1000 words featuring the word/concept of an “Intercept”. Rotating the genre’s a bit, as this one is more a thriller. Enjoy!
The apartment was sparse. Scratches in the hardwood floor a testament to furniture long gone. A fine layer of dust covered everything. His footsteps kicked it up into the bright morning sunlight that streamed through the window.
He checked his watch. It was time. Brushing the dust from the phone, he picked up the receiver and dialled the number he’d been given.
“I’m sorry; the number you have reached is not in service or is temporarily disconnected.” he placed the receiver back down and pulled the fountain pen from his pocket. Hard to believe it was his lifeline to a new life. But only if he could get it in the right hands, he reminded himself.
The phone rang, almost deafening it echoed around the empty room. He snatched up the receiver.
“What do you need?” a voice said on the other end.
“I have the package. I need a pickup” he held the pen to the light, the dark gold/red nib glinted in the light.
There was a pause before, “The corner of 51st & 9th in 15 minutes,” the curt voice said.
“Understood” he confirmed. The line went dead.
Two minutes later, he stepped out into the busy tree-lined avenue. Lighting a cigarette he paused to take in the scene. It’s not paranoia when you know you’re being followed he thought. His eyes scanned the street for anything out of place. Kids were playing noisily in the park opposite. A dozen people went about their business, a couple laughing and joking as they went past. It seemed like any other Saturday morning and maybe it would be except for the package. His hand instinctively tapped the pen, heavy in his jacket pocket.
The pickup was only a few hundred yards away, it should be easy. He knew better. Nothing so far had been easy. He would need to keep his wits about him, he can’t afford to screwup when he was so close. He took a long drag on his cigarette and started for the corner.
It took only a few minutes to reach the newspaper kiosk. A good opportunity to stop and check the rendezvous without creating suspicion. He bought a paper and positioned himself where he could see the corner, an ideal spot to watch the world come and go.
Standing there pretending to read the paper, it didn’t take long to spot them. Two men amongst the throng that seemed to be lingering. Occasionally they would look back up the avenue, clearly waiting for someone. He had a fair idea who. One was on a mobile, probably receiving instructions. Who was he was talking to? Who had put them on his tail? The two men made eye contact and there it was a nod, damn they were definitely working together.
He was in trouble. The car would be here in a minute and this was his last chance. His future depended on making it to that car. He’d had to make it whatever the cost. He took another drag on his cigarette, placed the paper under his arm and set off back up the street. Entering the park, he threw his paper into the nearest trashcan.
He needed a diversion and it only took a few seconds for the smouldering cigarette to set the paper alight. Within a minute the smoke billowed, an acrid smell hinting that more than the paper was alight. A scream echoed out. One of the kids was pointing from the top of a slide. The other kids panicked and within seconds the playground descended into a cacophony of screams. Parents rushed past him. One almost knocked him to the ground in the stampede, desperate to get back to her child.
He ducked out of the park unseen and made his way carefully back to the kiosk. Taking a moment he bought a pack of gum, trying to blend back in. The chaos and noise rippled out of the park, pulling in more bystanders intrigued to discover the cause of the noise and commotion. He chewed down on a stick of the gum and watched as the two men made their next move. Towards the park. He breathed a sigh of relief, it was going to work.
At that moment he saw the car swing around the corner. He didn’t need a second chance. In heartbeat he was in the back seat, screeching tyres pushed him into the luxurious rich leather. He had made it!
The car drove rapidly around the block, until, with a screech of tyres it stopped abruptly.
“Well done Agent Welles” his supervisor smiled, “You had two minutes to spare, impressive”.
“Thank you Sir!” said Welles, his adrenalin still coursing. He had made it, finally, the promotion would be his.
“I’m afraid there’s a just one problem,” his supervisor said opening the passenger door.
His heart skipped a beat as a smartly dressed woman leaned down, her hair falling across her face.
“Agent Valli will explain,” said his supervisor, slipping out of the car.
Agent Valli pulled out a notebook and hastily scribbled a note. Folding it, she handed it to him with a smile, before slamming the car door closed. The car pulled off as abruptly as it had stopped.
Welles unfolded the note with a rising sense of dread. Written in spidery red writing:
Intercept Fail (2/10)
My Office, Rm 224
How? Had he not got to the rendezvous point unnoticed? Had he not secured the package?
His hand instinctively reached for the pen in his empty jacket pocket. With a gasp, he swallowed his gum.
Cover image courtesy of Trey Gibson