Hope and love grows in a place that lacks both – 01

Author’s Note: This story is a story of hope. Every effort has been made to not make political statements or offend anyone.


Emilia Joseph moved through the bazaar in Cairo feigning the stunned and rather vapid look of a western tourist. The myriad of sound and color had long ago lost its ability to mesmerize her. She dodged merchants hawking their wares, women in traditional dress shopping, and tourists, with an almost unconscious ease.

Emilia wore jeans and a conservative top, along with a baseball cap. Her long blonde hair was done up in a ponytail, and the expensive camera bounced at the end of its straps with each stride. The man walking next to her was slightly shorter than her six feet and was darkly handsome in his Hawaiian shirt and shorts. They looked like any western tourists, stopping often to examine the wares and occasionally arguing loudly in English with a vendor over a price.

Ruby was totally at ease, but Emilia was nervous. The cover of American tourists worked best, but with the state of politics in the Middle East, it was inherently dangerous to masquerade as Americans. From her point of view, it was doubly dangerous, because they could very easily end up in trouble that had nothing to do with The Jackal and his militants.

Ruby was a good agent, but he was careless sometimes, especially when it came to the ladies. While he assured her that he hadn’t said or done anything to blow their cover last night, Emilia was extra wary as they moved around today, keeping an eye on their only link to the terrorist cell, a thin Palestinian called Ahmed.

“Stop worrying,” her partner whispered. “You’re too tense, too watchful. Americans don’t act like this.”

“Nor do they cry out in Yiddish when they cum,” Emilia shot back.

“A regrettable mistake, but come now. The girl was a German tourist, not an Egyptian whore,” he said with irritating smugness.

“I don’t like this place. There are too many eyes on me,” she said sullenly.

“Oh no! Blonde hair, tits like ripe melons, legs up to your ass… There are always eyes upon you, Emilia.”

She was covertly watching a short man who was staring at her from under his long lashes. She could feel his hatred for her, as if it were a physical blow.

“The blonde hair was not my idea, as you well know. When the eyes are sizing me up for a potential roll in the hay, it’s one thing. That is not the feeling I get now,” she whispered urgently.

“Pah, I could make a small fortune pimping you to these animals. Your problem is you haven’t had a man in your bed in too long. Why I… He’s moving.”

The words were spoken softly, but the hard edge let her know exactly whom it was. Emilia turned and moved purposefully towards the alley where their man had just ducked out of sight. Ruby was two steps ahead of her, and only that saved her life.

As she rounded the corner, a wave of intense heat and a violent shockwave threw her to the ground. Ruby didn’t even have time to blink as the car exploded, sending thousands of shards of glass and bits of metal into his body. Emilia caught some fragments in her arms, but she was spared the full blast of the explosion. People were screaming, running in all directions and diving for cover. An ambulance pulled up and two men leapt out, ignored the several bystanders who were down, and none too gently placed Emilia on a stretcher.

Her mind was foggy and she was disoriented, but she knew something was wrong. Once inside the ambulance, she realized it was just a panel-van with no medical equipment of any kind. She started to rise, but a foot slammed into her chest and forced her back down.

The man who had been staring at her with such malevolence suddenly appeared in her vision. He jabbed a hypodermic needle into her arm and, within moments, the world began to spin. Emilia lashed out and broke the leg of the man who was standing on her chest, using her elbow as she had been taught. She actually made it to her feet, before the drug sent her conscious mind spiraling into darkness.

Emilia came as the muezzin called worshipers to the evening prayer. She was staring up at a cracked plaster ceiling and, for a while, she just followed the lines with her eyes. She tried to move, but found she was restrained in some manner. Looking down she saw that she was naked, and that her legs were tied securely to the foot of the small bed where she was lying.

“So you awake at last,” a pleasantly modulated feminine voice called with a slight accent. “I’ve been worried that Ali might have overdosed you.”

“Where am I?” Emilia managed. Her mouth felt sticky and the words sounded thick to her ears.

“That isn’t important. What is important is that you realize you are totally helpless and your life hangs by a thread.”

Emilia heard the steel in those words. This wasn’t someone playing games. She realized she was in real trouble and gathered herself before responding.

“You can’t do this to me! I’m an American citizen! I demand…”

“Enough!” the woman shouted as she stepped into Emilia’s field of vision. “Do you take me for a fool? You are an agent of the Mossad, and you are my prisoner. If you were really Angelina Johnson of Peoria, Illinois, as your papers say, you would be less than useless to me. Think carefully before you speak again, we are both playing a dangerous game, and time is running against us.”

“Very well. What do you want?” Emilia said quietly. This was no ordinary woman, and the light in her eyes convinced the tall woman that she wasn’t one to be gainsaid.

“First, you will show me how to operate the transmitter in this camera. Then you will call in and report that you are all right.”

“Very well,” Emilia responded, “but you will have to let me use my hands to work it.”

The woman, who now came fully into her view, was very short, and even in the concealing clothes she wore, it was obvious she was very slight. Her long dress was dark, long-sleeved, and covered her to the ankles. She wore a hijab and a yashmak that concealed her face. Emilia relaxed and waited, she was certain she could take this one, once her hands were free. The woman stepped to the head of the bed and pulled hard on the ropes, then stepped away quickly.

“The knot is undone; you may free your hands.”

Emilia cursed inwardly, but freed her hands and sat up. She rubbed her wrists and glanced at the many scratches and cuts. They had been treated and that gave her some hope.

The woman tossed the camera in her lap. When Emilia looked up, she was staring down the barrel of a large caliber pistol.

“It occurs to me that you might think I’m stupid, simply because I’m Palestinian, as our last prisoner did. I assure you I am not and I know that you have not only a panic button on that device, but a coded phrase to signal an agent in trouble. Should I even suspect you have used either one, I will ruin that beautiful bust and be gone long before anyone arrives to cart your carcass off to the morgue. Think carefully.”

Emilia looked at her and nodded grimly. She carefully deployed the small antenna and depressed the shutter button, careful to stay away from the auto-feed button, which would send out the panic signal.

“All is quiet along the Nile,” she said as she depressed the transmit button. When she let it off, the voice of Ariel Began, her section chief, came in return.

“Understood. Are the children all right?”

“They are fine.”

Emilia looked up at the woman who still eyed her suspiciously.

“It’s done.”

The woman slowly lowered the pistol and nodded.

“Place the camera on the floor, and put your hands back in the loops.”

When Emilia complied, the woman moved carefully around to the head of the bed and re-secured her wrists. She then tossed a thin blanket over Emilia’s body and whistled loudly. A thick man with wild black hair and even wilder eyes came through the door.

Almost instantly, the two began arguing in an urban Palestinian dialect. Emilia understood the language, but they were speaking too quickly and her mind was still foggy. What she did catch left her mind reeling. This woman was the most wanted terrorist of all. She was The Jackal!

The argument grew in volume and ferocity, until the man drew back his hand, as if to slap the small woman. Before he could move, the large pistol appeared as if by magic, its barrel resting right between his eyes. He gave Emilia a hate filled glance and stormed out of the room.

The small woman closed the door and sighed. With that sigh, she seemed to diminish again, becoming nondescript and non-threatening, but Emilia had seen differently and would never underestimate her.

“I take it that someone thinks I would be better off dead,” she said after a long silence.

The woman glanced at her, and then moved to the small window and leaned on the sill, looking out at Emilia who did not know what. It was too painful to keep her neck craned, so Emilia relaxed, staring up again at the ceiling.

Hope and love grows in a place that lacks both – 01 will continue in the next page.

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