Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Postcard From The Edge

Two weeks away and it felt like the whole world should have changed; my mind almost refusing to accept that everything had stayed the same. I sat in my small apartment and stared at what was familiar and yet altogether foreign: my mail was still piled up on the bar, my bed was still unmade from my mad dash out the door, and the comfortable scent of sandalwood incense hung faintly in the air, yet I smelled only the jungle.

I sat back on my green velvet sofa and closed my eyes, running my hands over the soft fabric and imagining it was soil, dark and rich and slipping through my fingers as though through an hourglass. The cars moving past my windows sounded like the rush and pull of distant waves as they kissed and caressed the shore, calm and peaceful.

I had planned the trip for the sole purpose of escaping from my family, my friends, my job and everything else familiar; what I hadn’t recognized was that I was actually trying to escape from myself. I was bored with everything and everyone; the food held no taste, the sunshine no warmth and the world no joy for me. I’d travelled halfway around the world, but nowhere was far enough to get away from my own jaded heart.

For the first three days I hiked into the jungle, losing myself within the humidity and dark coolness of an alien world I’d never before imagined. Each day I walked further than the last until on the fourth day I emerged from the trees and found myself standing at the edge of a monolithic cliff.

Vines crept from the jungle and cascaded down the cliff face, the rich green leaves contrasting beautifully with the dark, almost black, stone. The vista my eyes beheld staggered me, and before my knees gave out under me I lowered myself to carefully sit on the edge of the cliff, my muddy boots dangling thousands of feet in the air.

Before me was a vast sea of green, foliage swelling with the rise and fall of the hills under their feet, the turquoise of the ocean sparkling just beyond and the azure of the mid-day sky crowning what was at that moment, the whole world to me. I was only faintly aware of the tears that slipped down my cheeks, I was wholeheartedly focused on what was being shared with me, and my apathy began to slip away in the wake of such splendor.

A large rough tongue suddenly licked my tears away and I turned my head to stare into the green eyes of a jaguar, but I couldn’t find my fear, instead I cocked my head to one side and smiled.

“Hi there.” My voice sounded strange amidst the jungle sounds around me, as did my laugh when the huge cat sat down beside me and cocked his head to one side. After sizing me up for a moment he laid down beside me, resting his head in my lap and allowing me to pet his ears.

I stayed all day, not moving from the precipice of my newfound joy until the sun began to sink into the ocean. My feline companion stayed with me all day and whimpered when I explained that I had to go but would be back.

I spent the rest of my stay at the cliff’s edge sitting, reading, napping or simply gazing and always my companion was with me, often just staring at me. As the sun set on us for the final time I penned a brief note on the back of a Wish You Were Here postcard I’d picked up at the airport. All I had been gifted with was expressed in one simple statement: “You are responsible for your own joy.” I addressed it to myself, my postcard from the edge, and with a kiss tossed it into the air for the universe to send whenever it felt like it, watching with a wide smile as it disappeared into the chasm below me.

At dawn I was awoken by the weight of a gaze; heavy and green and staring at me from the olive skinned face of a stranger who was perched on the edge of my cot. I didn’t move despite the sudden hammering of my heart in my chest, remaining as still as I could and simply staring back.

His black hair was shot through with tawny gold and hung to his waist like a satin curtain, beautifully showcasing the width of his smooth shoulders and expanse of his sculpted chest. My eyes couldn’t help but wander and I admired the rest of his angles before lifting my gaze again to stare into his eyes, strangely familiar eyes.

Wordlessly he bent down and brushed his lips across mine, soft as a rose petal, and I was overwhelmed with the need to be filled and enflamed by him. Hours later I awoke, blissfully sore and softly languid, feeling like water and light had simply been poured into my skin. I didn’t need to open my eyes to know he was gone; I sensed his absence and with a sigh tried to push aside my disappointment.

The journey home was long and noisy: cars, airports, airplanes, people, crying babies and machinery assaulted my ears and was almost painful. When I reached my door I had rushed inside, seeking refuge from the city sounds I’d been so oblivious to not two weeks before, and even the muted sounds that filtered through my walls were almost unbearable.

The soft knock on my door dragged me from my memories of the ocean, the jungle and my unknown lover. The familiar musky scent of his skin greeted me before my eyes could even verify it was indeed him, and with tears in my eyes I stood paralyzed with joy in the doorway. He smiled at me, his green eyes shining as he held up my postcard, “If I am responsible for my own joy, why then can I not find it without you?”

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When It Rains

The sound of footsteps on the floorboards above her head had Sasha’s nerves on the brink of a breakdown. She lay on her side on the dirt floor, curled into as tight a ball as she could manage, her eyes squeezed shut and flinching with each clomp of thick soled shoes.

It still wasn’t clear to her where she was or why she was there, the questions she’d been asked were confusing, and the pain her captors inflicted each time she said I don’t know in response had left her a bruised and bleeding wreck. How did she get from sipping a latte in her favorite corner coffee shop to a dark pit carved into the earth? The saying was, when it rains it pours, but this was a torrential downpour in her book.

Her captors were insisting she knew where the RFHC was, and they wouldn’t believe her when she denied knowing anything about it. From what she was able to glean based on their questions, it was some sort of prototype weapon and oh how she wished she did know where it was, not so she could give it to them, but so she could use it on them. Sasha had never had any violent tendencies in her life… until now.

Pale moonlight filtered down through the cracks between the boards, highlighting the dust that fell across Sasha’s battered body along with the silvery light. Tears leaked from her eyes and she wished there was a way to drown out the conversations above, the constant sound as brutal to her ears as the beatings were to the rest of her body.

Through the low din of the voices above Sasha’s ears picked up a patterned knocking: tap, taptap, tap. She sat up slowly, her muscles wincing in protest. Tap, taptap, tap. She looked around, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise, rising to her feet and walking stiffly from one side of her prison to the other, her head tilted toward the wooden planks overhead.

She followed the sound to its apparent origination point, peering up through the knothole and meeting the gaze of the man occupying the chair directly over her head. His hazel eyes were filled with an intense knowing look, and she watched as he again knocked his knuckles against the table: tap, taptap, tap.

With the fifth repetition of the pattern in her ears, a haze she hadn’t know was clouding her mind dissipated like coastal fog assaulted by sunlight, and a flood of memories poured forth, staggering her. Bracing herself against the dirt wall Sasha closed her eyes while her mind and body were filled. Knowledge, training and purpose poured into her every cell like a tidal pool fills with water; not gentle and easy, but with rushing swells, dangerous currents and swirling waves.

It was a full 20 minutes before Sasha felt like she could stand up again, her legs shaky and after a few deep breaths she again looked up through the knothole into now familiar hazel eyes: Kyle, her partner, mentor and lover. They had gone undercover together three years prior, him as a member of the terrorist splinter cell they were working to destroy, and her as a sleeper agent meant to confuse and frustrate them once captured. They were allowed to find small clues that led the them directly to her, but unbeknownst to them Sasha, when activated, was deadly and efficient.

With a fast and subtle movement Kyle bent over and dropped something through the floor, a rusted steel awl landing point down in the dirt. A slow smile spread across Sasha’s face as her muscle memory kicked in, her long fingers wrapping around the wooden handle just as Kyle suggested to Marco, the leader, that they interrogate the prisoner again.

Sasha sat down on the floor to wait, her back to the wall opposite where the trap door would open and the wooden stairs would be lowered, the awl hidden within her folded arms. The trap door opened and the watery light of dawn cascaded down the rickety steps that were lowered into the pit just before a pair of booted feet descended.

Dark eyes found her and without hesitation he made his way across the pit, grabbing her roughly by the arms and hauling her to her feet. In one swift motion Sasha drove the dull point of the awl into the corner of his eye and into his brain, dropping him wordlessly. Drawing the pistol from his holster she sat his body up and crouched behind it, waiting for someone to check on him.

His friends called to him and when no reply came, two of them ventured down the wooden stairs. Sasha didn’t understand what they were shouting in their foreign tongue when they took in the scene, she didn’t need to. Almost as if on auto pilot she used the dead body as a shield when the two men opened fire on her, shooting back until her borrowed gun clicked empty. Diving to the side she somersaulted and rolled to her feet, running at her captors and slitting one throat with the awl while redirecting the dying man’s gun and shooting his partner in the chest with it.

Both bodies dropped, wet gurgling sounds emanating from them as they tumbled down the stairs to bleed into the dirt. Creeping up the stairs Sasha’s blue eyes scanned the room, finding only bodies at Kyle’s feet, the long blade in his hand thick with blood.

Sasha reached up and took Kyle’s hand as he helped her from her prison, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him hard on the mouth; she felt their three years of waiting melt away, replaced by their immediate wanting of each other.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One Bullet Left

I crouched down behind a fallen tree, letting the thick branches shield me from the view of the searching soldiers. My right shoulder burned from the wound I’d received during my escape, the kiss of a 45 caliber round gaping like a mouth and still bleeding steadily despite my makeshift bandage. On the bright side, at least I hadn’t been showered with the same kind of affection in a more vital area.

My fingers were sticky with blood, which would have made clutching the 9mm I had stolen easier if it weren’t for the numbness that kept me from feeling the gun’s weight. Peeking through the tree’s branches I watched as the line of fanned out soldiers made their way through the underbrush, spread ten yards apart and scanning slowly and carefully.

Slipping back into the gradually thickening forest I picked my way around boulders, fallen trees and gullies, careful to employ all the evasive techniques I’d learned over my years as an assassin. This particular job had become a worst-case-scenario in every sense; being captured and tortured, but I had managed to escape and that is what I focused on.

Happening upon a small stream I walked through it, hoping to mask my scent in case they decided to set dogs after me. My mind whirled as I moved, trying to puzzle out how I was discovered, it had happened so quickly that I couldn’t help but think they knew my plan and knew exactly where I would be; someone had given me up, there was no other explanation. Only one person came to mind when I thought about who wanted me dead, and who had the resources to know every detail of the job: Victor.

Victor had been hounding me since I joined The Agency, always making passes, innuendos and even grabbing at my ass once or twice, which inevitably resulted in his arm bring broken; he was now very clear about my intensions where he was concerned. He was also the Agency’s chief tactician, he was the one who planned this job and I was willing to bet he was the one who set me up.

Putting the woods behind me I spent the next four hours making my way back to The Agency, and the closer I got to my goal the more furious I became; astounded and appalled that someone would let a refused proposition move them to murder. As I approached the non-descript entrance I was met with gunfire and I dove for cover behind the nearest car.

Again my skills kicked in and I made my way toward the door one body at a time, dropping nearly a dozen operatives before reaching the entrance. Marching down the long hallway, my laser-like gaze found Victor and I zeroed in on him, annoyed that he didn’t look more afraid to see me.

“Why?” I asked as I approached him, my gun raised, and all activity in the Com Room stopped, dozens of pairs of eyes locking on Victor and me.

He had the audacity to look condescending, arching one eyebrow at me and folding his arms as he perched on the edge of a desk. “You seem to be under the impression that you are indispensible,” he said evenly, “And you also seem to be under the impression you have control over what you do and don’t do.”

“You are not the messiah of The Agency, and I will not allow you to put my life at risk because of your bruised ego!” I dug into my pocket and withdrew a disc, flashing the shiny silver plastic at him, “And in case you have any notion of denying that you set me up, here is a recording of your call to Black Curtain giving them every detail of my mission.”

He had the good grace to go pale, his light blue eyes shifting nervously to the disc before coming back to lock with my own angry green stare.

“You won’t kill me, you can’t, there are no more bullets left in that gun. A 9mm holds ten rounds and you dropped ten men to get in here.”

I smiled at him, a most unpleasant smile and he shrank back involuntarily. “You’ve been out of the field too long, Victor. This is a Glock G19, it holds 15 rounds, there is more than one bullet left here for you.” And without hesitating I shot two rounds; head and heart.

Friday, June 4, 2010

You Can Never Be Too Rich, Too Handsome Or Too Well Armed

Lolita sat idly twirling a thick lock of hair around her fingers, the silken black strands contrasting with the creamy white of her skin. Her long stocking clad legs were propped up on the desk top, crossed at the ankle with elegant black heels masking the bright red of her freshly pedicured toenails.

Her milky décolleté swelled dangerously above the black satin corset that was laced up the back with cherry red ribbon, mirroring the red lacing on the sides of the matching panties and the red of her lipstick.

Jonathan walked through the arched door way, loosening his tie and frowning to himself as he walked, his hard soled shoes clomping against the hardwood floor until being muted by the thick area rug. His low mutters of frustration came to an abrupt halt when he looked up and his sky blue eyes landed on the woman occupying his leather office chair, and he stopped in his tracks.

“Bad day at the office?” Lolita asked, her voice a sultry purr.

Jonathan felt paralyzed as he fought to change mental gears from the horrendous challenges of the day to the supple flesh of his wife. She was a feast for his senses, both soothing and enflaming him simultaneously, and as a slow smile spread across his face he made his way toward her.

Rounding the end of his desk Jonathan dropped his suit coat over the back of a side chair before slowly approaching her. He touched her ankles, wrapping his long fingers around them and lifting them off the desk as he sank to his knees in front of her. Setting her feet on the floor he slid his hands over the curve of her calves, across the backs of her knees and up her thighs before clutching her hips and pulling her against him.

Lolita wrapped her arms around Jonathan’s broad shoulders and pressed herself against him, locking her legs around his hips as she claimed his mouth. He smelled of vanilla and honey, and tasted of sunshine and rain, an intoxicating blend that never ceased to assault and overwhelm her, leaving her ready to do anything he asked.

Jonathan lifted her up, his arms locked around her and his mouth never stopping its ravenous journey along her neck, across her chest and over her shoulders as he carried her to the large rug before the marble fireplace. They both knelt on the thick carpet and Jonathan pulled at the corset laces that were preventing him from touching more of her skin, his fingers impatient.

Gunfire erupted from the hall and they both spun, diving for cover and Jonathan pulled his 9mm from his belt holster. Moving from cover to cover in a crouch, Jonathan made his way toward the doorway, his eyes scanning for the source of the disruption. Catching movement to his left he dove through the door and somersaulted across the hall, coming up behind a wide table that served as cover.

Lolita rose to her feet and walked across the room, stepping into the hallway and gaining the attention of the intruder. She sauntered toward him, her hips swaying enticingly and the man’s eyes were drawn down to the swell of her breasts, giving her the time she needed to get close to him.

With the speed of a snake she struck, the heel of her hand connecting with his chest with enough force to rupture his heart, and she stared wordlessly as she watched him drop to the floor, bleeding from the ears, nose and eyes.

Jonathan’s eyes watched her as he holstered his gun, watching warily as Lolita walked toward him like a predator.

“Any idea who that was?” she asked as he wrapped one arm around her waist and pulled her abruptly against his chest.

“Yeah, that’s the man who has been trying to take over the family business. He was pretty insistent I sell, threatened to kill you if I didn’t.”

Lolita smiled at him as she slowly began unbuttoning his shirt, dragging her nails across his skin. Jonathan captured her wrists and held her arms out to the sides, his gaze intensely admiring them, “You know the saying don’t you?” he asked, turning her and pressing her back to the wall with his own body weight, “You can never be too rich, too handsome or too well armed, and you my dear are a triple threat.”

He slipped his hands under the edge of her panties, touching her lightly and smiling when she gripped his hand and pressed it firmly against her heat. “Now,” he whispered, “Where were we?”