THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 12
… It is an unseemly ghetto where even the native rats must feel trapped, with no way out…
“Our alliance with Korea is essential to the success of our goal,” the Sheikh reminds the man, an arm’s length away, at the same time speaking for the other person along for the ride, who has been uncomfortably silent to this point.
“Our satellite is safe and ready to take out the eavesdropping satellite network that has invaded the business of our great alliance!”
“Allah is counting on you Afridi. There are many other scientists who would cherish the opportunity you have.” Nutkani sounds like the quasi-benevolent benefactor who is expecting results. “I trust your family is doing well?”
“Very well, thank you. The new city is everything my wife and I have ever dreamed of. And the children like the zoo.”
“You must miss them.”
“I have not seen them in over a month, yes.”
“I understand that. This meeting marks the end to your hard work. After today, you can take a very long holiday, Mumbai perhaps.”
Aldona Afridi bows in reverence. He has had his fill of field work. His last trip to the United Korean Peninsula was particularly unsavory; too many military types for his civilian tastes.
The tank-like version of mobile tribal luxury slows to a stop in a dark, dusty alley deep inside a lower-class mountainside neighborhood dead ending at a filthy rivulet. It is an unseemly ghetto where even the native rats must feel trapped, with no way out.
But there they were, parked and quiet, watching the moonlight dance off the slow-moving water in front of them. Afridi wants to break the silence, when from behind them another fancy black sedan approaches. That makes two vehicles very much out-of-place and the coincidences are beginning to pile up. There is no hesitation by the occupants; engine off, doors opened, three men emerge.
Afridi is becoming more restless by the second. Everything about this strange encounter has trouble written all over it. He is wearing casual garb, but still tugs on his collar to cool down. He grabs a handkerchief from his pocket to mop the beading perspiration from his forehead.