THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 122

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 122

…The situation is fraught with tension, each and every passing minute brings new developments, like looking over the edge of a cliff…

Cliff Walk – Edge of Nowhere (Video Game)

As Roger pulls up, they pile everything into the back seat, “Take us back to the hotel.”

“You got it boss.”

“Francine will be staying behind… you are going to get me back to my helicopter!” —

Roger the Dodger

— Roger does not spare the horses, all 300 HP in his 1969 SS model that replaced his mini Honda Civic, to race headlong on to Montego Bay and Sangster International. Perhaps it was his police training, but no finer a display of cutting corners and ability to dodge slow traffic, hence his dodger moniker.

Image result for sangster international airport montego bay

It is a good thing his NASA-issued device is fully charged. He is in constant contact with the covert trifecta of CIA, FBI, and NSA, as well as an audio feed from JET {Joint Emergency Taskforce}, a cooperative agency whenever foreign nationals are involved.

“Radar has lost the two choppers that nabbed Samiq Gaad, somewhere over Honduras,” Braden King is monitoring what information Roy is getting, editing out conflicting reports, giving him the best guidance once he leaves Jamaica.

“I think two Navy F-77s are on their trail, their heading checks out on my navigation app.” He urges Roger to push it, counting on him to get to his hanger in one piece. “What is the deal with Afridi’s family?”

Silence… Nothing on the other end of the satellite connection. The situation is fraught with tension, each and every passing minute brings new developments, like looking over the edge of a cliff.

“Braden, are you there, your face is frozen on my end?”

“I’m sorry Roy, had to catch my breath, having trouble keeping up… Afridi took a few {bullets} from a known Talibanistani operative, we are told…the passengers subdued him, but they were at 38,000 feet and started to lose pressurization, pretty scary I guess. Afridi tells the US Marshall he has some more information to tell you, something about the Sang-Ashi probe. This Talibanistan/Korean connection is gaining traction with the Incident Audit folks,” Braden is like a juggler w/four balls in the air.

“Are you almost ready to get off the ground Roy? It looks like you were right about those Navy fighters… they shot down one Russki Chopper and have another grounded.”

“We are pulling up to Sangster now; my bird is fueled and ready to go!” Roger’s 300 hundred horses=60 miles in 30 minutes. “What’s with all these Mi-38s in our airspace? Should I get a heading for Honduras or what……?”

Again…


 

THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 122


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 52

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 52

 “I do not believe we have underestimated your talents Awrah Bouchette.”…

Image result for crank call

Crank Call by Graham Annable

“I will tell you of something your greedy leaders will not: At eleven o’clock AM Texas time, the Earth’s ultimate imperialistic endeavor, Space Colony 1 has been completely and utterly destroyed!” There is more than one stab into the belly and genuine pride in his delivery.

Francine eases herself down into her chair, gasping at the mere thought. This man does not sound like your typical crank.

Did you hear me woman? The Taliban, Nepal and Korean governments applaud this accident. Allah and Buddha have spoken.”

“I heard you,” she whispers faintly. Everyone in southern Texas knows someone who works in the space industry or Space Colony specifically. “I am not inclined to believe you sir,” is all the journalism she can muster.

“You are the only civilian who has this information, use it to disgrace the infidels and enhance your own career and that of your station. Reuters would gladly break this story, no problem.”

“If I am the only Westerner to know this, if it is true, wouldn’t NASA want to hold a formal press conference?”

“But you do not want to share the spotlight,” he pauses, she mulls. “I do not believe we have underestimated your talents Awrah Bouchette.” He slips back into his Arabic vernacular.

“I’ll need more information before I can break this story.”

“You must have a source in the space program; I suggest you confirm it with them. But they will tell you the same things, if they are honest. They will speak of how an asteroid has destroyed your space station and stopped the useless expansion into space. They may try to rescue the project, but they will fail, Allah has prevailed. You will not discover your source…”

A dial tone abruptly replaces the bearer of horrible news.

 

And what is she to do with this? No one else of import is at the station.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 52


 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

…A sole window allows Afridi to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

turkish-nights-001

Turkey Night Wallpaper (Istanbul) by alisarikaya

And so it is that the Afridi’s are a family unit again, after a harrowing month on the run. At least they have each other, away from evil powers bent on jealous destruction.

Even still, Aldona Afridi will not rest easy.

Back with his three dear ones, he continues his tirade in the form of a letter. He struggles to find the words camel-to-water-001that will open up the correct ears & eyes. If only they would come to their senses.

Points be made or not, Afridi decides to let it go, roll with the flow, having done everything in his power to express his concerns about Space Colony 1. He recites a Talibanistani Proverb: ‘You can lead a camel to water— but he won’t stop drinking.’ It has little to do with his quandary, but he does thirst for swift resolution.

Now would be a convenient time to rest his weary soul, post-New Orient Express excursion aside, he finds a deep sleep elusive. In its stead, he is content holding his bride close. His mind strays to several options and back, unable to resolve a single one of them.

Image result for flashing 12:00 clock gifSo he retracts is arm, as not wake anyone and he inches off the bed. A sole window allows him to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

After watching a steady stream of headlights at this early hour, wondering who may be out this late/early, two very long speeding black cars come to a halt outside the mosques gates. His initial reaction is one of relief, anticipating the arrival of those in authority; the Ambassador and the CIA are ahead of schedule!

He fumbles in the dark to find the clothes given him by those nice folks that allowed him to get this far. He efforts not to disturb the others, running a comb through his untidy black hair to look as professional as possible.

The intent of the visitors at the gate seems curious though. If they have peaceful plans, their actions are quite hasty.

An explosion, of sufficient intensity to bring down the perimeter fencing of the Muslim place of prayer, lays waste to anything within 30 yards.

Before the smoke can clear, six armed men sprint to the buildings many steps. Afridi warns his family, “They must be after me…….get dressed quickly, children please be quiet as a mouse! They must believe this room is empty. He ushers one and all into a hidden nook, behind a false curtain.

Sure enough, those cars did not carry peaceful men of diplomacy. Automatic weapons spray the room without respect to its occupants or their business. Once determined empty, it is on to the next and the next.

6 pairs of feet scamper across the marble floors, then up the granite stairs.

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! They will not leave until they have found me.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 41


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 40

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 40

…“Have you not run into any Talibanistani agents hot on my trail, as The Lone Ranger would say?”…

“It may appear unbelievable on the surface, but I swear I need to speak with Director Crippen. He will distinguish of what I speak.”

“How do you know Roy Crippen?”

“I do not know him, but a long time ago I petitioned my government to work on the Mars colony. Like any other dedicated scientist in the world, I wanted to join the paramount project man has ever undertaken.”

“Talibanistan was given every opportunity to join with the free-world, but they chose to belittle and criticize the waste; the ‘there are still starving tribesmen’ in the world argument.

Afridi hangs his head low in disgust and disdain.

“You must understand our hesitance in chasing after your wild accusations. A killer satellite launched from a camel’s back? For all we know, you just needed a good excuse to request asylum. We cannot take in everyone who claims to be oppressed.”

“Have you not run into any Talibanistani agents hot on my trail, as The Lone Ranger would say?”

“Oh we know you have stirred up a hornet’s nest alright.”

“Then get my message to Roy Crippen, or better yet let me talk the science of my claims, to support my story in person.”

“Maybe in 5, 6 hours, we’ll see.” Elliot Deming turns to walk away from the Image result for if and buts were candy and nutsissue. He regrets not having the authority…..if ifs & buts were candy & nuts.

“Wait Mr. Deming sir, I ask but one thing, that I am able to stay with my family, they have been through much.”

“I see no harm in that,” concedes the Consul General. “Move Mister Afridi into his family’s quarters, Sargent.”

“But that is up on the ground floor sir, not as secure.”

“It may be academic in a few hours; do as I say!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 40


 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 39

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 39

…“It is not everyday that a Talibanistani family shows up on your doorstep, with strange warnings about powerful lasers and killer satellites.”…

meanwhile-caption-001

“Fatima,” shouts Aldona Afridi to his wife, as he sees her pass by the room in which he seated uncomfortably! He raises enough of a ruckus that consulate personnel moving her are forced to reunite them — at last. He does not understand why they are being handled so awkwardly.

To this point Afridi is not impressed. This vaunted democracy operates similarly to his totalitarian homeland. His original theories, when he set his defection in motion, had the Americans welcoming him immediately as the hero he really was going to be, thereby acting on his whims at once. Instead he is left only with the knowledge that his family had completed their escape routes. Surely this is wonderful news, but definitely shy of his altruistic goal.

“Aldona!” If her husband was having his doubts, imagine what his wife was thinking; alone in a strange land with 2 little girls and left to try to explain a sketchy version of Afridi’s story.

“Fatima,” Afridi echoes, embracing her as close as he was allowed! In the back of his mind were thoughts about his newfound “friend” in Istanbul, Mehmet Ali Erim. He was brushed aside like a swarm of Tibetan Sandflies.

He grasps her shoulders at arm’s length, checking for signs of torture; such were the low sights he was now setting for their ordeal. “They are not acting on my information, Fatima. Every minute is crucial yet they are sitting on their hands!”

Perhaps they do not believe you. It is not everyday that a Talibanistani family shows up on your doorstep, with strange warnings about powerful lasers and killer satellites.”

Does his wife now doubt him, as a crackpot delusional dreamer?

He turns away from her, wondering how such a noble cause goes so unheeded. But he should not doubt Fatima’s devotion, yea confidence in his reasoning; she comforts her frustrated mate. “I am told that you must wait for the American Ambassador, he is on his way from Ankara.”

Image result for far fetched“And don’t leave out the CIA European Chief,” adds Elliot Deming as he enters the room. “They are in charge now, going through the proper channels to sanction your farfetched story Mr. Afridi.”

 

“It may appear unbelievable on the surface, but I swear I need to speak with Director Crippen. He will distinguish of what I speak.”

“How do you know Roy Crippen?”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 39


 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 28

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 28

“…this must be your 1st trip on the New Orient Expressmy lonely friend.”…

meanwhile-caption-001

In 2030, again/after a famed and fabled past, the New Orient Express,that had halted the contiguous run in 2009, from Paris all the way through to Istanbul, a train-traveler can still take a bullet (oops) train from one end to the other; 2000 luxurious European kilometers.

Orient Express route

Route of the old Orient Express

Writers have forever taken advantage of its romantic whistle-stops and melting pot passenger list. Taken at face value, the spin of those yarns will have the seats of this long-train runnin’ occupied, in large part, by spies, opiate dealers, murderers, and the like.

In the second to last car is the restaurant coach and seated in the rear, trying his hardest to look inconspicuous {innocent}, is Aldona Afridi. Now you can add a Talibanistani defector to the list of unusually unusual passengers; fitting right in with the stereotypical fictional ne’er-do-wells. Just don’t stare at them.

Related imageIn an attempt to make a goose-chase out of his flight to freedom thereby covering his tracks, Afridi had flown to Paris, instead of the logical land-way across the Persian Plain and Euphrates Valley, where Nutkani and his tribesmen were previously nipping at his heels.

The most gregarious of the conductor corps strolls down the aisle, stopping to chat with folks of all derivations, some of which would rather not, acting as if they were all long-lost friends. Afridi chooses Conductor“mute” as his origin, but is compelled to mouth, “What time Istanbul?”

“Last stop Bucharest…” he shares his answer, then pointedly asking, “…this must be your 1st trip on the New Orient Express, my lonely friend.” After 20 hours on the rapid rail, passengers should be more aware of the schedule.

“Will we get there before dusk?” he rephrases, hoping to elicit a more precise response from the mustachioed kibitzer.

“Romanian officials are asking questions, searching the whole train…for a defector my instinct tells me.”

Just what Afridi wanted to hear; like a priest preaching a sermon on hell in front of pews packed with hardcore sinners? Had he known that the rascally conductor was pulling his strange-unusualleg, using his uncanny ability to guess why passengers have chosen to ride this disreputable rail, Aldona would have been spared the mounting anxiety that threaten to make a wreck of him.

Chuckling on his way, the conductor whispers cryptically, “You will arrive at railhead before dark, my itchy friend. People who choose the New Orient Express are immune from border inspections…just be aware of the  people around you!”

The jovial ticket taker’s laugh echoes loudly, yet the cause of his amusement seems of little consequence to the other diners. Anonymity is the unspoken creed of this illustrious train.


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 19

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 19

…May the name of Aldona Afridi hereby be erased from Talibanistan records, as if he never existed!…

meanwhile-caption-001

“He must be dead Sheikh Nutkani. No one can survive in water that cold… what a fool!” Nae Tan-Dan assumed he would play by the rules, finding it hard to believe that Aldona Afridi would act so rashly.

Shaikh Nutkani

“If he is dead, we must act on our plan sooner than we wanted. If he isn’t dead, he will wish he were.” The former Taliban tribesman is outraged, appalled that this scientist would betray his duty. He is not however, without his wits. “You must find another source for the laser access codes. Surely there is a failsafe protocol built into the system.

May the name of Aldona Afridi hereby be erased from Talibanistan records, as if he never existed!

“The United Korea will honor its end of the bargain, Sheikh. Nae Tan-Dan has the loyalty of all his people.” Third person references denote self-importance.

The reprehensible twosome reassembles their entourage of cars and men, speeding off into the Near East dawn, each to his own clandestine objective.horizontal-line5

Fading automobile noises signal a reprieve for the severely exposed Aldona Afridi. He has spent the last hour clinging to the drive shaft of his ferry refuge, giving e tenuous lease on life. Bleeding from a flesh wound to his upper arm, due solely by regaining dry land, he needs to come with a more well thought out plan. There are signs that he has not been completely forgotten, the fresh siren sounds of activity, likely not from concerned ambulance medics, not mention the helicopters.

Where will he go, is the question of the moment? This nondescript and aptly unnamed tribal village has some 500,000 clansmen/women and not one would open their drafty homes to help a stranger, let alone a hunted one. The logical thing to do is to change his identity, but that is currently a longshot option.escape2-001

He decides that his best chance is on the other side of the river, bridges being few and far in-between, then take his chances from there. He needs to convince himself that lowering his body temperature once again is a good idea.

But that he does with a polar bear’s approach, so he tackles the fifty meter swim to provisional independence; independence not freedom, with freedom attained only with asylum status for him and his family at a rare Western Embassy.


THE RETURN TRIP

No Safe Haven by Larry Selman

No Safe Haven by Larry Selman

Episode 19


 

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