The customers and waiters at Jake’s cafe had been lying flat on the floor when Jake had fired the first missile and shot the chopper down. But when it had gone quiet, they came out of the coffee shop to see the destruction on the street. They, too, had heard the loud screech in the sky, and the cluster bombs had nailed them before they could escape far enough. Minutes later, the FBI secured the area and swept the bodies and nails, and defused the spheres that did not detonate successfully, leaving no evidence of the attack.
Luke is in his living room wearing a towel around his waist, with his hair still wet. He sits down and picks up the phone calling Remi. Remi answers:
- “It’s good to hear your voice.”
- “I’m actually walking home right now.”
- “How did they find us? This doesn’t make any sense.”
- “What were you expecting, Luke? You knew they would get to us sooner or later.”
- “I meant it more specifically: How did they find us at Jake’s? Do you think we were followed?”
- “Ah… That’s possible, but very unlikely. I would have noticed if we were being followed. Listen… I went back there an hour ago. The café is toast. Jake is gone. They used cluster bombs.”
- (after a few seconds of silence, Luke responds): “We should have stayed behind.”
- “Who the hell could have known they were going to use the God-damn air-force? If we stayed behind, the cluster nails would have got us killed as well. There was nothing we could have done to save anyone’s life there. Now, there is also good news about all this. They’re obviously becoming desperate. They are treating us like a military target. It means we’re getting to them.”
- (Luke sighs): “Alright. Let’s be more vigilant. If they could find Jake’s, they can find anything. Remi, they know who we are, and they know how to get to us. It’s a matter of time before they find out where we live. We’ll contact each other the old way.”
- “Yes, done. Luke, take care of yourself.”
- “You too.”
Luke lies down on the sofa and puts the glass of lemonade down on the table. His eyes get heavier and finally surrender to sleep. His apartment has white walls and a white ceiling with no paintings or chandeliers. No ornaments in the house. The living room has a black coffee table, a beige three-seat sofa opposing a huge window with four large panes. In days like these, it’s impossible to find a home like Luke’s; with no electronic appliances or devices, except for a few light bulbs and a small fridge.
Regardless of all the assassinations and explosions, the country’s leaders have been constantly affirming to the people that everything was under control, and that there was no reason not to feel secure. Unlike the former terrorist attacks committed by the government itself against the people they governed, where the goal was to scare the people into submission, these most recent attacks were committed by outsiders, and the corporations could not afford a fearful population that stays at home all day and all night without buying anything. But now, with all the News networks shut down due to terrorist attacks, the government and advertisers find their inability to communicate with their consumers to be extremely worrisome. Until the broadcasting resumes, they will have to depend on radio and just hope that radio stations will not be targeted.
The sun shines through the large window panes and onto Luke’s eye lids. He gets up with unease and walks toward the window and slides it open. The cool wind blows, and the subtle sound of cars 13 floors below echoes against the dozens of skyscrapers around the one he’s in. Luke’s eyes move downward onto the street, until he sees police cars blocking his building’s entrance. He swiftly puts on his usual dark clothes, and once he had put on his coat, the door breaks open. Luke makes a run for his sword, but the SWAT opens fire, and bullets go through his back and shoulders. He doesn’t stop, grabs the sword lying on the coffee table and turns around only to meet the barrels of a shotgun pointed at his chest. The blast was so powerful that it throws him against the window, breaking it. Luke lands back on his feet with a cold and expressionless face, and draws his sword, but another shotgun barrel knocks him out of the window.
The SWAT agents eagerly look down the shattered window to watch their hunt falling. One of them points his rifle vertically and fires away.
“Stop that!” the operations commander yells, “good job everyone. Daniel, make the call and let team B downstairs collect the body and sweep up the glass and blood.” Commander Dimitri pauses for a second as his eyes wander around the apartment. “What a boring place this must have been.” Says Dimitri, “The kind of place that would give you too much time to think and plot about crazy shit because you have nothing better to do.”
“Indeed,” responds Jane as she removes her helmet and mask off, “these types of people become anarchists because their minds reach a point in life where they lose interest in everything that matters. They lose interest in making money or getting a nicer car, they even lose the joy in food or sex.”
- Dimitri: “It’s funny that you say that. You’re too young to know what real food or real sex tasted like. There was a time when food was actually prepared with human hands and not chemically enhanced for profits. There was also a time when people had sex with partners that they loved, or had pre-marital or extra-marital sex with… the joy of breaking taboos. But look at us today. There is no fantasy that cannot be realized… there are no longer any fantasies. Even pornography is having trouble catching up with how deviant we have become. Of course we don’t call gay sex or group sex deviant any more, because that’s the norm. The only thing that’s still considered sexually deviant nowadays is rape. And I’m not sure for how long it will stay illegal.”
Jane sits at the sofa and after listening carefully with interest, she asks Dimitri: “What about love then? People still fall in love with each other, don’t they?”
- “Love is something that no one can afford any more. People are too busy for love or raising children. Our sexual instincts got the best of us. How can one fall in love; become a part of a holy relationship, when one night stands are offered all the time? People are having sex at offices, public bathrooms, parks, classrooms, dorms, balconies, internet cafes, parked cars, heck… even in moving cars. People are offering sex with no emotional ties and no responsibility; no constraints…. Tasteless food, tasteless sex. But that’s not what drives people like Luke or Genghis into anarchy. These guys are too professional; too smart to be doing this out of despair for the lack of real food.”
- “What is it then? What drives them?”
- “I prefer to find out what drives them by getting a hold of something in writing, or catch one of them for questioning. So far these people have been like ghosts. But after the catastrophe that happened last night, with the death of Television and the massacre of our comrades at that café, I don’t think we’ll ever have the chance to talk to them. Now with these find-and-destroy missions, I don’t think we’ll ever know or understand their cause, if they are even aware of one. ‘No more arrests’ said the vice president.”
- “That’s stupid. We don’t even know how many they are, or what their intentions are. With these raids, they’ll just find a more secure hiding. They will always be one step ahead. We work in the open, while they work in the shadow.”
- “Yeah, one step ahead of us. But I bet you they didn’t expect us to use cluster bombs or do what we did this morning. They can’t win. We have surveillance, we have satellites, and we have the military and five different paratroop divisions inside the country working with the most advanced technology. What have they got? A turret and a missile launcher can’t hold up to the ocean of weaponry at our disposal.”
- “Don’t forget swords and knives,” says Jane giggling.
- “Oh yes, the sword. Speaking of which, I’m gonna keep that sword of his; a souvenir for nailing him. Let’s go downstairs and see what’s going on.”
- “You know we are all alone here. We can spare 10 more minutes, don’t you think?”
- “Yep, but first close the curtains, and ah. I’ll lock the door. I’m still old-fashioned.”
After Dimitri and Jane were done and have buckled up, an explosion goes off. Jane parts the curtains and looks down the shattered window to see nothing but a white cloud of smoke. Dimitri dispatches his agents; but gets no response. They rush out of the apartment and down the fire exit stairs. They put their gas masks on. Once they push the gates open, all the smoke’s already gone. The entire SWAT unit is unconscious on the street. None of them were killed. And Luke’s body was no where to be found.
“God damn it!” yells Dimitri, “I’m gonna get grilled over this.”
- “Why? We accomplished the mission! We eliminated the target!” replies Jane.
- “Trust is very rare these days, my sweet Jane. With all the recent successes of the shadow group, the secretary of homeland security believes they have operatives inside the government.” Jane’s eyes fall upon a shiny object, “Look!” she says to Dimitri with a big smile, “You’ll have something to show for it.”
Dimitri’s face loses the tension, and he walks over to pick up Luke’s sword, with Luke’s blood all over its handle. That kind of evidence will save Dimitri and his team from being put on the black list; of course, if they can explain how they lost the body afterwards.
Luke opens his eyes. He’s lying on his back in what he thinks is some kind of a cave. The walls of rock around him are dark red, with lit up chandlers sticking out of them. Luke feels pain in his shoulders, back, and chest. He puts his hands over his shoulders then moves them around his body to find no wounds, not even a scratch. He puts his arms back to his sides, and starts to breathe heavily as tears slowly gather at the corners of his eyes. He shuts his eyes, squeezing till the tears fall down toward his ears; he places his hands over his face. Then he throws both his arms upward to lie next to his head. Eyes still closed, he mumbles: “Thank you.”
Meanwhile Dimitri is at a meeting at the White House, briefing the vice president and secretary of homeland security, secretary of state, secretary of national defense, and the heads of FBI, NSA, CIA, among some other unidentified individuals who remain unidentified and are sitting further away from the table.
“I thought you said the president was going to be here for this meeting,” says Dimitri with a subdued voice.
- “Yes he was going to be here,” replied the secretary of state, “except we found his head cut off the rest of his body this morning.”
The secretary of homeland security continues: “We believe it was severed with a knife. And these gentlemen here believe it was the work of Luke.” The room goes quiet for a few seconds, until the head of FBI asks what everyone was obviously there for: “You did eliminate the target, did you not?”
- “Yes,” answers Dimitri, “He was sprayed with machine guns, shot three times with a shotgun, two barrels in the chest and one in the stomach. The third shot knocked him out of the window of the 13th floor and my men watched him falling down to the ground.”
- “One of your men, agent Daniel Hong, continued to shoot at the target while he was in mid-air, falling down to his certain death,” the head of FBI added, "did that happen?”
- “Yes sir,” answered Dimitri reverently, “but…”
- “But what?” asked the vice president.
- “We couldn’t find the body, but we did find his sword, and the blood on it was his.”
- “Did he or did he not splatter on the ground?”
- “Yes sir he did, we saw it happen. Even our men who secured the building’s entrance witnessed the gruesome splatter.”
- “Fine then, it doesn’t matter if they took his body away. Justice was served this morning. As for the president’s brutal assassination, we expect your discretion concerning this news. We will determine when the people will be ready for such news, and now is definitely not the time.”
- “Yes sir, totally understood. You don’t have to worry about me.”
- “Alright thank you Dimitri, you can leave now.”
Dimitri steps out, and meets Jane half way on his way out of the building. “How did it go, sir?” she asks. Dimitri just nods and continues walking. Back in the White House, the meeting continues.
“Sir, the satellite images have confirmed what our intelligence discovered,” says the head of NSA, “the bombardments of NBC and CNN headquarters were done by an air strike. Two F-16s carried out the mission, and blasted the networks’ communication towers and satellites. The most fearful news of all was confirmed sir. The fighter jets returned to a Canadian military base with a permitted landing. When we questioned our contacts in Canada, their response was that those two fighters were out on a training mission, and that they were going to further investigate into the matter. They refused to give us any more information.”
- “How did we not intercept this air strike?” asks the VP.
- “Sir, it came from Canada!” says secretary of defense.
- “What’s that supposed to mean?” replies the VP.
- “Sir, what the secretary of defense is saying is that we do not expect super sonic attacks from across the Canadian border. No one believes that the Canadian government was in on this,” says the head of FBI.
- “Those Canadian sons of bitches! I know how to handle them. But first tell me, how was Fox News hit?” asks the vice president impatiently.
- “Well, Fox was a demolition. Explosives were placed inside the building to blow it up without affecting any of the nearby buildings.”
- “Any casualties?”
- “No sir, no casualties, not even injured! All three targets had already been cleared by bomb threat calls minutes before the explosions took place. The three coordinated attacks were clean.”
- “This is not good at all. See to it that we do report casualties. I don’t want these maniacs to get any more supporters. Whatever sympathy any liberals have for them must be shredded.”
- “Yes sir, perfectly understood. How about a thousand casualties?”
- “Let the initial report say 2000, and then a week later correct the number to 300. This will show the liberals to be the mad assholes that they are; the ones who exaggerate everything out of proportion. That’s how they will be discredited. A week after that we must reach the climax of our DTWC [Defy Terrorists With Consumption] program. So by that time, we have to have the TV back on ladies and gentlemen.”
“What about the insiders?” asks the secretary of homeland security, “Any progress in identifying the double agents?”
- “Nothing much, sir” answers the head of NSA, “we have replaced the entire menial staff, and our compulsory interviews of government officials continue.”
- “What about Canada?” asks the head of CIA. A long pause of silence follows.
- “How many Al-Qaeda sleeper cells do we have left in Toronto?” asks the vice-president.
- “Three, sir” replies the head of CIA.
- “It’s about time these Canadian pussies started to take their national security more seriously.”
- “Are you giving the order to attack, sir?”
- “You know the routine. Send them a copy of Osama’s audio tape giving them the order to strike.”
- “Yes, sir, I know the procedure, I was just confirming that.”
- “These fucking Ay-rabs and their virgins in heaven,” interrupts the vice-president, “An infinite supply of suicide mercenaries who cannot be captured, interrogated, or traced.”
Everyone in the room laughs.
48 hours later, three explosions in three malls in Toronto go off simultaneously, separated only by a few minutes. All fingers point to Al-Qaeda and its leader who is still at large somewhere in western China, most recent intelligence reports believe. The Chinese authorities have refused these allegations and refused to conduct any search for terrorists in the predominantly Muslim province of Xinjiang, in the west of China.