The Nightmare

by Steve on July 31, 2007

This is the final part of the introduction – these first three installments make up the first chapter. If you’re jumping in late, go to the link in the header “On The Line”

The four canisters were unremarkable but for one thing – there was no mistaking the internationally recognized symbol stamped three times around the center of each. All the markings on the casings were in Arabic but the provenance of the material would have been impossible to trace even if anyone had cared to try. It was produced by a program that never existed in a country that never had the capability to manufacture it. Therefore the material never existed before or after it mysteriously crossed the Syrian border in a nondescript truck. The two men that delivered the canisters knew the risk, knew that by spending three days in close proximity to the shipment that they were signing their own death warrant. No matter, they both died in separate blasts due to self detonation of custom C-4 vests long before the radiation could run its course. In the custom of their ideology they took innocent lives with them, people whose only tie to the bombers was happenstance: wrong place at precisely the wrong time.

The weapons that they had smuggled remained buried for years under an old foundation that dated back centuries. Like many other ancient settlements in the desert, its life-blood was water. Or had been until the hole dried up. The desert reclaimed the fragile hold that man had established. No water, no life. There was no reason for anyone to be in such a desolate place which made it the perfect location to bury a treasure. For several years time stood still, the half-life of the material buried in the sand eroded as the natural world demanded of it but when the command was given, the team that went to retrieve the stash knew that it was still just as deadly.

A make-shift lab in a unquestioning neighborhood within a town whose national politics were purposefully blind to the tools of war. It could have been in plain sight and it would have been literally undetectable. Fighting was an integral part of living in this part of the world. The imported brain-trust had seen enough of what existed outside the compound on their way in. Get the job done in a timely manner and bug out. Expedience would not be a problem. Just the sight of that symbol on the casings gave the technicians chills. They didn’t want to spend any more time in close proximity to these odd containers than was absolutely necessary. The extraordinary incentive that each had received didn’t seem quite so worthwhile now that the operation was real. Detonators, intricate wiring, redundant systems, plus the markings on the canisters; it didn’t take too much thought to figure out what the technicians were tasked with. They all knew the hell they were creating but tried not to think about it, justifying their work by the distance to the intended target. This task could well be their only way back to the life they had enjoyed as valued government scientists prior to being pushed into the abyss.

Each day ran into the next – no beginning, no end – much like an Alaskan summer. It took too long but in the end the team completed what they had started years ago. Proud and terrified, they watched as the four assemblies were crated and carefully loaded into a container. They had no way of knowing that the radiation detection devices they had staked their lives on for the last several months had been disabled. The material used to make the four devices was extremely dirty. There was no way around it, thought the man in charge. Besides, were they not doing a greater service to his cause? The mission was all that mattered – at least that was what the operative kept telling himself. The weapons would be leaving the port of Jablah in a few days headed across the Mediterranean for Toulon. He was finished. What did it matter that these people would not live long enough to enjoy their profit? They were not true believers anyway. If they were they would have done the job for nothing. It served them right, he thought – they were motivated by greed not by the cause.

And so it begins…



Deborah Aylward August 1, 2007 at 0:28

Riveting all the way through, sir, from the first sentence right the way through to the last. You’re definitely on the right track.

Veritas et Fidelis Semper

Papa Ray August 1, 2007 at 7:50

I’m a long time reader of tech/military/adventure/associated fiction.

I have to say that I’m impressed. You seem to have the “nack”, but don’t get to concerned with first impressions, good or bad.

Write it like you feel it, make the people in your stories as real as possible, warts and all. Keep the story line as uncomplicated as you can, because most people don’t want to have to remember twenty characters, nor figure out a convolted story line.

But, I know that you know these things, just a reminder.

One other thing…keep it fun, keep it interesting to yourself and it will be for your readers.

Like my Mama used to say, “if it’s work and no fun, your in the wrong line of work.”

Papa Ray
West Texas

MIchelle August 1, 2007 at 15:52

Wow, you sound like Tom Clancy now … reminds me of The Sum of All Fears. 😉

Very good stuff. I do believe we have a thriller writer in our midst.

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