“That’s him, close-cropped hair, black tee-shirt, faded jeans and carrying something. Looks like something to change into so he can change his appearance.” Isaac Slater was the most experienced spotter the security service had. His job, though mundane, was an essential element in the fight against… well, bad stuff of all kinds. This mission took him to the south of France, a prospect that he relished until he found what long-term exposure to the heat of summer meant to a man like him: late middle-aged, slightly overweight and totally bald. He quickly learned that his ‘comfort-zone’ was restricted to places that provided shade or, better yet, air-conditioning.
Isaac had been tasked with locating a tracking one George Benjamin Knowles, a man in his thirties suspected mastermind behind a plot to kidnap the UK Prime Minister and her entire inner cabinet, replacing them with look-alikes who would advance his group’s agenda.
“You sure that’s our man?” asked Joe Green, “I don’t want to put a tracker on the wrong man. You know what the chief said.”
“Never mind what he said, Joe. He might control the budget, but he’s not out here in this heat, is he? Just keep your eye on the target, and make sure you hit your mark.”
“Give me a few seconds to compose myself, Isaac.”
“What do you mean, compose yourself? That didn’t help on your second big job, did it?”
“No, but that was a bad time for me. I’m over it now. Anyway, shut up. I need to get my breathing right. Hitting a target from this distance isn’t easy.”
“And you need to get him in the middle of the back of his neck.”
“Right. Stand by.”
A few seconds later Knowles’ free hand smacked the back of his neck. Either Joe had hit his mark or a mosquito had indeed bitten him. The whooping noise in his earpiece told Isaac that it was the first. Isaac backed further into the archway, temporarily losing sight of Knowles.
“Good job, Joe, now scram. I can take it from here.”
“Remember, mate, provided he doesn’t find it, the tracker will give a signal with a range of three kilometres in clear air for up to four weeks.”
“What’s the chance he’ll find it?”
“Unless he has an MRI or something, it probably won’t be detected. He’ll have a spot on his neck that’ll look to anyone like a mosquito bite and will feel like one to him. You’ll know straight away if he does find it.”
“Duh! It’ll stop moving or lose its signal.”
“Unless, of course, he implants it in some other poor schmuck just to keep you off his tail.”
Joe broke the connection and disappeared into the heat of the day. Isaac watched as Knowles walked past him under the arch. He tried to look at the back of Knowles’ neck, but his mark turned towards him and smiled. It was a smile that spoke of defiance, disdain and contempt. Once he’d cleared, Isaac took the tracker from his rucksack and dialled in the active frequency. The display was overlaid on a detailed map which Isaac studied. He found his position and saw that his mark was two streets from him, moving away at a brisk walking pace. Knowing he’d have to follow on foot, Isaac went into the shop next to him and bought a sun-hat to protect his pate. He walked the length of the alleyway between the shop and archway and followed the track left by Knowles. Twenty minutes later, he followed the signal into one of the lower-priced tourist hotels where the tracker indicated that his mark was at the bar, presumably having a drink.
He noted the location and sent it to his chief via text message. His chief asked him to take a photograph and send it to him. Isaac fished the small camera out of his pocket and followed the signal into the bar, where he found only two men laughing together: one wearing black shorts and a white shirt, and carrying a ‘man-bag’; the other of pale complexion, wearing blue shorts and a red tee-shirt, and having a small pimple in the middle of the back of his neck…
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 138, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.