Three months ago I enlisted the talents of some fabulous writers of fiction in the project we call the Baker’s Dozen Fiction Story. Our purpose was to create a thirteen part story, with each participant putting their own spin on their chapter. The group bestowed the honor of finishing the story on me and I have completed the last chapter to share with you today. But first I want to take the time to offer my appreciation.
First of all I want to thank the twelve souls adventuresome enough and brave in allowing their skills to be tied to such a wild experience. Having no idea what would be written before, each of the writers took what they got and did a fantastic job continuing the story. This project turned out even better than I originally imagined it could. It is a direct credit to the cadre of authors, which were, in order of their chapters: Josh Magill, Ambrozya, Leslie Moon, Candice Setton, Elizabeth L., Jennifer Pendergast, Cl Elli, Ted Strutz, Lashell Collins, Francesca and David Stewart. I urge you to visit their blogs using the links below. I know you will be happy and find some great writing.
Secondly I want to thank all who came to follow the story. Over the last sixty some days over two thousand times the story was viewed, telling us there was something worth reading here. As writers, we want to know someone finds our story compelling and worth coming back to follow. Thank you to all who continued to stay with us and encouraged others to come take a peek.
Now with all that said I humbly offer my conclusion to this epic tale. It rolled across the finish line at just under 3,000 words. I know, that is four times the guideline I gave, but I felt Forrest deserved a solid end to his story. I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 1 – written by Joe Owens
Forrest could hear bullets whizzing by him as he sprinted toward the fence. He wondered if he could scale the twelve foot obstacle before the bullets found their mark. He wondered if he would ever get the chance to actually find love without the girl revealing herself as a spy. He also wondered how he had so much time to think before something bad happened. In the last few days nothing had ended well.
Forrest froze in his tracks as machine gun fire began from opposite the fence. Within seconds the gunfire behind him became silent. Forrest turned to see half a dozen bodies lying on the ground. He lifted his hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he heard the sound of a powerful helicopter above. He jerked his head to the right when a more powerful machine gun began shooting toward the helicopter.
There was a whooshing sound and line of white smoke that erupted from the helicopter and the gun emplacement inside a tower near the main building exploded in flames. The next thing Forrest knew he felt strong arms slide underneath his and he was floating upwards as the cable attached to his ride pulled them both to safety.
Forrest tried to breathe as he looked at the serious faces in the helicopter. The four men he could see had all black uniforms, so he could make no sense of their identity. He could see only pieces of the pilot and co-pilot, but there was something familiar about their flight suits. Within a few minutes the whole picture clarified a bit as the copter made approach to a massive aircraft carrier flying the American flag.
A pair of naval officers stood with arms crossed on the deck awaiting the touchdown of the aircraft.
“Follow me,” one of the men said when Forrest exited the chopper.
Forrest shook his head at the twists his adventure had taken. He had been in so many different places that it was hard to remember all he had seen.
The officer that had been silent so far pecked at the door of a room that had Officer’s Mess stenciled on a sign.
The silent officer opened the door and stood aside to allow Forrest to enter. Inside there was one man, who looked to be in his sixties. He was a large specimen, likely with a football past, with short hair, salt and pepper. His expression was gruff looking when Forrest entered, but seemed to soften a bit when the man held out his hand to offer a chair. A quick nod told the officer’s accompanying Forrest their task was complete and they exited the room.
“Mr. Graham, allow me to introduce myself. I am Vice Admiral Gino Pirelli. We have a lot to discuss. Much of it relates to that token you have in your right hand.”
Forrest was unaware he was holding the object as everything going on was so engrossing he was just holding on for dear life. He opened his hand to stare at the medallion and then returned his gaze to Pirelli.
“Do you have any idea what the last five days have been like for me?” Pirelli asked. “You see Mr. Graham five days ago your office building was destroyed and several people perished in the blast. A few minutes later another building suffered the same fate. Since then the world has gone to hell in a hand basket.
Right now the armed forces of the United States are at defense condition two. You will recognize from the Hollywood movies that this is called DEF CON – 2. Whatever the hell that thing does, Pirelli said pointing at the medallion Forrest clutched, there is a whole lot of maneuvering involved to try to take it from you.
Right now there is also a real concern that war could break out in the biggest hotspots in the world. The Koreans, Iranians and Chinese have decided now is the perfect time to mobilize their forces. Because of the efforts the intelligence agencies of the free world have spent trying to find you we are at a disadvantage and having to scramble to recover.
So the question I have is what the hell is so special about that piece of crap?”
“It allows me or anyone in my family to penetrate walls and move unfettered.”
“I have no idea.”
“Who told you about it?”
“A Mr. Xia. He is part of the . . .”
“Mechilah Group,” Pirelli finished. “Yes I am familiar with your mother’s creation.”
Forrest remembered what was said about the military and intelligence services fighting for control of the medallion. He suddenly lost the comfort he had accepted when he saw the gigantic Unites States ship come into view from the helicopter. There was no way he could escape from this ship. If he did he could never swim back to shore.
“Mr. Graham, we need to ratchet down the tension across the world. I am going to ask you to surrender the medallion to me so we can make sure it is secure. Once the countries I mention realize the United States has control of the item everything will slowly roll back to normal.
Forrest stared at the piece of metal in his hands as his mind rolled through the possible ways this could go. He wondered if the man would try to take the medallion by force. What did he know about the powers? What else could this do that he did not know about? Could he bluff his way out of here? He decided he had to try.
He sprung from the chair suddenly and flashed the medallion at Pirelli like it was a badge. With as much attitude as his exhausted body could manage he barked out a response to Pirelli’s request.
“No sir, I won’t be doing that. Unless you want this ship to rest at the bottom of whatever body of water this is, you will allow me to leave at once on the helicopter I came in and return to Mr. Xia and the others.
“You little shit! Who do you think you are?” Pirelli said, standing to reveal his six and a half foot tall frame. His fists tightened as he forced the words through gritted teeth.
“Are you willing to risk the lives of over four thousand men and women?” Forest asked.
Pirelli wavered as the number seemed to sink in.
Nearly a half hour later the U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter eased to a landing about a mile from where Forrest was to meet his brother, sister, Angie and Mr.Xia. The faces aboard the helicopter were not friendly as Forrest exited to see his family waiting. Their faces were a mix of confusion, yet relief.
Mr. Xia stood with his arms by his side, patient to hear Forrest’s report.
“The Americans have the token?” he asked.
“No. I threatened to sink their carrier,” Forrest smiled.
“If you only knew,” Xia said.
Forrest sat between his brother and sister in the van, with Angie driving and Xia in the front passenger seat. No words were uttered as the group had much on their minds as Angie turned away from the direction of Ross’ compound and headed for a safer destination.
It was dusk when they rolled to a stop in front of a place very familiar to Forrest. He felt an indescribable comfort as he approached the front door of the place. When the door opened he saw the face of his mother and immediately stepped forward to embrace her. Sephira Yedidya smiled as she held her son for the first time in too many years.
“My son, my son is finally safe!”
“Mother. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Let’s all sit and I will tell you about all of it.”
Over the next two hours the five of them shared a meal Sephira prepared in anticipation of their arrival and she recounted the last days of their father and the decision to form the Mechilah Group. Forrest always thought his mother was a silent partner to her father, but the truth was that she had been with the Mossad before they married and even now was well-respected within the intelligence community.
Forrest shook his head as he allowed her words to settle in his mind. No one spoke since it was his turn to react. Anna and Benjamin remembered when they were clued in. It had been long enough that they accepted the fact as a part of their mother’s life.
“So what happens now?” Forrest asked.
“You make a choice,” his mother said. “Become the one who wields the power, or you pass it along to Benjamin.”
“I don’t want it,” Benjamin declared, even before Forrest could speak.
Forrest’s eyes darted to Anna’s face, which suddenly filled with fear. She knew Forrest was ready for all this to end. The tears accumulated in her eyes and trailed across her face as she blinked repeatedly. Forrest’s gut tightened with the realization he had no good choice. Angie spoke to break the tension of the moment.
“Can I speak with Forrest alone before he decides?” Angie asked.
“Yes,” Sephira replied.
Forrest wasn’t sure what he would say to Angie. The woman he had admired from afar and wanted to be with was a spy. She had so many secrets and he was so tired of the limited life he knew was normal for her.
“I have to tell you this. At first this was simply a job for me. I watched over you for your mother, keeping my distance, allowing you to be with Chrissie. It was all more than I could stand sometimes. I had several face to face meeting with my superiors asking I be given the freedom to bring you in and every time I was sternly rejected.
You deserved to know the truth about your father, about all of this. I wanted so much to tell you,” she said as she took his hands in hers. Forrest stared into Angle’s eyes and fought the voices telling him he shouldn’t trust her. Those yes, those dammed eyes of hers just melted him.
“So not a job now?” Forrest finally whispered.
“No. I want you Forrest. Forever.”
Forrest stared at her for a moment, and then looked at the window that revealed Xia, his mother and siblings who were involved in a discussion at the table. No doubt they were hypothesizing about what his response would be. Forrest wasn’t entirely sure himself.
“I’m not sure I can kill,” Forrest said. “Not like you.”
“You don’t have to,” Angie told him. There is another alternative.”
“Are you sure you are okay with this?” Forrest asked his mother.
“It is time Ananiah . . . Forrest,” she smiled.
“Okay,” Angie said. “The pit is through those doors. The medallion will be destroyed when the reactor cycles in fifteen minutes. All we have to do is get in, drop the medallion and get out.”
“Simple, huh?” Forrest said, wiping his sweaty palms on his pants.
“Don’t say that!” Angie said.
“Sorry, trying to deal with my nausea. How do you do this for a job?”
“You get used to it,” Angie told him.
“Look, in case something happens, I need to tell you that . . .”
“Forrest, don’t,” Angie said. “You are going to be fine. I will not let anything happen to you.”
“Don’t kid a kidder. I heard my mother’s men. I know what it is going to be like when we try this. Everybody who wants this “thing” is going to try to stop me.” Forrest pointed at the medallion and screwed his face into a disgusted look.
“Then we will have to be better,” Angie smiled.
Angie led Forrest down a dark corridor, with two light machine guns strapped on her shoulders and her favorite hand gun pointed ahead of them, ready to shred anything that got in their way. She could hear Forrest’s breathing as they eased down the hall. She wished she could calm him, because she wondered what might happen if he stayed so amped up on adrenalin and clutched the medallion. The last thing she needed was to get separated from him with everyone descending on them.
“Angie!” Forrest said when the first enemies appeared in the corridor.
Angie drew down and emptied her clip into the face of four men who crumbled with merely one errant shot.
“You wouldn’t do that to me after a bad argument would you?” Forrest joked as he tried to erase the image from his mind.
“I wouldn’t use that many bullets,” Angie said at first without a smile, and then she winked before allowing her smile to settle his fears some.
She jerked him into an alcove when bullets began to fly in their direction. An exchange of gunfire gave Angie pause as she saw there was too much distance between her and the room they had to access. She could see it wasn’t going to happen with her leading the way.
“You have to go alone!”
“What? NO! No, I cannot do that.”
“There’s no other way. I will stay here and keep them occupied. Use the talisman and they won’t see you.”
Forrest felt like he would barf all over the place. He remembered how much strength it took to remain unseen at Ross’ compound. Could he concentrate more to make it all the way without being seen?
Angie smiled, squeezed his hand and turned to blast away at the direction of their adversaries and Forrest sucked in as much air as he could, summoned what courage he found and made his way toward the pit.
He was learning more about how to make the talisman work for him and that bit of knowledge scared him. Would this stupid thing take over his mind and convince him he had to do the things his father did? He shook his head to clear his thoughts as he knew he had one chance to make this work. He could hear nearly constant gunfire now and wondered if Angie was okay. He wished he knew the difference in report of her weapons so he could determine if she was still firing.
When Forrest passed through the final barrier to the pit he dropped to his knees in exhaustion. His breath came hard as he scrambled to remember why he was here. He wondered how his father managed to accomplish so much with this horrible thing.
“The pit!” his mind told him. “Put it in the pit.”
“STOP!” he heard from behind him as he held the medallion over the opening to a 1500 meter pit. It was Ross, who drug Angie into view and had a large caliber pistol against her right temple. “You release that and I will drop her and then you!”
“Do it Forrest. You have to. My life is not enough to risk all the ones that will be harmed if that thing stays around.”
“Angie!” Forrest called, wavering enough to give Ross hope.
“Drop it!” Angie commanded.
“NO! Toss it to me,” Ross said. As incentive he cocked the pistol aimed at Angie’s head.
“Come and get it,” Forrest said extending the medallion over the pit as he turned to face them.
Ross studied Forrest’s face and then made a decision that set off a crazy scramble toward Forrest. He doubled over Angie with a thrust of his elbow to her gut and rushed toward the pit and the medallion. Forrest squeezed the medallion once more and faded from view just as Ross dived for it. Finding nothing to grab, Ross tumbled head first into the deep hole. Forrest reappeared with one hand clasped on the rail at the top of the pit and fought to hold on. The medallion hung by the chain from his other hand and he called out to Angie for assistance.
“I’m here! Give me your hand!”
Forrest’s face showed he was nearly out of energy, drained from too many transitions. Angie grabbed his wrists just above his hands and held on tight.
“Let it go,” Forrest. “Ross wanted it, so let him have it.”
Forrest felt his while body shudder as he released the object that had been with him for so long it seemed a piece of him. Angie heaved as she braced against the rail and pulled Forrest to safety. He melted into a prone position on the floor, gasps of air causing his chest to heave uncontrollably.
“You did it!” Angie said pulling him close.
“We did it!” Forrest breathlessly corrected her.
Sephira Yedidya smiled as she saw her son staggering, but walking hand in hand with Angie as they exited the building. Men from her Mechilah group were busy securing the site, collecting the survivors of Ross’ force. The danger had passed.
Xia smiled appreciatively, knowing his long career was complete. Anna and Benjamin ran to embrace their brother, with Benjamin sliding under Forrest’s arm to help him to their mother’s position.
“It is done?” Sephira asked.
“Yes,” Forrest answered.
“Your father would be proud!”
Forrest embraced his mother, and then turned to face Angie. He took in her face, which was as beautiful today as he could ever remember. Her hands in his he hesitated only a second before speaking.
“I have something to ask, and I hope you won’t . . . “
“Yes. Yes I will marry you Forrest Graham.”
“It’s Ananiah. Ananiah Yedidya.”