Okay, so I'm not done yet, but I want to get this one posted so I can guilt myself into finishing it. Still untitled, still not sure where I'm going with it yet. But a start is a start. The prompt was "You can have seconds, if you want."
The non-sound of snow.
I rolled in the blanket, stretching against the car seat. Even it was cold where I hadn’t been sleeping. Freezing, in fact. Each time I blinked it got a little easier to see, even though my breath fogged up the interior of the car and the windows were opaque with ice. White and gray; white and gray. I rolled again, towards the driver seat. Saul was hunched over the console, face hidden.
“Saul. Saul. Wake up.”
“Whaa? Where? Whaa?” The Browning's chamber aimed through his foggy breath. Saul always woke like that, glaring and brandishing a gun. Said if you didn’t wake up ready to kill, you’d wake up dead. Only his glare was visible from his gaiter.
“Easy, now. It got cold; we need some heat.” As soon as he unearthed the keys, I nabbed them and started the car so he could put down the gun. There was a rumble, then the glow of headlights against snow and the mountain face. We’d parked base of the drive, just behind a nice edge of trees that ran parallel to the main road. Out of sight, out of mind. At this elevation, the snow stole the nighttime and even with the headlights, it was all still white and gray, just splashed with two bright beams. Saul flicked the headlights off, curled over the steering wheel, then straightened.
“O-2-hundred,” he mumbled, jerking his muffled head at the clock. “Storm wasn’t supposed to be here until near breakfast.”
I nodded. It was cold. My brain felt heavy and sharp in my head.
“Shit,” he said finally. “Guess we better drive up now or we’ll never make it. Check the radio while I get started, see if you can catch anybody at Langley. Or hell, maybe when we get high enough you’ll get some bars on your cell. Try them both.” He hopped out the driver’s side door and began chipping ice from the windshield. He left the Browning.
Quiet filled the car, sporadically broken with sprays of white noise. I checked both the radio and our cells. Nothing. Then I checked the gun. Ahh, something. It was loaded. Of course.
“No luck?” he called as he scraped. I shook my head. He nodded once. Fairly soon, he hopped back in, slamming the door behind him. Cold gusted off of him and he shook.
“Shit,” he said again. “Sh—shit! I hate these damn freezing-ass-cold assignments. Why can’t we ever retrieve an asset on some nice Tahitian beach? Shit!”
No point complaining about weather.
“You know, I’ve been thinking,” I paused. “Did you see the guy at that ski shop?”
“The tall one, standing in the front corner by the displays?”
“Yeah. Did he seem…”
“Like he was making us?”
“You saw him? Damnit Saul!”
“You didn’t say anything either, till now.” He concentrated on guiding the Subaru up the steep mountain drive.
“I thought I was just being paranoid. Rookie. You know, ‘farm fresh,’ remember?”
Saul yanked the gaiter off his head now that the interior was warmer.
“Look. We have enough to worry about without me tiptoeing around your precious ego. You are new. You are a rookie. You are fresh from the farm. But that doesn’t mean you keep things from me. If you notice someone suspicious, for God’s sakes mention it. This isn’t some simulation we’re running, Jenna.”
“Yeah? Why’d you not say anything, then, hmm? Too busy waiting to see if I’d figure it out?”
His Adams apple bobbed as he swallowed.
“Fine. I’m sorry. Yes, I saw the man. Yes, I should have said something. Yes, I thought he might have made us. Might have … might have made me.”
Then the Adams apple bob again. That was his tell. Or at least, that’s what he wanted me to think was his tell. With Saul, you never could know for sure how much he was manipulating the situation.
“Sarajevo. 93, maybe. I can’t be sure. ”
“Bosnia … Shit.” As if that covered it. The car seemed to be handling the snow fine, but the incline was tough. The dropoff was arranged for 0-700, at the top of the mountain. The thinking was that we could use the coming blizzard to help block our tracks as we flew back to Langley...But that was all before the snow hit early. Before the possible spy.
“Guess we’ll find out, won’t we?” Saul jerked his head to the back seat, and I unbundled, so I could pull the bag of weapons into the front seat. Maybe Saul was right to wake with a gun in his hand; already I felt a little better.
The asset we were scheduled to pick up, Mirna Kapetanovik, was the wife of a man who was — at one time — an honored general in the People’s Army of Yugoslav. Back in the day. I might have peeked in a file or two I wasn’t supposed to see. She’d turned informant for the Tribunal to get her husband’s sentence lessened to 15 years. When he was released, it seemed he’d been less than grateful to discover her turn of heart.
At the top of the mountain, we did what we could to prepare for the blizzard, then tucked ourselves in for the wait.
"Wake up. Jenna, wake up."
I had the gun pointed at his face before I had my eyes opened all the way. Guess language habits weren't the only thing I'd picked up from Saul. I lowered the gun.
"I charged my phone before we dozed. Not that we get any service up here like I hoped. But at least we know the time."
"What about the car?" I undulated myself up in the car seat and stretched. Then I saw the windows. Oh.
The snow was above the roof.
"Yeah," he said. That was it. "Yeah."
"So...is the battery dead?"
"The car battery? No; no. We just need to use as little of the car as we can. Who knows how long we'll be here.'
"We should have went back down the mountain. Called Langley. Rescheduled the drop off." I groaned, tilted forward until my head pressed against the glovebox.
"What? Explain to me how this is salvageable."
"Oh, that's easy," he said, twisting himself out of the blankets. "It all starts with a fist."
And he smashed his into my face.
When I opened my eyes, I saw upholstery. Looked like I bled, but not too much. Saul was not in the car. Wait. Wait. The car was buried. How did he get out? Why? Where could he possibly go? Shit. Yeah, Saul, shit. I twisted in the seat to get out from the blankets. He hadn't even bothered to cuff me or anything. Asshole. What, I wasn't enough of a threat? I threw the blankets off, slumped into the back seat. It made me see spots, all sparkling gray and black, just like on cartoons, but I found what I needed--or rather, didn't find what I needed. The weapons were gone. All of them. Shit.
Guess my non-armed, rookie, farm-fresh-and-all-banged-up-to-show-it ass had to go save the day.
Back in the front seat, I flicked the console open, then crawled in front of it. Pressed up against the dash and windshiled, there was just enough room for my short girl legs. After a few kicks, it came loose. I zipped up, smahsed my muffler down my head, wincing as it molded to the crusty skin around my eyebrow, put on another hat for good measure, and began throwing my body against his unlocked door. Sooner or later, it would open. After all, it had alreadhy been open once.
By the time I got out the car I was drenched with sweat. The snow didn't go that much higher than the car, and we had parked in what had became a drift anyway. Good luck, for once. It wasn't that bad pushing my way forward through the snow. Wet, cranky, and worried, yes. But not that bad. Twenty yards or so and I was free; the snow only came to my waist. Again, not that bad. I looked around. So white, and the air was still gray with the snow clouds even though the worst of the snow had apparently passed. Where was he?
There, movement amid the gray and white. And sound. That, more than anything, brought me to my senses. I crouched, watched as Saul ambled--positively ambled--out from a shelter he'd made in a wind-scoured spot just a few yards from where the helicopter would land. Land, it seemed, at any minute.