Sunday, November 2, 2008

My NaNoWriMo 2008

During the month of November, I'm making my second attempt at completing the 50,000 word writing goal of National Novel Writing Month. Below is an excerpt of this year's work, which so far is on track and coming along nicely.

To stay up to date on the progress of my work, and to read this project in it's entirety throughout the month, request access here, then upon approval head on over to WriMo Joe.

10:03 PM

It wasn't going to be easy. He knew that, no matter how much he tried not to admit it to himself. His wasn't a line of work that lent itself to easily accomplished tasks. Not for most people, anyway, and from time to time he found himself in the midst of what would turn out to be something quite difficult to accomplish safely and, well, discreetly. Discretion, of course, was the most important part of his job. If he couldn't complete assigned tasks with a great deal of discretion – well, let's just say that his life depended on discretion in virtually all that he did.

The call had come quite late that evening, which wasn't unusual at all, though the call could come at any time of day. There didn't seem to be any pattern. He could receive the call as soon as his Handler (Handler with a capital 'H' because that's the only name he had for her) got word from the Agency (again, capital 'A' because discretion was critical), or it could be days or even weeks later. Funny thing was, it always seemed to be an assignment of extreme urgency by the time it trickled down to him. He often wondered if his Handler sat on the assignment intentionally, trying to test his mettle. It seemed the more he accomplished for his Handler and the Agency, the more they challenged him with. It certainly wasn't a job that got easier as time went on.

Spencer Field wasn't the kind of man who gave up easily on a challenge. He supposed that was why they continually pushed the envelope with him. Somehow, he always seemed to accomplish even the most difficult assignments. Sometimes he didn't even know how he managed to pull through. This latest assignment wasn't the most difficult assignment he'd ever received, but it wasn't the easiest by far. The hardest part would probably be the deadline – he had exactly twenty-four hours to complete the mission and report back to the Handler via the secure satellite phone he had just retrieved from the Agency's drop location. It was a different satellite phone for every assignment – he supposed that helped to avoid tracking and to complicate investigation by the authorities.

Spence sat behind the wheel of a beat up old Volkswagen microbus on an otherwise deserted street in the heart of midtown Anywhere, USA. That's how he thought of most cities he found himself in. Of course they all had names, but sometimes the names were so obscure, and he spent so little time in each one, quickly moving on to the next town and the next mission, that he didn't often dwell on things like the name of a place. In fact, the more he was able to forget after completing each assignment, the better off he figured he was. Truly forgetting about something made it unnecessary to lie about it should the authorities pick him up. He had passed more than one lie detector test thanks to his ability to forget details so quickly and thoroughly. Not that he had ever fallen into the hands of the authorities, that had never been a concern for Spence (knock on wood). The Agency would sometimes pull him in and test his ability to endure under the pressures of interrogation by running him through the paces, and those paces had included polygraph on more than one occasion. His Handler had once called him a master of deception. Spence let her have her fun with labels, but he knew that deception wasn't enough to keep him alive in a tight spot.

Sitting in the old microbus, Spence mentally prepared himself for what must be done over the next twenty-three hours and some odd minutes. Time, unfortunately, wasn't something he could control as effectively as his own memory. And it was quickly ticking away.

The assignment involved not the elimination of a threat, which was the case more often than not, though it might result in the elimination of someone should they become a threat to the completion of his mission. Spence – he of the ability to so easily and thoroughly forget – called upon his paradoxical photographic memory and replayed the brief call from his Handler.

“Spence,” he answered as the late night call came in. Every wasted word was one instant less he would have to complete the assignment.

“Agent Field,” the mysterious voice of his Handler began, “you will pick up a new sat phone at the drop in thirty minutes.” Click.

That had been forty-five minutes ago, and the Handler had indeed contacted him on the newly retrieved secure phone fifteen minutes ago.

“Spence,” again.

“Agent Field?” always with the formality.

“Yes, Field here.” he answered.

“I have been reading about the 1916 World Series,” the Handler challenged him for identity verification. It was the way the Handler ensured that the secure satellite phone had not landed in the wrong hands. She expected Spence to have encyclopedic knowledge of baseball. She, on the other hand, had Wikipedia.

“BoSox over the Brooklyn Robins, four games to one,” Spence answered after an almost imperceptible pause.

“Number 37?” the second part of the challenge.

“Stengel, Charles Dillon, also known as Casey,” Spence replied robotically.

“You have twenty-four hours to retrieve a document and deliver it to your contact. You will find details of the mission inside an old microbus on Canal Street. The key to unlock the vehicle is inside the battery compartment of your sat phone. Do not attempt to start the vehicle. Twenty-four hours.” Click.

Spence now sat in seat of said microbus, having found a blank, thin envelope above the sun visor. It was cold and wet as the rain fell steadily on the streets around him. He slid his finger beneath the flap of the envelope and opened.

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