Thursday, October 19, 2006

A dark hole

Getting Boris out of the block proved harder that expected, as these things usually do. We met him in a bar-café that was nothing more than the kitchen of a local house where illegal alcohol was served with a side of eggs and fresh bread and stew. The owner spends her time in opium dreams while her eleven-year-old serves up the liquor.

Boris was waiting in a cupboard behind the kitchen area and nearly bolted when Whiteface got the password wrong. I brought the prerequisite DNA screen as proof that we were his contact. It was just before sunset and there were lots of people on the streets. No problem joining the throng to get us to the river. We headed west by boat for several hours before getting off and meeting the driver who would take us to a small house near the Latvia border. Whiteface returned to make sure we made a clean exit. I nearly freaked when the driver slapped a blindfold across my face. His way or the highway until we made it to the house. It was bad enough that I had no one to watch my back, the blindness itself was terrifying.

The little row house was creepy but it hides a tunnel that travels for more than eight miles, transecting the border, though we would only be under for 5 miles. To make the trip a little more challenging, we had to enter the tunnel from a second-story dumbwaiter. That chicken-shit defector refused to go first, so I’m thinking to myself, ‘hey, this will really suck if these two bolt and leave me stuck between the floors.” Nice set-up: someone from the second floor has to release the latch that locks the tunnel entrance, letting the dumbwaiter continue downward. I listened from the darkness as Boris begged for reassurances that the tunnel was safe and complete. Our driver just laughed and hit the down button.

The tunnel felt like it hadn’t been used for decades and smelled of mold and dust. It was also heavily infested with everything you can think of. Our every whisper echoed back at us. I put to use the hand-cranked flashlight the driver supplied us with, for which I was very thankful. Having had no forewarning that we’d be traveling underground, I wasn’t prepared for what turned out to be better than 4 hours in the hole. We kicked through muck and stagnant water, and in places the smell of animal shit was overwhelming. There were periodic breaks in the bad air by way of 4-inch iron pipes that ran to the surface. These vents were no doubt the access point for whatever was shitting, and the air expelled from more than one of them came to us via a sewer.

The trek was long, cold, exhausting and tiresome. I have to admit that I did once, and only once, threaten to shoot Boris and cut his f*cking legs off there in the dark if he didn’t quit whining. I guess I should be grateful the old man waited to start complaining several hours into the trip. Admittedly, we hadn’t slept in nearly 24 hours and in several places the tunnel dropped in diameter, causing us to crawl along on our bellies or bent over. We fell a lot, rested a lot. The blisters are insane.

Just before emerging we had our roughest time. The tunnel dipped and rose in two places and the recesses were filled to hip-level with slimy water and the carcass of a small dog. Boris almost passed out on me while trying to hold his breath though the worst of it. At the first exit marker we pushed through years of overgrowth into weak sunlight and drizzle. We were in the middle of nowhere. No signs of civilization anywhere. About a mile away, foothills began to rise up to meet a mountain range that ran NE to SW. I tried but gave up trying to determine our location. Satellite phone time.

I made contact with the extraction team waiting in the Gulf of Finland. We would have to make it to the north coast of Astonia. A car would meet us in town just west of our location and drive us to the Latvia border. Just past the mark we were met by another contact that pushed us up the coast to the extraction location.

The rest of the trip was flawless. We were airlifted from the ship the next morning.
I can’t seem to shower enough to get the feeling of grime out of my skin and hair.
No one bled, no one died. I hope we get the bad guys.

BTW, Wil is going after NKorea. About f*cking time. I hate that guy.


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