He sits in his Beijing hotel room, listening to conversations. A crumpled cheap, made-in-12-hours, suit jacket slumped on the bed. His creased shirt is showing perspiration stains as the ceiling fan cranks slowly above, its draught hitting the bald patch on the back of his head with sticky air. He longs to be back home, sitting on the verandah with an ice cold beer and a red hot woman. Neither prospect will come to him soon enough. The windows are closed to keep the breath-sucking pollution from his already tarred lungs. Everyone smokes here. He's a 2 packet a day man and it's clogging up the works. He lights another and adjusts his headset.
Nothing new, trade deals, financial information, the formation of commercial alliances, the depositions of traitors, until today. Loud and clear. There's a new development and it's not a pretty one. Two voices. Now this piques his interest to the point where tiny hairs rise on the back of his neck. The prospect being both exhilarating and terrifying. He can identify the official but not the other voice. He hears mention of Hezb-i-Islami-Gulbuddin and remembers the kidnapping of Chinese workers in Lal Masjid by extremists in 2007. Why are they talking to each other? His multi-lingual capabilities don't fail him as he hears "uranium", "weapons grade", "Taliban" . . .it doesn't take him long to figure out that high grade uranium intended for Chinese power stations is going somewhere more insidious.
Still sensitive about recent tension over the kidnappings of Chinese workers in Swat, the agency has been concerned about China's support of militants in exchange for safe passage. It's always been feared that China might make deals with known terrorists in order to ensure the safety of it's assets. They've already made noises about building nuclear reactors inside Pakistan but Blake knows that it's highly likely they'll also ignore the international nonproliferation guidelines and help with the development of a stronger nuclear capability. But help whom? The Taliban? Jesus, this is some revelation. He's on the blower. He wastes no time in alerting his superiors. Investigations begin with the highest level of security. Operatives within the sub-continent are activated. Plans are made.
She was only 12 when Hazadin asked her father if he could 'have' her. She'd cried and begged but her father would have none of it. She was of marriageable age and Hazadin a good prospect. Her sister's had all been 'married off' and the burden of cost removed from the family. Gul was the last and forced into the arms of the abusive Hazadin. His arms were what terrified her, pinning her down, hands over her mouth. Strong and brutal. His arms supported the hands that beat her, the hands that groped her yet ultimately the hands that fed her.
And so she ran. From an irate father and a misogynistic husband. Today she's beginning to see a future and a life away from the bombs and cruelty. Government buildings long abandoned due to border incursions now form makeshift schools for children like her. Children who've fled, children who have never lived without the reverberation of violence in the background. Children who have had to grow up before their time. At last there is hope.
The assembly is frantic. A cacophony of discussion as operatives argue over who's fault it was and how blame can be shifted. How the media should be briefed. "It's a fucking disaster, that's what it is!" yells an exasperated Nathan Grey, hands pressed hard against his cheeks in total disbelief. Heads will roll and his will be the first to sit at Madam La Farge's feet, to account for their humongous error of judgement. He's responsible for oversighting the careful selection and elimination of the target. "How could we have got it so wrong? A teacher and fucking children?"
"But the map . . " his colleague is cut short, "Shut the fuck up you moron . . . it's out of date." Sheer disbelief behind his eyes, "We hit the wrong fucking target!"
Posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "The Map Says We're Fucked"