Ring! Ring! Ring!
Gary sighed; he knew exactly who it was.
Not wanting to hear his parents bicker again, his nine-year-old son abruptly excused himself to go to the bathroom. Gary took the final, hearty swig of his tepid cappuccino and apprehensively answered the phone.
“Yeah?” he grunted.
“I can hear it raining, where are you?” a shrill voice responded.
“Outside? Better not be, Brandon’s just got over a cold!”
There was a brief silence. Gary sighed again.
“You controlling cow,” Gary muttered under his breath.
He tried to correct his hushed outburst. “I know, I know. He’s under cover,” Gary said, loudly but calmly.
A middle-aged, suited man sitting at the table to Gary’s right glanced up.
“And when you take him back home try to spend some time playing something he likes,” Gary’s wife said sternly.
“That game he likes, the I see, no, I-.”
“Spy, yes, yes I know, calm down. I’ll do it,” Gary interrupted.
The man to Gary’s right froze in the middle of turning a newspaper page and his eyes darted upwards towards Gary.
As his wife ranted on, Gary felt a pair of eyes on him.
He swiftly twisted his neck to the right and glared back at the strange man before he answered his wife, “I’ll put him to sleep soon, don’t worry.”
The man shrieked and hastily exited the café, stumbling over chairs and knocking over tables.
After 20 years of service as a secret FSB agent, Vasek Petrochenko called his superiors in Moscow to tell them he had been burned.
Two years had passed.
News of Petrochenko’s detection slowly trickled through the international intelligence community.
The general consensus was that Gary was a counter-espionage agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, but when a CIA agent from that sub-department confronted him, it wasn’t a code name he got in response, but rather a “what the fuck?”
Word eventually reached the FSB via an informant.
A few high ranking officials in the FSB started to believe that Gary might not be a spy after all, but Yuri Denisov wasn’t convinced.
When the senior FSB agent found out about Gary’s planned trip to Moscow to attend a ski equipment convention, he sent his most trusted agent to see whether his hunch was right, once and for all.
Gary’s trip didn’t get off to a great start.
He lost his wallet and his phone battery died.
He was forced to check into the only accommodation he could afford with the petty cash on him: the Partova Hotel. The hotel followed the successful Japanese model of providing tiny, plastic, cell-like capsules stacked side-by-side. The FSB agent had carefully stalked him to the hotel and observed the check-in from a wide pillar behind the dimly-lit lobby. He touched his earpiece and attempted to relay the information to his boss, but the signal was weak.
Only a few words made it through the wave of static, “He’s.. Partova…..”
“What? Say again,” Denisov said.
He scoffed at his chief-of-staff seat seated across from him in his luxurious office. “Are they ever going to replace these KGB-era pieces of crap.”
The chief-of-staff shrugged.
“Please repeat yourself Rublev!” Denisov yelled at the speaker positioned in the center of his mahogany desk.
“Sleep cell! Sleep cell!” Rublev shouted back through the increasingly loud static, then all noise abruptly ceased.
The two of them looked at each other wide-eyed.
“So he is a part of a sleeper cell,” The chief-of-staff exclaimed.
Denisov nodded proudly. “I knew it! Dispatch the hit squad.”
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