Carol the spy
Carol was almost too tired to read. But with ‘almost’ being the key word, she snuggled into bed, turned on her bedside lamp, and opened her brand new spy book.
Carol loved spy books. She loved getting away from her quiet life to read about people jumping out of planes and getting past security systems, and killing the bad guys. Don’t get me wrong, Carol liked her quiet life. She liked her routine. She was retired, and was part of a few clubs where she had great friends, and she enjoyed talking and laughing with them at every meeting. She was in a gardening club, where her and eight other people met three times a week at the retirement community’s garden and they planted and tended to tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans. She loved it when there were some ready to be picked and eaten. Some of her friends from the group all went to her house after one of the days and made zucchini bread, and snacked on the raw beans. It was wonderful.
She was also a part of the events committee, where they planned Christmas parties for all the seniors and their families, or organized charity events. Carol was also a part of a book club that met once a month, but the books they read were slow, or sad, or made you think about life.
Her days were definitely filled with activity and wonderful people, but it was very structured and organized. Even though she had a great time and went to bed with a smile on her face every night, she longed for something exciting. Something loud. Something big. Which was why she read spy novels. Every night before bed she would say to hell with her book club book, and read something with some action.
This book that Carol picked up tonight was one that her son had bought her for her birthday a few weeks ago. She was so excited to read it, and now that she was done her with other book, she could finally crack this one open.
Carol was the least suspecting person in the room, even though she was the top agent Carol read. She thought it was interesting that the main character’s name was Carol, and thought that maybe that was why her son got it for her. He might have mentioned it when she opened it, but she couldn’t remember. She shrugged, smiled, and continued reading.
There were bugs all over the room and she was off her game. She didn’t know she was being watched. Even though she was on vacation and didn’t think that anyone knew of her whereabouts, she should have been more careful. She should have been in spy mode at all times, instead of reading a book in bed, completely unprepared.
Carol looked up from her book and peered around the room, suddenly feeling very exposed. Why did it feel like she was reading about herself as she said the words on the page out loud? She shivered a little and went back to reading, trying to laugh at herself for acting so silly. Of course the book wasn’t about her. She wasn’t a spy.
Carol turned the light off to go to sleep, completely unaware of how soon her dreams would be interrupted. They had found her. They had found her, and they would show no mercy.
Starting to get a little freaked out, Carol shut the book and set it on her nightstand. Maybe she would pick it up again in the morning and read it while the sun was shining. She let out a deep breath and turned off the light.
A high pitched screech came from all around the room, waking Carol in a disoriented stupor. She had no idea what was happening, and she was so tired that she felt dizzy. Before she was able to reach for her light to turn it on, her bedroom window shattered into millions of tiny pieces, glass blowing into her room and landing on her like rain.
“What’s going on?” she said out loud to herself.
With shaking fingers, she turned on her light and almost screamed when she saw all the glass covering her floor and bed. Was she dreaming? It felt so real. The phone started to ring just then, so she jumped out of bed to answer it, hoping whoever was on the other end could help her.
“Hello?” she said into the receiver.
“Answer the phone,” the voice on the other end said.
“Answer the phone? I just did!”
But then there was another ringing somewhere in the room, and Carol spun around frantically, wondering if she would find another phone, and if she would even answer it. But then she saw it. A small, white cell phone was lying in the broken glass and the screen on it was lit up as the jingly song continued to play from it. She gulped and carefully stepped across the carpet, trying to avoid any sharp pieces of glass, and then slowly leaned down to the pick it up.
She stared at it for about ten seconds before she flipped it open and put it to her ear.
“Do as I say,” the voice said before she even had a chance to say hello.
“What’s going on?” Carol asked.
“When I tell you, you’re going to jump out the window.”
“Jump out the window!?” Who did this person think he was? Carol was not going to be jumping out any windows. No sir!
“Stay down until I tell you to move.”
“Stay down!?” She immediately dropped to the ground without thinking, afraid of someone sniping her through the window or something. Oh jeez, why was she afraid of someone sniping her through the window? Maybe she needed to cut back on these spy novels.
“Ok, move to the window, it’s safe for now.”
“Safe for now!?” Carol screeched, still pressed into the carpet and shards of glass.
“You’re going to have to stop repeating everything that I say,” the man on the other end said.
“Stop repeating everything that you say!?”
“Seriously, you have to stop.”
“I have to stop!?”
“Carol, I’m being serious.”
“How do you know my name!?” Carol was getting really freaked out and had no idea how to react to anything. Who was the man on the phone, and how did he know her name?
“You have to move to the window now, or they’ll find you. Now. Go!”
Before she even had time to realize what she was doing, Carol crawled across the carpet and hardly flinched as she cut herself on the many pieces of glass along the way. She made it to the window and gulped, even though she was only on the second floor. Still, she was not as young as she once was, but even when she was young, she didn’t think jumping out of a second story would have ever been a good idea.
“Jump! Now!” the man on the phone said.
Carol squealed and found herself launching out of the window. The wind in her hair as she fell felt amazing; it was cold and refreshing. It woke her up to her complete awareness, now figuring she probably wasn’t dreaming at all. Her stomach flew up to her throat as she fell through the air, but before she had time to scream, a truck drove by at just the right time for her to land in the back, her landing softened by something, but she wasn’t sure what.
The truck was moving pretty quickly and she had to steady herself on the side of the truck bed so that she didn’t fall over. They passed underneath a street light and she was able to see that the truck was carrying a whole bunch of blankets and pillows. She wasn’t sure way, but was thankful for the timing of it all, and that she was able to get away safely. But from what, she still had no idea.
“When I say,” the man on the phone said, “you’re going to jump out the back.”
“Of the truck!?”
“Yes, Carol, of the truck. What else would you jump out the back of?”
“I don’t know what’s happening,” Carol said through a shaky voice.
“They’ve found you. We’re not sure how, but they know who you are, and they will stop at nothing to capture you and get as much information as they can from you. Since we’ve given you the memory serum, there’s currently no information for you to give them.”
“You’ve wanted the memory serum for quite some time now. Since you just retired-”
“Just retired?” Carol screeched, cutting him off. “I’m 80 years old!”
“I know; I’ve known you for a long time, Carol. But you have to listen to me.”
She took in a deep breath and nodded, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. Or could he?
“You’re going to have to jump soon. I’ll tell you what to do from there.”
Carol jumped off the back of a moving vehicle, and rolled a few times after she landed. She still had the phone clenched in a tight fist, and she brought it back to her ear.
“Up ahead there’s a bench. Sit down on it.”
Carol strolled along the sidewalk in the dark park, looking around her at the few people out in the wee hours of the morning. She nodded at a couple as they passed by her, but they didn’t seem to notice her. They were too wrapped up in their own world, probably on a date early on in their relationship and nothing else in the world existed to them at that moment, except for each other.
She sat down on the bench. “Now what?” she asked into the phone.
“What did I say about repeating everything I say?”
Carol huffed and leaned back against the wooden bench, wondering why she was following this man’s instructions in the first place. She couldn’t be a spy; that was ridiculous. She couldn’t be a spy, and there couldn’t be any bad guys after her. Plus if she was a spy, shouldn’t she be the one after someone? Stopping someone from doing some evil, horrible thing? See, she didn’t even know. She just liked to get away for a little bit each night and read about them in exciting books. She certainly didn’t do that stuff in real life.
“Grab the earpiece under the bench and put it in your ear,” the man on the phone said. “Now.”
She looked around for half a second before leaning forward and placing her hand under the bench, feeling around for something that felt like an earpiece. Her fingers finally grazed over something small and hard, that seemed to be taped under the bench. She pulled the tape off and put the earpiece in her ear.
“Good,” the man said, now through the earpiece. “Turn off the phone and throw it in the garbage can.”
Carol stood up and walked the few feet to the trash bin, hesitated a little bit, and then dropped the phone in.
“Now walk towards the street and wait at the light. Don’t look back.”
She resisted the urge to nod, and did as he said. Right before she made it to the intersection, a small pop came from behind her.
“Don’t look back,” the man said again, stopping her from turning her head.
She waited for the light to change, and wondered if that popping sound was the phone self-destructing. What did these people think she knew? What kind of information did she supposedly have that these bad guys wanted from her? Was it something that she used to know, and has now forgotten due to the apparent memory serum that she took? She had so many questions, and only the sound of a stranger breathing into her ear.
The bright, white symbol of a walking person lit up, and Carol started to cross the street, even though there were no cars anyway and she could have walked while the light was red. Carol so wanted to know more about what was going on. Who was this man telling her what to do? If he really knew her for so long like he had said, why hadn’t he told her his name? Why hadn’t she remembered him? If she had really taken a memory serum, she felt like speaking to him or hearing his voice should have at least triggered some kind of deja vu if they had really known each other for so long beforehand.
Also who waits until they’re 80 years old to retire!?
“They’re coming after you.” The voice suddenly panicked in Carol’s ear made her flinch, before breaking out into a run. She didn’t know where she was going, or even why she was running, but instinct told her to move.
“Get in the car.” She looked to her left to see a black sedan pulling into a parking spot. “Yes, that one.”
She reached out her hand to open the passenger side door, but the voice in her ear made her stop. “No, the driver’s side.”
“What?” she said, her hand still reaching for the car door handle, frozen in mid-air.
“Pull the driver out of the car before he shuts it off and leaves with the keys.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Yes you can.”
“But you wiped my memory!” she said a little too loudly.
“This stuff is engraved in you, Carol. As soon as you start doing it, it’ll all be muscle memory.”
She ran around to the other side of the car and went to open it, but the man getting out opened the door first. She squealed a little because she was nervous and completely in over her head, but before she had much more time to think, she grabbed the man’s car keys at the exact same time that she pulled on the shoulders of his jacket and spun him around, throwing him into the street.
“Hey!” the man shouted. But Carol was getting into his car and driving away.
“See?” Earpiece Man said. “You got this.”
“Where do I go?” she asked.
But before he could answer, her car was bumped from behind, and she was thrusted forward, her seatbelt stopping her from hitting the steering wheel. The car was bumped again, but harder this time, so she pushed the gas pedal to the floor and took the car over the sidewalk and into the park, hoping that they wouldn’t follow her there.
But they did.
They chased her through the pretty pathways of the park, and she floored it over a skateboard ramp and over one side of a fountain. She looked behind her quickly to see the ramp had broken after she took off from it, and the other car had to go around the fountain. She had a little bit of a lead on them. She swerved the car down a steep hill and unbuckled her seatbelt, ready to launch herself at the last second. Right when the car was about to go into the lake at the bottom of the hill, she leapt out of the car and rolled behind a bush.
Out of breath and frightened, Carol crawled out of the bushes, hoping the enemy didn’t see where she went. She hoped they followed the car into the water, or figured she drowned.
“Where did I learn how to do that?” she asked herself, forgetting there was a man somehow watching and listening to her.
“In the CIA,” he replied.
A young woman pulled Carol off the street and into her small café. She grabbed onto her arm and dragged her to the back and into the basement. Carol didn’t say anything; she just wondered what was happening. The earpiece was starting to static and it worried her. What would she do without the man in her ear telling her what she needed to do? Except that she drove the car into the lake and jumped out all on her own. Maybe she didn’t need him after all. Maybe she could do this.
“You have to go fast,” the girl said, opening a cabinet in front of them.
Carol gasped when the doors swung open and revealed row upon row of guns. Where did this girl get these? How did she get them? These guns were all kinds of illegal.
“Take whatever you need and get going before they find you,” the girl said.
“But I don’t understand.”
“They told me you took the memory serum for your retirement. I’m sorry it hasn’t been very relaxing so far. But once you get rid of these guys, I’m sure you can get back to it.” She smiled softly and stood to the side, probably so Carol could pick a gun. Her mind was continuing to be blown into pieces because as she looked at the guns, her mind was spinning and telling her which ones were the easiest to use while driving a car, or jumping off a building. She knew which ones had the best aim, and which ones shot farther. She shook her head, and grabbed two guns that fit into her hands and pockets easily, pulled out a bunch of extra ammo, and went back up the stairs.
She poked her head the back door to make sure the coast was clear before going out completely. But as she made it down the back alleyway, she saw someone coming in from around the corner at the other end. She pressed her back to the wall and turned her head, to see one of the bad guys creeping towards her. She stepped back into the alleyway and shot him once, not even watching him fall to the ground before she broke out into a run.
“How did I just do that?” she asked herself. “I know people are telling me I’m a spy, but I’m not a spy!”
She made it back out to the street and just noticed that the sun was starting to come up, filling the sky with a deep, brilliant orange. She pocketed her gun and smiled, admiring it for a few seconds, before rounding the corner, and continuing on her way.
A bullet whizzed past Carol’s head and she ducked down, taking in a sharp breath of surprise. She hid behind the trunk of a car to catch her breath, and took out both her guns, slightly disturbed at how comfortable they felt resting in her palms. She let out a deep sigh and got up slowly, checking her surroundings. The bullet came from her left slightly. She looked over and saw a man in a black trench coat hiding behind a set of mailboxes. He was just on his way out from hiding, gun pointed right at her.
Carol didn’t even think. She stayed hidden behind the car but ran towards the front of it and jumped onto the hood, sliding across it, alternating shots from both her guns.
She shot with her left hand, and then with her right, aiming at all the men who suddenly appeared on the street. By the time she slid off the front of the car and landed on the road, they were all dead.
“Well,” Carol said. “I guess you don’t want to mess with me.”
Carol ran back to her apartment as fast as she could, and she felt a thousand times safer once she was inside.
“Carol?” the voice in her ear asked. “Can you hear me?”
“Oh, you’re back!” she said.
“I never left. I could hear you the whole time; I guess you just couldn’t hear me.”
“Oh. Well I figured it all out.”
“Yeah, I can tell. But listen, I think there might be someone waiting for you in your apartment.”
She stopped and looked around the building lobby. Jonathon and Mary were on their way for their morning swim, and they smiled and waved at her. She was about to wave back when she realized she still had the guns in her hands, so she hid them behind her back and settled for a smile and nod. She slowly made her way to the elevator and was met with another one of her friends, George, from the book club, who smiled and said hello to her as he stepped into the lobby.
“Nice morning,” she said, stepping into the lift.
“Mhmm,” George replied, standing in front of the open doors. “Are you enjoying the book?”
“Hmm? What? Oh, the book. Yes. Very good.”
The elevator doors shut then, a wave of relief washing over Carol. But then as the elevator started rising to the second floor, her heart started to pound. What would she do if there were men in her apartment? Out in the streets, there were places to run, places to hide. But in her own little house, there was nowhere to go.
She realized once she got to her door, that she hadn’t left that way earlier that night. She jumped out the window. If she turned the handle and found the door unlocked, she would know for sure that there were people inside.
She reached out and wrapped her hand around the knob, and with shaking fingers she slowly turned it. Her breath hitched as she inched the door open, afraid for what she would find.
“You’re home,” a deep voice from the other side of the door said.
Carol didn’t reply. Instead she stepped inside her home, ready for whatever was waiting for her.
She heard the gunshot first, but somehow she was already moving. Like she was anticipating it, like she’d been trained for things like this, like she’d done it before. She moved easily to the side and then ran at the man quickly, catching him off guard. She leapt in the air and kicked the gun from his hand. He yelped and stumbled, but didn’t fall. But Carol was right at him again, leaping in the air and kicking again, forcing him back into the coffee table, and breaking it in two.
She jumped across the table and grabbed at the man’s suit jacket as she passed over him, pulling the two sides together at his neck. She landed on the couch behind him and cut off his airway by continuing to lean forward over him from the sofa and pull his suit together in a tight circle around his neck.
“Why are you after me?” she whispered into his ear.
“We know…” he choked, “who you... work for.”
“I don’t work for anyone,” she hissed. “I’m retired.”
Carol vacuumed up the broken glass in her room, and then took a hot shower to try and get the day’s events off her back. It was strange, being thrown into this weird mess, shooting guns, and choking strangers in her living room. But what was stranger, was how easy it all felt to her. How naturally everything came to her and how comfortable she was with it all once she started doing it. Maybe she really was a spy.
After her shower, she picked up the earpiece that she had placed on the bathroom counter, and examined it. She wished she could remember the man on the other end, the man who she apparently knew well, for a long time. The man who helped her through this all when she had clue what she was doing. She rolled the little piece of hardware around in her fingertips a few times before smiling, and tossing it into the trash.
“Thanks,” she said, mostly to herself.
Even though the sun was now up completely and everyone was out going about their days, she yawned and made her way to bed.
Carol was almost too tired to read. Her day was so exhausting, but also exciting and exhilarating. Even though she had a crazy day, she still wanted to read a least a couple pages of her book before going to sleep. So she reached to her nightstand and picked up her book, but was confused to see that the bookmark had moved from the beginning to the end of the novel. She frowned, and took the bookmark out, to see that there was only one page left. Who moved it? She shrugged and decided to read it from that spot anyway, and read that one last page before going to sleep.
Carol wouldn’t have to worry about being off her game anymore. She could finally relax without even having to think about what her game even was. The memory serum had taken its full effect, and even though her reflexes and knowledge of the weapons and tactics in the field didn’t wipe from her memory, she was happily oblivious to it all. If she ever found herself in this situation again, they knew she could take care of herself. But what she had now, was the ability to enjoy life without having to think about taking care of herself in that way. She had no idea the dangers that could lurk before her, or of the people who may or may not still be after her. She wouldn’t remember her partners or her friends, but they would remember her. And for them, that was ok. They were happy that she could take joy in gardening clubs and making zucchini bread with her other retired friends.
But they were always watching her, always looking out for her.
And every time she got into bed and picked up a spy book, they smiled. “She’s still got some of it,” they would say. “That’s our Carol.”