Maggie held a pillow sitting on one end of the couch. “I hope they translate, even after two years down here my Spanish isn't too good.”
“I'm sure they will, what good does it do them to speak it to an audience that mainly speaks English?” Nevers headed for the couch opposite the end Maggie was on.
Nevers could not keep his eyes from drifting from the snow-filled television to the pictures and certificates on the wall. It was apparent that things were not going to start on time. Perhaps some small talk would be in order, “How long have you and your husband known each other?”
Maggie headed for the kitchen while she talked, “We met about six years ago when he was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base. He had just gotten divorced. We went out a couple of times but I never thought I'd see him again after he moved here. Then three years ago, he hopped on a MAC flight that went from here to there, and showed up on my doorstep. Six months of puddle-jumping later we were engaged, and four months after that we were married.”
A test pattern came on the tube. “Might not be much longer,” Nevers voiced both of their thoughts. The public address system squawked, then came an announcement in Spanish first, then in English for everyone to turn on their televisions to channel nine, that the broadcast was about to begin.
Maggie turned off the gas stove, but still kept her eyes glued on the set.
A dark skinned, black haired man with a thick mustache and long, bushy sideburns appeared on the screen. He was dressed in a khaki colored uniform covered with medals and ribbons. He spoke in Spanish first.
Nevers eyed the certificates on the wall. What kind of strange coincidence could have possibly brought him into the house of the very man who had betrayed country and fellow service members that caused him to be on the run? When Nevers returned his attention to the screen, he saw pictures of his fellow escapees, and Ybarovich. “My squad!” he blurted out before thinking.
Maggie was already on her way back into the living room, and she sat down in front of the television. The Atlantican came back on and talked a few more minutes, and then in halting English with a heavy accent, he translated his own words.
“Citizens of Cortina, and visiting Americans,” his disgust of Americans was obvious by the way he emphasized visiting. “We the People's Democratic Republic of Atlantica have decided that in order to protect the island of Aragon that we must have a unified single country. The disastrous attempt at democracy by the people of Cortina is now officially over. Cortina is now a provincial state in the PDRA. At the present time, it has been deemed an unruly area, and as such is being occupied by loyal PDRA troops, as well as some of your fellow citizens. The Cortinian Liberation Force is taking a major position in the decisions decided for your state. These loyal citizens are essential to the progress being made for peace.
“Now, as for the Americans, quite simply, the most direct way I can put it, get out. You are now, and have always been a nuisance. Pack your bags and grab your families. You are ordered to leave the island immediately! Members of the CLF and the PDRA army have occupied your base, and claimed it for the good of all Aragon. The property inside its fences no longer belongs to you; go home.
“Today the CLF uncovered a terrorist plot devised by the Americans themselves. Several arrests were made, however, some of the individuals later escaped. With the help of loyal citizens they were returned to custody.” Again, the photographs were shown. “These are the faces of the six criminals. Their actions of aggression toward the island are unpardonable, yet we will allow them a reprieve. If the US begins to make serious progress toward removing themselves from our island, we will allow them to be freed. America, you have only twenty-four hours before we begin to shoot our prisoners at the rate of one every eight hours until either you have complied or we have no more prisoners. All hope of a quick peaceful end dies with the last of these six.
“As a measure of good faith we shall leave the power on through the night, until such time as we can determine an accurate way of rationing out the much needed resource. Thank you, and good night.”
The test pattern reappeared on the screen. Two stunned individuals stared at it for close to a minute before either of them spoke.
Slowly turning around Maggie asked, “Your squad? You were with Mark?”[ Jonathan Byrd, 8/22/18, 20:36
Last week you mentioned how Nevers escaped out the back of the truck and, "Ybarovich had seen them. He was watching to see where each had run too. He made no move to stop the truck."
This week, Nevers tells the wife that her husband was a traitor, but I think it would be wise if he also mentions how Ybarovich helped Nevers escape by not stopping the truck. As the story reads now, it sounds like Nevers has no reason to help the husband escape. And Maggie has no reason to think her husband needs help to 'escape' without that information.
You ended the chapter here at a great part, it makes me want to read next week to see how the great escape goes! I think you did a good job at showing this week. Great writing, keep going!]
Nevers was slow to answer, he swallowed hard, and then cleared his throat, “Do you want the truth, or a sugar coated lie I can dream up real quick?”
“If you have learned anything about me, you'd know I want the truth,” Maggie got up and put more space between the two of them. Her hand rested on her hip near the pistol still tucked in her waistband.
“Only if you're sure, ‘cause the lie would be easier to swallow,” Nevers started, haltingly, “The other five faces were the faces of the squad I was with. Your husband was our local guide and go-between so to speak. He betrayed us; he was working with the Atlanticans.”
Maggie slumped to the floor. “I told you the lie would be better, Maggie.” All things considered, she took the news pretty well. More or less all in stride. Although Nevers had no normal look to compare hers to, as this was the first time he had ever informed someone that their spouse was a traitor, and therefore not the person they thought they knew. No tears, no show of any emotion, almost a look of understanding, Maggie was definitely a case study.
“It would explain a great deal about Mark's recent behavior. I had almost begun to think that he was having an affair behind my back.” Maggie shook her head.
Silently Nevers stood and went to the kitchen to check on dinner. He was no expert on tact, but leaving her alone to collect her thoughts seemed to be the correct thing to do for this situation.
They had eaten in silence, then Nevers cleared the table and cleaned the dishes while Maggie headed down the hall.
She returned as he was putting the last pot in the dish rack to dry. “You didn't have to do that you know.”
“What else was there to do? Besides, I owe you something for not turning me in.” Nevers picked up a towel and started drying the dishes.
Maggie sat at the table, “You want to repay me? Help me to break into that TV studio to rescue my husband.”
After suppressing all feelings of complete disrespect for the man in question, Nevers put the pot on the stove and took a seat at the table. “Help you? You can't be serious. That studio is swarming with Atlanticans. A whole squad of specially trained soldiers, maybe, but the two of us? What kind of drugs are you on, and why haven't you shared the wealth?”
“Who else then? None of the other Americans seems to be around. Your whole team is in there, and it's too risky to involve any other people.” Maggie leaned on the table, “No guts, no glory, right?”
“Who said I'm into glory? I'm just passing time now. I've already made up my mind to not re-enlist. And, if it's all the same to you, I like my guts just where they are.”
“You can't possibly mean that. Those are your friends in there. And traitor or not, my husband is the only father my kids have ever known. . . .” Maggie's voice trailed off as the doorbell rang.
Nevers went to the kitchen doorway and crouched down. A quick glance at the microwave told him it was ten minutes to ten. Without thinking, his military trained mind translated that into 2150, and figured that no one at the door could possibly be ringing simply because he was in the neighborhood. Stealthily, without standing up, where the lights might silhouette him in the windows, he made his way to the front door. Maggie left through the other kitchen door.
As he reached the door, Nevers slowly stood to look through the peephole. Now would not be a good time for my knees to pop, he thought. Two men in uniform were outside. Not American uniforms, as he watched, one of them again rang the doorbell. Maggie walked quietly up.
“Atlanticans,” Nevers mouthed. Maggie motioned him to take the gun and to go into the darkened living room he had just exited. Nevers silently moved behind the wall and crouched in the corner.
Without undoing the chain, Maggie opened the door. “May I help you?” she sweetly asked the two soldiers.
With a slight accent, one asked, “Can we come in? We have a matter of great importance to discuss with you.”
Closing the door a fraction, Maggie said, “Both of you? Pardon me, but are you aware of how frightened all of us are? We can talk right here. What do you want?”
In Spanish, the two soldiers conversed. When the conversation ended, the second soldier turned around and walked a few feet down the sidewalk. “This matter concerns your husband. You may have seen the news broadcast earlier. He fights against Atlantican ideals, his actions have led to the loss of Atlantican and Cortinian lives, he will never leave the island of Aragon. He has signed a statement admitting his guilt and vowing to stay, but first he arranged for you to leave. Do you desire to leave?”
Nevers leaned forward to where he could just see Maggie and the door. “How?” was the only answer Maggie gave.
The soldier sighed, “Tomorrow regular service will begin from the Logue Airfield to other countries. I regret to inform you that the only planes we have are military right now, but you have a reserved spot on our inaugural flight.”
Maggie cringed, American military planes were only just bearable, the thought of a cramped, wooden, propeller plane did not thrill her, “How long do I have to decide?”
“Close to one minute. We are still soldiers in a militarily unstable area; we do not have time to piss around waiting for civilians, despite what our orders are.” As he finished talking, he glanced at his pocket watch.
“What do I have to do to go?”
Fishing in his coat pocket, the soldier pulled out an envelope, “Bring this to the Ministry of Air Travel tomorrow morning at eleven sharp. For now, we will leave you our military transport,” he waved in the direction of an American five ton truck, “and to insure your compliance take your car.” Noticing the bewildered look on Maggie's face, he added, “You can not take it with you, and by moving it from here it will keep from encouraging looters.”
“But I have no idea of how to drive one of those,” she motioned toward the truck. Certainly, this was not in his orders, he was simply trying to take advantage of the situation.
Nervously he fidgeted, this was not in his orders, but his superiors would do the same if they were here, “You will figure it out, there is limited room on the plane, bring only two bags, no more, the rest will be sent to you later. The ministry is located on the airfield; you will receive guidance at the gate, your keys.” A hand was thrust to the opening in the door.
“One minute,” Maggie closed and locked the door; she tossed the envelope at Nevers and went to find her keys. Damn car only worked for a week at a time anyway.
It was too dark to see in the dining room, but Nevers tried anyway while he waited. Maggie returned and took a deep breath before opening the door.
Both soldiers had their backs to the door, monitoring the road. The one that had done the talking kept returning his glance to the 1979 Trans Am that with luck he would drive back to his sleeping quarters. Maggie threw the keys through the crack and asked, “Is that all?”
Quickly turning and scooping up the keys, the soldier said, “Si, enjoy the flight. Hope the plane makes it.” He tapped his friend on the shoulder and sprinted to the driver's side of the car.
Maggie relocked the door as the tired Pontiac engine fired up. It sounded like it was on its last leg. Nevers stood and walked behind Maggie as she made her way to the lighted living room.
“Looks like step one of the plan, how to get there, is solved. Now let’s work on the rest,” Maggie said as she turned and sat on the couch. She rummaged through the drawer under the coffee table, finding a map of the base.
As she unfolded the map and smoothed out the wrinkles Nevers’ mind raced almost as fast as his heart. How could he possibly be thinking of agreeing to such a hare-brained scheme so soon after deciding to get out of the same organization that had put him into this predicament to start with?