Authors: Miles A. Maxwell
Tags: #General Fiction
This novel is a fantasy of the future, a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Great effort has been made, especially regarding those individuals who have recognizable positions with government, or publicly known organizations, mentioned herein, to insure they are not mistaken for past or present individuals in those positions. What the future holds, what possible outside influences may be brought to bear on future participants in those organizations, no one can say.
Copyright © 2016 Miles A. Maxwell FAB LLC
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. Electronic sharing of any part of this book without permission of the publisher, other than for review purposes, is a violation of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
For reprint permission contact:
B B Broadington LLC
Phoenix / Cheyenne
Drone photos by Lino Schmid & Moira Prati
His name was
Shalik Sarram, but it was the name on his passport, and he entered the Customs area at JFK bearing no aerosol cans of infectious disease, no knives or scissors or weapons of any kind. He was in perfect health. He had three thousand dollars in his wallet and a credit card with a limit of five thousand which he needed to show to get into the country on a visitor’s visa, but wouldn’t touch.
— as it said on his passport, flying in from Delhi — presented himself at Immigration Control in his elegant dark suit, his pale blue tie. Shalik was a name meant to impart an outgoing personality. He wore a happy, friendly grin on his nicely-tanned, clean-shaven face.
“Anything to declare?” the Immigration man asked, scanning Shalik’s passport into the computer.
“Just my iPad,” Shalik said, pulling the device from inside his jacket. He turned it on. Held it out.
The man shrugged. “Purpose of your visit?”
“Tourism. First stop — after my hotel,” Shalik smiled, “ — the Statue Of Liberty! I can hardly wait!”
Immigration passed him through to Customs, where a female agent searched his blue roll-on bag, glancing surreptitiously at Shalik’s face while she poked through his clothes, watching for the signs — changes in breathing, posture, expression. But the man remained smiling, watching her casually as if the intrusion meant nothing.
Inside, Shalik was
The woman’s touch was
Fortunately, the clothes were merely a prop, cheaply purchased to create a specific persona. Once Shalik had left the airport he would throw them away.
“Okay. You’re clear to go, sir,” she said, flipping the fabric top, sliding the case a couple of inches toward him.
Shalik zipped the bag, set it on the floor and left the airport at an even pace, looking around enthusiastically — as if fascinated by everything he saw.
Shalik’s real name was actually
which he’d always thought fit him perfectly, so close was it to the English word
Sharik was an Arab name! Shalik was Hindi!
It was a small sacrifice. Shalik was a terrorist. Recruited and trained for a specific purpose, a mission that had already begun.
He found a yellow cab. Got in. Gave an address.
Ready to move on to Step Two.
When Shalik’s cab
dropped him on the corner of 49th Street and 12th Avenue in Manhattan, he left the blue bag alongside a trash can. There were more than enough beggars in this disgusting country. The bag would likely disappear in a matter of minutes.
He entered the lot and walked directly to the valet guard shack. Smiling, he presented his ticket. The man took it, barely acknowledging Shalik’s presence. The guard seemed completely engrossed in some disgusting television program with people laughing in the background.
The man pawed across the keys on the board by the window, becoming more and more irritated, flicking tags back and forth. Down at the bottom he finally found a match.
“Been here a good long while. Good thing you got the weekly. That’ll be a hundred an’ fifty-two.”
Shalik handed over a hundred dollar bill and three twenties. “Please keep the change.”
The valet gave a disgusted grimace at what was apparently an insufficient tip. Shalik simply smiled as the man gave him his keys.
“End of the first row. You can get it yourself. An’ be
The guard turned back to his program.
Shalik walked behind the vehicles at the far corner of the lot until he found the blue Toyota SUV bearing the correct plate number. He got in, backed out carefully (briefly tempted to do some serious damage to the cars around him) and smoothly exited the lot.
Traffic was light.
Fifteen minutes later, he left Manhattan by way of the Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey. He was on his way.
Thirty minutes after
passing through Jersey City, Shalik pulled off the Garden State Parkway onto Central Avenue and into the lot outside the department store bearing the big red bulls-eye — exactly where his GPS told him it should be.
he thought, looking at the store’s red logo, thinking of the store’s name.
He felt his mouth form its first genuine smile today. His understanding of English was very good.
He walked inside, took a right — according to instructions he’d memorized, and headed for the wall of television screens.
At the camera department he caught the attention of a black salesgirl he forced himself to admit was quite pretty, despite the despicable way she was dressed. Red shirt, dark, low-heeled shoes. Black pants that left little to the imagination.
“I’d like to look at drones, please,” Shalik said.
She smiled, giving him a suit-to-shoes quick once-over. She reached behind the counter and snagged a key. “Right this way, sir.”
He hoped they carried his model. The unit he required was supposed to be in stock. There were four more stores along his route south just in case.
Three aisles back, she turned in and knelt down before a floor-level case. “Here we are.” She unlocked the glass door and pulled out a large box. “This is one of our most popular models.”
He could see the price tag. $498.00.
“No,” he pointed at an even larger box on the left side, “I’d prefer that one.”
Her smile showed every tooth. “That’s our most expensive model. It’s supposed to be pretty great.”
There was a small label along the bottom of the display case saying he was required to register the unit with the FAA.