[misc] ACRA - C.O.S.T. - Saving the World, One Lie at a Time Part 1

rickhindle at gmail.com rickhindle at gmail.com
Mon Nov 21 20:13:28 PST 2005

C.O.S.T. (Covert Operations Strike Team)
Saving the World, One Lie at a Time
#1 - "Faces"
by Rick Hindle

WARNING - Acraphobe

[cover shows a globe sitting on a desk, surrounded by flames]

Tucson, AZ

"I'm not a reality show fan."
"This isn't a reality show.  It's a documentary."
"You, ok?"
"Yeah, these microphones have pins on them."
"I said, 'sorry'."
"Don't worry about it."
"All done, Jack?"
"So when you say documentary, do your mean like 'This is Spinal Tap'?"
"More like 'Behind the Music'."
"Are you going to try and make me cry?"
"Only if you want to."
"And if I don't."
"Then you won't cry."
"Well, are you doing to try?"
"All I'm doing is asking questions."
"Did you ask anyone else the questions?"
"Actually, you're the first one."
"Yes.  We're flying up to San Francisco tonight."
"Meeting with Cordell?"
"Yes.  Do you two keep in touch?"
"Is the camera on?"
"Not yet."
"No, but I like to keep in touch."
"'Oh'?  You sound disappointed."
"I didn't anything by it."
"It sounded like you did."
"No, Sam.  Nothing by it."
"We'll start whenever you're ready."
"I thought we were waiting for me."
"We are."
"Then why are you pushing me?"
"I was just checking.  You looked ready."
"Well, I'm not.  Can I get some water?"
"You have a water bottle next to you."
"I'm ready."


Maui, HI

The tea burned his mouth as Hargrave cursed his own impatience.  His
face, however, registered with a look of pain that made his twin
daughters giggle.
"I told you it was too hot, Daddy," Marcy said with a wide, toothy
Hargrave smiled, the pain shooting through his brain.  "I know, Marce,
I should've listened to you," he replied.
He took a moment to study his daughters and their matching smiles.
They were of average height for seven year olds, both bright, excellent
at whatever they did.  Marcy was a fantastic athlete and very outgoing,
a pair of traits that she had inherited from her father.  Isabella was
much more introverted; Hargrave's mother-in-law joked she was seven
going on 37, trying to save the world, one Hawaiian tree frog at a
Isabella reminded him of his life.  Her auburn skin, brown-tinged hair.
 She had been on the staff at Oxford before they had met in the Dead
Sea.  Their adventurous spirits had left him with a lifetime of
And a lifetime of pain.
Just as Hargrave was beginning to think about what had happened to his
wife, Marcy broke through the clouds of his daydreams.
"...picking us up?"
"I'm sorry, Marce?"
Marcy giggled again. "I asked if Grammy was picking us up from school
Hargrave took another sip of tea.  It was a bit cooler now - was it
still stung his tongue.
"Yes, she is.  I have to fly down to Honolulu for the day."
"When will you be home?"
"In time to make dinner after Issy gets home from her violin practice."
"What a nerd," Marcy said under her breath.
"Now, Marcy, that's no way to speak about your sister," a female voice
carried through Hargrave's head, just as his daughters began bickering.
 He whirled around, trying to see who was speaking with him.
The girl had stopped arguing and were not laughing at their father.
"What?" Hargraves asked his daughters. "Why are you laughing?"
"You're losing your mind, Daddy?" Isabella remarked.
"No, I'm not," Hargrave responded.  His eyes fell on the digital clock
above the stove.  "Time to go my little ladies," he announced.
Marcy started to make a whiny noise before she got up, grabbing her
book bag.  "Why do I have to go to school today?" she asked with
pleading eyes.
"Because," came her father's response.
"I hate that answer," Marcy retorted, getting a satisfying smile from
her father.


Brooklyn, NY

"Have you ever been to the Dead Sea, Mr. Ramsey?" the dective in the
cheap white shirt a gray undershirt asked.
"Not in this lifetime," the thin, slightly built man responded. "And
what does that question have to do with the New York Police
The detective didn't answer.  Instead, he picked up a manilla envelope
from the table and pulled out a series of photographs.  Slowly, he laid
each of them out in front of Mr. Ramsey.;  "How can you explain these,
then?" the detective asked, eyeing the gentleman across the table from
him. "Isn't that you?"
Ramsey leaned forward and studied the pictures intently.  Slowly, he a
photograph up, studied the subjects captured on film, and then turned
it over.  After regarding the notes on the back, he set each photo back
down before moving onto the next.  After he had finished his careful
examination, Ramsey looked up at the detective.  "My answer was
correct," he informed the detective plainly, "I have not been to the
Red Sea in this lifetime."
The detective sat down.  "Those photos are from nine years ago," he
emphasized his point by tapping the photos closest to him.  "How can
you sit there, with a straight face, and tell me you've never been
"Again, detective, not in this lifetime," Mr. Ramsey calmly replied. "I
will freely admit that I have been there."
"What's all this 'lifetime' crap you're throwing at me?" the
detective's jowly face was beginning to redden.
"How much have you studied me, Detective O'Flanagan?"
"Enough to know who you are and what you do.  Or, in your case, what
you don't do."
"Then you should know that I am a Revivalist."
"You mean like one of those Southern guys in the fancy suits trying to
get my cash during telethons?"
"No, detective, it has nothing to do with religion."
"No, when I sustain a grievous injury, or, furthermore, when I am
phyiscally dead, I can regenerate myself.  Memories, skills, you name
The detective leaned forward, folding his arms in front him and placing
them on the table.  "So I could shoot you, right now, and you'd be
Mr. Ramsey gave a very brief smile. "Well, once you bring in my lawyer,
I am quite sure he will explain to you that doing so is not in your
best interests."
The detective grunted, stood, and left the room, grumbling about
"freaks" and "weirdos" as he did so.


The coast of the Dead Sea

The cave was like a cell.  He couldn't smell himself, nor would be want
to.  A mirror wouldn't be much help either, with his knotted, unkempt
Tarver had been here for an unimaginable amount of time.  He had not
seen the sun for years.  That much he knew.
His 'hosts' would drop food into his cave three times a day.  According
to his mental calculations, he had been in this 'home' for 3,164 days -
given three meals a day for almost nine years since he began his
imprisonment.  Tarver knew that number could be off, but it didn't
It was a prison.  A penance for the crimes he was said to have
committed.  If one believes they were crimes to begin with.
Tarver was a professional who took pride in his work.  He was also a
deeply religious man who believed in the fact that what he did had been
asked of him by a higher power.
"Your human mind yearns for revenge, but your spiritual mind balances
that out.  Or am I wrong?"
Tarver turned.  His eyes had become used to the darkness, allowing him
to make out the basic features of the man before him.  The man was
short, bald, and wore khakis, a white golf shirt and a pith helmet.
"Do not worry about anything except for the chance to right what you
think is wrong."
"What does it matter what I think is wrong?"
"It has everything to do."
Tarver narrowed his eyes.  "What the hell does that mean?"
"What do you think it means?  I'm give you, Mr. Raymont Tarver, a
chance.  A chance for you to walk out of this cave with a chance for
redemption.  To prove yourself to your master.  To fulfill his wishes."


Pearl Harbor, HI

"You won't believe the shit coming out of the Middle East right now,"
the young man with a goatee and designer jeans on said before spitting
into a nearly empty Dixie cup.
Hargrave sat down across from him in the glass and metal conference
room and leaned back.  Whenever he was in this room, he always felt
like like he was sore thumb sticking out in the medically clean-like
He looked up at the monitors.  The screen looked like it was from CNN,
but all of the writing was in Arabic.  The sound was off, not that it
mattered to Hargrave - he knew English, and a bit of Spanish,
definitely not Arabic.  "What's going on, Pen?"
Pen chuckled and spit again. "Some guy walked right out of this cave
out there.  The folks are saying it's like a second coming or
Hargrave leaned forward his eyes not leaving the screen.  He was hoping
a map would pop up.  "Where's this going on?"
"The Dead Sea.  Why?"
Hargrave didn't responded.  By the time Pen had started saying 'sea',
Hargrave was halfway across the table, grabbing the black phone at one
end.  He dialed a short series of numbers.  Hargrave didn't bother
sitting back down.
"Hey, it's Hargrave," he began. "Sorry, Dade, I can't chat...No, no,
the girls are fine...Dade, just shut up for a sec."
Hargrave took a deep breath.
"Tarver's lose."


Next time: "Criminal Behavior"

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