Just a Local Terrorist.
An hour later, Steve sat in the backseat of a government-issued BMW; on his way to his worst nightmare: Drunkville.
“Right this way, Mr. Anderson.”
The DIA, Diverse Intelligence Agency was very different; the building had more floors than he remembered. Before his retirement, Steve worked on the seventh floor. Now the DIA had a tenth story, and Steve was sent all the way to the top.
He knew he would return; it was just a matter of when. 3 years ago, Steve Anderson had been forced to resign his role as Head of Stoner Investigations—a special crimes unit at the DIA. The reason for his forceful retirement was due to an administration mistake on his team’s part that commissioned a large supply of heroin to a trap house. The sting was designed to catch a famous drug baron in the Boston area.
But somehow that supply of drugs was hijacked by the said drug baron who fled to Cuba with the heroin supply and never returned. Heads had to roll. The US government needed a scapegoat for losing approximately $10 million on a failed undercover sting operation. So Steve took the fall; even though some high officers, that he knew, pocketed the missing revenue.
So it was quite timely that when the Justice Department recently reopened an investigation into the incident; Steve, aged 45, was summoned by the DIA for a special mission. The moment he stepped into the DIA’s headquarters, he knew this was a setup.
He arrived at the top floor, in the office of the Director of Miscellaneous Narcotics Department, head held high on his much awaited return. On entering the director’s office, he found a host of esteemed DIA officers waiting for him. It felt like an ambush when the director, from across the meeting table, slid a document the size of a restaurant menu over to Steve.
Steve took a minute to read the report.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
The director, along with his corrupt Corporate America subordinates, turned over to stare at Steve quite derisively. Some even chortled at his response, but the director wasn’t having it.
“That’s the job, kid.”
The director was the same age as Steve. In fact, they had been partners once. But while he got the sack, his former partner got a pay raise.
Steve contested this assignment. “But—but that’s a DIA specified untouchable syndicate.”
The director lit his cigar. “Not anymore. Look,” he said, sitting forward, his slick-back, gelled hair a stark contrast to Steve’s moppy brown hair. “You’re facing a reopened investigation into the missing heroin money case. It’s either this or possible jail sentence.”
Steve sighed. The government sure did know how to frame its most devoted workers when it wanted. I’m still your best agent.
“Do I at least get a team?”
The director and his cohorts laughed. Steve got his answer.
“You leave immediately. The DIA needs this completed in 2 weeks—7 days if you can. We’ve experienced enough embarrassment from this syndicate.”
An hour later, Steve sat in the backseat of a government-issued BMW; on his way to his worst nightmare: Drunkville.
Drunkville was the DIA’s mistake of the century. In 2030, modern society filed to abolish the use of prisons and had suggested the creation of distant town settlements for hardened criminals. As a result, Drunkville was created to be the test project for this implementation. 5 years on from its establishment, Drunkville was becoming a nuisance on the Northwest corner of America, far away in Alaska.
Fortunately for Steve, his handler was a young lad he could manipulate. He learned from this millennial agent that Drunkville was home to a population of 2000 convicted felons, ranging from serial criminals to iconic fraudsters and hackers. Somehow, these criminals came together to form a coalition that successfully hijacked a US oil field.
Reading the file on their trip to Alaska, Steve almost tore his hair out. “So, somehow, the DIA expects me to befriend these lunatics; gain access to the leader and assassinate him?”
“Yes,” said his handler.
“What does that solve?”
“The leader of this syndicate is Romanov Duben; a Russian hacker famous for infiltrating the US defense military operations; and also famous for stealing crypto worth millions.”
“So he’s a genius.”
“And a drunk.”
Steve sighed, “Super helpful…”
Alaska drew close, with Drunkville drawing even nearer. Luckily, the government still controlled the population of the prison. That is, they still sent hardened criminals to the site. How silly, Steven thought, but it played to his advantage. He could instantly gain the trust of his fellow criminals. He already had a profile; somehow the director thought it smug to let Steve go into a den of serial killers keeping his original alias as a former DIA operative.
I am Steve Anderson; I’m here as a DIA treasonist. My offense: diverting federal funds into international drug trade. How classic.
Romanov would definitely like Steve. It was the perfect story; two federal offenders working together to overtake a government, one oil field at a time. The road to Drunkville came into view half an hour later, far away from the city itself. All that separated this informal prison from the rest of civilization was a military blockade behind a 13-feet tall barbed and electrified fence spread across a mile or so.
Sure, no one was getting through here; however, Southeast of Drunkville was a road network that was heavily utilized by illegal bootleg truckers. Now, this shouldn’t have been a concern to the United States, but as all things smuggling, someone definitely benefited from this illegal activity—someone from the DIA. The oil field was in the distance, west of Drunkville. Somehow, that had been wrestled off the military’s hand, with no clue how.
South of Drunkville was the ocean; no escape that way. The inmates knew there was only one way out: through the blockade.
Steve hopped out of the BMW and was introduced to the top military officer on site. I’ve heard so much about you, said the colonel. I served in Afghanistan, two tours, Steve confided in the official; and this earned him more respect.
He was ushered into a military vehicle that quickly drove down the route straight to Drunkville. On this short trip, he had a very interesting conversation with the lieutenant.
“Why is it called Drunkville?”
“They make you drink a carton of beer before letting you in.”
“And keep you drunk your entire stay.”
“Wow,” said an amazed Steve, “Whose idea is this?”
“Romanov’s, it’s how he keeps everyone inside in check.”
“But who supplies the alcohol?”
“We do; Federal orders. A dozen of them die from dehydration every 6 months; great quality control.”
It all made sense now. With reporters now swirling around the military encampment, Steve understood why the DIA wanted this done and over with; it was bad press. Then again, who cared?
They arrived at Drunkville’s gates.
“Do I get a weapon?”
The lieutenant laughed shyly. “No.”
Steve shrugged and alighted. The soldiers kept him handcuffed to keep the illusion of a prisoner being transported. The gates to Drunkville opened slowly while they waited.
The lieutenant nudged Steve in the back and whispered. “I will return in a week, for a status update. Romanov better be dead.”
Steve smiled. So many past missions crossed his mind and his smile got wider. “Give me till the end of the day.”
“Fingers crossed.” The lieutenant then unchained him and gestured for him to walk into Drunkville.
Inside Drunkville was like a town in the Wild West, with cabins here and there, harboring the cleanest looking criminals just hanging around, playing some sport or drinking—doing whatever they wanted really. When Steve entered, two muscled men, dressed in security uniform, grabbed him instantly and led him into the tallest building in the place. There, sitting on a casino table, in a well-furbished apartment was the Russian hacker, Romanov.
Romanov looked smart in a purple suit. This wasn’t a prison at all; this was a resort for criminals. For a moment, Romanov observed Steve; then commanded his men to supply drinks. Six cans of lager beer arrived at his table.
“Drink,” the Russian said.
While Steve drank, Romanov sat across him. He was a very lean man, with a thin mustache and a balding head. In comparison to the quite stocky Steve, Romanov was a pinprick. “Tell me your crimes,” he said.
Steve strayed from the script. “Just a local terrorist who got caught planting a bomb into the DIA.”
Romanov shook his head calmly. “Didn’t catch that in the news.” Then he gestured for Steve to drink up.
I see where this is going. Get me drunk until I spill the truth.
Although Steve wasn’t a heavy drinker, he had a card up his sleeves. What Romanov didn’t know was that Steve was full of coffee before he entered Drunkville. Sure, he would get drunk, but would definitely retain his senses.
“We never stop drinking here; the government doesn’t supply us water, only beer, and gin. So we toast to that!” Romanov was clearly drunk, so Steve obliged him.
After 6 beers, Steve could feel himself fading. Romanov gripped him suddenly.
“What are your crimes?”
Steve repeated his earlier statement. “Bomber.”
“The Pentagon hasn’t been bom—”
“Orchestrated many prison escapes…”
This caught Romanov’s attention. “What prisons?”
Steve began a drunken rant about how he had broken out of every prison he was sent to. He added that Drunkville would soon follow suit; he just needed materials for a bomb.
Romanov was clearly intrigued. He urged his bodyguards to excuse them. When they were alone, Romanov made his request. “I need to escape.”
Steve nodded. His plan was clearly in motion. “When?”
“Today, if possible.”
Steve shrugged. He was drunk as a sailor. Not a problem, he said, “I need…”
An hour later; it was still quite early hours of the day; Steve found himself in a small cabin supplied with dozens of inflammable materials. Now, Steve knew nothing about making bombs, but he made sure to milk the situation. His experience as a DIA agent had taught him many things. First, he needed to achieve Romanov’s trust. So he took his sweet time in making this pseudo-bomb.
For 7 hours, Steve drank beer with the other inmates, sharing jokes with each one, fueling their hopes of escape, tinkering with the metal objects he was provided. Romanov clearly thought Steve was making a super bomb that would rock the very foundations of Drunkville; that would make a big enough distraction for a breakthrough in the military blockade.
The Russian was sorely disappointed.
“What is this?”
Steve strapped on a vest full of wires. “This is a suicide bomb vest.”
An hour later, as the sunset arrived, Steve, Romanov, and a dozen of his favorite inmates stood at Drunkville gates, strapped head to waist with makeshift bomb vests. Steve told them repeatedly they had nothing to fear; the military wouldn’t dare shoot as they had bombs strapped to their chest.—bombs that could explode in a 50-mile radius.
And his plan worked.
Steve was an undercover agent; no one would dare shoot him. Neither did the military shoot the other inmates, even as they approached the blockade.
“WE ARE STRAPPED WITH BOMBS!” Steve kept saying, as they approached the military blockade 100 meters away.
The military played along; even let the inmates into the camps, as the sky started to darken. At this time, the inmates, especially Romanov, believed Steve’s plan to be working. They believed it so much that they held their fake bomb triggers high, demanding a getaway vehicle… And then the Lieutenant came around.
“We demand a vehicle,” Romanov was saying, “WE ARE STRAPPED WITH—”
“Oh shut up;” said a drunk and exhausted Steve, “Those are Christmas lights nothing more—Coffee please!”
Romanov was instantly cuffed and taken away into the military camp; the rest of the inmates were ushered back to Drunkville. Steve watched, half drunk, as the Russian was whisked away, hurling curses on Steve’s offspring.
The lieutenant returned with a cup of coffee for Steve. “Smart work,” he said.
“Not necessarily,” said Steve. “They’re all drunk.”
“True;” said the lieutenant. It was almost dark, and twilight was just ending. “The Director of the DIA is waiting on the phone for you.”
Steve shook his head. “Tell him I quit.”
The lieutenant froze. “Really?”
Nobody understood the situation but Steve. He knew too much of the DIA’s foul play on the war on drugs and was sent to Drunkville, never to return. But he did and was determined to never go back to prison. Now, he knew who the real enemy was, the echelons of the DIA. He already knew his next mission.
“What would the DIA want with me anyway?” Steve stood suddenly. “I am just a local terrorist, after all.”