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The year was 1968, I remember those days of past, the bright yellow sun sizzling on my skin, the sound of the ocean battering on the beach, ahhhhh, good times.
“Don’t get lost now, stick to the story.”
“Oh yes, the story.”
So, what’s the story you ask, well here’s the setup. The country I was in had been under the repressive rule of a totalitarian regime helmed by a power-hungry dictator. The country was held in a stranglehold and the dictator wasn’t letting loose anytime soon. Me, well, I wasn’t exactly a native to this suffering state. I was born and raised in the west. I was a stranger in a foreign land, but my blood said otherwise. See, my parents were immigrants and lo and behold, this country was my, what do you say, father’s nation.
So, you’ve got a westerner in an African state in the 60s, yes, I was CIA, well, my birth nation’s equivalent at least and no, that’s my little secret.
“We need all the details Mr. — ”
“Hey! I agreed to do the interview, but I didn’t agree to revealing everything. Some of these operations aren’t closed, you know.”
“This happened in the 60s!”
“The regime is still running that damn country, last thing I need is a hit team on my ass.”
“Fine, go on.”
Alright, so, here I am in the beautiful tropics, and my mission was to overthrow the government. I’ll tell it to you straight, there was no hope. I mean, the regime was backed by the Soviets, so their army wasn’t a third world circus. It was a highly trained, greatly organized and powerfully equipped war machine, and I haven’t even started talking about the KGB trained intelligence systems already watching me. From the moment I stepped foot in country, they were on my ass.
The constant tails that followed my taxi rides, the men in glasses and hats snapping pictures whatever chance they got, I was being watched, and that wasn’t exactly conducive to my mission. So, you’re going to ask, what was my plan.
“Yes, what was your plan?”
Well as it turns out, the Cold War was still very much hot, thus, the regime had enemies, western-backed enemies. My mission was to make contact with them, I had to survey their operations. How many men, how much ammunition, what kind of munitions, but most of all, who was the big boss in charge! My state’s intelligence didn’t know too much about these rebels. All we knew was that the regime was dealing with a heavy resistance, and they wanted nothing more than for them to, well, not resist.
“But why, what did your country gain in this conflict?”
“Well, if you listened, I’d tell yah.”
“Forgive me it’s just, well, its context isn’t it.”
“See, back in the 60s, my country was desperate to get in on the fun. They’d missed out on the scramble, so the least they could do was a little neo-colonization.”
“So what, they were searching for resources?”
“Resources, influence and significance.”
“Exactly, they were tired of being background characters in international politics, it was a reinvention, and they wanted to be a superpower!”
“And how about you, why were you here?”
“My country didn’t give a damn about this state’s future, it was just politics for them, but for me, this was my father’s nation, my birthright. I had to make things right!”
“Ok, so, you’ve got spies on your ass.”
Yes, seated outside a beachside café, I sipped my tea, my eyes hidden in the morning newspaper. I can’t recall the headlines now, probably America in Vietnam or some shit, I just needed to breath. This was my first in-field assignment, I’d spent years behind a desk typing up reports, but now, they’d be writing reports about me. It was a big moment, but terrifying as hell, and it only got worse.
I was going to wait the spies out, then try my luck in the evening, but they had other plans. As I relaxed in my chair, feigning oblivion, the spies dropped their cover and came in for the kill. I saw them, two of them, dark shades and black suits. They shot from their seats and marched for me, angry. Everyone knew who they were, the waitresses and other civilians freezing in sight of my detention. Once I figured what was happening, I panicked, trying to make a run for it.
The men broke into chase as I fled, running into the café, dodging past chairs as plates and cups fell, my eyes bound for the exit. Yet right as I escaped, the outside sun blinding my eyes, a black car screeched right in front of me, the door swinging wide as a man with a gun shot me a death stare.
I froze, terrified, then the men chasing me tackled me to the ground, cuffing me as I dared not resist. It was over, so why even fight it.
“Welcome to the jungle.”
When I woke up, I was in a cold dark room, a loose light hanging above, flickering on and off. This was bad, and it was only going to get worse, I could feel it. I knew how these things played out, the regime would detain whoever they wanted and just like that, you disappeared.
“You thought they’d kill you?”
“I knew they’d kill me!”
The door burst open and the men in suits entered, shades still adorned. I gulped my fears, trying to feign strength, but it was worthless, you could smell my fear from a mile away.
“So, you know you’re a dead man, so just start talking!” said one of them.
I froze up, my mind rushing for excuses. I told them I didn’t know what they wanted, I begged them to release me, saying I was nothing more than a tourist.
“Keep lying, I beg,” said one of them.
The way he said it, his eyes bursting open, a smile scaring his face in villainous glee. I was in deep shit, and he reveled in it.
“So did you talk?”
“I could’ve, I should’ve……”
But this was my first assignment, the first time I’d been trusted with such a daunting task. All my life I’d always dreamt of being a field agent, so when finally gifted the chance, I couldn’t fail. I wouldn’t fail, no matter how painful nor deathly it was, I’d finish the mission, I wouldn’t talk.
So, they tortured me, they beat me up, pulled off my nails, finger by finger, whatever you can think of, they did it to me and through it all, I didn’t break, I was dead anyway.
“How’d you get out?”
“After having spent God knows how long, tortured and starved in isolation. The doors finally opened, and I was taken back to that cold room, my nailless fingers on a metal desk. The same men entered, a gun in hand.”
“This is your last chance!” They said, “Do you want to live or die like a dog?”
I just looked at them.
They told me my name; they told me who I worked for and they told me my mission. I was here to contact the rebels and pictures of meeting sights and informants were dropped. Some of the intel they revealed wasn’t even known to me, but they knew, they knew —
“Everything!” they said.
I was baffled.
“All your pain, all your suffering, for nothing, you are nothing!”
They had everything and I had nothing, but it wasn’t over yet. I looked one of them in the eye, his gun’s barrel meeting my blink.
“You have lied to us, and for this, you shall die. But there is hope.”
“Admit, tell the truth, and maybe you shall be spared………”
That’s all I had to do, I just had to admit to what they already knew. There was nothing to lose, I was already a dead man whose secrets were known, with this, I could only gain.
“Sounds like the perfect deal.”
Yea, but if I admitted to it, then I had failed my mission, and all I had was the mission.
“But they already knew everything.”
It didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to be the one to tell them, they’d never break me. They knew everything, but they hadn’t gotten it from me, they hadn’t won, and I wouldn’t let them.
“So, you would die, for what?”
“For honor, death before dishonor!”
The man looked at me, his eyes cold and furious. I sat back, looking into the eyes of the gun, a smile scaring my face. They hadn’t broken me, so they killed me.
“Yet you’re still here.”
“What a twist, right?”
When I opened my eyes, my ears still rung as smoke spurred from the barrel, but I wasn’t dead. The men then sat down, handing me a smoke as I connected the dots. The gun was a blank, and the regime hadn’t captured me, it was all a test. Once I figured it out, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Welcome to the resistance.”