Something new I would like to start doing is writing a little bit more fiction from time to time. It is a great way to stretch your brain and find new corners of your mind.
The prompt for today is:
Midway through international travel, the country you are currently visiting places a travel ban on your home country – even for its residents.
After an exhausting but rewarding 21 days oversea’s, I was more than ready to be back home to see everyone. Taking three weeks off of work wasn’t easy, and not seeing my best friends was even harder. It was something I knew I needed to do though, it was almost like Italy had been tugging at my jacket sleeves for the past few years.
I never really knew why I had such a desire to visit. Maybe it was all of the history, or maybe the art and architecture, probably all of the above. I had no ties to the country, and had never known anybody from there or anyone who had even visited before.
It was an incredible trip overall until about day 18. I spent most of the first couple of weeks in Italy and then decided to venture out by train and hit a few surrounding countries.
Long story short I ended up getting on the wrong train, and found myself in Bratislava, Slovakia. It really wouldn’t have been that bad, had their Prime Minister not been slain in the United States while I was in Slovakia…
It was hard for me to make out what had really gone down, since all of the news stations and papers were obviously not in my native language, English.
Thank God for cell phones though. Or maybe not.
Slovakia had been going back and forth with the United States of America and President Clayton for the past five years. Economic disagreements, military disputes over land and military bases in neighboring countries, and pretty much everything else that two countries could possibly fight about.
Now, I’m not the most politically involved person in the world, nor do I pay much attention to foreign relations. My God I wish I would have. If I had any clue what was going on over here, I would have made it a point to stay as far away from Slovakia as possible…especially its capitol city.
Being an American in Slovakia during this time was worse than being a Muslim in the US in the early 2000’s. Luckily for me though, American’s and Slovakian’s look pretty similar. The only way I was going to get caught was if I opened my mouth.
I had scoured the internet for Slovakian language learning tips and tricks, and ways to try and fit in with the locals, but now you’ll see why earlier I said ‘Thank God for cell phones though. Or maybe not.’
Because I’ll be damned, my internet searches had set off something to the Slovakian government that let them know I was an outsider, and more importantly, an American.
I received a phone call just about fifteen minutes in to my searching for ‘How to fit in with Slovakians.’
Not a smart search…I know this now.
The heavy Russian accent was too much for me to even know if they were speaking English or Russian, so I figured it was a misdial or some location based telemarketer, I just hung up.
I still had a few days left of my trip and was going to do my best to get out of there as quick as I could. In order to do this however, I knew I would have to present my passport at some point.
I thought about attempting to steal someone else’s, or creating a fake one, or even stealing a car and flying through any border checkpoints as fast as possible hoping nobody would catch me, but my rational mind brought me back down from that fast and furious idea.
It also crossed my mind to try and go through customs the proper way, in hopes that the agent checking my passport would either do so blindly, or be so fed up with their mundane job that they wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of having me detained and most likely persecuted…
I went with that one.
I was wrong.
Making my way back through the train station, silently of course, I approached a gate with a two stop trip back to Venice, where I could safely board a plane and find myself back in the States.
I successfully purchased the ticket, successfully made my way through the security check points, and it seemed I wasn’t going to have to show my passport at all!
One last checkpoint to make it through before boarding the train and of course, the sign above the desk read:
PODGOTÔVIT BOÂRD PRŒYEZDNØY & Pпаспорт: LUGGAGE WILL BE CHECKED SEPARATELY. ENJOY.
Had absolutely no idea what that meant, I just knew I didn’t have a bag of luggage to be checked, just the backpack on my back. I thought I was in the clear.
Walking past the desk I heard a shout from behind me, seeming to call me back over as if I forgot something.
On the desk was the English translation of the sign above, and my heart sunk. This was the moment of truth.
PREPARE BOARDING TICKET AND PASSPORT TO BE CHECKED. LUGGAGE WILL BE CHECKED SEPARATELY. ENJOY.
I went with what I felt to be the most socially responsible choice, and I pulled out my American passport. The clerk, no younger than 60, and no prettier than Medusa, seemed to mull it over for a moment. She then holds down a button on her ear piece and begins a quick conversation that was beyond my understanding of their foreign language.
She continues conversing as she holds up an index finger to me, signaling for me to hold on just a sec, as we Americans would say.
As my heart is already in my stomach, it is now climbing to close to 100 BPM, and I can feel my hands starting to clam and shiver.
She hands me my passport back and motions over to her left, where a man who seems to be confused as to whether he is a police officer or a military combatant is standing, he locks eyes with me and signals for me to approach him.
I follow him through a door with some more words on it that mean nothing to me, in to an oddly bright hallway with not a single door. After what felt like a half mile, he stops and turns around, taking his ear piece out and folding his glasses, placing them in his front breast pocket under the patch that boats his last name – LEBEDEV.
A wave of about half a million possibilities of what would occur next flooded through my mind, simultaneously, but I could consciously recognize each one of them.
The one I stopped at and concluded would be the only reasonable option, either involved me getting shot, or getting my ass beat.
Wrong yet again.
As he opened his mouth to begin speaking, I was trembling at the idea that he would be speaking more Russian to me, and I would be no less relieved than I would be to simply be at home on my front porch.
‘You’re good.’ whispered Sergeant or Lieutenant or General or Officer Lebedev.
The only American word I could muster up at that point was –
‘You. Are. Good. Undercover intelligence agent, Agent Parker, pleasure to meet you’ as he extended his right hand for a shake.
Still trembling in fear and struggling to form words, I spoke another favorite American word –
I did have the wherewithal to shake his hand though, thankfully.
He began speaking and throwing a lot of what seemed to be military and secret service jargon at me, and really all I could make out was that he asked me to take off my backpack and hand it to him.
He kept rambling on and on and I would hear the words ‘United States’, ‘home’, ‘President Clayton’, and ‘wife’.
Which was weird because I didn’t have a wife.
From my backpack he pulled out a microchip no bigger than a piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. (Again, I’m an American. That’s the best unit of measurement I could come up with).
Then he quickly and firmly grabs the side of my neck with his right hand and yanks on my left ear with his left hand. Next thing I know I see another microchip.
I really didn’t expect a street magic show would happen in this mysterious Slovakian train station hallway, but that was pretty impressive.
He was still moving and speaking quickly, I was becoming a little bit dazed.
I felt a headache coming on all of a sudden, and he asked me to take a seat on the floor and lean up against the wall. Not much was going through my head at this point, so I obliged.
I closed my eyes and put my face in my hands for a moment, before I felt a similar yank at my ear.
When I pulled my face from my hands I was in the backseat of an SUV, being a passenger with 4 other men who looked exactly like this Agent Parker fella I had met what seemed like minutes ago.
‘He’s awake’ said Agent Parker #3 who sat directly to my left.
Agent Parker #1 turned around from the front seat and said ‘Thank God you are alive. I thought I put the protoprocessor in backwards and killed you.’
‘It’s okay Agent, I’m fine. Where is my wife?’
Wife??? I thought I didn’t have a wife???
Agent Parker #whatever assured me that my wife was just fine as he reached over from the other side of the SUV and handed me a manilla folder labeled President Clayton: Project Mayhem.
I opened the folder to find a small packet inside, with a business card stapled to the front page.
Things were finally starting to click in my head, and suddenly the headache I fell asleep and woke up with was quickly wearing off.
‘Take a minute to read through the project Mr. President.’
And THAT, is how I am writing this from my undisclosed private island where I play golf, fish, sunbathe, surf, hunt, and drink whiskey, while a clone of me with an exact replica of my mind and brain waves runs the United States of America.