Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Re-Constitution - Can These Ashes Rise? by Steven Clark Bradley

This amazing new story came to me while I have been living here in China for the past three months. One morning, I was looking out my window at about 5:00 a.m. and thinking about this nation that has sort of risen from the ashes. Then I thought about so many things I wish i could relive and change about my own existence and the idea came to me that what would we do if we were responsible for someone's greatest disaster in their lives when they were trying to do something so good. That was when Re-Constitution came to my head and it has been living there ever since. You'll love this introduction t the story and the characters are all so vivid and becoming even more so as the story unfolds and reveals itself to me. I am happy to share with you, Re-Constitution - Can These Ashes Rise?

Chapter One
Shenyang, The People’s Republic of China
Tuesday, March 17, 2013, 6:21 p.m.
It is the early evening in China on Tuesday, and it is cold and dark and I am peering out the window of my third story apartment with a cigarette in my hand. I can see firsthand that none of this monster totalitarian beast is anything like one reads about China's emergence as a world power. It’s all underground, unknown except to a few like me who are unlucky enough to have found out. In reality, this is just a large totalitarian third-world nation that has fed the world a load of lies and hype.
China is at least 30 years behind America in almost every single thing except in their ability to steal technology and to make it better or more lethal. The people long for freedom but remain passive from fear that their words can land them in prison. I am here to stop them from making the whole world a prison, and America is in the viper’s den helping them. Some of us have died to stop them; one of them is coming back.
His two eyes looked down at his computer screen as he typed the final words to his journal for the night. He read through what he had written. His is entry was short tonight, far shorter than usual, because he was far busier than normal and perhaps these were the last words he’d ever write. I may not be back, but when is that ever guaranteed? He attached his name, Blogger and walked out the door.
Shenyang, The People’s Republic of China
Tuesday, March 17, 2013, 6:32 p.m.
“Where are you?”
“Come on Ruby, don’t give me that bull! You know where I am all the time, even when I don’t want you to, which is almost all the time, except tonight.”
“It’s because I love you.” Ruby replied and chuckled.
The man’s whose voice was on the other side of the line walked out of the campus of the Shenyang Institute of Engineering where he was doubling as a common teacher, though there was nothing common about him or why he was really there. “The only thing you love is food and yourself.”
“That’s not true. I love shoes too. We should not be doing this thing.” Ruby told him.
“One second.”
The operative hit a button on his phone that scrambled the call. He saw the GPS signal that was active on his phone and the satellite uplink that gave Ruby Zhang, his attaché complete visibility of his location at any given moment. He looked forward at the stretch of sidewalk that had small trees lining both sides which made the passage way so narrow that two people could barely pass side by side. He had walked the narrow area and looked to the left and to the right at the bright night lights all lit up illuminating the Chinese symbols glowing from everywhere in the black humid night.
He kept walking straight towards the place that had actually brought him into the People’s Republic of China in the first place. He would not deviate from his path all the way down to his final target, as he had rehearsed so many times in the past month to make sure that the Chinese sign plastered on every storefront that made everywhere look the same to him would not be an impediment. I’m hiding in the open public. He told himself and again everything looked the same.
“She should not have died!” He almost shouted. “She was trying to stop a war! That makes ‘this thing,’ as you call it, unstoppable, with you or without you.”
“Well, I am with you.”
“Yes, indeed you are; there’s an upside and a downside to that too.” He retorted.
“You didn’t even know her. Why she mean so much to you?”
“Well, if this goes well, I’ll get my chance, won’t I? She was only going to tell the truth. No one should die for that.”
“You are a naïve assassin aren’t you? It happens every day … many times a day, actually.”
“She was trying to stop a war … to save her people and my country and your country had her killed.”
“This is not my country. China is an occupied land and ruled my thieves and murderers. If I thought this was my country, I’d be trying to kill you instead of helping you. She did save her people and gave her life for them. There hasn’t been a shot fired.”
“And who will ever know what she did?”
“I’ve lived my whole life without an ounce of recognition for what I have done for freedom.” Ruby said remorsefully.
“Well, I will make sure everyone knows, and that she can tell them herself. She should not have died, and I am responsible, and so are you!”
“You know what we’re doing is not authorized.” Ruby said in an aggressive voice.
“Sure it is.” The operative said equally aggressively.
“What, by who?” Ruby asked defensively.
“By me; that’s who. The moment I learned about what happened to her, and how to save her, the mission was set. Nothing will stop me now except a bullet. Then, I will at least die doing the right thing.”
The plainly dressed man walked casually down Puchang Road and saw all the Asian faces glancing back at him. Some of them were beautiful and wonderful to look at, and some of them smiled at him. Each one brought back how he felt when he had seen her face in the file folder. She was an angel to behold; the recording of what she wanted to tell the world and her voice had left an indelible imprint on his brain, he thought. Everything he had read about her made him more determined to bring her back. If what he was about to do even had a chance of working, he had to try. He said nothing back to Ruby on the other end of the line.
“The right thing? In this business the right thing is what someone higher up tells us is right. You are crazy! Are you there? You’re thinking of her, aren’t you? Get you your mind focused so we can get her back. My god, she’s dead for goodness sakes. It’s all theory anyway. You really willing to die for a theory that probably won’t even work?”
“You said they could be trusted … can they?”
“Yeah, sort of.” Ruby replied stammering.
“Sort of, what’s sort of mean?”
“Well, there is a program, and it’s called Re-Constitution, but …”
“I know all of that already. What’s but mean then? It sounds so political. What is it, a revolutionary movement? And, what do you mean by the word but?”
“Revolutionary, it’s all that, Ruby, and then some, but not the way people think of the word.” Ruby shook her head up and down and did not respond, but she knew that this guy was smart, perhaps more than she thought, and he was in love with a dead woman he had not killed and had never met alive. “Sounds stupid to me.” She said out loud.
“What’s stupid?”
“Oh, just thinking out loud.”
“Ha, you do that all the time, even talk to yourself.”
“Well, you’re no company at all!”
“I’m not supposed to be, right?”
Ruby thought of his words and regretted them. “Um, uh, right. The target operates only at night and has an ETA of 7:45 p.m.”
The operative walked on. He looked to the left on the other side of Puchang Road with the large sign suspended over the natural Chinese bathhouse illuminated the night where the he had discovered he could engage in some carnal pleasures the night before. “Nice place.” He said out loud.
“Shenyang, it’s come a long way from before. But if you are talking about the bathhouse, you catch the clap there if you are not careful.”
“How did you know I … Never mind.”
“Baby, it is what I do. I know everything you do.”
He looked to the right on the same side of the street he was on. Puchang road was filled with people walking like he was and many of them were gathered around the various meat vendors who were enticing the appetites of the Chinese people with the scent of brazed and Barbequed meat on a stick and chicken and many other kinds of meat that sent the smoke into the air. His nostrils expanded and his belly concurred.
Ruby received an encoded message that told her the chopper was in the air and the attack force was already in place in the night market that was above the target location.
The operative pointed his phone at a sign that was attached to the outside wall of a restaurant with pictures of various meat dishes, all of which could nearly get him off stride and force him to sit down and eat.
“Wow, that looks wonderful!”
Ruby laughed. “It’s dog.”
The man looked around to see if a dog was about to attack him. “Dog, I don’t see any…” He understood. “You’ve got to be kidding. That’s all dog meat, and it actually looks ... very delicious, I hate to admit. You guys are animals!” He slightly shouted in disgust.
“No, we just like to eat animals, that’s all, and it’s pretty good too, if you close your eyes and shout down your memories of lassie on TV.”
“You probably all eat bugs and snakes and all those vermin too, bet.”
“No, not as much as before.” Ruby laughed.
The operative took his eyes and the phone off of the restaurant sign and walked on.
“What’s your Asian name, oh yes, what was that, oh Li hi. It suits you perfectly, cause it means tough and you’re one aggressive bitch! I learned that at the institute’s library today.
“Am I losing my touch? When did you get over there and I did not know about it? Yes, I was born to do this, and I do it well.”
“Get over it; we’re here and you are my eyes. And, yes, you are good at lying and deceiving, on that we agree. Anyway, you worry too much.” The operative said as he walked on down Puchang Road.”
“Don’t forget it’s the night market.” Ruby reminded the operative.
“After dogs, bugs and snakes, I don’t want to think about food.”
“Good, because you ain’t going there to eat, baby. Just be careful and look a bit lost and uneasy.”
“How’d you figure out there was something more than food there and the left over products that weren’t sent to Wal-Mart stores in America?”
“Elevators, there are no working elevators anywhere, that I have seen.”
“Exactly, there’s not one working one in the whole Institute of Engineering.”
“Then why is there one in the ridiculously dirty night market, and it only goes below ground?”
“You are truly good at what you do, Ruby Zhang.”
“You make me uneasy when you start complimenting me like that.”
“Yes, makes me wonder if I am losing my edge. It doesn’t happen very often, but I am uneasy, of course. I’m talking with you, aren’t I? Anyway, I can live through anything, yesterday proved that to me.”
“There, that’s my killer!”
“Hell, Ruby, you were right there with me yesterday on the bus coming back to that rat hole at the institute they call an apartment? It was so crowded and smelly that it even made a hard assed woman like you almost sick. Dog meat and bugs for breakfast doesn’t bother you but a bus right made you act almost like a woman.”
“That was mean.” Ruby said with a sound in her voice.
“Wow, you have feelings?”
She replied. “Anyway, China’s not the first country you’ve have had such an experience in.”
“You’ve got that right, even in LA smells like a dump.” He zigzagged up the road to avoid the mass of Chinese people who were friendly but had no problem running right into him as they struggled to get where they were going. It was survival and their way of avoiding standing still in the midst of the maddening crowd. “I did love the cultural feelings and it made my international traveler's blood start flowing well! It is your country.”
“This is not my country, as I said before. This is my people, but I can never accept the thugs and killers in control here. They are usurpers. So, I help the Taiwanese and will support China when she is truly free, probably not in my lifetime. And that bus was pretty smelly and made my bowels feel that way too. For now, get your killer instincts going. You can travel again after this, if you’re still alive.” Ruby added.
The operative walked up to the entrance of the night market and stood outside for a moment and let a cigarette. “You’re more American than Chinese now, Ruby my … dear. I couldn’t even scratch my nose on that rolling toilet, but I still managed to snap some cool pictures to put on Facebook, if it worked in this retched place! Did you see them? Every time the bus stopped, the money-mongering driver let more in that shaky bus that was already packed like a can of sardines. Then, he’d shout for us to move to the back of the bus, but there was nowhere to go.”
“The force is in place and are about to get everything ready for when the target arrives.”
You mean they will kill the regulars, don’t you?”
“We’ll we’re not taking candy from a baby. Someone has to die to save her, even though she’s already dead.” Ruby said with emotion in her voice.”So, did you forget I was with you on that bus?” Ruby said.
“Yeah, you were right there next to me with your hand covering your mouth to stop from puking. The good news is that we made it home alive. And, I will tonight as well, for her. I am not your average Tourist!”
“Let’s see if you are alive to tell me that again, in a couple of hours.”
“When has that ever been guaranteed?”
Shenyang, The People’s Republic of China
Tuesday, March 17, 2013, 6:56 p.m.
“Everything’s ready, we have our people in place and they’re guarding the animal farm now.” Ruby Zhang informed the operative.
“OK, I am outside the …”
“The night market, yes I know.” Ruby interrupted.
“Yes, yes of course you do. Why’d you hate the Maoist regime here? You are just like one of them … no better than them at watching other people’s business?”
“Baby, you are my business and besides, officially, I am your wife, remember?”
“Oh my goodness; the things I do for my country!”
“You got that from a movie! Anyway, you need to wrap up the package and Sam Wells will gather the info we need.”
“What? Sam Wells is here? You never told me he was going to be involved. Look, Sam is a brainiack for sure, but certainly not into espionage and … where is he?”
A male voice sounded out behind the operative and someone tapped him on the shoulder. “Where do you want him to be Blogger?” a voice the operative recognized immediately.
“Sam?” The operative turned around. “Sam what the hell are you doing here?”
“Oh, well, now there’s a question that even I cannot answer completely. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I am here to serve and though I confess that I fail miserably, I think that life is about …”
“OK, OK I forgot who I was talking to and haven’t seen for a while.”
“Nathan Hawk, how the hell are you? I haven’t seen you since … well, it looks like you pulled through OK.”
“Pulled through what? I don’t know what you’re talking about. But, most of the time I can’t interpret a word you’re saying anyway.”
“Ah, yes, um, isn’t this place amazing? Look at the throng of people. It’s my first time in China, and the food is good. I have this pen I made and I just wave it over the food before I eat it and it counts the billions of microbes and whether they are good or bad. Most of them are killers, but I just eat it anyway, because it’s so good.” Sam Wells kept speaking in gibberish as his head was moving around looking for something or someone. “I need coffee, I have not had a decent cup of coffee in this massive teahouse since I arrived. Even McDonald’s coffee seems …”
Nathan Hawk looked at him and shook his head. “Coffee’s the last thing you need!” He wondered how they’d ever get out alive with Sam Wells attached to him, let alone bring the infatuation of his heart back to life. He looked at the bobbing head that housed the 210 IQ brains of Sam Wells. “You have not changed at all Sam, and it’s been, what, ten years and you’re still nuts.”
“Change, oh we all change.” He took off his cap. “Look, remember the Einstein hair, well, more like Jessie Ventura now! And, I have grown a lot older, and so have you, by the way. Change is inevitable because of the deterioration of the molecular structure of the …” Sam’s eyes locked onto someone walking towards the night market entrance and started walking toward him.”
“The package is to your right.” Ruby told Hawk. “And I see Sam spotted him before I did.”
“Are you surprised? He noticing everything before the rest of us, and he’s walking over to the man. Is that protocol?” Hawk asked.
“Protocol, haha, that’s Sam Wells.”
“Yes, I forgot, no sense writing protocol. He’d just alter it.” Hawk said.
“Sam! Sam, what are you doing; gonna ask him where to get a decent cup of coffee?”
“Oh coffee, no I have already figured that out. It’s back around the corner from my apartment in Chicago.” He kept walking toward the target.
“Sam, I know you’re smart, but …”
“Thank you. It has been commonly thought that if you think someone is smart then you probably are too.” Nathan Hawk just shook his head in the cold night air with people rushing past him on all sides.
“Look Blogger, do you recall the teacher we had the institute in Chicago who taught us about missions and all that stuff back when we dreamed of spreading the word of god to the ends of the earth. Well, I remember he said that to get into the culture it was important to blend in and to do what the others do. You know how these hoodlums run right into you? Watch this.” Sam, now several feet away from Hawk, shouted back.
Sam Wells walked faster at the same pace as everyone else trying to make it through the narrow walkway that was lined with every kind of vendor the mind could think of. He saw the target had a cup of something warm in his hand with a lot of papers in a plastic bag to look unofficial.
Sam walked up to him and ran right into him almost knocking him down and spilling the hot liquid on his coat. Sam smelled it. Coffee? Sam told himself and caught the man’s as he was falling and simultaneously attached a small microchip to the to the man’s coat pocket.
“Saabi!” The man said, using one of the Chinese languages worst words. The man straightened his coat and looked at Sam Wells with a look of having seen his face somewhere before. He couldn’t recall but knew he was not Asian.
“Are you stupid?” He looked at his plastic bag. The coffee had drenched all the papers in the bag. “Do you know what you have done? That was three night’s work, you imbecile!”
Sam looked at the man and placed his hand in his own coat pocket and flipped a switch on a remote device and felt it vibrate two times. He knew it was working.
“Oh, please forgive me. I was trying to blend in and act like the rest of the imbeciles here.”
The man took out the papers and turned the coffee soaked bag inside out and put them back in. He turned and walked on cursing under his breath and shaking his head.
“Excuse me!” Sam Wells shouted to the man. He turned around and looked back at Sam with a disgusted look spread across his face.
“What? I am a very busy man.” He said with a thick Chinese accent.
“Do you know where I can get a decent cup of coffee?” Sam asked and Hawk laughed out loud when he heard it and so did Ruby. The man walked on and Sam walked back over to Nathan Hawk.
“Where’d you place the device?” Hawk asked Sam.
“How did you know I …”
“I know you, and that was perfect for you, since I know you are great at the indelicacies of life.”
“You are mean sometimes, Blogger.”
“Why do you keep on calling me blogger? Is that my code name or something?”
“Yeah … something. At any rate, his pocket.”
“His pocket; I placed it in his pocket.”
“Oh, OK, now we can track him. Let’s go.”
“No, not yet, let’s wait a bit.” Sam said calmly. “Damn that coffee smelled good!”
“Why are we wasting time? He’s right there and…”
“And, he will gather the information we need to get into the center. We already know where that is. The chip does not just tack. In fact, that’s the most simple thing it does. It is absorbent software.” Sam looked at Nathan Hawk and smiled.
“I know you’re enjoying keeping me wondering and being a step ahead of me, but that’s OK. I have a hard time hanging out in your world. Anyway, it’s as cold as Antarctica out here.”
“Oh, not really Antarctica is at least twenty degrees colder than here. In fact we’d be dead in these clothes if we were…”
“Right, Sam, you are always right.”
“Well, not always; sometimes I am…”
“Right again.” Hawk patiently said. “Now, let me into your chamber of horrors that is your mind so I can get the hell scared out of me.”
“Sam looked a little sad at the words and shook it off. “The chip absorbs all codes and electrical and digitals signals. So, once he gets to the door and pressed the code to enter, I’ll have it on my controller and then when he logs into his computer, every single file will be copied and we’ll have that too. So, though even I know we can just gallivant off to get that coffee; do you think we could? It would only take a moment and it smelled so…”
“Sam! Focus!”
“Ah, yes, Let’s let him do some of the work for us so we can wrap him up and don’t have to spend dangerous time getting all that ourselves.”
“Well, Sam, that’s brilliant!”
“Hawk, you complimented me. That’s a first.”
“Well, don’t tell anyone.”
“Too late, Hawk.” Ruby interjected. “I heard that.” She said smiling broadly.
“OK, but, I meant anyone important.” Hawk looked at his phone’s screen and Ruby grimaced.
“So…?” Hawk said looking right at Sam Wells.
“Yeah, so what?” Sam asked in a relaxed tone.
“Sam, you worry me when you’re so relaxed. It’s not like you at all. Shouldn’t we follow him?”
“Why? Because he’s the target and the reason I’m languishing in Chinatown; that’s why.”
“Hawk, chill! I wanted to use that term for the longest time. I heard it on TV. I’ve been watching the tube more than before. A lot of good stuff on the…”
“Sam, I know you hang out somewhere beyond lala-land, but you have to focus.”
“Have you noticed blogger that when I am nervous you tell me to relax and when I relax you get nervous?”
“Well … I … OK, you have a point there, but don’t we have to bag this guy?”
“I love this!” Ruby said laughing. “LMAO!” She typed on Hawk’s screen.
“Facebook’s not allowed in Maoville, Ruby.” Hawk said with an upset tone. “You guys got me hanging out to dry here.”
“Hawk, if you have to catch a snake, would you rather put it in the bag or have the snake crawl right up inside the back by itself?”
“OK, I’m listening.” Hawk said.
“Like I said early, this software in that little device I attached to the Charlie Chan’s coat is absorbent. It will lock onto any code it senses and automatically copy it. So, by the time he gets to his computer station, I’ll have every code he does and then some. He’s got to walk past the lights and the elevator and the …”
“OK, I got it, we can just about walk right in there, right?”
“You got it, Sherlock!” Sam quipped.
“Sam can just activate what we want on and turn off what we want off by just pointing his controller at it. It will find the saved signal and it is ours, right, Sam?”
“Right, if it works.”
“What? You mean you haven’t even tested it?

“Yeah, I tested it, and it worked three out of five times.”
Hawk shook his head and he was suddenly scared. “What’d you do, build it last night?”
“What, you think I am stupid, don’t you?”
Hawk looked at Sam inquisitively. “You did didn’t you? You build this thing last night.”
“No, I did not build it last night.”
“OK good, I was afraid you ad and was unsure if its built it last night.”
“This morning.”
“I designed it and built it this morning, but it was easy, and I know it will be fine.”
“Why don’t I feel better, Ruby?” Hawk said into his phone.

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