Dangerous in Transit(4)

By: Sidney Bristol


“Shit, you’d think a pompous asshole like her old man would love this kind of positive press.” Isaac swung his chair back and forth.

“Yeah, but I get the feeling all dear old Dad cares about is profit,” Felix said.

“You’re probably right.” Zain tapped his screen a few more times. “What we do know is that Jackie works with several civil rights, anti-slavery groups who are particularly active in Mauritania. Slavery was made a punishable offense in 2007, but by all accounts, it’s still a very real problem there. It’s hard for organizations to get into the country to do any sort of good because the government takes the stance that they don’t have a slavery problem. I’m following up with some of Jackie’s friends, and it sounds like she went rogue with this trip, run, not sure what it is. What we can tell from the two pictures she posted is that she was there to rescue some people. For all we know it might have been a trap, or wrong time wrong place, who knows?”

“Jesus...” Felix scrubbed a hand over his face.

“It’s highly likely more than just Jackie is being held there. I’m trying to get in contact with someone who can tell me how many individuals were working with Jackie so we know how many we’re hoping to bring back. Right now, all the other teams are deployed, but as soon as one gets back I want to have them on standby for backup. This is going to be a tricky, messy rescue. This whole civil war seems...off.” Zain threw his hands up. “If I had more than ten hours notice on this we’d be better briefed.”

“When do you sleep?” Felix asked.

“Never, according to my wife.” Zain grinned.

“We’re booked on a flight that leaves in three hours.” Kyle stretched his arms toward the ceiling. “I’d suggest repacking your bags and keep them light on nonessentials, heavy on ammo and tactical gear. Pack for hot weather. There’s a good chance we’ll be doing some running.”

“And I’ll hopefully have more for you by the time you land to make your connection in Egypt.”

The others filed out of the room, talking in hushed tones.

Felix didn’t get up. He kept staring at Jackie’s dirt-smudged face. When he met, he owed her an apology. His kind of frivolous spending was getting another game system he didn’t need. She was out to save the world.

“Everything okay?” Zain flipped through the papers on his clipboard.

“How does a guy think this is frivolous? I feel like a piece of shit looking at her life.”

“Some people have different drives.” Zain glanced at the screen. “Some of us are driven to succeed, which means getting more money, climbing to the top of the ladder. Some of us are driven to help people, which puts people like Jackie here in danger. And some of us unlucky bastards are driven to protect people, which means you better get your ass in gear.”

“You’re right.” Felix pushed to his feet and stretched.

“Ian was surprised you weren’t off. Something I should know?” Zain asked.

“Nah.”

“Well, if you can take this job, we need more boots on the ground. You don’t speak French or Arabic, do you?”

“My French is shit, and I can’t even ask for a beer in Arabic. I’m going to go get my damn bag.”

The best thing Felix could do to commemorate his cousin was bring Jackie home. The Björns and Jackies of the world were important. There needed to be more of them because too many people just wanted to make a buck at the expense of others.





2.




Friday. Slums of Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Jackie Davis held her breath and focused on the bowl in her hands. She couldn’t spill a drop. Water was precious. She’d wanted to fill it to the brim, but her arms had begun to shake from lack of food and sleep, her body screaming out for some kind of respite.

“Easy does it.” Valentina Sanchez wrapped her long, elegant fingers around the bowl and lifted it from Jackie’s quivering grasp.

“How’s she doing?” Jackie leaned against the wall, allowing her gaze to fixate on the twelve-year-old girl stretched out on one of the pile of rags they’d been granted.