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Never Cross Me

The bird songs stopped. Animals took to their hiding places. Eventually, the lizards scuttled to safety after feeling the strange vibrations through the ground. Every member of the forest sensed the danger in every breath. Connie Simmes slowly made progress through the tangled undergrowth not wanting to leave a twig broken, or a stone overturned. She didn't want to leave any evidence she had passed through the area. This wasn't her usual route she took to reach the slab wooden cabin near to rise of the mountain. The message she had received sent warning bells ringing loud of a trap being set for her.
Marty hadn't sent the note, of that she was sure. The wording wasn't his even though the handwriting was vaguely similar. He might have been forced to write what he had been instructed to say. The words and the underlying message kept flashing through her mind.
Dew dripped from the leaves of the trees making her clothes damp. Her body shivered from the breeze seeping through to her warm body. The rays of the sun had just peeped over the rise of the mountain bringing more light for her to see where she stood. The rifle she carried was packed in a waterproof casing to protect it. Her backpack was packed with ammunition and other weapons she might need. The sun was ascending higher when she arrived within watching distance near the cabin. Lifting her collection of bags, and weapons from her body to the ground. She lifted the binoculars from her chest, where she had them on a string around her neck. Laying flat on the ground behind a bush, Connie surveyed the area for a trap. No one moved around outside. No cars to be seen. Or any tracks on the dewy grass to show one had been to the cabin.
Opening her backpack, Connie grabbed a couple of hand grenades to shove in the pocket of her jacket. She clamped the bullet belt around her waist to have them within reach. A sharp thin long bladed knife she slipped down into the top of her shin high boots. In the top pocket of the jacket, she stowed he blowpipe and a few darts in the event she found a guard, who had to be silenced so as not to notify anyone of her presence. Taking the rifle from the casing, she began to slowly make her way through the bush to circle the cabin for danger. The ray of the sun shone through the canopy of the trees at the right moment to shine on a silver wire pulled tight across the path she had chosen to take. Connie stopped mid-stride. Taking a deep breath, she then searched the vegetation to find where the wire started and where it lead. She decided to leave it in place but grabbed a coloured piece of string from an inside pocket of her jacket to tie around the wire. Moving her feet in a heel toe manner, she watched for another wire set at a short distance from the other. Just as well she did because she found another one a few metres from the other wire. Making slow progress, Connie finally made her way around to the other side of the cabin where she encountered another trip wire. This one she found wired to a couple of drums near the back wall on the cabin. Marking it she continued on her way finding more wires until she neared the road where she sensed danger.
Slowly she searched the leaves on the ground to find they had been disturbed recently, and dirt had been dug to bury something small, then the leaves placed back on top. Connie chuckled. “You need to learn how to hide a bomb, Pal. What a poor attempt to hide this one,” she mumbled.
Moving downward, instead of upward, Connie found a safe place to cross the road to make her way back to where she had hidden her supplies. She pulled out a map of the area from her bag to mark in all the places where she had found placed traps. Shoving the map into her jacket pocket, she picked up her gear to move closer to the cabin. Someone had taken a lot of trouble to make sure she didn't reach the cabin alive. Her mind buzzed with the number of people who would like to hear she had been killed. In her line of work as an agent she had upset a lot of friends, and foes.
Give it your best shot,” mumbled Connie. “I can handle what you have planned to dispose of me.” Connie marked another place with string, and marked it on the map. Finally, she reached the grass area around the cabin where she had to travel without cover. Lifting her binoculars, she searched out any movement she might have missed on the first surveillance. Finding no movement, Connie made her way to where she had seen the drums placed near the back wall.
She smiled on seeing how the drums had been wired. Very carefully, and gently, Connie removed the mechanism set to fire then explode. Working her way around the cabin she found the two windows had been wired for anyone fool enough to enter through them. Defusing the next which had been connected to the door, Connie opened the door slowly in the event there might be another one she hadn't found. She searched the floor before she stepped up into the cabin. Finding none, she pushed the door wider to step inside. A sour, metal smell reached her nose. A smell she had smelt many times over here career. Blood. Someone had to be dead and that someone wasn't an animal.
Stepping inside the cabin, she waited until her eyes adjusted to the change of light before she took another step. When she turned toward the area where she knew the bed was, she gasped, for there lay Marty dead on the bed with a few holes in his chest. At closer inspection, Connie found he had been shot while he slept, because there were holes in the blanket when she pulled at it to cover his body closing his eyes as she did so. She grieved for the partner she had worked with for the past few years, then she cursed the unknown person, while she made plans to seek revenge on the person who had killed Marty.
Connie went to the back of the cabin to retrieve the rest of the weapons then she set to work to wreck havoc on the persons responsible for Marty's murder. Taking out the small machine gun type weapon, she wired it to a chair before she placed it in the middle of the room facing the doorway. Then she tired the chair to the handle of a cupboard to stop the chair from moving forward.
Placing a hand grenade in place either side of the door, secured them, she picked up her backpack, said her final farewell to her partner, then walked out of the door. Dumping the pack on the ground, Connie sat a wire for when the person opened the door. When she had finished connecting the two grenades, Connie slowly, and gently closed the door to glue a small piece of wood with a hook to the underside of the door, which was to snag the taut wire when the door was pushed open. Collecting her backpack she made sure the ground around the entrance to the cabin looked natural, not showing any signs she had entered. She erased her boot marks while she walked backward to where she had re-set the drum bomb at the back of the cabin.
Kneeling next to the drums, she took out a wire, and pliers, to construct her type of bomb by adding a few little surprises for the person who may try to defuse it. She liked to do things her way so her work wouldn't easily be undone by those not familiar with her work. Over the years in many different war zones, she had learned some crude ways of wiring and added them to her own with a little tinkering to make them quick and easy, to assemble. When she was satisfied with her finished effort, she headed to the grassy area covering her tracks on the way. Making a few animal claw tracks as decoy, when she entered the grass, to explain away the bruised grass where her boots had flattened it.
Taking a round-about trip she made her way to the area where she had left the items she didn't need to do the job. Looking toward the canopy of the trees Connie realised she had taken longer than she should have because the sun had moved higher above the mountain. Listening for any unusual sounds, Connie made her way down through the bush to a place where she would hide to wait for the person to return to see if the job had been completed. She found a comfortable hollow behind a couple of fallen dead trees where she was protected from all sides from being spotted from the air, or ground. Searching the hideout for any animals who may have taken up residence for the night and had not ventured out for the day. When none were found, she stored her weapons in handy reach, then she pulled out her flask for a drink, and a package of sandwiches, and sat back to watch for the next part of the action to begin.
While Connie waited normal sounds slowly returned to the forest. The birds began to sing and fly around the trees. Lizards scuttled around the undergrowth and the sun warmed up the day. She rested her back against a broken branch of the tree, closed her eyes to meditate, tuning in with the world around her listening for any new tension from the animals. The tree seemed to be in a waiting mode knowing the danger had not passed. More trouble lay ahead and unfold over the coming hours. Each preparing for some disaster to be unleashed like they had never experienced before, their leavers quivering but no wind disturbed them. The root system working harder to grow deeper into the ground to hide until the danger had passed. Then all remain mostly quiet, except for the bird calls from different parts of the forest to remind Connie she was not alone in this mad world.
Her mobile buzzed a few times but she refused to answer. She didn't even look at the caller ID to see who had called. No telling who might be monitoring her calls to find out where she was or if she was alive. After the first couple of times she shut off the phone so she wouldn't be tempted to answer. “Let them wonder if I'm alive, or dead,” flashed through her mind, while she listened to the sounds around her. A couple of hours later, her senses became aware of a new sound coming her way. Opening her eyes she reached for her binoculars to search pieces of the sky. She searched for a plane. The type of plane would tell her who had come to search out the area. Or was it just one using this route to reach its destination. No. Wasn't her firm looking for her. She had warned them to keep their distance from the mountain until they had received good news, or bad news, via the radio news of an explosion in this area. And the plane didn't have a different destination because it had begun to circle the mountain coming in lower with each turn before flying off in the direction it had come. She chuckled. “Your plan didn't work, guys. You will have to hoof in to see why the cabin is still standing. “Taking an apple from her pack, Connie settled back to wait for further action. Waiting for action was not one of her strong points. She liked to be in, do the job, and be well gone before anyone knew she had bee the one to do so much damage. But today, she had to play the waiting game for her unknown enemy to show.
Another hour passed before the tenor of the bush hushed to alert Connie to the arrival of a new presence. She moved to a kneeling position where she turned her binoculars toward the road leading toward the cabin. A couple of men lead by a woman, all dress in camouflage clothes, made their way up the hill toward the cabin with machine guns at the ready to fire. Scanning the trees, more warriors were taking a different tact on each side of the road keeping out of sight. Connie smiled. Action had begun. Stealing out of her hide she circled in a different direction to the moving bodies to at them from behind. She reached for her bamboo tube and loaded it with a dart, then blew into the pipe, the man bring up the read bit the dust not knowing what had happened. His hands were tired and a piece of tape stuck across his mouth. She quickly wiped out the six men on her side of the road, then dashed across the road to dive into the undergrowth before she was seen. A man swore in terror up above her moments before an explosion rent the forest. Connie dived for cover until the dust cleared then watched the other couple of men work their way slowly toward the road without setting off any more explosions. “Thanks, Guys,” mumbled Connie, one I missed in the search. She stayed where she was until the arguing group moved further up the road and around a bend before she dashed back to the other side of the road to make her way back to her hideout to collect more fire power to take with her on the next part of the journey.
The woman, and who were left of her party, made a slow circuit to the left of the cabin. A hand was raised for the men to stop back, while the leader made her way to the drums. A worried frown wrinkled her forehead before she stepped backward from the drums. She knew her work had been tampered to explode if she tried to defuse it. None of her crew had experience in removing a fuse of that caliber  No way was she going to attempt to work on it either. Checking the window on her return to the front of the cabin she knew it hadn't been touched. Leaving the men at the front, under protest from them, she made her way alone to the other side to look for more changes to her work she had complete but, none had been found. Thinking her way was safe to move into the cabin, she made her way back to the front.
A small argument erupted between the group when she returned to the front with much shouting, and hand waving, to stress their point of views. The leader folded her arms across her padded chest to say she wasn't pleased with the arguments about her plans. Listening to the argument, Connie only had time to hear her name mentioned among a lot of other words she didn't understand before one of the men broke from the group to march toward the front door.
I wouldn't open the door,” came the muffled voice from inside of the cabin. The group turned as one with their weapons drawn ready to fire. Each relaxed their trigger finger when no one stood behind them. The man at the door lowered his weapon before he reached toward the handle of the door.
Warning. Do not enter this building.” Everyone became alert once again but no action came their way. The man swore then reached out again more slowly waiting for what he didn't know. “Death is imminent. Stand back.”
One of the other men rushed forward in a fury at all the delays. He wanted this job finished so he could return home. This country gave off too many bad vibes. A cold shiver ran down his spine the moment he reached for the handle but he didn't have time to notice before darkness came to his life after the deafening sound, the flash of light, and flying through the air. Squeals of anger, fury, and pain, came from those in the direct line of the explosion, and the bullets from the machine gun before it was silenced. One explosion after another ripped apart the mountain sending rocks, dirt, and building, flying in all directions. Connie dashed for the safety of her hideout before the explosion roared to life destroying the cabin leaving a crater in its place. When all the katzenjammer finished Connie's ears were ringing, parts of her body bruised and sore from being hit by small stones raining down on her.
Connie stayed in her hiding place until she felt safe to move out. She reached for her phone to report what had happened, and order the backup to move in but, before she did there came the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead. “Simmes. Are you still alive. What the blood hell did you do. Did you stop to think of all the bloody paperwork, and fast talking I'm going to have to do to clear you of this shit mess,” Captain Clark yelled through his megaphone from the doorway of the helicopter. His phone rang. He fished it from his pocket and answered. “This had better be you, Simms.”
I love you too, Boss. Didn't know you cared so much for me.”
Simmes,” came a warning growl. “Cut the bull. What happened. Are you hurt?”
You know me, Boss. I haven't used up my nine lives. Just have a little ringing in my ears. How far away is back up?”
Coming up the hill. Anything my people should know?”
Keep to the road. The bush is full of traps. There are some of the group out cold in there but I'll have to guide the troops through to them. Don't know if the other who were near the cabin are alive. See you are the ruins.” She cut the connection, climbed from her hideout to make her way to where the cabin once stood. Connie surveyed the area for any injured people but, sadly, they had been too close to the cabin when the explosion erupted.
Give an account of yourself, Simmes,” came the bull roar from behind her. “What happened?”
Marty is dead. He was in what once was a cabin.”
Shit. Wasn't you able to get him out.” Connie shook her head. “What do I tell his family?”
The place was wired. I did go in but there wasn't a thing I could do to save him. I knew the culprits were sure to return if there wasn't an explosion. So,” she shrugged her tired, aching shoulders. “I waited. I made a few changes to their trap. One member became impatient, he rushed forward to push open the door and all hell broke loose. I had best go remove the other threats in the bushes before we are rocked by a lot more if the troops venture off of the road, or the captives wake and try to leave. Order the troops to definitely not move from the cleared area until I give the all clear, or ask them to come remove one of the captives.”
You mean you didn't kill them all,” came a sarcastic reply, before she turned away to go find what explosives hadn't been triggered by the others. She moved at a snails pace watching for the strings she had tied on trip wires, and some she may not have found the first time around.
The sun started on it's downward path by the time Connie had finished the last mine she had found. Exhausted, and tired, she dragged all her weapons, and bags to the road for the troops to load on the truck to take her to where she had left her vehicle.
Do you know what sparked this mess. Who was responsible for killing Marty?” Her boss waited for an answer.
That is your job. Mine is to stop the enemy from further bloodshed. But I'd look into his Russian work. Or some other cases we worked on together. Then again the captives might spill their guts to save their skin. Good luck. I'm going home for a long soak in a bath full of hot water, and fall into bed.”
Have you made the area safe?”
I'll come back tomorrow and do another sweep of the area. Secure the whole area with guards until the all clear has been given. Doing any more searching tonight will have grave consequences.” Connie climbed into the back of the truck for the ride down the mountain.
Call it a day, troops. We'll come back tomorrow to clean up.”

Before the sun rose the next morning, Connie made her way up the mountain area to finish the job of clearing the area. She had a troubled sleep because there was something she felt she had missed. A niggling bit of conversation kept popping into her brain but didn't quiet catch the gist of the whole train of thought to reach an answer.
Connie parked her vehicle where the first guard stopped her. She showed her ID, then explained why she had been the first to arrive. He let her past. She started her search from the bottom marking the area she had cleared with a different colour string to remind herself they were new. Securing the first quarter on the left hand side of the road where she found another guard, she explained to him on the map where the way was clear. “Tell everyone not to move beyond the blue markers. I'm headed to the back. Haven't been to far down there. Only did what was necessary, yesterday, but some lost memory has me wanting to venture down there at a much slower pace. I'll call if I need assistance.” She reminded the guard to radio to the others to tell them of her orders. Trudging along the road the backpack weighing her shoulders down, causing them to ache. She knew this ache. The job was taking too long and her body sensed there was more danger ahead.
Making her way up the mountain from this new direction, chills began to run down her spine, warning her to tread more carefully and keep her eyes peeled for action. Lifting her shoulders, Connie did a swing on the trees ahead of her in all directions, a funny smell reached her nose. On reaching an outcrop of rocks, Connie lay behind some bushes to look toward the ravine to find what she had forgotten. “Sorry I didn't beat the baddies for you, Marty. But I'll have them wiped out before they know what hit them.” Taking out her phone she punched the speed dial button. “Boss,” she whispered, when he answered.
Simms,” he shouted. “I can't hear you.”
Shh. Do you want to have me killed,” she whispered in a louder tone. “Found more trouble. Where are you?”
Cleaning up your last mess. You sure know...”
Shh. Go around the back of the crater. Quietly, and slowly, make you way with back up down. Can you see a ravine from where you are.” Connie watched the action while she waited for an answer. “Send in some from the other side so we have all the bases covered.”
I have a helicopter...”
Forget the chopper.”
We'll take awhile to have everyone in place without air power.
Never mind. I'll just throw a few grenades and blow the whole place to kingdom come.” She cut the connection, with a smile on her lips. She kept watching while she waited for the troops to arrive. Hearing a stick snap, Connie rolled on to her back with the machine gun pointed ready to fire and took out the man who came at her with a machete. Moments later, many heavy booted men stormed through the bush coming in her direction from the top.
You called. Oh. Another victim for me to explain away. Can't you ever do a neat job.” Connie laughed.
Well, you'll have more to explain if you let those drug makers steal away without capturing them.” She stood, to point to where trucks were being hastily loaded to take what they cold with them. Connie moved to a higher bolder, lay down, she grabbed out her rifle and looked in the sight to find a main point to do damage.
What do you intend to do.”
Warn the troops to keep out of firing range.”
Oh, shit. Think of my ulcer. The one you have caused me,” her Boss growled, while he grabbed for the radio to bark orders to the troops coming from the other direction.
Finding the drum Connie believed would cause much more trouble, she pulled the trigger, and moments later the first drum exploded causing people to scatter, others went flying through the air. A couple more shots did further damage setting the camp on fire.
Those who weren't hurt were rounded up to be taken to jail The fire services were called to bring the fire under control.
The fire commander came to where Connie stood beside her boss with her pack, and weapons, on the ground at her feet. “What happened this time. What did you destroy.”
I didn't do it,” said her Boss. He held out his hand gun. “It hasn't been fired.” Two pair of eyes landed on all the weapons on the ground.
Connie reached for her pack to put on her back, shoulder her machine gun and rifle, before asking, “Who is going to give me a lift back to my vehicle.” Those within hearing distance moved back to continue on with their work of making the area safe. “Oh, well, I'll find my own way back to where my vehicle is parked.” She turned to leave. “Never know what I might find to shoot at on the way. Might find another drug lab.” Chuckling she had only taken a few steps before she was removed of all her weapons, and pack, by her own team members.
As of now, you are on holidays,” declared her Boss.
Fine with me, Boss. I could do with a long rest on a beach with a hunky guy serving me ice cold drinks.” Everyone frowned when she simply turned to walk down toward the road. Sighs escaped moments before she changed direction to race toward a fire truck, jump up into the seat, start the engine and drive away laughing at the stunned people left behind. The guard looked surprised when Connie stepped down from the cab.
Pick up your jaw if you don't want to swallow a bug. You can take the truck back to the owners. I've been ordered to go on holiday. This should be interesting.”
Where are you going? I hear the Greek Islands are fun this time of the year,” said the guard, knowing the area had no wars. What trouble could she cause without her artillery.
Sounds to tame to me. I hear Iraq is a dangerous area to visit. Might be fun...” The guard ran to the fire truck, did a quick turn to drive recklessly to tell the Boss what she had told him. Connie walked toward her car laughing, stepped in and drove away. “That will give them sending me on a holiday.”
Connie drove to her unit. She threw her clothes in a bag and closed the door on her ringing phone. One her way to her destination she stopped at a store to do some shopping before driving on to her cottage she had by the lake. No one knew she had this hideaway. “Look out fish here I come.”


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