Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Chapter 4

Castro turned out to be more of a liability than a shield. The old man couldn’t keep up with Anna and Orestes as they fled the “last party” and stumbled to the floor. Gripping the old man by the back of his collar, his emaciated body had become a useless bag of bones Anna and Orestes struggled to drag behind them toward an old Russian military truck parked outside. The driver, with an AK-47 slung around his shoulder, was leaning against the truck smoking a cigarette when he looked up and saw them coming his way. The PPK got him standing upright and his hands in the air. Anna ordered him to walk to the back of the truck. He arrived when they got there and she had him surrender his weapon, drop the hatch and help Orestes throw Castro inside while she watched their backs. When the hatch was slammed back, Orestes ran around the side and Anna got the keys from the driver before turning him around and using him as a shield. It didn't do any good. The driver took a round of bullets as they backed toward the cab and died instantly. Anna let him fall to the ground and fired a couple of shots killing two soldiers which scattered the rest and gave her enough time to climb up into the cab. Orestes wasn't there waiting for her.

"Orestes!" Anna yelled through the open passenger window. The keys weren't going into the ignition. "Orestes!" She leaned across the seat and looked out the window.

Orestes was lying in a pool of blood.

A bullet caught the side-view mirror driving Anna back into the cab. They were firing again. No time to process. Put the keys in the ignition. Drive away like a bat out of hell.

The truck lurched forward and...the shooting stopped as she crashed through the gate and turned down the street. When she looked back it quickly became apparent why: the Old Man and fallen out of the back of the truck and the soldiers were running to his aid.

Within minutes, all kinds of military and police vehicles were chasing Anna through the dark and bumpy Havana side streets. She killed the lights, pulled over and parked behind an old Chevy parked in front of some party official’s home. She got out and jumped into the unlocked car, found the wiring under the dash, pulled it down and yanked wires from the starter. Within a few seconds she had the engine running and was driving away with the lights off toward the coast and the raft she hoped would be waiting for her.


Castro looked half dead when they slipped the old cosmonaut helmet over his head. Raúl made sure it was fastened tightly.


The red death dots told Anna Orestes had blabbed. The army knew where to look for the raft. She drew the Karishnokov closer and held her breath as the red death dots danced around her. She wondered if Orestes had sabotaged the missile.


At dawn, Castro was launched into space.

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