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Short Fiction: The Standard Version (3 of 5)

I love reading and writing. I came to writing late in life and discovered a world where I feel like a fish in the water.


At the Airport

She found Simon waiting for her outside the airport terminal where her plane was expected to land. She was late coming out of the terminal, but he did not comment on her tardiness.

He was not successful in convincing her to surrender her research to him and forget the whole matter. Feeling that her safety was his responsibility, he refused to let her be alone while in Turkey. He had promised to meet her at the airport and to escort her during her stay and search in Turkey.

Prior to her departure, she had emailed him her flight details with the address of the hotel where they would both be staying. She had booked a flight for herself but arranged hotel accommodation for both. What is he going to say when he finds out about the hotel?

Simon wore a casual attire of summer pants, a white T-shirt and walking sandals. She smiled when she saw that he grew a stubble beard, which made him look even more handsome. Like most men she knew, he had no handbag. He must have tucked his wallet in his back pocket.

The rental car was a large-size Peugeot 301 with four doors and equipped with air conditioning and an automatic gearbox. The drive was long, but the beautiful scenic view was worth it.

A vast peninsula, Turkey covers an area of 780,000 square kilometers linking Asia to Europe through the Sea of Marmara and the Straits of İstanbul and Canakkale[i]. Different reliefs and formations of parallel mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, plateaux split by valleys and plains made the scenic view fascinating.

Simon briefed Maren in the car on the hotel. He had checked-in the evening before. He told her about his surprise to learn that she had booked a two-bedroom suite claiming they were a couple. He did not argue further as he understood why she did that.

After he checked in at the hotel and placed his baggage in their suite, he went for a walk to inspect the area surrounding the hotel. He had waited for her arrival to visit the village together.

They arrived at the hotel after a long and tiring drive. As her plane landed late in the afternoon, she told Simon she needed to relax a little in their suite before meeting him for dinner at the hotel restaurant.

At the Hotel

A female attendant led Maren to the suite. It was a two-bedroom suite with a living room in the middle. She opened one of the doors and found Simon’s personal belongings. The other door opened to a spacious bedroom that she took for herself.

The suite was spacious, air conditioned, and had a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. A small leaflet placed on a table in the middle area between the bedrooms informed her that Wi-Fi was available and free. She jotted down the password and went into her bedroom.

She quickly unpacked, took a quick shower, and lay on her bed for a little nap. As she relaxed, it occurred to her that she should perform a brief witch ceremony to bring luck to her endeavor.

She locked her bedroom door and quickly cleared the desk near her bed. She lit a small candle, placed it in the middle of the desk, and surrounded it with four small items representing the four natural elements.

With calm and collected concentration, she drew a circle around her with her right hand and softly chanted,

Feeling all set to start the adventure, she closed the circle and cleared the desk.

Dressed in a long new summer dress, with no make-up but with a bit of lip balm, she took the elevator to the hotel lobby where Simon was waiting for her. He had changed into a blue jean with a blue polo shirt and the same walking sandals. She took a deep breath to calm her rapidly beating heart and smiled to him. He returned her smile which made her heart race even faster.

They entered the restaurant and sat at a table in the corner. The restaurant was not yet full of diners.

“Do you feel rested and up to checking the village this evening?” said Simon

“Definitely. First, I must tell you. I felt as if someone was watching me while I was at the airport waiting to board the plane and while I was on the plane.

“I was late checking out of the terminal because a man in uniform led me into a room with a table and two chairs. The uniform asked me for the reason of my visit. I doubt that he believed I was here on vacation. He showed me a sheet of paper about a policy in Turkey that does not allow visitors or tourists to take any artifact out of the country as it’s illegal.”

Simon was aware of the seriousness of their mission and situation. What they were doing was considered illegal and they could end up in jail. The jail conditions in Turkey were unacceptably difficult though Turkish law forbade the use of physical and degrading methods of punishment in Turkish prisons.

He had read a report about continued allegations of torture and ill-treatment in police custody and prisons in Turkey. Non-government organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had often expressed concern about the lack of any meaningful investigation into these grievances.

“Do you think they suspect the real reason of our visit? How could they know? I haven’t told anyone,” said Maren.

“Someone could have tapped our phones or hacked our computers and alerted the Turkish authorities. I’m not letting you go into a dangerous situation and won’t risk going to jail. Let’s stay for only a couple of days. We will change our return flights to leave Turkey earlier without raising suspicion. We will scout the area and gather information discreetly, but we will not pursue this any further.” Simon said with a weak smile.

Maren understood the reason for the shadow in his eyes. He had had time to think this over before her arrival. She appreciated his response as she really did not want to risk going to jail even for a sacred mission. “Are we being watched here now?” she whispered. Her eyes searched the restaurant trying to spot a suspect.

He did not answer.

They ate dinner in silence. They then took the lane heading to the touristic area, walking hand in hand to give the impression that they were a couple.

Even though it was dark, artificial lights illuminated their way. They walked in silence lost in their thoughts, wandering here and there not talking just observing the area. They stopped by a water fountain for a short break. The water was surprisingly clear, and the fountain had a smooth rock bottom.

For a moment, Maren felt her muscles release their tension and her fatigue fade to nothing. She breathed in warm air. A sheen of sweat covered her skin betraying her feelings of anxiety about the uncertainty of their situation.


The Stranger

As they stood there, a man dressed like the locals approached them. Thinking that he wanted to drink, Maren moved away from the fountain to give him space, but he got closer to her and Simon.

The stranger said to them in a whisper, “My name is Evran. I know about your quest. Be careful because you’re being watched. Meet me tomorrow night at ten o’clock in the evening at the third column. I have useful information for you.”

Maren studied him carefully. He looked like an average Turkish male. His facial features were those of Arab and Middle Eastern descent. He was dark skinned with deep brown eyes and raven hair. He spoke English with a heavy accent, but it was easy to understand what he said.

Maren remembered from her readings on Turkey that Arabian Turkish people live mostly in central and southeastern Anatolia. This man most likely worked in this tourist area which could explain his presence far from home. Tourism was an important income for Turkey, and there were more Arabic vacationers than any other nationalities. That is why the Arabic language was valued in the areas that are visited by tourists.

Simon promised to be there and with Maren walked back to the hotel. They waited until they were back in their suite to discuss the possibility that the invitation was a trap. They decided to meet him and to find out what he knew. They also agreed not to give him any information that could draw attention to them or jeopardize their safety or mission.


[i] http://www.letsgoturkey.com/about_turkey/fauna.asp

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