Bring Out the GIMP (Girls in Merciless Peril)
Stories


MIDDLE EAST INTRIGUE

By Eda Chang


PROLOGUE

It was strange that a Canadian woman just 23 years old would become one of Israel's more important undercover operatives in Syria. Well, not that strange, perhaps. Just a few unusual circumstances. While attending college in Washington, D.C., Melissa Gallant was smitten by a handsome young man, Ben, who reciprocated her feelings. She did not learn until much too late -- after she had fallen in love with him -- that Ben was not just another international studies major, but an Israeli spy working for Mossad. In fact, she did not learn this until after she had dropped out of school and moved with him to Tel Aviv, and then only on the same day that she also learned that he had been captured, tortured and killed by the Syrians while working undercover in Damascus. By a rising young general named Jabour and his men.

For the next several months Melissa attempted to convince Mossad that she should replace her lover in Damascus. Its first, but not its most serious, objection to this was that she was a woman. Israeli women served in all aspects of its defense, however, and Mossad soon accepted Melissa's arguments that a woman operative in fact had several advantages over a man. For one, she could more easily obtain a position as an assistant or secretary to a leading Syrian political or military figure. For another, because Israel hadn't used a female operative in Syria before, at least not for deep undercover, perhaps Syria would not expect it. And for a third, she had been a Near East language major who displayed a talent for learning languages in general and Arabic in particular, which she had studied before dropping out of school to be with her lover. And she was not Semitic, so why would she be suspected of working for Israel?

Melissa also had a fourth advantage that Mossad's top brass instantly recognized. No man -- and very few women -- had a body like Melissa's. Five feet 11 inches tall. Well-endowed. Shapely. That too would open doors for her ... and probably lips as well ... provided that she was willing to open her legs on the right occasions for the right people, as detestable as she might otherwise find it were she not doing it for the benefit of her adopted country ... and the revenge that she sought for her beloved Ben. [see pic]

But that created another concern at Mossad. That Melissa might let her passion to avenge her lover color her judgment, something that Mossad could not allow. It needed someone in Damascus with a cool head who could wait very patiently for her assignment without feeling a need to do something that she was not directed to do simply for the sake of revenge. It was not just a matter that such rashness might jeopardize her own life, but it might also risk the lives of others, even though Mossad made it standard practice not to let any one agent know too much of its overall plans or the names of its other operatives in the area, in order to limit the exposure to the entire operation in the event that an operative were captured.

Melissa also had to overcome the fact that, since she was not Israeli, Mossad did not blindly accept her loyalty to it. But it was quite aware that she had left her own life and family in Canada, and her schooling in the United States, to be with her lover. And that she had remained faithful to him -- Mossad had a way of knowing these things -- even after he left for what was to be a six-month mission in Damascus. A six-month separation that turned out to be forever.

Ultimately, Mossad decided that Melissa's assets outweighed its doubts. And Mossad's decision had seemed to prove successful. After completing her training program, Melissa had gone undercover in the heart of Damascus, managing to work herself gradually into a position as an assistant to General Hamadi, the right hand man of Syrian President Assad.


CHAPTER 1

As Melissa's time in Damascus stretched beyond a year, with no specific assignment from her superiors other than to note anything that she felt might be of value ... and she did not notice much of that ... Melissa began to understand those who had told her that spying, like war, was 95% boredom and 5% terror. She had yet to experience the terror, however, beyond a few brief moments when she feared unnecessarily that her cover might have been blown by a slip of the tongue.

Melissa had built up her nerve to make a few veiled suggestions to General Hamadi that she might be receptive to his advances, thinking that the development of a physical relationship with him might prove useful. She knew that he was married, but that his wife lived several hours from Damascus, in Hamah, and that Hamadi stayed by himself in a small apartment in Damascus during the week. Since he was nearing 60 -- old enough to be her father's older brother -- she realized that she probably needed to be a little more direct in her approach if he was to get the message and understand that she was serious, though not for the -- ugh -- reason that she would tell him about how she always felt attracted to powerful older men.

Melissa had been reporting to her superiors through what seemed to her an unduly complicated system. After she had been in Damascus for about four months, a stranger approached her one day, and whispered the pass phrase that she had been told at the end of her training sessions would be the one used to initiate the first contact with her in Damascus. The stranger then told her what the pass phrase would be for the next contact, and instructed her to leave a brief coded report of anything that she had learned of value in one of four designated places, each identified by number. Then, within 15 seconds of his first approach to her the stranger was gone. From then on it had been a different man, and always a man, each time. No one she ever recognized. Irregularly. Sometimes a week after the previous contact. Sometimes three months. Sometimes she would be asked to leave a brief coded report. Other times she would just be asked a specific question about Hamadi and his activities. She obeyed her orders precisely, infrequent as they were. Her biggest challenge was to fight off the boredom that enveloped her between these orders. And she knew that she had to be careful, since boredom could lead to error. And error could quickly bring on the 5% terror that she had so far been able to avoid.

But this time the man slipped a small piece of paper into her pocket, muttered the original password, and was gone. He gave her no follow-up password for the next contact. This was most unusual, Melissa thought. But she resisted reading the paper until she was back alone in her apartment. Its message was curt. "K. Hamadi. Return." Its meaning was clear. "K" meant "kill." She was to kill Hamadi and get out of the country -- "return." Maybe that was why she received no follow-up password -- she wasn't going to need one. A year in Damascus for this one assignment. But it was a major assignment, which renewed her feeling of importance that she had lost many months ago.

She knew that it was a sensitive time in Syria, that there were internal struggles for power between Hamadi, who had President Assad's ear and nearly as much power as he did, and General Jabour, the Syrian military's young rising star. The man in charge of Ben's torture and death. Who no doubt felt that Hamadi's time had passed. Obviously, Melissa thought, Mossad felt that killing Hamadi at this time would magnify this upcoming power struggle within Syria. Although Assad had originally liked Jabour, which led to his prompt rise through the ranks, of late he did not like how popular Jabour had become. Popularity rivaling his own. But he feared doing anything about it, since Jabour was a favorite with the people. With Hamadi's death, there would be great pressure on Assad to appoint Jabour to fill Hamadi's place as his top general ... and great resistance as well. The pro- and anti-Jabour sides would butt heads, and Israel preferred Syria to turn its rages internally, rather than on Israel.

Melissa realized, however, that she had to act quickly, because Hamadi had not yet responded to her overtures to him, and she therefore had not created a real opportunity to gain access to him in circumstances where she could complete her mission. And escape, although she knew that the "return" part of her mission was not as critical to Mossad as the "K. Hamadi" part. She was grateful, though, that at least her orders did include "return." She had expected that they might not, that her mission may have been a suicidal one whose completion was just too important to worry about her safe return. Of course, had it been, she would have carried it out. For her beloved Ben.


CHAPTER 2

Two days after receiving her cryptic orders, Hamadi returned to Damascus from a military review. Melissa had intentionally worn her shortest, tightest black skirt, and made certain that, as he arrived, she was reaching for a file just out of her reach on the top shelf of the cabinet behind her desk. She could not see his face, but she sensed that he was staring at her for several seconds before he approached to reach easily for the file and hand it to her, even though she was nearly as tall as he.

"Oh, you're back. Thank you," Melissa cooed, out of breath from her ordeal. "And looking more handsome than ever. I trust things went well."

To her chagrin, however, Hamadi remained all business. "You have completed the reports? I am tired from my trip and would like to leave early today, but I need those reports."

"I am so sorry, General." Melissa saw her opening. "It will take me another few hours. But I could bring them to your apartment as soon as they are done, if you would like to leave sooner to get some rest." She held her breath waiting for his response.

Hamadi seemed to ponder the suggestion. Melissa was not certain if this was because he had finally understood the possibilities of having her alone with him in his apartment, which would be a good thing -- well, good for her mission -- or because he needed the information as soon as possible, which would be neutral, or because he suddenly realized that she was trying to set him up, which would be disastrous. But he finally nodded his agreement. "Yes, that would be fine. That would work." So at least it was not this third dreadful possibility, she thought. Or at least hoped.

Now Melissa had two hours to wait, to make sure that she was ready. She had, of course, completed the reports the day before. She tried to recall Hamadi's face as he was thinking about her suggestion, trying to read into it whether his thoughts about what might happen after she handed him the reports matched her own. It would be so much easier if they did. And increase tremendously her chance of escape.

Thirty minutes later, Melissa heard the loud entry into the offices of General Jabour. Although she had never met him, she recognized him instantly from the many newspaper photos she had seen of him. The hated General Jabour. Melissa felt her heart race, and realized that she needed to control her emotional reaction to this murderer. He was not physically unattractive and obviously more vigorous and dynamic than Hamadi, which was why he was becoming more powerful.

Jabour opened the door to Hamadi's office without announcing himself or asking whether he was in, then marched out once he saw that Hamadi was not there. "Where is Hamadi?" he demanded, with a tone of disrespect to Melissa ... and to Hamadi. Obviously, Jabour already thought that he had replaced Hamadi as Syria's number one general.

Melissa stood up and walked around her desk. Jabour's eyes immediately focused on her breasts and then down to her long slim legs, before moving up to look at her face, which he obviously also found appealing. Melissa, experienced at noticing this reaction among many men seeing her for the first time, looked him directly in the eye and smiled.

"I am afraid, General, that he is gone for the day."

Jabour returned Melissa's gaze for several long seconds, then looked down at his watch. "I need to discuss the reports with him. Why haven't I received my copies? I need to review them before we speak."

"They are just being completed."

"So he has not seen them either?"

"No, General. He has not. They will be delivered to him shortly."

"Deliver my copies as well. To police headquarters. As soon as they are ready." Jabour turned to leave, then thought of a further request and turned back toward Melissa. "You might even deliver them to me yourself, no?" Jabour was more overt in revealing ... and expressing ... his desires than Hamadi. "Hopefully within the hour." Jabour then turned and walked out.

Melissa had to think. Kill Hamadi, deliver the reports to Jabour before anyone knew that Hamadi was dead, and then get out of the country as fast as she could. No, Jabour would not willingly let her leave so quickly. It was clear what he wanted. But if she gave it to him, then, by the time that she left, Hamadi's body might be discovered and it might be too late for her to escape.

A better plan was forming in Melissa's mind. Kill Hamadi, deliver the reports to Jabour. Accept his advances and ... then kill Jabour. But wait. Was she thinking this just because she hated him so, because she wanted to take revenge on him? Would she be jeopardizing the mission ... her only mission ... by also killing Jabour. No. The death of both leading Generals would create even more chaos within the country, she thought, and that was the obvious purpose of her mission -- to create internal chaos. But her instructions were just to kill Hamadi. Well, sometimes an operative had to improvise when the original plan would not work. Wasn't that part of what she was taught in her training? She was much closer to the situation than her superiors, which meant that she was the one who had to make the necessary modifications based on the existing circumstances. She was pleased with her solution. And the fact that she would gain revenge on the man responsible for her lover's death was just a side benefit of this most logical solution to the overall situation.


CHAPTER 3

It was a short trip by bus from the office building to Hamadi's apartment. When she arrived at Hamadi's unit, Melissa took a deep breath before ringing the doorbell, going over her plan in her head. Before leaving the office, she had removed her bra, and was now wearing only a white pullover top, her short black skirt, purple panties and boots. In one hand she held the briefcase with the reports. In the other she held her small purse, the contents of which she knew by heart.

Hamadi answered the door wearing a terry cloth bathrobe. He had apparently just finished showering. He invited her in. She was past the major hurdle, she thought.

The apartment was surprisingly small for such an important person, but she remembered that his main residence was out-of-town. She found herself in a combination living room, dining room and kitchen, and guessed that the bedroom was through the door on the left. "I'll put the reports in your study," she said hurriedly, and, before Hamadi could correct her, she marched into the bedroom. He followed. "Not the study," he smiled, standing in the doorway. She turned to him, putting the briefcase on the table by the queen-sized bed and tossing her purse carefully to the top right of the bed, before turning to look at him.

"I knew that. I knew it was the bedroom." She continued to talk to him as she pulled her top over her head, revealing to him her firm and more than average-sized breasts, She dropped the top on the floor, and then began to walk slowly toward him, unzipping her skirt at the same time. "But you weren't getting my hints, so I decided that I needed to be more direct. I hope you don't mind." She noticed that his jaw had dropped a little and he continued to stare at her breasts. She dropped her skirt by her discarded top, and reached him wearing only her purple panties and boots. "In case you haven't realized it, I'm very attracted to you." Just like a few hours earlier, when she had offered to bring the reports to his apartment, Melissa's heart was racing, not certain if he would accept her lies as sincere or realize her plot and have her arrested. He hadn't risen to the rank of General by being anything but savvy.

But Melissa needn't have worried. Even the most savvy of men, especially older men, can easily lose their reasoning powers in the presence of a young, attractive ... and naked ... woman, particularly when she is in the process of throwing her arms around his neck, rubbing her body against his and opening her mouth to wet her lips with her tongue.

Hamadi's mouth was on hers in an instance, his hands on her breasts. They fell onto the bed, her on top of him, as he slid her panties down as far as he could. She moved her hands to undo the belt of his robe. He was naked under it. She moved her panties the rest of the way down, and slid them off. She then straddled him, and helped him find the target that he sought.

Melissa could feel that he was already very excited, as she writhed her hips to allow him to begin to enter her. She quickly realized that this would not be a lengthy encounter -- for more reasons than one --even if she allowed it to run its course, which she did not intend to do. So she leaned forward until her chest rubbed his. She saw that his eyes were closed and that he was enjoying what he thought, so wrongly, was a most fortuitous encounter. Melissa casually reached a hand into her carefully positioned purse, with no need to look inside it, and removed a sheathed thimble. With both her hands now above his head, as he kissed and sucked her breasts, she placed the thimble on the middle finger of her left hand before carefully removing the sheath. She then wrapped her arms around Hamadi until her thimbled finger was near the side of his neck, just as she felt him begin to thrust harder into her.

Melissa feigned excited screams, and then quickly jabbed the side of the thimble into Hamadi's neck. "Oh, dear. Did I scratch you with my fingernail? I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Melissa could feel Hamadi begin to release himself into her as his eyes opened and stared up at her. She counted silently to five. Hamadi's eyes remained staring. And his thrusts stopped. In fact, all of his movements stopped.

"Sorry you didn't have more of a chance to enjoy your last orgasm," she said softly, leaning over him to close his now sightless eyes, "if that's what you would call it." She slid herself off Hamadi's body and went into the bathroom, where she dropped the thimble into the toilet and flushed it away, then flushed the toilet a second time to make certain that it was gone.

After putting her panties, skirt and top back on, Melissa moved Hamadi's naked body under the bed covers, and placed a pillow under his head. With any luck, she thought, he wouldn't be discovered for a day or so. She picked up her purse and the briefcase, which still contained the unread reports. If she failed to get out of the country in time, she would say that she had brought the reports to Hamadi's apartment, that he hadn't answered the door, that she knew he wanted to rest, and that she could not just leave such sensitive papers under the door, so she kept them until she could give them to him later in person.

The cause of death would likely be ruled a heart attack. That was usually the finding when Mossad was involved.

But Melissa knew that she had more work to do.


CHAPTER 4

As Melissa walked from the bus stop to the police station, she wondered how she could kill an important General there -- after all, she thought, this was the fucking police station -- and still make her escape. She had already successfully completed her mission. Maybe she should just make her getaway now. But that was what she was doing, she rationalized. She needed to make sure that Jabour didn't become suspicious too soon. And, if she happened to kill him in the process of allaying his suspicions, well, that was just the way that it had to be.

The woman at the front desk told her that Jabour was downstairs in Room 4 of the "Overnight Shift" quarters, and that he had left instructions that she should bring the reports down to him. Melissa thought about just leaving the reports at the front desk, telling the woman that Hamadi had ordered her to return to the office immediately, but that too might seem suspicious to Jabour after their "moment" just a few hours earlier. Melissa headed down the stairs. Well, with this set-up there was at least no doubt in her mind what Jabour had planned.

At the bottom, she noticed how dank it was, with its cold stone floor. She found the door numbered 4 and knocked. Jabour answered wearing only his undershorts. It seemed, she thought, that Syrian generals preferred to answer the door less than fully dressed when they knew that the caller was an attractive woman. But perhaps she was "over-generalizing." She smiled at her word play.

Jabour mistook the reason for Melissa's smile and immediately returned it. She handed him the briefcase with the reports, the same briefcase that she had handed Hamadi not more than 30 minutes earlier. He put it down, without opening it, just inside the door. "So you did come. I wasn't sure you would. Of course, if you didn't, well, I would have tracked you down." Melissa could feel herself startle momentarily, not knowing if Jabour was just teasing her. "Because I couldn't let a beauty like you get away so easily," he continued. Well, perhaps teasing. Melissa relaxed a bit. But she had no doubt that, if she hadn't come, he really would have tracked her down.

Jabour stepped away from the door to see if Melissa would enter. She did. The room was small and sparse, furnished with only a small cot in the middle of the far wall, a sink in one corner and a small table holding some papers, a telephone and two glasses in another corner. The sink was filled with cold water and an open, but full, bottle of champagne. "Nice touch, huh? You think that there's ever been a champagne bottle in that sink before?" Jabour picked up one of the glasses, poured the champagne, and handed it to her, before filling the second glass for himself. "To us." "To us," she repeated. She watched him drink half his glass before she took a few sips of hers.

Jabour lay down on the cot. "You'd like to stay awhile, now, wouldn't you? I'd like you to."

Melissa tossed her purse casually -- but accurately --to the right side of the cot, just above Jabour's head, and then pulled her top over head, just as she had for Hamadi. There was no reason to alter a routine that had worked so flawlessly the first time. In just a few minutes, she figured, she would tell the lady at the front desk that Jabour had instructed that he was not to be disturbed by anyone while he studied the reports, which might take several hours. No one at the station was going to have the nerve to disobey Jabour's instructions. Not with his reputation. And that should give her enough time to have a fighting chance to escape before her murders of the country's two leading generals were discovered.

"Yes. I want to stay. In fact, I can stay a long time. I hope you have staying power, too." Her skirt was already on the floor, and this time she removed her panties and boots as well. Jabour might need a little more excitement than poor Hamadi, she thought. No reason to hold anything back.

Melissa then moved onto the bed, her hands finding Jabour's penis. She pulled it out of his shorts, rubbed it gently in both hands before she put it into her mouth, enveloping it with her teeth and tongue and lips. She could hear him moan. She laughed to herself to think that Mossad had objections to sending a woman in Ben's place. How many Israeli spies could convince Syria's top general -- and, with Hamadi's death, Jabour now was Syria's top general, even if she was the only one who knew it -- literally to place himself in their hands?

After several minutes, Melissa moved herself up on Jabour's body, and began working her tongue on Jabour's chest and nipples while her left hand inserted his now moist and hard penis into her. She moved her arms around his neck and kissed him hard. She could feel his hands on her breasts as he began to push, not yet thrust, into her. These Generals were all alike, she thought. No originality. Then she remembered that she herself was not so original, either, using the same method now to dispose of Jabour as she had just used to dispose of Hamadi. Only this one was much better, younger, more active. So, forgetting for a second who he was ... after all, hadn't she been ordered to forget what he had done? ... she decided to give him -- or, more accurately, to give herself -- a few more minutes before she would reach into her purse. After all, she hadn't had this kind of physical activity for a long time. Longer than any attractive and healthy woman should have to endure.

When she realized that she too was becoming excited, and might lose her focus on what she was there to do, Melissa decided that she had to forego any additional pleasure that the encounter might bring her physically. She reached for her purse to find the second thimble that she had placed in it. But, to her surprise, Jabour's movements had pushed the purse off the bed and onto the floor. She could not reach it. She would have to allow Jabour to finish.

Knowing what she wanted to do, however, Jabour's stamina now suddenly seemed endless, so she decided that she might as well enjoy it. But then, just as she felt that he was going to be one of the few men who ever satisfied her, his rhythmic thrusts growing quicker and more powerful ... his movements stopped. Melissa looked down on him. His eyes were closed. She blinked hard. Then again. Something was wrong. She moved her hand to his neck. He was alive. Passed out from just one glass of champagne? What kind of staying power was that?

But then Melissa could feel her head starting to spin. She put her head down on Jabour's chest to steady herself. And then she too passed out.


CHAPTER 5

Within seconds, three men entered Room 4 where the two unconscious bodies, still locked in sexual embrace, filled the center of the cot. One of the men went immediately to Melissa's purse and dumped its contents on the floor, searching it thoroughly.

The other two pulled Melissa off Jabour, their hands all over her body as they did so, stuffed her discarded panties into her mouth, covered her mouth with duct tape, hooded her and, grabbing her elbows, dragged her out of the room, down the stone corridor below the police station, her feet trailing behind. The third, finding what he sought, placed the thimble on his middle finger and carefully removed its sheathing. He then pushed it against Jabour's neck, and, leaving Melissa's purse and its remaining contents next to the cot, picked up her skirt, top and boots and also left the room, dropping the thimble and her clothes down a garbage shoot in the corridor.

The men dragged the naked and unconscious Melissa to Room 7, a much larger room, in which four other men already sat on chairs positioned against the far wall. The two men quickly chained Melissa's ankles to each other, then chained her wrists together, and hooked her chained wrists to one of several chains hanging from hooks in the room's high ceiling. They then pulled the chain up through the hook until her toes barely touched the floor. Finally, with one last pull, they lifted her body off the floor, and it began to sway even in the still air. The pressure on her shoulders soon brought her out of her unconsciousness. With the first words spoken to her, she realized the hopelessness of her plight.

"Melissa Gallant. Yes, we know who you are. You are charged with being an Israeli spy. You are also charged with the murders of General Hamadi and General Jabour, two of Syria's most beloved personages. You will be given 10 minutes to think about your plea."

Melissa, hooded, could not see. With her panties stuffed into her mouth, she could not speak. But she could hear. Too well. They knew her name. They knew already that she had killed Hamadi. And Jabour was obviously now dead, at their hands, no doubt, and she had been framed for his death, although she knew that she would have been guilty of that crime as well had she been given just a few more seconds.

But how did they know all of this so quickly about her activities? About her allegiances? Either she had slipped up ... but she didn't think so. Or ... could the Syrians possibly have a mole in Mossad? She shuddered at this latter possibility. But that would explain how the Syrians had so easily captured Ben. Which meant that her mission was doomed from the beginning. She felt her straining shoulders begin to ache tremendously.

Why let her murder Hamadi, if they knew about her? And why kill Jabour themselves? She realized that the champagne must have been drugged. And she had been so careful, sipping hers only after watching Jabour drink most of his, figuring then that it was safe. Her error was in not considering that the Syrians might want Jabour dead.

But neither these questions nor their answers were now Melissa's primary concern. She was a captured Israeli spy, hooded, gagged, hanging naked by her wrists in a dungeon under the Damascus police station with a half dozen Syrian soldiers surrounding her -- she could hear them murmuring in the background. No doubt starting at her helpless body, waiting for ... she shuddered at the thought of what they had in store for her. And gave herself slim odds of leaving this room alive. Slim? No. That was too optimistic.


Chapter 6

Suddenly Melissa realized that the room had grown quiet. Either the men had left the room, to let her ponder her fate, or they had decided just to stare quietly at her, enjoying her fear, watching her chest heave in terror. How long had it been since the voice said "ten minutes"? Her shoulders were now exploding in pain. She stretched her toes downward, searching for the floor, for some relief, but this only added to the strain.

Finally a sound. Time was up. As painful as this was, she now realized that what would follow would be far worse. She felt the hood lifted, and was startled at how bright the light was shining on her from the ceiling. And she realized that she was sweating from its heat. She hadn't even focused on the heat. But with the light shining directly down on her, she still could not see, even after the hood was removed, the others in the room, except for two soldiers standing within the small circle of light in which she was bathed. One wearing the uniform of a Corporal. The other of a Private. And behind them she could barely make out the shape of a small table.

The Corporal approached ripped the tape off her mouth in a single motion, tearing her lower lip. She could feel the taste of blood in her mouth. Which she knew would have been very painful to her at any other time of her life except the present. He removed the panties that had acted as a gag.

"Melissa Gallant. How do you plead to the charges?"

She knew how weak she would look denying the spying charge. Or the murder of Hamadi. They had the information and the evidence. "I killed Hamadi." She was surprised how confident and sneering her words came out. "And I would have killed Jabour, but you saved me the trouble, didn't you? I guess neither of us liked your generals."

"You attempted to kill Jabour." The voice came from outside her circle of light. The Voice. From one obviously in authority. Perhaps the new top general. Who would have had reason to want Jabour as well as Hamadi dead. "And that is the same thing. So we accept your plea as one of guilt for Jabour's death. And how do you plead to the spying charge? Not that it matters, since you have already pleaded guilty to two capital offenses."

Melissa responded quickly. "I have nothing more to say."

"We then take that as a plea of not guilty," came the Voice. "Which means that we must commence trial on that charge."


CHAPTER 7

"Corporal," the Voice bellowed. "You may present your evidence." The Corporal moved to the table.

Her shoulders feeling as if they were about to separate, Melissa rattled in her chains as she saw him pick up a heavy metal ... bra. One that obviously was not designed for someone as well-endowed as she since its cups were at least one size too small for her. Nor was it designed for comfort, as inside each of its cups were about half a dozen thin, sharp spikes at least one inch long, maybe, Melissa thought staring at them. Set sturdily in place. Melissa looked frantically around as the Private moved behind her. The Corporal moved the open bra to just in front of Melissa's chest while the Private secured its shoulder straps. The Corporal then moved the cups until they just touched Melissa's breasts, enough that she could feel the points of the spikes against her skin. And she could hear the Private click the back strap loosely in place. But still no pain.

"Ms. Gallant." Again the Voice of authority spoke. "You can see that our evidence against you -- and I assure you that this is only our first witness -- is very strong. Persuasive, I hope. For your sake. Enough to convince you, perhaps? So let me ask you again. Do you confess to spying for Israel?"

Melissa knew that they knew, and she knew that it was pointless to deny, although pointless seemed absolutely the least appropriate word under the circumstances. But she couldn't confess. She couldn't allow them to obtain a filmed or taped confession -- and she was sure that they must be recording this in some way -- that they could send to Israel's enemies. Or to Mossad itself. It was one thing for Syria to tell the world that it had captured an Israeli spy, which Israel would deny. It was quite another for Syria to be able to show the world the accused spy's taped confession. Even one obtained under torture.

Knowing the fate that the words would bring her, Melissa slowly repeated, "I have nothing more to say."

"Your choice, my dear. But you, who must always have been a very attractive woman, must understand that, after a bit more of our evidence against you, that adjective will no longer accurately describe you." The Voice paused to allow the words to sink in. Melissa closed her eyes, trying to transport herself to another place. To awaken from her nightmare somewhere else. Anywhere else. But, no, it was not a sleeping nightmare, but a waking one, and she soon heard the same Voice. "Two notches."

Melissa immediately heard the click of metal against metal, as the Private obeyed the order. She felt the spikes begin to dig into her chest. She tried to resist her natural instinct to take a deep breath, knowing what additional pain that would cause. But with the second click, the bra tightened enough that she had no choice but to gasp for breath, thrusting her breasts more deeply into the undersized bra. And she screamed. And continued to scream. Until her throat grew raspy and her head slumped down on her chest, just above the painful device.

"Let me see her face." That Voice. The Corporal grabbed Melissa's hair, forcing her to lift her face and stare directly toward the Voice and the others, allowing them to see her tear-stained face, her open but glassy eyes trying to focus. "There is no point asking you again to confess, Ms. Gallant. We both know you are an Israeli spy. So, instead, give us the name of one, just one, of your contacts here in Damascus. To show your good faith. To spare yourself from even harsher immediate pain."

Whether Melissa heard, or understood, the words was not clear, but she did not respond, just stared in the direction of the interrogators that she could not see.


Chapter 8

"No, Ms. Gallant? Very well. Continue with the evidence, Corporal."

The Corporal could not help but smile as he released Melissa's hair, letting her head fall back down, and moved to the table to pick up another metal object. In a clearer state of mind, Melissa would certainly have recognized it as a chastity belt. Like the bra, however, the loop attached to the belt was studded with spikes.

"You are not yet properly dressed, Ms. Gallant. What kind of woman dresses without underwear. Matching underwear. Quite stylish."

Once again, the Corporal stood in front of her, and secured the belt around her waist. As the Private, standing behind, forced her knees apart, the Corporal pushed the loop between her legs, and the Private secured it loosely to the back of the belt. The Corporal then again pulled Melissa's hair to force her face up. "One name," came that horrible Voice. "Give me one name."

Melissa struggled to speak. "You know ... you know that I would not have that information. You know ... that is not how things ... You ... just for this reason. You already ... know that I don't know that."

"That may be, Ms. Gallant. That may be." The Voice was matter of fact, unemotional. "But then, it may not be. For your sake, I hope that you do know something of value for us. But you're right. I don't really know if you know. Such a pity if you don't."

"Why," Melissa continued after a few more seconds, not sure when the order would come to tighten the belt. "Why would I suffer like this if ... if I knew ...? If I knew ... I would tell you."

"Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn't." The coldness in the Voice was shivering. "But apparently you are not going to tell me. So ..."

Melissa felt the pain shoot between her legs even before she realized that she had heard the click of the metal at least three times. The sounds from her throat now, sore and raspy, were more like gurgles than screams, the pleading sounds of someone begging for the end of tremendous pain.

"You know that if we decide to remove your new underclothes, they will probably take large pieces of your most sensitive flesh with them." Melissa knew that her gasps for air were forcing the spikes in the bra deeper into her breasts, but she had no choice. She needed air.

"You know the irony of your situation, Ms. Gallant?" The Voice didn't wait for an answer. "These are the very same chains, I believe, that held your lover last year. Oh, yes. We know about your relationship. What was his name? Oh, yes. Ben-ja-min." He said the name in slowly, in three distinct syllables.

Enough of Melissa's mind understood the meaning of these words. She had not slipped up. There was a mole inside Mossad. There was no way else for the Syrians to have this information. So her capture was not her fault. She was just the one who had to pay the price ... no, one of the two who had to pay the price ... she and Ben ... for Mossad's monumental screw-up. But if this knowledge was supposed to give her some comfort under this circumstances, it did not.

"There is one thing that I regret, however." That foul Voice. Was he the only one who ever spoke? "If we knew that we would have the pleasure of your company so soon after your lover's, we would not have fed Ben his penis after we removed it from his body." Melissa shrieked in horror, now for his sake rather than hers, as she thought again about how he had faced interrogation at least as brutal as hers. "We would have saved it for you to enjoy, since you probably have missed it." Melissa could hear the Voice now laughing, the first sign of emotion she had heard from it. "But perhaps we can find other delicacies for you. Depending on how cooperative you are."


Chapter 9

"Now, we do have all day, Ms. Gallant. All day and all night, in fact. I mean, we have no other appointments. Do you? I didn't think so. So the only question is how much pain can you take before you answer my questions?"

Melissa could feel her body twitching uncontrollably now. She could feel the pain throughout it. Her manacles wrists. Her throbbing shoulders. Her hideously pierced body under the metal underwear. For as long as she could take the pain, the Voice said. How long could she?

"Sir," Melissa, in the pained hoarseness that was left of her voice, was surprised to hear herself utter such a respectful word toward the leader of these heartless men. "Please. I don't know. That's not ... how it works. I've tried ... to explain." She gasped for air after every third or fourth word.

"Well, let's just test that. Private?"

Melissa immediately felt a tug at the strap across her back and then heard a click, as the spikes in the bra cut even more deeply into her flesh. It felt like they might soon pierce her heart, but she knew that her interrogators were much too experienced to allow that to happen. Not yet. With every forced movement of her body trying to ease her pain, with every breath, she could feel the spikes dig more firmly and more deeply into her breasts.

"Now, Ms. Gallant. Where were you born?"

So this was the new test, she thought. Asking me questions that he knows I know. But I don't know how much or what the mole has told him. So if I fail to answer a question that he knows I know ... "Canada. In 1985."

"And when did you move to Israel?"

"Last year. No, two years ago." Melissa saw no point in not answering these questions truthfully.

"Good. Now we're working together. And when did you become an employee of the Israeli government, is that an acceptable way to put the question to you? It can't hurt to answer such an innocuous question, now, can it?"

"About a year and a half ago." There. She hadn't confessed exactly. But she had confessed. Maybe there would be no more notches.

"And when did your work first take you to our country?"

"A year ago." Melissa nervously waited for the first question that she would not be able to answer.

"Corporal, give her some encouragement for the next few questions."

"No," Melissa screamed, waiting for the sound of the metal click to either the bra or belt. "I'm cooperating. I've ... answered your questions... No...."

But she heard no clicks. Rather, the Corporal approached her and held three metal skewers, each at least 5 inches long, in front of her face. Two were fairly thin, the third thicker. The tops had been sharpened to a tapered point.

"If you look at the sides of the bra's cups, Ms. Gallant," the Voice continued, " although I'm not sure that you can see them from your position. There are small holes on each side. There is a wider hole in the belt. I am going to want answers to these next questions, so that I do not have to have the Corporal insert the skewers into those holes."

Melissa's trembling body now spasmed. If she didn't answer the next questions ... and she doubted that she would know the answers ... her already disfigured body would be violated even further.


Chapter 10

"Give me the name of one of your contacts here in Damascus. You have not been working alone."

"No-o-o-o-o," Melissa screamed, "I can't answer that because I don't know any of the names. Please. Please. Let me explain."

"That was not a proper answer, I'm afraid."

Without a word, the Corporal jabbed one of the thin skewers through the hole in the side of the bra cup holding her left breast and pushed it hard until it exited the other side of her breast, hitting the metal side of the bra several times before the Corporal found the hole on that side and secured the skewer in place. Melissa's head dropped, but the Corporal quickly pulled it up by her hair. He handed the second skewer to the Private, and stuck his face close to hers to look deeply into her eyes as, seconds later, the Private pushed the second thin skewer through her right breast and secured it in place on his first try.

It felt to Melissa that nothing could remain of her breasts, each pierced now by the metal spikes in one direction and the thin skewer in the other. She would answer all questions truthfully. If she could. But she had no other answer to this question. She had told what she knew. It just wasn't enough to satisfy the Voice.

"I ... I am telling ... Listen. Please."

Melissa struggled for air, every breath painful. Hearing no response, she continued. "I am given ... my instructions ... by strangers .... I ... don't know their names. They give me the password. I've ... never seen ... any ... before ... or again."

"How many times since you've been here," the Voice was once again unemotional, "have you been passed instructions?"

"Five. Six. Hard to remember. To think now." Melissa could not control the shifting of her weight, which continuously rattled the chains holding her, adding even more pressure to her shoulders. "And where do you meet these contacts?"

"No agreed places. They find me. Give me my instructions. To leave my report in a public restroom. Instructions like that."

Melissa could hear mumbling among several of the soldiers outside of her circle of light. And then laughter.

"Private, show these to Ms. Gallant." The Private approached, holding a number of handwritten sheets of paper. "Are these your reports?" Melissa looked at the papers as the Private flashed them in front of her one by one. Her reports. In the hands of the Syrians. Utterly defeated, she nodded. "Yes. All of them."

"That means that the contact the other day was the first one from Israel," the Voice was now speaking to other of the soldiers, unconcerned that Melissa could overhear. "Which is not surprising. Israel usually does not contact its agents the first year. It likes to give them time to work their way undercover without risk of exposure. Or so they think. So all of her assignments were the ones that we gave her. We passed to her the initial password, and then false passwords after that. In fact, once we controlled the passwords, I don't see how any Israeli agent could contact her. It's amazing that they got to her to give her the assignment to kill Hamadi."

With those words, Melissa remembered. The man who passed her the note to kill Hamadi had not spoken to her except to give her the original password, the one she had been given when she left Israel, and not the most recent one. She had been too excited when she read the note to think about the meaning of that. She should have figured it out. That something had gone wrong for her again to receive the original password. That either the last message was a fake or all the others had been. But either way there was a problem.

A year of training and she had missed it. She had not been as good a student as she had thought. If she had figured that out, she might have realized that her position was compromised, even if the final order was from Mossad, and that she could not safely carry it out. And then, maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't be here, chained helplessly, her naked body being slowly destroyed by Israel's most aggressive enemy. Such a severe price to pay for her error. But hadn't she been told this was the kind of thing that happened to spies who made even the slightest mistake. Still. She had carried out her assignment to kill Hamadi. And that had been Mossad's only instruction to her during her entire time in Damascus. Well, that and to "return." Mossad would have to settle for her partial success in her mission. But the more important part from their perspective. And, from hers, given that Jabour, her lover's murderer, was also now dead.


Chapter 11

"All right. It is time to render our verdict. The defendant will rise." Again, Melissa could hear laughter.

The Corporal quickly unhooked one of her chained wrists from the other and then hooked it to another of the chains hanging from the ceiling about three feet away. The Private unhooked her ankles from each other and then raised them until Melissa's body was nearly parallel to the floor, face down. He chained her ankles, also about three feet apart to two other chains from the ceiling. Within a few seconds Melissa could feel her body drop a few inches as the added weight placed on them completed the separation of her shoulders. Melissa's grunts ... they could no longer be described even as gurgles ... filled the room. The Corporal pulled her head up, tied a rope through her hair and secured it to the chains holding her ankles, relieving him of the need to hold her head up in order to force her to stare straight ahead.

Now the strong ceiling lights were turned off and, for the first time, after her eyes took a minute to adjust as well as they could, Melissa found herself staring at a middle-aged man in full military uniform sitting on a small stool. The owner of the Voice. There were two soldiers sitting on each side of him.

"As to the charge of murder of General Hamadi ... My vote is guilty," offered the Voice. Melissa then heard the word repeated four more times, once from each of the other soldiers. "And the punishment for murder is ... two more notches."

Melissa immediately heard the sound of the metal clicks on the belt as the Private obeyed. Few would have guessed that these sounds now spewing from Melissa's open mouth were human. The rattling of the chains by her twitching body joined her grunts in a macabre duet.

All the while Melissa remained forced to look directly at the five members of her jury, although it was not clear how much her eyes still saw or her mind comprehended. The Voice continued. "As to the charge of murder of General Jabour ... My vote is guilty." Four more votes of "guilty" promptly followed. "The punishment for murder is ... two more notches."

This time the clicks came from the bra. With the second click, the sound of metal on metal was added, as two of the spikes digging into her breasts hit the skewer running through them. Her breasts ... what was left of them ... now felt to her more a part of the bra than of her body.

"And for the charge of treason ..." The Voice was interrupted as one of the soldiers leaned over to whisper in his ear. The Voice smiled. "Oh, yes. I am reminded of an oversight, for which I apologize. A defendant found guilty of murder is entitled to a reasonable wish. Do you have a wish, Ms. Gallant?"

Melissa stared out at him, her body twitching and her mouth still making the incomprehensible sounds that she had been making now for many minutes. The Voice smiled and nodded.

"Yes. I understand what you are requesting, Ms. Gallant. Private, Ms. Gallant would like a new lover to replace the departed Ben." The Corporal handed the Private the third skewer, the thicker one, that he had been holding, waiting for just such an order. The Private moved behind Melissa's hanging body and between her spread legs. She could feel the cold metal against her, not yet in position to penetrate. Like waiting for a lover to decide that she was ready for him and wanted no more foreplay.


Chapter 12

The Private waited no more than just a few seconds before shifting the thicker skewer to a position perpendicular to Melissa's body, and then thrusting it through the hole in the belt without word or warning. Melissa's grunts became no more comprehensible, only louder. Raw. Raspy. Her body was thrust up in its chains by the entrance of the skewer, and then, as it began to sway back down, the Private held the skewer firmly so that it embedded as deeply into her as it could go. Melissa's tongue crossed the lips of her open mouth. Her pants for breath were dog-like.

"You are welcome, Ms. Gallant. I am pleased that I could grant you your wish for a new lover." The Voice. "And now we must proceed to the verdict on the count for treason. My vote is ... guilty." Again, four quick shouts of "guilty" joined the Voice. "And the punishment for treason is ...." The Voice trailed off to allow his fellow jurors to complete the sentence. They did not disappoint him. "Death."

The Voice quickly held up his hand. "No. No. I mean, yes, the punishment for treason is death. Yes. But we are going to show Ms. Gallant that we are a merciful people. And so, by the authority given to me ... I commute her sentence to life."

If Melissa had any belief -- right or wrong -- as to what the Voice's words meant, nothing in her reaction revealed it. In fact, she did not appear to react at all. She just continued offering her grunts of pain. Hanging naked and spreadeagled under the Damascus police station with seven Syrian soldiers focused on her every grimace. Naked, well, except for the spiked bra and belt that dug much too deeply into her sensitive flesh. Into which three skewers tore her from other directions. The parts of her body that men had admired her entire post-pubescent life hideously shredded. Convicted of murder and treason. No hope for rescue or escape. And, at least for whatever time her mind remained at least partially coherent, the knowledge that her lover had suffered a similar horrible fate the previous year. A fate that had included the removal of that which had once brought her so much pleasure.

"Life, meaning that you will hang like this, here in Room 7, for as long as you live." The Voice clarified the meaning of his commutation of sentence, then looked down at the floor beneath Melissa, the entire section under her soaked in blood, urine and sweat.

Melissa's eyes now stared blankly ahead. The Voice ordered the Corporal to untie her hair so that he could see whether she could hold her head up by herself. As soon as her hair was released, Melissa's head fell straight down, leaving only the back of her neck visible to the seated men. "Check everything," came the next command.

The Corporal and Private began to make certain that the bra, belt and skewers were all securely in place, performing as they were intended. And that Melissa was still alive. The Corporal nodded affirmatively to the Voice, but at the same time muttered "barely."

"Three hours," the Voice checked his watch. "Hardly enough punishment to pay sufficiently for what she did. We will do better with the next one. And I am sure there will be a next one." The Voice rose and motioned the others, who followed him out of Room 7, leaving only the Corporal and Private.

The Corporal once again lifted Melissa's head by her hair to stare into her open but glazed eyes. He examined her face. "You were a pretty one, weren't one? Why would a pretty one like you become a spy? Look what happens to spies. Especially pretty ones." He threw her head back down, sending her body again swaying in its chains.

"I don't want to wait here another hour or two. She's not feeling anything anymore, I don't think." The Private looked at the Corporal. "Let's get this finished and get some dinner. Why does he do it this way? He could have let us all have her before he did this to her."

The Corporal nodded. "Yeah. You're right. This one would've been real nice, I'll bet. But too late now." He moved behind Melissa and pulled the belt to the last notch. For a second Melissa's body jolted, but then it fell back to its previous hanging position. The Private repeated the process with the bra, pulling it to the last notch. It was now apparent to both the Corporal and Private that the continuous twitches of Melissa's entire body were not voluntary movements.

Finally, the Corporal unchained Melissa's ankles and her feet fell to the floor, the skewer remaining embedded in her through the hole in the belt. Then he unchained Melissa's wrists, not bothering to catch her as she fell, the metal bra hitting the floor first, bearing all of her weight and forcing her breasts even more deeply into the spikes than the final notch had. The force of her body hitting the floor sent the mixture of liquids below her spewing around the room and onto the Corporal and Private, who cursed for having failed to anticipate this inevitable result. The Corporal then approached Melissa's body and turned it on its side. From the larger amount of blood that covered the entire front of her body, it was apparent that the spikes had now passed through her breasts and into her chest cavity.

A minute later, the twitching and spasming of Melissa's body stopped. The Private approached, and, using his booted foot, kicked her over onto her back, then bent down to check her pulse. He shook his head in the Corporal's direction before rising. Leaving Melissa sprawled on her back in her metal undergarments, the Private and Corporal left the room.


EPILOGUE

Avram Natansky, head of Mossad, sat behind his desk in his Tel Aviv office. He barely looked up when the door opened and Captain Shohet entered. "You wanted to know if we had received any word. We have not. It has been six days since the deaths. We think it doubtful that she will return."

Still not looking up, Natansky responded. "Not doubtful. And what is worse is that, with the deaths of both opposing generals, Syria has now quickly united behind the successor chosen by Assad, and blamed us for the deaths. The unfortunate death ... unfortunate for us ... of Jabour has helped it avoid the internal struggle that we had anticipated from Hamadi's death, since there is now no one like Jabour to make Assad feel threatened."

"You think that she went beyond her orders? That she ..."

"Yes. I think that she decided not to stop with Hmmadi, which is all that she was ordered. Killing Jabour undid her work." Natansky was visibly upset. "She swore she would not seek vengeance and she did just that."

"It sounds like she will be better off not returning." Shohet's attempt at humor was met with a foul glare from Natansky, who quickly eplied, "You were not listening to me. She is not returning." Natansky nodded in the direction of a table in the corner. On the table rested a package with no return address that had apparently been delivered that morning. Shohet moved toward the table, which had obviously been opened only after security had examined it.

Shohet slipped on a fresh pair of thin gloves from the pile resting in the open cabinet above the table, and then carefully picked up the package and pulled out its contents. An expensive-looking handmade clay doll about two feet tall. A female soldier wearing an Israeli military uniform. Shohet looked at Natansky, puzzled.

"Look at the back. Then open the shirt," Natansky instructed him. Warily, Shohet turned the doll around. He startled noticeably when he saw the initials "MG" carved into the middle of its back, right through its khaki shirt. He then unfastened, with some difficulty, the three small buttons in the front that held the shirt together. He opened the shirt and looked at the doll's front side for several seconds before re-buttoning the shirt, putting the doll back into its package, and placing the package back on the table. As he turned away from the table, he vomited on Natansky's carpet near the office's entrance, then quickly left the room after a mumbled apology.

"Hannah," Natansky yelled into the corridor. An attractive brunette in her early 30s appeared in the doorway. Seeing the soiled carpet, she told him that she would immediately clean it up. "No," Natansky replied, "don't bother with that yet. Take the package to the lab for the usual analysis."

"Yes, sir." Hannah stepped carefully into the room, put on fresh gloves, and picked up the package. "I'll be back in 10 minutes to clean this up for you." Hannah, ready to do even the messiest jobs, Natansky thought. Not many of his underlings would accept that cleaning up vomit was within her responsibilities. But Hannah was not like most on his staff.

Walking toward the lab, Hannah turned down a far corridor on the right. Once out of sight, she knelt on the floor, put the package down and opened it to see for herself what it contained. She pulled out the doll and turned it around, finding the carved MG on its back. Then she opened its shirt, as she had overheard Natansky instruct Shohet. She could see that the obviously expensive doll had been made to be anatomically correct. But this doll was no longer in its original condition. Where its breasts had been were now only two gaping holes in its chest. Realistic looking when made, the doll now looked more like a Picasso imitation.

Hannah redid the buttons and put the doll back in its package, then rose and continued toward the lab. As she reached the lab's outer door, she thought again about what she had just seen, and what the doll's sender was telling Mossad. About the fate of Israeli spy Melissa Gallant.

And Hannah smiled.

END




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