Izzy handed over her passport, staring blankly into the distance of passport control. The flight to Berlin had been smooth, Izzy looked forward to a couple of days away. Life had been stressful back at home. She’d constantly had the feeling that she was being watched and followed everywhere she went. Even in a busy city such as London, where many people have come to disappear. Izzy would walk through her tiny house in East London, with the feeling that someone had been through her things. But she could not prove it. And the few friends that she had dared to tell, just said that she was being paranoid. But she knew that even though it sounded crazy, she was not being paranoid. People were following her, and for the life of her she did not know why. Izzy was still standing at passport control, for what felt like a decade, but in reality, had only been a matter of moments. Her passport was being thoroughly examined. Eventually, there was a hint of a smile and a mumble of: “Welcome to Berlin.” Izzy took her passport and moved away to the baggage claim. She had been in such a rush to pack that she really did not know what she had bought with her. Izzy prayed that she did not get stopped by customs.
Flagging down a taxi outside of the small airport there was movement to the side of her. Izzy thought she saw something in her peripheral vision. But when she turned to see if anyone was watching her, there was nothing there. Just an old bag trolley that someone had left. Getting into the taxi Izzy’s anxiety rose, as it dawned on her that she did not have her bearings to this new city. And that she had to completely trust the driver to get her to the cheap hotel she was staying at. It was only when she could see the light of the hotel come into the view that she allows herself to start to relax. Although, it was not until she was checked in and, in her room, that she finally allowed herself to fully calm down and start to unwind. Laying on her bed with a bottle of beer from the mini fridge she texts her friend Rosie.
Rosie was asleep when the text message from Izzy came through on her phone. Her bed was surrounded by a laptop and a number of papers. Deadlines sucked. Especially when they are for a boss you do not like. But it was a job, and it paid the bills which allowed her to live in a city that she loved. The buzzing of the phone woke Rosie up, as she squinted at the message on the screen:
“I’m in Berlin, coffee tomorrow?”
Rosie was stunned and surprised at the text. She had to go to work tomorrow, but coffee with her best friend was more important and worth pulling a sickie for. Furiously, Rosie texts back:
“What are you doing here? Coffee sounds great, call me in the morning.” Smiling, Rosie fell back to sleep.
Back in the hotel, Izzy was glad that Rosie was able to text back so quickly. Putting the empty bottle of beer on the bedside table, Izzy got up to lock the room door. The windows could not be opened so she felt safe that no one could get in during the night. Tired from the flight Izzy got into bed and instantly fell asleep.
The following morning Izzy woke suddenly in the middle of the double bed, a pool of sweat covered her. Izzy’s heartbeat was fast, breathing heavy. Izzy stared at the empty hotel room, her thoughts racing, telling her that she was being watched. It took a few minutes for Izzy to calm down. Izzy knew that she was alone and that her thoughts were wrong: “Its just a dream” she muttered to herself. Izzy turned and looked at her phone, it was seven am. Time she got up. If she was going to meet Rosie, she needed it to be in the morning. As they could chat for ages and her flight was in the evening. Izzy sat on the edge of the bed thinking, trying to remember the dream she had last night. But it was no use, she could not remember anything.
It took a couple of hours, but Izzy was finally ready to embrace the day. Standing, looking out of the window, Izzy pulled up Rosie’s number on her phone. Putting the phone to her ear as it rang:
“HI Izzy,” Rosie answered, Izzy could feel her smile beaming down the phone. “How are you?2
“I’m fine,” Izzy lied
“Meet me at the Brandenburg Gate in an hour. There is a coffee shop nearby. I can’t believe that you are in Berlin.”
“Okay, see you in an hour.”
Izzy hung up the phone and looked around the hotel room. She needed to figure out how she was going to get to the destination. Izzy used her phone to google how to get there and was ready to leave. Leaving the “do not disturb” sign on the door. She did not want housekeeping going through her things.
There was a chill in the air even though the sky was clear. The streets were clear of cars, and it was a pleasant walk to the S baun. Where Izzy took the train to the Brandenburg Gate. Hanging around at the spot, trying not to be too much of a tourist. Izzy waited for Rosie, Izzy was always early and couldn’t stand being late. It was just coming up to ten am, when Izzy saw a figure bouncing towards her. Rosie threw her arms around Izzy and hugged her tightly:
“Izzy! I can’t believe you are here.” Rosie said.
“Its so good to see you,” Izzy replied.
“There’s a coffee shop across the road by the French embassy, lets grab a drink.”
In the coffee shop, Izzy found a place to sit as Rosie went to get them a couple of lattes. A few minutes later Rosie came across to the table with two mugs. Izzy was nervously checking her phone. Rosie sat down opposite Izzy, adding sugar to her latte. She stared at Izzy, wo was now looking around the coffee shop:
“Its so good that you’re here,” Rosie beamed. “But why have you randomly come to Berlin?”
“You won’t believe me, I just had to get out of the country.”
“Try me, I like weird.”
“I think that I am being followed.” Izzy said nervously. Rosie raised an eyebrow as she sipped her latte:
“Really? Why do you think that?”
“It’s just a I have. Ever since I split from Mark, strange things have been happening. I know that someone has been through my flat. Even when I changed the locks. And there always seems to be someone walking behind me and they look familiar.”
“Do you have any concrete evidence?” Rosie asked.
“No, nothing concrete. Its just a feeling I have. And Mark did work in the government and we ended pretty badly.”
“I’m sure that it is nothing serious. Have you noticed them here?”
“No, I haven’t noticed them here. But I don’t plan on being here long. My flight back is tonight.”
“Well I didn’t expect you to stay for too long, but I was hoping that it would be a little longer.”
Izzy and Rosie spent a couple of hours talking, gossiping, and in those few hours Izzy felt normal. Not worried about who maybe watching her. Izzy was thankful that Rosie hadn’t dismissed her tale as paranoia. But also, she didn’t feel completely reassured. Izzy kept an eye on the time, as her flight left at nine pm. Izzy should have checked out this morning but could not be bothered. And just accepted that the hotel will expect her to pay extra. Rosie came back to the hotel with Izzy, ignoring the calls and emails flooding her phone. They talked as Izzy packed up her things. Izzy had a strange feeling that she should not leave Berlin but dismissed it. As Izzy said goodbye, a tear rolled down her cheek, and she promised to text when she got home. Izzy felt as though she was not going to see Rosie again.
At the airport Izzy checked in and made her flight without any problem. Izzy was starting to relax, maybe Rosie was right, she did not have any concrete evidence that it was her ex Mark. Resting in her seat on the plane, whilst waiting for take-off, Izzy felt calm for the first time. The flight was smooth with little turbulence. Izzy managed to rest her deep blue eyes and have a sleep. As they landed at Heathrow, there was a commotion at the end of the runway. Police cars were waiting along with some unmarked cars with tinted windows. Before anyone could leave their seat, two police officers boarded the plane. Searching for someone on board. Moving along the plane checking faces against a picture on a piece of paper. They stopped at Izzy. Checked her face against the picture. Izzy’s heart rate started to rise:
“Are you Izzy McDonald?” One of the officers asked.
“Yes,” Izzy replied.
“You need to come with us,” the officer stated, grabbing her arm. Almost dragging her from her seat:
“Your wanted for questioning.”
Izzy stood up, all eyes were on her. She had no idea what was going on. Izzy was dragged by the arm off the plane and shoved into one of the unmarked cars. Her hands were cuffed behind her back and a blindfold covered her eyes. The car started to drive off.
Izzy was disorientated, she knew that she was in a car, but did not know where she was being taken. Izzy tried kicking the back of the front seat. The car stopped. One of the men in the front seat turned around with a hammer in his hand. He raised the hammer and smashed it down on Izzy’s leg. Izzy screamed. The sound muffled against tape pressed against her mouth. Tears were streaming from her eyes, as she tried to move her shattered leg. The car started up and started moving again. Izzy blacked out from the pain.
When Izzy woke up, she was in a small dark room consisting of only a chair and a thin mattress on the floor. There were no windows, the light was on, but the switch was on the other side of the door. Izzy tried to stand, forgetting about her shattered leg; and instantly fell when she put weight on it. Crawling to the door, Izzy banged on it, shouting:
“Let me out, let me out.”
There was no response. Izzy did not know if there was anyone in the rest of the building, or if she was completely alone. A hissing sound came filled room, coming from a vent near the ceiling that Izzy had not noticed before. Suddenly, Izzy became drowsy, crawling back to the mattress; before passing out.
When Izzy woke again, she realised that she had not been dreaming. That she was in a small cell. The only difference is that some food had been put inside. Although the food was cold and stale, Izzy was hungry, she ate quickly. Izzy was confused as to why she had been taken from the plane. All she could think of, was not being able to contact Rosie like as she had promised.
Back in Berlin, Rosie was starting to worry. She had not heard from Izzy since she text saying that she was on the plane. Rosie knew that the flight would have landed by now. And it would not have taken this long to get through immigration and customs. Rosie had called Izzy’s phone a couple of times, but it had gone straight to voice mail. So, Rosie sent a text asking Izzy to call her. But so far, no phone call had happened.
Rosie had trouble sleeping that night, worried that something had happened to Izzy. At about three in the morning she had managed to drift off to sleep. Waking up a few hours later. For a moment Rosie was relieved, until she saw that the text was not from Izzy, but from her boss informing Rosie that if she did not come into work today, she was fired. Reluctantly, Rosie got up to go to work. Calling Izzy’s phone. It went to voice mail again, this time she decided to leave a message:
“Izzy, its Rosie. Call me back when you get this.”
Back in the undisclosed location in the UK. Izzy was still being kept in a small cell. With no idea how worried Rosie was over not being able to get in contact with her. Izzy was curled up om the single mattress. When two men entered the cell. picking her up and dragging her out of the cell and into another room:
“What are you going to do to me?”
“Shut up.” One of the men replied.
They pushed Izzy into the new room. It was bigger than the cell, like an interview room she had seen on the numerous crime dramas she had watched. Izzy wondered if this was some sort of disused police station.
Izzy was pushed down onto a seat, her hands cuffed to the arms of the chair. The two men were joined by a third. Who was clearly the boss of the other two. Sitting opposite Izzy he smiled and asked:
“We don’t mean to keep you here. You can go after you’ve answered one question. Where is Mark?”
Over in Mexico, Mark was in hiding. Living in a remote building, squatting on someone’s land. Mark was in hiding from the government agency that he once worked for, mark had flown out on a single ticket and a fake passport. But that did not stop the paranoid thoughts that anyone and everyone he encountered were reporting back his location. Mark had stockpiled guns, ammunition and explosives; ready for a fight. He’d rather die than go back to the United Kingdom and face the charges against him. Mark had done and seen some unspeakable things in the name of national security. But now, with a new government in power, a light had been shed on the agency he worked for, and the crimes they had committed. There had been a huge public out cry of disgust. And the government had vowed to bring every employee to justice.
It was at that time Mark had decided to leave. The last thing he wanted was to share a prison cell with those he’d helped to put convict. Although many people who he had interrogated had ended up in unmarked graves. Dying instead of giving up their terrorist links. Mark had flown to Mexico and lived like a recluse. Going out as little as possible, living off the money he’d stolen from the agency. Mark tried not to think about his old life. The girlfriend he had, who believed he was just an officer worker in the city. Never realising that his business trips away were covert missions. Mark had prayed the agency hadn’t gone after Izzy, as she really did not know anything about his secret life. But he also knew, that they would have. Once you crossed the agency, they’d do anything to find you.
Mark heard a knock at the door of the abandoned building, paranoid thoughts went through his head, as his hand reached for the gun lying next to him. There was another louder knock at the door, but Mark remained silent. Mark looked out of the window, he could see police surrounding the building. Armed police. Mark hid, not sure if they had seen him or not. As he hid the sound of the door crashing off it hinges echoed around the building. Police stormed through the house, shouting for him to come out of his hiding place.
Knowing that there was no point in hiding, Mark moved from his hiding place, into full view of the police officers. Mark had one gun pointed at them and the other at his temple:
“Don’t move, or I’ll shoot.”
The police stayed still, pointing their guns at Mark. They shouted at Mark in Spanish, although Mark did not understand what they were saying. Mark continued to point the gun at them, and one at his own head. There was a sound of a person moving in the building behind Mark. Mark turned and fired, the bullet going straight through the head of the policeman behind him. As he fired another shot echoed, as a bullet hit Mark straight in the chest, hitting his heart. Mark was dead before he hit the floor.
Back in the United Kingdom, Izzy was still sat handcuffed to the chair. Three men opposite her asking about her ex-boyfriend. She could not answer their questions, she simply did not know the answers. Mark had dumped her and then just vanished. Izzy had not been able to get in contact with him by any means of communication. Izzy stared at the ground, as she tried to tell her jailers this. One of the men briefly exited the room, answering his phone. He was out merely moments before coming back in and whispering in the third mans ear. The third man smiled, turning to Izzy:
“It seems that Mark has been found.”
“So, does that mean I can go?”
“Oh no, I never said that you could go, at least alive.” He said as one of the men smiled aiming his gun, pointing at Izzy and fired once. As he fired, in Germany, Rosie had a strange feeling come over her. She knew that Izzy was no longer alive.