FOREIGN EXCHANGE, a new novel by Nick Hahn, due 2014

We were in the middle of a three car caravan accompanied by Jim Carlisle, a career diplomat and the NickHahn_ForeignExchange200perfect  Charge’ de Affaires. His manner was formal but always with a practiced smile to make his counterparts feel at ease. He sat in the jump seat in front of Owen, Alex and I sat together in the back near the double cargo doors guarding the luggage. The driver was Pakistani as was the security guard on the passenger side.

The cars were crossing a bridge when it happened. First the blinding flash, then the  delayed sound, it was deafening with the unmistakable smell of high explosives. The Ford Expedition in front  erupted in a mushroom cloud of smoke and fire as it leaped off the road and settled back in a black pile of melting plastic, glass and metal.

Our driver slammed on the brakes, ramming the gear into reverse while twisting his body around for a better view out the rear door windows. It was to late, the car behind us had met the same fate, we were bookended by smoking heaps of scrap metal as the masked bombers, five of them, surrounded our SUV. This was a professional hit team, their leader was calm, he directed the others with chilling efficiency. They wore black ski masks, bullet proof vests and ear phone sets, only the leader spoke, the others took orders.

The shortest one had a knapsack, he turned his back to another who unzipped it and removed the gray matter, it looked like putty, he slapped it hard against the double rear doors. These would be the most vulnerable, they locked together rather than to the structural integrity of the vehicle. Both doors exploded out and away from the car dangling precariously on their hinges. The short one jumped in first, throwing the luggage out and scrambling towards us as our security guard leveled his government issue Glock-45, he hesitated to long,  the red dot sighting device from the backup shooter was in the center of his forehead. The bone and brain fragment from the melon sized exit wound in the back of his head splattered against the windshield. The driver went for the concealed weapon under the front seat but thought better of it as the bombers surrounded the vehicle.

Outside the driver side window, the leader hit the bullet proof glass with the butt of his matt black automatic, he wanted the doors opened, the driver had already hit the lock release.

Two of his accomplices  grabbed Jim Carlisle from the jump seat and threw him to the ground. Owen’s move to protect us was met with a crushing blow to the temple from the butt of the leader’s automatic, he crumpled to his knees. The last sounds I heard were the muffled screams of Alex, this was no random kidnapping, these men knew what they were doing, their intended victim was not the Ambassador or his wife, it was their daughter.

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