TW: Death, war.
“How did Robert get caught. He’s always so careful.” Agent Paul Summers looked at his colleague and friend of twelve years, laying on a slab.
“They got lucky, or they were tipped off. Doesn’t matter how they got him if they didn’t get the information,” said Agent Lana Scully.
“They put a whacking great hole in it,” Paul said. He wiped a tear on his shirt sleeve as he gestured to the bullet wound between Robert’s eyes.
“All we can do is head in there and see what was left. The bullet wound suggests they didn’t find what he was smuggling,” said Scully.
“Or that they wanted to hide it,” said Summers.
“Time to suit up.” Lana let out a long sigh. She had already cried for Robert. Tying her blonde hair up into a ponytail, she walked towards the changing room.
“Sorry buddy,” Paul put a hand on his friend’s chest. The skin of the corpse was covered with electrical burns from the torture Robert had suffered before his body was dumped at the embassy as a warning. “We’ll try to make sure it wasn’t for nothing.” Following Lana, he left Robert’s once blue eyes staring at the ceiling of the morgue.
Agent Scully was already zipping up the back of her wet suit. Agent Summers helped her finish the job. For once he wasn’t in the mood to enjoy her curves. For once, she wasn’t flirting.
“If someone ratted him out, we could be next.” Paul undressed and folded his shirt and suit trousers. He sat them in a square pile next to Lana’s.
“We could. Let’s hope they just got lucky,” she said. Staring at the tiles of the floor as she waited for him, she bit her lip. “I wonder if he knew about us.”
“I think everyone knows about us,” Summers said. “We’re lucky they don’t care.”
“I wanted to make things more official.” Lana’s green eyes searched for his.
“Paperwork?” Paul smiled. “Tired of sneaking around?”
“Is there much point, if everyone knows?”
He shrugged. She zipped up his wet suit. They crossed the morgue towards the shrink ray. It had a fancy technical name, but it was a shrink ray.
“Time for a fantastic voyage,” Paul said. He said it every time.
“You know they’ve done this in every sci-fi show ever? Osmosis Jones, The Mighty Boosh, The Boys, Rick and Morty, Rex the Runt, Doctor Who, and Archer.” Lana ran out of steam listing shows.
“The Boys?” Paul raised an eyebrow as they sat in the chair of the micro submersible in the adjustable cradle.
“You’ll have to watch it; I’m not summarising what they did.”
He smirked. “I think I can guess.” Strapping himself into the chair next to her, he thought of the odds that they would die from mismatched atomic compression. They were one in a hundred and forty-seven million, but Paul was losing track of how many times he and Lana had used the shrink ray.
“Close your eyes,” he said. He reached for her hand.
“And pray. May the odds be ever in our favour,” she said. Her soft skinned fingers gripped his dry hands. She pushed the button.
Paul opened his eyes. A bigger world greeted them.
“We survived,” Lana smiled. Paul loved the constellation of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
“Time to get to work.”
“Kiss first. For luck.” She leaned across their armrests and puckered up.
Paul placed his hand on her neck below her ear and kissed her.
Their now tiny chairs were slid onto a docking platform that jutted out from the tiny submarine. It clamped their chairs and swallowed them.
“It’ll be weird having to use propulsion to move instead of just using his bloodstream,” said Agent Summers. He ran a diagnostic of the controls as he always did before work.
“The weirdest thing is him being dead. He signed the waiver like the rest of us, but no one really signs on for this.” She shook her head. “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this job, Paul.”
“Let’s just get through today,” he said, rubbing her shoulder. “Rob did his best for us. Let’s do our best for him. You’re up, pilot.”
“I keep telling you, it’s captain.”
“Ed Sheeran’s Bloodstream?” He asked, flicking through the music player.
“Not today, Paul.”
A needle injected them into one of the veins in Robert’s neck. Instead of being whipped along, they sat in a near empty vein.
“It’s all sunk because he’s dead. We’ll have to use the wheels.” Lana flicked a switch, deploying wheels all over the submersible.
The tiny vehicle trundled on through collapsing arteries into the brain of their dead friend. Old messages had faded into illegible scars.
“THAT LOOKS FRESH,” Paul said. Lana jumped in her seat at his outburst. “Sorry.”
“Take the photos.” Flashes lit up the darkened veins as they slowed.
For hours they continued through every possible vein, documenting the words written throughout Robert’s mind. They had no idea if hostile forces had collected the same data. Both hoped he had endured the torture and been left on their doorstep like trash as a reprisal.
The Cold War between their nations had gone on for twenty years. Ever more advanced methods of information transmission were available. Some were sent by laser burst. Others old fashioned morse code down wires. Intelligence agencies had been searching for greater security in their transmissions when the shrink ray technology was invented.
Patriotic fools like Robert had signed up to be messages in bottles. They floated downstream by throwing themselves into the deadly currents of the river between the warring states and hoping to be pulled from the waters. Boats in the night retrieved most of their agents, but never all of them.
Being given an agent back was a first. Robert would never get the state funeral he deserved. None of the spies ever did. He would be denied and forgotten. Only his own kind would ever know all he had given for the cause.
“Peace,” said their manager, Special Agent Smith. “If they really want peace then we need to find them, and help.” He was a balding man with a face that always looked sunburnt. Rubbing a hand through his combover, he looked at Agents Summers and Scully. “Congratulations on going legitimate, it’s about time. I was worried about how long I could keep it under wraps. Now it’s on paper, no one can discipline you.”
Sitting outside a café in the mountains, they gazed into each other’s eyes.
“I want to quit,” she said. She drank hot chocolate then reached across the round table.
“Then we’ll quit.” He kissed her hands. Their breath fogged the air.
Screaming drew their attention from below. A man dressed in jeans and a puffy jacket ran up the hill towards them. Paul gripped Lana’s hand tightly.
“It’s over,” said the breathless man. “The president was shot last night. The transitional government has requested a peace summit. They want to talk about mutual disarmament. It’s over.” He told everyone outside before running into the café. “Uncle Vernon, it’s over.”
They hugged. Everyone around them was hugging. The threat of nuclear annihilation had been hanging over an entire generation.
“Well done, Rob. Well done. You did it.”