Short Story Series (EB #3): Twilight Solitude

The Short Story Series were originally published on Through Frog Eyes as a collaborative effort between a guest photographer and my writing. I am relaunching the stories individually for all those who are new to the website and Marie Balustrade´s writing. The EB Series features guest photographer Ed Bannister from the USA for four stories that are supplementary to Wings At Dawn, featuring lead character Alexander Adler. Click HERE for the full set.

Slamming his laptop shut, Alexander felt as though he had just been kicked in the stomach, draining all energy from him and leaving him gasping for air. For the next few moments he sat with his hands griping the steering wheel tensely and stared out into the darkness, not looking for anything in particular. The film clip was a montage of videos smuggled out of various countries from Eastern Europe and Asia but all covering the same topic of child trafficking. It took him over a year to establish the contacts throughout Asia and Eastern Europe and and another six months to convince them produce the material he needed. This was the visual evidence he had been waiting for to plan his next story and organize the logistics involved to do so. This was definitely not a glamorous issue to tackle, but someone had to do it before more innocent victims ended up entangled in the evil web.

Sunrise at the Mittens ©Ed Bannister

He had somehow completely lost track of time and as he reached out to take one last sip of his drink, Alexander realized that daylight had broken and he was about to witness Sunrise at the Mittens, something he had not done in a long time. This is exactly what I need to do, he thought to himself, work in the dark until the sun rises and a new day begins for those who have forgotten what a sunrise is all about. It was going to be more than just a story, and he would need to call in a team to do so. Much as he preferred to work solo on most assignments, the magnitude of this situation called for a trusted team of experts and a supporting network. He wasn’t even sure which country to start in, since the video had listed several possible countries he could begin his investigation in. Research was of the utmost importance to him for the next week, checking up on information and cross-checking validity of sources. Not too many informants were willing to talk to journalists, so he would have to tread carefully as well.

It took Alexander less than 13 seconds to choose two names from his inner circle to add to his team. These were names that were practically non-negotiable and men whom he could trust to go with him to Hell and back. They had, in fact, already done so in the past and were not afraid of anything he threw their way, except perhaps the lack of food or the loss of valuable equipment. In special cases like this assignment, Alexander communicated through encrypted emails, using a code they had developed over the years and needed to further explanation. The ten-hour drive back to his temporary office in Los Angeles gave Alexander the time he needed to contemplate the various countries and primary contacts he had in each one, and their supporting networks in turn. By the time he pulled over for gas in Palm Springs, not only did he have his team established, had made assorted phone calls from the road, and even managed to book a flight to Germany. That familiar rush of excitement and apprehension before any major story coursed through his veins and he was ready to go. But was the world ready for him?

Our Place ©Ed Bannister

The assignment in the USA was over now, and he had done what he had been sent to do. It was now time to wrap things up, cancel the lease on the car and the office, and say good-bye to his small circle of friends and colleagues. He would miss them, yes, but the words of his Columbian photographer colleague rang in his ears: “This is not our town, and this life of glamour and modern conveniences is not our place. You and I belong back in the field, back where we never know where to find clean water or the next place to catch a WiFi signal.” He was right, there was nothing here would not mind leaving behind, especially the broken dreams.

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