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I could hear the roar of the train’s coal fueled engine as it came into the station. It stopped, and guards, big and buff, carrying machine guns that made even their steel cable muscles look puny, jumped off onto the platform. They all formed into two lines, covering a walkway heading away from the train, towards the check-in station. Off came the passengers. Men of mixed backgrounds, ethnicity, height and weight walked off the train and headed towards the large gate, towards what was known as “Your final resting place”. The men were all different, except for their attire. They all wore red jumpsuits, known by the civilians around here as “blood suits”. These red jumpsuits were the clothing of the Federal Prison in Arizona, smack dab in the middle of the Sonora Desert.
I had always wondered why they had put us here, and I now know that half of the people here had been convicted of crimes even worse than rape, armed robbery, and multiple homicides. I, on the other hand, was not a felon; I had never even done anything wrong. I was inside the prison, wearing the red “blood suit”, and to most of the people there, I was as much of a killer as all the others. My record, kept in the locked storage room, showed that I had committed triple homicide, having murdered 3 people in a small home in Utah. But, since the three people listed had been dead since Vietnam, all killed by friendly fire, anyone who could take the time to look into my file would see that something was up. I had been placed in the jail as an undercover FBI agent, looking into a man named Zamil Quizaze, who was on record as an Al-Qaeda spy, stealing information about our military.
My bureau chief, James Taylor, had told be 3 months ago, when this little operation took place, that I was going to need to really get to know this guy before I was able to understand what he was really doing in America, and if we had any evidence of treason against him.
Zamil Quizaze was a young man, having just turned 24. He was born in Nevada in August of 1987 to two Pakistani parents, both having moved from Pakistan only weeks before his birth. They were both legal immigrants, neither having any known criminal activities or any questionable friends, but Zamil did. He had been seen walking around closed military bases like it was an open house party, and he had been thrown into the Federal Prison in March of this year, after a Lieutenant Colonel had seen him in one of the bases, carrying what was later had been identified as high-resolution photos of top-secret documents, mentioned only as “drawings” by the military PR. The military PR people told the press that all of the documents had been returned to their rightful places, and security on the base had been at an all-time high.
Even after all the cleaning up, the sour taste came back to the mouths of the military brass, when they learned that multiple Abrams tanks had been destroyed in pinpoint raids, all having been shot in what is called its “Achilles Heel”. After this incident, military intelligence finally put 2 and 2 together and understood that Zamil Quizaze was the prime suspect for getting the classified pictures over to the insurgents in Afghanistan. Once they got that part, they sent out an arrest warrant, and a two month manhunt began, ending with Quizaze captured in a small hut in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Denver.
So my job was to see if he really did try to steal pictures, of if something had gone terribly wrong in the minds of Military Intelligence, and an innocent Pakistan-US citizen was being held at the worst and most notorious prison in the US.
I knew that my job wasn’t going to be easy, and I would rather be in Clarksburg, Virginia, with my boss, sitting in a nice air conditioned office listening to the new Most Wanted Criminal List. But, since that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, I accepted my job and knew that I had to move on and just get the job done.
So the reason I am here is clear, but the way I am going to have to go about my job is anything but clear. I have to get extremely close to a suspected terrorist, inside his inner circle, while acting as a convicted killer of a family in Utah. And, worst of all, I have to do all of this while fending off the guards, who don’t know that I am an undercover FBI agent, and I can even tell that most of them have a sour taste in their mouths when they see me.
“Vincent! Get over here!” shouted the captain
“What?” I asked.
Captain Dan was a US security agent, overall leader of the prison. I had looked up his file when I was in briefing about this operation. He had been born Jacob Dan to a family in western DC. He was raised in the city, his father a security agent for the FBI and his mother a stay-at-home mom. I knew that he would be trouble the moment I read his file, but my bureau chief James Taylor assured me that I wouldn’t be messed with.
So off I went, headed towards Captain Dan, standing up against the guard tower, his M4 slung across his back. He motioned for me to come over to him, close enough for no one around to hear what he said to me.
“What the hell were you doing watching that train come in boy?”
“I was just getting some air and seeing what the new prisoners looked like. And thinking.”
“Thinking about what? Home, Your momma? That family you killed in Utah?” He asked
“None of those sir, just thinking about why I am in here.” I answered
“That’s what I asked you boy. That family in Utah, that’s why you’re in here. Now get outta my face, get back in your cell, and don’t even think about getting a good pillow tonight, you’re last on the list because of this.”
I walked away, headed toward cell block #9, cell 164. It was my cell, conveniently next to Quizaze’s cell, with the poster of the Washington Redskins football schedule on the wall. I sat down on the bed, and did what I had just gotten into trouble for: Thinking.
My thoughts nowadays were always about how I got stuck in a mess like this, having to chase around a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist and become a very close “friend.” I planned on getting this operation done fast, but I knew that it probably would take months, knowing that I didn’t look like a cold-blooded killer. I knew that I would definitely have to get into some kind of terrible trouble to prove to Quizaze that I was on his side, even when I really wasn’t. I was told that I shouldn’t expect to have to report information to my superiors during the spying mission, but I wondered if Taylor would ever know if I was dead or alive.
So the next day I went straight out to the mess hall when I could, sat down next to Quizaze, and just started talking to him:
“Hey man, what’s up” I asked
“Nothing much, just eating my mush.” He answered
“Anything interesting happen last night? I got locked up early”
“Nah, nothing good, just the usual fights.”
“So why did you get locked up in the first place Zamil? You don’t look like the kind of guy who would do something bad enough to get put in here.” I asked
He answered “Well actually I stole something valuable to this country.”
“Yeah I did. Hey listen, can I trust you?”
My heart was pounding; this guy must have been on drugs: he just straight told me what he had done!
“Yeah man, we prisoners have to stick together right?”
“Yeah. Anyway, I stole some blueprints out of Fort McHenry in Colorado.”
He just told me in 5 minutes what I had spent 3 months preparing for!
“Did you now?” I asked
“Yup, and I gave them to an Al-Qaeda operative in the US. His name is James Taylor, and he is posing as FBI bureau chief of Criminal Affairs. He is quite a character, and a great actor.”
“Oh my, he is an operative?”
“Yeah, and you’re an agent sent to spy on me”
I felt the steel blade enter my upper abdomen, and I knew right then that he had been aiming for my heart, and he had hit it.