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Operation: Dog Walk

By Ben Babst

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Colorado Springs, CO, 07:33 am:

It was my seventh day deployed in the US, and my mission was on the verge of success. The van with the cargo was tucked in the pines behind a restaurant named “Margarita at Pine Creek.” I peered through the mist with my binoculars. Many other people were there, but all of them were too busy setting up their tents in the sandlot to notice me. They were assembling what the Americans call a “farmer’s market.” More specifically, the Colorado Farm and Art Market, or CFAM for short. A venue chosen by Moscow for assault due to its relatively good traffic and the trees I could hide behind.


I clenched the steering wheel to try and cope with the constant ruckus of animals talking and cages rattling coming from the back of the van. Annoying though they were, I did not unleash the cargo yet. Currently, there were only four people who would get the full effect of their use. Such a small yield would hardly be worth the 58 million rubles it took to train these specialized animals.

As I waited, the sun started to rise, pushing away the mist. The market was officially open, so I decided to take a look at the vendors. My first spot of inspection was a small table that was giving samples of various chocolates they sold. I took a bite of one with a maple filling when a platinum haired man in a suit and rimless glasses walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, but why is your vehicle parked over there?”

I wasn’t too concerned. HQ had given me several alibis, and I had practiced them constantly. “Why can’t I park more toward nature? Is it a problem to be letting my pets enjoy the scenery?” I did my best to conceal my Russian accent.

The American scoured the landscape to his left to try and spot my pets but to no avail. “So long as they’re on a leash, no ma’am. I was more concerned about your van, though. Many of the vendors here claimed to have noticed suspicious activity in and around it. Something about feral sounds coming from the back, and a man in a black shroud exiting the passenger side door.”

“Maybe it was my husband letting our pets out? My pets cranky this early in the morning.”

“Perhaps, it might have something to do with their breeds. What are they?”

“Moose and sqvuirrel.” Despite my years of training, my accent slipped out upon the last word.

The American glared at me like I had said something absurd. I could feel sweat forming on the back of my neck and the weight of the air increased. Why wasn’t he convinced? Moscow had done extensive research that said Americans thought those were incredibly common Russian pets. A ruckus erupted from the back of my van, and the tires bounced beneath it. All the market-goers turned to look at the vehicle, and a hammock salesman was startled out of his rest. The American pulled out a badge that read “C.S.P.D.” “I must apologize, ma’am, but I have to take a look back there.”

farmer's market

I looked intently at the badge. My hand was slowly moving toward my pocket; I knew he could not be allowed to see the cargo. Suddenly, I recalled my special spy pen, which was right beside my keys. My muscles relaxed as I realized the situation was in my control. “Fine, but may I go with you?”

The American allowed for that. Over at the van, I was sure that we were shielded from view from the civilians prowling about the market. Slowly, I pulled my pen out of my pocket to strike. However, before I could even press the button, the American’s head jerked back like he was struck from behind, then his whole body fell to the floor like a ballerina on a banana peel. A dart with a yellow feather was stuck in his neck.

“Bogdana-San.” A familiar voice came from atop a pine.

“Hayata.” I called out to the ninja.

He leaped in a ‘Y’ shape and landed leaf-like upon the ground beside me. It is rucky that I finished my mission already. You were leckress and foohardy.”

Out of pride, I held the writing tool up in the air and clicked the button. “Lucky for him you mean? Had you nyot acted, I vould—“ I paused as a wet sensation oozed from my hand down my arm. My hand was covered in black ink. “I vould have given him vone doozy of a dry-cleaning bill. So, you tampered vith the ballots?”

Hayata nodded. “CFAM wiru soon be ovellun by bear-themed art.”

“Excellent. Nyow for phase two: causing panyic and confusion.” I unlocked the back door and allowed the cargo to slip out. 58 cats jumped out, acting out their training, each walking toward the nearest dog. They marched forward in the feline equivalent of a line. Dog howls rose and their masters struggled to bring them back under control. I smiled as the dogs chased the cats under tables and knocked over people and tables alike. One of the vendors’ booths was overturned entirely, flinging chocolate pecan pies into the air. Unfortunately for those who they landed on, the pies returned to earth with more of a thunk than a splat. “Time to return to Moscow.” We both took our seats in the van. I turned the radio over to a local station. “Secret Agent Man” was playing as I hit the accelerator.

About the author

Ben Babst

Ben is the lead baker and co-owner of Brothers’ Olde-fashioned Bakery, a bakery that specializes in gluten-free and allergen-aware foods. In writing, he focuses mostly on humor and fantasy in Polaia, a setting of his own creation. Ben’s attempt in designing Polaia is to create a culture and religion that feel as authentic as real-world ones.

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