If you could imagine an island where every structure was white, it would be the Greek island of
Mykonos. Everything existed in a sea of whitewash. The buildings were white. The lines between the flat stones that formed the streets were white. The trees were painted white. Even the blue skies would have white chemtrails. To paint a mural, an artist would need a minimum of colors on his easel. He would need black for outline, blue for the sky, and, of course, white, a lot of white.
With a resident population of 11,000 that swells to 50,000 during the tourist season, Mykonos is called the party island. Here the young and wealthy and not so wealthy drink and dance the night away and sleep all day. Beside the vacationers, there is the daily appearance of eight cruise ships in the harbor, their tours adding to the bedlam. But the tourist season has passed, the music has died, the bottles of alcohol gather dust, and today there is only one ship in the harbor.
In the dining room, two men finish their breakfast of hard boiled eggs. The kitchen staff seem to have a disdain for any egg softer than a rock. Borders and Hill make their way from the ship to the waiting tour bus. It seems natural that beautiful weather would accompany the beautiful island. The two men took seats at the back of the bus while most others seem to want to sit near the front. The back two or three seats are usually empty, making it easy for Hill to jump from one seat to another to take photos. Borders' motive is work related – he can keep an eye on Panama, who always sits in the middle, halfway between exit doors, his escape options open.
The bus drives along the coast on a wide road gouged from the side of the cliff. Staring wide-eyed, the tourists are amazed by the green water, its beauty today marred only by what they believe to be two oil tankers. The guide tells them that they are not oil tankers but water tankers. Mykonos, surrounded by water is almost void of the essence of life. With very little rain, water must be shipped in, as other countries ship in oil. Borders wonders if the party goers are charged extra for water in their drinks and if daily showers are a dip in the sea.
The bus takes a tour of the small island, past beaches packed with sun worshippers during the peak season, but now barren and lifeless. All the white washed houses are no higher than three stories. A lip encloses the roof of each house, a giant basin to catch what little rainwater there is. At this time of year, they are dry and parched.
The history of Mykonos includes a time when Muslims overran them. At that time, the Orthodox religion along with churches was forbidden. Eventually, the laws were relaxed, and with permission, churches built. The only stipulation being - construction of a church, could only take a day. Now, hundreds of years later, the churches remain, over 1000 of them, dotting the island. Most are small family churches, all painted white, some holding only two parishioners.
The bus stops at one of the larger churches and the unavoidable souvenir stand nearby. An old bearded monk, his hand out, sits inside the door of the church, posing for pictures and collecting coins. Because of its size, the tour of the church takes only minutes, and then it's back to the town and Mykonos's most famous landmark, the windmills.
When they step from the bus they can see their ship at a distance, past multi-colored houses that hang over the water, supported by rotting stilts. Small waves pounded at the supports. They walk past bars facing the water and weave their way through a fish market. The bars have few patrons in this off season, and the fish market has one man filleting a red herring. Two other fishermen stand nearby gossiping, paying little attention to the passing tourists, their presence probably considered a necessary evil.
Borders and Hill wander through the narrow winding streets of Chora, which are paths, built to confuse pirates in a bygone era. Every house is reached by a flight of steps, with railings and door painted a rainbow of colors. The balcony at the top stretches over the street, nearly touching the balcony of the house on the other side. Dry Coca-Cola bottles stand on the bottom of many of the steps, their tops attached by a hose from the roof – their idea of a rain barrel, their minuteness reflecting the amount of rainfall.
The narrow, bent streets were empty, except for cats. As striking as the island may be, it could not compare with the population of cats. They lounged in every doorway, well fed and lazy. 'Do the Greeks worship cats? I thought it was the Egyptians.' The group made their way to the islands most photographed scene, the five windmills. What they saw at first glance was six windmills, the roof and blades missing on the first one. They made their way past the souvenir shop made famous by a "Bourne" movie and up a small hill to the back of the windmills. Panama snapped photos like a Paparazzi.
Jeopardy sat alone, cloaked in melancholy, on a balcony of one of the houses. She had slipped away from Lady Brenda, wanting solitude, wanting to visit memories, and wanting vengeance. A year earlier, she and Matthew had spent two weeks on Mykonos. They had sat in this very garden. Now, Matthew was dead at the hands of Borders, and she vowed he would pay for it. She looked over to the windmills and caught a glimpse of him. He was easy to pick out with the Fedora hat he wore. He was walking up past the first windmill, the one that was just a white shell. He seemed to be following the man with the Panama hat. She had noticed that before and wondered if they were friends, although she had only seen them speak to each other once before – back in Pompeii. Soon, both men were out of sight. She wished she could kill him today, but this was not the place. She would wait until they were in Venice, the last stop on the tour. She could easily kill him in one of the many alleys and dump him into a canal. She rose from the chair, the mists clearing away.
Panama had disappeared, or so it seemed. As Borders came around to the front of the windmill, there was no sign of him. He had watched him walk up the hill towards the windmills, but now he was out of sight. Perhaps he had entered one of the other windmills or slipped between two of them. He tried the door of the windmill shell, and it easily opened which surprised Borders. Except with the light from the open door, and the eerie glow on one side of the room, it was dark inside. He stared at the missing roof not open to the elements or sunlight as he had expected. Even with the small shaft of light, the interior surprised him. He ran his hand down the wall near the door searching for a light switch, and when finding it, he flipped it on. The room held something one would not expect to see in a windmill. His eyes locked on a missile launcher already armed.
Borders was familiar with the type. It was a SLAM missile left over from the first Gulf War. When the war was over, the secondary market became flooded with this leftover, outdated hardware. A brisk market in their sales developed, purchasing done by third-world countries and terrorist groups. Either the Greek government, Mykonos or someone else had installed this weapon, perfect for sinking cruise ships. A shiver went down Borders's back. Was his ship the focus of the terrorist attack?
The launcher was on a hydraulic lift capable of extending its height, and when Borders glanced at the ceiling, he noticed the retractable roof. The eerie glow from the side of the room came from a bank of computers now in sleep mode. It didn't seem that the ship was in any danger. Along another wall were eleven more missiles. Borders' impression of the windmills would be different from now on. He wondered what the other buildings contained. He walked back to the entrance, switched off the lights and quietly closed the door. He looked around to see if anyone had caught his indiscretion and resent his prying eyes, but the only eyes watching were those of the numerous cats that lounged about.
Acting tourist like, he walked to the other windmills, trying each door. He found them locked, and Panama was nowhere in sight. Borders feared he was inside, programming a launcher. At the back of the windmills, he caught sight of Hill, still snapping photos, acting more like a tourist than an agent. He seemed to have lost focus. Together, they joined their group and walked back to the bus. Panama was waiting for them, snapping the groups' photo as they arrived. Tonight would be sleepless until he was safely away from this port.
At the ship, the security team, their M-16's hardly hidden from view, checked them in. Borders noticed the Khukuri knives strapped to their waists. If they had worn them before, he would have failed to notice it. The security team must be Gurkha, from Nepal. Nothing but the best, but it did make him wonder why the security chief was from Somalia. He trusted the Gurkhas but had doubts about the Somalia
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Mediterranean MissionMystery / Thriller
Mason Borders, operative for CSIS, has been given a new mission. He has to track a terrorist on a Mediterranean cruise. The ship will stop at a number of ports along the way. Any of the ports from Barcelona to Istanbul could be the target. While Bor...