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David saw her face disintegrate and felt blood and brain matter spattering his face.

Once upon a time, I read that when writing gets difficult that killing someone helps things along. Fortunately for the rest of the world, I reckon that means killing someone in your imaginary world. I recently had such a “dry spell” and decided to commit homicide. It worked! The past few days have been slow as well. There may just be another head on the block…

Kohlenquelle, a quaint relaxed coffee house and restaurant in Kopenhagener Strasse had been a coal shop in the German Democratic Republic era. The cafe was a favorite of David’s since he discovered it some years earlier, quite by accident, because ofits unpretentious atmosphere and lovely dark coffee. Located on the ground floor of an old Prenzlauer Berg apartment building, mornings frequently see tenants still in their pajamas enjoying coffee and breakfast.

The pale brown stone facade was partially obscured by ivy creeping toward the first floor where its progress was arrested by the deft application of clippers. Occasional graffiti was sprayed here and there on the walls and the rust-colored shutters. A dark and intimate interior lay just beyond the tall, narrow double doors.

Kohlenquelle was nestled amongst an abandoned factory and a huge power station as well as many newly renovated buildings. A few steps away was Mauerpark, filled with sun worshippers, families barbequeing or just relaxing. The Mauerpark Flea Market was a hive of activity with shoppers prowling through old furniture, culinary specialties and objets d’art.

The hum of automobile and bicycle traffic at the corner only added to the comfortable atmosphere as David sipped his coffee and casually observed businessmen holding meetings, students reading and the occasional tourist gawking and pointing. Suddenly, he saw a face that looked familiar to him.

The tiny woman sat opposite him, two tables removed. She seemed to be diligently working to solve a crossword puzzle. The warm brown eyes moved quickly as she filled the squares. Her attractive, triangular face was framed by short, fashionably mussed hair the color of a summer sunset. He studied the way the woman’s petite body perched, rather than sat on the chair, legs crossed at the knees. In a sudden flash, he was transported back twenty-two years. She was an old coworker with whom he spent his lunch hours solving crosswords and swapping gossip. Dana Higgins! The world is getting smaller every day! As he reminisced about the old days, her eyes moved up and met his. In a brief moment he could see recognition dawning on her still pretty features.

“My God, I can’t believe it’s you!” Her smile was as dazzling as ever. Over the years they had maintained a somewhat casual correspondence. Mostly Christmas cards and the occasional email. The weddings and funerals of mutual friends over the years were the only times they’d met; the last one being nearly seven years previously.

“Girleen, it’s been ages since I’ve seen you! What in the world are you doing in Berlin?” David rose and moved toward her table, hand extended.

Dana’s smile grew even wider. “I’m the lead designer refurbishing several of these older buildings around this neighborhood. I’ve been here for almost a year now.”

The words had barely escaped her lips when David saw her face disintegrate and felt blood and brain matter spattering his face. He was shocked into immobility, totally unable to comprehend what he had just witnessed. Suddenly he felt himself being roughly lifted from the chair by strong arms and being dragged toward a black SUV.

“What the hell is going on here? Who are you?”

David struggled to get free of the vise-like grip the two men had on his arms. He was thrown into the back seat and even before the door was closed the SUV was blasting down the street at breakneck speed. As he attempted to orient himself, a familiar face turned to him from the front passenger seat.

“You have just survived your second assassination attempt Perfessor.” Curtis Delgado waited for half a second before going on. He explained that Higgins had been recruited by Mossad several years before and had consequently been assigned to murder the professor. Her presence in Germany had been detected by undercover agents after Mossad had put out information that David might be on the run. They had been unconvinced of his death in Egypt because no sign of a body had ever been found, and it was well known the professor was an expert boat handler, making the likelihood of his falling overboard and drowning very slim.

“We’ve got to get you out of Germany and we’ve go to do it in a hurry. Some of our agents are already at your flat packing up your personal effects.” Not for the first time, David was glad he’d had the foresight to store his nanotech data in a box at Banc Suisse to avoid having it stolen.

Delgado continued, “We have a chopper waiting for you just a few kilometers from here. We’ll get you over to the offices of MI6 in London where you’ll be briefed. Then we can decide the best way to keep you safe.”

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