Week 52

Putin was already gone when Mila awoke the next morning. She sighed wearily, rolled over, and stood up.

Everything about their “arrangement” suited her, except having to sleep on the sofa.

A real wife wouldn’t stand for it, she thought. But as an undercover agent, there were many things she had to endure.

At least she no longer had to share the marital bed with him! The furs … the grunting and snuffling … . She shuddered at the memory.

Mila padded into the kitchen and started the water for tea. Then she dug into the potato bin and pulled out a hidden cell phone.

She punched in the encryption code and dialed the Commander’s number. She hadn’t seen him in some time, and she needed new intel for Mantis.

It was too dangerous to go to FSB headquarters now that Putin was chief; luckily, he thought too little of her to bother having her watched.

The fool! Well, someday he would learn. Mila frowned as the phone rang and rang. Finally someone picked up, but said nothing.

“Hello?” she said cautiously. There was only breathing on the other end of the line. “It’s me,” she said at last.

“Ahhh,” said a voice on the other end. Was it the Commander? Perhaps. But maybe someone else was there, too?

“I need to see you,” she said. The sound of breathing was the only reply. Obviously someone else was in his office.

“Meet me at the usual place,” she said quickly, “same time as always. Do you agree?”

“Yaaa,” said the voice, and Mila disconnected. “Odd,” she thought as she made her tea. Who else would be in the Commander’s office so early?

After breakfast, Mila bathed and dressed with care. She always wanted to look her best when going out to meet the Commander in disguise.

Partly it was to emphasize the contrast between her usual appearance and the false identity, the better to fool anyone who saw her.

And partly it was to reassure herself that, no matter how demeaning her disguise, she really was Mila, THE Mila, star agent of the KGB.

It was the FSB now, of course; she was no longer an active undercover agent, and received a secret pension deposited to a Swiss bank.

But the Commander knew she was available for freelance work. She smiled as she locked the apartment door and walked outside.

An hour later she was transformed into an old woman selling potatoes from a cart in the park. The Commander was late, which annoyed her.

Even worse, there was a creep standing and staring at her, open-mouthed and almost drooling. And yet, there was something familiar….