Latter-day Spies: Spyhunt
“ON THE RUN “
Inside the cemetery, from their hiding spot in the thick stand of evergreens, near several large gravestones with stone crosses on top, eleven-year old twins, Sadie and Seth, crouched low as voices came their direction. Sadie’s stomach tightened. They couldn’t get caught. They had to make it safely to the tower, they just had to.
They were in the Sachsenhausen area of Frankfurt, Germany, a suburb known for its delicious apple cider and apple wine. The cemetery was ancient, dark and mossy. The writing on some headstones had been erased after many years withstanding snow, rain and wind.
Sadie’s twin brother leaned forward, looking to see if the coast was clear. Sadie held her breath.
Seth drew back and huddled next to her, both of them listening as the voices drifted off through the dense pines along with fading footsteps. It grew eerily quiet.
“I think it’s safe now, “ Seth said. “Let’s go.
Sadie grabbed his arm to keep him still a moment longer. She wanted to make sure before they left the safety of their cover.
Just then they heard another set of footsteps pounding on the pavement, coming their way.
Seth and Sadie froze.
“They’re in here somewhere, “ a voice said. “I saw them come into the cemetery.
“We have to find them then before they reach the tower, “ an annoyed voice replied. “Come on!
The footsteps traveled in the opposite direction and Seth and Sadie breathed easier.
“That was close, “ Seth said, grateful his sister had stopped him before he crawled out of their hiding place.
“We’ve got to get to the bus stop. That’s our only chance, “ Sadie said, glancing at her watch. “The bus should be here in just a minute.
“You ready? “ Seth asked her.
“Ready, “ Sadie replied.
Like a shot they ran from the trees and headed for the gated entrance of the cemetery in hopes of getting to the bus stop before the bus arrived. A mist of summer rain fell upon them as they dodged headstones and statues. They sprinted, not looking back, their hearts beating in rapid pace with their feet.
“Hurry, “ Seth cried.
“I am, “ Sadie replied, trying to keep up.
They ran for the gate and screamed as they nearly collided with an elderly couple walking around the corner.
“Ach, du lieber! “ the elderly German man exclaimed, rearing back in surprise.
“Sorry, “ Seth said.
“Entschuldigung, “ Sadie excused them in German. Even though they’d lived in Frankfurt over a year, Seth hadn’t been able to grasp the new language like his sister Sadie had. She’d absorbed it like a sponge in water and handled herself like a native among the German people. Seth could barely recite the German alphabet.
“The bus! “ Seth cried seeing the flash of headlights through the drizzling rain.
The two tore for the bus and managed to climb aboard just as the driver closed the door.
Looking wild-eyed and gasping for air, the twins found an empty seat and collapsed onto it.
“We made it, “ Seth said, taking a deep breath as he pushed dripping locks of hair off his forehead..
Sadie looked behind the bus to make sure they hadn’t been followed. “Yeah, but they could get on the next bus and still catch up, especially if we don’t get to the U-bahn in time. “ The U-bahn was the subway that cris-crossed and ran everywhere underneath the city. What Seth lacked in language skills he made up for in figuring out the city’s transit system. He could navigate his way anyplace in the city without the use of a map, something which Sadie was very grateful for at that moment.
“They’re going to expect us to take U-4 to the main train station, but I think if we take U-5 and double back on the number 32 bus, we can make it.
“Are you sure? “ Sadie questioned.
“Yeah, “ Seth said, working the route through one more time in his head.
“I hope you’re right, “ Sadie sighed, noticing that they were nearing the bridge that took them across the Main river to the city center. They had to get to the T.V. tower located next to the city park. It was a matter of life or death.
The bus bumped and rumbled over the cobbled city streets and tracks of the street cars, or strassenbahn as they were called. Seth and Sadie had a monthly transit pass that allowed them to ride any of the city’s transportation systems as much or as often as they wanted. It was a good thing too, because they wouldn’t have had time to purchase a ticket, and right at the moment, two people on the bus stood up and began checking for tickets and passes.
This was the German’s way of keeping people honest who rode the transportation systems. No one ever knew when a plainclothes transit authority would stand and announce, “tickets please. “ Some people tried to ride without paying. Sadie couldn’t imagine how it felt to not have a ticket when they did check.
The twins showed the large, stone faced woman their “Monat’s passes “. The woman looked closely at the picture on each of the cards then back at the kids, her expression growing curious, then, suspicious.
Sadie’s palms grew sweaty. Their passes were in order. They’d just purchased them last week.
The man checking for tickets at the back of the bus called for the woman. She handed the kids back their cards and went to see what he needed. Seth and Sadie looked at each other and swallowed.
Moments later they neared the stop for the U-bahn. They were first off the bus and ran as quickly as they could to the stairs leading down below the city streets.
Without checking the arrival board they ran to the edge of the landing and peered down the tunnel, looking for the train.
“Come on, “ Seth said out loud, as if his words could make the train appear any quicker. He looked behind him, causing Sadie to turn and look also. As far as they could tell they weren’t being followed.
Bouncing impatiently on their toes and pacing anxiously, they waited, until there was a whoosh of air and the sound of the train racing toward them.
“Finally! “ Sadie exclaimed.
The train pulled up and the doors flew open. Several people stepped off, then Seth and Sadie charged inside.
“Back this way, “ Seth called to his sister who was headed toward the front of the train. “We can get off next to the bus stop.
Seconds later the train took off and raced through the underground maze of tunnels. The kids stood when their stop approached. The doors were barely open when they bolted outside. Tearing for the exit, they took the stairs by twos and headed outside where sunshine instead of rain greeted them.
Waiting five minutes for the bus to arrive was torture. Sadie was certain they were going to get caught before they got on the bus.
A young man, standing in line, asked them if they knew the way to the Palmengarten, an indoor botanical garden, near the city park and the American Embassy where their father worked. In German, Sadie explained which bus stop to get off at and which bus to transfer to, while Seth shuffled his feet nervously and kept watch over his shoulder.
With a screech of brakes, the bus pulled up in front of them. Seth and Sadie jumped onto the bus and dove into a seat, sinking down so their heads weren’t visible above the window. They were almost there.
“We’re going to make it, “ Seth said. Relieved that they were close to safety.
But Sadie wasn’t so confident. They still had to get from the bus stop to the television tower.
The bus wound it’s way down the tree-lined streets of downtown Frankfurt, passed the Old Opera House, a beautiful renaissance styled building, with large pillars and grand statues adorning it’s front. They passed the shopping district and several bakeries, reminding Sadie how hungry she was.
The bus turned by the University of Frankfurt and traveled down a cobblestone road and up the street to the city park. The television tower, a tall white spindle in the sky, came into view. Sadie grew more hopeful. They were almost there.
When their stop came they leapt from the bus and hit the ground running. Looking up, Seth saw the tower looming overhead.
“Hurry, Sadie. Run! “ he yelled behind him, knowing they could make it if they hurried.
“I am running, “ she screamed, the muscles in her legs burning as they pumped faster and farther.
It was in view now. The ramp leading to the front doors was just around the bend.
A gathering of tourists clogged the walk way and Seth and Sadie had to slow as they pushed through them.
And then, as if out of nowhere, two figures jumped out in front of them.
Sadie screamed. Seth gave a startled yell.
“Caught ya, “ one of them said. “You’re dead.
Sadie and Seth looked at each other, then at the two standing in front of them.
“Darn it, “ Seth exclaimed, stomping his foot. “How did you beat us here, Markus?
“You know Brother Vollman in our ward? “ Markus said, his German accent hampering his English.
“Yeah, “ Seth answered irritatedly. Then it dawned on him. Brother Vollman drove a taxi. “You didn’t!
Markus and his sister Gabrielle started laughing. “He was in his car and saw us running, “ Gabi said, “ He gave us a ride.
“He brought you all the way here? “ Sadie asked incredulously.
“We’ve been waiting for twenty minutes, “ Markus gloated.
“We ate ice cream, “ Gabi bragged.
“Man! “ Seth exclaimed, “You guys have won three times in a row.
“That’s because we’re better at SPYHUNT than you, “ Markus continued boasting.
“Now what are we going to do? “ Sadie asked. She glanced at her watch. “Dad told us to be home at five and we still have an hour.
“We could go up to the top of the T.V. tower, “ Seth suggested.
“No! “ Sadie exclaimed. “You know I’m afraid of heights.
“You’re inside, “ Seth said, “It’s not like you’re going to fall out a window or something.
“You guys can go, “ Sadie said, “but I’m not going.
“Let’s go to the park see if anyone’s playing soccer, “ Markus suggested.
“Okay, “ Sadie agreed, “But we need to watch the time. Dad will kill us if we’re late.
Seth rolled his eyes.
“You know how mad dad gets when we’re late, “ Sadie reminded her brother.
“We have plenty of time, “ Seth said. “We’ll get home in time.
Everyone agreed on the plan and the foursome took off. Seth was still steamed that, once again, they’d been defeated by their German friends, and he was tempted to tell them it wasn’t fair that they’d gotten a ride in a taxi, but then that was the whole point of the game. They would start off in one part of the city and determine a destination. Two of the kids would be the runners and two would be the chasers. Sometimes it was girls against the boys, or boys against the girls. Sometimes it was Gabi and Seth against Markus and Sadie. Today they’d teamed up as brother and sister, like they had the last two times. Seth was determined to beat their German friends at least once, but to his disappointment, it still hadn’t happened.
They’d gotten the idea for the game after watching a favorite spy show on television. They’d wondered how easy it really was to get away from the bad guys, so they’d made up the game SPYHUNT. If the runners made it to the designated spot before the chasers arrived, they won. If they got caught, they were dead, it was that simple. It was their favorite game to play on Saturdays. And now that it was summer vacation, they could play during the week.
Seth and Sadie had met Markus and Gabrielle when they first moved to Frankfurt. Their parents had decided to have the family go to church at the German LDS ward instead of the American one. The kids hated it at first because they didn’t understand a thing. Their dad had gone to Switzerland on his mission and could speak German. Their mother had taken some classes in German so she could speak enough to get by. But it was all new to the children.
After a few months, with the help of a tutor, they grew more comfortable with the language. At their private school, which was made up mostly of children of prominent families, dignitaries and other Ambassadors, along with the children of the mission president, half of the day was taught in English, the other half, in German.
Sadie could now speak with ease and had a wonderful German accent, but Seth’s tongue didn’t seem to want to cooperate. He understood the language much better than he spoke it.
Markus was a year older than the twins. He loved computer games and video games as much as Seth. They became friends after they discovered that one owned a Sony Playstation and the other owned an X-box; the best of both worlds. Gabi and Sadie had immediately become friends since they were in the same Primary class. Their birthdays were only three weeks apart and they would go into the Young Women program close together. They both loved horses, and makeup and movie stars. Even thought SPYHUNT was kind of a silly boy’s game, they admitted they loved playing it. It was fun and exciting and they liked being together. Gabi and Markus’ father worked for Interpol, which gave them a lot in common with their own father.
Consequently the Herzog’s and the Fletcher’s became family friends. It was a perfect situation.
Which should have been their first clue. The twins soon realized that nothing this perfect could last long.
When they got home their parents had a surprise waiting for them. A surprise in a bad way, not a good way.