I sat there on the hillside for a little while, soaking up the sun and the blood from the cut on my side. While I was tuned to my surroundings I was also going over the last several weeks and once again considering my employment options.
I thought about my life, the deceptions, the tribulations and all the time away from my loved ones this job had caused me. Was it worth it? Would it make a difference after I left this earth? This train of thought was not uncommon for me, especially after a tough battle. While these exercises were for training and we were supposed to pull the critical moves, once in a while some damage occurred more than anticipated. I think it was a draw this time and that worried me a little. I was usually more careful.
I had two days left before my time to return so I got up and started back to the canyon. I had found a small cave earlier that morning I thought I could spend the night in, it was high up and improbable to get to from above. I would have a clear view of anyone approaching from below with a lot of dead space between. There was no alarm systems out here so dry twigs and branches had to do for now. They were spread about to make it look natural but the crunching should alert me to anyone approaching, as long as I did not sleep too soundly. Some fish, mushrooms and wild onions should provide for a decent dinner tonight. Tomorrow I would head out for my last approach back to the camp.
You may wonder why this type of training for a information type spy? It prepares some of us for those rare occasions when we find ourselves exposed or trapped. I have had to use this training only a few times and keeping up the training was getting tougher as I get older. The natural roundness that comes with age changes the way we react, I am slower and less likely to enter a sustained conflict. Better to get it over with quickly which tends to make one cold hearted.
The next two days found me creeping back towards camp trying to avoid the traps I knew were laid. Most were obvious after all my years training but there is always one or two that give us the most trouble. The trainers are really good at adaptive learning; they study you and set up traps that have given you particular trouble in the past but are just a little bit better. Some years I have succeeded in returning without tripping any and some years not. This was not one of the good times.
I have a particular weakness you see and it is diametrically opposed to part of my line of work.
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Circa 1986 1976 1976