The Fire Still Burns

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The Fire Still Burns
by Miles Rost

They were lucky to have left Qianshun Square alive.

Paige Hennessey and Uri Syrokova breathed a sigh of relief behind a dumpster in a shabby part of the area, using a tarp and the surrounding garbage to keep themselves covered, safe, and alive. They practiced the drill a thousand times, and put it into execution more times than they wished to count.

They were trained to be persistent, to go in without fear and worry, to trust that they were being taken care of even in the worst of places. They were the ones to go in, bolster the existing infrastructure and be the distraction while people moved from place to place.

This was the life of a subversive missionary, reinforcements for those who suffered under the hands of oppressive governments or anti-faith authorities. The job was a hearty one, full of danger, full of potential fatalities, but with what the faithful would consider major rewards.

Paige and Uri came from different parts of the world, but were almost inseparable in their mission. Both had a passion for refueling the faithful, while going to places that normal folks couldn’t.

Paige was an Irish lass from Wexford, who studied at a university in America, before moving onto the field of subversive missionary work. A red-headed firebrand, she currently was sporting a short, black, bob-style haircut. As she calmed her pulse down, and collected her thoughts, she smiled at the work she was doing.

Uri was an Ashkenazi from Novosibersk, Russia, who was originally a child thief on the streets before finding Christ at the age of 15. After turning himself around, and getting an education that barely made it into university, he ended up in Minnesota. He was able to graduate from the University of Minnesota, before meeting Paige and starting his work as a subversive missionary. Naturally blonde-haired, he was wearing a very convincing skullcap, and glasses that made him look more middle-aged than his 25 years belied.

After an hour, both of them felt that it was safe enough to depart from their “makeshift” trash cover.

“Do you think we gave them the slip?” Paige asked, looking concerned at their current situation.

“We won’t know until after we try to escape the square area. I am pretty sure they’re going to comb the area and search for people who are out of place,” Uri replied, taking a deep breath.

Ditching their wigs and other things in a nearby receptacle, they snuck down to the corner of the alleyway and looked towards the square.

“It looks like they didn’t secure the square like they normally do, Uri. I can see people milling around.”

“Good, that’ll make things easier for us. We may be caught, but since you’re red and I’m blonde, and they’re looking for a Korean and a old geezer, I don’t think they’ll do much with us.”

“You better be right. If I get caught and executed, I am going to charge you for the cleanup.”

“We blame it on Moose and Squirrel,” he replied, smiling while effecting his best Boris Badenov accent.

They took a breath, and casually walked out of the alleyway. They walked into the open, and towards the edge of Qianshun Square, looking up at the lights of the plaza and the buildings. Almost immediately upon reaching the square, they were stopped by two Chinese Red Guard soldiers.

“Stop! Let us see your papers!” they said, in Chinese.

Uri and Paige searched their pockets, and pulled out their passports. They looked shocked, as the guards looked them over. One of them, a shorter female guard, looked at them and spoke to them in perfect English.

“Do you know why we stopped you?” she asked, trying hard to look fierce.

“Uh, no. Not really.” Paige said, effecting a non-committal tone.

“There were two people here, who were about your height, doing some things they weren’t supposed to.”

Paige and Uri looked at each other.

“Tell me, have you seen these two people?”

The young soldier pulled out sketches of the bob-haired girl and the middle-aged bald man.

Uri looked at the pictures, and going back to his thoughts, he played the act of an oblivious college kid.

“I think I saw them, but I just have no idea whether it’s actually them. I think they were heading towards the river, but I can’t be too sure.”

Paige piped up.

“Hey, I remember her! The Korean girl. Remember when I told you I liked her legs and wish I had them?”

“Yeah, I remember that!”

“See? You did know!” she said, looking back at the soldiers, “I remember seeing them passing us, but they looked like they were heading towards that famous bridge back a ways.”

The soldiers looked at them, blinked twice, then stepped back.

“Have a good day. It would be suggested to get back to the place you’re staying and stay there for the night. The streets aren’t going to be safe until morning.”

The pair nodded, and proceeded to walk past the soldiers, linking arms as they headed off.

As they disappeared out of the other side of the square, they smiled at each other.

“Think they bought it?”

“Hook line and sinker. Another church’s fire is burning bright again. Let’s get outta here, and back to HQ.”

Paige put her head on Uri’s shoulder, smiling.

“The fire still burns. It never fades.”

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