– I have a friend in Tunisia. His name is Ghait. I actually have a lot of friends in Tunisia. He is in prison because the former president believed he was one of the leaders of an underground movement to overthrow him. The president was Zine Al…. something. The locals called him Ben Ali.
– He was quite popular twenty years ago, but he slowly transformed the country into a dictatorship.
– And you know… The more authoritarian leaders become despots, the more likely it is that someone will start a civil war or a rebellion.
– In Tunisia, there were some underground rebellion activities and many peaceful demonstrations. Ben Ali ordered a police crackdown on these protestors and Ghaits among hundreds that got arrested. I’m afraid he has a tough time in prison.
– But they had a peaceful rebellion some months ago, and all political prisoners were released. But Ghait was a totally unknown non-activist, and they need to find out if he is guilty of something before they release him. Considering they are extremely slow in reviewing the remaining prisoners, I’m afraid he might be in jail for a long time to come. The warden is known to be a hardliner, and he wasn’t replaced.
– His wife and his son Adel are still under house arrest, and we will bring them home too. We can easily get help from the locals if we need it, and Psycho and Goldie will escort his family to the shore while you and I liberate Ghait from prison.
– The plan so far is to break into the jail and help Ghait out, and we need to synchronize these two events because either of them will probably blow the alarm and mobilize the entire army, and then things will get complicated.
– I am confident that you and I can do the extraction on our own. I don’t have a detailed plan yet, but we will take a look at the prison when we get there and see if we can come up with a plan that has a chance.
– The Undertaker needs at least 19 days to get there. I have access to a diesel-electric submarine that will pick us up at the Tunisian coast, and we will go submerged to Malaga, park it there and stay in the city until the Undertaker is close enough to pick us up. You will love that city!
– Who the fuck has a submarine just lying around? I asked.
– That would be my friend Ian. He is also a Navy Seal. American, but his father came to the US from Ireland half a lifetime ago. He now lives in Sicily. The sub is a mini-sub for eight persons. It is Russian made, but he got it from India for free because he told them he ran a submarine graveyard and promised to destroy it.
– Instead, he fixed it, and now he takes tourists on dives in Italy – which fortunately is very close to Tunisia. He has a kit with extra fuel tanks and batteries, but we still might have to refuel in Gibraltar or Tangier before meeting The Undertaker in the open sea. I prefer The Undertaker to stay in international waters in case of problems. It is well-armed, and we can handle a few destroyers and a few planes, but not the entire Tunisian Navy.
– We gotta pull on our yellow vest and go shut shit down!
– I’m in! I guess we have to go fast before they hurt Ghait too much.
– Yup, Coach and the rest of the crew are already heading towards Tangier. I have a few more preparations to attend to, but we will meet Goldie and Psycho at the airport tomorrow at noon.
We spent a few hours studying maps and satellite photos of the area around the prison.
– Look at this, I said.
– Seems like a sewer is running close to the jail and ends in this canal which runs approximately six miles before it meets with the Gulf of Tunis. I guess the sewer is four-five yards wide, but it is hard to see. The jail is less than two miles from the sewer. If we are lucky, we can find a sewer close to the jail and maybe get access this way.
– I’m glad you noticed! The sewer is probably connected to the storm drains. I already unloaded our scuba gear from The Undertaker. We are going to take it with us. If nothing else, we can always go to the beach and do some scuba diving.
– Sounds fantastic! But we should also check how deep this canal is.
– What is your relationship with Ghait?
Dave paused before he continued.
– He saved my life in Kenya. On my first visit there, I got shot to pieces in a civil war. I wasn’t even involved in the fighting at that time, just travelling through. It was Ghait who found me in the bushes and patched me up. Ghait’s wife is from Kenya, by the way.
– Ah, that explains!
One of the great things about Dave and his friends is they always pay their debts! It’s their code of honour.
Needless to say, I quit my job in MI6, and due to the nature of the job and the risks involved, they released me effective immediately! I didn’t need the money, and working with these guys was a hell of a lot more exciting. And much more FUN!
After landing in Tunis, we picked up our luggage and the scuba gear, went straight to our hotel, checked in, and walked to Rabta Jail. All four of us took a walk around the prison to get an understanding of what we were about to fight. It had huge walls and a demilitarized zone, making it rather difficult to get in and out.
For the rest of the day, we enjoyed the city and the food it had to offer.
The next day we went to the countryside to meet people from the resistance. Dave knew where to find them.
We arrived at an olive farm owned by a friend of Ghait. His name is Dadi.
Dadi walked toward us as we parked the car in front of his house.
– Hi! Nice to see you again, Dave said.
– Ohhhhh, it’s YOU.
– Yes, it is me. I’m here to see Ghait!
– I’m sorry but that’s impossible. He is in jail.
– I know, but I plan to get him out before something happens to him.
– Ohhh… If anybody can do it, it’s you!
– I need to know everything you know about the prison and where his cell is.
– Let’s go inside. Dadi said as if someone in the sky was listening in on the conversation.
We went into his house and sat down.
– You know… I have a friend who was released from Rabta last year. He can make drawings of the inside of the prison. We should go visit him. Ghait is still alive. He has been tortured before the rebellion, you know, but he is in good spirits.
– Is it possible to visit Ghait?
– They won’t let you in, but we can contact someone from his family. They should be able to get in.
– Is it possible to bribe the guards?
– Sure, it is.
We talked for an hour and decided to go and visit Dadi’s friend Matheux who knew the prison from the inside as he had spent some time there. The trip took half an hour, and I praise the local gods for the air-conditioning in the car!
At Matheux’s place, we got a very detailed drawing of the inside of the prison, and what was even better, he told us that 85 years ago, there were a few prisoners who escaped through the sewers!
– I think that sewer thing is about to go live, Dave said. But first, we need to find someone from his family and plan a visit to the prison.
– What about the guards? Do they patrol at night?
– Yes, they do. Two-hour shift. Midnight. 2 am, 4 am, etc.
– Can you draw their routes on the map too?
It took Matheux less than one minute to put the guards’ routes on the drawing.
– Thanks. Does Kioko still live in Ghaits’s apartment?
Kioko is Ghaits’s wife.
– Yes, she does.
– What about the guards?
– There are only two guards from the secret police in a car. They are on eight-hour shifts starting from six in the morning. I think they are very bored.
– Can we go visit someone from his family?
– Yes, we can, Dadi replied. I suggest his sister Donia. She lives in the city.
– Let’s go!
Donia agreed to visit Ghait the day after.
Dave had a plan. He gave Donia a responder and told her to give it to Ghait and hide it in his cell. He should also be ready to get picked up in exactly two days, right after 2 AM when the guards finished their patrol. The transponder meant we could locate the cell from the sewers, which would make it a hell of a lot easier to find the right tunnels and the right cell.
We arrived at the sewer at three hundred hours to do some recon. There was no one in the streets, so we were kinda invisible. We got into the water and began swimming into the sewer, and it didn’t take long before we could walk in the shallow water.
Dave had a receiver that got signals from the transponder in Ghait’s cell, and we followed the signal for thirty minutes. He also brought a flashlight and four small fifteen minutes portable oxygen tanks in case the sewers were flooded.
– I think this side tunnel runs close to the prison, Dave said. Let’s take a look and find out if there is a connection somewhere.
So far, it looked like a normal storm drain – even though I had no idea what a storm drain would do in a desert! So I asked Dave.
It is rare, but it pours two yards of rain in less than a day when it happens! Mostly around September, so we shouldn’t be flooded now.
– You checked the weather forecast? I asked jokingly.
– Air temperature tonight is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Water temperature 70. No rain.
I should have known. He did check! That man is always well-prepared.
After twenty minutes of walking, we arrived at a small drain that went in the right direction, and we crawled about thirty yards through this claustrophobic pipe and arrived at a slightly bigger junction where several small drains met. This was probably a junction for rainwater from the streets above.The junction was big enough for us to stand up.
We took the pipe the transponder suggested. It was bigger than the previous pipe, but unfortunately, it went downwards, and at some point, we had to use the oxygen tanks as it was flooded. I think the pipe was a little more than a yard in diameter. The direction was fine, and soon we were swimming upwards and ended up in another even bigger junction.
– We are pretty much under the prison right now, Dave said and pointed his flashlight up. There was a very narrow shaft with ladders, and Dave was too big to fit in there. Even me – small as I am, had difficulties climbing this narrow claustrophobic shaft, as knees and elbows couldn’t be bent much, but it soon ended at a locked grate. End of journey. Guess it was only four or five yards. I climbed down and explained the situation to Dave.
– Here, take my phone, turn the camera on and stick it through the bars, and record both sides of the room above. If there is a door, zoom in on it and see if you can record the edges of the grate to see if there are any sensors and look for surveillance cameras! Well… just record in all possible directions!
I couldn’t turn the phone much between the iron bars in the grate, so I had to pull it out, turn it around and stick it up again to record the other side.
I climbed down, and we watched the recording.
It looks like some kind of a primitive control room for the water that goes out of the prison, and there is a slatted iron door, which probably is locked and possibly leads to the basement of the prison – which we have no drawings of. Was there a lock on the grate?
– Yes. It is a padlock. I think we should buy one that looks like it and get a bolt cutter to open the existing one. When we leave the prison, we lock the grate with the new padlock. This way, we can stop them from following us or at least delay them. We probably also need to do some work on the slatted door, though. And hairpins won’t do it! Unless they are from a giant’s wife’s hair!
– If there are more locks on the way, they will probably be on the inside, which means we need tape to prevent them locking us out on our way back to here, Dave said. The responder is less than 50 yards away, so we are close!
– You probably know by now that you are alone on these last 50 yards.
– No problem, I said. I assume most of them will be sleeping anyway. Let’s go back to the hotel and get some sleep ourselves. Tomorrow we will do some detailed planning and get the equipment we need.
We slept until noon, and while eating breakfast, we discussed the plan.
– We need some nails and a few pliers for the slatted door. We also need a padlock and a bolt-cutter, Dave said.
– We have oxygen tanks, and we need four each – that’s twelve in total. We also have two scuba jets. They are also called underwater scooters or Seabobs, and I usually have them onboard the Undertaker. They have a max speed of 10 miles pr. Hour. We have 6 miles through the canal to the open sea and two more to the sub.
You and Ghait are small and will take one of them together. We should be able to reach the sub in a little less than an hour with these. I have a Lock Pick set if there are more doors, and you will get my receiver so you can navigate using the responder. We don’t need wetsuits, the water ain’t cold, and we get dry clothes in the sub.
– I have some thin tight black suits so we won’t be seen in the water. The scuba jets are also black, so it will be hard to spot us. But I have to warn you. I look sexy in that outfit!
– So do I!
– I also have these sedation injections, and if you knock someone out, please do it with my blackjack. This is a nifty little leather bag with a core of lead in it. It won’t leave any marks. Then give him a jab in his ass. It will make sure he sleeps for at least two hours.
– You know where the name Glock comes from.
– I guess it’s the name of the man who invented them.
– It is! His name was Gaston Glock! But in Africa, they say it’s a contraction of Good Luck!
– Ah… good one! I smiled.
– I will get you a silenced G’luck so you won’t go in naked, but it is only for emergencies. We need to avoid killing anyone. It will probably create an international crisis or something. You have to take out the guards on the quiet. It is imperative they don’t notice anything for at least one hour from when we leave the prison. That’s why we will break into the prison at two hundred hours – right after the guards’ second round. But be careful in there! We don’t know how tight they stick to their schedule!
– We will stash the scuba jets and the oxygen tanks near the entrance to the sewer and pick them up when we leave.
– They have the same team on guard from midnight to eight in the morning, and they take a walk through the compound every two hours.
– I will call Ian. He is on standby already but needs a few hours to get here.
– What about Ghat? I asked. Will he fit into the tunnels?
– Ghait is a skinny sundried Arab! He will easily pass the last narrow tunnel just as you did. I will find an image of him, so you know who to look for.
Coach and Psycho had other plans. They would start a mini-riot outside Ghait and Kioko’s apartment to distract the guards, knock them out, and sedate them. On the other side of the block, Kioko and Adel would climb down a ladder, and they will go to the sub in a rented car. Rented on a fake Visa card, of course!
We left the hotel. Dave went to the rebels to get a few guns, and I went to find a bolt cutter, pliers and some nails in case the locks were too big for Dave’s pick set.
At 1:30 am, we stood at the entrance to the sewer, ready to go to work.
– We will stash the jets and the oxygen in the first side tunnel, Dave said.
Dave gave me the gun and armed himself with a Kalashnikov AK-19, military-grade 5.56 assault rifle and a suppressor – just in case things got out of hand!
– Are you never nervous before a job? I asked him.
– No, not really, Dave answered. Just more alert. This job is a piece of cake, and if you take the guards out silently, I don’t foresee any problems. There should be no alarms, cameras, or sensors inside the prison, and I know you can do your part. If this goes ass up, you simply shoot your way back to the sewer, and we will find another way to get Ghait out. Are you nervous?
– Slightly, I said, but nothing like Afghanistan.
– Adrenalin can save your life, Dave said. It’s meant to!
As this was our second visit to the sewer, we knew the passage through the tunnels, and thirty minutes later, we arrived at the last junction.
– Here is the receiver. Sound’s off, but you can see the direction of the transponder in the display.
– And here is the drawing showing you the way to Ghaits’s cell. You just need to find this staircase.
He pointed at the drawing.
I put on my headset, and we checked the comm. I pushed the talk button, so my mike was on all the time, and Dave was able to listen.
– Take my iron. It’s great in case they surprise you. I’m stuck here, and there is nothing more I can do for you now. Only use it if we are exposed! It’s a very efficient riffle!
He handed me his AK-19 and an extra mag. 60 rounds all in all.
– Thanks. I will be fine. See you in a moment!
– Take your time! You have almost two hours.
I climbed the ladder the last few yards up to the prison basement.
The bolt-cutter fixed the padlock, and I pushed the grate up and gently put it on the ground without making too much noise. I threw the ruined padlock down the shaft and climbed back up. I waited a few minutes and listened carefully for any sounds, but everything was silent. I took a look around using the flashlight. It was completely dark without it. I put the replacement locker in place, ready to lock and block any pursuers on our way out, and I left the bolt cutter ready to throw down the shaft. For now, I wanted it to be available if I met more padlocks.
I began working on the slatted jail door. It was locked, but I made a huge pick from one of the nails, and it took me less than three minutes to open it. Outside the room was a long corridor with concrete walls and a lot of smaller storerooms, and I began my search for the stairs. I found a metal door, and I figured the stairs would be behind this as all other doors were wooden. It was locked, but like most other doors, it could be opened from the inside. I secured the lock with duct tape as it would be vital to be able to get through this door on our way back. Maybe even fast. I put Dave’s MG under the stairs before I went up to the ground floor and through yet another door I also secured. Now I just had to follow the drawing Matheux made for us.
I quickly found the cell, and the receiver revealed that this was the actual whereabouts of Ghait. He was awake and ready. I just had to fix the lock.
– Got him! I said to Dave.
That’s where I heard a noise. ‘Twas a door slamming. And it probably wasn’t the cleaning lady! I hid behind the nearest corner and got ready for a fast fight using Dave’s blackjack. But the guard turned around another corner. I went back and followed him. I hit him right above his right ear and grabbed him as he collapsed.
He got reset! Well… That was his fault. He should have stuck to his routines and followed his schedule! I gave him an injection in his thigh – ‘zactly as the doctor ordered, and while I did, I noticed he had a bunch of keys in the side of his belt.
I took them and hoped that one of them would open Ghait’s cell. That would make this job a lot easier as well as a lot faster.
– The black one, Ghait whispered. And pointed through the bars.
– OK, gimme two, I answered. There were maybe fifty keys, but I quickly located the black key and voila – The door was open, and Ghait walked out.
– You have the responder? I whispered.
He opened his hand, and there it was.
I locked the door after him and signalled Ghait to wait here while I went for the sleeping guard. I took him on my shoulders, went back to get Ghait, and went down the stairs.
I placed the guard under the stairs in a sitting position, gave him his keys back, and took out a bottle I got from the minibar at the hotel. I intended to share this with Dave when the job was over, but I got a better idea. I emptied it in his face and hoped that the smell of gin would make the other guards and his superiors believe he had been drinking. I picked up Dave’s MG, removed the duct tape on the door, and we went back to the small shaft. I closed the slatted door and locked it with my nail while Ghait climbed down the stairs.
Took the bolt cutter, climbed down, and locked the grate. I left NO trace at all so they wouldn’t notice Ghait was missing for at least the next hour, and they would never find out how he escaped!
Dave had picked up the broken padlock, and I think he was happy to see me again.
– Hella nice! So good to see you back in the sewers! He said.
– Everything went according to the plan, I replied.
– I knew it would! Let’s Delta! Fast!
We quickly made sure we didn’t leave any trace behind, and we began swimming back to the sewer entrance.
We picked up the Scuba jets, put on our diving goggles, mounted the extra oxygen tanks in our belts, and left the sewer. Under the surface, of course, except for one place where we had to sneak five or six yards over the dam to get past some kind of water lock in total silence.
Dave took the lead at the open sea as he had the compass bearing.
We arrived at the sub at four AM, climbed inside, and Ian took us fifty feet down while we got some dry clothes on.
verybody was accounted for, Ghait and his family, Coach, Psycho, Dave, Ian and me.
Everything went perfectly!
Only two things left to do from here. Vacation in Malaga for two weeks followed by three more weeks on The Undertaker!
We landed in Malaga a few hours later, and now it was my turn to use Dave’s expression.
– One Love.
– You did a helluva a job in that prison! Your attention to detail is amazing. That bottle of booze in his face was a great idea. They will be wondering forever how Ghait disappeared.
We had a blast in Malaga! Sunny weather, beach parties, great food, and a lot of fun.
Mett Debra here: Debra Quincy Author of Dirty Business.