a short story by Alan C. Baird

The modern city formed by the ancient towns of Buda, Obuda and Pest basks in a riot of color – many leaves are flaunting their autumn tints in the warm afternoon sunshine. The majestic Danube flows through the midst of this glittering metropolis, with its historic bridges linking together millions of souls into a sophisticated city known as “The Paris Of The East.”

A sleek cigarette boat drifts offshore, through the sparsely-inhabited outlying precincts of Budapest. It’s a lovely day to be on the river… for some people.

Resting on a narrow ledge at the end of this streamlined craft lies an anchor, partly hanging over the water. A four-meter chain attaches the anchor to a human ankle, encased in a bright orange hazmat isolation suit. From behind the suit’s protective Plexiglas mask, a terrified face peers out, eyes desperately straining to look downward.

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