Mark Hill

Mark Hill is a columnist and freelance editor for Cracked. He's also contributed to many other publications, and you can read more from him at www.mehill.org.

Mark Hill is a columnist and freelance editor for Cracked. He's also contributed to many other publications, and you can read more from him at www.mehill.org.

The Clones of Tehran

Drones buzzed overhead as Miller entered the restaurant. The front looked normal enough, but the back half was a mess of rubble and blood. Policemen collected evidence and took statements as paramedics carried out bodies covered in white sheets. Miller flashed his badge at the soldier who greeted him and walked over to a pair of policeman chatting in the corner.

“Well, if it isn’t my favorite buddy cop duo.”

“Miller.” Ezra, the taller of the two, offered his hand. The short, perpetually scowling Ali merely nodded.

“How many this time?”

“We’re still scraping bits and pieces off the ceiling, but at least twenty. Mostly civilians, plus a couple IDF soldiers on patrol.”

“Any ideas on a motive, besides the usual troublemaking?”

“The owner is related to one of the big shots in the Transitional Government,” said Ali. “But he wasn’t in the restaurant today.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time they’ve acted on shoddy intel.”

Miller pursed his lips as he glanced around the remains of the building. This was, what, the third bombing this week? Fourth? At least it wasn’t as bad as the mosque. Shame, though—he had always meant to eat here.

“Another vatman?” he said.

“Do you even have to ask?”

“No need to get snippy, Ali. Let me know when your tech boys have figured out what the bomb was made of. I want to know how they got past the sensors this time.”

“One of the witnesses said he saw the host slip out the door right after the bomber came in,” said Ezra. “We’re thinking he was bribed to disable the sensors.”

“Find him, fast. Shouldn’t be hard for Tehran’s finest, right?”

Neither of the men looked amused by Miller’s joke. He made a mental note not to try another one just as his ear buzzed.

“Miller? It’s Browning.”

“What’s up, Chris?”

“The police have a guy they’re pretty sure has a connection to the Guard. They’re holding him for us.”

“Is ‘pretty sure’ more or less sure than when they were ‘really sure’ about that student being a Guard agent?”

“Come on, just get down here. I just had to listen to another lecture from Langley, and that was before they heard about the latest bomb.”

“Alright, I’m on my way.” To the policemen he said, “Duty calls, gentlemen. I take it you know the drill by now?”

They nodded and went back to picking through the rubble. Miller walked back out into the beautiful spring evening, taking care not to step in any blood on the way.