Your chance to write a spy novel

"Body of Lies" author David Ignatius and other Post readers teamed up this summer to write a spy novel. Ignatius wrote the first chapter and challenged espionage fans to continue the story. Over eight weeks, readers sent in their versions of what befalls CIA agents Alex Kassem and Sarah Mancini and voted for their favorite entries. Ignatius (who doubles as a Post columnist) chose the winning entry for each round. The result: a six-chapter Web serial and a fast-paced trip through a secret world. Details.


Chapter 5: Inside Out


Editor's note

Congratulations to rampling5000, a.k.a. (drumroll please) Colin Flaherty of Wilmington, Del! He is the winning author of Chapter 5 of the Summer Spy Serial contest. His entry earned 32 reader recommendations and David's admiration. He writes:

"This time I must diverge with readers and go to the bottom of their stack--picking their No. 5 choice, by 'rampling5000.'

'Rampling' has scripted a neat double-bluff that spins the previous episodes in a clever way--and pitches us toward a tense finale. Since it came in untitled, I am going to call it "Inside Out."

There were other strong reader submissions this week, and if this summer's exercise has taught me anything, it's that there are a lot of talented apprentice thriller writers out there. Go for it!

The Post favorite is "Trap or Treasure" by Miel_Heron.

Waiting for the grand finale!

David"

Our other Chapter 5 finalists included Eagle101 with 78 votes, Hunt_Brown with 61 votes, psitoxin with 44 votes and senmcd with 32 votes. (psitoxin has been a finalist for every single chapter of our Summer Spy Serial so far!)

You might remember Flaherty as our Chapter 2 winner. Here's what he had to say about his second victory:

Here is what I learned since winning the first time: David Ignatius cannot resist clouds of hashish and the potential for nuclear explosions. He says they are "neat." To my fellow "apprentices;" I wonder what we can do with a character who is a globe trotting, big-time, Morning-Joe-appearing, editor/novelist for our last chapter? Hmm, maybe we can work a Delaware/California media guru into the mix.

David was impressed by Flaherty's wiliness, writing: "Clever fellow. The cloak-and-dagger entry procedure only enhances his credibility."

Indeed.

When they put Zawahiri in the ground, Western reporters said his followers stayed away because they were afraid of American spy drones.

The kind with facial recognition at 10,000 feet.

But Arabs knew the real reason: The Egyptian pediatrician was too prissy to be popular. His only real skill was hiding.

A CNN talking head (and former CIA desk jockey) provided the play by play for the funeral.

"We chased Zawahiri through every mountain pass and back alley," he said. "Then he gets killed in a car crash with some chick in his lap and a Jordanian businessman on a motorcycle beside him. Thus endeth the life of Dr. Zawahiri. Not with a bang. But with a beep, beep, beep."

Two months later, in a Beirut basement, the visitor smiled a modest smile. He had walked away from American safe house intact, thanks to some fake Hollywood blood.

At their first meeting since the funeral, the ruling council of Al Queda debriefed him.

"You told us the CIA would buy it," said one of the members. "But I did not believe it. Not really. The ticking clock? Only an American would fall for that." He continued in ghetto English flashing American gang signs: "That's not how we roll."

Under a cloud of hashish, they sipped their coffee and smiled.

The suicide was Zawahiri's idea. He would be dead in six months anyway. Cancer. So when he volunteered for the $25 million mission, council members knew they needed the money too much to talk him out of it.

"In the end, he did need some ... convincing," said the visitor. "Some martyrs do."

Everyone wanted to be with Allah. But no one in that room wanted it to happen just yet.

The reward money arrived a few weeks after the funeral. Six weeks later, five million lighter from laundering, the cash was sliced, diced and ready for the purchase of one Soviet-made, Iranian-enhanced, Washington-bound, 16-megaton, nuclear bomb.

"That I will deliver when they give me my medal at the White House."

Congratulations to Gina "Miel" Ard of Pamplico, S.C.! She is the winning author of Chapter 6, the final chapter in the Summer Spy Serial. Her version of what happens to deep cover CIA officers Alex Kassem and Sarah Mancini earned 72 reader recommendations and David's admiration. He said Ard's submission is "a clean, smart ending to the story--and I like the fact that it's Sarah who triumphs in the end--and the agency that has the last laugh."

Read Ard's chapter here.

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