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 2: Sweets for the Sweet


"Then it is no," Alex said. That much he knew for sure.

Their cover was blown. The house bugged. Their lives in danger. Their mission over.

Editor's note

Congratulations to Colin Flaherty of Wilmington, Delaware! He is the winning author of Chapter 2 of the Summer Spy Serial contest. His version of what happens to deep cover CIA officers Alex Kassem and Sarah Mancini earned the most reader recommendations and David Ignatius's praise. David called Flaherty's entry his "strong favorite." In his judging notes, he wrote that it "manages to advance the story, and twist it in a new and interesting direction, very deftly."

Flaherty's entry was longer than our 250-word limit, prompting us to make two important changes that we'll apply to this week's round and future rounds. We will permit 350-word entries, but will strictly enforce this new word count, so please post your proposed Chapter 3 in the comments below, but be sure to count your words first.

Our other finalists for Round 1 included amicus with 9 votes, caitlindoherty with 5 votes, RunnerGuy2 with 5 votes, fred.ellis with 5 votes, psitoxin with 5 votes, and davidperlman, whose entry Post editors also liked.

Here's what Colin had to say about his win: "Very happy to have won. I have placed my comments and secrets to winning [Round 1] of the Spy Novel writing contest in a secure box at the National Archives, to be opened 50 years after my death. Or when my brother the liberal sees the light and turns conservative. We will be talking about this Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. on our radio show, streaming live on a secure system at wdel.com."

Now the only question was how to shut it down and get out of Quetta, without ending up in a roomful of Pakistani police, a needle full of the latest and greatest truth serum dripping into their arms.

Al-Zawahiri was not a factor. Even if the mysterious stranger was legit -- and there was no chance of that -- there was just no way they were going to tap Al-Zawahiri on the shoulder and ask him to come along nicely. Alex continued:

"Listen Mister, whatever your name is, I do not know how you got the idea we are some kind of super spies. But if you are so intent on catching this terrorist, I suggest you call him on the phone, tell him he just won a 52-inch Sony flat screen TV, and he can collect it at the American Embassy."

"When he shows up, it should be easy enough for you to win your $25 million sweepstakes. That works all the time on TV. Which I think you watch too much of. Now if you will excuse us, my wife and I would like to get back to our dinner."

Alex got up to leave the room. The visitor did not move. Neither did Sarah.

"We do not have time for games, Mr. Alex Kassem of Detroit and Miss Sarah Mancini of Boston."

Their visitor could not have startled them more if he took out a Glock and shot their TV.

"In 56 minutes, Zawahiri will be leaving the home of his youngest sister and his favorite nieces and nephews. He visits them without notice a few times a year. He brings sweets."

Sarah wanted to interrupt, but the visitor put up hand, stopped her and continued.

"That is my wife. They are my children. And if you do not take him. If you do not kill him and give me $25 million, then I will have to do it for nothing."

Congratulations to Jill Borak of Woodbridge, Va. She is the winning author of Chapter 3. Her version of what happens to deep cover CIA officers Alex Kassem and Sarah Mancini earned the most reader recommendations as well as David's admiration. He said her "Abu Talib" entry was "very twisty and smart, with cultural resonance." Read Jill's chapter here.

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