I just want to give a quick mention to another blog novel that's kicking off this weekend. It's a science fiction thriller called Silver Moon and it's written by my DVDActive colleague and all round good bloke Benjamin Willcock.
It's going to be an exciting read and I'm sure you'll enjoy it if you've been following Rebirth.
Click the link below to visit his site:
Read the novel
Saturday, 31 March 2007
I just want to give a quick mention to another blog novel that's kicking off this weekend. It's a science fiction thriller called Silver Moon and it's written by my DVDActive colleague and all round good bloke Benjamin Willcock.
Friday, 30 March 2007
Commander North stood on the front steps of Hartley House, watching the sun go down behind the mountains in the distance. It had been a hard day but The Brotherhood had prevailed. They had successfully fought off meddling cops and one of them to rescue Doctor Owen and allow him to continue his noble work.
Doctor Forrest was still missing though. No one in the outside world had heard anything from him for several days, which meant that either he was dead or they were holding him captive for another reason. Commander North didn’t know which option was preferable for The Brotherhood or the doctor himself.
A squad of soldiers ran out of the door behind the commander and down the steps to a large clearing adjoining the drive in front of the house. They all checked their weapons and clicked the safety catches. They had to be prepared for every eventuality. Everyone was confident that the approaching helicopter carried Doctor Owen, Captain Stein and the surviving members of their squad but until they checked who was on board, they wouldn’t know for sure.
The helicopter glided over the grounds and touched down without incident. The soldiers lowered their weapons when they saw the passengers getting out of the helicopter and proceeding as expected. Most of the soldiers aboard the helicopter were bandaged in some way and did not appear to be seriously harmed but there should have been a few more of them.
A pair of soldiers escorted Doctor Owen, who was moving rather gingerly, up the front steps and into Hartley House. Commander North approached Captain Stein as he marched up the steps. They saluted each other as they met.
‘Congratulations,’ said Commander North, ‘I see the doctor has arrived in one piece.’
‘That’s correct sir, but we sustained losses during the extraction,’ said Captain Stein as he watched the soldiers start to unload the dead bodies from the helicopter.
Commander North didn’t bat an eyelid. ‘They were acceptable losses and you recovered the bodies,’ was his heartless reply, ‘the mission was completed successfully. How is the doctor?’
‘A bit shaken up but he’ll be okay. He didn’t say much on the flight over from the city.’
‘Does he have enough equipment to continue his work?’
‘Yes,’ said Captain Stein, ‘we have the basics and I believe there are enough samples here to allow him to catch up on the time he has lost in the last few days.’
‘Good. After the destruction of the lab last night, I expect him to be back on track by this time tomorrow. I’m going to return to regional HQ tonight once the helicopter has been refuelled so I’ll be in touch tomorrow. I expect you to present results the next time we see speak.’
‘Yes sir,’ said Captain Stein as they saluted each other before parting company.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
‘Sorry it’s not a candle-lit dinner for two,’ I said as we arrived at the hot dog stand around the corner from the hospital. The sun was lower in the sky and the humidity was starting to subside.
‘That’s okay,’ she said, ‘I haven’t eaten since breakfast and this is much better than the hospital canteen.’
‘Once we find the doctor and solve the murders, we’ll hit the town,’ I said speculatively.
‘Sounds good to me,’ she said. I wasn’t expecting her to reciprocate. I hoped she meant it.
I ordered and paid for two hot dogs: mustard and onions for me, ketchup and no onions for her. I took a bite and hoped it would stop the incessant rumbling in my stomach. I took the last bite of my hot dog and ordered a second before I’d finished off the first.
‘Pretty hungry, huh?’ she noticed.
‘I haven’t eaten all day either,’ I said, ‘Actually, I never really eat anything resembling food. If I have one more, it’ll be my first three course dinner in years.’ Agent Simpson laughed at that, which I wasn’t expecting. I had been hoping it would raise a smile though.
‘Someone needs to sort his life out, doesn’t he? Forgive me for being presumptuous but I’m guessing you’re not married. Am I right?’ Agent Simpson asked as she took a bite out of her hot dog. A spot of ketchup stuck in the corner of her mouth. Before I could decide whether to tell her or not, she licked it off. I must have stared at her for a second too long.
‘Well, am I right?’ she asked again.
‘What makes you say that?’ I asked sarcastically. She smiled again. God knows how, but I might actually be close to being charming here.
‘I was married,’ I said.
I decided to tell her. ‘She’s dead.’
Her face was suddenly filled with the look I always see when someone finds out about Sarah, a mixture of sympathy and wishing they’d never brought up the subject in the first place. Before she could say anything, I told her not to worry.
‘It was years ago. I’m over it now,’ I lied, ‘what about you?’
‘Never married. I’ve had a few near misses but I’ve got too much going on in my life. I don’t think I’ve got room for a man.’
‘A career woman, huh? Don’t you want kids? Part of me wants to have kids but another part of me knows that if I can’t even take good care of myself, the kids wouldn’t have a chance.’
‘I’m sure it’ll happen one day,’ she said, ‘there’s plenty of time left for both of us.’
My mind turned to the case. ‘So what the hell are we going to do? How can we compete with those guys today? You know more about this case than I do. Have you got any idea who they were?’
‘No idea at all,’ she replied almost instantly. She was a bit too quick to answer. I tried to push my suspicions to the back of my mind. ‘Whoever they are, they’re obviously well funded.’
‘And well trained. I thought they were military until they started killing cops. The problem now is that we’ve got nothing to go on. We’ve hit a dead end.’
‘Don’t lose heart. We’ll get a break. Silver bullets, remember? There can’t be many places that make silver bullets in this area. And we’ve still got Doctor Forrest to find.’
‘The best lead we’ve got is the doctor’s wife but now that he’s been taken again, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to give us anything that will lead us to him now. I’ve been doing this for years but I still hate all the waiting around.’
‘Because you like to be in control? You don’t want to have to depend on other people,’ she speculated.
I looked at her.
‘Takes one to know one,’ she said and we both smiled.
We both leaned against the wall outside the hospital and shared a moment of peace, lost in our own thoughts as we finished our hot dogs. A cool breeze blew past us as the sun went down.
Monday, 26 March 2007
For the second time in a matter of hours I was leaning over a dead body, only this time it was someone I knew. The naked body of Officer Myers lay on the operating table in front of me. His skin was pale. Most of his blood had soaked into the carpet on Doctor Forrest’s landing.
Only a few hours earlier, he had been a high-achieving officer who could have been my next partner. Now the only way he could help me was for his body to give us a clue to aid us in the search for Doctor Owen and his captors.
Doctor Schreiber was closely examining the wound in his neck and Agent Simpson was watching with a concerned look on her face. It crossed my mind that she probably hadn’t told me everything she knew about this case and I started to question whether she was purposely hiding something from me.
‘Well you’re certainly keeping me busy today, Tom,’ said Doctor Schreiber in his perpetually upbeat tone, ‘This is very interesting. It looks like this wound was caused by an animal bite.’
‘An animal bite? That’s not possible, Doc. There were no animals in the house,’ I said.
‘I’m only telling it like I see it, Detective. I’ve seen a wound like this before.’
‘When?’ asked Agent Simpson.
‘Two years ago, when a young man fell into the lion pen at the zoo. Poor guy.’
‘You’re saying he was bitten by a lion?’ I asked.
Doctor Schreiber shrugged his shoulders. ‘It’s the only time I’ve ever seen a wound like this and even then, it was a much bigger bite mark than this. I’ve found something else weird as well.’ He picked up a petri dish containing small silver pellets. ‘These are the bullets I pulled out of his back.’
I picked one up with a pair of metal tongs and held it up in the light. It was very shiny and felt heavier than a regular bullet. ‘What are they made of? Platinum? Silver?’
‘Something like that. Your shooter’s obviously not short of a few pennies. Like I said: very weird. I believe it was the gunshots that killed him, not the wound to the neck. Obviously he would have eventually died from blood loss but it was the gunshots that sent him on his way. At least you’ve made visual contact with the killers.’
‘Great. All I’ve got to do is find them, stop them blowing my brains out, arrest them and bring back the doctor. Simple as that, eh?’ Not a hint of sarcasm in my voice as I rolled my eyes.
I turned to Agent Simpson. ‘Why are you so interested in all of this? Shouldn’t you be back at Mantek helping to tidy up?’
She fired a look at me that told me I was over-stepping the mark.
‘Sorry,’ I conceded, ‘it’s been a long day. I should have been at home tucked up in bed today. Instead, here we are.’
‘Forget it,’ she said, ‘This isn’t exactly my idea of a good time either but the reason I’m here is the same reason you’re here. The whole case depends on us finding Doctor Owen. You have to find him to solve the murder. I have to find him to allow him to continue his work.’
Doctor Schreiber piped up. ‘Look, I’ve still got some work to do here so why don’t you go and wait outside?’
This was our best lead and we had to just sit outside and wait for Doctor Schreiber to finish cutting him up. My face must have betrayed my feelings because the doctor commented immediately after looking me in the eye.
‘Okay Detective, if you want to stay here and help, be my guest but like you say, it’s been a long day. I think you can be forgiven for taking a few minutes off. I promise to tell you as soon as I find out anything at all.’
He’s got a point, I thought.
‘Sounds good to me,’ I said, relaxing slightly and turned to Agent Simpson, realising how long it had been since I’d eaten. ‘Can I buy you dinner?’
She nodded with a smile.
Saturday, 24 March 2007
Rebirth is now available in print at www.lulu.com
The 240-page paperback contains all 94 chapters that will be posted on this blog so if you can't wait to find out what happens, you can pick up a copy for just £7.99 + p&p
Distribution via Amazon is in the works but for now, if you have any problems ordering from lulu.com, send an email to email@example.com and I will send you a copy.
Please note that all chapters will be posted on this blog... I won't leave a cliffhanger and force you to buy the book to find out what happens!
‘Are you gonna be okay in the back there? You can ride up front with me if you want,’ said the ambulance driver with a twinkle in his eye.
‘I’ll be fine, thanks,’ said Agent Simpson.
The ambulance driver shrugged and Agent Simpson read his mind as he slammed the doors. Never mind. Plenty of fish in the sea.
He’s not bad looking I suppose, she thought and laughed to herself, Their eyes met across a corpse… Not the most romantic beginning.
The ambulance started to move and she shouted to the driver. ‘I’m in a bit of a rush; can you put the siren on?’
‘What’s up, sweetheart, are you worried he’ll die again before we get to the hospital?’
Agent Simpson thought about shooting him with one of her killer stares but decided to change her tactic.
‘Please,’ she said and batted her eyelids, ‘I’ll owe you one.’
The ambulance driver smiled. Sucker. ‘You got it.’ And with that, he hit the siren and floored the accelerator. The acceleration made Agent Simpson slide back in her seat.
Now that the driver was less interested in her and more occupied with weaving in and out of the traffic, Agent Simpson turned her attention to the body bag in front of her. She slowly and carefully unzipped the bag to reveal Officer Myers’ stony white face and turned his head round to look at his neck. The flesh was torn and the jugular vein had been severed. His face was so white it looked like the blood had completely drained from the top half of his body.
Agent Simpson had one more thing to check. She unzipped the bag further and cast her eyes over the officer’s chest. It was full of exit wounds.
As long as there is at least one bullet left in there, all the evidence will disappear very soon.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
The ambulances were quick to arrive but the paramedics had very little work to do. One member of the tactical aid unit had survived but he was unconscious and bleeding heavily and was rushed off to hospital leaving me to review the remnants of the carnage.
Expelled bullets and shells littered the broken asphalt of the road. The dead bodies were being peeled out of long pools of sticky blood and zipped into body bags. More police were arriving and attempting to divert the heavy traffic in any direction other than towards the wreckage but the rubber-neckers just couldn’t help themselves and every few seconds I heard the crunch of another fender bender.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I saw a swarm of vehicles heading my way that detectives dread the most.
The television crews are here.
The broadcast dishes on the top of their vans wobbled and threatened to fall off as they drew to a halt. The doors all flew open at once and I was faced with a herd of reporters running towards me, brandishing microphones and cameras like a medieval charge towards the enemy. I hate to stereotype people but sometimes when a group of individuals fulfil the same criteria, it’s difficult not to.
Bloody reporters. They’re all the same.
I recognised several faces. I’m sure they were almost as reluctant to talk to me as I was to deal with them but I was the senior officer on site. Some of my colleagues are best friends with the media and others even make a few pennies on the side by tipping them off but I can’t be bothered with them. Unless I decide to use the media to help an investigation, they just get in the way and can even ruin an open and shut case with the wrong type of editorial.
I counted five microphones being thrust into my face and almost in perfect unison I heard a male and female combination of ‘What happened here, Detective? How many are dead?’
‘Come on, Detective. You must know who did this? Witnesses said it was a targeted attack on the police by a military outfit.’
‘Was it a terrorist attack?’
‘Were you hurt in the attack, detective?’
‘Did you fire your weapon?’
‘Look,’ I protested, ‘you’ll just have to wait for the official statement.’ At that moment, my mobile phone rang and I did my best to take the call out of range of the microphones.
‘Ryder, what the hell is going on? Why am I watching you on TV?’ shouted Captain Nash.
‘You won’t believe this, Captain,’ I said.
‘I’ve got an entire tactical aid unit dead or unconscious. You’re the only one there who made it through so tell me what happened.’
‘I’m still piecing it together, sir. Our investigation led us to a property belonging to one of the scientists from Mantek. I witnessed a military squad capture the scientist and escape with him in a helicopter. In the process of trying to stop the kidnap, there was a gunfight and the tactical aid unit was neutralised.’
‘So who the hell are these people, detective?’
‘I don’t know yet sir but we still have leads. I’m going back to the property now to pick up Agent Simpson. Something’s happening in the city today and we need to move fast.’
‘You’re damn right, detective. Call me as soon as you have any news.’
‘Yes sir, but I’m worried we’re going to need more tactical aid before the end of the day.’
‘Do your best, detective. You’re my best man but try to keep the dead bodies out of the news next time. Right now I’m looking at body bags on TV. It’s going to be all over prime time.’
With that, he was gone. As usual, he was more bothered about looking bad on the news than getting the job done. My phone rang again as soon as I had hung up on Captain Nash.
‘Hi, Tom. It’s Jane. Backup has just arrived and I got your number from Dispatch. Are you okay?’
‘A few bruises but I’ll live. We’re into something bigger than I’ve ever seen here, Agent Simpson.’
I walked over to the empty van that was lying on its side and looked inside. It was splattered with blood and the metalwork was riddled with bullet holes. On first sight, I could see no equipment left behind other than rifles or any other clues that might help the investigation.
‘We still don’t know who these guys are,’ I continued, ‘and they’re killing cops for fun.’
‘We have to find the scientists,’ she said, very assertively, ‘the police officer’s body has just been picked up and it’s being taken to the hospital. We should check it out.’
‘You’re right. I’ll come and pick you up.’
‘No, don’t worry. I’m going to ride in the ambulance. I’ll meet you at the hospital.’
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
I’d never seen anything like this in my long time on the force. The tactical aid unit had burst the tyres of both vans using spike strips and then taken down three men in no time as they tried to make their escape. The man who shot up unit one-five-two was lying behind a car that was quickly turning into Swiss cheese by all the bullet holes that were puncturing the bodywork.
After the grenade exploded that was thrown from one of the vans, three policemen armed with machine guns had advanced on the van that had flipped onto its side. Everything looked under control until the biggest helicopter I had ever seen appeared overhead. I could see another man in a black suit on board, sitting behind the heaviest-looking machine gun I’d ever seen and began to unload it on everything and everyone that moved.
The tactical aid unit had been within touching distance of the doctor. Now they were dropping like flies. Bullets from the helicopter cannon crunched through their armour. One by one, they all fell to the ground, their blood pouring onto the tarmac. Just as I had frozen in Doctor Forrest’s kitchen only a matter of minutes earlier, I hid behind my car and kept completely still again.
When he was certain that there was no one left to shoot at him, the man who was crouched behind the car got up and walked towards the van. I didn’t know what to do.
If I stand up and take a shot at him, the soldier in the helicopter will surely take me out then leave with the doctor. If I do nothing, they’ll get away with the doctor.
Feeling completely helpless, I told myself there was nothing I could do.
The back doors of the second van opened and three men in black suits got out. They reached in and pulled out a man with glasses wearing a blue shirt and brown slacks who looked to me like he was in his fifties. He wasn’t hurt but looked dazed.
The helicopter circled around the scene of devastation and landed on the road. The power from the massive rotor blades created a tornado of dirt and debris. The surviving members of the group ran over to the dead bodies of their colleagues and dragged them into the helicopter, which lifted off and flew far away from the city.
I got up and looked at the remains of my car. It was a complete mess, full of bullet holes from top to bottom. I picked up the radio, which had managed to avoid getting shot to pieces.
‘This is Detective Ryder. Come in Dispatch.’
‘This is Dispatch. Go ahead.’
‘A helicopter is heading south out of the city. Get the chopper to track it. I don’t care what it’s doing at the moment, get it on the case.’
‘The helicopter is currently being refuelled. It will not be ready for another twenty to thirty minutes.’
Goddamn it. Typical penny pinching. We used to have three helicopters but someone sitting in an office cut us down to one so whenever we need it to help with a critical investigation, it’s either being refuelled or on the other side of the city looking for a purse snatcher.
‘Has the tactical aid unit arrived?’
‘Yes,’ I said as I surveyed their bloody remains, ‘we’re going to need about five ambulances at the Parkway-Freeway intersection. The tactical aid unit have suffered severe losses.’
‘Can you describe the situation sir? Are there any fatalities?’
‘Yes,’ I said matter-of-factly, ‘most of them.’
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Captain Stein felt the second van start to slow down. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ he shouted at the driver.
‘There’s another unit up ahead. It looks like they’ve put spike strips down.’
‘Shit!’ Stein exclaimed as he picked up his radio. ‘Come in, Alpha One.’
‘This is Alpha One. Come in.’
‘There’s going to be a change of extraction site. Proceed immediately to the Parkway-Freeway intersection.’
‘Understood. ETA three minutes.’
‘Okay everyone, get ready.’
Captain Stein closed the van doors behind him. All the soldiers in the van zipped up their Kevlar vests, pulled their masks over their faces and checked their weapons. Captain Stein radioed the other van.
‘The cops have put spike strips down. Get suited up and secure the doctor.’
‘Way ahead of you, Captain,’ was the reply, ‘Bring it on!’
‘Hold on to something, guys’, shouted the driver, ‘here it comes!’
All four tyres on each van exploded as they bumped over the spike strips. Captain Stein held on for dear life as they skidded to a halt, grinding the metal wheels along the tarmac. He looked out of the window to see the second van flip over onto its side.
No matter what happens, we must save the doctor. Everything depends on it.
Stein’s heart was pounding. He had been in worse danger before but no mission had ever been so critical. The Brotherhood had remained underground for centuries but now their fight was out in the open.
The back doors opened and police gunfire rained in, immediately cutting down one of the men. There were two tactical aid vans, each with at least three police sharpshooters who had their sights set firmly on them. Even that goddamn detective was still there, hiding behind his car taking pot shots at them.
Crouching in the van, Captain Stein pulled the pin out of a hand grenade and threw it blindly in the direction of the police vans. He heard a yell of ‘Get down!’ from outside the van followed by an explosion.
‘Everybody out!’ he shouted.
The soldiers ran out of the van to find the nearest cover. Another member of their squad was taken down by police gunfire. Only two men left from this van: the driver and me. Where is he?
Stein turned round and saw him still sitting in the van, trying to take on the police with a pistol. It was only a matter of time before all rifles were pointing in his direction. Police bullets ripped through the van door like it was tin foil and the driver’s head slumped over the smashed glass of the window.
Now he was the only one left from his van who could help the doctor. Captain Stein was crouched behind a parked car, popping his head up every now and then to assess the situation with bullets whistling past his head every time he did.
He heard a call of ‘Cover me!’ and knew what was going to happen. Bullets rattled through the car he was lying behind and he had no choice but to stay down. He knew the police were advancing on the other van. Now there was nothing he could do. All he could do was lie there and pray for a miracle.
His prayers were answered very quickly. A loud whirring noise overhead got louder and louder and a huge gust of wind threw dust, litter and expelled bullets into the air. It could mean only one thing: Alpha One, a member of The Brotherhood’s fleet of gunships, had arrived just in the nick of time.
Friday, 16 March 2007
The vans had a head start but I was confident of catching up with them. I had no idea how I was going to apprehend half a dozen armed and well-trained soldiers, if that’s indeed what they were. I jumped in the car and hit the accelerator, turning the corners I think they may have taken.
I picked up the radio. ‘This is Detective Ryder calling Dispatch.’
‘This is Dispatch. Go ahead.’
‘I need to find two black Chrysler vans that left Castle Crescent two minutes ago heading East, carrying an abducted man who holds information vital to the bombing of the Mantek building last night. Get the chopper on the case.’
‘I’m afraid that’s not possible, Detective. The helicopter is currently tracking a runaway vehicle on the Expressway.’
‘Jesus Christ, do you mean we’ve only got one chopper?’
‘That’s affirmative, Detective.’
‘Well make sure all local units keep their eyes peeled.’
‘Understood, Detective.’ The radio clicked off and back on again. ‘All units in the vicinity of Castle Crescent and the Parkway stay alert. We are looking for two black Chrysler vans heading east. Repeat…’
‘Don’t bother repeating,’ came another voice from the radio, ‘this is unit one-five-two. Two black Chrysler vans have just gone past me on the Parkway. I’m now following them. Please advise.’
‘Do not pull them over,’ I said into the radio, ‘they are heavily armed. Continue to follow and I’ll find you. Dispatch, come in.’
‘This is Dispatch. Go ahead.’
‘I need you to send a tactical aid unit to intercept the vans on the Parkway.’
‘Understood. ETA five minutes.’
I made it onto the Parkway, one of the many long roads leading from the city centre to the suburbs. I stuck the siren on the roof and ran all the lights, narrowly missing a few of the less observant commuters. Then I saw the vans in the distance, about half a mile down the road, closely followed by a patrol car.
‘Unit one-five-two, I’m right behind you.’ I said.
‘What’s the move, Detective?’
‘Keep on their tail. A tactical aid unit should be here any minute.’
I dropped a gear and floored the accelerator. Dodging in and out of the commuters, I quickly caught up with the patrol car and pulled in behind the vans.
‘Detective Ryder is it?’ came another voice from the radio.
‘This is Detective Ryder.’
‘Stop following us. Call off the tactical aid unit.’
Damn it. They’ve been listening to us the whole time, probably all day. That’s why they turned up at the Doctor’s house just after we did.
‘Who are you? What do you want with the doctor?’
‘That is none of your business.’
‘You killed a friend of mine back there so I’m making it my business.’
‘Trust me, Detective, he’s better off dead.’
‘Do you have Doctor Owen in your custody?’
‘Yes we do,’ he replied, ‘but he’s much safer with us than he could ever be with you. Back off now and no one else will get hurt.’
I kept on the tail of the vans and moved my car closer.
The back doors of the rear van opened to reveal a man in a black military suit with a radio in his left hand and a machine gun in his right, looking directly at me. Two more men in black suits were sitting behind him but I couldn’t see Doctor Owen in there.
‘Maybe I didn’t make myself clear,’ he said into his radio, ‘back off or I’ll make you back off.’
‘You won’t shoot me. It’s broad daylight and you’re heading into the city at rush hour. Where will you go?’
‘Again, that’s none of your business,’ he said, then threw the radio to another one of the black-suited men sitting in the van. He grabbed his machine gun with both hands and fired at unit one-five-two.
Bullets cut through the bodywork until one went through a front tyre and the car went into a spin, coming to a stop after slamming into a lamppost at the side of the road. As far as I could see, the driver of the patrol car was unhurt. If he’d wanted to, I’m sure the shooter could have taken us both out with just two shots.
He turned his gun towards me but didn’t fire. Instead, he put it down and started to zip up his Kevlar vest, as did the other men in the van. One of them closed the van doors. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the reason: the tactical aid van was right behind me.
‘Welcome to the party,’ I said into my radio.
‘This is Officer Stewart of the tactical aid unit. Get behind us. We’ll take it from here.’
‘Okay. Be advised that the van in front contains an innocent witness.’
‘We’ll do our best,’ was the reply. His response wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring but these guys were the best chance of stopping the vans and rescuing the doctor. I knew their primary target was not to save life though; it was to stop the immediate threat to the public. At any cost.
I slowed down to let them past and followed them, expecting them to make their move and run the vans off the road but they stayed in pursuit without taking any action.
I looked around for a clue to why they were stalling but couldn’t see a thing.
Why aren’t they doing anything?
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
As Detective Ryder disappeared around the corner to the sound of squealing tyres, Agent Simpson stood on the lawn of Doctor Forrest’s house and watched the tear gas pour out of the front door and disappear.
She took her mobile phone out of her pocket but before she could call for police backup, it began to ring and she recognised the number immediately. Captain Stein.
‘Stein,’ she answered, ‘have you got the doctor?’
‘Yes we have, Agent Simpson. It was a surprise to see you just then. Sorry about your boyfriend.’
‘He’s on your tail right now.’
‘What do you mean? We had to kill the cop.’
‘No, there were two of them. Detective Ryder was in the house as well. You must have missed him.’
‘Shit. And he’s right behind us?’
‘Yes, he drove after you as soon as you left.’
‘I think I can see him. Thanks for your help, Agent Simpson.’
‘How is the doctor?’
‘He seems okay. A bit shaken up after being locked up with them but we’ll have him back at Hartley House very soon. He keeps babbling about his wife so we’ll send someone round to pick her up.’
‘Too late. The police have already picked her up.’
‘Damn it. It’s going to be hard to get hold of her now. See if you can get her out of the police station.’
‘I’ll do what I can.’
‘Good. Right, I’m going to have to take care of him now. I’ll try not to kill your new boyfriend.’
‘Go easy on him, Stein. He’s got us this far.’
With that, the line went dead.
Monday, 12 March 2007
The sequence of events seemed like a blur at the time but now I know things went like this.
Officer Myers went up the stairs and I crept into the kitchen, pointing my gun at anything and everything.
‘I’ve found him!’
I heard the shout from upstairs followed by the sound of a door opening. This was quickly followed by another shout from Officer Myers, only this time it was a blood-curdling scream of agony.
Then there was a smash of glass and I spun round to see a canister fly through the small window in the front door. It hit the ground in front of me and thick white smoke started to pour into the room.
What the hell is going on?
Without thinking, I turned around again and ran into the kitchen, looking for some cover. I ducked behind the kitchen worktop and kept my head down.
I heard the front door burst open and at least two mask-muffled voices that I suspected were well trained in military operations.
‘The noise came from upstairs.’
‘You two head upstairs, we’ll cover the ground floor.’
Two sets of footsteps charged up the stairs and two more started to get louder as they moved towards me.
‘We have him. We also have a man down, looks like a cop.’
There was a deafening blast of machine gun fire followed by an unholy scream.
‘Confirmed kill. All other rooms are clear. Looks like there’s only one of them here.’
‘Better not take any risks on the victim. Finish him off.’
I heard another short blast of machine gun fire.
‘Pick him up and let’s get out of here.’
The footsteps bundled down the stairs again.
‘Good work, men. Let’s go.’
I waited for a second then slowly peered over the top of the worktop. I couldn’t see if they had left or not because smoke had filled the entrance hall and was starting to creep into the kitchen. I knew I had to take a chance.
I got to my feet and ran over to the sink, picked up a cloth and ran it under the tap. Covering my mouth with the damp cloth, I made a run for the stairs, hoping I wouldn’t bump into one or more of the armed intruders or succumb to the effects of the smoke. Luckily for me, there was no one on the other side of the thick white cloud.
When I got to the top of the stairs, I saw massive smouldering burns on the walls and a pile of ash on the carpet. Officer Myers’ body was lying in a pool of blood. His neck was wounded, with dark red blood pouring from his neck and soaking into the carpet. His back was peppered with bullet holes.
Covering my mouth from the fumes that were creeping upstairs, I made my way back down to the hallway and out of the front door to see two black vans screeching away from the house. Agent Simpson got out of the car and I met her in the middle of the road.
‘What happened? Who were they?’ she asked.
‘I’ve no idea but whoever they are, I think they’ve got the doctor.’
‘I think you’re right. I saw them bundle someone into the van. What happened to the cop?’
‘Dead. They shot him but something else was going on before they arrived. I don’t know what happened in there. Call for backup. I’m going after them.’
Saturday, 10 March 2007
Agent Jane Simpson sat in the car with a hundred thoughts buzzing around in her head. Keep the engine running, Detective Ryder had said, assuming something bad might happen meaning they would have to make a quick getaway.
If only he knew what they might have to make a quick getaway from.
Only Agent Simpson knew what might happen and she hoped to God it wouldn’t. He seemed like a nice guy under that difficult exterior, but most importantly he was a good detective and was her best chance of finding Doctor Owen and Doctor Forrest before they did.
Come on, she thought, just get in the house, pick up the doctor and get out. It would be a lot easier for everyone. Detective Ryder and Officer Myers stepped inside the house and she knew they didn’t have long.
They would be coming. They must have heard the conversations on the police radio. They wouldn’t be as subtle as these two though.
She looked out of the window and saw a pair of black vans driving down the crescent. Her heart sank. She sat rigid as she watched the vans stop outside the house. The doors immediately swung open and three men wearing black suits and masks jumped out of each one. They were all carrying machine guns.
One of the men stopped and looked around. He stared directly at Agent Simpson and gave her a wave. She raised a hand and he ran towards the house to join the others.
What can I do? If she sounded the horn to warn the men inside, these soldiers would almost certainly kill her. Her colleagues. If she got out of the car to try and stop the attack, her cover would be blown and they’d be back to square one if the doctor wasn’t in the house. She didn’t have Tom’s mobile phone number, but should she call him even if she had it?
She just hoped that Detective Ryder could find a suitable hiding place somewhere in the house and stay there for the duration of the attack.
If he doesn’t, he’s a dead man.
Thursday, 8 March 2007
Five minutes later, we pulled up next to the patrol car hiding around the corner from one-two-four Castle Crescent. Sitting in the car was Officer Greg Myers. He was a good cop and we’d worked with each other before on several occasions. He’d picked the best spot on the road: most of the vehicles driving past wouldn’t see him at a glance. If there was anyone in Doctor Forrest’s house, there was a fairly good chance they didn’t know we were here already.
Officer Myers and I got out of our cars and shook hands.
‘Good to see you, Detective,’ he said.
‘You too, Officer. How have you been?’
‘Pretty good. Should be going for detective soon.’
‘Really? Which division?’
‘I think I might go for homicide.’
‘Good choice,’ I said. What’s more, I meant it too. Officer Myers would make a very good homicide detective. He’s smart, good with people and never scared to kick down a door with no idea what’s on the other side. When you’ve got to tell people their friends and relatives are dead, you’ve got to be good with people. I’d found that part of the job pretty difficult since Sarah was murdered.
‘I suppose you’ll need a new partner soon,’ he continued.
‘No, I’m still on the same partner I had last time we spoke.’
My partners have a tendency for getting shot. Or worse. It’s not a secret either. Some potential partners have volunteered for demotion or redundancy rather than work with me. That kind of sentiment from potential partners doesn’t exactly give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside but after a few years you just get used to it.
‘Wow, he’s lasted at least six months! Well, why don’t you use this opportunity to try me out? It might help to get me further up the waiting list when your current partner has had enough.’
‘Okay,’ I said reluctantly, ‘lead the way but I have to warn you, it’s a very short waiting list.’
‘Can I do anything?’ asked Agent Simpson.
‘Yes, wait there and keep the engine running,’ I said, expecting another sigh.
‘Okay detective,’ she said and saluted me.
Hang on a minute, is she flirting with me? I’d almost forgotten what that was like.
We walked across the road towards the house. There were no people around and no cars cruising up and down but I was sure I saw some curtains twitching in neighbouring houses for the second time today. The trees lining the long crescent swayed in the light breeze, which was a relief in the current heat wave.
I stood at the bottom of the steps at the front door, staying alert while Officer Myers pressed the doorbell. There was no answer so he tried the door handle. It opened and we drew our guns. Very slowly, he led us inside.
We were faced with a very plush upper-middle-class house. The carpet was so soft and expensive-looking I almost thought I should have taken my shoes off before going any further. There were gold fittings on the furniture and even though I had no idea who painted the pictures on the wall, I suspected they were originals or at the very least limited edition prints. A stark contrast to the cheap sofa, Dali prints and wafer-thin rug in my apartment.
I pointed upwards and Officer Myers edged his way up the stairs. I looked up the stairs and noticed that it was unnaturally dark up there. This struck me as very weird considering the blazing sunshine outside.
Rather him than me, I thought selfishly as I made my way into the kitchen at the rear of the house.
Monday, 5 March 2007
Captain Stein felt like he was being baked alive as he sat in the back of the cramped black van. It was one of two vehicles carrying a squad of soldiers who were speeding along the freeway. Their destination: the home of Doctor Forrest.
How many homes does this guy have? He hasn’t lived there for years, or so we thought. What else don’t we know about him?
Stein thought of the squad that had gone to the address they had for Doctor Forrest and feared the worst. He suspected he would never hear from Lieutenant Curtis again.
Little did the police know that The Brotherhood had been listening in to their conversations all day long. This Detective Ryder seemed to know what he was doing and he was leading them directly to Doctor Owen, one of the principal members of their scientific research team. Stein almost felt sorry for the detective. So much hard work, it was always a shame to steal a cop’s thunder.
The Brotherhood had used this tactic many times before but this time may be more difficult than usual. If their vans didn’t reach the house first then they would have the police to deal with in addition to the likely presence of them.
Captain Stein shouted to the driver. ‘How long to go?’
‘Only two or three minutes,’ said the driver.
‘Okay,’ Captain Stein announced to everyone in the van, ‘check your weapons and put your masks on.’
The soldiers all loaded their rifles and pulled black balaclavas onto their heads, wiping the sweat from their foreheads before they did so.
It had been a long time since Captain Stein or any other members of The Brotherhood had seen this much action. The Brotherhood had co-existed with them in a stable state for the past twelve months.
He had known all along that everything would change once Doctor Owen made progress in his research. They all did. The doctor was the key to the future of every living creature on the planet.
Captain Stein checked his rifle one more time as the van headed down the ramp, leading them off the freeway and into the tree-lined roads of the suburbs.
Sunday, 4 March 2007
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Saturday, 3 March 2007
The blackout curtains hadn’t been completely closed, allowing a little sunlight to spill into the room. The furnishings were expensive: an orthopaedic emperor size bed, a huge walk-in wardrobe and very deep carpets.
As Doctor Owen awoke from his chloroform-induced slumber, he cast his eyes around the room and instantly knew where he was. One-two-four Castle Crescent.
Why am I in the boss’s old house? He hasn’t lived here for years. How did I get here?
He was gagged and tied to a chair in Doctor Forrest’s bedroom. It occurred to him that he was alone. The last thing he remembered was booking into a motel a hundred miles north of the city and getting his head down. He knew this was coming but had hoped to make a better run for it and finish off his work before they found him.
He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone the full details of his work but his wife, Emily, knew everything.
Please God let her be safe. I’ll never forgive myself if anything happens to her.
The next question was: where is Doctor Forrest?
Is he gagged and bound to a chair in another house somewhere else? Is he in this house? Is he dead? What about his family?
All these questions and more buzzed around his head, but his thoughts were interrupted when a tall figure suddenly burst into the room. The figure ran over to the window and closed the curtains.
There was very little light illuminating the room and all Doctor Owen could see was a huge frantic shadow. The shadow turned to the doctor and growled, ‘Don’t move or make a noise or you’re dead. Understand?’
Doctor Owen didn’t move a muscle, knowing exactly the fate that would be in store if he didn’t comply. This was the first time he had knowingly come face to face with one of them. The atmosphere and attitudes did not surprise him one bit.
‘Good,’ said the shadow and left the room, slamming the door behind him.
Something’s happening, Doctor Owen thought, is someone coming to rescue me?
Thursday, 1 March 2007
Within half an hour, the forensic team arrived at Doctor Owen’s house so we left them tagging and bagging everything that looked like it might hold some evidence that would lead us to who was doing this. There was so much stuff to go through and so many rooms in the doctor’s house, they would be there for hours.
We were in the car, heading back to the police station to talk to Doctor Owen’s wife Emily. She had been staying with a relative and it was only a matter of time before she was found and taken into police custody for the sake of her safety. So far she hadn’t said a word on the subject of her husband’s whereabouts but I was hoping to break her down.
I looked in the mirror and noticed a black saloon hovering about fifty metres behind us. I hit the brakes and turned the car down a street to the left. I’d been followed enough times to be able to spot a vehicle on my tail.
‘What are you doing, Detective?’ Agent Simpson asked, clearly rattled by my impulsive driving.
‘It’s a short cut,’ I lied.
We turned off the main road and the black saloon followed us. I swung the car to the left again and, as expected, the saloon followed.
‘But we’re going back on ourselves,’ Agent Simpson protested.
‘Trust me,’ I said, and heard her sigh, like she knew I wasn’t going to tell her what was going on. She looked in the wing mirror and started to turn round to look through the back windscreen.
‘Don’t turn around,’ I said, ‘there’s a car on our tail.’
Agent Simpson looked in the wing mirror again. ‘The black one?’
‘That’s right.’ I picked up the radio and kept an eye on the registration plate of the following car as I spoke.
‘This is Detective Tom Ryder. I need a name and address check on the following registration plate: Whisky Seven Four Seven Bravo X-ray Charlie.’
‘Okay Detective, I’m on it,’ was the reply on the radio.
‘Detective!’ Agent Simpson shouted.
‘What?’ I asked. I took my eyes off the rear view mirror and looked at the road ahead, immediately realising what Agent Simpson wanted me to notice. I’d been looking in the mirror at the car behind for so long, I hadn’t noticed the traffic was slowing down in front of us. I slammed on the brakes and we both lurched forward, the seatbelts just holding us in our seats. The car screeched to halt just behind the car in front. ‘Sorry about that,’ I said.
I looked in the mirror and the car tailing us had disappeared. Damn. I just hoped the address check came back with a useful lead. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence in the car, a reply came on the radio: ‘The car is registered to a Doctor Forrest at one-two-four Castle Crescent.’
‘That’s at the other end of the city,’ I said, ‘is there a black and white that can stop by that address? A missing person may be at that address. Proceed with caution and do not approach the target until we get there, target is a possible abduction victim.’
‘Understood. I will get back to you when a patrol car is on site.’
I turned the car around in the middle of the road, narrowly missing some of the traffic, rolled down the window and stuck the portable siren on the roof. I found the ramp onto the ring road and jammed the accelerator to the floor, dodging in and out of the vehicles and onto the freeway.
‘Do you really think he’s been abducted?’ Agent Simpson asked.
‘I think we have two options,’ I said, ‘Either Doctor Owen blew up his own lab and did a runner or someone else did it and abducted him. Which one do you think is more likely?’
‘I see. Is that what’s called a cop’s hunch?’
‘Not really. This is about playing the odds. We need to proceed as if Doctor Owen and Doctor Forrest are both in danger and we have to assume we can get to them first.’
‘Because if we don’t we’ll probably have four homicides to investigate rather than the two we’ve had so far today.’ A thought occurred to me. ‘Do you want me to drop you off? You work for the World Health Organisation, not the police. This is probably going to get dangerous from now on.’
‘No, don’t worry about me, Detective,’ she replied very quickly, ‘I’ve been in worse situations.’
‘The World Health Organisation must be more exciting than I thought,’ I said. To be honest, I had no opinion on the WHO at all. For all I knew, they sat around in offices all day long, reading reports and deciding which rat-infested restaurants to close down next.
‘You’ve no idea,’ she said cryptically with a sly smile in the corner of her mouth.
‘The patrol unit has arrived at the address,’ said the voice from the radio, ‘please advise.’
‘Do not approach the house, we’re nearly there,’ I said as our car bounced down the off-ramp. ‘Only observe for now and do not take any action unless there is a life in danger.’