The cinema of my dreams – Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 47

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on the back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritizing.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

Chasing leads, maybe

When the room was empty and only Richards and I remained, he cut the ties that bound my hands and legs.

“Bad business,” he said.

I sat again, and flexed the muscles that had begun to stiffen up whilst tightly bound.

“I’m assuming you know a woman by the name of Jan?” I said. “She told me she was working for MI6 so I’m assuming you’re her handler.”

“When she chooses to be handled, yes.  Jan is just one of her names.  She’s currently missing, and I think we now know why?”

“Her work,” I nodded towards the body.

“God no.  She’s charged with chasing down leads and then calling the cavalry.  We had a tracker on this chap, found him, and had him in a safe facility awaiting interrogation, what we thought was safe at any rate, and Jan and another agent watching over him until the interrogation team arrived.  When the interrogation team got there everyone was gone, but with enough blood on the floor to paint a pretty clear picture.  Maury had been interrogated and killed there, dumped here, with no indication of the whereabouts of our agents.  She told me this guy and another trained you, and others, in rather strange circumstances.  A bogus operation. To what end?”

“From what I could tell, a single surveillance operation.  Me and a dozen others.  Cut loose after it failed, those of us that survived, that is.”

“A lot of effort to achieve nothing.”

“Pity we can’t ask him what it was about?”  I looked over at the body.  Maury was hardly recognizable.  Whoever carried out the interrogation had been either in a hurry or in a bad mood.

“Indeed.  She told me this chap called O’Connell was involved.  Now so?”

Another rule that popped into my head from the training: never share information with other agencies unless you absolutely had to.  I had no doubt if Dobbin was here, he would agree, but he wasn’t.

I wondered if I should tell him she had allegiance to another branch of the secret services, or mention Dobbin.

“He was the surveillance target.  We were charged with observing him, but not what he was suspected of.  I followed him as far as the exploding shop, got temporarily disorientated after the blast,, but managed to reacquire the target, following him to an alley where I spoke briefly to him before Maury and Severin arrived, and he was shot, apparently killed.”

“Either he was or he wasn’t.”

“The body disappeared.  My view is he is still alive, somewhere.”

“That explosion was supposed to be caused by a gas leak.”

“Standard operational doubletalk.  A journalist was killed, apparently in the shop waiting for the target.  It went up after the target passed, I’m assuming his tradecraft was to check first then go back.  Never got a chance.  I think now given the circumstances, the journalist was going to hand something off.  I’ve been asked a number of times by various people about a USB drive.  You know anything about it?”

“This is the first I’m hearing about anything about a USB drive.  You know what was on it?”

“Above my pay grade, I was told.”

“OK.  What about this Severin character?:

“All I have is a phone number, and that, I think we can both agree, will be a burner.”

“Agreed, but it might be useful.”

I gave it to him and he put it on his phone.

A new team of men in white suits arrived at the door, no doubt MI5 forensic specialists, and two more agents, bigger and tougher, what I would call the muscle.

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to come back to the office to answer a few more questions.  It’s not custody, but mandatory co-operation.”

“And if I refuse?”

“It might make their day if you know what I mean.”

I shrugged.  One I might be able to take, but not the both of them.  And they both looked like they would be happy to teach me the error of my ways if I tried to escape/

“That won’t be necessary.  I’m taking him with me.”

“Dobbin just came to the door, flashing an MI6 warrant card.

“I’ve been charged with cleaning this mess up.”

“And so you shall, but not including this agent.  Orders from above, reasons why, as they say, are above your pay grade.

I suspect the warrant card said Dobbin outranked him.  Did our people have fake MI6 IDs?

“This is highly irregular.”

“Call your boss, if you don’t like it.  I can wait.”

I could see the reluctance in his face.

He glared at me.  “Go, but don’t go too far.  I still might get clearance to have another chat.”

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Searching for locations: Chateau Tongariro, New Zealand

This chateau was built in 1929 and was originally intended as a hostel for hikers.

It is now near the  Whakapapa skifield on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu and within  the boundary of the Tongariro National Park


We had afternoon tea in the lounge several times, and it is very pleasant in winter with the log fires burning.


The interior is still as ornate as it had been in the 1930s.  The chairs are very comfortable, and the atmosphere pleasant.

Mount Ngauruhoe can be seen through the window of the lounge.  This was used a backdrop in the filming of Lord of the Rings.



This place is the ideal setting for a murder, and I can see a story being written very much in the mold of Agatha Christie, with a couple of amateur sleuths who are staying there, trying to solve the crime.

Given the sort of shows being produced in New Zealand currently, for Acorn and other streaming services, this could be turned into a very pleasant two hour diversion with some very unique New Zealand, and foreign, characters.

Or just send the Brokenwood detective crew there!

Short Story writing – don’t try this at home! – Part 7

Putting it all together: the short story

I had once said that Grand Central Station, in New York, was large enough you could get lost in it.  Especially if you were from out of town.

I know, I was from out of town, and though I didn’t quite get lost, back then I had to ask directions to go where I needed to.

It was also an awe-inspiring place, and whenever I had a spare moment, usually at lunchtime, I would go there and just soak in the atmosphere. It was large enough to make a list of places to visit, or find, or get a photograph from some of the more obscure places.

Today, I was just there to work off a temper. Things had gone badly at work, and even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, I still felt bad about it.

I came in the 42nd street entrance and went up to the balcony that overlooked the main concourse. A steady stream of people was coming and going, most purposefully, a few were loitering, and several police officers were attempting to move on a vagrant. It was not the first time.

But one person caught my eye, a young woman who had made a circuit of the hall, looked at nearly every destination board, and appeared to be confused. It was the same as I had felt when I first arrived.

Perhaps I could help.

The problem was, a man approaching a woman from out of left field would have a very creepy vibe to it, so it was probably best left alone.

After another half-hour of watching the world go by, I had finally got past the bad mood and headed back to work. I did a wide sweep of the main concourse, perhaps more for the exercise than anything else, and had reached the clock in the center of the concourse when someone turned suddenly, and I crashed into them.

Not badly, like ending up on the floor, but enough for a minor jolt. Of course, it was my fault because I was in another world at that particular moment.

“Oh, I am sorry.” A woman’s voice, very apologetic.

I was momentarily annoyed, then, when I saw who it was, it passed. It was the lost woman I’d seen earlier.

“No. Not your fault, but mine entirely. I have a habit of wandering around with my mind elsewhere.”

Was it fate that we should meet like this?

I noticed she was looking around, much the same as she had before.

“Can I help you?”

“Perhaps you can. There’s supposed to be a bar that dates back to the prohibition era here somewhere. Campbell’s Apartment, or something like that. I was going to ask…”

“Sure. It’s not that hard to find if you know where it is. I’ll take you.”

It made for a good story, especially when I related it to the grandchildren, because the punch line was, “and that’s how I met your grandmother.”

© Charles Heath 2022

It’s not a writing room unless…

You have this incredible fully working to scale model of an Airbus A380 coming into land…


This plane is over a meter long and has actually flown as a model aircraft, complete with remote control.

The thrust from the four engines was enough to almost blow the lounge room curtains off their hooks from 40 feet away … and it was a struggle to hold the plane down.

Now I can simulate tornados.

And, I have to say it’s rather awe-inspiring to look at it.


For those who like the technical details:

The A380 is the largest EPO model you will ever see and with a wingspan of 1520mm and 4 x 56mm ducted fans it is sure to make an impression at any airfield!

Despite it’s size, the A380 is very light and economical to fly, only requiring a 3000mAh 3S battery.

This huge A380 (EPO) model aircraft comes 95% pre-built and includes a powerful 4 x 25A brushless EDF system and steerable nose wheel, just include your own Tx/Rx and battery.


Length: 1410mm (55.51in)
Wing span: 1520mm (59.84in)
Flying weight: 1800g
Motor: 2826 Brushless outrunner (3200KV)
ESC: 4 x 25A
Servo: 9g * 5pcs
Battery: 3000~5000mAh 3S1P 45C~65C Lipoly Pack (Required)
EDF Diameter: 4 x 56mm

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Actions have consequences

It’s time for the policewoman to arrive.

There is such a thing as pure dumb luck.

If she did not walk through the door when she did then Jack would have walked away.

From the policewoman’s perspective:


She crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night.  When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.

As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.

A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly, getting a better view of the scene with each step.

Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer facing her, hands up.

It was a convenience store robbery in progress.

She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there.  She was off duty.  Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery.  The officer at the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.

In five minutes there could be dead bodies.

She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.  Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.


Guns are dangerous weapons in the hands of professional and amateur alike.  You would expect a professional who has trained to use a gun to not have a problem but consider what might happen in exceptional circumstances.

People freeze under pressure.  Alternately, some shoot first and ask questions later.

We have an edgy and frightened girl with a loaded gun, one bullet or thirteen in a magazine, it doesn’t matter.  It only takes one bullet to kill someone.

Then there’s the trigger pressure, light or heavy, the recoil after the shot and whether it causes the bullet to go into or above the intended target, especially if the person has never used a gun.

The policewoman, with training, will need two hands to take the shot, but in getting into the shop she will need one to open the door, and then be briefly distracted before using that hand to steady the other.

It will take a lifetime, even if it is only a few seconds.

Actions have consequences:


The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before straightening.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.

Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel in being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to lose balance and crash into the man who was trying to get out.

What the hell…

A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.

The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger twice.

The two bangs in the small room were almost deafening and definitely disorientating.

Behind her, the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.

Neither she nor the man beside her had been hit.


She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’d run into rolled out of the way.

Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, and wasted precious seconds getting up off the floor, then out the door to find she had disappeared.

She could hear a siren in the distance.  They’d find her.


If the policewoman had not picked that precise moment to enter the shop, maybe the man would have got away.


If he’d been aware of the fact he was allowed to leave.

He was lucky not to be shot.

Yet there were two shots, and we know at least one of them broke the door’s glass panel.


Next – the epilog

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

“Sunday in New York”, a romantic adventure that’s not a walk in the park!

“Sunday in New York” is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits.

When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind.

From that moment, his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control.

There is no one big factor that can prove Harry’s worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in.

Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and then in his wife, Alison, as he discovered piece by piece damning evidence she is about to leave him for another man.

Can we trust what we see with our eyes or trust what we hear?

Haven’t we all jumped to conclusions at least once in our lives?

Can Alison, a woman whose self-belief and confidence is about to be put to the ultimate test, find a way of proving their relationship is as strong as it has ever been?

As they say in the classics, read on!


Writing about writing a book – Day 27

Well, it’s been a monumental process to get to the point where I think I can start writing Chapter One.

This, of course, might not be the first chapter, it might finish up somewhere else.

If there was a plan, then this would be chapter one.  In fact, right now, I’m going to sit down and do a plan with as much as I know about where the book is heading.

One, about Bill and his introduction to the reader

Two, a phone call to interrupt the dream

Three, having to go into work – there’s a disaster going on, and he’s the only one who can fix it.

Well, not necessarily others, but this is the nineteen seventies/eighties, and women were still not looked upon or considered as being able to hold the same position as Bill – we’ve certainly come a long way in forty years.

And that, of course, is anther stream in the book, proving that woman, and one in particular is clever and given the recognition she deserves.

I’ve also got to remember that there is no internet, and there are no mobile phones and a lot of other stuff that is now regarded as commonplace and taken for granted.

We had telephone boxes, telephones on desks that connected to a switchboard, dumb terminals connected to mainframes, modems that were bulky and very very slow, and comms ran very differently to those today, and networking was a variety of technologies that mostly don’t exist anymore, like ethernet and token ring, and software like 3Com and Novell.

I know I’m going to forget sometimes because it’s going to be hard not to have the MC pull out his cellphone and call on the spot.

Anyway, here’s the first attempt…


A cool breeze blew briskly across meadows of tall grass, giving the impression of the ocean in a storm.  High above, clouds scudded across the sky, occasionally allowing the sun to shine through to bathe the ground in the sunshine, intensifying the richness of the greens and browns.

It was spring.  Trees were displaying new growth, and flowers were starting to show the promise of summery delight.  An occasional light shower of rain added to the delightful aromas, particularly where the grass had recently been mowed.

I was there, too, with my grandmother, the woman who had, for the most part, brought me up at her country residence.  But, as I got older, the dream changed and sometimes there were storm clouds on the horizon, or I was caught in the rain, alone and frightened, or lost in the woods in the dark.

There were other visions like these from my childhood, now a million years away somewhere in a distant past that was hard to remember or say where and when they belonged.  It was a pity some were now based on images stolen from the start of a movie seen on TV late at night as I was trying to get to sleep.  Or that the psychiatrist had said there was some trauma from my early childhood, trying to work its way out.

Like every other morning, these images came to me as I was hovering somewhere between conscious and unconscious, just before the alarm went off.  Then it did, filling the room with a shrill noise that would have woken the dead.

I cursed, and then dragged myself over to the other side of the bed where I’d put the alarm clock, and hit it, killing the shrill sound.  I’d put it there so I would have to wake up to turn it off.  And, worse, I’d forgotten to turn it off the night before because it was, technically, the first day of my holiday.

Not that I really wanted one because since Ellen left, my life consisted of work, work, and more work.  It kept my mind off being alone, and in an empty apartment except for the books, a bed, a table, and two chairs, a desk, and a well-worn lounge chair.  I’d been there for years and still hadn’t bought any new furniture or anything else for that matter.

And the last holiday I’d gone on had been organized by Ellen fifteen years ago in Italy after our two daughters had finished school and graduated almost top of their class.  We’d been happier then, but happiness was fleeting for me, and soon after the rot had set in, and it was the beginning of the end.

I remembered it only too clearly, coming home, opening a letter addressed to her, and finding proof of what I think I’d known all along.  She was having an affair, had been for quite some time.

It should not have been a surprise given what I had put her through over the years, since my discharge from the Army, and the nightmares active service had fueled, but it was and sent me spiraling to a new low.

But that was five years ago.  I came out of the fog a year after that.  Ellen was gone, the girls came to see me from time to time, and all I had left were memories.

I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.  I was on holiday.  No work, no pressure, nothing.  I could go back to my grandmother’s house and visit.  I had been promising myself I’d do that soon, even if it was now a country hotel.  From the advertising it had not changed one bit, the house and grounds intact.

Or I could throw a dart at a map and get on the next plane there, though knowing my ability with a dart, it would be in the middle of the ocean.

I could do almost anything I wanted.


It’s not much, just a taste.  But it’s enough for now.  I’ve made a start.  Now, all I have to do is come up with the next 100,000 words or so.


© Charles Heath 2016-2020

An excerpt from “What Sets Us Apart”, a mystery with a twist

See excerpt from the story below, just a taste of what’s in store…


McCallister was old school, a man who would most likely fit in perfectly campaigning on the battlefields of Europe during the Second World War. He’d been like a fish out of water in the army, post-Falklands, and while he retired a hero, he still felt he’d more to give.

He’d applied and was accepted as head of a SWAT team, and, watching him now as he and his men disembarked from the truck in almost military precision, a look passed between Annette, the police liaison officer, and I that said she’d seen it all before. I know I had.

There was a one in four chance his team would be selected for this operation, and she had been hoping it would be one of the other three. While waiting for them to arrive she filled me in on the various teams. His was the least co-operative, and the more likely to make ad-hoc decisions rather than adhere to the plan, or any orders that may come from the officer in charge.

This, she said quite bluntly, was going to end badly.

I still had no idea why Prendergast instructed me to attend the scene of what looked to be a normal domestic operation, but as the nominated expert in the field in these types of situations, it was fairly clear he wasn’t taking any chances. It was always a matter of opinion between us, and generally I lost.

In this case, it was an anonymous report identifying what the authorities believed were explosives in one of the dockside sheds where explosives were not supposed to be.

The only reason why the report was given any credence was the man, while not identifying himself by name, said he’d been an explosive expert once and recognized the boxes. That could mean anything, but the Chief Constable was a cautious man.

With his men settled and preparing their weapons, McCallister came over to the command post, not much more than the SUV my liaison and I arrived in, with weapons, bulletproof vests, and rolls of tape to cordon off the area afterward. We both had coffee, steaming in the cold early morning air. Dawn was slowly approaching and although rain had been forecast it had yet to arrive.

A man by the name of Benson was in charge. He too had groaned when he saw McCallister.

“A fine morning for it.” McCallister was the only enthusiastic one here.

He didn’t say what ‘it’ was, but I thought it might eventually be mayhem.

“Let’s hope the rain stays away. It’s going to be difficult enough without it,” Benson said, rubbing his hands together. We had been waiting for the SWAT team to arrive, and another team to take up their position under the wharf, and who was in the final stages of securing their position.

While we were waiting we drew up the plan. I’d go in first to check on what we were dealing with, and what type of explosives. The SWAT team, in the meantime, were to ensure all the exits to the shed were covered. When I gave the signal, they were to enter and secure the building. We were not expecting anyone inside or out, and no movement had been detected in the last hour since our arrival and deployment.

“What’s the current situation?”

“I’ve got eyes on the building, and a team coming in from the waterside, underneath. Its slow progress, but they’re nearly there. Once they’re in place, we’re sending McKenzie in.”

He looked in my direction.

“With due respect sir, shouldn’t it be one of us?” McCallister glared at me with the contempt that only a decorated military officer could.

“No. I have orders from above, much higher than I care to argue with, so, McCallister, no gung-ho heroics for the moment. Just be ready to move on my command, and make sure you have three teams at the exit points, ready to secure the building.”

McCallister opened his mouth, no doubt to question those orders, but instead closed it again. “Yes sir,” he muttered and turned away heading back to his men.

“You’re not going to have much time before he storms the battlements,” Benson quietly said to me, a hint of exasperation in his tone. “I’m dreading the paperwork.”

It was exactly what my liaison officer said when she saw McCallister arriving.

The water team sent their ‘in position’ signal, and we were ready to go.

In the hour or so we’d been on site nothing had stirred, no arrivals, no departures, and no sign anyone was inside, but that didn’t mean we were alone. Nor did it mean I was going to walk in and see immediately what was going on. If it was a cache of explosives then it was possible the building was booby-trapped in any number of ways, there could be sentries or guards, and they had eyes on us, or it might be a false alarm.

I was hoping for the latter.

I put on the bulletproof vest, thinking it was a poor substitute for full battle armor against an exploding bomb, but we were still treating this as a ‘suspected’ case. I noticed my liaison officer was pulling on her bulletproof vest too.

“You don’t have to go. This is my party, not yours,” I said.

“The Chief Constable told me to stick to you like glue, sir.”

I looked at Benson. “Talk some sense into her please, this is not a kindergarten outing.”

He shrugged. Seeing McCallister had taken all the fight out of him. “Orders are orders. If that’s what the Chief Constable requested …”

Madness. I glared at her, and she gave me a wan smile. “Stay behind me then, and don’t do anything stupid.”

“Believe me, I won’t be.” She pulled out and checked her weapon, chambering the first round. It made a reassuring sound.

Suited up, weapons readied, a last sip of the coffee in a stomach that was already churning from nerves and tension, I looked at the target, one hundred yards distant and thought it was going to be the longest hundred yards I’d ever traversed. At least for this week.

A swirling mist rolled in and caused a slight change in plans.

Because the front of the buildings was constantly illuminated by large overhead arc lamps, my intention had been to approach the building from the rear where there was less light and more cover. Despite the lack of movement, if there were explosives in that building, there’d be ‘enemy’ surveillance somewhere, and, after making that assumption, I believed it was going to be easier and less noticeable to use the darkness as a cover.

It was a result of the consultation, and studying the plans of the warehouse, plans that showed three entrances, the main front hangar type doors, a side entrance for truck entry and exit and a small door in the rear, at the end of an internal passage leading to several offices. I also assumed it was the exit used when smokers needed a break. Our entry would be by the rear door or failing that, the side entrance where a door was built into the larger sliding doors. In both cases, the locks would not present a problem.

The change in the weather made the approach shorter, and given the density of the mist now turning into a fog, we were able to approach by the front, hugging the walls, and moving quickly while there was cover. I could feel the dampness of the mist and shivered more than once.

It was nerves more than the cold.

I could also feel rather than see the presence of Annette behind me, and once felt her breath on my neck when we stopped for a quick reconnaissance.

It was the same for McCallister’s men. I could feel them following us, quickly and quietly, and expected, if I turned around, to see him breathing down my neck too.

It added to the tension.

My plan was still to enter by the back door.

We slipped up the alley between the two sheds to the rear corner and stopped. I heard a noise coming from the rear of the building, and the light tap on the shoulder told me Annette had heard it too. I put my hand up to signal her to wait, and as a swirl of mist rolled in, I slipped around the corner heading towards where I’d last seen the glow of a cigarette.

The mist cleared, and we saw each other at the same time. He was a bearded man in battle fatigues, not the average dockside security guard.

He was quick, but my slight element of surprise was his undoing, and he was down and unconscious in less than a few seconds with barely a sound beyond the body hitting the ground. Zip ties secured his hands and legs, and tape his mouth. Annette joined me a minute after securing him.

A glance at the body then me, “I can see why they, whoever they are, sent you.”

She’d asked who I worked for, and I didn’t answer. It was best she didn’t know.

“Stay behind me,” I said, more urgency in my tone. If there was one, there’d be another.

Luck was with us so far. A man outside smoking meant no booby traps on the back door, and quite possibly there’d be none inside. But it indicated there were more men inside, and if so, it appeared they were very well trained. If that were the case, they would be formidable opponents.

The fear factor increased exponentially.

I slowly opened the door and looked in. A pale light shone from within the warehouse itself, one that was not bright enough to be detected from outside. None of the offices had lights on, so it was possible they were vacant. I realized then they had blacked out the windows. Why hadn’t someone checked this?

Once inside, the door closed behind us, progress was slow and careful. She remained directly behind me, gun ready to shoot anything that moved. I had a momentary thought for McCallister and his men, securing the perimeter.

At the end of the corridor, the extent of the warehouse stretched before us. The pale lighting made it seem like a vast empty cavern, except for a long trestle table along one side, and, behind it, stacks of wooden crates, some opened. It looked like a production line.

To get to the table from where we were was a ten-yard walk in the open. There was no cover. If we stuck to the walls, there was equally no cover and a longer walk.

We needed a distraction.

As if on cue, the two main entrances disintegrated into flying shrapnel accompanied by a deafening explosion that momentarily disoriented both Annette and I. Through the smoke and dust kicked up I saw three men appear from behind the wooden crates, each with what looked like machine guns, spraying bullets in the direction of the incoming SWAT members.

They never had a chance, cut down before they made ten steps into the building.

By the time I’d recovered, my head heavy, eyes watering and ears still ringing, I took several steps towards them, managing to take down two of the gunmen but not the third.

I heard a voice, Annette’s I think, yell out, “Oh, God, he’s got a trigger,” just before another explosion, though all I remember in that split second was a bright flash, the intense heat, something very heavy smashing into my chest knocking the wind out of me, and then the sensation of flying, just before I hit the wall.

I spent four weeks in an induced coma, three months being stitched back together and another six learning to do all those basic actions everyone took for granted. It was twelve months almost to the day when I was released from the hospital, physically, except for a few alterations required after being hit by shrapnel, looking the same as I always had.

But mentally? The document I’d signed on release said it all, ‘not fit for active duty; discharged’.

It was in the name of David Cheney. For all intents and purposes, Alistair McKenzie was killed in that warehouse, and for the first time ever, an agent left the Department, the first to retire alive.

I was not sure I liked the idea of making history.


© Charles Heath 2016-2020

What do these mean?

I’ve been reading the latest headlines and picked out a few:


The seems to be a currency war,

Oil prices are set to rise in line with a cut in production,

Some tankers will not be playing the Hormuz strait,

There was a massive power outage in the UK,

Gold prices are rising,

North Korea is shooting missiles into the sea

The USA needs more missiles,

There are Chinese survey vessels in the South China Sea,

In Russia there is an explosion on a secret base with nuclear implications, and,

There might be a global recession coming.


What do all these events mean?  Nothing really when taken individually, but when you start combining them, then the thriller writer in me starts to see all sorts of conspiracies and plotlines for stories.

For instance

Take that explosion in Russia, and the fact the word nuclear is attached to it, and then look at the massive power outage in the UK.  What if that site was a laboratory, working on small,  powerful bombs that can easily be carried, installed, in or around vital infrastructure, and in that quest for smaller and more powerful something goes wrong.

After all, isn’t that what testing is for?

And the fact there’s been one major event involving vital infrastructure, should we be looking for more?  Then there are a few problems with bombs being attached to tankers in the Hormuz Strait.  Does anyone see the potential for an apocalyptic event coming on?

Then there’s North Korea firing test missiles, and the US calling for more missiles to add to their arsenal.  Are they using North Korea as an excuse?  Or is there something more sinister going on with Chinese survey vessels in the South China Sea.  What if they’re not really survey vessels?

Then there’s a small matter of rising oil prices.  Whilst the same report might say that the rise is due to OPEC cutting output, there could be other reasons, such as the currency war that’s about to erupt, and will this pre-emp a global recession.  A good indicator to impending disaster, wars, and other maladies is the rising price of gold.

The gold market goes into overdrive when currency starts to lose value, recessions are coming or have arrived, or there is about to be a war, or there is one.  The US and China are facing off, the US and half the middle east is a disaster waiting to happen, and, hang on, but North Korea is being provocative, and in a late development, India and Pakistan are facing off over Kashmir.

Are we surprised people are turning to gold?

Maybe I should go back to doing the crossword, and ignoring the news.


“The Devil You Don’t” – A beta readers view

It could be said that of all the women one could meet, whether contrived or by sheer luck, what are the odds it would turn out to be the woman who was being paid a very large sum to kill you.

John Pennington is a man who may be lucky in business, but not so lucky in love. He has just broken up with Phillipa Sternhaven, the woman he thought was the one, but relatives and circumstances, and perhaps because she was a ‘princess’, may also have contributed to the end result.

So, what do you do when you are heartbroken?

That is a story that slowly unfolds, from the first meeting with his nemesis on Lake Geneva, all the way to a hotel room in Sorrento, where he learns the shattering truth.

What should have been a high turns out to be something else entirely, and from that point every thing goes to hell in a handbasket.

He suddenly realises his so-called friend Sebastian has not exactly told him the truth about a small job he asked him to do, the woman he is falling in love with is not quite who she says she is, and he is caught in the middle of a war between two men who consider people becoming collateral damage as part of their business.

The story paints the characters cleverly displaying all their flaws and weaknesses. The locations add to the story at times taking me back down memory lane, especially to Venice where in those back streets I confess it’s not all that hard to get lost.

All in all a thoroughly entertaining story with, for once, a satisfying end.

Available on Amazon here: