Writing about writing a book – Day 2

Hang about.  Didn’t I read somewhere you need to plan your novel, create an outline setting the plot points, and flesh out the characters?

I’m sure it didn’t say, sit down and start writing!

Time to find a writing pad, and put my thinking cap on.

I make a list, what’s the story going to be about? Who’s going to be in it, at least at the start?

Like a newspaper story, I need a who, what, when, where, and how.

Right now.

 

I pick up the pen.

 

Character number one:

Computer nerd, ok, that’s a little close to the bone, a computer manager who is trying to be everything at once, and failing.  Still me, but with a twist.  Now, add a little mystery to him, and give him a secret, one that will only be revealed after a specific set of circumstance.  Yes, I like that.

We’ll call him Bill, ex-regular army, a badly injured and repatriated soldier who was sent to fight a war in Vietnam, the result of which had made him, at times, unfit to live with.

He had a wife, which brings us to,

Character number two:

Ellen, Bill’s ex-wife, an army brat and a General’s daughter, and the result of one of those romances that met disapproval for so many reasons.  It worked until Bill came back from the war, and from there it slowly disintegrated.  There are two daughters, both by the time the novel begins, old enough to understand the ramifications of a divorce.

Character number three:

The man who is Bill’s immediate superior, the Services Department manager, a rather officious man who blindly follows orders, a man who takes pleasure in making others feel small and insignificant, and worst of all, takes the credit where none is due.

Oops, too much, that is my old boss.  He’ll know immediately I’m parodying him.  Tone it down, just a little, but more or less that’s him.  Last name Benton.  He will play a small role in the story.

Character number four:

Jennifer, the IT Department’s assistant manager, a woman who arrives in a shroud of mystery, and then, in time, to provide Bill with a shoulder to cry on when he and Ellen finally split, and perhaps something else later on.

More on her later as the story unfolds.

So far so good.

What’s the plot?

Huge corporation plotting to take over the world using computers?  No, that’s been done to death.

Huge corporation, OK, let’s stop blaming the corporate world for everything wrong in the world.  Corporations are not bad people, people are the bad people.  That’s a rip off cliché, from guns don’t kill people, people kill people!  There will be guns, and there will be dead people.

There will be people hiding behind a huge corporation, using a part of their computer network to move billions of illegally gained money around.  That’s better.

Now, having got that, our ‘hero’ has to ‘discover’ this network, and the people behind it.

All we need now is to set the ball rolling, a single event that ‘throws a cat among the pigeons’.

Yes, Bill is on holidays, a welcome relief from the problems of work.  He dreams of what he’s going to do for the next two weeks.  The phone rings.  Benton calling, the world is coming to an end, the network is down.  He’s needed.  A few terse words, but he relents.

Pen in hand I begin to write.

 

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Searching for locations: Auckland, New Zealand – Another city that has a tower

Nearly every city has a high building, a tower, or a large Ferris wheel.

London had the London eye
Paris has the Eiffel tower
The Galata in Istanbul
The CN Tower in Toronto
The towers of San Gimignano
Pisa has a leaning tower

We’ve managed to see all of the above bar the Galata in Istanbul.  One day we might get there.

But, on this side of the world, there are two, the Sydney Tower, and the Sky Tower in Auckland, which we just visited recently.

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It’s not a tall tower, but it definitely gives great vies of Auckland, particularly to the north

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The mountain in the background at the top of the photo is of a volcano on Rangitoto Island.  When we were visiting, there were reports that it might become active again.

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To give a height perspective, it didn’t seem all that far down to the apartment building and gardens nearby.

The cinema of my dreams – It all started in Venice – Episode 14

Larry has a plan

I watched Juliet head back towards the hotel, joining the throng of tourists out walking in the refreshing night air before going back to their hotels.

The walk along the grand canal was particularly good and I’d taken it more than once over the years.  Perhaps I would again, tonight, before retiring to contemplate the next move in what was becoming a chess game.

Why had Larry decided after all this time to come after me?  And why the softly softly approach?  In bringing up Kerry’s mother in the conversation, it gave me the idea that perhaps I could ask her.

Of course given the fractious nature of the relationship between her and her son she might not know, but it was worth calling her if only to touch base after so long.  I was sure she would know about what happened to Violetta and understand.

Just before she disappeared from sight I could see her answering a call on her cell phone.  No doubt Larry was looking for more information after the revelations she had relayed to him.

Doing what I had was the equivalent of a double-edged sword, as the saying goes.  On the one hand, he might consider her had the advantage of knowing when and where I was going, but on the other, I knew he would be waiting, and therefore be prepared, though often preparation counted for nothing with unpredictable people like him.

Still, it was done now.  It also threw up another interesting sidebar, that Juliet didn’t like Cecilia if only for the reason she was with me.  Was it jealousy?  Surely she could not still have any feelings for me after all this time, and what she had gone through?

But, in normal circumstances, had she not been involved in this charade, and I had accidentally run into her in the street, what might my feelings be?  They had been all over the place that last time, following a near-death experience, and when my service was in its infancy.  It was a time when a lot of young agents got caught up in the euphoria of action, and some made fatal mistakes.

I had used one of my nine lives then, and several more since, before retiring.  I had never intended to return, but circumstances change, and whatever I may have wanted might have to take a back seat until this matter was sorted.  Then Rodby would make his play, as he always had, citing the losing battle we faced without people like me steering the ship in the right direction.

He was great with analogies, and praise, and putting you in a position where saying no was almost a crime against the state.  A bridge I would have to cross eventually.

The restaurant was closing for the night and a waiter came to gently tell us to leave.  It wasn’t late, but it was time to go.

I didn’t get far before a message appeared on my phone, a rendezvous outside the Doges Palace.  Alfie no doubt had the gist of the incoming call Juliet received not a half-hour before.

He was loitering inconspicuously when I found him, pretending to have an animated conversation with someone on the other end of his cell phone, speaking and gesturing as all Italians seemed to do.

He waved when he saw me, then wound up the fictitious call.

“Perhaps you should also be in the movies.  That was a very eloquent performance.”

He smiled.  “It wouldn’t fool too many people.”

“Is this about Juliet’s call?”

He looked surprised.

“I saw her get a call after she left me to go back to the hotel.”

“Of course.  And, yes.  He seems very upset you called him a moron.”

“If the shoe fits…  Don’t tell me he rang her just to vent over me calling him names.”

“No.  Just to tell her where and when she had to take you to your impending doom.  Seems the wait is over, and since you announced you’re going to visit his mother, he thought it was a perfect opportunity.”

I thought later, after I mentioned it, that it might present him with the means, and to use Juliet of who I would not suspect of luring me into a trap.  It was, in a way, on his part, very clever.

“What was her response?”

“A few choices words, and the fact she was not that close she could make such a request.”

“And let me guess, if she wants to see her brother again, come up with a plan?”

“More or less.  Do you really want to do this, this way?”

“Forewarned is forearmed.  It’s better than going in blind.  Is Cecilia a trained sniper?”

Many years ago Rodby insisted all his agents be trained to the highest proficiency in using a wide variety of guns.  I was in the first intake to benefit, and I had to say, sniper work was the best.

“She is.”

“Then I’ll talk to her. And get her there ahead of time, you too if possible, unless your operating Rodby’s chessboard in Italy.”

“No, I can take time out.  But I insist we have a solid plan before doing this.  No ad hoc, spur-of-the-moment stuff that Rodby tells me you’re famous for.”

Sometimes it was the only way, because the more people who knew, the less chance of success, particularly if there was a foreign mole in your midst.

“You’ll know everything as soon as I do.  Trust me.”

His look told me she did everything but trust me.  “You think you might get a visit in the night?”

“Should I sleep with Cecilia just to make it more interesting?”

“She’s not your personal toy to play with.”

“Wasn’t going to.  It’s just to make Juliet edgier, which, if she saw Cecilia in her pajamas, might push a button and catches her off guard.”

“It’s your call.  Let me know when the plan is set.”

Another thought came to mind, something I’d been thinking about.  “We don’t know where Larry has the bother holed up?  As I understand it, his on a video link so it’s not out in the wide-open spaces.”

“Not at the moment, but we’re working on it.  If it’s relevant I’ll let you know.  It would give us an advantage if we had him, but at the moment, it’s not on the table.  If and when you meet up with  Larry, he will be asking you a lot of questions.

And, as if he hadn’t been there at all, he was gone.  What was worrying was the reappearance of the Frenchman, nearby, and it was clear he had been following either me or Juliet.  There was no doubt he’d seen me with Alfie, but since the whole conversation had been conducted in Italian, it was hard to tell what he would have made of it.

Time would tell.  I would take a walk, consider the options and then go back to the hotel.

© Charles Heath 2022

After the anger, the serenity

I wanted to write a bit about how my day was going, and then I got angry.  It was a slow fuse because most of what I was angry about I’d been reading this morning.

And, yes, it’s about political leaders, those in power and those in opposition, and how inept they are in a crisis.

Listening to our opposition leader, briefly before I turned him off to watch a rerun of McHale’s Navy, it annoyed me that he had no answers to offer, only criticism.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone in the world.

Political leaders tended to blame everyone else for problems of their own making, whether it was when they were once in power, which happens a lot, or once they’re in opposition, conveniently forgetting they, too, hoped that by ignoring the problem, it might go away.

Or that the long-suffering public will have forgotten.  That’s why we have pugnacious journalists who remember for us.

The incompetence of the people who are supposedly in charge beggars belief.

Oh, God, I’m back on my soapbox.

Forgive me.

I’ll shut up about it now.

I’m trying to imagine what it’s like in the cold because it’s the height of summer here.  It’s not helping my imagination,  so let’s try…

It’s cold today, about 14 degrees Celsius, when it’s usually 27 degrees Celsius.  The sun is letting us down, and I suppose I should be grateful that we are not suffering from an ice age.

To be honest, I was seriously considering lighting the log fire.  Instead, we have reverse cycle air-conditioning, which is probably, in the long run, cheaper.

Have you seen how much it costs to buy wood?

But…

That could have made it difficult to write.

Not to come up with inspiration, but literally write, because my office is colder than a chiller room.  My beer in storage out here is colder than it is in the fridge.  Well, that sounded better in my head than on paper, but you get what I mean.

So, instead of writing, I sat down and binge-watched Sweet Magnolias, a light-hearted series from Netflix, which is of the same vein as Chesapeake Shores, etc, and more the sort of program I’d expect from Hallmark.

It was good.  It hooked me.

Three sets of lives intertwined in a large town in middle America perhaps.  I heard Charleston mentioned so perhaps it was in South Carolina.

The good thing about it?  Not one mention of political stupidity.

Just good old-fashioned heartache and trials and tribulations of trying to live your life, bumping up against the obstacles life throws up at you.

The town was called Serenity, so there’s a pun in there somewhere.

Maybe I’ll get some writing done tomorrow.

It’s all about how you are going to ‘sell’ your book

There’s the cover, and, of course, the description.

Probably one of the hardest things for a first-time author is not so much the writing but what is needed after the book is written.

You need a good description.  Short, sharp, incisive!

There’s a ream of advice out there, and I have read it all.

And, still, I got it wrong.

Then there is the cover.

I wanted simplistic, a short description to give the reader a taste of what’s in store, and let the story speak for itself.

No.

Apparently, a good cover will attract the reader to the book.

When I tendered my books on various sites to advertise them, sites such as Goodreads, and ThirdScribe, all was well with what I had done.

Then I submitted my books to a third site and they rejected the covers as too simplistic and the descriptions mundane, and wouldn’t post them.

Wow.

There’s a huge blow to the ego.  And just the sort of advice that would make a writer think twice about even bothering to continue.

But…

Perhaps the person who wrote that critique was being cruel to be kind.

At any rate, I am changing the covers, and rewording the descriptions.

Will it be a case of ‘what a difference a cover makes’?

This, in one case, is the old cover,

And this is the new.

In a word: Top

Spinning like a …  yes, had a few of those dizzy spells, especially after too much to drink.  It’s where you say, ‘stop the world, I want to get off’.

And, ages ago, I think it was a musical production.

But…

Top, well there’s sides, a bottom, and a top.  Have you been to the top of the world, I think I’ve been to the bottom, and it’s not the poles I’m talking about.

But then the top of something is the highest point, such as a mountain.  For some odd reason, I’ve never had the inclination to climb to the top of a mountain, but I’m guessing the view from the top of Mt Everest would be interesting.

Are you at the top of your game?

We say this when a player, or athlete, is winning or playing at their best.  I just keep hoping this year will be when the Maple Leafs will be playing at the top of their game.

Especially when I personally attend at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

If you read thrillers then you’ll know the assassin is always about to top someone, that is to say, kill them.

Will you top up my drink?  It’s where someone asks you how many glasses of wine you’ve had, and the correct answer is one, it just never got empty!

Can you put the top back on the bottle?

I’m headed straight to the top of the company.  The roof maybe, certainly not as CEO.

Top gear, aside from being a motoring show on TV, it could also be third, fourth, of fifth gear, depending on the type of gearbox.

And, of course, there are about another hundred ways it could be used.

Confusing?  to say the least.

Have you another?  Let me know…

Inspiration, maybe – Volume 1

50 photographs, 50 stories, of which there is one of the 50 below.

They all start with –

A picture paints … well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

lookingdownfromcoronetpeak

And the story:

It was once said that a desperate man has everything to lose.

The man I was chasing was desperate, but I, on the other hand, was more desperate to catch him.

He’d left a trail of dead people from one end of the island to the other.

The team had put in a lot of effort to locate him, and now his capture was imminent.  We were following the car he was in, from a discrete distance, and, at the appropriate time, we would catch up, pull him over, and make the arrest.

There was nowhere for him to go.

The road led to a dead-end, and the only way off the mountain was back down the road were now on.  Which was why I was somewhat surprised when we discovered where he was.

Where was he going?

“Damn,” I heard Alan mutter.  He was driving, being careful not to get too close, but not far enough away to lose sight of him.

“What?”

“I think he’s made us.”

“How?”

“Dumb bad luck, I’m guessing.  Or he expected we’d follow him up the mountain.  He’s just sped up.”

“How far away?”

“A half-mile.  We should see him higher up when we turn the next corner.”

It took an eternity to get there, and when we did, Alan was right, only he was further on than we thought.”

“Step on it.  Let’s catch him up before he gets to the top.”

Easy to say, not so easy to do.  The road was treacherous, and in places just gravel, and there were no guard rails to stop a three thousand footfall down the mountainside.

Good thing then I had the foresight to have three agents on the hill for just such a scenario.

Ten minutes later, we were in sight of the car, still moving quickly, but we were going slightly faster.  We’d catch up just short of the summit car park.

Or so we thought.

Coming quickly around another corner we almost slammed into the car we’d been chasing.

“What the hell…” Aland muttered.

I was out of the car, and over to see if he was in it, but I knew that it was only a slender possibility.  The car was empty, and no indication where he went.

Certainly not up the road.  It was relatively straightforward for the next mile, at which we would have reached the summit.  Up the mountainside from here, or down.

I looked up.  Nothing.

Alan yelled out, “He’s not going down, not that I can see, but if he did, there’s hardly a foothold and that’s a long fall.”

Then where did he go?

Then a man looking very much like our quarry came out from behind a rock embedded just a short distance up the hill.

“Sorry,” he said quite calmly.  “Had to go if you know what I mean.”

I’d lost him.

It was as simple as that.

I had been led a merry chase up the hill, and all the time he was getting away in a different direction.

I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book, letting my desperation blind me to the disguise that anyone else would see through in an instant.

It was a lonely sight, looking down that road, knowing that I had to go all that way down again, only this time, without having to throw caution to the wind.

“Maybe next time,” Alan said.

“We’ll get him.  It’s just a matter of time.”

© Charles Heath 2019-2021

Find this and other stories in “Inspiration, maybe”  available soon.

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The cinema of my dreams – I never wanted to go to Africa – Episode 20

Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy, if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.

Now, it appears, his problems stem from another operation he participated in.

Lallo gave me a minute or two to read what amounted to two lines, that my co-operation was expected, and to be given.  It wasn’t exactly addressed to me personally, but a blanket authorization to interview anyone involved in that operation.

I handed the letter back, but not before I noticed it had been unfolded and refolded several times as if it had been used before.  Had Lallo already interrogated Treen, the only other survivor?

Lallo’s first question: “Do you know who was responsible for organising that operation?”

It was rather an odd question, asking a Sergeant who was assigned at the last minute.

“Look, at the time I was assigned to non-combat duties, not as an on-call commando.  I was a late replacement for the member of the team who had to withdraw due to an accident. I was simply ordered to join the team at the airfield.  Given the results, I’m hoping whoever it was that organized and authorized that operation got the bollicking they deserved.”

I had been annoyed at the time, but I’d got over it.  In keeping with a lot of the operations I’d been involved with; very few had a successful outcome, but usually with fewer casualties.

He gave me a sidelong glance, close to an admonishment.  “Just stick to the facts when answering questions.  The other survivor was Lieutenant Treen, correct?”

Not a happy man was the Lieutenant.  Not happy that the operation was changed at the last minute or the fact the odds had been stacked against us, and not happy I’d been flown in as a replacement what he regarded as his personal group.

“Yes.”

“Are you aware he requested an investigation into that operation?”

It came as no surprise.  On the flight over, he had expressed more than one concern about the lack of intelligence and what the real situation was like on the ground.

“No.”

“Were you aware that a week ago Lieutenant Treen was found dead in his quarters, from an apparent suicide?”

Treen if anything was a soldier’s soldier, and the last man to contemplate suicide for any reason.  Surviving, just, that botched operation would not be a catalyst for such an event for such a man.

“No.”

“Odd then, don’t you think, you are nearly sent to your death the day after?”

If that was the case, and on the face of it, it seemed so, that wasn’t the only oddity about this whole affair.  I remembered the date of the General’s letter, the one telling me to be co-operative. It was the day before Treen’s suicide.

I didn’t think it was a coincidence?

It was quite clear someone didn’t want the General or whoever Lallo was working for, to question the last two survivors.

The question now was: what did we know, or what they thought we knew that was so important, that silencing us was necessary.

And would ‘they’ try again?

© Charles Heath 2019-2022

The first case of PI Walthenson – “A Case of Working With the Jones Brothers”

This case has everything, red herrings, jealous brothers, femme fatales, and at the heart of it all, greed.

See below for an excerpt from the book…

Coming soon!

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An excerpt from the book:

When Harry took the time to consider his position, a rather uncomfortable position at that, he concluded that he was somehow involved in another case that meant very little to him.

Not that it wasn’t important in some way he was yet to determine, it was just that his curiosity had got the better of him, and it had led to this: sitting in a chair, securely bound, waiting for someone one of his captors had called Doug.

It was not the name that worried him so much, it was the evil laugh that had come after the name was spoken.

Doug what? Doug the ‘destroyer’, Doug the ‘dangerous’, Doug the ‘deadly’; there was any number of sinister connotations, and perhaps that was the point of the laugh, to make it more frightening than it was.

But there was no doubt about one thing in his mind right then: he’d made a mistake. A very big. and costly, mistake. Just how big the cost, no doubt he would soon find out.

His mother, and his grandmother, the wisest person he had ever known, had once told him never to eavesdrop.

At the time he couldn’t help himself and instead of minding his own business, listening to a one-sided conversation which ended with a time and a place. The very nature of the person receiving the call was, at the very least, sinister, and, because of the cryptic conversation, there appeared to be, or at least to Harry, criminal activity involved.

For several days he had wrestled with the thought of whether he should go. Stay on the fringe, keep out of sight, observe and report to the police if it was a crime. Instead, he had willingly gone down the rabbit hole.

Now, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, several heat lamps hanging over his head, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry’s fear was at the highest level.

Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied, literally, it made it impossible to clear it. The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament. He cursed and then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence. It was to no avail.

Let the stinging sensation be a reminder of what was right and what was wrong.

It was obvious that it was the right place and the right time, but in considering his current perilous situation, it definitely was the wrong place to be, at the worst possible time.

It was meant to be his escape, an escape from the generations of lawyers, what were to Harry, dry, dusty men who had been in business since George Washington said to the first Walthenson to step foot on American soil, ‘Why don’t you become a lawyer?” when asked what he could do for the great man.

Or so it was handed down as lore, though Harry didn’t think Washington meant it literally, the Walthenson’s, then as now, were not shy of taking advice.

Except, of course, when it came to Harry.

He was, Harry’s father was prone to saying, the exception to every rule. Harry guessed his father was referring to the fact his son wanted to be a Private Detective rather than a dry, dusty lawyer. Just the clothes were enough to turn Harry off the profession.

So, with a little of the money Harry inherited from one of his aunts, he leased an office in Gramercy Park and had it renovated to look like the Sam Spade detective agency, you know the one, Spade and Archer, and The Maltese Falcon.

There’s a movie and a book by Dashiell Hammett if you’re interested.

So, there it was, painted on the opaque glass inset of the front door, ‘Harold Walthenson, Private Detective’.

There was enough money to hire an assistant, and it took a week before the right person came along, or, more to the point, didn’t just see his business plan as something sinister. Ellen, a tall cool woman in a long black dress, or so the words of a song in his head told him, fitted in perfectly.

She’d seen the movie, but she said with a grin, Harry was no Humphrey Bogart.

Of course not, he said, he didn’t smoke.

Three months on the job, and it had been a few calls, no ‘real’ cases, nothing but missing animals, and other miscellaneous items. What he really wanted was a missing person. Or perhaps a beguiling, sophisticated woman who was as deadly as she was charming, looking for an errant husband, perhaps one that she had already ‘dispatched’.

Or for a tall, dark and handsome foreigner who spoke in riddles and in heavily accented English, a spy, or perhaps an assassin, in town to take out the mayor. The man was such an imbecile Harry had considered doing it himself.

Now, in a back room of a disused warehouse, that wishful thinking might be just about to come to a very abrupt end, with none of the romanticized trappings of the business befalling him. No beguiling women, no sinister criminals, no stupid policemen.

Just a nasty little man whose only concern was how quickly or how slowly Harry’s end was going to be.

© Charles Heath 2019

The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 32

What does it say when you can’t trust the man in charge?

The Admiral was looking tired, possibly the result of being woken, yet again, in the dead hours of the night.

Out in space, we should be keeping earth time, in fact, we probably were, but I didn’t think to check before calling.

The matter was urgent, or at least I thought it was.

I’d just relayed the events leading up to the attack and the result. For some odd reason I didn’t think he looked pleased.

“I sent two shuttles over and they’ve confirmed 11 fatalities and one escapee who transported to the larger ship moments before the attack. I told them to set a geosychronous orbit around the moon coronas until you work out what you want to do with them. Their systems have been encrypted, so they can’t be resurrected.”

“And the base?”

“We understand it’s beneath the surface of the moon, accessible only by transporter. Our physist says she knows where the plutonium is.”

“I take it there are people down there?”

“Skeleton staff. It’s a new base, recently built, but we don’t know its purpose.”

“Definitely not alien then?”

“Unless the criminal world has made the first contact before us, and if they have, it can’t be for the betterment of mankind.”

I was no expert but at that moment I got the distinct impression that the Admiral was hiding something, or had information that might be useful to us.

Until now I hadn’t had time to think about all the events leading up to this point in time, but somewhere in the back of my mind, it had been processing everything that had happened, to do with the ship and even before that.

And the question that leapt out was, why me?

What was the compelling reason to appoint me as first officer to this particular ship at this particular time? I had no doubt there were a hundred others equally or better qualified than I was, and yet, my name was pulled out of the hat, and I could remember distinctly the captain of the ship I’d been completing my training, as surprised as I was that I’d been selected.

Them, out of left field, a memory came back, one o had tried to bury very deep, of an incident no one could explain, let alone comprehend because it was as if it never happened. I had no proof, and there was no one else left alive to corroborate what I believed to be the facts.

Solar stress, it had been called. The psychiatrist who handled the debriefing told me it was nothing more than an over-active imagination, fuelled by overwork, sleep deprivation, and the deaths of my family members on an outpost on the moon when I’d been visiting them.

That diagnosis alone should have prevented my appointment, and yet here I was.

“Then it’s no longer your problem. We’ll take it from here. There’s a ship on its way. Your mission is to proceed as planned.”

“And the other ship that fled? I’m sure they’re no to going to just forgive and forget.”

“The chances are they will. Now they know you have superior firepower, and the speed to hunt them down, they will not be coming back for a second encounter. If you do come across them, you can deal with them as you wish, but that is not the priority. You have your orders.”

The screen went blank.

Yes, he was definitely hiding something.

© Charles Heath 2021