OMG, it’s Friday again

Someone, many years ago, told me that once you turned 65 the weeks just flew, you know, like when a day was a long time, days will seem like hours, weeks like days, and years, well, it’s like watching the time clock on a time machine.

That last week went really fast.

But…

I finally knuckled down and got some work done on the multitude of writing projects I’ve got going on.

I’ve recently been working on a story I’ve been calling ‘The helicopter story that’s been keeping me awake’, that got to the fifteenth episode, the end of what I now call part one, and as of the sixteenth episode is now under the ubiquitous title of ‘What happens after an action-packed start’.

Now written through to episode thirty, it starts on the third part and the climax of the story, and I may call it ‘What happens when you’re sent on a fool’s errand’.

The story will have three parts and will become a novella.  The title, “Under the Cover of Darkness”, and Part 1 is called “Crash Landing”.  More news on the other parts soon.

The latest episode is here:  http://bit.ly/2kr8X9Y

Another that I have been calling ‘I Always Wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt” was a whimsical idea that cropped up because I was stuck on an aeroplane, where the initial idea was formed, then home where it was a hot afternoon, and it reminded me of a desert island, just where you’d expect to find treasure.

Of course, the treasure isn’t on an island, it’s somewhere on the Florida coast, and there’s an intrepid adventurer who had the ‘real’ map, sought after by a variety of bad people.

It’s now rounded out into about thirty episodes, and there are more on the way.

The latest episode is here:  http://bit.ly/2JaJ9Ir

Last week I even began drawing up the treasure map, after all, you can’t have a treasure hunt without a map, can you?

Then there’s Betrayed, we maybe it will be called that.  It’s the third time I’ve put the title up for grabs, and it might not happen again.  It got to episode 16 when I found I had written myself into the proverbial corner, so a rewrite of the next three episodes put it back on track.

It’s in WW2, and the Germans are about to discover all is not going their way.

The latest episode is here:  http://bit.ly/32hFFeD

There is a fourth story, under the title “Was it just another surveillance job’ that has surprisingly found a new life, and I’m having fun trying to work out the lies from the truth, except in the spy business, no one ever really knows which is which,, do they?

And the latest episode is here:  http://bit.ly/2nVr6OX

Stay tuned for another progress report.

NaNoWriMo 2019, I’ve just put up my novel for this year

Nanowrimo graphic

As I have for the past few years, once again I’m going to try and put out 50,000 words.

The title of the novel will be “Betrayal”, though that might change as the novel progresses.  Sometimes a better title comes to me later on in the writing.

It’s another spy thriller, though with a slightly different angle this time, and I’ve spent the last few days working on an outline which is, to say the least, very general at the moment.

I know how it will start.

I know how it will end, or at least I think I do.  Having an end in mind is quite new for me because I tend to write and see where it goes, like being in the reader’s seat and not knowing what will happen next.

Over the next few days I will refine the cast of characters and then work on some of the introductory plot points.

Right now, as I’m writing this, I can see a rather dank prison cell somewhere in Moscow, where one of the main characters is languishing.

The other, in rather different circumstances, has just got through the throes of a semi amicable divorce and is considering how the next chapter of his life is going to be written.

That, of course, could change in the next twelve hours, after I’ve slept on it.

It’s now 2am here and time to get some sleep (or either pleasant or unpleasant dreams, depending on the character whose shoes I want to step into).

 

Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 21

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a 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 prioritising.

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

An unlikely ally?

 

“Wait.”

It seemed that I had managed to scare her.  Either that, or she had decided to be a little more forthcoming.  I stopped and waited until she caught up.  I was nearly at the top of the stairs.

“Look, I have to go back to my people, and I’ll get them to look into those two people you don’t seem to trust, who were they, Nobbin and Severin?”

“I don’t think you want to do that.  You start making waves, your people will send out feelers and they’ll get to hear about it, and they will know exactly where it came from, and it’ll come back and bite you.  For your own peace of mind, I’d let the sleeping dogs lie.”

She seemed over-eager to get ahead using this as a steppingstone.  I’d seen the type, in the training ranks, and in former jobs.  She was clearly assigned this job because of her looks, and she might be a good agent too, but she hadn’t thought this through.

“Are you telling me to back off?”

“I’m trying to save your life.  If I have no idea who to trust, then I have to assume both of them are theoretically the enemy.  I’m still counting the blessings I’m still alive, but I suspect that will only last until the USB is found.  The rest of my team are dead.”

Now that put the right amount of fear into her.

“If they’re willing to kill everybody that’s come in contact with this information, I doubt they’d stop at killing the both of us if we got in their way.”

“Then you have a plan?”

“At the moment that plan consists of one line.  Stay alive and find the USB before they do.  After that, I’ll see what happens.”

I caught sight of an incident, two people almost colliding, and one, I noticed, was more intent on his phone which is what caused the clash.  And, a second later, I thought I recognised one of the two.

Maury.  Severin’s offsider, and more likely cleanup man.  My guess, he was the one searching O’Connell’s flat, and Jan’.”

I think it was safe to say she was compromised.

“Ok,” I said quietly, “we have a problem, well two problems.”  And if I was wrong about her, and she was one of Severin’s people, which, seeing Maury just turned a probable into a likely, I had three.

If she was, I hadn’t seen that coming. 

“What now?”

Time to test the water.

“One of Severin’s men is downstairs, mingling, which means he knows I’m here, and maybe you two.”

I did a quick check of my scan of O’Connell’s, thinking I might have picked up a bug.  It was the only explanation why Maury was here.  And, it was likely he was not alone.

Not me.  Jan?

“Did you take anything from O’Connell’s?”

“No.  Why?”

“Are you sure.  Think”

While scanning the lower floor of the station looking, no doubt, for Maury, and anyone that might present a problem, she looked like she was recounting her steps.

“Damn.  A pen.  I left it there the last time I saw him.”  She pulled it out of her bag and went to toss it in the bin.

I snatched it, and as someone brushed past me, I dropped it into their pocket.

A flash of annoyance, then, “Hey, that cost a lot of money.”

“Then be grateful it didn’t cost you your life.  Yet.”

We waited, keeping far enough back from the stairs, but with still a good view of the station.  I kept an eye on the man whom I gave the pen as he made his way across the floor towards one of the platforms.  Luckily it was at the furthest end, and as he approached it, I saw three figures, and Maury slowly make their way towards him forming a blockade so he couldn’t escape.

“Time to go.”

She had noticed the movement too.

We went down the stairs and headed towards the first available exit.  As we were going out the door, we heard a commotion, the team obviously apprehending the wrong man, who would be wondering why four burly men were accosting him on his way home.

We didn’t wait to find out what happened to him.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 30

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

Was this going to be the very definition of dining with the devil?

Or was my curiosity going to be the death of me?

It was just one of a dozen questions I asked myself on that trip back to Nadia’s room.  One reason I was going there was not in the expectation of a romantic interlude.  No, this was something else.  I kept reminding myself that Nadia was, first and foremost, a Cossatino, and the Cossatino’s were not people you wanted to be friends with.

When we arrived, she asked for a few minutes so she could change, so I stayed out on the balcony.  It was a coolish night, a clear sky, and just a hint of salt in the air.  We were not far from the ocean, and it reminded me of another lifetime, one where I was young enough not to have to worry about all that grown-up stuff.

I heard the door open behind me.

“Thanks for waiting.”

I turned, not sure what I was expecting.  Certainly not a statuesque woman in training gear.  She looked to me ready to go for a training run.

I walked past her into the room, faintly smelling of some perfume, and sat in one of the two chairs in the room.  I watched her close the door, go over to the mini bar, get two bottles of beer out, and hand one to me.

It was an odd thought, being in a hotel room with Nadia, the last thing I’d ever be doing with her, let alone any other woman.  My choices had always been limited, or so I had thought.

“I had this thought,” she said, leaning against the desk on the opposite side of the room, “that we should try and beat Vince at his own game.”

An interesting thought, was Nadia thinking of joining in Boggs’s treasure hunt, take it over, or was this a ruse, and had she been working with Vince all this time, and using us to get to the prize by another route.  Or was it a rivalry with Vince that she wanted to win?  Wasn’t it Boggs’s call who joined the expedition?

“We as in you and me, or we as in Boggs and you, or…”

“You’re overthinking it Smidge.”

“A word of advice, Nadia, if you’re trying to appeal to my good side, you might consider dropping the nickname.  Only the people I hate use it, and I’m sure you don’t want me to add you to the list.”

Not necessarily warranted, and in my younger days I’d never dare to speak to her like that, but I felt I had the upper hand, at least for a short time.

“OK.  Note to self, call Smidge Sam.  Old habits are hard to break.”

In more ways than one, I thought. 

“Well, overthinking it or not, it’s not my call to make.  I’m assuming you want to join in on Boggs’s treasure hunt?”

“That was the idea.”

“You’re assuming that Boggs actually has the real map, or, in fact, there is such a thing.  You have to remember that his father created all those maps, and it wouldn’t be hard to make one look more authentic than another, just to get a better price.  Everything to do with the treasure seems to me like it’s one big hoax.”

“If that was the case, why do you think Vince is so wound up about it?  My point is, Vince is simply all muscle and no brains.  He always has been, so you have to assume that my grandfather has decided there’s something in the rumours.  Granted he may have been working in league with Boogs senior, but don’t you think that in order to create forgeries, there had to be some sort of map to work from.”

An interesting premise.

“If it led to treasure on an island in the Wast Indies, I’d be more likely to believe in it, but here, a million miles from any of the pirate trading routes, and having a deep abiding disbelieve in hidden treasure still not recovered in this day and age, what do you think?”

“Does Boggs’s know about your scepticism?”

“I’ve told him enough times, but he has this bee in his bonnet, and I’m his best friend, probably his only friend.  I humour him.  And I doubt seriously if he’ll ever go through with it, because he’s never finished anything in his life.  He gave me a copy of the map, but I suspect that was a copy of the one he gave Vince in the end.

“So, you think it’s not a worthwhile exercise?”

“What I think doesn’t matter.  But I’ve got a question for you.  Why have you come back here?”

“What if I told you it’s possible that the treasure is real.”

“I’d say you’ve been indulging in the drugs your family pedals.”

“What if I said I had proof?”

OK, where is this going?  Did that mean she had proof, or that the Cossatino’s had proof, and was she about to open a can of worms?

“I’m listening.”

“That man that you found dead on Rico’s boat.  His name was Jacob Stravinsky.  He was an authority on pirates and their lost treasure, and had over the years, uncovered evidence that pirates had come here supposedly fleeing from the authorities, and that at least two of them could have hidden some of their treasure somewhere along this coastline.  News of the discovery of several gold coins off the coast, not ten miles from here somehow caught Ales Benderby’s ear and he went to visit him.

“No one is sure what happened at that meeting, but I know Alex was there because that’s where I ran into him.  And, the fool that he is, got drunk and told me, no bragged about how he was going to find the treasure and prove his worth to his father.”

“Then how did this Stravinsky end up dead on Rico’s boat.”

“Because Alex got what he wanted and made sure no one else found out.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

“The Things We Do For Love” – Coming soon

Is love the metaphorical equivalent to ‘walking the plank’; a dive into uncharted waters?

For Henry the only romance he was interested in was a life at sea, and when away from it, he strived to find sanctuary from his family and perhaps life itself.  It takes him to a small village by the sea, s place he never expected to find another just like him, Michelle, whom he soon discovers is as mysterious as she is beautiful.

Henry had long since given up the notion of finding romance, and Michelle couldn’t get involved for reasons she could never explain, but in the end both acknowledge that something happened the moment they first met.  

Plans were made, plans were revised, and hopes were shattered.

A chance encounter causes Michelle’s past to catch up with her, and whatever hope she had of having a normal life with Henry, or anyone else, is gone.  To keep him alive she has to destroy her blossoming relationship, an act that breaks her heart and shatters his.

But can love conquer all?

It takes a few words of encouragement from an unlikely source to send Henry and his friend Radly on an odyssey into the darkest corners of the red light district in a race against time to find and rescue the woman he finally realizes is the love of his life.

The cover, at the moment, looks like this:

lovecoverfinal1

A matter of life and … what’s worse than death? – Episode 21

For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.

Whilst I have always had a fascination in what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.

And, so, it continues…

 

Chiara knew the moment she told Martina that one of the Germans was dead, she would be in trouble.  Not only from the resistance but from the British or whoever they were, up at the castle.

The man’s name was Eric Carmichael, and he was a nice man, more of a boy really, having not suffered the full effects of a front line.  He wanted to, but the Gods, as he called them, were against it.

Now he was dead.

He had come to the farm, told she was not there and had left again.  The pity of it, on any other occasion, nothing would have happened.  Nobody went out at night, so no one knew of their association.

Of course, if he did tell her anything, which he hadn’t so far, she would pass it on to Martina.  And, perhaps the only annoying thing about him was that he kept asking about the resistance as if it was still operational.  It was one of the reasons who Martina kept her at arm’s length, so she had nothing useful to tell them if they took her in for questioning.

Now it was a matter of seeing if he had told anyone about this affair, and if he did, she would not be safe at the farm.  It was why she was in hiding, waiting, and watching to see if anyone came.

Along with Carlo, and the new man, Atherton.

Not far from where the soldier’s body lay in the ditch, one that no one had yet found.

Until now.

A car was coming along the road quite fast, heading towards her farm.  Atherton recognised it as one of the staff cars from the castle, and as it slowed to turn the corner, Atherton could see it contained three men, the driver, and the two men who had followed him down the stream.

Suddenly the car skidded to a stop.  All three got out and went over to the ditch.  The driver had seen the bicycle.

 

It was an interesting conversation.

“The fool looks like he run off the side of the road and into a tree, fell off and hit his dead on the rocks.”

It was the man who had set me free.  I’d recognise him anywhere.

“Or maybe some ‘innocent bystander’ shoved a wrench in the wheel and he went over the handlebars.”

The big man turned to him.  “You have a story that implicates every member of the enemy population, don’t you?  Where’s the wrench?”

“They could have tossed it away or thrown it into the bushes.”

“The kid’s an idiot.  He was out for some fun and had his mind everywhere but on the job.  If she’s that tempting, maybe I’ll go and have a look in myself.”

The driver took a closer look, then suddenly bolted for the bushes and threw up.  I’d expected more seasoned soldiers in the group of paratroopers, but maybe they were late recruits with only half the training, and barely out of school.  He didn’t look all that old.  Neither had the lad in the ditch.

The tall guy yelled out, “when you finish puking, get over here and help us get him into the car.  Then we’ll meander down to this farm.”

 

Carlo knew a quicker way across the country to their farm.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what he was intending to do.

Three fewer Germans, three fewer problems.

I followed, trying to keep up.

“You got weapons hidden away?”

“Several rifles and a handgun.”

“It’ll do.  When we get there, you say out of sight.  Me and the new laddie here will take care of them.”

A look in my direction told me I’d just been recruited into the killing force.  Exactly what I’d been hoping to avoid.  I guess it was time to make a stand.

A few minutes later we were in the large shed out the rear of the farmhouse, retrieved the rifles, of which one was a sniper rifle, a rather interesting trophy, and not the sort of gun any soldier would leave lying around.

I was tempted to ask where she got but decided against it.  I had an awful feeling the previous owner had met a gruesome if not a sticky end.  Chiara was not just a pretty face.

“You know what to do with this thing?” Carlo said, holding it out in my direction.

“Vaguely, but I think I can manage.”

With it was a carton of shells, rather long and ugly and very deadly, even at long range.  But this time, we were not that far from the target area so wind and external conditions would not be a factor.

Also, I was hoping the sight had been calibrated.

After getting a feel for the weapon I took up a position on top of some hay bales and could see through a large enough crack when I put the barrel, and stretching out, found a comfortable position, and aimed for the back door.

It was like putting out my hand and touching it.  This was going to kick like a mule on the recoil, but I would only have time to worry about reloading for the next target.  Then I realised the driver might be a problem, especially when the shooting started, so I swivelled around to the back end of the house where a vehicle might come, and, saw the blue, altered the sight, and then saw the car approaching slowly.

I was hoping it would remain in sight, so if anything happened, I would be able to pick him off.  It would be all that much harder if he managed to try driving away.

I tracked the car to the point where it stopped, just pat the corner, with only the back half displayed in my sight.

Damn.

In the distance, we heard two car doors slam shut.

The driver was staying put.

Double damn.

A minute later we could hear pounding on the front door, then nothing.  My guess, they kicked in the front door.  There was no one at home, Chiara’s parents were away because they had no crops in the ground.  Their problem was water, and the river was running low this year.  Aside from the fact they were not going to feed the enemy soldiers who would simply take everything and give them nothing in return.

I heard rather than saw Carlo stiffen and resight the back door.  His shots would be far more difficult than mine.

The tall man came out the back door, stood on the ground not far from the door, his head filling my scope.

“Now,” Carlo said softly.

A pull of the trigger and the man’s head exploded, at just the same time as the other man came out.  A reload and another shot.  I missed the head, winged him, and Carlo finished him off.  Once shot at an impossible range.

Another reload, and swivel towards the car, now reversing, and making it very hard to see his face or body to get a clear shot.  Back, around and driving off, in a panic.  He’d heard the two shots.

“The fuel,” Carlo said, “shoot the fuel.”

I lined up where I thought the fuel tank was and squeezed the trigger.

Almost instantaneously the car exploded in a ball of fire.  Just under my line of sight, Carlo was running.  If the driver escaped…

I put the scope on Carli and then to the side.  I saw him raise his gun and fire twice.  The drive must have miraculously thrown clear of the car, only to find himself in Carlo’s sights.

Chiara had appeared behind me.  “We have to go,” she said.

I picked up the gun and took it with me.  It could come in handy later on.

Carlo was already heading back to the shortcut through the woods and we met him on the path about twenty yards along.

“That’s going to stir up a hornet’s nest,” he said.

More than that, I thought.  Now Johannsson knew he had a real problem.  There would be a price to pay for this exercise, and the villagers were the ones who would be paying it.

 

© Charles Heath 2019