What happens after the action-packed start – Part 23

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.


“As I understand it, you were to fly to the drop off point about two miles from the abandoned farm where the operatives were hiding, and not far from the farm, where a group of enemy soldiers had set up camp.  The plan was one team was to create a diversion, while the other rescued the operatives.”

It sounded quite simple and equally workable when said out loud, now.

But, at the time and on the ground, nothing could be further from the truth.  It had sounded equally simple when we discussed the final plan before we moved out.  My team would provide the diversion; Treen’s would affect the rescue.

“In your post operational debriefing, you said you encountered the enemy not far from the drop zone.”  He looked down at his notebook, and then up again, after checking what the question was, “but you didn’t exactly say how that affected moving forward, or whether you thought they had been informed prior to your arrival.”

“It was basically unexpected and both Treen and I had to adjust the plan on the fly so to speak.  It was a setback, but it wasn’t what might be called a show stopper.  Not initially, anyway.”

Except Treen had lost it because I soon discovered he didn’t like changes.  The plan was the plan, come what may.

“And, now, after you’ve had time to think about it?”

“I did say, at the briefing, that if the source of the ground had gone silent, it might mean he’d been caught, and if so, may have told the enemy of our intentions.”

“And this suggestion was given no credence?”

“It was left to Treen to factor that into his decision as the officer in charge.  I’m sure that decision was based on more than just my input. but, on the other hand, no one else asked seemed to consider that a possibility.  So, if it was you, would it not seem strange the enemy would let the choppers land, drop us off, and take off again, then give us time to set up before attacking.  If I’d been told anyone was coming, I’d use rockets to take out the choppers in the air, kill the raid before it started.”

Lallo had his best poker face on, so I had no idea what he thought, but he did make a note.

“Where was Treen after you landed?”

“With his group.  We’d re-worked the plan while in the air, and to minimise the choppers exposure, we were to hit the ground running.  We had different destinations, so I didn’t see him or his team.  It was dark, and not possible to see where anyone other than your immediate team members were.”

But as it turned out, their chopper had landed closer to the pickup zone, and we had enemy soldiers between us and them.  We were as soon as we landed effectively cut off from Tree, and he would not get any support from us.

“The choppers didn’t land together?”

“No.  We were a hundred yards, maybe more, apart.”

“But you knew they were close.  You said you heard shots fired not long after your chopper took off.  Was the gunfire theirs or ours?”

“All guns sound the same at night.  It was impossible to say.  It was the first indication that there was a group of enemy soldiers near the drop zone, coincidentally or otherwise, and Treen’s team had been seen.   I sent Sycamore to find out what had happened, and the rest of the team waited.  No point walking into a firefight.  I trusted Treen to get the job done whatever the circumstances.”

“Your man didn’t come back?”


“What happened then?”

My team members disobeyed orders to stay on mission, and not wanting to remain alone in the field, I followed them on what I thought was suicide.  If the other members of their team had been killed, or, worse, captured, and it was certainly looking like it, then the odds were they were going to join them.

It’s a perfect situation where being the odd man out works in your favour.

I saw Andrews and Ledgeman go over the hill and disappear, and seconds later the sound of automatic fire.  It was exactly as I thought it would be.  I broke for cover and made it just in time to see a dozen enemy soldiers come over the hill, heading towards our drop zone.  I assumed they’d done a head count and found one was missing.

“It was over before it started.”


© Charles Heath 2019

I am my own worst enemy, again!

I think most authors are.

Just when you think that the story is done, and you’re on the third re-read, just to make sure…


I don’t like the way that chapter reads, and what’s worse, it’s about the tenth time I’ve looked at it.

It doesn’t matter the last three times you read it, it was just fine, or, the editor has read it and the chapter passed without any major comment.

I think the main problem I have is letting go.  For some odd reason, certain parts of a story sometimes seem to me as though they are not complete, or can be missing a vital clue or connection for the continuity of the story.

That, of course, happens when you rewrite a section that is earlier on in the story, and then have to make ongoing changes.

Yes, I hear the stern warnings, that I should have made a comprehensive outline at the beginning, but the trouble is, I can change the ending, as I’m writing it and then have to go back and add the hooks earlier on.  Not the best method, but isn’t that what an editor is for, to pick up the missed connections, and out of the blue events that happen for no reason?

I find that often after leaving a finished story for a month before the next reading, the whole picture must formulate itself in my head, so when I re-read, there was always a problem, one I didn’t want to think about until the re-read.

Even then it might survive a second pass.

I know the scene is in trouble when I get to it and alarm bells are going off.  I find anything else to do but look at it.

So, here I am, making major changes.

But, at least now I am satisfied with where it’s going.

Only 325 pages to go!

Past conversations with my cat – 2


This is Chester.  T for Tonkinese, capital T for trouble.

If you think you can win an argument with a Tonkinese you are sadly mistaken!

So, we got over the abandonment issues, and have moved onto the sleeping arrangements.  There seems to be some misconceptions on Chester’s part.

He thinks the bed is his domain.


We have provided him with several very comfortable, warn, and inviting places about the house where is he quite welcome to sleep, or keep a watchful eye over his domain.

That’s right, I thought I owned the house.

He has his own bed in our room where he can stay when he feels lonely, but it seems he has to be near us.

When he’s not walking across the bed, and us, or ‘resting’ on our feet.

And if we move, you’d think we’d taken a big stick to him.

Come to think of it …

Just to show his displeasure at his bed, the blankets always seem to be on the floor, and when I ask what happened, it was, of course, Mr Nobody.

After I’ve picked them up six times in a day, I ask him what his last slave died of?

And there’s the Siamese coming out, a snarl, and then aloof dismissal.

There is banishment to the great outdoors, but that’s another story.

“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:


Conversations with my cat – 40



This is Chester. He’s pretending to be wise.

We’re having a discussion about perspective. I’m trying to explain that it is different for every person.

He reckons from his perspective, I’ve lost the plot.

So, I say, this is how it goes.

Imagine you’re arrested for a crime you didn’t commit. All the evidence is circumstantial, your gun is missing, and only two people know the combination, you can’t get corroboration on your whereabouts at the time of the crime, and you were heard to say you wanted to kill the victim.

A measured look of thoughtfulness followed by, he’s guilty of course.

Why I ask.

Give a man a gun and it’s bound to go off.  That’s the problem with you humans.  You need to figure out how to get along with each other without having a gun to back you up.  Have you ever seen a cat with a gun?  No, I didn’t think so.

How did this get to be about guns and not perspective? I ask.

Leave the gun out of the equation, then it’s only circumstantial.  Just saying.

I shake my head.  Why am I talking to a cat?

Questions, sometimes without answers

#Creative Writing, #Blog, #Writing

At what point does a writer become a journalist?

Quite often journalists become writers because of their vast experience in observing and writing about the news, sometimes in the category of ‘truth is stranger than fiction’.

I did journalism at University, and thought I would never get to use it.  I had to interview people, write articles, and act as an editor.  The hardest part was the headlines.

How much does that resemble the job of coming up with a title for your book?

Well, several opportunities arose over the last few months to dig out the journalist hat, put it on, and go to work.


Hospital.  I’ve had to go there a few times more in the last few months than I have in recent years.

And I’d forgotten just how hospitals are interesting places, especially the waiting room in Emergency.

After the second or third visit, I started to observe the people who were waiting, and ran through various scenarios as to the reason for their visit.  None may have been true, but it certainly was an exercise in creative writing, and would make an excellent article.

Similarly, once we got inside the inner sanctum, where the real work is done, there is any number of crises and operations going on, and plenty of material for when I might need to include a hospital scene in one of my stories.

Or I could write a volume in praise of the people who work there and what they have to endure.  Tending the sick, injured and badly injured is not a job for the faint hearted.

Research, if it could be called that, turns up in the unlikeliest of places.  Doctors who answer questions, not necessarily about the malady, nurses who tell you about what it’s like in Emergency on nights you really don’t want to be there, and other patients and their families, all of whom have a story to tell, or just wait patiently for a diagnoses and then treatment so they can go home.

We get to go this time about four in the morning.  Everyone is tired.  More people are waiting.  Outside it is cool and the first rays of light are coming over the horizon as dawn is about to break.

I ponder the question without an answer, a question one of the nurses asked a youngish doctor, tossed out in conversation, but was there a more intent to it; what he was doing on Saturday night.

He didn’t answer.  Another crisis, another patient.

I suspect he was on duty in Emergency.