I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 18

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.

 

The pier had been moving gently up and down in response to a passing speed boat that had flouted the minimum speed law, like most of the speed boat owners.

On board the boat, the movement was more pronounced, and it was a bad time to remember that I get seasick, even standing on the pier.  My stomach was suddenly queasy.

Boggs was standing by the hatch that led down below.  It was locked with a big padlock so there was no way we were getting below.  Along the side of the boat was a raised section with windows, but there were curtained off, and the material was faded and looked dirty.

Boggs walked along the narrow walkway to the bow and tried the hatch in the middle of the foredeck.

I noticed the boat was tied to the pier fore and aft with some think rope and funny looking knots.  I don’t think I’d make a very good sailor.  I looked up to the top of the mast and it made me feel dizzy.  It was a long way up.

Behind me was an area where people could seat, and further back a large wheel which I assumed was how the boat was steered.  I could just see Rico standing behind it, captain’s hat on, looking all business-like.

“There’s nothing to see here,” I said, turning back towards Boggs, who was now coming along the other side of the cabin.  One slip and he’d be in the ocean.  I looked over the side and it didn’t look very deep.  I could even see some small fish swimming near the pylon that was covered below the waterline with seaweed.

Boggs stopped at the last window, then knelt down and peered in.

“What do you see?”

“There’s someone in there?”

“Rico?”

“No.  I saw him leave earlier.  Someone else.”

“You know who it is?”

“No.  Never seen him before.  A guy in a suit.  Not the sort of person I’d expect Rico to know, or have as a friend.”

“What’s he doing?”

Boggs changed his position to get a better look.  “He’s just sitting…oh my God, there’s blood.”

“Where?”

I moved quickly over to where Boggs was crouched.  “Give us a look?”  Curiosity was overtaking concern.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” Boggs said over and over.

I pulled out my phone and dialled 911.  When they asked me who I wanted, I said Police.  Then I looked over at the fishing shop and saw Rico and his friends coming back.

“Boggs.”

He ignored me, trying to get a better view.

“Boggs.  It’s Rico.”

Then the policeman answered, “What’s the nature of your emergency?”

“Dead man on a boat, Eden’s Landing, Pier 5, a boat called ‘Freedom Runner’.  And you’d better hurry.”

“Why?”

“Because the owners coming and he doesn’t look happy.”

Then to Boggs, “We got to get the hell out of here, now.”

But, by that time, there was nowhere to go.  Rico had seen us and was all but running to cut off our escape.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

“Echoes From The Past”, buried, but not deep enough

What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family. For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self-imposed exile from a life only normal people could have. From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice. Quietly leave, or finally, make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.

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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?”

“No.”

“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…

Damn!

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!

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.

Where?

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.

 

“The Devil You Don’t”, be careful what you wish for

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favor for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favor’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

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