As promised, here are some more chapters from my new International Thriller...Murmansk! Hope you enjoy this week's offering! New posts (Normally) every Friday!
Available now at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble and priced at only $2.99! (See links at the bottom)
December 13, 2000
“It happened again…didn’t it?”
I glanced over at Preacher, taking in his whispered words as we rode across the
in our host’s old truck. Rybachy Peninsula
Preacher looked remarkable…as if he had never been shot, not to mention barely surviving the long trek across the arctic tundra.
“I can’t imagine what you are talking about,” I answered smugly, facing forward again.
“You know damn well what the hell I’m talking about!” he hissed from beside me in the seat. “Your angel buddy…he saved us didn’t he…again!”
I shrugged, but with a grin on my face. “According to what our friend Emel here says,” I started with thumb pointed toward the driver, “It might appear that way.”
“Shit,” Preacher mumbled, “That’s what I figured.”
Turning toward me again, his face was solemn. “It’s not like I’m not grateful or anything,” he started in a loud whisper, “But it just ain’t natural! Besides that, at what point do you start depending on angelic intervention? I can see it now…I go in guns blazing on some suicide mission, expecting to be saved if everything goes to hell, and your man Michael doesn’t come! He’s tied up on someone else’s emergency….or he’s at an angel frat party…or whatever the hell they do for fun up there!”
I couldn’t help laughing out loud at my friends rant, laying my hand awkwardly on his shoulder in the tight cab. “I will admit…it’s a dilemma,” I grinned. “It’s probably best that we don’t count on it then.”
Nodding in agreement, Preacher sighed. “That’s what I figured,” he continued before bringing his hand up and rubbing his shoulder.
“You in much pain?” I asked then, noticing his ministrations.
“Naw,” he replied, dropping his hand to his lap. “It’s mostly healed, just kind of itchy.”
Calling Preacher’s wounds “mostly” healed was an understatement. I’d had a look at them myself back at Emel’s cabin…there were scars front and back of course, but they were now totally healed…with no sign of infection.
“I sure miss my bible though,” Preacher added then. I hadn’t even given it a thought before, but I hadn’t seen it since we were on the plane. That book was everything to Preacher, containing the standard spiritual enlightenment…as well as a nicely concealed gun and stiletto.
“Sorry buddy,” I replied then, “I’m sure I would have seen it if it had been in the outpost.”
He waved off my concerns. “They probably left it on the plane…it’s probably in some trash heap by now.”
Nodding in agreement, I then leaned forward, smiling at our host who was driving us to a little village called Sputnik on the mainland. He smiled back with a toothy grin; he apparently enjoyed our company immensely.
Or maybe it was just that he was doing an angel’s work that had him in such high spirits.
Either way, we had found out from him that we had been stashed in a place called Rybachy, a peninsula that juts out into the
Barents Sea. Known mostly for the
herds of reindeer that are raised there, there was little chance that we would
have been found by anyone until spring if we hadn’t escaped.
As I leaned back into my seat again, my eyes turned to the cold and desolate scenery passing by while my mind started to ponder our uncertain situation. Unfortunately, I had many more questions than I had answers.
Why had we been hidden away?
What had they done with Abby, and why had they split us up?
And what the hell would any of this have to do with delivering a ransom for a little girl?
“You got any ideas?” I asked Preacher suddenly, “About…any of this?”
Preacher shook his head before turning to face me again. My eyes were immediately drawn to his new eye patch that Zhena had made for him before we had left. Made of reindeer hide, she had deftly carved the patch out of a small piece of the leather in about two minutes. Cutting off two long strips of rawhide, she had then fastened them to the patch before handing it to Preacher with a huge grin.
The whole process start to finish had taken no more than five minutes, and I could tell that Preacher was pretty proud of it.
“I can’t remember much of it of course,” Preacher started, “But just from what you have told me I’m drawing a blank. You said that they sent you a picture of Abby serving drinks in a bar?”
I nodded, my heart clenching at the thought of my missing daughter.
“Two or three days ago I think…I’m not sure. She apparently had free roam of the place though, so I wonder how they were keeping her there.”
“Maybe they told her they would kill us if she didn’t do as they said,” Preacher suggested. “Or maybe they tricked her some how. Either way, they’d be hard pressed to keep her there if they didn’t have some pretty powerful reason.”
I could only nod as I once again turned toward the passing scenery.
“Abby can certainly take care of herself,” I agreed, “But even her abilities have limits.”
“Let’s hope she hasn’t reached the end of her abilities then,” Preacher continued, “At least until we can get there to help.”
Nodding silently, I watched a reindeer raise its head as we passed, its eyes staring at mine as if wanting to speak…
Hurry!...she needs your help.
A shiver ran through me at the perceived words.
“Yeah,” I finally answered Preacher, “Let’s hope she hasn’t reached the end…”
December 13, 2000
Abby pushed into the shadows of the visitor’s center.
Having made the call almost two hours ago, she had only minutes ago broken away from her tour group, no longer able to even pretend to be interested in what was happening around her.
Falling back when the group had once again approached the location, she pealed off at an alley on the side of the building. From here she could watch the people on the sidewalk without being observed.
Thinking back on her call, she’d been surprised when she had held her emotions in check when she heard McGruder’s friendly voice.
“Hold on Abby,” he had urged, “It appears that your location is approximately two hours away, and we will be leaving here in a few min…”
“I need a gun,” Abby had interrupted quickly, “Make sure you bring one for me…I feel like shooting somebody.”
Although her words seemed almost comical in retrospect, McGruder hadn’t laughed…only assured her that he would indeed bring her a weapon.
Now she had but to wait…which wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. On one hand she was excited at the prospect of once again being among people that were on her side. But she could still be in danger, and as such she was hesitant about letting her guard down yet. And of course…there was the other thing.
Asking McGruder about Gabe and Preacher, she had been mortified at McGruder’s admission that they as yet did not know the location of the pair. Fighting off a growing panic, she had finally just told him to “get here ASAP,” before hanging up the payphone.
As her thoughts moved once again to McGruder’s comment, anguish threatened to overcome her. Closing her eyes, she pressed her hands to her mouth, doing her best to shove her concerns back down where they had come from.
I can’t help if I don’t get out of here, she told herself, and I can’t get out of here unless I pull myself together!
Forcing herself to calmness, she once again opened her eyes, letting out a ragged breath as she did. Glancing over toward the sidewalk, she concentrated once again on the people moving past the alley.
McGruder should be here any moment, she thought with renewed hope, any moment now.
When it happened, it was her other senses that warned her first.
Feeling a shiver of fear run up her spine, she was at first confused at her reaction. Closing her eyes again, she concentrated on the image of the man who had just passed the mouth of the alley.
Tall and broad of chest, the man wore a brown leather coat, his hair greasy and un-kept. As she concentrated on the image, she suddenly felt just the smallest pang of recognition…that she had seen him somewhere before…but where?
Where have I seen your ugly face before? She thought to herself before it finally hit her like a Mac truck.
She had noticed him at the bar! As her memories continued to focus, she also remembered that he had been chummy with Gregor!
Her mind suddenly came to life, quickly making connections with all that had transpired to her over the last several days, the ultimate recognition causing fear to course through her veins.
When her eyes popped open again, she could only manage a single, trembling whisper.
December 13, 2000
“Oh shit! Are you sure?”
Michael Montana listened intently to Beth’s explanation before speaking again.
“Ok, dig around everything there and see what you can come up with…I’ll call back once we have Miss Celtic.”
Fingering off the call, he glanced over at McGruder.
“Ivan the Terrible is in the wind.”
“That is distressing,” McGruder responded before turning his eyes forward again. “I don’t suppose it would be too much to hope that he too isn’t on his way to intercept Abby.”
“No,” Michael replied with a sigh, shaking his head while increasing pressure on the accelerator, “I don’t suppose.”
Before he and McGruder had left to retrieve Abby, Beth had finally identified the man they had been stalking.
Ivan Primalov was a for-hire operative that would work for whoever would pay him. When he wasn’t actively doing other people’s bidding, he kept himself busy charging the various small businesses of
Joe had christened him Ivan the Terrible.
The plan had been for Beth and Joe to capture Ivan and his helper, and to convince him one way or another to tell them what they needed to know. They had assumed that they would be able buy him off to make him talk, but Joe had been ready with a more physical persuasion technique if needed.
“They must have been alerted by land line,” Michael continued finally. “Left the building by a different door…I don’t know how they did it!”
“It matter’s little at this point,” McGruder replied, a weariness evident in his voice as he spoke. “We are but minutes away…hopefully we can find her with little effort and whisk her off before they know what has occurred.”
“Yeah,” Michael breathed. “Whisking is good.”
Abby gulped when the greasy-haired man showed up at the end of the alley again.
Pushing herself deeper into the shadows, she watched the man stop and look up and down the street before turning toward her and squinting down the alley.
Holding her breath, she tightened her grip on the broken screwdriver she had found earlier next to a dumpster. Seeing the bulge of a gun under his coat, she knew that the screwdriver would be of little use if he came at her.
Her best bet would be to run…surely she could outrun the big ox!
Finally, the man turned and stalked off down the street. Letting out her breath, she felt her heart pounding in her chest before her stomach let out a loud growl.
Shit, she whispered at the noise, only then realizing that it had been at least a day since she had eaten anything substantial. Shaking her head, she closed her eyes as she willed her stomach to remain quiet.
The man probably would have heard that, she berated herself.
Sighing loudly, she reopened her eyes and looked back down at the end of the alley. Another man had taken up station there; also busy looking up and down the street.
But this man was different.
Much shorter than the first, this one wore a brimmed hat and a long coat that just kissed the sidewalk.
Patrick? She mouthed silently as she stepped from her hiding place.
“Patrick!” she called out much louder as he turned to face her. Abby saw the smile on his face, and the joy in his eyes when he lifted his hand in a wave.
Then she saw something else behind him…something not near as pleasant.
Crap, she whispered as fear once again filled her soul.
“Look out!” Abby yelled as she started running toward Patrick, attempting to point out the man across the street, “Get down!”
Belying his age and the braces on his legs, McGruder dropped his crutches and spun toward the wall gracefully, dropping to one knee and pulling out his gun in one smooth motion before aiming it in the direction Abby was pointing.
Spats of noise sounded in the alley as chucks of concrete and brick splattered around them from a silenced weapon.
Screams could be heard out on the sidewalk when McGruder answered the shots with his own, un-silenced gun.
Seeing the man across the street duck as she got to McGruder, she reached down and grabbed him under the arms.
“Come on!” she implored as she pulled him to his feet. Trying to support Patrick while pulling him down the alley, she caught sight of the man over her shoulder as he once again rose up from behind the car he had been using for cover.
“Down!” she yelled, pushing Patrick hard onto the ground as pieces of brick once more rained down on them.
During the melee, Abby heard the squealing of tires at the other end of the alley. Looking up with trepidation at yet another man, she swallowed hard as he raised his gun in their direction.
“This day sucks!” She yelled before lowering her head once again onto the pavement and covering it with her arm.
The dark-haired man at the end of the alley took careful aim before squeezing off a shot, sending the Russian ducking behind the car for cover.
“If it’s all right with you Patrick,” Michael Montana yelled down the alley, “How bout we get the hell out of here!”
Keeping his gun leveled on the other end of the alley, Michael pulled off another shot when Ivan the Terrible poked his head above the car.
Using most of her rapidly diminishing energy, Abby pulled McGruder up off of the pavement and slid his left arm around her shoulder. Moving as quickly as they could, they hobbled toward the waiting car at the end of the alley.
“So you’re the mysterious Abby Celtic I’ve heard so much about,” Michael intoned as he plinked off another shot.
“Abby Chang actually,” Abby panted as her and McGruder fell against the car, both out of breath, “A little help?”
Nodding, Michael dropped his gun hand while turning around and reaching for McGruder. Suddenly, Abby snapped Michael’s gun out of his hand and took up a shooting stance in front of the car, leveling the weapon at the parked car on the other end.
“Hey!” Michael yelled in surprise.
“Get Patrick in the car please,” Abby insisted, her eyes steady on the target. “You can kick my ass when you’re done with that.”
As if on cue, Ivan rose from the car, bringing his gun to bear on Abby. Without missing a beat, Abby squeezed the trigger and watched with glee when she saw the man take two steps backwards from the force of the bullet. Looking up in surprise, the man then dropped to the sidewalk.
Turning quickly, she slapped the gun back into Michael’s waiting hand.
“This day is looking up!” Abby said evenly while pulling on the backseat door handle. “Think there’s a McDonald’s on the way home?”
Sliding into the seat behind McGruder, Abby pulled the door shut behind her and started strapping herself in.
Jaw dropped in amazement, Michael then turned toward McGruder.
“What the hell just happened?” Michael mumbled when he finally found his voice.
McGruder shrugged, a smile tugging at his lips.
Montana, you’ve just met my previously
missing operative,” McGruder grinned. “And you should feel honored…I think she
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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