Welcome to the first installment of Terrifying Tuesdays!
Although at this point I cannot guarantee that I will have one of these posts available every week, I will try as I bring you heart-stopping action from some of my works...as well as (hopefully) a few pieces from other authors.
My overriding goal for Terrifying Tuesdays is to get the reader's blood flowing...and their mind working...and their skin tingling...well...you get the point (grin). I will attempt to do this by delving into various genres, including action, mystery, suspense and even horror (Especially around Halloween!).
My first selection for this event is one of the ending scenes in my first novel...Murder! Too Close To Home. After the excerpt you will find some buy links...although that's misleading since Murder is Free!
Murder! Too Close To Home
April 3, 1997
We are again quiet
as we sped toward FranklinCounty. I was driving
with Betty along side me in the front seat, Frank manning the rear. Half way
there, Betty laid her hand on the seat between us palm up. I looked over to see
a worried look on her face, one that matched mine I was sure. I reached out and
grabbed her hand in mine, risking the one-handed, high-speed driving to comfort
my beautiful wife…and myself for that matter.
The sky was
overcast as we drove, a fitting day for the task at hand. Thirty minutes after
we started our trek, the lights on the cruiser in front of us went off as the
siren grew silent. We were going in quiet as we slowed to 20 mph for the last
mile before finally turning slowly into a driveway.
Scanning the area
and seeing no other vehicle in sight, I assumed that she may not be there yet.
We parked about
fifty feet from the house and exited the vehicle. The Sheriff and his deputy
were huddled at the front of their car, discussing something that had the
deputy not looking happy. When we joined the two men, Lean looked over at us
and stated, “I’ll go in alone.”
“I don’t think
that’s a good idea Sheriff,” Betty said with concern.
daughter,” he said determinedly as he looked toward the house. “I should be the
one to bring her out.”
He started walking
toward the building before any of us could say anything to dissuade him. He was
“Are we just going
to let him do this alone?” Betty asked with concern.
“Let him get
inside,” I said, “then we can position ourselves around the house, just in
He got to the door
and tried the knob, which was unlocked. He slowly stepped in…closing the door
“Frank, you take
Tom and go around to the left, Betty and I will take the right.”
We split up and
went in low with weapons drawn. We came across a side door, and I indicated to
Betty to stay there while I proceeded to the back of the house where I met up
with Frank at another door.
Jane’s truck was
there, having been blocked from view by the house. We quietly crawled up onto
an old porch and then to the back door. A loud conversation was going on inside
the house; the voices now clear to us.
“You brought them
here?” I heard Jane literally scream.
going on with you Jane, why are you doing this?”
I edged up along a
window and looked in. Jane was there to my right, wearing her uniform and what
I assume was a blonde wig. Lean held a position to my left, just this side of
the door where I had left Betty. I hoped she could get the lay of the scene
from over there. I had no way to communicate with her from where I was at.
“You have no idea
do you? You have no clue you drunken sot!”
Lean shouted back, “I don’t have a clue. I do
know this is not how I raised you girl.”
“You didn’t raise
me you bastard,” screaming again. “Momma raised me. Momma did everything for me, and for you.”
“I know that I’ve
been too busy sometimes, but I love you JJ. And I loved your momma too.”
“And when she got
sick? Then you decided it would be a good idea to be gone even more?”
“I’m sorry…I just
didn’t know how to handle the Lupus.”
“The Lupus didn’t
kill momma you idiot, she died of loneliness. I tried everything I could to
make her happy, but all she wanted was you. You to talk to her…to pay attention
to her. You couldn’t even do that could you? You couldn’t even give her a few
minutes a day out of your lousy life to make her happy.”
“You disgust me.”
Glancing back at
the Sheriff, I saw tears rolling down his cheeks.
“I was scared, I
admit that. I didn’t know how to handle a disease like that. If you don’t know
how to handle something, sometimes you just hide from it. But to kill all of
those people for what I did? Your momma never would have wanted that.”
“She’s dead now,
and the rules changed the day she died” Jane said matter-of-factly.
“The rules of humanity
didn’t change! The rules of right and wrong didn’t change either!”
Jane sneered at
him. “All the rules changed, Dad. I made new ones. I’ve done things you’ve
probably never even heard of since then. I’m living my own life now.”
She took a few
steps farther from me, strutting really. “Jasmine is my name now, and Jasmine
is who I am. Jasmine can do anything
she wants. And Jasmine doesn’t like you Sheriff! You shouldn’t have pissed
She turned back
toward me and I quickly ducked back out of sight.
“We even sell our
body, what do you think about that, Dad? When
we realized we needed more money to put you in your place, we went to the city
and got it done.”
The voice had
changed, and I risked another look in the window. She was facing Lean once more,
rubbing her hand up and down her belly, and lower; moaning with her eyes closed
while her head tilted back in enjoyment.
delicious, getting paid to do what I do. Now that is a sin!”
“Five thousand a
night dad, that’s what I get paid to fuck strange men, powerful men! Never a complaint, they were all smiling when I got done. I even got
a couple of marriage proposals.”
Throwing her head
back, she let loose a loud, evil laugh, straight from the bowels of hell.
suddenly and put on a sweet face, bringing her finger to her chin while
finishing in a little girl’s voice.
“Aren’t you proud
of me daddy?”
Lean McHenry was
on his knees, openly crying tears of agony while wailing, “what have I done,
what have I done?”
Jane was silently
watching her father’s pain. A small, satisfied smile crossed her lips before
turning quickly into a full blown grin, her beautiful teeth seemed to glow
eerily in the dark room.
She slowly pulled
her weapon from the holster on her hip. Spreading her feet into a shooting
stance, she brought the gun to bear on her father.
“It’s a shame
really, if it hadn’t been for fucking Celtic and his crew, you never would have
figured it out. Rest assured, I’ll take care of them later.”
“At least this
way, I get to personally witness your last breath,” she grinned as she cocked
her gun. “Quite the consolation prize, I assure you.”
I glanced over at
Frank to see if he was ready. He nodded his head in affirmation, tensing
himself to break through the door. I took one last look in; she was leveling
the automatic and holding steady while she finished her story.
“I damn you to
Hell Sheriff…you should feel right at home there.”
The room suddenly
filled with the sound of splintering wood and glass as Frank and I rushed in
from the porch, temporarily blinded by the darkness of the room. I noticed
movement on my left and realized that Betty had also entered the room from her
position at the side door.
My eyes were
locked on her as she rushed to the Sheriff’s position, pushing him out of the
way as she took aim on his daughter.
Jane screamed in
anger, releasing a shot simultaneously with Betty’s.
My heart stopped.
The room slowed as
I saw the muzzle flash of both weapons, the explosive sound hitting me like a
long, low rumble. I could see the bullets cross each other and head for their
targets. Another explosion to my right told me that Frank was also getting off
a shot, risky as he was shooting toward the side of her body.
My eyes were drawn
back to the scene in front of me as Betty’s shot hit Jane in her chest…right in
the middle of her deputy’s badge.
Turned to the left
with the force of the bullet, Frank’s shot then found a target and punctured
her chest on her right side as a reddish spray exited from her back. She fell
toward the ground.
My attention moved
back toward Betty. She was standing with knees slightly bent, her weapon still
in her hand but propped against the door frame behind her for support. A small
patch of red was slowly growing on her left shoulder.
SHE’D BEEN SHOT!
Time was back to
full speed as I rushed forward, my thoughts full of fear and dread at my wife’s
As I approached,
she tried to smile at me before it turned into a grimace.
“Through and through,”
she gasped, pain and relief showing on her face at once. There was blood, but
not a lot, and definitely no arterial spurting. Tears of joy were freely
running down my face as I moved to help her.
Lean headed toward
his daughter hesitantly. She was lying on the floor, clutching her chest while trying
to catch her breath. A fit of coughing brought small red bubbles to her lips.
Tears stained her
face as she looked up with pain filled eyes. She saw her father standing over
her, the pain in her eyes changing to sorrow as she whispered, “daddy.”
The Sheriff looked
lost as he slowly turned away, walking slowly to a corner of the room before he
let out a loud bellow. As his ribs wrack in spasms, he brought his hands to his
face in intense sorrow.
Frank was on his
cell, loudly calling in everybody, forcefully reiterating to them the need to
get a life squad there NOW.
I turned back
toward Betty, “We need to get you out to the car for some bandages until the
EMT’S get here.”
“Give me a hug
I gingerly hugged
my love, taking care not to put any pressure on her injured shoulder. The near
miss of almost losing her had made me weepy.
“I love you
Betty,” I whispered into her ear; “I don’t know what I would have done if I’d
As we separated,
she was smiling at me lovingly. “I lo…,”
The air was suddenly
filled with a horrendous explosion.
disappeared as another patch of red appeared on her shirt.
I reached down,
quickly sliding the Glock out of its holster while simultaneously rotating to
the right. The gun was cocked as the sights landed on the once-again depraved
face of Jasmine, her gun now aimed directly at me. I pulled off the shot,
adding a hole between those evil eyes, an act that brought our investigation
finally to an end.
I immediately dropped
my weapon, turning quickly to see to my spouse.
I rushed the
doorway where she had been standing; realizing now that it was an old basement
entrance, the stairs now gone. As I looked down through the hole, I was greeted
by the terrifying sight of my beautiful Betty lying on the basement floor, a
pool of blood beginning to form around her angelic face like a halo.
Copyright 2010-2015 J.T. Lewis
You can find Murder! Too Close To Home with the following links:
Little known fact: Murder! Too Close To Home has gone through many changes in its life, even including he title. Did you know that the original story was a little shorter and was actually called 'The Ghost Murders'?
Just for fun, I am putting up some of the historical covers up here (Although some may be classified as hysterical)"
A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Being an astute observer, he picks one door and lives. Which door did he pick...and WHY? Find the answer HERE!
As promised, here are some more chapters from my new International Thriller...Murmansk! Hope you enjoy this week's offering! New posts every Friday! Available now at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble and priced at only $2.99! (See links at the bottom)
Part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic
December 14, 2000
May held her breath as Snake idled
the old van forward in line. They had been in line for twenty minutes, but now
there was only one vehicle ahead of them at the border crossing.
Glancing to her right, she gazed
down at Ya Su sitting next to her in a car seat. The baby seemed unconcerned
with the rapidly approaching border crossing, concentrating instead on a pink,
rubber, teething ring.
She seemed to be the only one.
Josh looked exceedingly nervous,
his fingers drumming nervously on the back of May’s seat, his mouth twisted as
he looked ahead through the windshield. Even Georgette had grown silent at the
approaching confrontation, he blue eyes locked on the grey-uniformed guards
inspecting the car ahead of them.
“Everybody remain calm,” Snake
spoke low from the driver’s seat, “It’s not like during the cold war…Americans
are not immediately suspect.”
Turning in his seat, he pasted on a
smile of reassurance. “In fact, one of their biggest sources of income now is
tourism…and Americans make up a large percentage of their visitors.”
Turning again in his seat, he
realized that it was now their turn.
Nodding at the crossing guard who
was waving them forward, Snake eased forward until his window was abreast of
the man. Rolling down the handle on the window, he gave the crossing guard a
The grey-uniformed man leaned down
into the window, glancing around the interior of the van before speaking.
A smile suddenly spread across his
Snake nodded with a grin. “Yes we
“Wonderful!” the guard exuded with
apparent glee. “We always glad to see USA cit-iz-ens here. But first to
see your papers if you please.”
Snake had collected the passports
earlier and handed the small pile to the grinning guard.
“Spasibo,” the man replied in
thanks before turning and walking back to the gatehouse.
“That went better than expected,” Raven
breathed, relief showing on her face.
Snake kept his eyes on the activity
within the guard shack as he spoke. “Don’t count your chickens yet Raven; I’ve
seen these things fall apart more times than you would believe.”
As he watched their friendly crossing
guard recording their information inside the building, someone brought him a
piece of paper. Stopping what he was doing, he read the paper for a few moments
before looking up at the van.
“Oh shit,” Snake uttered,
“What is it?” May asked worriedly
from the back seat.
“Not sure yet,” Snake responded as
he watched their border guard leave the shack and approach the van again…this
time with one of his buddies tagging along. Giving a quick thought to ramming
the van through the gate, Snake suddenly felt Raven’s hand on his arm.
“I know what you’re thinking
Relaxing a bit with her words,
Snakes’s eyes nevertheless remained on the approaching guards as he placed his
own hand on hers, squeezing it reassuringly.
His heart quickly sank however when
the second border guard raised his rifle at him from three feet away.
“Apologies my American friends,”
the first man uttered, “But I must ask you all to raise your hands where I can
“What’s this about?” Snake
questioned, trying to act indignant. “We’re just here to sightsee.”
“I am afraid that has now been
brought into question my friend. It seems that I have been ordered to detain
you…you may consider yourselves under arrest.”
December 14, 2000
“I can’t get a hold of anybody!” I sighed defeatedly, hanging up the phone in frustration.
“Maybe they’re all out attending
our funeral,” Preacher mumbled with a grin.
I looked back over my shoulder.
“You’re certainly in high spirits this morning.”
Preacher shrugged, “We’re alive,
the sun is raising in the south, praise the Lord…this day is already better than yesterday!”
I couldn’t argue the point,
although I’d have felt better if we could get in contact with someone.
Emel had dropped us off in the
village an hour ago, kindly refusing to take us any farther.
It was more from fear of the
unknown than not wanting to help us that had guided his decision however, since
Sputnik was already the farthest he had ever traveled from home!
Preacher and I had thanked him
profusely before he had left, waving at us with a wide grin as his truck
sputtered back toward Rybachy.
“What’s the plan Gabe?” Preacher
asked then, getting back on track.
“Well, that depends,” I muttered,
reaching my hand into my pocket. “How much money you got?”
Preacher also reached into his
pocket, pulling out a small wad of bills and some change. “Seven dollars
and…thirty seven cents…you?”
I counted out my own measly funds.
“Twenty two dollars and twelve.”
“So,” Preacher started, eyes closed
in calculation, “Twenty nine dollars and change…I’ve been in worse situations.”
I smiled at my overconfident
friend, “In the outback of Russia
without a clue of where to head or how to get there?”
“Yeah well…there is that,” he
shrugged. “We were heading toward Murmansk
when all of this happened,” Preacher pointed out. “It feels like they didn’t
want us there, so it seems only fitting that we head back to there and find out
what we missed.”
I nodded at his reasoning. I also
felt like it might be a good bet that Abby may still be there.
“One problem solved,” I muttered,
glancing around the village while I talked, “Any idea how to get there?”
Preacher rubbed at his shoulder
again, deep in thought. “Might have a bus station around here…you any good at
“I ain’t even that great at
This brought a grin to Preacher’s
face, “No time like the present then. Let’s head down this here boulevard and
see what we can find. I’m pretty good at hand signals.”
And so we set off, nearly broke and
unable to communicate.
As we walked, my mind went back to
that day three weeks ago when I sat on my porch, bored stiff and looking for
something to fill my time.
If I had it to do over again…
December 14, 2000
The relief in the van was palpable
as Snake pulled the shifter into drive.
The border guard had apologized a
few minutes ago as he gave them all back their passports, saying that they had
been given a bulletin on a van that was similar to theirs.
“The van we are looking for is
smuggling drugs,” the guard had explained with a huge grin, “I can only apologize
for the delay my American friends.”
“That was interesting,” Raven
exhaled with relief when they were on their way. “But at least we made it
Snake nodded quietly, keeping an
intent eye on the rearview mirrors. “Yes…interesting.”
“What’s the matter?” Raven asked
suspiciously, “You don’t believe their story?”
Snake shrugged at he glanced at
Raven. “I always doubt everything having to do with being detained at a
border,” he replied seriously. “In my past life, it was indicative of trouble.”
“You don’t think that had anything
to do with you do you?” May asked
from the back seat.
Snake shrugged again, glancing in
the mirror before replying. “I can’t see how it could have had anything to do
with our current mission, although I guess that’s possible. I am wanted all
over the world though May. Something may have triggered an alert when I gave
them my passport, although I thought that my current identity was clean.”
“Keep an eye out behind us Josh,”
Snake called back over his shoulder. “Let me know if you think anyone is
“Have you ever…worked in Russia?”
Raven asked gingerly.
“No,” Snake answered quickly, “But
there is a Red Notice out on me through INTERPOL, of which Russia is a member.”
Snake shook his head in
aggravation. “I’m sorry; I should have thought of it sooner, I was only
thinking of Gabe, Abby, and Preacher. Now I may have screwed up the whole
Raven placed a hand on his leg,
squeezing it gently as she smiled at him.
“You can’t put this blame on
yourself Snake. After all…they did let
Oooops! I wasn't able to get the chapters up in time last week, so I guess you will have to deal with two posts this week! :) 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 RybachyPeninsula
in our host’s old truck.
Preacher looked remarkable…as if he
had never been shot, not to mention barely surviving the long trek across the
“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.”
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.
had we been hidden away?
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
“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
“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
needs your help.
A shiver ran through me at the
“Yeah,” I finally answered Preacher,
“Let’s hope she hasn’t reached the end…”
December 13, 2000
Abby pushed into the shadows of the
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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 Murmansk
Joe had christened him Ivan the
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
“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
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.
“Why Montana, you’ve just met my previously
missing operative,” McGruder grinned. “And you should feel honored…I think she
A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be? Find the answer HERE!
As promised, here are some more chapters from my new International Thriller...Murmansk! Hope you enjoy this week's offering! New posts 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
The sun had set on us an hour ago,
and with it most of the energy I had been feeling earlier.
I could now barely make out the
flatness of the pathway I was trying to traverse in the dimness of the spotty starlight.
The wind had whipped up once again, forcing me to walk against it…adding to my
effort. I was constantly altering my course whenever I thought it felt like I
may be veering off of the roadway, but even then I was never really sure where
the path was.
It was a crap shoot at best.
I hadn’t heard a peep from Preacher
in awhile, but I dared not check on him for fear of what I might find. I had no
way of helping him out here anyway; my only real hope was to get him to
civilization as fast as possible.
So I pressed on with all of the
determination I could muster. My legs ached like crazy and were starting to
feel like rubber from the exertion, which was an improvement over the rest of
my body which had lost all feeling hours before.
Cresting a small rise, I was about
to take another step when I caught sight of a deep ravine in front of me.
Catching myself with only inches to spare, I barely got the suddenly
accelerating sled stopped before it too went into the crevice.
Falling to my knees, near-total
exhaustion overtook me as I stared at the dark expanse ahead. The sky was
clouding up even more, blocking the stars and shielding me from their light as
well as any hope of directional support.
Saying a quick prayer to bolster my
outlook, I then rocked back in an effort to right myself. As I gained my feet
however, my left foot suddenly slipped out from under me. I suddenly found
myself tumbling head over heels into the deep ravine off the side of the path
As I tumbled deeper into the frigid
darkness, I remember thinking that I was glad that I had let go of the strap to
Preacher’s sled when I had fallen to my knees.
There was no reason for him to make
It seemed like a long time before I
finally quit rolling, and I had no idea how far I had actually gone when my
head struck something hard.
In those last moments, I couldn’t
even be sure if I was facing up or down, at sky or snow. It really didn’t
matter, as I knew my fading vision was looking on the last thing I would ever
see in this world.
My final thoughts were of my family
and friends…the ones that I had been trying to get back to…and the one I had
been trying to save.
That…and that I had never failed so
A moment ago, Abby had been giddy
with the possibility of rescue. Wide awake after hearing the word Timepiece on the radio, she had joyously
listened to the whole ad numerous times ever since.
McGruder had apparently put down a
bundle of money to make sure that his message had gotten to her, as it had
repeated every ten minutes for the whole of the bus ride.
also hoped that she was the only one he was looking for.
Now she wasn’t sure as a jolt of searing
energy slid down her spine, followed by a surge of sadness that filled her
being with heartache.
She sat back in her seat slowly,
confused and overwhelmed with the overpowering feelings.
Looking around, she made sure that
no one around her was in distress, or that anyone was watching her. Everyone
else on the bus seemed unfazed however, most smiling and looking ahead in
anticipation of finally arriving at the Saami village.
going on? She thought while wrapping her arms around herself.
Tears involuntarily started flowing
down her cheek as she held back a sob, the strong facade that Abby prided
herself on was melting away before her eyes and she didn’t know why.
The bus pulled off the highway as
the plump woman stood up once again and started talking.
Abby didn’t hear a word of the
canned speech however…she was busy sobbing quietly into her knees as she pulled
herself into a fetal position…
The man’s long dark hair fluttered
back with the breeze, his kind blue eyes taking in the scene before him.
Dressed in jeans, a white dress
shirt and a vest, what he liked to call a waistcoat, it would appear to anyone
that saw him that he was underdressed for the environment that he now found
But he knew there was no one
observing him then…there wasn’t anyone around for miles.
Sighing with a sadness unimaginable
to most humans, he kneeled next to the sled and looked down on Preacher’s face.
“You have had a rough decade my
friend,” he started, his voice flowing like honey, “Yet you have retained your
faith through all of it.”
Pulling away, he smiled down at the
body, “A most unusual take on faith,
I might add.”
in once again, he placed his hand on Preacher’s shoulder, a golden glow
emanating from around his fingers for several seconds before it ceased. Pulling
the coat tightly over Preacher’s chest, he then covered him with the blankets
before standing and turning toward the ravine.
A moment later, he was standing
beside the familiar body.
“You do seem to get yourself into
some wild predicaments old friend,” he smiled as he kneeled down next to the
body. “You have earned your rest many times over…and yet your will to live continues
to push you ever foreword.”
Shaking his head in wonderment, he
drew his fingers along Gabe’s exposed chin, a loving gesture that Gabe would
normally find very uncomfortable.
Smiling at the thought, the man
withdrew his hand.
“We have been through so much
together, you and me. You surely realize by now that it is your exuberance for
this life that keeps you at the top of His list for the most demanding of
Standing again, he clasped his
hands behind his back and started pacing. “You do not yet know of the evil that
lays ahead of you my friend. Maggot-infested souls that strive to rule the
earth through deception and power…”
His pacing stopped as he turned back
to face the body. “What’s that you say?”
Kneeling again, he smiled at Gabe’s
face. “You’d like nothing better than a rousing brawl with evil again?”
The man filled the ravine with
laughter. “He told me you would say that!”
He stopped laughing when he heard a
noise approaching the location…a motor.
It was something he had set in
motion before he had arrived.
“It appears our time together on
this plane is coming to an end again dear friend,” he whispered while placing
his hand on Gabe’s forehead. “Last chance…I can take you with me if you want.”
Shaking his head, “Ah well…I had to ask.”
I awoke with a start, fighting at a
heavy weight on top of me, my body drenched in sweat.
Trying to open my eyes, the sting
from a heavy smoke that filled the dark, acridly musky area forced them closed again.
I ended up in hell after all?
Forcing my eyes open, I found
myself lying in a small room with a smoky fire off to my left. Glancing down, I
then realized that I was weighted down by a pile of some kind of pelts…and that
I was naked!
Embarrassed, I raised my head and
glanced around the room, quickly spotting Preacher a few feet away, also
covered in a pile of skins.
He seemed to be sleeping
comfortably, and he had a healthy color to his skin.
Pushing away at my covers in an
effort to get up, I was stopped by the creak of a door across the room.
Glancing that way, my eyes were met by a large woman covered head to toe in
deer skin. Smiling at me when she saw I was awake, I noticed her darkly stained
teeth were worn down to nubs.
Shucking off her outer skin, she
started jabbering in what sounded like a mixture of languages…none of which I
could understand. While she talked, she moved toward the fire and pulled down a
large bowl off of the mantle before filling it with something from a cast-iron
pot on the fire. Holding it gingerly in front of her, she scooted across the
floor with short, careful steps before offering the bowl to me.
Surprised by the delicious aroma
and suddenly famished, I reached for the bowl, nodding my head in thanks. Since
there was no spoon, I tipped the bowl greedily into my mouth. Having lost all
sense of decency days ago, I sat up and let the blankets fall to my waist as I
slurped at the delicious stew.
I have to say that although the
meat was a bit chewy, it was the best stew I have ever eaten in my entire life.
Finishing my serving, I was
wondering if it was proper to ask for more when the door creaked again. Looking
up, I glimpsed a man enter the room, also covered in deer skin, thinner and a
little shorter than the woman.
A grin crossed his face when he saw
that I was awake. Removing his outer skin, he moved toward me hurriedly,
dropping to his knees beside my bed.
“Hell-o!” he got out with a proud
“Hello,” I replied, surprised at
how scratchy my voice was. I wasn’t sure how long it’d been since I had
actually spoken aloud.
“Yes!” I smiled, pointing to
“Goood!” he smiled, glancing at the
woman before speaking to me again. “Eng-lish I good.”
Nodding at him, I smiled,
“We find…you,” he continued then, “…on
Offering my hand to him, he took it
in his. “Thank you!”
He nodded excitedly, turning
towards the woman before releasing a litany of words that I didn’t understand.
“I tell Zhena,” he started in
explanation, pointing to the woman, “We find you is chudo…”
Shaking my head in confusion, I
Looking confused, he glanced at the
woman and spoke to her again before turning once again to me.
“How you say…miracle?”
I nodded in understanding. “Yes…it
was chudo that you found us.” I continued, sweeping my hand toward Preacher as
“Thank you again!”
Nodding, the man glanced at his
wife with a twinkle in his eye.
“I tells her I see you in
I wasn’t sure if I had heard him
right, so I only smiled and nodded, hopefully prodding him to explain further.
“Man say go…nayti…errr…find! Man-say-go-find!”
“A man?” I questioned, trying to
use simple English for my host’s sake. “Who
The leather-clad man beside me grinned,
glancing at his wife happily before turning back to me.
December 13, 2000
As quickly as the devastating
sadness had hit her, it had just as quickly disappeared.
It was as if suddenly, Abby felt
much better…even happy!
she whispered to herself with confusion as the bus pulled up to their
destination. She wondered if her breakdown had been some sort of postpartum
Shaking her head in confusion, she
stood by her seat and waited her turn to get off of the bus. She had never
experienced any postpartum depression after the birth of Ya Su, so she couldn’t
really be sure.
actually felt like somebody had died, she thought to herself before putting
it finally behind her. She already had enough to do for awhile, what with
blending into her tour group and finding a phone she could use without anyone
She had of course memorized the
number from the radio ad, and was extremely anxious to talk to someone she
knew. More to the point…someone she could trust!
Moving down the steps to exit the
bus, she concentrated on staying in the middle of the pack as best she could as
they moved as one toward the visitor’s center. Most of those around her were
smiling, anxious to get on with their excursion or just happy to finally get
off of the bus.
Unlike those around her, Abby’s
smile was tight…pasted on as a form of camouflage. Pushing her sunglasses down
her nose a bit so she could look over them, she scanned the crowd ahead. Even
though she didn’t know who would be
after her, she knew what to look for.
Someone paying special attention to
the group of course, not to mention one who is clumsily doing something that
should be otherwise mundane…constantly turning the pages while reading a newspaper
or not turning them at all.
Eyes constantly buried in the
viewfinder of a camera would be another indicator. The photographer would
appear to be so involved in the ruse of taking pictures that he or she would
not look up…mostly in fear of eye contact when their eyes locked on their prey.
Abby’s back stiffened when she
spied just such a person. Seated on a park bench across the street, the woman kept
her lens trained on the group as they made their way down the sidewalk.
The thought of being captured again
sent Abby’s heart to pounding in her chest as she glanced around for a means of
escape. Spying an alley ahead, she was preparing to slide into it as the group
passed when she chanced to glance back to the photographer.
The woman had set aside her camera
before standing with a surprised smile to greet a man that was approaching her.
As they neared each other, they both reached out and pulled the other into
Relieved, Abby turned her eyes
forward again. Love and affection were harder to fake, and she felt the
informal reunion had been the real thing. Unfortunately the sight had also
tugged at her heart as her mind conjured up a picture of Josh. The feel of his
strong arms around her…the way his eyes lit up whenever he saw her…
Shaking her head angrily, she
pushed the thoughts away. She had to get home
first! There was little to gain by daydreaming, and her very freedom to
lose if she were caught!
Following the herd, they entered
the visitor center. Again Abby critically scanned her surroundings, the small
yet open building appearing safe at the moment.
And…there was a phone booth!
December 13, 2000
“Da?” Noon Byrk growled into the
phone, her frustration causing her to slip into Russian.
She hated the Russian language!
The voice on the line was smooth,
irritatingly so. Noon stiffened when she heard the words, the heart in her
chest doing battle with itself, fluctuating between hate and adoration.
“It has been too long,” the man
“Severus,” Noon responded somewhat
coolly, her nervousness causing her hands to shake. “I am surprised to hear
“A tragedy,” he continued, “One
that appears to be on the mend if rumors are true.”
A small smile crossed Noon’s lips,
once again impressed at his abilities to ferret out secrets.
“It is not yet finished,” she
gulped, “But soon…there has been…”
“Complications?” Severus questioned
lightly. “Your hired man leaves much to be desired.”
Gulping back her nervousness, she
realized that the man was offering her a chance to blame the failure on others.
“He is a Slavic idiot,” she
started, “But…the failures we have encountered are mine alone to bear.”
Squaring her shoulders, she plowed
onward. She was now committed to accepting her fate in the matter, whichever
way it ended. But they would know of her commitment to the Brotherhood before
she let them rule again on her destiny.
“We are not, however, done with
this. Although generous, your stipend was barely adequate to launch a mission
of this magnitude…yet I have done so.”
“I have given everything to recover the Hemlig Bok…”
“We are aware of your sacrifice
Lilla,” Severus interrupted, “Even though it was your blatant theft of the book
that precipitated your plunge in the first place.
Noon stiffened, “I have repeatedly
apologized for this Severus, I had thought it was in danger from…”
The word was filled with hardness.
“We have been through this enough!”
The line was silent for a time
before Noon heard a sad sigh. “I apologize for my flare in anger Lilla, but
what’s done is done. I believe our plight has once again been joined in the
common cause of recovering Hemlig Bok, and in that vein we are all pleased with
your efforts, and recognize your commitment to us.”
The phone was silent for a few
moments before he continued.
“My heart fills with pride at your
reacceptance into the order, righting the overzealous wrong that has been
forced on you these last two years. I would hope you know that this was never
Noon pulled the receiver away from
her face and looked at it in shock. Pushing it quickly back to her ear, she
spoke the next words with breathless excitement.
“I have been reinstated?”
“On a probationary status only,”
Severus cautioned, “But as such, you now have the full backing of die Bruderschaft on this mission.”
Noon’s heart filled with an emotion
she had little experience with…love.
Severus had taken her in when her
parents had been killed in a Brotherhood operation. She was eleven at the time.
Although they had both been
accidentally thrown into the situation, Severus had been a stern yet adoring
father figure, teaching her the ways of the world…as well as those of the Brotherhood.
Immediately calling her Lilla upon her arrival at his residence, the Swedish
word for ‘little one’, he had continued to use that name whenever they talked
Their relationship continued to
change as the years progressed until, upon her fourteenth birthday, she had
moved into his bedroom.
They had become lovers, and as
such, he had taught her much more of
“It is the second reason for my
call,” Severus continued, interrupting her reverie. “We have some information
for you. Our analysts have come across a suspicious radio ad transmitting in
“A radio ad?” Noon questioned,
confused. “I don’t understand.”
“Perhaps you know of the word that
triggered our involvement,” Severus continued, “Does the name Timepiece mean
anything to you?”
“McGruder!” Noon shouted into the
phone, “That’s his code name!”
“Precisely,” Severus continued, “It
would appear that he is trying to reach out to the missing girl by blasting his
phone number across Russia.”
“I can have it tracked!” Noon
“We are already on it Lilla, and we
just got a hit. The girl has placed a call to McGruder not twenty minutes ago.”
“Tell me!” Noon insisted on the
phone, “Tell me where to find the bitch.”
Severus laughed heartily into the
phone. “That’s my Lilla, so full of spit and vinegar!”
“We have tracked the call to a
village named Lovozero, one hundred miles southeast of Murmansk,” Severus continued more seriously.
“I am on it Severus!” Noon
exclaimed, “Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.”
“One more thing, Lilla?”
“If you work it right, you will be
able to capture McGruder at the same time. According to the men monitoring the
call, he is going there personally to pick her up.”
Noon sneered at his words.
“There will be no need to capture
him Severus…if he has the book with
him, this will be his last day on Russian soil…alive anyway…”