Sitting Duck

We’d been found. The house wasn’t safe. Just sitting there, I felt like a sitting duck. I wished we had more cameras. By the time any attackers got to where the cameras were positioned, it was going to be too late for me anyway.

I pulled everything out of the go-bag and examined it all.

There was a map and a programmed SatNav showing the route to the address in North London I was to head to next. A set of instructions to destroy all the computers and hard drives upstairs. A bulletproof vest. A loaded Glock 17 with suppressor. Night vision goggles. Some smoke and flash bang grenades.

In my hands, most of it was an accident waiting to happen. Fat chance it was going to save my life in the face of a team of professional killers.

It occurred to me then that the person who left the manuscript had nothing to do with those coming to kill me. Funny. Right then, someone who had broken into the house without us knowing was the least of my problems.

I put some stuff in the boot of the car and got things ready for a quick getaway.

I paced.

I ate.

I peered through every window.

I watched the security cameras.

I had to see what was out there.

Leaving the lights on and making sure everything was locked, I slipped out the front door with the bulletproof vest on under my jacket and wandered along the same route as before – down the street running across the front of the house, down the narrow track, over the fence and into the woods behind the back garden.

In a way, I was probably safer outside, because the attackers would be drawn to the house.

I kept going, trudging through the trees, heading away from the house. I followed a well-trodden path I had used plenty of times before, where I knew I could walk quietly without a load of noise from cracking twigs and rustling leaves underfoot.

My skin prickled suddenly.

I stopped dead. I glanced around me – then darted behind the nearest tree.

My pulse hammered through my bones. My lungs wanted to gasp for breath. But I held it all in and breathed as quietly as I could. There was no sign of anyone about. But something felt wrong.

I’ve developed this sixth sense. I can feel when someone is watching me. Now I was experiencing something else – a sense of danger. My newfound ability was evolving.

I ventured forward, moving from tree to tree, stopping and looking around me before moving on – until my sense of danger throbbed through my skull like silent alarm.

The night vision glasses Six had left me were in my jacket pocket. The Glock 17 was shoved in my belt, pressing against my lower back. I put on the night vision goggles. I waited. I listened, straining to catch the slightest sound.

A twig cracked, making me jump out of my skin.

I ducked down to a crouching position and peered around the tree.

My eyes caught a movement at the far edge of my vision.

And another.

And another.

Then there were five figures moving in my direction, picking their way through the undergrowth and the trees. Three of them carried guns – not 9mm handguns like mine, but automatic assault rifles. Not a fair fight.

 

 

The Boss

A man climbed out of the backseat of the Jaguar parked up the street. There was nothing special about him as far as ShadowAspect could see – just some normal-looking guy in jeans and a blazer – but he strode down the middle of the road like he owned it.

Two men jumped out of the front of the car and followed him. They were bigger and more imposing. I could tell by watching them in the Infinistra that they were both wearing body armour and hiding guns under their jackets.

Their boss strode past ShadowAspect and up to a darkened shop front. He gave a quiet knock. A few seconds later the door opened. All three men marched in.

Spies and a New Friend

jason ryback bullet point for blogI didn’t want to leave the flat again, but I had to. I needed to know if I really was in danger and I was getting no help from Sarasin. Worse still, I was having problems with my laptop. The fan was blowing louder and louder and the screen would black out once or twice before it stayed on. It wasn’t going to last much longer and without a laptop, my career as a writer dies a sudden but painful death.

Heart pounding as I hurried into town, my eyes took in every movement, every walker, every passer-by. There wasn’t much of a selection, but staring at computer specs in a store with plenty of people in it gave me a chance to look out for anyone following me. No one in the shop gave me a second glance, but I decided to prepare myself for a sudden getaway. I made my way to the cash machine to take out as much money as I could. I typed in the amount I wanted. I waited. Nothing happened. My blood ran cold. What could I do? Then a message appeared on the screen.

“Don’t take any cash out again. They know what you’re doing – preparing to live off the grid.”

I stared at the screen.

A second message appeared.

“Yes, Jason Rybak. I’m talking to you.”

My money and my card slid out and I pocketed them.

Another message.

“Go home the long way. Maybe look at some more computers.”

The screen went back to normal.

As I turned to head for home, something caught my eye. The same car – parked across the street. And I could feel someone inside it watching me.

Hyper-vigilant

jason ryback bullet point for blog

“I’m just being paranoid, right?” I say to the ceiling and the walls, expecting ShadowAspect to appear from somewhere. “Being Watched has made me hyper-vigilant, which is why I can feel every look and every gaze. But I’m safe, aren’t I?”

No reply.

I ventured out the next day. My skin prickled every time someone looked at me, but I soon got used to it. As I made my way through town, I felt a gaze loaded with intent, which was aimed at me like a sniper rifle.

I strode on, glad I was just wearing a hat and not a hood so I had better peripheral vision. I caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye. The same car. Someone inside was watching me. I ducked into a shop, my mind flying and swirling in different directions. One thought hit home. I had to be ready for anything. I made my way to a cash machine and took out as much as I could. Keeping my head down, my eyes scanned every face as I went home the long way. There was no sign of the car, but the further I went, the stronger the sensation in my back became. Someone was following me. I took a series of sudden turns and ran for it. By the time I made it home, I was certain I had lost whoever it was. Locked in my flat, I worked by the window, but saw no sign of anyone watching me.