The Diary of the Writer on the Run

Under Siege

Bullets sprayed the three SUVs. The armed figures dived for cover. I’d taken them completely by surprise.

The recoil threw me backwards. I planted my back foot, bent my knees and braced myself to make sure I didn’t fall on my arse.

My other hand fumbled in my trouser pocket for my keys. Once I had them in my hand, I edged along the path in front of the house towards the door. I reached it, still facing the cars, firing in shorter bursts to make the bullets last longer.

The bullets ran out.

Heads rose up behind car doors.

I quickly grabbed the other gun and kept firing.

Firing a gun at attackers with one hand while trying to unlock a door with the other might be one of the most difficult things I have ever tried. Doing one of them in the dark is usually about as much as I can manage. I always say in job interviews how great I am at multitasking. It’s rubbish. I’m terrible at it.

Eventually, I worked out which way to turn the key and managed to do it without the gun-wielding hand turning as well. The door opened. I backed into the house and slammed the door shut – just as the bullets ran out again. I locked the door, dropped to the floor and scrambled away from it on my stomach.

I made it into the front room, got to my knees pressed up against the wall and shot a glance around the closed curtain out of the windows.

They were regrouping, reorganising.

I really hoped they hadn’t realised I was almost out of bullets – with just my Glock 17 handgun left.

I darted upstairs and followed Six’s instructions to wipe every byte of information from each computer. I destroyed what needed destroying and got together the things I would need to take with me. The question was – how on Earth I was going to get out of there.

My mind flitted through films I had seen with standoffs and protagonists cornered the way I was now.

But now I was the main character. This was the story.

It made me wonder how many stories were happening at that moment. I remembered seeing them all. It was too much for my mind to handle. The most important stories were the biggest. I really wanted to know how big mine was right now – and yearned to see the ones that were bigger.

The Ford Focus we had driven to the house originally stood on the street in front of the house just a few metres away from the three Mercedes SUVs and the gun-wielding killers they had brought. That was my getaway. But I had no idea how to get to it without being riddled with bullets first.

The seven armed figures were moving. Four of them crept towards the front door. The other three headed around the side – to cut off my escape.

Where was the hitman when I needed him?

Then a movement behind the cars caught my eye.

 Whoever it was slipped between the cars and crept after the attackers.

Closer to average height. Lean build.

Not the hitman. I had no idea who it was or what they were doing there.

The Diary of the Writer on the Run

The Blade

There was no running. I couldn’t move quickly enough to dive behind the nearest tree.

The eight gun-wielding mercenaries advanced on me.

Maybe I should have stayed inside.

A dark shape swept past me.

Muzzles flared in the darkness. Guns fired. The attackers reeled off streams of silenced rounds – which ricocheted away from the dark figure flying over the ground toward them.

Then they recoiled in alarm at the tall, muscular figure – who wore jet black armour under a black hooded cloak and ripped a sword with a narrow, gleaming blade from its sheath.

His boot kicked one attacker in the chest, sending him crashing into the guy behind. He punched one to the ground. Then his blade slashed, stabbed and sliced. Five attackers lay dead. The other three retreated and ran into the woods. The hitman tore after them. The hitman who had threatened to kill me was now saving my life. Apparently, if he couldn’t kill me, no one else was allowed to either.

Loud, agonising screams rang out – from where the hitman had chased them down. He’d hunted them down and shown no mercy.

I didn’t wait for him to come back. I scrambled to my feet, shoved the Glock in my belt, grabbed a couple of assault rifles, slung the straps over my shoulders and ran for it. My eyes swept the trees in front of me, scanning for any signs of more attackers lying in wait as my feet pounded over the ground.

I reached the back garden fence bordering the house and leaned against it, bowing over to catch my breath. Then I edged slowly around the side. I peered around the corner to survey the street in front of the house. It all looked quiet. There was no sign of anyone.

Then an engine sounded somewhere close by, followed by another.

Dark shapes with no headlights roared up the street. Three black Mercedes SUVs sped towards the house and screeched to a halt in front of it. Out jumped seven figures in body armour, who carried handguns and rifles with sights and suppressors. They trained their weapons on me and motioned to me to get down on the ground.

My instincts told me it was so dark they probably hadn’t seen what I was carrying.

They were moving like they knew they’d cornered me.

I couldn’t get caught.

My heart pounded as I came to a sudden decision.

I did the one thing I could think of.

I grabbed one of the assault rifles – and opened fire.

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.