I got comfortable. That was my mistake. After moving from place to place and surviving more attempts on my life than I want to remember, I guess it was bound to happen. I mean, I’m a writer, not a spy.
The fact we were still in the same house that Six found for us weeks ago had given me the chance to catch up on some work and actually be a writer – rather than someone who calls himself a writer but pretty much spends all his time trying not to die.
I was also supposed to be investigating the death of retired detective Robert Gentry and trying to find a file he’d hidden somewhere. A hitman from a parallel land had appeared and said he’d kill me if I didn’t. Then there was the young woman with the long auburn hair. She’d spied on us and followed us. She’d also saved my life. I just wished I knew what she saved it for.
I had a spreadsheet in my head. It had three columns:
Whoever this woman was, she was firmly in the “Don’t Know” column. She wasn’t the only person there either.
I put the mental spreadsheet to one side. Our safehouse in a chocolate box little town on the edge of the quaint English countryside was starting to feel like home. I was getting some work done and I was tired of constantly moving around.
We were starting to relax and venture out more. We used the local shops. We’d even drive into town sometimes. I knew I was taking less care about staying hidden, that more people were seeing my face. But surely no one would find me there.
But then an instinct crawled out of the depths of my brain. Wondering if someone had found me. Wanting something to happen – to be part of a story again. To see new stories happen as they unfolded.
I began to convince myself that I could feel someone watching me.
Or it was just that I wanted someone to find us?
At night, when I finished writing, I turned off the lights and opened the curtain. I stared out into the night, waiting for my eyes to catch something, to spot someone lurking outside.
I did it every night.
I could tell Six had noticed. He didn’t say anything. He was only twelve, but an experienced spy and a killer. Of the two of us, he was the patient one. But I couldn’t help thinking he was becoming restless. That he wanted something to happen. He spent a lot of time pouring over the evidence Silas had left us. He’d studied the conversation ShadowAspect had overheard between two arch criminals. But he didn’t know who either man was.
He kept referring to the safehouse as “his” – but never revealed how a twelve-year-old could own a house. But then, Six was no ordinary twelve-year-old.
Night came again. I finished work, shut down my computer, turned off the lights and opened the curtain.
I realised I’d been looking forward to this portion of the evening. I was too comfortable to leave safety and run into more danger. But somehow, I was willing danger to come to me.
Then something happened.
I almost missed it.
I locked the front door behind me and stepped out into the cold night air, then ventured through the trees around the back of the house. I’d wandered through there so many times I could do it in the dark no problem at all.
Every slasher horror film I’d ever seen flashed before my mind’s eye – where some idiot gets a call or hears a noise outside or wonders where their mate Weenus went. Instead of waiting inside where it’s safe, they step outside the safety of their home to see if they can see anything, usually leaving the front door open for any psycho to creep in unseen. Every time I see one of these films, I always shout at the screen:
“Stay inside, you idiot.”
Then the idiot gets stabbed to death and their body is found in a pool of blood.
So here I was, creeping outside the safety of the house to see if I could see anyone.
The car was stuck. Six gave up stamping on the accelerator and scowled. My shoulder and ribs sang from where the seatbelt had dug into them.
“How the hell did that happen?” he grated.
My phone vibrated.
“What happened?”Silas texted. “Why did you stop?”
“Something took control of the car and crashed it. We’re fine.”
“Get out of the car now. Take what you need and run. Leave files and computer – I have copies of everything. Check the boot.”
I hated leaving my laptop and manuscripts, but I knew I couldn’t run with them. Six found guns, ammo and night vision goggles in the boot. With out night vision goggles on, we left the car and ran over the field we had crashed into, which rose up towards the silhouette of a church at the top of a small hill.
I reached the church gasping for breath and leaned against the wall before my legs gave way. Looking back towards the car, I could see three figures skulking around it. They were searching for us.
Six and I crept around to a graveyard at the back. It was like an army of stones standing to attention. Beyond the graveyard was a meadow leading a mass of buildings that was the farm.
We picked our way through the gravestones, staying close to the biggest ones. Then Six stopped and pointed. I froze. Across the graveyard someone was moving. I couldn’t tell if we’d been seen or not. It looked like a man in a balaclava.
He stopped and lifted his face into the air like he was listening for something. What happened next was so unreal, I don’t think I would believe it now – if Six hadn’t been there and seen it too.
The man in the graveyard spread his arms. He lifted slowly into the air and flew right at us.
I couldn’t just stand there in case someone saw me. All I could do was head for the next meeting point and forget about what kind of hell was going to break loose when the mess I was standing in was discovered.
Taking care to step around the blood, I did a quick check to make sure there was no obvious trace on my clothes or shoes, then strode away.
A face peered around the corner I was heading for. It was Six. As I got closer, he had a look on his face that was probably the look on my face aswell. Confused. Stunned. Like something horrifying had happened. Knocked for six – so to speak.
I rounded the corner and we walked together in silence.
“What happened?” I asked eventually.
“Don’t want to talk about it.”
With my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t get the hood off.
A volley of silenced shots collided with the van wall close to my head. More silenced shots were fired outside. There were running feet. Punches and kicks were landed. There were yelps and screams of pain. A body smashed into the side of the van. Something hit a body hard. There was a crunch. A bone cracked. A shout of pain was silenced with a snap.
I waited, holding my breath, not daring to make a sound.
No one entered the van. I couldn’t hear or feel anyone near me.
Suddenly something grabbed my ankle and hauled me over the van floor. Then I was yanked out of the van. I landed on my feet. A blade sliced through the ziptie binding my wrists.
I waited a second for my rescuer to whip off the hood and say something, but nothing happened.
More pairs of feet ran towards us.
“We need to go now,” came a young woman’s voice. She sounded like she was panicking – less experienced than the others. Probably the woman from the couple I passed.
“Shut up,” the guy hauling me towards the van growled. “What was that shot I heard?”
“Didn’t come from any of us,” one guy replied. “I haven’t seen…”
“Don’t even think of saying it,” my guy cut him off.
We came to an abrupt halt.
“He has thirty seconds or he gets left behind.”
Silence. I could tell no one dared argue with him. You could feel the tension in the air.
Maybe there was hope for me yet – arguing and a gun shot none of them could account for. I waited hoping Six would spring from somewhere.
But then two pairs of hands shoved me in the van.
There was no time to react. My hands shot up to the hood over my head, but two pairs of hands grabbed my wrists and pinned them behind my back. A zip tie clamped my wrists together, digging painfully into my skin. I bruise like a peach at the best of times. If I ever got out of this, I knew it would leave a big bruise for ages.
A pair of hands shoved me against the cathedral wall and pinned me there.
“Let’s see you write your way out of this one,” a male voice grunted.
My face wrapped in darkness, I strained my ears for every sound.
Someone approached from around the corner.
“We’re clear,” came a second voice.
“We found you a cave of your own,” the first voice said. “One where no one will ever find you.”
It’s all happening. With the release of the paperback version the same day and the second title in the Mondial series coming a week later, here is a chance to read Atticus Crayle’s adventure for free.
Atticus Crayle: The Accidental Spy eBook will be free to download on Amazon from Monday September 12th for five days.
Atticus Crayle isn’t your average teenage genius. He lives alone in the council house he officially shares with his mum and is extremely self-sufficient. He has built a chemistry lab in his attic and spends his weekends secretly testing homemade chemicals and explosives.
His only friend is Gemma, who blows up dirt with him every Saturday. She has secrets of her own. Her uncle Damon is a spy and she plans to be one too.
Atticus is on holiday with Gemma and Damon when he finds himself under attack by gunmen and caught up in a kidnapping plot involving spies, trained killers and organised crime.
Mixed up in a dangerous new world where he might just belong, Atticus has never had a Christmas holiday like it.
The paperback version can be purchased on Amazon for £4.99 / $7.99 / EUR 6,99
The Secret Identity of Annie Banks will be released on Monday September 19th.
“That’s not a suicide note,” I concluded. “It’s some kind of message.”
“Or a clue,” Six said, sounding more enthusiastic.
“It’s a 4,” I shrugged.
“It’s a weird looking 4,” he replied. “And a guy who was a sniper has the accuracy and dexterity to carve one properly.”
“Look where they found his fingerprints,” I said, pointing to a report. “They’re all placed where they should be if he’s leaning. There are no scuff marks or footprints.”
“So if he went over on purpose,” Six said. “He would have to dive over the railing. He left the message because he knew someone was coming for him.”
“You’d only arrange to meet someone there at that time and wait over two hours if it was important,” I replied.
“Someone he couldn’t meet at home,” Six frowned. “Who couldn’t be seen.”
“So the question is – did they kill him or did someone else get to him first?”