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.

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Teenager Atticus Crayle sets off on holiday with some new friends – only to be attacked by gunmen and drawn into a deadly kidnapping plot. Atticus finds himself in an explosive car chase, a perilous train journey and one hail of bullets after another. He’s caught in a dangerous world of spies and organised crime. But Atticus Crayle is no ordinary teenage genius.

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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.

 

 

Hitman

The closer I ventured to the house, the darker the windows seemed to be – the lights hadn’t just been turned off, something else had filled the space left behind by the light.

I eased the front door open and closed it quietly behind me. I edged across the floor towards the stairs.

A dark shape appeared at the top of the staircase, making me jump out of my skin.

The hitman.

But there was no immediate attempt to kill me. Instead he turned and disappeared.

I hurried up the stairs after him.

He loomed in the room I’d been using as a study, his head nearly touching the ceiling. He grasped a manuscript in his gloved hand – one I hadn’t got around to working on yet.

“Where did you get this?” he growled.

“I found it on my desk,” I shrugged. “Like I always do. It came from him – the same as all the others.”

The hitman’s expression was grave.

“No. It didn’t.”

I stared at him dumbfounded.

“What do you mean – it didn’t,” I uttered.

“This didn’t come from him,” the hitman snapped. “Someone else broke in here and left it for you.”

“Why would they do that?” I blurted.

“I don’t know.” The hitman slammed the manuscript back on the desk, making papers and books spill onto the carpet. He gave me a murderous dark scowl. “There’s something about you they find special.”

“I haven’t found what the detective left,” I blurted.

“I know.” He strode out of the room. “Looks like you’re too important to kill – for now. You’d better get on with it.”

I studied the mystery manuscript. I scrolled through hours and days of security footage. I found nothing. No one could have got in, left the manuscript and got out again without us knowing. But someone did.

Gone

I lulled myself into a false sense of security. I’d convinced myself we were safe.

I lumbered downstairs for breakfast one morning – to find Six was gone. He’d left a go bag on the kitchen table with a note:

“Be ready.”

That was it. No explanation. No saying where he was going or when he was coming back – even if he was coming back. He was just gone.

It threw me. I saw in a daze for a few hours, then something fired up inside me and I got myself ready. Six had been the careful one – checking our security systems, scrolling through camera footage, occasionally patrolling the perimeter, which meant wandering out with a football at random times of day looking like a normal kid and seeing what he could find. But there’d been nothing.

The only strange thing that happened recently was the last time we’d driven into town, which we’d done a few times. He’d been kind of spaced out in the car. I’d turned the radio on and sung along to a few classic tunes and he’d sat there in a daze. Then, in town, he’d vanished suddenly, only to meet up with me back at the car. He never told me why or what he’d done.

Now this.

I’d gone out for the odd wander anyway, mainly to get some air and exercise, but I’d always been careful and kept my eyes open for anything unusual. But I had Six for backup. Now it was all down to me.

I went through everything he’d shown me, making sure all cameras and motion sensors were working, which I could do from the computer upstairs. I scrolled through the last few hours of security camera footage. It all seemed fine.

No. Wait. Something nagged at the back of my brain.

I checked it again.

No one appeared twice. Two kids kicking a football one time. A married couple strolling past. Apart from that it was the residents of the streets – and we’d identified them, their vehicles and any regular visitors ages ago.

I found it. One car passing by slowly – four times. You don’t just pass our house unless you have somewhere to go. It didn’t stop anywhere. Within minutes each time, it passed traffic and security cameras on a main street nearby, which Six had hacked into. Even pausing on the car and zooming in, there was no way of making out who was inside. I was pretty sure it slowed right down as it passed the house, but no one ever got out. I grabbed a pen and paper to make a note of the number plate – but it was spattered with mud – just enough to make reading it impossible.

“Do you know where Six is?” I texted Silas.

“No,” came the instant reply.

How do you tell if someone is lying on a text? Well, the answer was too quick and only one word. Silas knew more than I did. And there was no way of getting it out of him.

“I’m in more danger now he’s gone.”

“You’re fine.”

Another short answer. What the hell was going on?

That night, after checking and double-checking doors, windows and the security system, I headed out for a walk. I wandered along the road in front of the house, turned right down a pathway bordered by wooden fences, vaulted over one at the end to double back on myself, this time approaching the house from the wooded area behind the back garden.

No one around.

Then I saw something that made an icy chill shoot up my spine.

The windows of the house were dark. And I’d left the lights on.

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The evidence says he did it. The police, his teachers and his friends think he’s a killer. When the chance comes, teenager Matt Tyler has a choice – face life in prison or run for it

On the run with no friends, no money and nowhere to go, Matt is cornered by a man calling himself the Bounty Hunter and issued a challenge: survive 48 hours with a rucksack on your back and the million pounds inside is yours.

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Part Two of the story I’ve been serialising on my blog, the Diary of the Writer on the Run, begins again next week. To read Part One, totally free of course, click on the link.

The Diary of the Writer on the Run

 

The Hidden Venue

ShadowAspect melted through a couple of walls and emerged in a small electronics shop that had been closed hours ago. Heavy shutters hid what was happening inside.

The two men with guns lingered out of sight by the door. Their boss followed a woman dressed like a shop assistant to a door marked “Private”, then through a stockroom to a large bookcase covered in boxes set against the back wall.

Slinking behind them, ShadowAspect had already seen seven tiny security cameras. They had all been turned off – apart from the one in the bookcase.

The bookcase swung aside. They stepped inside and it shut behind them.

After waiting a few seconds, a heavy security door opened. The man made his way in alone and strode down a dimly lit corridor with impressionist paintings on the wall. Most were fake, but some were originals. The corridor opened out into a bright café with marble floor and walls.

A waiter with a Glock 17 strapped under his apron greeted him and showed him to a table under a rooflight. A glance around the room told the new arrival that everyone there was armed – in one way or another. And they were all watching him.

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.

To Remain Unseen

The notes on the laptop ShadowAspect had left me didn’t say when it had happened, but the fact the incidents were marked “Urgent” suggested it had all taken place recently.

Shadow Aspect emerged in a central London street in the dead of night. It was darker than he’d expected. Over half the streetlights he could make out in either direction had failed to turn on. It was perfect for him – and anyone else not wanting to be seen. Someone had taken out the lights on purpose.

A car rolled down the street, its headlights already turned off. It parked about fifty metres away.

ShadowAspect noticed something on the wall above. He stretched up the wall and touched his elongated fingers to the security camera belonging to the shop behind him. It wasn’t working. Every other security camera on the street wouldn’t be working either. Someone didn’t want to be seen. And they had the power to make that happen.