Man sitting at a computer

Where Were We?

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:

Friend.

Enemy.

And…

Don’t Know.

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.

The addict.

I began to convince myself that I could feel someone watching me.

Or it was just that I wanted someone to find us?

Boy peering out through hole

Waiting For Danger

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.

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.

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.

The Secret Identity of Annie Banks

The Secret Identity of Annie Banks is now available in paperback on Amazon. The ebook is still just 99p /$0.99/ EUR 0,99 or FREE to download with Kindle Unlimited.

After uncovering secret rooms, a stash of weapons and evidence of her parents’ dangerous past life, Annie Banks discovers a bigger secret buried in her own brain – codes, files and deadly martial arts skills, which snap into life when she needs them.

When their parents disappear, Annie and her brother Pete work together to unlock the clues left behind. Pursued by trained killers, they use all their hidden talents to search for their parents and survive a deadly chase in a dangerous world of spies and organised crime.

The Secret Identity of Annie Banks is the second instalment in the Mondial Series, the follow up to Atticus Crayle: The Accidental Spy.

Amazon US: www.amazon.com/author/jasonrybak

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Jason-Rybak/e/B0177V508Q

 

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Safehouse

Six drove hard, sticking to quiet country roads, As it started to get light again, he skidded to a sudden halt. Without saying a word, he grabbed his phone and spent ten minutes tapping away at it with a frown on his face. Then he handed it to me, telling me to flick between a map and what looked like a live camera feed of the inside of a house. He drove on and a couple of hours later, parked in the garage of a cottage on the edge of a village close to London.

“What is this place?” I asked.

“Safehouse. Officially it’s a holiday home. No one will think it’s strange that we’re here. We’ll be safe for a couple of nights and we can plan our next move.”
I recognised the interior from the camera feeds I’d been watching.
“This belongs to your emplyers? Won’t they look for you here?”
“No. It’s mine. No one else knows about it.”

Six wouldn’t answer any more questions. He set about checking his many hidden security measures and reported that no one had been there. I knew we were safe – for the time being at least.

It was about twenty-seven hours later when I realised that someone had been in the house while I was asleep and left things for us. There was a laptop containing every note and every manuscript I’d left behind in our crashed car.

My eye was drawn to some material I didn’t recognise – titled “URGENT”
It showed what else ShadowAspect had been up to recently.

The first incident sent a chill up my spine.

Escape

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Six turned and ran for it. I scrambled to my feet and followed. I felt dazed and a little delicate from being hit, but I just shook it off as I ran.

The farm was further away than it looked. Running in the darkness towards the shape of a group of buildings, I didn’t dare slow down. Glancing over my shoulder, it didn’t look like anyone was following.

Eventually we reached the farm and hid behind the wall of a barn. I collapsed to the ground, my lungs burning. My legs screamed in pain.

“Who the hell were they?” Six uttered. He wasn’t even breathing heavily.

“Dunno,” I gasped.

“They weren’t like ShadowAspect,” he thought out loud. “They were more like the woman who dodged my bullets.” He peered around the corner. “We need to get out of here before any of them see what car we’re driving.”

Six led the way and I staggered after him. He found a barn by the lane leading out of the farm and hauled the door open.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. Car doors unlocked in front of me. The lights came on inside the Ford Focus sitting in the barn.

Six jumped in the driver’s seat. I sank into the passenger seat. He accelerated and drove at breakneck sped out of the farm.

Floored

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I landed on my back. Six jumped in front of me and fired a volley of bullets at the shield. None of them got through.

Our attackers inside the shield ran right at us. Six didn’t move. He kept firing. The shield was going to hit him.

A shadowy figure shot past Six and through the shimmering shield like it wasn’t there. The shield vanished. The new arrival punched the shield carrier to the ground. He leapt and grabbed the flyer’s leg, yanked him down, then kicked him, sending him flying back into the graveyard.

He turned and waved at us, then pointed to the farm, ordering us to run for it.

ShadowAspect.

It was really good to see him again.

He couldn’t have timed his intervention any better.

Driving in the Dark

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Six swerved the Audi off the main road at the first turn and accelerated down a narrow country lane away from the streetlights and into pitch black. The headlights were on a low beam, sweeping over the road and hedges flying past on both sides.

We saw the turn late. Six skidded the car over the ground and jammed his foot on the accelerator, throwing us down the lane.

My phone buzzed. I opened the link Silas had sent. It was a detailed map showing our current location and every country lane around us. It gave a route to a destination 50 kilometres away.

“Isolated farmhouse,” Silas texted. “Change your car there.”

With me acting as navigator, Six took each turn like a rally driver, swerving down every turn at terrifying speeds. For once I was glad it was dark.

I shot a glance behind us every so often, looking for headlights following us, but there was no sign of anyone. I leaned back in my seat, allowing myself to relax a bit.

When we were less than a kilometre from the farmhouse, the headlights caught a dark shape moving ahead of us.

Six had seen it too. He pushed the brake.

The car sped up.

Six frowned and jammed his foot down hard on the brake pedal.

The car sped up again. Then it swerved violently.

Six gripped the steering wheel and hauled it back.

The car veered one way, then the other.

Six struggled with the wheel. I reached over and grabbed the wheel with both hands.

A force wrenched it out of our hands.

The car swerved. It shot straight off the road and ploughed through a hedge.

Six’s Driving Skills

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Bullets bombarded the windscreen and the bodywork of the Audi Six was driving.

They clanged and bounced off the car like it was bulletproof. The muzzle flashed. But Six ignored it and drove straight at the SUV. The gunman’s eyes widened in alarm, he ducked back in the SUV.

“Hang on,” Six uttered.

He accelerated. Then he heaved up the handbrake and hauled the steering wheel to the right. The car spun around. I clung on. As the SUV was about to hit us, the front of our Audi swung out of reach.

Then I was facing the opposite direction.

The car and the van had skidded to a halt behind us. It looked like they had just avoided crashing into each other. Then they turned around and set off after us.

We kept spinning until we faced the front again. The SUV screeched to a halt. It had just missed us.

Six accelerated and we sped away. My stomach lurched back into my spne. But for now, I was still alive.