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.

Closing in

Staying low, I backed away.

Three more figures came into view. Eight in total – heading straight for the house.

I moved a little quicker.

Then came the itch in the back of my head – someone was watching me. There were more people out in the woods.

Leaves rustled behind me.

I wheeled around.

A running figure flew at me – and knocked me flat.

I landed on my back on cold, wet ground. Stars fizzed in my eyes. My head span.

Two figures stood over me. One of them leaned in a little closer.

“Is this him? Is he wearing…”

There was no time to think. I took my chance. I rolled, pulled the gun from the back of my jeans. I aimed and squeezed the trigger one, two, three, four times. Both figures collapsed to the ground. I didn’t check to see if they were still alive. I didn’t want to. The gun belonging to one of them lay on the grass. I scrambled to my feet, grabbed it and ran.

The itch in my head told me the others had seen me and were pounding through the woods after me. I veered left and right, weaving through the trees, avoiding running in a straight line in case they tried shooting at me.

Suddenly the trees and everything around me were swallowed by darkness. A blanket of pitch black filled my night vision goggles. I tore off the goggles. I could see it happening around me – the night was disappearing in a blackness that swallowed up the trees and everything else.

Multiple footsteps thundered over the ground after me.

A volley of suppressed automatic shots reeled off close by.

I hit the ground.

They were close. But there was no way they could see me. Their best chance of finding me was tripping over me.

Then the darkness started to clear.

Eight dark figures materialised among the trees, just metres away. One of them turned in my direction and pointed right at me.

Eight assault rifles trained on me.

Eight bright red laser sights threaded through the darkness and beamed onto my chest.

 

 

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.

 

 

Temporary Safety

I was in no hurry to go anywhere after reading about ShadowAspect’s spying mission. Six agreed that staying still is a good tactic sometimes, so he sifted through the notes Silas had provided, looking for clues as to where retired detective Robert Gentry hid the file that everyone was hunting. Like it or not, we were in a race to find it first. Still, I took the chance to get some writing done. The view from some of the windows was the most inspiring I’d worked to in ages.

ShadowAspect had escaped the underground London café without being seen and visited a few other places that concerned Sarasin enough to send him. A couple have already appeared in books we’ve written, some haven’t. Seeing how many of them are on the brink of disaster or destruction, it was really more than I needed to know. I was in enough danger myself.

But I felt safe enough in our safehouse.

Little did we know, someone had already found us.

Mutual Threat

Wolsingham nodded to the bartender. A file rose in the air from behind the bar. It flew through the air and dropped on the table in front of Hoyer.

“What is this?” Hoyer asked – without touching it.

“A retired detective who was asking a lot of questions.”

“About your people or mine?”

“Mine. They took care of him before he could cause any lasting damage. But there are rumours.”

“Concerning.”

“A file of evidence that he collected before his death. It has never been found. It is said to contain proof of my organisation’s activities and an accurate assessment of our goals.” “This sounds like your problem,” Hoyer shrugged.

“If what I have heard is correct, it also contains evidence supporting his theory of an underground criminal organisation, which employs professionally trained teenagers.”

Silence.

Hoyer’s expression changed. He flicked through the file, then cleared his throat. “I’ll look into it.”

“You should,” Wolsingham stated. “Jason Rybak is. And you do not want him locating the file before you do.” He moved towards a door behind him, then turned. “You can tell your snipers and armed response unit to stand down. Not that they would have been much use here anyway.”

 

Suspected Existence

“Members of the security services are already beginning to suspect your existence and the work of your organisation,” Wolsingham said. He gave a sneering laugh. “Mondial. But they are unaware of mine and I need it to stay that way.”

“It is my understanding that there is a specialised agency dedicated to bringing you down.”

“Not for much longer,” Wolsingham replied. “As no one else knows about them, their demise won’t even make page 11 of the Evening Standard.” Wolsingham finished his tea, dabbed his mouth with a serviette and got to his feet. “I need the writer taken care of. In return, my people will provide assistance when you need it. I hope you gleaned everything you needed to with this visit.”

“I did,” Hoyer smiled. “And Jason Rybak will be dead before his first book charting the exploits of your people hits the internet.”

Me

I slammed my laptop shut and bowed over in my chair, trying to suppress the urge to vomit. Two of the most dangerous men in the world, never mind just the UK, and I was their next topic of discussion.

I took a deep breath and read on.

“Jason Rybak,” Wolsingham said. “The second people start taking the content of his work more seriously, we will both be in trouble.”

“I attempted to have him killed,” Hoyer replied. “As I know you did.”

Wolsingham scowled.

“But he has help,” Hoyer continued. “I know nothing about this helper. None of my people have even seen his face. But their accounts suggest he belongs more to your world than mine.”

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.

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.