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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Endgame – Out now on paperback

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What would you do if you were arrested for murder? Run from the police? Fight to prove your innocence? Take part in a deadly game to win a fortune?

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.

Matt joins up with Teagan, who helps him search for answers and stay ahead of his pursuers. But she has her own criminal past and a real taste for danger. Can Matt stay alive long enough to prove he’s innocent?

To find Endgame on Amazon, click on the relevant link below.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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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

 

Henry Frey Versus the Dark Santa book cover

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Synopsis

Henry Frey smells danger when he spots an old enemy in a London toy store. Trouble is, Christmas is just days away, Britain is in chaos and he hasn’t heard from anyone in Alvahame in months. With no one else to help, Henry sets off to save Christmas alone.

A tall hooded figure in a sleigh led by eight reindeer lands in central London. But it’s not Santa Claus. And they’re not reindeer. Henry finds himself out of his depth against a powerful enemy who has been planning his attack on Alvahame for years and knows a lot about him. With his every weakness exposed and his new family in danger, will Henry’s friends from Alvahame be there to help?

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Happy Christmas to all my readers!

Ten-Digit Code

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The iron gate was floor to ceiling, stretching across the entrance and exit. There was no way of climbing over or breaking in.

“Now what?” Six demanded.

I stared helplessly at the gate. Did Silas think it would be open – or did he have some way to get us in?

My phone vibrated. A text from Silas.

“You’ll be needing this.”

His next text was a ten-digit number.

What was that for?

Then Six pointed to a keypad set in the wall. I typed in the number Silas had sent and the iron gate slid back.

I led the way inside the carpark, suddenly realising I had no idea what I was looking for. The text came.

“You’re looking for a grey Audi S3.”

Locked Out

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As we neared our next destination, our pace quickened. It felt like we were being followed again. I shot a glance over my shoulder and caught sight of a silhouette on a rooftop. I didn’t know who it was, but someone must have found the carnage I’d left behind by now.

“We can’t stay,” Six said. “We need to go – now.”

Once the hotel we were supposed to be staying in was just a hundred metes away, I texted Silas.

“They found us. We need to get out – now.”

A text came back in seconds.

“Hotel carpark. Round the back. Lower ground floor.”

We hurried around the back of the hotel Silas had booked us in for the night, then down the ramp to the carpark.

An iron gate was shut across it. We were locked out.

Quick and Impossible

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“So it wasn’t you who pulled me out of the van?” I asked Six.

“I was on a rooftop,” Six replied. “It must have been the same person I’d shot at before.

One of them got mixed up in our first shootout. Didn’t end well for him. But I knew then that they were coming for you.” Six shook his head. “I saw him from the rooftop. So quick.” He shot me another look. “He could do things – things that should’ve been impossible. I tried shooting at him anyway and I still couldn’t hit him. He pulled you from the van without touching you.”

“Did you get a look at him?” I asked.

“Wouldn’t know him if he passed us on the street right now.”

Need More Ammo

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We took a longer, roundabout route to out next destination, circling back on ourselves a couple of times just to make sure we weren’t being followed.

“Gonna need more ammo,” Six grunted eventually, a scowl on his face.

“You ran out?”

“Yep.”

“Can you get more?”

“When we get to London – I have some hidden in a few places.”

“You have ammo hidden around London?”

“And some other stuff.”

Six looked up at me before I could ask any more questions.

“I barely landed a shot,” he said pointedly. “That first guy I ran into – I didn’t get near him. Whoever he was – he was so quick. Then I made it to the cathedral as that team were shoving you in the van. I took a couple of them down, but then he attacked them and killed the rest.”

Getaway

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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.”