It’s been a while but my blog is back, this time as part of my brand new website, jasonrybak.com, which is the perfect place to peruse my books, check out this blog and keep up-to-date with my latest news and releases. There’ll be the occasional freebie as well! More on that below.
You can sign up to the blog and receive email alerts when the latest edition is published. As well as new releases and descriptions of books already on the market, the focus of the blog will be continuing my fictional story, The Diary of the Writer on the Run.
The Diary of the Writer (Part One) is free to read on jasonrybak.com as a PDF. It’s part diary, part thriller, part fantasy. You’ll get the chance to meet my alter-ego as well!
Here’s a brief description:
Stalked by someone who leaves no evidence of their presence, a writer (me) gets caught up in the dangerous world he’s written about in his books – which he thought were just made up and imaginary.
Part Two begins on Friday.
PS Happy Halloween everybody!
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.
As my hands reached for the hood, I knew that whoever had pulled me out wasn’t Six. Why hadn’t they identified themselves? And how did they get me out wihout climbing into the van?
I pulled the hood away.
I was alone. There was no one watching me, no one waiting to ask if I was okay. Whoever had helped me had gone.
But my eyes were drawn to the scene around me. There were dead bodies scattered over the ground. One was slumped against the van, which was riddled with bullet indentations and spattered with blood. Some of them had been shot. The rest had been beaten to death. I recognised the couple I’d passed before among the dead.
They were all armed and trained. They were organised. So who took them down? And why didn’t they let me see them?
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.
I left the hotel alone, passing the receptionist who had started the night shift well after we had checked in. He didn’t know who I was. I wandered out the door and paused on the street, looking casually left and right like a tourist out for a nightly stroll.
Following the route we had planned, I wandered down some quiet streets, aiming for centre. The only noise was when I passed a few bars who were still open for business.
Our meeting point was by the river. I stood, hidden in the shadows, jumping every time I thought I caught sight of movement in the darkness.
But nothing happened.
Six did not show.
I thought back to my encounter with #6 – it’s the only name I could come up with for him. He was into something, but I hadn’t seen him since. I didn’t even know if his predicament had anything to do with me or not. Or he was just crazy. No. A few girls on a school trip didn’t make a hit squad.
“They’re leaving tomorrow,” Vivian murmured to me as she brought me my lunch. “And we’re all very glad they are. Those kids are everywhere. I even found a couple of them behind the reception desk. And our chef had to kick some out of the kitchen.”
“It’s always fun exploring a new place,” I grin.
“Even our crappy hotel,” she laughs. “See you later, Alan!”
As soon as I’d finished my lunch, I started to feel drowsy. My head was so cloudy and heavy, I had to lie down. I collapsed onto the bed. The room span around me and my stomach turned. I felt sick. I felt really ill.
My mind churned over in the few seconds before I passed out, running over what Vivian had said. I knew she was okay, because Silas did a check on everyone in the hotel. But she’d said the kids were in the kitchen and behind the reception desk. Reception – the one computer where my financial records could be accessed, as well as the credit card information for my employer, who with Silas’s help, was paying for my room and all my meals. Then Vivian said the kids were in the kitchen, the perfect place to poison my lunch and take me out of action. The next time they tried to break into my room, I wouldn’t be able to stop them.
I blacked out.
Who was Silas really? How did he have access to all that information? He knew about the dead cop and expected an information leak would lead back to him. So what did he do and was he really hiding somewhere?
I knew he was afraid of the hitman finding him. Strange how a hitman from another world would intervene on something that didn’t seem to directly concern him. And stranger still that Sarasin didn’t send ShadowAspect to protect me. Was I really that expendable? Or was Sarasin scared of him too?
I believed the hitman’s threat – that he would find me and kill me. But how did he expect me, a writer, to get out there and do a spy’s job? Even if I managed to find the information, how on earth would I get back alive when I was being hunted myself? I was pacing the room with my head in my hands panicking. My heart hammered. I paced for hours.
Then the panic and mind-numbing fear subsided. What did that cop have? I had to wonder what story led to a cop being killed and a killer from a parallel world being so afraid of what he had that he had to get involved. That was a story I had to see for myself. I had to know more.
I knew then. I needed to see the cop’s information. I had to write the story. The addict had taken over.
The Vudrian hitman picked up a pile of ShadowAspect’s notes and drafts.
“It must kill you – having seen the real thing and now making do with secondary material.”
“What do you mean?” I shift in my chair.
“I know an addict when I see one. You’ve looked into the Infinistra. Now you’re stuck in a room wanting more. Very clever of Sarasin it was too.”
“Nothing I can do about it now,” I snap.
“I can’t find Sarasin,” he said flatly. “And I don’t have the time to waste hunting him down. Killing you would set him back, but not for long, so I need to know you’re going to hide the facts in the fiction.”
“I was going to anyway,” I shrugged.
“My planet has its own problems. But you’re in the middle of two worlds that are about to collide. There is a real danger of harmful information coming out and I need it kept secret.”
“Unless it’s presented as fantasy, you mean?”
“Some of it is about to be presented as fact. And once it is out, there will be no stopping it.”
He advanced on me. I really didn’t like where this was going.
“You need to get to it first. There is a file of information hidden somewhere and you need to find it before anyone else does. Then you must use it in your stories. If someone does try to present it as truth later on, no one will ever believe them.”
“How do I do that?” I spluttered. “What am I looking for?”
“Ask your friend Silas about a dead cop. Then you’ll know what to do.”
“What if he won’t help.”
“Tell him he can hide all he likes. I know where to find him.”
With that, he parted the curtains, stepped through the window like it was water and vanished. I ran to the window, but he was gone.
The more I watched the killer in front of me, the more certain I was that I recognised him. Sitting there feeling numb from the skull down, my mind wandering somewhere inside, I couldn’t work out what was more terrifying – what he was going to make me do – or that he found me and got to me so easily.
“You’re not unique,” the Vudrian hitman said. “If I kill you, Sarasin simply recruits another just like you.”
I felt a jolt. Sarasin would replace me just like that?
“You really thought you were the only one?”
I shrugged, caught off guard.
“Do you know what the Cardinal Rule of my world is?”
Nothing would come out if I tried to speak, so I just shook my head.
“That your world never finds out about mine. Anything happens to you now and it will look like someone has something to hide.”
I cleared my throat.
“But if I keep writing and publishing, it could all be a story,” I agreed.
“Everyone out there has to believe that,” he said. “The more you write, the more it will look like a fantasy. And the more detail you throw in, the more unbelievable your readers will find it.”
“So that’s what you want me to do? Write more?”
I took one look at him and knew the worst was still to come.
If I’d had to guess what Silas would send me next, it wouldn’t have been The Walking Dead. Didn’t see that coming at all. Zombies were never really my thing. But I tried it anyway and was pretty much hooked from the first episode. All the while, I was working on the material from Sarasin, writing, rewriting and editing. Trouble was, after seeing the real thing, watching the myriad stories as they happened, just making do with Ghostwriter’s written material didn’t seem enough anymore. In spare moments, I’d find myself thinking about what I’d seen and imagining what Sarasin would be watching right now. Then I started taking longer and longer getting to sleep at night, my mind sorting through the images in the Infinistra, working out what those people were doing now and if I’d ever recognise them in one of my books. I couldn’t help thinking Sarasin did it on purpose. Now he knows I’m hooked – and I always will be.