“Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?”
“Why, my dear, you are.”
The knife is smooth and cold on both sides. The edge is jagged, and overall, it takes a lot more force than she originally suspected to stick it in just the right spot.
Angling the knife, her force is precise and heavy. Leaning over, it slides into his heart with ease. His initial grunts are cut off by the pillow her left hand holds over his face. Her right hand jams the knife in harder in an effort to stem any last noises or movements. He needs to die.
The pressure of his hand closing around her arm feels like a snake slithering and wrapping its body around her, but it gradually releases and drops to the bed.
“All hail the King,” she whispers.
The knife slides out with a few catches on muscle, skin, and cloth until it comes free with drips of blood clinging to its metal. Moonlight catches the beads of red and makes them sparkle.
Stealing from the room, she hides the knife in the folds of a towel. The same towel which allowed her to sneak the knife past several guards. None of them would suspect her of the deed she had just committed.
The games are about to begin.
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Later, after the day’s discussions had given the other part of my brain a chance to think more rationally about events, I drove home in a calmer manner than in the morning. Cloud cover had begun to creep across the sky at about midday, gradually reducing the sun from a bright ghost behind a translucent screen to an unobtrusive and dimmer source of light. The ceiling dropped lower and lower as I drove and it was obvious that a stormy night was in store. By the time I was home, dark rolls of cloud were tumbling over and over in the rising wind, and the slab sided Defender rocked to every gust.
I put my key to the lock, but stopped short. My heart accelerated, thumping. My mouth went dry. I had locked the front door when I left, now it was almost closed. Almost, just half an inch of the jamb was showing. It open slowly and quietly to a gentle push. No sound could be heard over the storm and the odd creak from the old house. Precious little light entered through the small windows from that darkening sky; it was impossible to make out any detail in the room. I stood motionless until my eyes adjusted, the door pulled to behind me, listening for the slightest odd sound amidst the patter of the rain on the tiles and the rumble of the weather rolling in.
Every drawer and cupboard door was open, the contents strewn over the floor. Chair cushions had been ripped open and tossed to the side, one chair was on its back, the TV was on the floor, but intact. The kitchen did not look as if it had been touched. All this I took in at a glance. Was he still here? That was vital. Anger tried to surface. I forced it down; emotion could wait. I quietly crossed the room to my office. It was trashed. Files were ripped open and paper lay everywhere. Sellotape, scissors, paper clips and pens were strewn across the floor. The bookshelf had been tipped over, and my laptop had been given a stomping.
Lighting flashed, illuminating the room for a second, the devastation stark. An immediate crack of thunder showed how close the strike had been. The shock was distracting, but a little noise behind me wasn’t right. A rustle of clothes, a breath close by, I don’t know, but it shouldn’t have been there. I ducked and turned. Something clipped my ear and glanced off my left shoulder dropping me to the floor. A broad, dark, hooded figure stood over me, a jemmy high above his head, the curved end silhouetted by the window. It swept down again, seemingly in slow motion. I rolled away just in time. It thudded into the floor. It went up above his head for the next blow. He wasn’t going to miss again. Hooking my left foot behind his to jam it, I stabbed at the front of his knee with my right one. He grunted in pain and fell over backwards. I tried to get up, but my shoulder wouldn’t support the move. I rolled over to use the other side, but he had already clambered to his feet and run out, limping heavily.
He half ran and half hopped down the drive, disappearing in the rain before he reached the gate. He was in no state to continue the fight, thank goodness; I certainly wasn’t. The whole episode had probably lasted no more than ten seconds, less, but it felt an age. Talking of age, I poured an twelve year old malt down my throat and then added a touch of water to the next one.
Captain Olly Johnson has twice used his stolen Bussard ram jet, the Longboat, to blackmail human colonies into giving him large amounts of gold. That makes him humanity's first interstellar pirate, even though his ship travels slower than light. One more profitable raid, and Johnson thinks he, his family, and his First Mate John Larsen can retire, and never have to worry about money again. Approaching a third star system after an eight-year (ship's time) journey, the pirates have found mysteries they cannot solve: an entire population of a human colony missing and an unknown, alien-looking ship in orbit. When the alien ship comes after them and they can't outrun its superior technology, they have to decide to fight or surrender. And Johnson isn't the type to surrender. Have they stumbled into a galactic war, or are they about to start one?
If you wrong us, shall we not revenge? Rick Bailey is living a nice, quiet life on the planet where he retired, enjoying the money he found in the Treasure of the Black Hole. Without warning, he is arrested for helping his former lover, Jil, break out of prison where she was serving a 20-year term for murdering an alien. Hoping to clear his name, Bailey goes after Jil. But the slime-bed mate of Jil's victim is also after her. Now, Bailey's only hope for saving Jil is to find a treasure buried on a planet over ran with cannibalistic pirates. He teams up with a Core Empire Intelligence Corps officer, but she might have motives of her own. Can Rick save Jil and keep himself out of the clutches of the Core Empire that wants to vivisection him, the police who want to jail him, and the alien who wants vengeance for his brother's murder?
While blizzards raged across the Northern Hemisphere, tourists donned sunglasses, sandals, and garish T-shirts to confront a sultry January day in Barbados. The fierce sun seared virgin white skin and waves of heat rippled off the pavement.
Swarming the dock like ants attacking a crumb of sugar cookie, crew and passengers disembarked from three cruise ships docked in the deep-water harbor. Two of the ships, the Aurora and the Polaris belonged to Constellation Cruise Lines. The uniformed crew—wearing caps with bold blue and red CCL insignia and short-sleeved cotton shirts tucked into crisp white shorts—patiently directed passengers through the congested terminal.
Metal stairs rattled, supply carts clanked, and a loudspeaker crackled messages over the din of the crowd. Caribbean music pierced the discord. A string band twisted the melody of an old ballad into a lazy calypso beat punctuated by the mellow timpani of a steel drum. Five black musicians swayed and twisted through the throng keeping step with their own music—a Caribbean-style marching band. Frayed straw hats bobbed in time to the rhythm. Red, orange, and purple flowered shirts undulated over boxy green shorts and dirty white tennis shoes as the musicians played homemade instruments fashioned from lead pipes, coconut shells, scrap lumber, and tin. Electronic flashes burst from the crowd of tourists who diligently recorded the scene with cameras.
A man wearing a dark turtleneck shirt under a long-sleeved white service coat scowled at the crowd. Hefting a CCL tote bag the agile man maneuvered through the horde of bewildered tourists and slipped down a vacant corridor. Hesitating for a heartbeat he scanned the empty hallway, inserted a key into the door, and slipped inside.
The sign on the door read: “Quarantined Area, No Admittance,” but no alarm bells blared, no security guards charged in to make an arrest. The intruder turned on the lights and opened his tote bag. He removed a pair of surgical gloves, a cotton swab taped to a long stick, and a small black manicure case. A cricket chirped, a tree-frog trilled, and leaves rustled as lizards scuttled from sight. Forest sounds seemed incongruous in a room full of stainless steel equipment, wire cages, and glass enclosures plastered with large red labels proclaiming “Danger” in several languages.
Snapping surgical gloves onto sweaty hands, he cautiously pried open the lid of a small terrarium, inserted the cotton swab, and stroked the skin of the tiny frog. Startled, the frog vaulted toward the open lid. The stranger jerked back and dropped the cotton swab into the glass cage.
The two-inch reptile clutched the edge of the glass with sticky, bulbous toes and peeked through the opening. It looked harmless, strangely beautiful with iridescent yellow stripes down a navy blue hide, except for the deadly toxin coating its skin. One touch could kill a man as surely as a cobra’s bite.
As the diminutive creature squeezed through the glass lid, the intruder retreated to a safe distance. The frog jumped, landing near his shoe. Screaming, he scrambled to avoid the dangerous reptile, plastic soles squeaking against the slick floor, and crashed into a cart full of metal trays that clanged to the floor. The frog vanished. Holding his breath, the man stepped in circles, searching. He spotted the quivering reptile—a patch of glowing color in the dark shadow of a table—and exhaled a sigh of pent up breath.
Heart pounding, he fished out the cotton swab, unzipped the manicure kit, and extracted two glass vials, a white plastic toothpick, and a pair of tweezers. Eyeing the frog, he rubbed the moist swab over the toothpick and the tweezers, slipping each into a glass vial.
Storing the vials in the manicure kit, he noticed a sticky smear on his jacket sleeve just inches from bare skin. A similar smudge the size of the frog marred the glass terrarium. Cursing, he threw the swab to the floor and stripped off gloves and coat. Folding the tainted sleeve to the inside of the jacket, he wiped a trickle of sweat with a trembling hand. Turning off the lights, he fled.
No one noticed a man wearing a dark turtleneck shove a white bundle into the dockside trash bin. He joined a group of tourists who climbed the gangway to the Aurora.
The laboratory remained quiet for an hour. When the door clanged open, the tiny reptile retreated to safety behind a table leg.
Hubert flipped on the light switch singing, “Every liddle ting goin’ ta be ah—all right.” He wagged his head to the rhythm of his own song as he dragged a sloshing orange bucket on wheels into the laboratory. Glaring fluorescent lights flickered and buzzed overhead.
He abruptly stopped singing and surveyed the room warily. “Hello! Who’s been makin’ such a mess?”
A marshy scent of rotting wood and leaves wafted from a nearby enclosure. Inside a miniature dinosaur shifted its head to peer at him with an eerie gaze.
“It’s a good job I’m not de bloke cleaning your cage, mister,” he said and skirted past the reptile.
“Wonder how des trays get spilt over de floor. Nobody was working las’ night.” After stacking trays onto the proper cart, he bent and picked up a cotton swab from the floor. “Dis looks mighty strange. Dem science blokes don’t toss trash ’round like dis.” He fingered the sticky substance at the end of the swab. His skin tingled and heat flashed up his arm, sweat stung his face. He swiped his forehead with a meaty brown hand. “What in de world...” Eyes widening, he clutched his throat and gagged.
Scrambling for the door, Hubert tripped over the orange bucket and sprawled on the floor. Legs twitched. Fingers jerked. Soapy water sloshed across the checkerboard linoleum, soaking Hubert’s body and seeping into the shadows. The frog climbed up the table leg, its beady black eyes watching the large man die.
That evening Bajan radio spread the news over the airwaves: “A terrible accident resulting in death at the Port Authority occurred today when a janitor touched a lethal Poison Dart Frog. The frog, which escaped from a shipment earmarked for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, was subsequently captured. Discovery of the body occurred when a lab technician entered the facility to perform afternoon feeding duties. Public release of the identity of the deceased was withheld pending notification of family members. The Port Authority promised a full investigation.”
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. The Butcher has been caught and her trial is set. She’s going to show Jake and his team of detectives that it doesn’t matter if she is in prison, she can still get to anyone and to prove this, she hires some help to throw a wrench into the prosecution’s case by taking out some of the witnesses they have lined up. You will hear testimony that Jake and his team are assigned to protect the witnesses, however The Butcher’s associates get to a few of them, so Jake and his team are forced to rescue them. As they try to keep the witnesses safe, Ashaki, the new A.D.A who is assigned The Butcher’s case, is kidnapped and tortured. Can Jake and his team find her in time to try The Butcher’s case and put her away for the crimes she committed or will The Butcher escape and continue to grow her criminal empire in Avalon City?
Alex and Oliver live in worlds, poles apart; new worlds shaped by a terrible world war and the emerging freedoms of the Sixties. A killer stalks, and five people are drawn into the intrigue surrounding a serial murderer; a series of events set in the Seventies, influenced by the past… a string of events—a daisy chain.
Daisy Chain; an erotic thriller from the masterly pen of Mark Montgomery.
Colin McMillan sat in the car outside the flat and stared at the window. More than once he started to get out and changed his mind. The light was on. She was there; he’d seen the curtain move an hour ago. Since then there had been nothing. For two months he had tried and failed to have a conversation with his estranged wife. Joyce didn’t want to speak to him and hung up as soon as she heard his voice.
Without her, the house in Bearsden where they had lived for fifteen years, was just bricks and mortar; rooms filled only with memories of them as Colin and Joyce: The McMillans.
On their last night together they’d made love in the dark. And in the dark, Joyce was more demanding than he had ever known her. She devoured him, scratching his back and beating her fists on his chest, like a trapped animal trying to escape. When it was over she turned away, sobbing quietly into the pillow. Because she had known.
The following evening, McMillan returned to find his wife gone, leaving him confused and unhappy and alone to wonder what he had done wrong.
Since then, he had drifted through days that became weeks then months, paralysed with sorrow; unable to come to terms with it. He had been here on other nights, hoping she would talk to him and at least tell him why.
The edge of the curtain drew back a fraction. For a couple of seconds, a face peered down at him. Or did it? He couldn’t be sure. It had been a long and difficult day in theatre dealing with a series of complicated deliveries; the surgeon was exhausted. Seeing what he wanted to see, maybe. So he waited, afraid of causing a scene, knowing it wouldn’t help. After twenty minutes, he came to a decision. Whatever the problem was it could be put right. He had to have one last go at saving his marriage.
McMillan got out of the car.
His footsteps echoed in the stairwell. A lonely sound. At the top he stopped. The door of the flat was open. He called. ‘Joyce! Joyce! Joyce it’s me!’
McMillan went inside, along the hall and into the lounge at the end. There was no sign of his wife. He tried a bedroom. Nobody there. Not in the kitchen either. In the second bedroom he found her and his world fell apart.
Joyce was hanging from a cupboard door. She had cut an electrical cable off something and used it as a makeshift noose. Her features were distorted by the agony endured in the minutes before she died. Saliva trickled from her mouth and a viscous strand of mucous hung from her chin, like the beginning of a spider’s web. The tip of her tongue poked from between her teeth below bulging eyes that didn’t see.
The books she’d been standing on lay scattered on the floor and her arms were by her side, pushed tight inside the belt she had been wearing so she wouldn’t be able change her mind. Joyce McMillan hadn’t wanted to save herself.
Colin McMillan ran to his wife and threw himself around her waist, sobbing like a child. He eased her lifeless body off the door and carried it into the lounge. On the couch he placed a pillow beneath her head and ran his fingers tenderly through her hair.
What kind of hell had she been in to do this?
The answer was on the coffee table. Three crisp pages slipped under a half-finished cup of tea, still warm. Joyce’s small unhurried hand explained all her husband hadn’t understood, and more.
At the end she had written ‘I’m so sorry. Forgive me. Please.’
Reading it broke McMillan’s heart. It hadn’t been passion that final night – it was despair. When he finished, he was crying. He turned off the light and sat staring into the darkness, drained of every emotion except hate. Joyce’s face, horribly twisted in her final moments, would be with him for as long as he lived. He loosened his tie with a trembling hand. Eventually, he folded the sheets of paper and put them in his jacket pocket, reached for the telephone and dialed 999.
Twenty yards ahead a lamppost illuminated a solitary man. At this distance there was no mistaking Ulysses Lundetto, current chancellor of Zone 11, a heavyweight in every sense. Next in line to be World President, he was a politician of golden reputation. Not so much as a tinge of corruption had ever been proved against him, yet the inner circle knew. Lundetto was as crooked as a donkey's hind leg tied up in knots, then twisted before being spun.
Bardolf took the moment to flick his special zollar coin, not that he believed in augury. Spinning this favoured silver piece was merely a habit, and he cultivated habits like other people might nurture children. He glanced as it landed in his palm. Decision made, he moved on.
‘What were you doing back there?’ Lundetto barked as Bardolf covered the last few yards – not that he paused for an answer. ‘You’re late. Bad mistake keeping me waiting.’ He sniffed and tugged up his coat collar.
‘Chancellor Lundetto,’ Bardolf stated unapologetically, dark eyes unwavering.
As Lundetto glowered, Bardolf set aside Gorg’s advice to check round for treachery. He saw no need. Obviously Lundetto had something important to say, otherwise he’d never have left his palatial quarters and travelled a quarter of the way around the globe.
‘Makes no difference if you are. I’ve technology that knocks out any device.’
‘Chancellor,’ Bardolf parried, ‘you’re one of the most influential men on the World Council of Zone Councils, I assume you have a reason for summoning me to this late evening chat in the rain.’
Lundetto took a deep breath, his small eyes lifting as if to deliver a keynote speech to the WCZC. When he spoke it was with enforceable menace. ‘I have you dead to rights, Bardolf. It’ll cost you everything.’
Bardolf arched an eyebrow, another habit. ‘I’m just a businessman.’
‘Save it. Your scam’s taken millions out of the Exchequer and I can trace it all back to you.’ He ran a podgy hand over his forehead like a preening mantis. ‘You’re off to jail and you can rot there for all I care.’
Bardolf didn’t react.
Lundetto twisted the knife. ‘I’ll have you targeted by all the lowlife scum.’
Still Bardolf didn’t react.
‘Are you stupid?’ Lundetto demanded tersely.
‘Since we’re here, Chancellor, you’ve obviously something else in mind, so let’s hear it.’
Finalist for Book of the Year Military Autobiography in 2015 and Nominated for Best First Book of the Year in 2016
A GRIPPING, TRUE STORY TOLD FROM THE FRONT LINES AS THE WORLD FACED THE POSSIBILITY OF NUCLEAR WAR
This is a personal account of military service and the historical events that were happening during President Reagan's time in office as the world faced the possibility of nuclear war. The author was in the US Army from November 1980 until March 1988 which coincided with President Reagan's time in office. He quickly went from a naive seventeen year old boy to a dedicated die hard soldier ready to sacrifice his life for his country.
An assignment that likely would have been at Ground Zero of a nuclear war.
On the verge of World War 3 and nuclear war, "We Were Soldiers Too" is about the difficult job of serving in the infantry during a very critical time of the Cold War.
Serving as the first line of defense for a Soviet invasion in Germany, he found himself assigned the responsibility of defending an area in the Fulda Gap with only one objective, to hold the advancing Soviets until reinforcements arrived.
Read what other veterans think of "We Were Soldiers Too"
"An excellent illustration of the lives and sacrifices of our Cold War enlisted service members. I recommend it to all. It brings back memories of those days and what we did during that era." Edward A. Chesky
"I highly recommend this for anyone to read, especially for anyone that has served this great Nation. I suspect that my fellow Cold War Veterans will be able to relate to a lot of what this author writes about." Tracy A Stephens
"An excellent book about those men who served during the Cold War. Excellent insight into how the Army prepared for a possible Soviet invasion. I highly recommend this book." Gary E. Earls
"I too am a Cold War Reagan Soldier and I Enjoyed this Book very much. I think Bob did a great job by putting in writing how we all feel. We were highly Trained and Ready to meet any Challenge and Subdue any Threat. We were part of the Strongest Army in the history of the United States. We were and Still are Soldiers. I am Proud to have served with such fine members of the Military." Curtis Nazelrod
“I don’t want you in jeopardy. Is that so hard for you to understand?”
“We’re in a war. I’m a criminal. Is that so hard for you to understand?
We’re fresh out of those bubbles you like to put me in.”
“You don’t have to help them hurt you, Lareina. You don’t.”
“No. I can get to them first.”
“That’s what I’m for.”
There was nothing to say to that. They were silent.
Silas knocked once and let himself in. If he cared what they thought of his intrusion, it didn’t show. “I’m here to interrupt your little powwow.” He directed his conversation to Christian. “I know you’re a big man, all scary and shit. But that don’t mean a damned thing around here.” He slapped two pills down on Lareina’s nightstand. “Your antidote. You better take it within the hour.” He ignored her raised eyebrows, keeping his focus on Christian. “You’ll need one of those every night for at least a week. Here are your choices…You can be a part of the solution, or you can wake up and start chasing us again. But I have to say you really are shit at it. You ain’t that hard to elude. So give it a good think.” He turned to leave.
“Silas!” Lareina wanted to laugh. She sooo wanted to laugh. She put a restraining hand on Christian. “You drugged us?”
Silas glanced back, unrepentive. “My way is effective, decisive and keeps you out of the mix. You can’t think straight with him around, anyway. Maybe you need to be asleep.”
“Boy, I’m going to beat the snot out of you.” Her uncontrolled grin nixed the threat.
“When I’m in the market for a mosquito bite, I’ll let you know.” He let himself out.
Silas was Silas. Lareina knew that when she collected him. She created him. Damn, he was good.
Christian was another matter altogether. He hadn’t said a word. That was never a good thing. “Christian?”
It took a minute before he responded. When he did, it was devoid of emotion. He snapped his eyes at her, deeply sincere with his intent. “You might want to start getting unattached and resign yourself to knowing I’m going to kill him. I’m informing you now, so when it happens you will be able to recall I warned you.”
Lareina felt a chill.
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