Author Archives: Paul Ison
To be launched in March 2020. Books available from Amazon Books, The Apple Store, and Kobo books in large format Paperback and Kindle.
Eddy Shah’s thriller takes us straight into the parallel world of today’s virtual-reality Internet, where millions work and play every day.
But the politicians have moved in on this last truly free territory of the people, enforcing strict laws and policing cyberspace ruthlessly. It is the bureaucratic madness of our times – and all in the name of democracy.
An insignificant scientist starts the fightback for personal liberty, but he is forced into suicide to prove his point. As a result of his actions the US President is put in great danger, while dark forces within the security services wrestle for ultimate control of the information age. The defenders of freedom soon become public enemy number one, and now only a disillusioned recluse stands against the forces of chaos.
He is Conor Smith, GameMaster of the Internet, who happens to possess all the strategic skills to trace and outwit the mysterious conspirators. Starting in Second World with a couple of unlikely allies, he swiftly begins to untangle the threads . . .
But is there enough time left for him to win this particular game? Or will it prove to be his last challenge?
~ Excerpt ~
Outside The Hotel Gallipoli
Time: Before CountDown.
On The Brick; it was still and quiet, clean, a perfect picture, just as he’d always imagined it in his mind.
It would soon change. The clock was running down before the WeekEnders hit, before they came tumbling onto the street, a trashcan of restless humanity dumped into the calm world he’d helped create.
But for now, it reminded him of childhood days on those California beaches, watching the water get sucked out in the undercurrent, seeing, for a brief moment, the clean sifted sand bare and pure – beautiful clear levelled sand – just before the next wave crashed in and brought the debris and turmoil and driftwood as it always did.
He’d once calculated that The Brick was more than forty thousand earth miles long. And even now, after it had grown beyond where people, including himself, imagined it would, it had used less than twenty percent of its capacity.
The Brick was the alternative world, the escape route out of the reality of life.
While RealWorld, where people really lived and worked and fucked and died, staggered along under the weight of nearly nine billion people, SecondWorld had become the great escape, the place where dreams and reality merged. AlphaWorld before the turn of the last century, then SecondLife, places where alternative cities and homes had been built on the Web by the internet pioneers. But, by 2007, it all started to change. It became wildly popular and groups formed and bought about the nasty excesses of RealWorld. Groups formed to rape and plunder and hurt their neighbours. But they were harmless days, a time when the only person who got hurt was an unconnected avatar, a cyber image, on a computer screen. There was the odd divorce, the occasional group suicide, but these were in a minority. For most it was just a giggle on the net.
Virtual Reality changed all that.
The ability for people to switch on their computers, connect up their SensoLinks, sit back in their chairs and just glide into a virtual reality parallel world in the Web. The SensoLinks caressed their sensory nerves, touch, feel, sight, sound, hunger, every sensation that ran though people’s bodies. A Web meal was as enjoyable as the real thing, often tasted better, except it left the users still hungry when they returned to RealWorld. Every sensation, from sex to sadism to sentiment, was now catered for in The Web.
At a price.
Nothing was free.
Apart from just walking on The Brick.
It was an easy system to navigate.
One long wide road, yellow, lined with boulevard pavements and buildings that ran as far as the eye could see. Tall buildings, modern buildings, one-storey buildings, churches, vast entrances to Theme Parks, shops, beauty parlours, restaurants, the paraphernalia of everyday life.
Open to all, as long as they had the entrance price.
Then governments had taken over The Brick.
It was that which disappointed him the most.
He, and the others, had built it because it was their dream.
They built it so that the great melting pot of humanity, under the strait-jackets of life in RealWorld, could join each other in friendship and fun and togetherness, outside the ever binding tethers of governments and bureaucrats and officialdom.
But nothing that created freedom was ever left alone.
That, he shook his head, was the most unnatural rule of nature.
Set up by the United Nations in 2011, each country had access to areas of the cyber network, the old World Wide Web, the ‘www’ of the defunct internet days.
The fibre optic-based broadband networks soon proved too slow for information retrieval, and after a series of missed turnings the quantum network eventually superseded the old atom-based optic network, which in turn revolutionised the Web.
For a fee, paid to the UN to support their world-wide humanitarian policies, each country leased out their section of the network to companies and individuals. The more advanced the country, the higher the price. The more usage a country took, the greater was its coverage on the network.
It was a never-ending world of computer software; a graphics protocol that didn’t exist in reality, but was as real as the RealWorld on which it was based. Its complete potential exploded when Virtual Reality and real time avatars became the currency of The Brick.
The network providers started to build on The Brick in 2115. It grew rapidly as more companies came on board. The French Zone redesigned its section of the superhighway as the Champs Élysées Boulevard, the English Zone copied Oxford Street with the Globe Theatre at one end and Marble Arch at the other. The Europeans, with their traditional values, insisted that all new builds must have governmental planning permission, in a copycat manner that still dominated RealWorld. America, with few zoning problems and a more robust approach to life, just let it rip and allowed developers to build whatever they wanted. Some created small side streets and built their own community zones, others simply slapped something up on The Brick and offered whatever services they had to the public.
Used to be in the old days that avatars could fly; it was a great way to move around. But that stopped. People could still fly, but only in the safety of a game park. On The Brick, people either walked or got a transporter, which was automatically charged to your credit account. Even cars using The Brick were eleven credits per six million cubits.
Only twenty percent of the network was developed; those areas still not utilised were known as the DarkAreas. They hadn’t been mapped out, were just areas of empty digitless space, without light or energy, its sound just a vacuum of silence.
In time, as The Brick grew, as power and services were laid to them, the network expanded into them and created fertile areas where Web developers would move in. But, for now, the DarkAreas didn’t exist because they hadn’t been invented.
Most of the megacorps, the larger network providers and developers, had options on these DarkAreas, working on the premise that one day they would be valuable and need to be developed.
It was an simple system, made possible by massive investment and technological wizardry.
He watched the CREEPs go about their business, cleaning and repairing The Brick, ready for the next onslought.
He saw the WebCam, high on the side of the building, swing round and focus on him. He turned and walked away, as if he were a WeekEnder who had arrived early and was just exploring the neighbourhood. He realised his step had quickened. He calmed his anxiety, slowed his step.
Now was not the time to be noticed.
He looked at his watch; it was set to BrickTime, the same as Eastern Seaboard Time.
The moment was approaching, the Convention Hall would be filling up, billions tuning in to meet The Man. The elections were over, electronic votes counted, and it was ‘Good Ole Bill Dixon’ for another term, President of the United States which stretched from Canada to halfway down South America. The Leader of a billion people.
He shook his head.
He headed for a local café.
He looked forward to a fresh, hot cappuccino.
He’d watch it on the café TV screen.
He’d watch the action on the digital information that poured down the wire from RealWorld to SecondWorld.
He’d watch and know he was about to change the world.
In the dying day of the Second World War many of Germany’s rocket scientists traded their expertise for privileged treatment at the hands of both Russian and American invaders. For these scientists, bound together in a secret East – West brotherhood known as Die Lucie Geister, the war would never cease until Germany was united once more.
But with Reunification, sinister forces are unleased. In a rash of assassinations, the scientist’s records ‘disappear’ in the mysterious but systematic destruction of CIA and KGB files and an independent agent is called in. Adam Nicholson is ‘resting’, compromised by a careless photograph during an SAS operation in Northern Ireland. Now he is assigned to provide protection for threatened German scientist attending a congress in New Orleans. There, in a bloodcurdling voodoo ritual, Adam is forced to confront his own death-wish which not even his CIA sidekick, Billie Wood, can dispel. And when a series of horrific murders leads them to a neo-Nazi breeding ground in Germany, where Sturmabteilungen perfect their insurrection and crowd-violence techniques, Adam and Billie are in ever-greater peril.
But it will be in Germany’s new capital, Berlin, that her fragile democracy will be tested as never before, when Adam must gamble his life to unlock the final secrets of the Lucy Ghosts.
~ Excerpt ~
They were still at Peenemünde, burning the pile of papers, when that last act of attrition, a V1 doodlebug rocket, was hurled at London, launched from the belly of a Heinkel bomber over the North Sea, .
The few scientists left at Peenemünde, seven of them, knew nothing of this. Nor did they appreciate that for all their efforts to turn the tide of the war back in Germany’s favour, no more rockets could be launched because there was no more fuel; the supply had simply dried up.
In truth, their attention was elsewhere. It was directed towards the sounds of gunfire from the Polish border only a few miles to the east.
When they saw the first flashes of exploding shells spark across the sky no more than twenty miles from their position, many of them decided to leave the testing site and make their way to Berlin, to the safety of the capital.
They knew the War was over.
If they were to surrender, then it was the Americans to whom they must turn. The Russians were to be avoided at all costs, they were barbarians who would exact a most cruel revenge.
The sky flash visions and nightmare sounds of battle from the east meant the Red Army was getting closer. Peenemünde must be abandoned to its own fate, the rocket test pads and launch structures weren’t important any longer.
Before they departed in the last truck, they piled up the secret files they had taken from General Walter Dornberger’s offices, doused the paper stack in petrol and set fire to it. Dornberger, the head of the rocket section, had long since left the site and was already surrendering to the Americans with his brightest aide, the twenty one year old Werner Von Braun.
The papers this young group of scientists were burning were not the secret technical data that they had meticulously prepared and worked on these past few years. That had already been taken by the senior officers as insurance for their safety in the hands of the Americans. The turncoats of war had turned, loyalty no more than a commodity on the open market like beans or a bar of chocolate.
These documents actually related to the foreign work imported to Peenemünde. The Poles, the Czechs, the other Slavs….. and the Jews. It was a slave force, transported in its thousands to this god-forsaken northern peninsula. This place which was a technical triumph for the Germans, became a death curse for its workers.
‘Get the truck started!’ said the senior administrator, a man in his early twenties called Grob Mitzer.
One of the others, the most junior of the scientists, rushed over to the truck and started the engine. He watched the remainder of the group through the side window. They all stood around the blazing fire, some still throwing piles of documents on the pyre, others mesmerized by the leaping flames that were the final reminder of their failure.
‘Damn the politicians!’ said Mitzer.
‘Damn Hitler!’ said the scientist, Heinrich Spiedal, next to him.
‘No. It wasn’t him, Heinrich. He did what was right for Germany. It was the others. Those who were not equal to him who let him down. The politicians and the Generals. The clever arses. That fat pig Goering and his kind. Those bastards let him down.’
‘He’s right, Heinrich. They let him down.’ It was Albert Goodenache who now joined the discussion. ‘Christ, they’re all running for cover now. Did you hear that Martin Boorman was seen just over the border with Russian soldiers?’
‘When?’ asked Spiedal.
‘The other day. You remember that group of nurses that came through on their way to Rostock?’
‘One of them saw him. Some General’s daughter. She’d met him before.’
‘She said it was Boorman?’
‘So she said. And he wasn’t even under guard. Just sat in the back of some staff car on his way east.’
‘I don’t believe it.’
‘I’m just telling you what she said.’
‘The big wigs are O.K. All looking after themselves. But what do we do now?’
‘Start again,’ said the administrator. That was Grob Mitzer’s duty and his strength. At twenty one he was the architect of order amongst the unbridled enthusiasm of the young rocket scientists. His nature was to close one file and immediately open another. ‘As we did after the Great War. Like the Fuhrer said, this is a thousand year war, that’s all. Never forget’
A sudden burst of gunfire in the distance brought them back to reality.
‘Time to go,’ said Mitzer. He turned and shouted at the others. ‘Come on, everybody. Into the truck. Before it’s too late. Albert, Heinrich, get in the front with me.’
The group, startled by the ferocity of the latest explosions, moved towards the truck, their faces lit up by the blazing fire and the redness of the erupting sky.
‘That’s near Swinoujscie,’ shouted one of the group to no-one in particular. ‘They must have crossed the border.’
‘Come on, come on,’ urged Mitzer. ‘Let’s get going.’
He followed the group of hurrying scientists and stood behind them as they climbed into the back of the truck, an unmarked grey Army vehicle which had been used for transporting the work force to the site from their wooden slatted huts the other side of the sand dunes. There were no seats, only a slatted wooden floor on which the scientists stood, holding themselves upright on the bowed metal cross members that were supports for a canvas tarpaulin that had long since been lost.
When the last of the group had climbed on, Mitzer swung the tailgate up and locked it into position with a metal latch.
‘Hang on tight,’ he shouted. ‘It’s going to be a bumpy ride.’ He ran round to the front and opened the driver’s door, startling the young scientist he had sent on ahead to start the engine. Albert Goodenache and Heinrich Spiedal sat jammed together on the passenger side of the short wooden bench seat that stretched across the cab. ‘In the back. Join the others. I’ll drive. I know the way,’ he shouted at the driver.
The man started to protest, but Mitzer cut him short, reached up and pulled him out of the cab. He sprawled in the wet mud. As he started to pick himself up there was a piercing, shrilling sound followed by a booming explosion from what seemed only a few hundred metres away.
‘Hurry up, or you’ll get us all killed,’ yelled Mitzer, putting his hand out to help the fallen scientist. ‘Come on, come on.’
The scientist scrambled through the mud to the rear of the truck as Mitzer climbed into the cab and slammed the door.
The engine screamed as he poured on the power, but nothing happened.
‘Damn and shit!’ cried Mitzer.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked a frightened Albert Goodenache.
‘We’re too heavy. Too much mud. Too much bloody mud.’
Mitzer took his foot off the accelerator, swung the door open and climbed out into the mud. He rushed round to the rear of the truck.
‘Everybody out,’ he shouted as he unlatched the tailgate and swung it down. ‘It’s too heavy in the mud. You’ll have to push to get it going.’. The scientists stood there; they were men of reason and considered logic, not an instinctive breed by nature. ‘Come on, get out. Do you want us all killed?’ He climbed up onto the back and started to push them out; some jumped, most fell into the mud. He leapt down amongst them and started to help them to their feet. ‘Push, damn you. Get behind and push. Come on, we only need to get out of this mud then we’ll be on our way. Hurry, Hurry!’
He rushed back to the cab and jumped in, put the truck back into gear and gently fed power to the engine.
‘Shall we help?’ shouted Heinrich Spiedal.
‘No, stay where you are,’ replied Mitzer.
‘Do as you’re bloody told,’ he ordered, then leant out of the cab and shouted back at the group. ‘Push, damn you, push, push, push for everything you’re worth.’
The shrilling distant sound came again, low to start with, then building in its intensity until it exploded on the sand dunes near the experimental rocket launch tracks. As the shell deafened them, so the truck, having been rocked backwards and forwards by the small group, finally broke loose of its slippery hold and shot forward. The pushers collapsed as they lost their grip.
Another shell exploded nearby.
‘Stop!’ shouted Heinrich Spiedal. ‘Wait for the others.’
Mitzer kept his foot rammed to the floor, not wanting to lose momentum, not wanting to be clawed back into the wet soft earth under the vehicle.
Thirty metres on he drove onto the road and safety.
He stopped the truck to wait for the others.
At that moment Albert Goodenache saw the silhouette of a Russian soldier lift into view across the sand dunes. Before he could shout a warning, the soldier opened fire on the small group.
Mitzer heard the scientists calling, screaming for him to wait as they scrambled out of the mud. He also heard a bullet ricochet off one of the metal crossbars at the rear.
He put his foot down and drove away. The shouts of those left behind disappeared as the sounds of war enveloped them.
The three of them never looked back at Peenemünde, the place that was to have been their shrine. The two scientists said nothing. Like Mitzer, they had not been prepared to help their comrades. They had nothing to say. They couldn’t face their own cowardice.
In the early Sixties, a young policeman watches as a murdered child’s mutilated body is found on the Moors north of Manchester.
The scene lives with him forever and shapes the policeman that he becomes, honest, tough and committed.
Many years later, when the drug gangs are in control of Manchester’s Moss Side and criminal anarchy is spreading on the streets, he sets out to bring order to this chaotic society.
But he has to change the way he operates and use methods that stand for everything he has always despised.
To do this he enlists the help of the one person he has not spoken to since they were children. The man he bring in is now an American who was forced away from Manchester at a young age.
He is also his brother.
Together, sharing a common and hateful distrust of each other, they set out to bring the drug gangs under control.
~ Excerpt ~
The young policeman stamped his feet. It was a damp time, that first biting chill of autumn dusk. He rubbed his bare hands together, then turned and watched an older colleague clamber up the grassy bank towards him.
‘Anything yet?’ he called out.
‘They’ve found something,’ came the reply. ‘Bloody hell, this stuff’s impossible to walk on.’
The younger man watched the other slither down the embankment once again, the soft under-earth sucking at his boots and trouser legs as he fell through the brittle half-frozen grass surface of the moor. He was glad he was standing on the road, on duty to stop any sightseers or reporters from getting too close to where the police were digging. The road, the A635 between the villages of Holmfirth and Greenfield, snaked across Saddleworth Moor into a sharp bend where the young uniformed man stood waiting for his colleague. There was no traffic; the road had been sealed off to any passing vehicles.
He heard the older policeman swear as he slipped again, then finally climbed to the top of the bank where the road ran.
‘What do you think?’ the younger man asked again. ‘Is it what they expected?’
‘I don’t know,’ said the other, stamping his feet and clearing the mud off his boots. ‘Bloody stuff. Ruin my boots.’ He leant confidentially towards the younger man. ‘All I know is that it suddenly went quiet. Then they said they wanted the area cleared. They told me to come here and help you. Make sure no-one came down.’
‘Nobody’ll get past here,’ said the young policeman.
He looked towards the nearby group of reporters and television crews, and when he was satisfied that they were content to remain behind the rope barrier, he turned and looked out across the moor to where the canvas screens were linked by wooden posts to form a square fortress that hid that which was most secret from prying eyes.
Saddleworth Moor. No place like it in the world. A desolate, windswept bog moor that rolls into the far hills, lifeless to the watching eye; the sort of place where murder most foul would be expected to be committed. At night, with the wind following close to the bleak rolling terrain, whistling and crying like tormented souls in search of release, the moor holds secrets of the most hideous nature. Secrets long buried and best forgotten in the mists that shroud the emptiness of such a place.
But, this time, the moor was about to reveal its terrible secrets.
The young policeman sensed it; his instincts told him that something calamitous was about to break. It was a sixth sense that would serve him well in future years. It was that fine instinct that all good police officers have, that sixth sense of sudden expectancy and danger.
Charlie Soulson was twenty four years old and had only just graduated to police constable in the Cheshire Constabulary after the statutory training period as a police cadet. He had reported for duty at the police station at Hyde, a small town on the outskirts of Manchester, that great northern industrial city, six days earlier. Ready for a long stint on foot patrol on the damp pavements, he was more than surprised to find himself out on the edge of the moors, guarding a short stretch of road against the invasion of the media parasites and horror seeking ghouls who always came to places like this.
Down at the canvas wall, some three hundred yards away, he saw a policeman stagger out from the shelter and fall to his knees, retching as he knelt in the bog. A senior officer came out and stood behind him, waiting for him to finish retching, then helped him to his feet. The two men, one helping the other, climbed towards the road, slowly, turning and slipping in the wetness of the ground.
‘What’s going on?’ said Soulson’s colleague, now joining him at the side of the road.
The young policeman didn’t answer as he watched the two men. Behind him he could hear the newsmen reacting, heard their sudden excitement as they shouted amongst themselves. The senior officer shouted towards the two on the road, waved them down.
‘You stay here,’ said Soulson with an authority not expected of a policeman who had only joined the Force six days earlier. ‘I’ll help them. Keep that lot where they are.’ He indicated towards the crowd, then stepped off the road and slid down the banking, through the soft earth, and ran towards the two men. At six foot four, with the surprising agility of most big men, he covered the ground safely and in little time.
‘You’d better get down there,’ said the senior officer, an Inspector, to Soulson when he reached them. ‘Make sure no-one gets in. Not unless they’ve got a warrant card.’
‘Yes, sir,’ replied Soulson. He looked at the young officer who was being helped. His face, with white flecked sick over his cheeks and chin, was twisted in pain and horror. He recognised him; a young copper from the same station in Hyde who had been with the Force only a few weeks longer than Soulson.
‘I hope you’ve got a strong stomach, son,’ said the Inspector. ‘I’d keep outside the search area. Yes, you do that. Stay outside.’
Soulson passed them and walked down the slope to the canvas shielded area. He reached the spot where he had first seen the two officers, saw that there was an entrance into the search area where other policemen and volunteers were working. There were lights in the area, illuminating the men. their attention concentrated on a small area to the left of the sealed section. Most of the men were standing, two were on their knees, on tarpaulins, carefully scraping away at the turf and earth.
‘Stuck a long pole in the ground,’ he heard an officer say nearby.
‘And….?’ asked another.
‘Must’ve gone right through the body. I was standing next to him. Bloody smell that came up. Straight from the ground, like a bloody explosion.’
‘Decomposition. What do you expect? Body’s been rotting there for two years.’
‘Bastards. Fucking scum.’
The scene hypnotized Soulson; the quiet and intense concentration from the men kneeling on the tarpaulins, the others peering over their shoulders.
He moved past the two officers who had been talking and towards the group. He reached them and looked down at the two men, saw them scraping away at the earth with their hands. One of them had a small trowel.
That’s when he saw the body.
The young child, still half covered in earth and water, lay in a twisted position. The upper part of the torso and head were turned to the left, the lower limbs facing downward. The body was fully clothed, but torn in a manner which signified sexual activity and abuse.
It was at that moment of horror that the policeman that was to be, was born. It was a memory that would never be far and lost to him.
It wasn’t disgust or fear or terror that filled Charlie Soulson.
It was anger. That such abject violence could happen in a world he inhabited, only a few miles from the place he lived. He felt the rage, felt the desire to destroy those who had committed such atrocities. The black dog of vengeance roared within him, its teeth bared in the ferocity of his hatred.
‘I told you to stay by the entrance,’ snapped the voice from behind.
Soulson turned and saw the Inspector who had ordered him down. ‘Sorry, sir.’
‘We’re coppers. Not tourists. Not out for a day’s sightseeing. This….,’ the Inspector gestured to the sealed area, ‘….is our office. Where we do our job. In dirty places like this. To do that job, we have to be professionals. Do you understand that?’
‘Yes, sir,’ replied Soulson quietly.
‘Being a professional means doing as you’re told. Being a cog in the machinery. Fitting in. Do that, and you’ll learn how to do your job well. The worst thing in the world is an undisciplined copper. Okay?’
‘It won’t happen again.’
The Inspector looked into the young policeman’s green eyes and saw that his words had been understood. He saw the steel of Soulson’s gaze, saw the quiet determination in the craggy, surprisingly deeply lined young face that stared back at him. He’d be all right. Someone to rely on when you stood next to each other in the thin blue line. ‘You go and watch that entrance. There’s some regional crime boys on their way down. Apart from them, don’t let anyone in without my say so.’
Soulson left the group and returned to his post.
He guarded it as he had been instructed.
He never looked back at the grizzly scene as the officers slowly cleared the earth round the child’s corpse.
He didn’t need to.
What he had seen would haunt him forever.
His resolve was complete. He would never fail his duty as a policeman again.
It was nearly midnight when Soulson arrived home at the little terraced house in Bold Street, Altrincham.
When Mark Duncan, a veteran of the Falklands war and now working for the intelligence arm of the SAS, is suddenly pulled out of an important operation in Northern Ireland,there has to be a good reason. His close friend and one-time comrade-in-arms, Victor Oldenburg, has been kidnapped while checking out the arrangements for a planned royal visit to the Soviet Union. Duncan’s Russian family background and his fluency in the language make him the obvious choice to monitor the investigation for the British government.
Almost immediately he finds himself in Moscow working with Myeloski, a half-Muslim and a decidedly unconventional detective. The pair of them have nothing to go on except what the kidnappers choose to divulge. That and a strong suspicion that there is much more to this abduction than a simple demand for money.
All too rapidly it becomes apparent that Duncan and Myeloski are caught up in a web of intrigue that originates in the heart of the Kremlin. The Oldenburgs are in mortal danger, and their fate could determine the political future of the Soviet Union.
Bristling with excitement, tension and topicality, the Ring of Red Roses marks the début of a born thriller writer.
~ Excerpt ~
‘Before Our Time’.
Yurovsky, the Siberian Jew, was late.
The small group of men waited for him in the evening shadows, by the four lonely trees in the Koptiaki forest that were known as the ‘Four Brothers’. They stayed hidden, not smoking or talking, not wanting the villagers to know of their meeting place. It was the third time they had visited the location in the last two weeks. It had started to drizzle and some of the men were more restless than normal. But nobody complained. In those days nobody dared complain. It was unwise to stand out from the herd.
One of the men heard someone approaching and signalled the others to watch out. They took cover, hunched low in the bracken, until they saw a tall, wide shouldered shape in the distance, hurrying down the slope towards them. As it got closer, they recognised their leader, Yurovsky. He came through the thin mist of rain and into the semi-shelter of the trees.
The others moved towards him. You could tell by their stance that they were fearful of him – he was a dangerous man who could turn on any one of them for no reason. None of them had known him before he had arrived, a month earlier, to replace Avdeyev as commandant of Ekaterinberg. They didn’t trust him anyway, once they had found out he was a Jew.
“Did any of the villagers see you ?”, he asked.
The men shook their heads, looking at each other, not wanting to be the ones who had given the secret game away. Yurovsky knew at least one of them was lying.
” I saw villagers.”, he went on. ” Two of them, looking in this direction. They knew something was up. I threatened them, sent them away, told them not to look back.” He paused. His grizzled eyes, hard black behind his wool-bearded face, searched each man in turn, looking for the fear that he knew was there. “Tonight is the most important night of the revolution. I hope you’re up to the great task we have before us. If not, you’ll answer to me. One by one. Now, let’s check the mine.”
Yurovsky pushed through the men and lead them towards the nearby deserted mine shaft. It was a deep shaft, about seven feet across that disappeared steeply into a black hole in the ground.
“Where is the benzine and the vitriol ?”, asked Yurovsky.
“Further along, up the hill”, answered Voikov. He was one of only two Russians in the party, and a member of the local Ural Soviet. The rest were all Austro-Germans. “It’s still in the carts”
“Unload it now. All of you help. Store it here and then bring the carts back to the house. We will need them. Two of you must remain behind to guard this place. Make sure no-one comes here. Be back at the house in two hours.”
With that, Yurovsky turned and left the men to their task. They stood there, uncertain and nervous.
“So it really is going to happen.”, one of the men said to no-one in particular.
“What did you expect? A game we were playing.”, answered Voikov.
“No. But…talking about….that’s one thing. But to ……”. His voice tailed off into silence.
The others looked at each other. Deep down they knew there was no other way.
One of them laughed. “You can either face Yurovsky…..or do it. And I know which one I’d rather do”.
Some of the others joined in the laughter with him.
“Come on”, said Voikov, “let’s get started. It’s going to be a long night.”
Although spring was settled in, many of the streams were still frozen over. Snow lay deep in the gullies and hollows of the countryside as Yurovsky rode back the fourteen miles towards Ekaterinberg and the house which they now called The House of Special Purpose.
It was a pretty house, graceful in its older design. Known locally as the house of Ipatyev, it sat on a slope that ran down towards the town. It was a house of history, for five years earlier, celebrating the tercentenary of their dynasty, Tzar Nicholas and Empress Alexandra had visited the Ipatyevsky Monastery nearby. It was here that the first Romanov, the young Michael, accepted the throne to which the old Assemblies of the Land had elected him.
But Yurovsky was not a man of history or sentiment. His world was now, his purpose the future. Which is why he had been specially chosen to go to the house at Ipatyev, the house he himself had re-named the House of Special Purpose.
He climbed the hill towards the house, its appearance made sinister by the white-washed windows on the lower floor that stopped outsiders from looking in. A high wooden palisades had also been built around the house. As he got closer, he realised that the outer guard still consisted of Russians. That made him angry and he swore in frustration. They should have been replaced by Letts (Bolsheviks) before he got back. The uniformed guards watched him pass them and go into the yard. Paul Medvedev was there, in front of a campfire with more of his Russian troops.
Yurovsky stopped short of the second group and dismounted, tying the horse to a post. “I want a word with you.” he shouted to Medvedev.
As chief of the Russian troops, Medvedev was irritated by Yurovsky’s manner. He was not accustomed to being treated like that, especially in front of his own soldiers. But he knew that the Jew was in charge. He finished talking to one of his men, but it was a weak act of defiance. He turned and went over to Yurovsky.
“Why are your guards still here?”
“I kept them on in case there was a change of plan”.
“No change. The die is cast. Where are the Letts ?”
“At the back of the house.”
“And the lorry?”
“Change the guard now. Order your men into Ekaterinberg. And make them understand that no soldier is to return here again. And bring the twelve Nagan revolvers which your soldiers have.”
Medvedev didn’t answer, he stared unbelievingly at Yurovsky.
“Well?”. Yurovsky’s eyes derided the old soldier. He knew the man had no choice. “Do it”.
Medvedev finally realised that now there could be no reprieve.
“I’ll take my men into the town.”
“No. You will stay here and take charge of the Letts. You must do it with us.”
“No!”. The old man’s cry startled the nearby soldiers at the campfire. He moved closer to Yurovsky, so as not to be heard. “I cannot”.
“Then you can join them and share the same fate. Or does your passion not run that deep.” Yurovsky walked away from Medvedev, speaking loudly so that the soldiers heard and would know who was really in charge. “It is all over now. You’re too old to fight a new battle. Do as I tell you. Change the guards”.
And Yurovsky left the old man with his broken past and went into the cellars where the cook Sednev waited for him.
Beside the cellars there was a half basement. Three chairs were placed side by side in the middle of this room.
“Why are the chairs here ?”
“They asked for them.”. Sednev shrugged as he spoke. “I saw no harm. The boy is very ill and his father will carry him down.”
Yurovsky nodded. “You told them they were to be moved to another house ? A safe house. “.
“I did. They have packed and know that they will be transported in the middle of the night. Shall I feed them ?”
“Very little. Food is still short and I don’t want any wasted. When you’ve fed them, bring them down here. By then my men will be back. Inform me when they are all here”.
Yurovsky left the half basement and walked back into the yard. He saw that the guard was already changed. The Letts now stood around the campfire and watched the Russians formate to leave the yard.
As Yurovsky turned back towards the house, he saw the familiar bearded face looking over the balcony at him, brightly lit by the roaring fire in the yard below him. The man had a young boy in his arms. Yurovsky turned away and went into the house.
In silence, the man and boy on the balcony watched the troops march down into the town.
It was already late evening and the Russian spring night was chilly and damp. The boy coughed and his father hurriedly took him back into the warmth of the House of Special Purpose.
Tim Flaherty is a provisional IRA terrorist who is released by an American federal court after being held for crimes committed in the UK. At his celebration party he is assassinated by an unknown hand; and Francis Duggan, a top CIA analyst of Irish descent, is brought in to investigate.
In London, Sam Richardson works for M16 following a stint in the SAS, serving in the Gulf War and Northern Ireland. His role now is counter-terrorism, and he is deputed to be Duggan’s minder.
It soon becomes apparent that Flaherty’s killing is the work of a new and previously unknown group – the Angels. they are linked with a secret plan, hatched by the British authorities some years ago but never put into operation.
Duggan and Richardson join forces rather warily, and are plunged into the brutal conflict with the IRA in Belfast. Soon the Angels are involved in further acts of violence around the world as they carry out their aim to ‘fight fire with fire’, culminating in an explosive operation in the Everglades wetlands of Florida.
Fallen Angels is a superb adventure, packed with action and compulsively readable. The savagery of the fight against the IRA, set against the background of the Downing Street Declaration, has never been more thrillingly depicted or more topical.
~ Excerpt ~
THE START OF THE JOURNEY
The mid 1990s
Central Intelligence Agency
Francis Duggan grinned with satisfaction as he watched the small television set in the corner of his small office.
The cause of his delight was the laughing waving man who came down the steps of the US Federal Building courthouse in New York.
Tim Flaherty. Provisional IRA Terrorist. Released by a federal court after two years of being held for extradition to Great Britain for crimes committed in the UK; crimes that resulted in the death of eleven civilians in a spate of indiscriminate bombings on the British mainland between 1991 and 1993.
Tim Flaherty. Irish Republican soldier and hero, decorated by the IRA. A man with a dream and a country to free. Born and bred in the Falls Road; brought up throwing rocks and bottles at British soldiers since he was nine, in a city where violence was the only currency and manhood was bar mitzvah’d when you kicked your first Prod unconscious.
Tim Flaherty. At twenty five a champion to some; a corrupt and vile gangster to others.
Tim Flaherty. Freed from jail on a technical point and free to kill again.
It wasn’t that Duggan approved of violence; in truth he was a conscientious CIA analyst who believed in law and order and put his duty before all else. He was a member of the CIA’s Counter Terrorist Center which brought together analytical, operational, communications and technical support personnel, drawn primarily from the CIA, but with participation by the FBI, Army, Navy, Air, Marines and Treasury.
But Duggan was also of Irish descent. And like many of his fellow countrymen instinctively saw Ireland as a repressed nation, ruled against its will by the British; ruled with the gun and a Chieftain tank. It was how he had been raised; by Irish immigrant parents from Belfast, with strong Roman Catholic beliefs, who passed their nationalistic views on to their son. He didn’t agree with terrorism, but felt an instinctive and hereditary pleasure in knowing a republican freedom fighter had escaped capture. It was not something he would let be freely known, certainly not amongst his colleagues.
‘I’m a free man-‘ Flaherty said, with a Northern Irish brogue, on the screen, ‘-because of American justice. This is the land of the free because of the battle your forefathers fought against the British. It’s my aim, and every free Irishman’s, to make all of Ireland as free as this great country of yours. For that I’ll endure torture and beatings and death in the hands of the British government, even if it means going back to the concentration camps of Long Kesh in Belfast. Whatever it takes to be free. Long live the Republic of America. Long live the Republic of Ireland.’
‘What are your plans now?’ asked the reporter.
‘That’s up to the Army Council. I’m a soldier. I do as I’m ordered. And that is to attack British military targets. And unlike all them false stories about me, all that British propoganda, I don’t believe in indiscriminate bombings.’
Francis, for all his emotive support, knew lies and propaganda when he heard it. In the end, they were terrorists and he suddenly felt guilty. Flaherty, a member of the IRA’s 3rd Battalion, B Company, had done wrong; there was no justification for the Provo’s indiscriminate attacks on the British mainland, especially the recent rash of bombings that had shaken London and other British cities. He thought of his cousins back in Ireland, probably rejoicing at the news. They were all staunch Republicans, believers in the cause. There was a sudden sadness in him that Flaherty had escaped justice for the crimes he committed.
Francis shrugged off his own contradictions and remote-switched the set off. The last view he saw was off Flaherty climbing into a stretch-limo that was parked under a sign for ‘Tim Flaherty Corner’, a street recently named after the terrorist by the New York City Mayor. Such was the power of the Irish Americans; so important was their vote.
Francis Duggan, at thirty-seven, was not how you would imagine the all-American spy. He was tall, rounded features under a thick red unkempt thatch. It wasn’t that Duggan was uninterested in his appearance, just that his wiry hair was impossible to control. Duggan had a ‘Deputy Dawg’ sort of face, tired and worldly, which was not a true reflection as he had done very little with his life except live in the comfort zone of middle-class America. He was a detached man, not at ease in the company of others. But he was a committed Agency man with a sharp mind that analysed most European terrorist situations faster than the two computers that sat on his desk. That was the main sphere of his responsibilities; the analysis and dissemination of all terrorist activities in Western European countries.
Francis was actually pre-occupied with thoughts far removed from Tim Flaherty and the Agency. His divorced wife, Carmella, had refused him visitation rights to see their two daughters, Samantha at seven and Natalie at nine, over the coming weekend. Her reasoning was that her new fiancé was bringing his own son and daughter to meet Carmella’s family that weekend and it would ‘just be so gross and unfair if you turned up and ruined our time together’, she had grumbled over the phone. He hated her for that; for making him feel their daughters would soon have a new Daddy, a new family. He hated her anyway. God knows what anyone else sees in her ? He was further upset by the fact that he had missed his daughters a fortnight earlier when he had been called away to listen in on a United Nations conference about the exchange of information between countries who were in the front line of terrorism. Which, as Duggan reminded his boss Rob Volger, America wasn’t. But the ploy didn’t work; Volger had wanted a first hand report on the meeting. All this meant Duggan was now a month between seeing his daughters. Another month for that bitch to cement their relationship with their new father . He spat the last word out. That’s what she’d said. ‘ Their new father .’ The images of his girls with another man, teaching them, loving them, them loving him, were too much for Duggan.
He slammed out of the room and went for a walk down the long, endless corridors that wander around Langley.
He wasn’t in his office when his direct superior rang to inform him that Tim Flaherty had walked free from a New York court and was now under the constant surveillance of the FBI.
Charley O’s Bar and Grill
33 West 48 Street
New York .
Tim Flaherty knew he was being tailed by the FBI. He didn’t mind; it guaranteed his safety.
The party to celebrate his release was being held at Charley O’s Bar and Grill, one of New York’s many Irish restaurants, complete with oyster bar and fish and chips. It had been organised by an American group called the ‘Friends of Tim Flaherty.’ The restaurant was packed; supporters, hangers-on, press and whoever else was passing by. An Irish band played in the corner, its bouncing jig reflecting the clebration of the moment.
Flaherty, the centre of attention, stood at the bar with a Guinness in his hand. He was surrounded by well-wishers, exuberant and noisy in their praise of the Irishman. Flaherty wasn’t a senior member of the IRA; was simply a foot soldier, and not a very bright one at that. But now he was a symbol, a celebrity that could be marketed. Tim Flaherty had become an important man.