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March 17, 2013

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever get back to my unfinished novel, The Petrie Consignment.  My writing has swerved into the prose/poetry borderland, and I’m happy enough there.  Afterall, it’s not as if the extracts posted last year exactly produced a deluge of comments demanding the novel’s completion! 

So I guess my reasons for posting a further extract now are largely sentimental.  The story’s primary locale is that stretch of the North Wales coast I loved to explore, binoculars slung around my neck, when we had a caravan at Talacre.  Ah, those heady days of freedom following my retirement from social housing…

It was at the caravan that I wrote much of that chaotic first draft with the cries of gulls against the gentle wash of the Irish Sea.  It was wandering the dunes and beach near the lighthouse that I created my characters, including MI5 agent Yvette (codename Balestra), whose dark beauty was something else.  She had the sexiest French accent but a vengeful heart…

In the following extract, Yvette finally comes up against her much-hated adversary, the international terrorist Scorp, in the ruins of an ancient Cistercian abbey (very loosely based on Basingwerk Abbey near Holywell).

Funny how, as soon as I mention Yvette, I feel another swerve coming on…

 

SHOWDOWN

 

Scorp and Mazda Man had found her Peugeot abandoned at the barrier, driver’s door open.

Here they came in the twilight, prowling the stone path lined with ancient column-bases where once the Cloister stood.  The black guy was carrying an Ouzi submachine gun, the Arab a heavy-duty Beretta automatic.  Their eyes were everywhere, their gun muzzles swinging in broad arcs.

Where in God’s name were they, Joe and the Crew?  She pressed back against the moss-encrusted masonry.  Her heart thumped as the terrorists passed her shadowed corner in the 13th century Chapter House.  The Glock between her hands seemed little enough protection despite her proven skill.  Bob’s words that morning came back to her now: “Beware betrayal…don’t depend on your friends.”

The calm of the evening was broken by a commotion in the trees beyond the pathway as a score of strident jackdaws took to wing.  Something had spooked them.  Joe and the Crew, perhaps?  Come on, you lot, I need back-up.  Now.

The terrorists had dropped behind a couple of stubby column-bases, weapons trained.  Anyone approaching the ruins from the north side would be dead meat.

It was fully two minutes before they resumed their prowl, twisting repeatedly to bring the surrounding green under their muzzles.

She actually glimpsed the missile in flight, a white stone reflecting moonlight as it headed her way.  Sensing something, Mazda Man spun on his heel as it landed soundlessly in the grass.  It showed how alert he was, how jumpy…

She could guess who’d thrown the stone and why; could almost feel the waves of hatred.  Good job Lotti lacked the strength to pitch it further.

She didn’t see the next one coming.  Suddenly it was skittering over the gravel at her feet, a dark flint the size of a golf ball. 

Mac?  Moody?  Surely not.  “Beware betrayal…”

The blast from the Ouzi was shattering, the Chapter House walls sparking with the zing of ricocheting slugs until a single shot from the Arab’s Beretta put an end to it.  Her ears were ringing; her left cheek stinging from flying fragments of stone.

“Mademoiselle, you see I mean you no harm.  Ahmed, alas…he panicked.”

Malek Boudjedra, alias Sidali Khadra, otherwise known as the Scorpion or Scorp, stood a dozen paces away, smiling.  His henchman lay facedown at the edge of the lawn, the back of his head missing.

“You see, I wish only to talk.”  He tossed his gun aside.  “My dear Balestra…”

-oOo-

 

© Copyright Paul Beech 2013

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