Archive for May, 2013

In Defiance of Danger

May 30, 2013

In Defiance of Danger

In Defiance of Danger is a miscellany of fact based short stories. The first four chapters describe incidents which occurred in the Second World War and are a tribute to the brave. The following remarkable stories are about how real people behaved in dangerous or difficult peacetime situations and compare with any thriller.

Extract: “On D-day, Maurice’s landing craft had on board one tank and three guns – all modified with their barrels in fixed positions to fire straight ahead at a target one thousand yards away. He had orders to search out a shore battery; aim the guns by steering his boat straight at it, then fire at 1,000 yards. Training had shown that this was the best way to ensure accuracy by the army gunners, but approaching the alerted German guns in a straight line had to be insane.

Maurice and his sister craft approached the landing beaches at full speed ahead – not that their cumbersome craft wallowing in the swell had much of a racing capability. Their progress seemed leaden. What kind of reception could they expect? Would the Germans bother to use their heavy guns against such tiny targets? The whole area had been heavily bombed, but it felt as though they were alone against the might of an invisible German army.

A mile out and no target identified. Suddenly, a loud explosion to port. A quick glance – the sister ship had received a direct hit and exploded into pieces. Zigzag. Just in time. Another battery closer to Maurice fired at him. This is it. He headed directly for it. Hold on – 1100 yards. Wait for it – fire.

Maurice and the battery fired more or less simultaneously. They missed; he did not. The shell from the tank hit the concrete bunker housing the guns, but made precious little impression on it. The shells from the three guns exploded – – and produced red smoke. Red smoke, Maurice swore as he turned away from the beach to try another attack.

Suddenly, a tremendous explosion occurred. The battery had gone – not only the battery but the low cliff on which it stood had collapsed into the sea.

Now the time had come to take on the second battery which had sunk his sister craft. Maurice had to cover half a mile before he was in range. He did not hesitate, random zigzags and a lot of prayer.


Escape From Iran Israeli Style

May 30, 2013

A fact based short story inspired by the action packed adventures of Israeli engineers sent to supervise construction works on a military base for the Shah’s army deep in central Iran. They found themselves caught up in the Iranian revolution of 1st February 1979. Faced with a truly horrific drama, they regarded their chances of escape as negligible. What should they do? Would war with Israel be declared? The result is a short but powerful thriller as the Israelis metamorphose from fugitives to an aggressive fighting force.

EXCERPT: “Silence; total silence! No tramp of marching feet; no shouted orders; no trucks grinding passed the window of his quarters and why no reveille? David, always an early riser – ever since his own army days as a tank commander – stirred restlessly still only half awake.

He glanced at his watch – reveille should have sounded at least five minutes ago. Outrageous, such an omission was unprecedented. He listened intently. Had the entire garrison melted away in the night – quietly so as not to disturb his sleep – leaving behind a ghostly replica of their camp in the early morning mist? He must be having a nightmare; but the stillness was real.

Wide awake now, he found the mystery which confronted him totally disconcerting. Just what had happened? What should he do? He reminded himself that the Shah’s army had total responsibility for security, his own army days were over. The base was part of the Shah’s last desperate attempts to be invincible to all threats, internal or external.

As the silence persisted, he became increasingly alarmed – the more so when he caught the muffled sound of a suppressed oath outside his window. Dressing hurriedly and checking the revolver he always carried about his person, he decided to investigate before hastening over to join his fellow engineers for breakfast in the mess. Something must be seriously amiss.

Opening the door cautiously, he stopped and looked around. Not a soul in sight in whichever direction he looked – not even by the main headquarters building. Where was everybody? Normally, the first bus loads of workers would be arriving from Isfahan. Iranian troops guarding the base would be everywhere. Today, nothing; he was alone or so it seemed. Then the sound of running feet round the next corner, but when he reached it, they were gone.

The Dead Man Strikes Back

May 29, 2013

The Dead Man Strikes Back

This contemporary fiction is full of danger and suspense, blending recent history with the adventures of a British spy sent to rescue a missing colleague. The result is a fast moving action packed thriller, set against the background of Russia’s problems with Chechnya and Georgia. Much of the drama takes place against a background of the magnificent Caucasus Mountains. But can our hero trust the Russian FSB (formerly KGB) officer who befriends him and how will she react to Anna, a Separatist?

Extract: “A pistol shot echoed around the snow-capped peaks. Startled jackdaws rose from their nests. Night had begun to fall, and with it came the all-pervading cold made all the more merciless by a gusting north wind.

Down amongst the twenty or so dwellings huddled together on a narrow ledge high in the Caucasus Mountains, a group of women redoubled their ululating as they prepared a funereal supper. The men began to chant salaams, which carried to the tiny group of mourners clustered around the freshly dug graves.

Sergei, in his long grey overcoat and wide-topped sheepskin hat, gazed down at the two bodies lying at his feet in open rough pine coffins. Each had a bullet hole in the centre of its forehead, and another through the heart; both men would have been dead before they hit the ground.

He bowed his head in respectful silence. ‘So young, so very young,’ he sighed, staring thoughtfully at the lights of two distant villages, the one where he was born perched high above the other, under a massive rock peak which protected it from the worst rigors of the winter blizzards. These were his people, his mountains – range after range stretching into the mists.

Somehow, they seemed to give him the courage to glance across at Alexei, the local partisan leader, a giant of a man with an ugly scar on his right cheek which his black beard could not conceal. Their eyes did not meet and neither spoke.

‘They died for the cause. They are heroes of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples and must be honoured as such,’ a voice growled. ‘Good men, comrades. This is Captain Yusuf’s work – not many can shoot like that.’

Sergei nodded. One of the bodies could so easily have been his own. Rumour had it that both he and Alexei were on the Captain’s death list.

The partisan’s grip tightened on the strap of the Kalashnikov slung across his back, his face ravaged by exhaustion and sorrow; but he looked away, as if seeking comfort from the old sepulchres in the small cemetery and from the square stone towers of the mountain village – a relic of the past.

Crack. Two bodies; two shots – the proprieties had been observed. Sergei mouthed a silent prayer

Then the fire seemed to come into Alexei’s eyes as he pledged a blood feud with the Georgians – a feud to end all feuds. Sergei walked over and stood beside him – a gesture of solidarity.

The partisan responded with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks and turned to the villagers: ‘Now is the time for leadership; the time for vengeance. Follow me. These grenades clipped to the metal loops in my ammunition belt, this Kalashnikov, and the armed men around me, all have urgent work to do.’

He took a pace backwards, stood smartly to attention, then slowly raised his right arm above his head and clenched his fist. The whole village fell silent. With quiet dignity, he ordered: ‘Bury them. They will be avenged.’

Sergei bared his head and watched as the coffins were solemnly nailed down and lowered into the ground. Tears welled up in his eyes as they were covered with earth – out of sight for ever. As if to enhance the melancholy, a younger element began to dance to the haunting accompaniment of a balalaika – a dance which grew faster and wilder as it progressed.”

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