About your Book:
American investigative journalist Frank Bolan has a problem. Moscow wants him six feet down, or in a body bag. It doesn’t matter. They’ll take it any way they can get it, and Bolan doesn’t have a clue as to the reason. That is no way to begin a career.
Assigned to do background research on the two candidates vying for political office Bolan finds the world around him transforming into a graveyard. It is filling up fast, especially with his friends. The clues lead him to Greece where he encounters a goddess of a woman named Nikkie. She is the perfect tour guide. In the French Alps, the CIA team assigned as his homeward bound escort service, to ensure his safe return to the United States, find themselves outgunned and outmanned.
The gloves are dropped in this international thriller and Frank Bolan discovers that he is caught in a global chess match between two grandmasters…and there is simply nowhere to hide.
Why has the Kremlin issued a ‘Terminate On Site’ order on this private American? Only time will tell! And time, that eternal sly fox, is an entity which is fast running out for all involved.
Targeted Age Group: 14 and UP
Genre: Drama, Epic
The Book Excerpt:
****High Noon—The Future****
The news of the death drew a line in the sand. For him this was the hour of high noon. He had already cried for the others…he had mourned for Susie Cardoza, and was still mourning over her loss. There were no more tears left to give. He was now drained of all moisture and of every molecule that could be used to douse the fire raging inside. It had all evaporated. To tell you the truth, he was not even outraged when he heard it. His face reflected an icy coldness. He was a man walking around, a man cool to the touch. But if you could lick his heart with your tongue it would kill you. The poison of hate was consuming the blood pumping biological machine of his body. It all had but overtaken the last crevices of mercy to be found within him. The act of killing innocent people simply because they are some way related to the opposition was ghastly…it was inhuman and he was getting tired of seeing his friends kick the bucket because he has chosen to stare down evil in its face.
His nemesis with his Russian masters were attempting to see him plead ‘no mas..no mas’….hoping he would pack up his bags, slither away into oblivion and drown himself in self-pity. The thought had indeed crossed his mind, but any hope of that ever happening had just gone up in smoke…gunned down in the afternoon light of day on a busy street in Washington DC. It wasn’t just a friend they killed. This man was for all intended purposes his father. Did they know that? Did they understand that? He was not the man who gave him birth, but he was the man who gave him life, a chance to have a future when he saved his life during that streak of terror some years ago. This man didn’t just save his life and take off into the sunset like some Hollywood movie…no he stayed around, became a mentor and a father. He was there for his high school graduation and he was there to see him pick up his degree from Howard University. He was always there for when it mattered most.
Four days went past and he now stood on the slope of the hill of the cemetery where his friend was laid to rest. The day was gloomy, a constant drizzling rain making the grassy ground give way under the weight of each step. He watched from under a tree as the crowds began filing out. Many were from the decease’s place of employment, some were members of his military outfit in Iraq, and finally there was the family. He had three brothers and two sisters and they were all there. His nieces and nephews were standing guard over the ground into which he had descended.
And there was his wife and soul-mate. She was still sitting under a tent in front of the gravesite…dressed in black and staring with an empty glaze focus that told you she was not mentally here. She was a long, long way from here, from this moment in time. For her this present situation was the dream, and her reality was the memory they shared from the very first day they met. That is where she was right now, journeying through time…recounting every laughter, every smile, every mischievous look, every time he ran his fingers through her hair…and every kiss that made her feel like the world had stopped around them. She never wanted to leave these memories. She wanted to remain captive…for eternity. He watched her eyes blink for the first time in a long time and he knew she had finally come back to the present and the world around. He saw her look down at the grave and then her left hand pressed tightly against her chest, trying desperately to be strong. Then slowly she rose and took a few steps toward the grave…now she was out in the rain, the drops beginning to flatten her hair, but she didn’t care. She knelt down, touched her lips with her fingers and then brought it down into the dirt covering the casket. She mouth the words…I’ll always love you.
He watched her slowly rise. Her gaze was one of not wanting to leave her beloved, and as she stood up straight he could see her chest rise and then slowly lower as if to say, ‘It is done.’ She turned gradually towards him and began walking. Her eyes were down…watching each step on the muddy turf. When she reached him, her head tilted up, her face now soaking wet, hair fully flat…but with all the moisture around he could see the ones dedicated to her lost beloved. She looked firmly at him, hands clutching her black purse and she said, “It is not your fault.”
Hearing those words from her and seeing in her own eyes that she meant it, it just took the weight of the world off his shoulders.
She took her palm and reached for his chin, held it ever so delicately:
“I love you…I love you for loving my husband…I love you for giving him a son I could never give him…for being a part of our family and this does not change anything between us. I know he would have given his life for you…and I know you would have done the same.”
Then she took both her arms, wrapping them tightly around him. She held on to him as if she never intended to let go and he took his arms and embraced her. His head lowered…his lips now close to her left ear and he made a promise to her:
“I will not rest until justice is done…you have my word.”
After a few moments they unlocked and then she turned to leave…but stopped. She stood there for a while, unmoving and clearly deep in her thoughts. She then reached inside her purse and grasped something in her palm, then turned back to him and asked for his hand. She put her hand in his and then looked up at him:
“I know in my bones you will not rest…and when you do…you make sure they know that his widow sends her regards.”
She unclasped her palm from his and hurried away towards the family waiting for her at the end of the walkway. He opened his hand and looked down…the object was cold and shiny and it was now being covered by the rain.
He watched as the family all together walked down to the cars. They had their arms around her, and he knew she would be in good hands. He walked over to the grave of his friend and stooped down. He glanced at the shining object in his hand and then looked at the grave as if trying to see all the way through the dirt to the lonely soul resting six feet down into the wooden coffin. He said a prayer within him and then said aloud, talking directly to the one who was gone:
“You saw the best in me…you encouraged the good in me to flourish and shine the brightest to overcome all that which is dark…but now you are gone and I can see the light fading. I can no longer see or feel its intense blaze that once illuminated within me, so my dearest friend…with all my heart I must beg your forgiveness for what I must do. What I do now…I do for you.”
And with that he rose. In the distance ahead there was a rumble of thunder, and in the sky from the west one could see the massing dark clouds that seemed to be converging upon themselves. They were in a rolling swirling motion, the color of the sky morphing into the look of the dark bluish-black color just before the onslaught of an F5 super tornado…and it was headed in one direction…east!
****In The Middle of Fire and Ice****
It was easier to zone in on the town of Chambery…more lights in the distance to guide ones orientation. Artwell was hoping that the Russian forces would split up or better yet acquire their scent and loose that of Bolan and Jones. That would be ideal. But he knew the Russians were not injudicious, and in this dance of life and death each side had its trained warriors. There is a time for video game simulation where you get to kick the crap out of the enemy, and even if he gets in a lucky shot, you get to do a reboot until you get that perfect score. This wasn’t the time…and you only get to do it once. Like him, these men also lived on the dark side of human morality. They were equipped mentally and physically to meet their challenges. He was fairly confident the Russian helicopter gunship was carrying night-vision and thermal imaging equipment. Artwell knew it was all too easy for the Russians to track them. He moved as swiftly as practical while carrying Stewart on his shoulders. Both his weapons were holstered to give him more flexibility in maneuvering through the trees while holding on to his fellow agent. It was not long before he noticed that the flashlights of the Russians on foot had disappeared. This could only mean one thing…they had turned in the direction of Bolan and Jones.
That was not good!
Artwell paused and gently lowered Stewart…allowing him to rest against the base of a tree. Even from this distance he could still hear the sound of the helicopter. It echoed, bouncing off the mountain side and down into the valley before fading out, up and into the wide open sky. He would have to do something to attract the attention of the Russians and give them a good enough reason to relinquish their attempts to converge upon Jones and Bolan…at least the ones on foot. The main mission was getting Frank Bolan out alive. If this kid was worth the Russians sending in a heavy hit ‘special ops-squad’ to take him out, then that confirmed to Artwell that Bolan’s survival was priority number one. He had doubts about Bolan when he first met the kid. He had calculated that this was simply another FSB snatch job sanctioned by the Kremlin. But he was wrong. Not even ‘the big red bear’ would risk an international incident by violating the French sovereignty in dispatching a gunship across their borders…unless this was as direly sensitive a covert operation as it gets. This had to be Moscow’s ‘Cuban Missile Crisis.’
“Stewart…” he said looking down at the wounded warrior.
Stewart was alert, but even in the darkness you could tell he was rapidly losing blood.
“I know,” Stewart said. He knew what had to be done. They could not leave the entire Russian hit squad to zero in on Bolan and Jones. “Do what you need to…if you make it back, I’ll be here.”
“I’ll return,” Artwell said and then he vanished into the background.
He circled his way over to the path they had travelled…but not retracing his exact steps. There was still the possibility that the Russians may have left a scout behind in the event that they did precisely what he was now doing, doubling back. He tried to circle up above his previous route in the hopes of getting the upper-hand vantage point against the chase team, while at the same time cut off the Russians route towards Bolan. It was about fifteen minutes before he picked up the first sign of the Russians on foot. He saw several flashlight beams cutting through the forested area…still about two hundred yards away. The gunship was now visible and seeming to be doing a zigzag dance across the French Alps. Artwell figured out that they must have radioed to the Russians on foot where to find Jones and Bolan. That was probably the reason why they withdrew from the trail of himself and Stewart.
Artwell feverishly worked his way through the terrain to intersect the Russians. When he got within range, he un-holstered his .357…took aim and tapped off a single shot. He moved quickly from his position, not stopping around to see whether or not the target was hit. That was not important. Getting their attention was what mattered…and he knew he got it. There was an instant reaction, a flurry of activity and suddenly all the flashlights went dead.
The aim now was to pull them away from the direction of Bolan and Jones. He circled behind them. Their camouflage outfit was still in motion, and even with a moonless night, the changes in the on-and-off flicker of reflective light could be detected…by the trained eye. He had an eye for that kind of detail, this was his world and he was a master. He could count off about six or seven of them in the distance. Artwell then created enough of a gap between himself and them before his next shot. He lay motionless on the ground, ignoring the cold and the moistness soaking through his turtleneck sweater. He lined up his next shot…not fully being able to locate a clear target…but enough so they would know in what direction the shot originated. Then he saw what he wanted…movement…and it was headed in his direction. Artwell moved swiftly in a low stooping motion to avoid revealing his own exact location. He created more distance between them and himself. He had the advantage. He knew what was happening so he could move much more decisively. He found a location he desired and then removed the rifle that Jones had procured from the Russians in the car. They had involuntarily relinquished it. It had a telescopic sight…Artwell looked more closely, then a wide smile appeared on his face…fate smiled upon him…it was equipped with a hinged clamp night vision telescopic sight. Finally the odds were even.
The man with the silvery eyes kneeled, resting on his right knee against the thick root curling away from a huge tree. The spot offered him enough of a visual to absorb the progress of the Russian kill-squad. He could see them moving stealthily and it appeared that at least three of them…the ones in front were sporting night-vision goggles. They must have toggled the lenses down when they killed the flashlights. Artwell counted off his mark. Then calculated where the next target would move once the first shot rang out. His third shot would have to be upon sight because enough time would have transpired for that target to react and get out of harm’s way. The likely scenario is that the man would drop straight to the ground. Artwell knew at that point he would have to stand up and try to take him out at a downward angle. He swung the rifle around…settled in on his first target and squeezed. Then without blinking he aimed the barrel 15 degrees to the right where the second target was, compensated for the Russians reactionary movement and then squeezed. He stood up in time to see the third target doing just what he had guessed. He squeezed again. His third shot caught the Russian in the motion of going down and it simply hurried him along to his resting place.
Before Artwell could shift his position the other Russians returned gunfire. They were simply firing in the direction of the flash of light they had seen. A bullet whizzed by his ear, slamming into the Fir tree next to him. He dropped to the ground…looking through his night vision telescope for movement. He saw a Russian agent try to advance on his position by darting forward behind a tree that brought him closer. He was making fast progress in closing in on Artwell. He was almost there when he was suddenly jerked back as if he had had his parachute chord pulled for a premature deployment. Artwell had put him down.
And once again the man known as the ‘Iceman’ was on the move. He knew there was panic in the Russian camp and now was the time to take advantage of them. He did the reverse of what they were probably envisaging, he moved in on them. Slashing and zigzagging his way towards their position. A bullet ricocheted off another tree near him. He saw the flash of the gun barrel and knew exactly where his target was positioned. He dived and rolled to the right…sprinted around, simultaneously attempting to circle them. Artwell caught the unsuspecting Russian by surprise, coming up behind him. The Russian agent did the natural thing of whirling around to meet and repel his attacker. It was his last conscious decision for just about then the ‘Iceman’ turned his lights out. The man collapsed into Artwell’s arms.
The next closest Russian pointed in Artwell’s direction. The American agent swung around the dead Russian that he was still holding and used him as a bullet proof vest. He could feel the jerking sensation as screaming lead kept trying to barrel its way through the body of the Russian…looking for a tunnel with some daylight. Artwell did not wait around for the trigger-happy military assassin to finish his drilling operation. He unsheathed his .357 magnum and brought the Russian’s drilling experience to an end.
Artwell dropped to the ground, patiently listening to get a fix on the final Russian. All was quiet…like the moment one finds himself in the eye of the hurricane. The night was still except for that whirring sound in the distance. But here at this spot on the slopes of the French Alps, all was quiet. The eyes of the ‘Iceman’ were searching…seeking that final elusive target.
It was the sound of a bramble breaking under the pressure of 195 lbs. of human flesh. The sound was from behind and Artwell sprung over to see the Russian taking dead aim at him from above. The sound of the snapping twig caught the Russian by surprise…it gave Artwell that fraction of a second to react. He unloaded the .357 into the Russian. The man jerked backwards, he seemed to stall in mid-motion, but then the force of gravity took over and propelled him downwards on top of Artwell. He was dead before he slammed into the American agent.