By Mark Young
Let me start out with a red-faced apology. Gerrit O’Rourke, my main character in Off the Grid, failed to show up for an interview this morning. At the moment, my favorite U.S. Marine is AWOL. This really ticks me off because he knows I’m up against a deadline. Even worse, I promised readers that I’d interview him in the near future—those who read the novel and can’t wait until OTG’s sequel, The Daemon File, comes out later this year.
So…I’ll just wing it. Let’s start with characters. How dependable—”
A door splinters downstairs. An explosion rocks my house; heavy boots pounding across Brazilian Cherry wood floors. I hear them fanning out throughout my sanctuary—my home.
“Clear.” A stranger yells out below.
“Clear.” Another voice, further away. At least three—maybe four—intruders methodically clearing the main floor like a SWAT team. No knock and notice. A black ops?
I dash to the window of my second-story office. Glancing outside, I spot a black Suburban idling at the edge of my property, its nose pointed toward the front door like a black leopard eying its prey. Its windows have been ominously tinted all around, doors left wide open. Two heavily-armed men—decked out in jungle-camouflaged fatigues—standing guard out front, one at each corner of my house. I can only assume others have moved to the rear to cut off any escape. No markings on their clothing. These are not cops. Not even angry neighbors.
Why are they here? Trying to steal my The Daemon Files manuscript before I release it later this year? Maybe I unwittingly released government secrets. I know I have a few outstanding parking tickets. What are they after?
Thank goodness, my better half and the rest of the family are gone. This is going to get messy.
Reaching for the telephone, I start dialing. The line is deader than John McCain’s jokes on the David Letterman show in the last election. Grabbing my cell phone, I see hackers have one upped my cell phone provider. I have no service instead of lousy service. Need to focus!
How the heck did they cut me off? Are they some kind of government-sponsored Blackwater mercenaries? Where’s Gerrit when I need him?
I recalled a conversation with Willy Williams, one of Gerrit’s teammates from OTG, telling me how they’re going to do this in one of the upcoming scenes of The Daemon Files novel. Willy—a former gangster-turned-hacker—learns his questionable skills from Gerrit’s uncle, Joe O’Rourke, aka Joe Costello and a string of other alias that’d make the CIA proud. Willy shoots me a big grin. “Simple as pie if you know what you’re doing, Mr. Y. I can cut your cell phone off faster than Obama can raise taxes.” Oh yeah. Willy likes to call people by the first letter of their last name. Just a peculiarity he picked up that we’ve learned to live with. Willy dubbed me Mr. Why.
Getting back to the action: all my communications links have been hijacked. These guys—
whoever they are—are as serious as the IRS on tax day.
I need a little firepower!
I dash to a secret compartment hidden in my office where my weapons are stored. My arsenal is stashed in a gun safe, well oiled and unused since I left the police department a few years back. It only takes a second to punch in the code and yank the door open. I grab my .40 caliber Glock 27 Subcompact handgun and wish I still had my department-issued .40 semi-auto S&W. Better yet, I wished I could get my hands on some of those lethal toys our SWAT guys play with. This little baby will have to do. I snatch up several loaded magazines that I leave in the safe…just in case. This is one of those situations I never dreamed would happen outside of my novels.
I can’t even begin to think about what this is little war is going to do to my homeowner’s insurance.
Right now, I need to figure a way out of here without getting dead. Analysis: Trapped on the top floor of the house, one stairway leading up, no other sane way out. I can smash one of the windows and leap outside, but then I face a twenty-foot drop. Defying gravity like that would cost me both knees—or worse.
Better try to fight my way out!
I angle toward the door leading from the office. Beyond the opening, a long hallway leads to the other end of the house where the stairway emerges. It will take a few minutes for these gunmen to clear the house below. Sounds like they searched the main floor first. Next, they’ll send a couple guys downstairs to clear the basement. Once that’s done, they’ll work their way toward my office. Even these morons know that if they control the two bottom floors, I’ll be caught like a rat in a trap up here. Okay, maybe that’s not a good metaphor since I’d don’t want to be likened to one of the most hated creatures on God’s green earth—but you get the picture.
Somehow, they must have learned I’d be home alone. That sounds like a movie! Oh, yeah, Macaulay Culkin when he was a kid. Focus on the target, Marine! Just a little history that Gerrit and I share in common—the Corps. And now you know another one of my little secrets. I talk to myself and my fiction characters all the time. Generally, no one can hear me. So, if I get out of this mess, maybe all you can just forget this little quirk of mine? I’d appreciate it.
Brakes squeak outside. Oh, no! More bad guys? I dash to the window and spot a van down the street. A woman and several men dart toward my house carrying assault weapons. Hey, they look familiar. Then it hits me and I smile to myself. Gerrit O’Rourke and the others are coming to my rescue. At that moment, I could have kissed them. Okay, maybe I’ll kiss Alena Shapiro and hug the guys. Then, I remember Alena and Gerrit have a thing going. Don’t what to tick Gerrit off, so I’ll just give her a hug, too. Boy did I create the right characters for my book.
My heroes! Wait a minute! How’d they know I was in trouble?
I shove that thought aside as I hear intruders downstairs starting to regroup. They must have realized that I’m up here. One of the wooden steps leading to my office gives a loud squeak. The first gunmen must be moving my way. If I can just hold them off until Gerrit and the others get here. I edge toward the door. One good headshot is all I’m asking when the gunman makes that turn halfway up the stairs. He is probably wearing body armor. I wished I’d brought mine to the party. Gotta work with what I have.
A shadow of a man looms across the far wall in the stairwell, cast by the point man coming up the carpeted steps. Bad mistake, fella.
Here he comes!
I tighten my grip, interlock my fingers, and steady my breathing as I sight down the barrel. I know I’ll only get one clean shot. They’re carrying automatic weapons; I’ve got this little pea shooter. I calmly squeeze off one round as the gunmen’s head emerges. I reel back for cover, not waiting to see if I hit my target.
I can hear the body falling backwards. One down. How many more to go?
(Continued on Friday, February 24, 2011)
Hey, Readers. Wish you had some information about your favorite characters between the release of my novels? Little tidbits to let you know they’re still alive and kicking? Well, now you you do that right here. If you subscribed to this blog by email (see top of right column), you’re going to automatically get a notice to remind you the next post just came onlinee. You can stay up with the action and not lse any sleep.
It’s really weird. I keep running into these characters—Gerrit, Alena, Travis Mays, Frank White Eagle, and others—in the strangest situations. In fact, there are a few instances in which I have to drop my pencil and pick up a gun to help out. If you regularly visit this site, I promise you some exiting—and sometimes, funny—scenes. All the character from Off the Grid and Revenge, including a new series beginning with Broken Allegiance (A Tom Kagan Novel), will make brief cameo appearances on any given day. So, don’t be a stranger. Drop by for a visit whenever time allows.
Oh, one more thing. If any of you spot one of my characters—please drop me a line. It’s hard keeping track of these people all by myself. I could use your help. But be careful! These characters always seem to invite trouble, so keep your head down. Thanks for your help.