EXTRACTS FROM GLOBAL RAIDER – 5

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To give you a flavour of my book Global Raider here is an extract from Chapter 2. Extracts will continue every Tuesday and Friday.

Extract from CHAPTER 2

“I must inform you, gentlemen, Operation Fireback is now active,” he said, watching them flicker in apprehension as they realised the binding commitment.

“You could have told us.” The speaker was Dalvarral of the Defense Department.

“We agreed the operation would be run only on a need to know basis. You didn’t need to know, till now.”

“You certain Khalid bin Qasem will bite?” Ratner, an assistant director with the Science and Technology Directorate of the CIA said, observed Jake with convex eyes.

“You told me your department was getting a lot of electronic chatter, that’s al-Qaeda worried over the money they put in,” Jake said. “Well, thirty minutes ago I terminated Khalid’s source of information. To obtain lock-on, he must act before any navigational codes are changed. That’s effectively after GR4’s penultimate test flight. If he obtains lock-on during the test, he’ll siphon enough information to strike again on the inaugural flight.”

“Are we sure?” Ratner asked.

“Defeat or humiliation of American’s ultimate weapon will give him world acclaim. Every country supporting Islamic militants will fund him. To win he has to bite, because if he doesn’t, al-Qaeda will bite him.”

“Then why arrest Perry, for God’s sake?” Dave Shalk of the FBI pointed his finger, the nail manicured, his hand white and soft. “I threw you the guy because the FBI knew him as an Internet paedophile, ideal for blackmail. If you’ve arrested Perry, he’ll talk, Khalid will find out. He may back off or sell the information we passed. That’s long term damage.”

Jake resisted the temptation to snap the man’s finger off.   “I said, his information source was terminated. I saw no point in creating paperwork over this.” Jake watched the FBI man shrink back, saw him realise. The finger wavered.

“We have no jurisdiction over the police,” Shalk warned. “If you commit a crime, don’t get caught.”

“We are at war.” Jake looked between them. “That’s total commitment. You’ve all given input. FBI finding Perry as the patsy, CIA’s infiltration tipping him to al-Qaeda for blackmail. But it was me who had to set the sting while limiting damage. I placed two guys in his department, guys of his sexual inclination, which made it easier for him to recruit them, security men who could smuggle stuff out. That way Qasem only got what we wanted. Both Perry and his boss, Crawley, had access to lift classified data from the loop. The fact they’re both shirt lifters makes it look like a faggot conspiracy. And you’re right, Perry would have talked. So exit Perry, job done. I had to protect my men and our own interest. And you did hint at Heaven’s approval.”

“I said Heaven had been informed of a covert operation to wipe Khalid bin Qasem out, to destroy a group central to the terrorist circuit,” Dalvarral said. “They made no comment. You might note, this meeting is not held in a Government office. Don’t that tell you something?”

“Deniable operation, glory or bust. Perry got run over by a truck.” Jake watched the three crows draw down their hoods. Knowledge compromised them. He felt nothing but contempt. “If you join battle, gentlemen, ain’t no point pussy-footing behind the stockade. Since 9/11 we’ve been at war. If a traitor hands secrets to the enemy, he pays the consequences. You don’t like it, you’re in the wrong game.”

“Don’t doubt us, Jake,” Ratner said. “But on home ground we got limitations.”

“Al-Qaeda brought the battlefield here and set the ground rules. Let’s not forget, we play a double game using a double-edged sword. With Government approval the security of Walsh Industries is my responsibility and as Walsh developed Global Raider or GR4, so security on the aircraft is also mine. On your suggestion and with your co-operation I’ve allowed a controlled leakage of information to ensnare an enemy. That puts us into a conspiracy, gentlemen. And those in a conspiracy stay close, or fall by their own hand.”

“Double-edged swords cut two ways, Jake. We have to ensure it doesn’t bounce back. We are all involved,” Dalvarral said.

“In that case, I suggest we all take a firm grip. Perry is dead. Fortunately I lifted the documents he carried and replaced them with others to which he had sole access. The upside is Dr Max Crawley, Perry’s boss, is going to shit himself when he learns his chief assistant is the source of a major leak. That leaves him vulnerable as planned. The downside is, Wat Walsh will also hear. That causes problems.”

“So we cut Walsh in.” Ratner tapped the table and sat back.   “He’s a patriot and it will make our lives easier.”

Jake shook his head, listening to the grind of traffic as it passed outside. “Last time Khalid crossed with Walsh, you guys let Khalid execute the man’s wife. That’s a lot of rage to suffer, even for a patriot. Wat Walsh don’t forgive or forget. Your agency’s got no credit with him, that’s why he’s paranoid over the safety of his daughter. He don’t trust the security services. The first hint of Khalid and he might well lock down, ground GR4 and kill our operation. He has that power.”

Shalk made to speak but Dalvarral interrupted him. “Walsh and his daughter are important, but small fry. Expedience surpasses them both. What do you advise?”

“Perry’s death will out the supposed impossible, enemy infiltration. If Khalid is suggested I’ll need to satisfy Daddy Walsh over the absolute safety of Juliet Walsh. I’ve been planning to shift her to a secret place under maximum security, but now I’ve only got nine days to persuade her, otherwise this could fold.”

“You saying the whole operation is dependent on some spoilt brat?” Shalk’s finger was outstretched again. “For God’s sakes, lock her up.”

“Juliet Walsh don’t lock up or shut up easy. Of course, I could remove her father’s paranoia by throwing her under a truck. Alternatively, you guys could use influence in your departments and get me some co-operation from Heaven. And I mean immediately.”

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EXTRACTS FROM GLOBAL RAIDER – 4

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To give you a flavour of my book Global Raider here is an extract from Chapter 2. Extracts will continue every Tuesday and Friday.

Chapter 2

General Jake Hammerton cast no shadow on the busy New York pavements. In the grey evening light he moved amidst the noise and glare of its human beings while keeping his concentration on events across the street, his mind on the kill.

Both he and the traffic stayed the same pace as Perry, his target, who strolled the opposite side of West 49th. Traffic clustered then stretched, rolling in a slow shuffle towards the intersection. The truck trailing Perry matched his progress, the driver carefully maintaining position to the rear, his wheels eighteen inches from the kerb. Training, Jake knew, brought perfection.

Amidst the congestion Perry occasionally drifted from sight, then Jake whispered into the mouthpiece of his body set, ensuring the two-man team that followed kept the target in view. Perry walked with positive steps, the black briefcase clutched in his right hand. Jake checked time and position. The target was five hundred metres from enemy contact and five metres from termination point. Lights on the intersection turned green and Jake took the opportunity.

“Execute immediately,” he again spoke softly into the microphone on his lapel, stopping at the corner to watch the truck move forward, knowing four men from Walsh Security would be clustering in Perry’s path. Somewhere ahead a siren wailed, a long, angry shriek cutting over the city noise.

Jake saw the annoyance on Perry’s face and watched him side step in the apparent confusion of pedestrian confrontation. Next moment he was sprawling in the road, his head between the front wheels and those which followed, his body stretched facedown before the next set of wheels humped slightly. Jake heard the distinct pop of calvarium bone above the fading siren and watched the truck clear the corner to drive down 5th Avenue. He saw no sign of the four-man team. A woman screamed and people started to gather.

“Target down, briefcase swapped.” Jake heard the whisper of one of his men over the earpiece and responded with a grunt of pride. Good men all of them, he thought, and strolled away in the opposite direction.

Henry Taylor had the Buick idling at the kerbside, his unlit pipe clenched between teeth, his expression bland. He released the locking mechanism and Jake slid his solid bulk into the back seat.

“Twenty seconds from time of command to execution. That team is superb,” Jake said.

“Crowded sidewalk, just ain’t safe no more.” Henry sucked on his pipe.

“So perish all traitors.” Jake lowered the rear window and took the black briefcase passed by one of his men from the pavement. “Fireback is rolling, Henry. One year down the line and Khalid is coming into target.”

“You are now twenty minutes to rendezvous.” Henry checked his watch and drove out into the traffic.

Jake opened the briefcase and looked through the contents, unfinished sandwiches, New Scientist magazine, business cards, correspondence. “Boring life he lived, Henry.” Jake parted the magazine and found sheets of figures inside. “Flight details, we got evidence.”

“You going to tell Mr Walsh?” Henry asked. “He’ll find out.”

“Only what I want him to know. Best he’s kept out the frame. He’s got problems enough.” Jake looked to the pavement as they passed over the intersection. He saw police there, someone taking pictures of the uncovered body, a second policeman lifting a black briefcase. “Did you hear his head pop?” Jake asked. “Like a firecracker on the 4th of July. Real patriotic.” Jake smiled and sat back in the comfort of his leather seat.

Twenty minutes later he slid shut the side door of a grey panel van. A fixed table and four swivel chairs filled the centre floor. He nodded greetings to the three occupants but received scant acknowledgement in return. Forward of the enclosed cargo deck an FBI agent clicked the van into drive and pulled away from the kerb. Jake steadied himself, opposing the momentum as he sat in the empty seat. A tall, hooked nosed block of a man with cropped hair and lined face, he gave the image of being stone cut. His smile held no mirth and was not returned by the senior security agents opposite. Jake considered them Government hackers, pension men, eager for glory, scared of retribution. He saw the three as scavengers, hooded crows, hunched and ready to pluck the eyes from any opponent.

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EXTRACTS FROM GLOBAL RAIDER – 3

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To give you a flavour of my book Global Raider here is another extract from Chapter 1. Extracts will continue every Tuesday and Friday.

The air rocked and Al Razi’s body jerked as his head disintegrated under impact from the single round out of Anderson’s rifle. “Citizenship revoked.” He looked to Seb and grinned. “Perks of being Rupert’s nanny.”

Seb looked to the splatter of brain and blood covering his hands and weapon but his relief was huge and thankful. “Withdraw to RV. Let’s get the fuck out of here,” he shouted, pushing the flask so it wedged against his skin under the strap of his belt kit, the same time counting heads as his team made a tactical withdrawal from the shattered convoy. No one down, he thought and called on his UHF link. “Pumas to pick up. Two minutes.”

The clatter of a tracked vehicle became audible and a searchlight beam cut through the night. Seb answered with a snatched burst from the AK. The resulting darkness lasted moments before a parachute flare burst overhead. An APC stood ten metres back from the smouldering truck, its turret swinging before a heavy machine gun clattered round towards their retreating line.

Seb dropped simultaneously with the team. Again the night became a crash of noise, the ground pocked and chopped by the strike of rounds as the APC searched for range. Seb rolled, pulled a weapon propelled grenade from his kit, fitted it to the barrel of his rifle and fired. He was shouting, shouting as his men were shouting, their voices momentarily lost under the exploding grenade. This wasn’t meant to happen. The al-Qaeda camp would be swarming by now.

Amidst the torrent of gunfire between APC and Seb’s team, two silver bolts cut the black sky and turned the APC to molten metal. The eruption shuddered the ground, the sound vibrating through the air, impacting on Seb’s eardrums so even his own voice sounded as if called from a distant place. Blood red flames billowed out across the desert floor, a rolling fireball veined with black acrid smoke. Within seconds the eruption had evaporated back into the stillness of night leaving small isolated patches of burning oil.   The APC no longer existed.

Anderson stood. “Fucking hell, God’s on our side. Where did that come from?”

Seb also stood. “I can guess. Additional firepower received,” he said into his mike, transmitted by CP and sat-com to Global Hawk control.

“Hope it did the trick. Service courtesy of USAF.”

“It did the trick.” Sean looked to the star encrusted sky.

“Well yer ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait for Global Raider.”

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EXTRACTS FROM GLOBAL RAIDER – 2

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To give you a flavour of my book Global Raider here is another extract from Chapter 1. Extracts will continue every Tuesday and Friday.

Ruperts do have their uses, Seb thought as he listened to the team’s radio acknowledgement. In his mind he knew each person was aware that if a convoy took just ten minutes to arrive, so could three hundred al-Qaeda. A Puma helicopter with a second on standby would have been alerted for their run to the RV, waiting on his order to pick up when safe. For a clean withdrawal the time factors became crucial. He remembered words from his boss, Colonel Fox, that to lead men you had to be at one with them, mentally and physically. To give them confidence and get them the hell out of any position when they were being shot to pieces. “Stand to,” he said and looked back to the night. The tension left his body under a surge of adrenalin. This was his life, what he had trained for. He felt totally focussed. The target was Dr Al Razi, a British mullah and long known supporter of al-Qaeda. Left to preach his hatred in London and travel at will, Al Razi had just collected some of Syria’s stolen anthrax. His intended place of distribution, the British populous.

Seb shifted the butt of his rifle and took grip of the stock. As Rupert it was his duty to ensure Al Razi stayed in the desert. Long, silent minutes passed which left him time to think. Execution would need anger, hatred.

“Hawk to Desert Snatch, convoy now traversing hillside to your position. ETA three minutes.”

“Roger that,” Seb answered. He felt calm now, an inner control filled with solid determination. Every sense became alert to the stillness, the slow encroaching sound of engines. He wanted these bastards, this little shit Al Razi who would kill thousands in satisfaction of self-righteous bigotry.

“All positions fire on my action.” Seb gave his last order and squinted through the night optic sight, watching the lead vehicle come round the hillside, a Toyota FWD with twin mounted machine guns over the cab. Full blaze headlights cut across their position and the desert floor, sweeping down the track as the second vehicle came into view, an enclosed landcruiser. Target vehicle, Seb was certain. He felt Jock shift the Barrett to aim at its engine cover. Last vehicle was an open truck carrying a dozen armed men.

“See you in paradise,” Jock whispered.

“No way, we’ll piss this.” Seb took first pressure on his trigger and listened to the sat-com earpiece come to life.

“Hawk to Desert Snatch. A tracked vehicle has also left the compound, possibly an APC, repeat, armoured vehicle ETA your location eight minutes.”

“Shit.” Now or never. Seb squeezed the trigger and put a series of three round bursts into the landcruiser’s side windows. Beside him the heavy calibre discharge of the Barrett imploded on his eardrums.

A crescendo of ear stunning noise came instantly amidst flickering darts of light. Flame spat across the black velvet sky from the single rounds of the massive Barrett sniper weapons while the snatched, chattering fire of HKG3s and AK74 assault rifles gave constant barrage. Seb shouted the last message from Global Hawk over his UHF.

Return fire from the convoy terminated within sixty seconds. Sergeant Pete Shaffer on the opposite side of the track called ceasefire. The sudden cessation of noise returned the desert to stillness, the silence only disturbed by the crackle of flames from the rear truck and intermittent cries of the wounded.

Seb pushed up from the dugout, Jock beside him, the heavy Barrett cradled in his arms. Half a dozen bodies shadowed the desert floor, fanned out from the vehicles like scattered clothes bags.

“Move it.” Seb heard the order from Pete Shaffer as he came out of his hole. Figures emerged from the desert floor, all running at a crouch, all knowing they had minutes before an enemy armoured vehicle arrived.

Seb was within twenty feet when the fuel tank on the rear truck exploded. In the shock of fire, three of the supposed dead stood up and ran, four more figures leaped from the back, two of them ablaze. The team’s response came immediately, their weapons raking the night with fire, twitching bodies as they scattered and fell. Seb kept running for the landcruiser, his sole objective to secure the canister of anthrax, the rest was now Pete Shaffer’s; except for Al Razi, whom he hoped was dead.

The landcruiser sat fat and dark on deflated tyres, the windscreen and front side window shattered. Smoke and steam drifted from under the bonnet. Seb threw open the rear door and stood ready to fire. The driver was dead, so was the man beside him. In the back a thin bearded guy sat in petrified silence, eyes and mouth wide open, hands raised.

“Where is it?” Seb jabbed with his rifle barrel. Sitting in the back of the only air-conditioned vehicle this had to be Al Razi.

“I don’t know what you mean.” The cleric spread his hands.

“Then fucking die.” Seb took aim.

“Here.” The guy grabbed a briefcase from behind the seat and held it in offering.

Seb snatched it onto the ground, flipped the catches and pushed up the lid. Inside lay a steel flask wedged by polystyrene. Jock had the tail open, throwing aside items while searching through other baggage.

“Is this it?” Seb took out the canister and pushed it into his shirt. “Tell me or I kill you now!”

“All of it, no more. They kept the rest.”

“Nothing here,” Jock said.

“Out, out.” Seb grabbed the cleric’s shirt, hauling him over the seat, trying to think of him as a mass murdered. He had never killed in cold blood.

Global Hawk sounded in his earpiece. “Sit-rep.”

“Anthrax secure,” Seb answered.

“Execute courier. Then immediate evacuation, additional firepower imminent,” Hawk replied.

“Roger that.” He turned the AK74 back to Al Razi. Seb wished to hell he had no conscience. He had to do this, had to. He took first pressure on the trigger, swallowed hard and paused, paused long enough to know he couldn’t finish it.

“I have human rights. I am from London, British citizen, you cannot shoot me.”

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Extracts from Global Raider

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To give you a flavour of my book Global Raider here is a short description and extract from the opening of Chapter 1.

Extracts will continue every Tuesday and Friday.

CHAPTER ONE

Sweat trickled on Seb’s face. In the still night a fly buzzed, stopped, buzzed again then settled on the barrel of his AK74 rifle. Lying in a hollow scooped from the desert floor, he squinted through his night optic sight, drawing a line of vision over the ambush square, waiting on the enemy, waiting on advanced warning from the UAV twelve miles in the sky.

Since hitting the dropping zone at 2300 hours and burying his parachutes, Seb had felt his adrenalin slowly gain in pressure to feed tension over fear.   Fear would come later, when it was done and over. For now he blocked all negatives from his mental preparation. The Combined Agency Taskforce, CAT taught all or nothing and the eight-man ambush team from the Anti-terrorist Warfare wing would expect nothing less of him. He just prayed the outcome would not demand a cold blooded execution. This he knew was his trial for acceptance amongst the elite. These guys were ex-SAS, 9 Para, SBS, Airborne and Commandos, the very finest of British Special Forces; except ambush via US ground control in America and an unmanned aerial vehicle somewhere amidst the stars was untried. Tucked in his hole, Seb knew he was central to the operation’s success, his orders deciding whether he and others of the CAT team lived or died. Tension in his body sparked every muscle and nerve which in turn pumped his sweat into the desert heat.

He brushed at another fly and heard Jock Anderson flick away the same irritation in the adjacent scoop, heard him puff when one settled on his lips. Seb considered him the babyminder but it did not detract from responsibility. Young he might be, but Seb was still the commanding officer. If he messed up, no one would forgive him. The outcome was a steel flask of anthrax en route to London, courtesy of one very dangerous al-Qaeda agent.

From the slit of the sand covered hole he looked up to a star scattered heaven, the crystal air allowing vision thirty metres into the hot, velvet night. To his right lay undulating desert, to his left sand rock hills rose in stark silhouette, the tops shimmered by moonlight. On the lower slopes he had set the team’s RV point and a two-man comms post manning the radio link to base. The team link was through UHF sets. More important was Seb’s own link by satellite-com direct to Global Hawk ground control. Somewhere high above, an unmanned aerial vehicle watched over them like a guardian angel.

Again Jock shuffled his solid bulk, farted and set the flies buzzing.

“What the fuck you been eating?” Seb put a forearm to his nose, glad of the disturbance and the ease of tension.

“Beans.” Jock turned his big square face and grinned. “I always eat beans before an op. Gives more velocity when I run.”

Seb lifted his head and noticed all the flies had deserted. “You’re more lethal than the bloody anthrax.”

“In Al Razi’s face, evil bastard.” Jock laid the crook of his arm over the butt of a Barrett M82A1 sniper rifle, its .50 round capable of piercing an engine block.

“You think the Yanks are up there?” Jock asked.

“Somewhere.” Seb rested chin to forearm and stared at a million stars. “They’ve been watching these guys by satellite for months. The stupid prats are still using mobiles. They’re watching them now. Technology, that’s what wins wars. When it works,” he added in after thought.

“Still takes squaddies on the ground, some poor bastards to sort out the mess.”

“For now. But it will change.”

“We’ll be dead by then.”

“Hope not.” Seb looked back to where a sand track wound its way around the hill at a hundred metres distance. He knew that four miles on the other side an al-Qaeda training camp held three hundred men. Somewhere over the track four of his own team lay waiting, each huddled in a scoop from the desert floor, each listening for his command to open fire. During the protracted silence the earpiece of Seb’s sat-link whispered warning.

“Global Hawk to Desert Snatch. Convoy preparing to leave compound. Three vehicles, estimated enemy strength, eighteen. ETA, ten minutes.”

Seb listened to the American voice of the UAV ground control, someone in a far distant place who watched this patch of desert through darkness and space.

“Roger that.” Seb switched mikes and spoke to his team over UHF. “Eighteen players, three vehicles, ETA ten minutes. Pete, Mike, you take lead vehicle. Dave, Rich, end vehicle. Jock and I will do middle. Everyone to mop up runners. Barretts to stop vehicles,” Seb paused. “Priority is the flask, probably in the central vehicle. Try not to cause fire. We don’t want it red hot or broken. Some poor sod has to carry it.”

“Guess who?” Jock grinned.

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EXTRACTS FROM THE WITCH’S SHADOW – 10

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The Witch’s Shadow, the 2nd in the Mind Traveller series, is available now from Amazon.  To give you a flavour of Rosie’s adventures into Mind Space here is the final extract from Chapter 2.

Extract from Chapter 2 

                “I’m only a Grade 4 Angel trying for Grade 3.  But if she leapt into parallel time she’s in Mind Space and Mind Space is dangerous. If you want the truth you’ll need to find it yourself.”  She shrugged.  “Sorry about that, but at least I can get a little assistance.”  From amongst the arrows in her sheath she produced a small, silver trumpet and leaning from the window blew a long, shrill note that carried far up the building.  Gradually the sound faded, replaced by the flutter of wings, the noise growing in volume as if a swirling flock of birds flew in formation.  When Rosie looked out, dozens of White Angels swooped and soared in double ranks, each ready with bow and arrow.

“The SAS, Special Angel Service.  Our barracks are just above.”  She took Rosie’s hand and stepped up onto the windowsill.

Rosie came beside her and looked at the portal of light giving entrance back into her own world, far, far below.  “I’m not sure about this,” she said and swallowed hard.

“In this world you either do or you do not.  Me and me mates will fight a rear-guard action.  You just fly like your life depends on it, because it does.”  She nodded and leapt into space, dragging Rosie behind.  For seconds both flew side by side, then Elissa drew her sword and swept overhead.

Rosie deltered her arms, the wind buffeting her face and hair, tearing at her clothes as she swallow dived towards the light.  At first she heard only her own scream, then a loud, sucking noise as billowing dark shadows emerged from the surrounding void.  All at once the angels were shouting and white arrows darted through the air, embedding into the undulating shapes of scrowlers who threw long, sucking tentacles to snatch at their victims.  She heard Elissa slashing with her sword and then the shouts of her comrades as they became locked in combat.  Next moment something gooey wrapped around Rosie’s waist and yanked her off course.

“Elissa,” Rosie yelled, unable to stop herself being lifted towards a gaping mouth.  Powerless she hammered her fists against the tentacle whose suckers pulled at her clothes.  From under the shadow appeared a face, a hideous crone with glaring eyes and twisted nose.  For seconds Rosie stared at the monster, the air shaken by its vicious howl, then like the guardian angel she was, Elissa flashed by swinging her sword to cut the tentacle in half.

“Scramble girl, go, go, go.”

Rosie ripped the remaining coil from her body, throwing it aside as she returned to her dive.  The light now rushed towards her and glancing back over her shoulder, she saw two more scrowlers descending, yellow eyes fixed on her, their bodies spreading like undulating blankets, their tentacles reaching towards her.  For seconds she saw Elissa dart between them, cutting with her sword, then her friend disappeared as Rosie hurtled into the light portal and the passage to her own world.  She heard the scrowlers crash against the entrance, their body mass too big to follow.

“Elissa,” she shouted and then thumped on to the dormitory floor to look up at the underside of her mattress.  “Elissa,” she whispered.

“You all right?” Paula asked from the bed beside Rosie’s.

“Yeah, sure.”  Rosie stood and rubbed a bruised arm.  “Had a bad dream, that’s all.”

“I’ll say.  You were shouting your head off.”  The girl turned over and snuggled down.

Rosie calmed her breath and slipped off her trainers before sliding under her own duvet.  For minutes she lay in darkness, listening intently.  In her mind she whispered Elissa’s name, calling her over and over, but Elissa did not answer.

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EXTRACTS FROM THE WITCH’S SHADOW – 9

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The Witch’s Shadow, the 2nd in the Mind Traveller series, is available now from Amazon.  To give you a flavour of Rosie’s adventures into Mind Space here is another extract from Chapter 2.

Extracts will continue every Wednesday and Saturday.

Extract from Chapter 2

“I’m confused.  How can I read my mother’s diaries when they’re at home in Haston Manor?  My Uncle Hugo forbade me to read them till I’m eighteen.  Though I admit, I have sneaked a couple of views.”  She looked down at the ground.  “And used my iPad to photograph lots of pages.  Especially the last diary so I could find out what happened.  Except I didn’t read too much because, well…”   She shrugged her shoulders.  “I don’t like to deceive Uncle Hugo.”  She looked to Elissa who stroked her in angelic understanding.

“Then you have them, your mother’s last diaries.  So if you want to help save your world from the Dark Angels, if you want to finish your mother’s mission regarding the White Dove, I suggest you get reading soon as possible.”  One arm produced a huge cake which the head began to eat.  “But don’t forget your main mission to find Livinia and release Tiago.  We didn’t spend weeks influencing your uncle by using subliminal hypnosis over the internet for nothing.  There is a reason why you must visit Southwold in Suffolk.  And it’s not to play on the pier or write your school essay on Southwold’s history.”

“You influenced me to pick that subject, how?” Rosie asked.

“Subliminal psychotic induction, particularly via the Web, is a modern and useful influence over the unaware,” the head said and munched another bite of cake.

“That’s secret hypnosis, that’s sneaky.”

“I’m a sneaky sort of person.  But it’s covered by the Manual.  Of course, the SAS will give you what help they can.”  He screwed up his face.  “Except out of Mind Space in the parallel worlds, that help is limited.  Fortunately the same applies to Gizeda and the Dark Angels.  I do know this, a fragment of the White Dove is also in the vicinity of Southwold.  Your mother hid it there, her diaries will tell you.  Just don’t take it through Mind Space, it’s far too dangerous.  Enemies of the Light are everywhere.  Now off you go, there is no time to lose.”

“On my own!”  Rosie looked up at the head.  “Why me?  There must be others Mind Travellers”

“Not that many and they’re all busy.  In your sector you’re the only one available.  For goodness sake, we’re in the middle of a war.  Besides, Elissa is always around.  The good are never far away.  So, get on with it.”

“Elissa can’t be everywhere.  Give us a chance.”

The head huffed breath and rolled its eyes.  “OK, OK, I’ll let you have Sid.”

“Sid?  Who’s Sid?”

“Who’s Sid, everyone knows Seagull Sid,” the head exclaimed and disappeared.  The bulbous green body sank into the hole like a deflating balloon, leaving a globule of gunge the size of a tennis ball.

Her mind in turmoil, Rosie turned to Elissa and raised both hands.  “I don’t even know where to start,” she said to the angel, “and where’s this Sid?”

“Here,” said the ball of gunge which looked like pooh.

“Yuck.  And what are you meant to be?”

“Well thank you very much,” the gunge said.  “I’ll have you know I’m Seagull Sid and can mould myself into anything.  But I’m best at seagulls, hence the name.”  With that the ball popped and vanished.

“This is typical of them that make the rules,” Elissa said.  “They ask the impossible, give you what looks like pooh, then clear off.  So,” she put her hands on her hips, “OK, let’s get the dove sorted, then we can concentrate on our main mission.  Your iPad with copies of your mother’s diaries.  You got it?”  She reached out her hand.

“No.  It’s at school, by my bed.  I didn’t think I’d need an iPad in Mind Space.”

“Humans, humans.”  Elissa shook her head.  “I just hope Gizeda hasn’t sent one of her creppins to steal it.  Creppins might be stupid but they have full mobility in the parallel worlds.”  She crossed to a window and peered cautiously out.

“What about the scrowler creatures?” Rosie asked.

“Well, they’re a law until themselves.  Where Gizeda can’t go, they can.  Problem is, they know you’re here and they’ll be waiting.  See that glimmer down there?” She pointed to a faint light far below in the mist of clouds.  “That’s a portal to your world, not your standard time lift, just a direct escape tube.  That’s your quickest way out of here and home.”

“It’s a long way off.”

“True, but we’re way above floor zero.  If we can pick up speed we can hopefully outrun them.”

“Hopefully,” Rosie said and squeezed the angel’s hand.  “You got to tell me, Elissa.  If I can place leap from parallel worlds and through time, could my mother have done that when her plane crashed?  Is she alive somewhere?”

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