Extract – Fire for Effect

The follow is an extract from my Book Fire for Effect, an Action thriller that I’ve been passionately working on for the past couple of years. I’m almost at the point where I am ready to get it edited and make the final changes before publishing. Anyways I hope you enjoy and it leaves you wanting to read more.

 

Enjoy and look out for the next installment of A Mind of it’s Own coming this week…

Catherine Collins head rolled from side to side taking blow after blow from the Pakistani she’d nicknamed sneakers. He’d become quite fond of dishing out punishment on a regular basis over the last few days since they’d arrived from the cave in Afghanistan. She had no idea where she was or how they had moved her. At night when she wasn’t being handed a dose of backhands and blows to her body, when all was quiet waves could be heard crashing against a cliff before retreating back into the sea. She’d traced various routes in her mind to keep herself busy and assumed they’d moved down through Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and across the water to Somalia where she knew her Al-Qaeda captors had plenty of fans, followers and Muslim extremists friends to hide them from the world. That was her best guess given she knew that the agency would have people out looking for her. There would be bounties placed on the heads of anyone she’d come into contact with over the past 12 months with ties to Al-Qaeda. At night when she was listening to the water pound at the rocks below as it had done for centuries she heard the low whispering’s of the guards, Catherine thought she was starting to lose it when she heard what sounded like Russian accents chatting away outside her cell.

Sneakers continued to give her the good news as blood and spittle exploded from her mouth as her head snapped around to the right with the connection of  the back of his hand to her cheek. With her left eye swelling shut, her lips starting to crack and dry blood dotting her body she was physically in bad shape. Catherine’s pretty face now looked like a plastic surgery gone wrong. She was thankful that she still had all her teeth, fingers and toes.

Finally sneakers let up cutting her free from the rope that had been keeping her upright suspended in a stress position. This particular position had been criticized around the world for being used in renditions to create discomfort, pain and finally muscle failure during interrogations as a way of extracting information. Collapsing to her knees she wet herself, thankful to feel the warmth as her own urine trickled down her legs. Moments later her body shut down and she was out cold lying in puddle of urine and blood. The two mixed together swimming their way through grouting of the tiles beneath her as they flowed towards a drain in the middle of the room.

Cold water hit her naked body sending a reaction across her skin like she was being poked with thousands of pins, shocked and now awake, the water made the cuts stung and heightened the pain of the swelling beneath the bruises. Shivering her body covered itself in goosebumps, the bodies natural method of trying to retain warmth. She pulled her knees to her chest, hugging herself in an attempt to conserve warmth. Bucket after bucket of ice cold water rained over her before running down her legs and pooling beneath her. She watched as the water turned a brown translucent color as the dried blood flaked from her skin and mixed with the water. As soon as it had started it felt like it was over and she was once again left sitting in a darkened room.

Catherine crawled around on all fours, feeling her way around the room as she waited for the one eye she could open to adjust to the little light filtering into the room. She’d been moved to a room with a drain in the middle of the floor that was tiled from floor to ceiling. Her clothes had been taken and they had bucketed her in cold water, they were cleaning her up. Her mind worked at light speed processing what this meant in between each burst of pain coming from her leg. Was this the end? Would she be sat down in front of a video camera and beheaded like the video clips she had seen on CNN, Al Jazeera and every news station around the globe.

Continuing to crawl around she found fresh clothes in the opposite corner to where she had started. She sniffed them recognizing the lavender smell most likely from washing powder. She pulled on the track pants and hoodie which was 3 sizes too big for her and draped past her waist covering her bum. Pulling the hood up to cover her head she giggled to herself thinking back to her childhood where she had hooded up to keep the world outside at bay letting the darkness envelop her. Sitting in the corner she gazed across at what she now recognized as the door due to slither of light fighting its way in between the bottom of the door and the floor. The sight in her right eye had adjusted to enough to the ambient light filtering into the room. Looking around the room objects began to take shape. From her surroundings Catherine was able to make out that she was in a wine cellar, empty wine racks hang from the roof above her, she could just make out the marks on the floor where racks had been dragged out through the door gouging the tiles as they were dragged across them.

Sitting still she opened her mouth slightly to block out any internal noises allowing her to concentrate on the sounds emanating from outside the door. Once again she heard the sounds of waves crashing against a cliff but this time the addition of squawks could be heard  most likely from seagulls as they flew overhead. For over an hour Catherine sat listening and concentrating on the sounds around her. The only other sound she heard was the heavy footsteps of the guards pacing the corridor outside her cell. Counting in blocks of 60 she worked out it took roughly 6 minutes for the guards to complete a full lap of the compound. She stored that little nugget of information away for later when it may come in handy. If she got the opportunity to escape she would need to time her movements to those of the guards outside. Tiring again Catherine crawled to a dry corner and curled up into a ball.

It had been 2 months since the convoy she had been travelling in had been ambushed in the foothills of the Hindu Kush. The convoy had been struck swiftly and with the precision of a Special Forces unit. The IEDs that had disabled the column had gone off in unison disabling the first and last vehicle in the column blocking in the remaining vehicles while the ground units swarmed over them. There were casualties, as well as a lot of cuts, bumps, bruises. Some of the support elements had been taken out of the fight before it even began. She replayed the events in her mind. The soldiers that had taken her had to be special forces she was sure of it  the more she remembered. They moved weapons pressed into their shoulders , muzzles up searching for targets, treading softly around the cars while searching for something, someone, searching for her. She had blacked out as they had ripped her from the vehicle. But the knife, the knife that had cut her seat belt played over and over in her mind as she slowly drifted off to sleep. A Karambit but not just any Karambit she’d seen it before she just couldn’t remember where.

She woke to the sound of the door opening, the hinges protesting as the door swung inwards.. Balling herself up in the corner Catherine waited to be given her daily treatment from sneakers. She had no idea how long she had been asleep. The footsteps of three men indicated their entrance to the room, opening her eye slowly she caught a glimpse of sneakers in his usual attire, Adidas shoes, pants and an urban camouflage anorak. The two other men were dressed in boots, jeans tight tee shirts and black leather jackets. They looked like mobsters with their slicked back hair and gold jewelry hanging around their necks.

The three men approached as she tried to press herself further into the tiles in an attempt to escape their grip. As they moved closer she could smell the stench of cigarette smoke and their foul breath as they pulled and grabbed at her, bringing her to her feet before them. Sneakers balled his fist and thrust out with a jab to the abdomen. His two new friends scolded him, pulling Catherine to her feet once again. Directing him to lead the way, the two mobsters dragged Catherine from the room. She let her head bobble from side to side taking in as much as she could without letting on that she was gathering information of her surroundings.

They moved up a flight of stairs arriving in a massive dining room with round tables arranged all lined up against large plate glass windows that looked out over the black sea. In the middle of the dining room a man and woman sat alone at a table. Eating a meal of what looked like fresh crab, washing it down with glasses of champagne. Sneakers pulled out a seat for her at the table with the man and woman and shoved her into it before nodding at the couple. He turned on his heals and marched back down the stairs with his mobster mates in tow. Catherine  was poured a glass of water by a woman in traditional afghan dress who appeared out of nowhere and began serving her a plate of traditional flat bread and dipping sauces. Pulling the plate close Catherine ate slowly at first with her head down not wanting to look at the couple seated less than a meter away dining like they were the king and queen of a castle.

Hunger soon overwhelmed her body and she started shoveling in mouthfuls of bread  washing it down with glasses of water. A tall man appeared dressed in full BDU’s he was a medic. Catherine identified the red cross on the shoulder patch. He was also Russian if she was to believe the flag patch adorning the other arm. He strolled towards the table a medical pack slung over one shoulder. Pulling out a chair he sat opposite Catherine and began looking her over before opening his pack and rummaging through it. First thing out of the pack a penlight that he shined directly into her good eye before trying to open the heavily swollen and bruised eye. The stethoscope was next checking her breathing and pulse before he finally removed steri-strips and a small scalpel laying them on the table. The sight of the scalpel cause Catherine to fidget in the chair as she tried to draw away from the Medic. Now finished in his bag he reached across and pulled Catherine’s chair closer to him. Slowly and methodically he dabbed at each cut and abrasion with antiseptic soaked gauze cleaning them thoroughly to remove any foreign objects.

Checking the swelling around her eye he cut it like a boxer would to relieve some of the swelling before again reaching into the bag and removing a syringe in which he injected into her brow a shot of local anesthetic to numb the area. He swabbed the cut and pulled the skin tightly together before using the steri-strips to keep it together.

Now done with his check he placed everything back in his bag. As he got up to leave he pulled a second syringe from his pocket and stabbed her in the arm pushing down the plunger to inject the brown liquid into her bloodstream. He gave it a minute or two before speaking.

“You’ve been injected with SP-117, my bosses are going to ask you some questions you should have no trouble telling them the truth now as it is highly effective”. With that he turned and left the room.

For Catherine the world started crashing in around her. The room started to spin and the man and woman sitting at the table with her went in and out of focus  before blurring completely. The Russian truth serum was now well and truly coursing through her veins. Trying to keep a grip on her mind, she could feel a darkness creeping over her. The man stood and walked towards her, he went in out of focus as he approached.

Pulling out the chair in front of her he sat and moved his face within inches of hers. Smiling he watched as her pupils dilated trying to focus and sharpen the image in front of them. The powerful drug was taking effect. He leaned in even further before speaking.

“I’m am Yuri Bin Laden and this is my wife Fatima, you may of know her father? You pigs gunned him down in his sleep while his wife and children lay within meters of him. Your country is the reason you sit before me and you will tell us everything we need to know! I warn you now my wife can be very persuasive if you do not tell me what I want to know, do you understand?”

Her words appeared to come out slow and slurred but she couldn’t make out whether it was actually happening or that was the drugs making her think it “I do understand, what do you want with me and where am I?”

“You are in Europe, but where you will never know, you can try and escape but it if do know this, no one will know where you are or that you have gone from this world”.

“What do you want from me?” she said once again, this time defiance rising up in her voice.

“See you are catching on Catherine” he smiled knowing that he had caught her off guard knowing her real name.

“That’s not my name, my name is…” he cut her off raising a hand to silence her before she could finish the rest of her sentence.

“You are CIA are you not? Catherine Collins born September 2nd 1986 in Bay City Michigan, attended Bay City Central School before accepting a scholarship to Columbia University, that’s where your file became a little thin but it pays to have friends in high places, should I go on?”

“What do you want with me? I haven’t done anything wrong!” he looked at her with hatred in his eyes, raising a hand to slap her, she flinch into the chair, pleased with the result he continued on.

“Recruited into the CIA fresh out high school you spent a further 3 years after completing your degree in language schools and are fluent in Farsi, Pashto and Arabic as well as mandarin and Cantonese, All very impressive I must say. Under your alias Lindsay Stone you then joined the NBC as a reporter and were assigned to the Middle East as your language skills gave you an advantage over others at the NBC. Your boyfriend or should I now say ex boyfriend was Navy no? Chief Petty Officer Macintyre Tavish or Mac as he is better known, served aboard the USS Spruance, his jacket is pretty thin but his time serving his country is commendable, not a warrior though perhaps the CIA positioned you in his life, something to do with his role as an intelligence officer? Despite this you provided yourself with a strong cover for what you really are Miss Collins. A Farangi, a spy, infidel and I should wipe you off the face of this earth in the holy name of Allah. I won’t as it is his will that I find out what you know and use that information to do his bidding”.

“What do you want to know?” he asked, aggression and hatred wore across his face as he gazed intently at the woman before him.

Yuri’s wife stood walking around the table to pull out a chair next to them both. She was dressed in traditional Afghan dress that was brightly colored, Catherine giggled as the colors on the dress went in and out of focus creating a psychedelic rainbow of colors before her. She reached out and grabbed Catherine’s hand.

“Catherine we are both women of honor, I serve my husband and honor my father’s wishes in the jihad against the western nations that oppress our people across the Middle East. What Yuri and I would like to know is how much do they know about my father’s wishes and how much do they know about Yuri and I? Can you please tell me??” She pleaded with Catherine in a sorrowful tone.

“You are a beautiful woman and I would not like anything else to happen to that beautiful body of yours”

Out of now where with lighting fast reflexes she drew a Karambit from beneath a fold in her dress, driving  it down to the hilt into Catherine’s thigh. She then pulled the knife towards her the sharp blade parting the muscle and flesh with the ease of butter. Pulling the knife out of the wound, she smiled as she inserted 3 fingers into the wound and removed the small pill shaped tracking device from Catherine’s leg. Holding it in between her thumb and forefinger she notice that it wasn’t emitting a pulsing light like it was designed to do. Dropping it to the floor Fatima crushed it with her heel to ensure that it would not give away there location.

“Now will you answer my question so that I can get the medic back in here to sew you up before you bleed all over the floor you silly white whore?”

Catherine could feel the words rising through her chest, desperately she pushed them down forcing her mind to focus on anything else other than answering the questions before her. She’d been trained against all types of interrogation including waterboarding but the SP-117 was designed to prevent her from suppressing her thoughts or feelings. Her drive to keep herself alive pumped much needed adrenaline into her system allowing her some modicum of control over her thoughts. Fatima gazed into her eyes searching for an answer but she was not going to get one.

Catherine managed to spit what little saliva she could produce at Fatima scoring at direct hit as it landed on her face in an act of defiance. A fist flew from the right and collected Catherine across the jaw. The hard right cross had split Catherine just above her cheekbone and would add to the swelling on her face. She spat blood onto the carpet and rubbed her face where Yuri had hit her. He asked her again in a cool even tone laced with malice; she shivered as he spoke knowing what was coming next. Within seconds another punch knocked her to the ground, bunching herself into a ball to try and protect her stomach and face out of instinct. She willed herself to pass out. This was met with an increase in ferocity as Fatima and Yuri kicked at her kidneys. They got off on inflicting pain, laughing  as they kicked and stomped away at Catherine’s back and arms trying to get her to open up from her protective little ball.

It was a full 5 minutes in her ball being kicked and punched before Catherine finally blacked out from the pain. Waking groggy several hours later she found herself lying on an old canvas army cot, she’d been stripped of her clothes once again and the knife wound to her leg had been sewn shut and wrapped in a bandage. Tears welled in her eyes as she thought about what could have happened to her in the moments after she’d blacked out. Had she woken and told them everything? Had Sneakers and his mate had their way with her? She thought of home and for the first time in a couple of years she thought of Mac and what she had done to him in service of her country.

Sobbing uncontrollably her thoughts kept coming back to him. Catherine had known everything about him, she knew he was a highly decorated Navy Seal, she also knew he was part of the raid on the safe house in Abbottabad, she knew he had things he wanted to tell her but couldn’t as he thought he was protecting her. If only she’d told him the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth they might still be together today and she might not be rotting in a wine cellar somewhere in Europe.

Although she had been order to end there relationship by her supervisors she’d fallen for Mac years ago and hated herself for the way she had treated him in the end. The more she thought the tireder she got and before long she was once again sleeping.

The infrared camera blinked to life on the monitor before them.  Fatima and Yuri stood watching Catherine sleep. She spoke in low hushed voice in her husband’s ear, vowing that she would break the woman’s will and spirit to live in order to find out what they needed to know. A smile crept across Yuri’s face as he thought of the warning he had given Catherine about Fatima. He knew she would stop at nothing to extract the information they were after. He thought of previous westerners Fatima had tortured, she had taken them to the brink of death only to bring them back time and time again until they were begging her to kill them. They had all broken, they always did, Fatima had learnt her techniques from the Serbians who were renowned for the torture methods. He pulled her close and kissed her passionately before turning to the monitor.

“Sleep well Miss Collins for when you wake you will wish you had listened to me”.

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