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Throwback
Sequel to Otherworldly
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-408-X
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 166 Pages
Published: April 2018

From inside the flap

In this explosive sequel to Otherworldly, Julie Christie is on a desperate hunt for her missing father, held captive in the hands of the psychopathic power monger Harry Tinker. As the hunt takes her from Edinburgh’s sleazy streets to the breathtaking Highlands she unexpectedly becomes prey to the merciless INTsec moderators. Her only hope for her father and her own salvation lies with the man who tried to kill her. The final thrilling climax in the cathedral of Notre Dame decides the fate not only of Judy and her friends but the lives of thousands of innocent children.

Throwback (Excerpt)


1:The right side of madness

'What the hell do you want with me?' a strained voice cried from the shadows. Two candles lit on either side of an ornate mantelpiece provided the only feeble source of light in the room. The curtains were heavy damask, perfectly shielding the growing daylight. Carved ivories inlaid with rubies and turquoise, were carefully placed in rows on a lovingly preserved Chippendale table. Statuettes of gold, silver and bronze stood eyeless and silent. High above the mantelpiece hung Caravaggio's Crucifixion of St John in a dusty frame.

A crisp, seated shape rose from the Louis XXIV armchair and threaded towards the voice in the shadows, emerging into the light to reveal his glittering irises and shining grin. He wore a handmade white silk suit with navy loafers and matching sapphire earrings. The figure lowered his head, a parody of a bow, replying delicately:

'Your blood, m'lud.'

The tall figure performed a brief operation near the man's side unsure if he'd left or remained in the room. The sparse vision insisted on fading in and out of focus.

His muscles were accustomed to rising early. His eyes were gritty, his skin uncomfortably damp. Although his mind was tender with weariness his nerves ached for movement.

During the day he fought hard to stay awake. He tried several textbook techniques he taught new recruits under his prior commission but would sporadically drift off into shallow pools of muddy sleep: Those borderlands between full wakefulness and merciful slumber. Crackling sounds would rush through the central spectrum of his consciousness accompanied by flashes of what seemed to be bodies of solid light. He tried to recollect fragments of the last few days, make sense of this bewildering folly. The collar, the New Biz…Too late he ploddingly guessed its true purpose…

He held the fractious memory of Judy, his daughter and her disappearance over the last month: Recalled sending his top operatives to find her then ambushed by their stunning betrayal, handing him over to his captor. The final image of her swinging from the castle battlements as he was snatched from swarming hordes faded as fatigue overwhelmed him.

He heard echoing shoes clicking across the tiled floor rousing him from sleep. When he tried to move his arms which were draped by his sides they remained rigid as if huge ghostly hands held them in place. The room dimmed while evening birdsong gradually peaked adding another ingredient to the man's simmering tension. Sitting in restrained silence for the last few hours enforced the near unbearable urge to scream. The arrival of these footsteps brought a queasy relief yet escalating fear in his emotional tide.

The footfall stepped once more into his circle of light. His captor had changed into an evening lounge outfit. He shoved a glass of thick, frothy liquid to his lips. The thought of the drink being poisoned or drugged didn't register. He gulped the smooth glassful, the liquid soothing his ragged throat. It tasted faintly of vanilla mixed with cinnamon.

In the jailer's other hand dangled a hair thin collar which he fastened around his neck.

Pulling up a cushioned stool he sat opposite the man and leaned forward casually as if waiting for a meal.

Suddenly his captor's voice burst inside his head as if he were wearing headphones and the captor bellowed into a microphone.

How are you my friend?

The restrained man tried to clear his mind of all though, word and image. Give him nothing,

After a span of yawning time, he repeated his question, this time he detected a rising impatience.

He strained to see the face hidden in the shadows. The first thought which broke free from his lips was:

Why am I here, Harry?

Another maddening pause the silence squashed his temples

Then, a furry voice spoke, warming every cell of his brain.

The breeding Tony. The breeding is what it's about.

His eyes nipped, his throat bristled. He refused to accept this absurd situation. The sheer lunacy of being kidnapped, imprisoned and restrained by his own section manager,

An infuriatingly slow streak of sweat tickled his temple and cheek.

We will start again Tony. This time, there will be no more marginal errors…To our terrors. I've made some final adjustments Tony, just a little Tinkering.

The man stood, unfastened the collar and left giggling. Tony heard above the clicking heels, relentless giggling as he repeated his elf congratulatory joke.

His resistance-to-capture training had prepared him for interrogation situations. So far Harry Tinker had unsuccessfully failed to breach his emotional and mental layers of iron willpower, his readiness to expect the unexpected, the cushioned thoughts of hanging on, enduring cold, pain, isolation balanced with the memory of Judy safely hidden away. He dismissed the facile taunts about his ancestry, his alcoholism, his wife's death and his physical shortcomings. However as the grandfather clock ticked and ticked and ticked growing louder each second he had the unnerving sense that each tick was gradually softening his resolve, as if ever barrier and screw you mentality was ebbing from his control. He was being stripped clean. The neural pathways were drying up, he lost the ability to think coherently, repeated words eventually became meaningless, he felt deeply vulnerable, like a child fearing the encroaching dark. Deeper into the unconscious now he sank, all solidity, all rocky certainly of his gender, his social role, his family status, his pride in achievement, accomplishments and abilities were dissolving under the relentless tick-tock.

He fumbled numbly for a coherent explanation. As soon as a linear conclusion was formed the ticking pulled it back like the tide washing the sand. A slow, dulled voice told him there was something in the vanilla and cinnamon drink.

As the centuries of instinctive memory and conditioned behavior faded he began gibbering like a rabid monkey.

When the door finally closed, shutting the light, Tony joined in the laughter, dry sobs shaking his wet chest.

When the last stinging tears dried he faced his own barren and fruitless soul: Bereft of sedentary memories or mineral riches. He was uncertain whether his eyes were closed or he was moderately awake in the room. What's the difference? He reflected.

Without any prior signal or desperate invite he saw a fleeting glimpse of a desert rock face; similar to one he and his elite team flushed out an AFRASIAN section, years ago. Tony wasn't sure if he was hallucinating or making it up in a spasm of exhausted delirium.

He imagined himself scaling the crumbling cliff, entering a hole near the summit. He moved deeper into the warm, dry cave within. The roof would lower and rise often so his movements were restricted to crawling and crouching as he felt his way through the descending slope, feeling the walls and trying to step lightly whenever his boots crunched loose grit. He paused, sniffed the stale air and strained his ears to catch the slightest movement,

Suddenly powerful hostile hands grabbed him, hauling him through the tunnel, dragging him hard until his feet were swept off the cave floor. Tony no longer bumped against the walls of the cave; they had fallen clean away, like the crunchy ground beneath his boots. He struggled in the tight grip pedaling madly in this isotropic dimension He was now falling through darkness approaching gravitational collapse.

In the immeasurable distance a milky whirlpool spiraled, drawing him closer, closer, billions of lights spiraling in wondrous patterns, Into the light, safe…home…made it back: Directly into the accretion circle of a supermassive black hole.

The density vacuumed him clean, wiping all but a faint awareness of plummeting disorientation and breaking loneliness. Even the bitter midwinter night was a Sunday barbeque in June next to this self induced insanity.

Tony saw his life replayed in edited highlights. He had gambled and lost: A mere dogsbody in Harry Tinker's service. Mad dogs and Englishmen, what? He'd sold his soul and was now destined to exile in oblivion. Out of ammo, out of escape plans, the emergency comms down the former INTsec colonel tried his hand, his last throw of the dice - he prayed.

This is call sign Tango Oscar November Yankee…emergency over.

Static.

Repeat this is Tango Oscar November Yankee I'm captured behind enemy lines over.

Zebra Echo Romeo Oscar.

His disintegrating memory returned to his home and Judy. Her countless operations, the years of isolation all warping her into a freak show: Her black room and ridiculous black clothes, her weird films, my father her only friend. Dad…I locked you in that gaudy mausoleum, no one was there to remember you…why, why, why was it so terrible to say I love you…Judy told you every day…what was that ridiculous song they used to sing? When I find myself…how did it go?...in times of trouble, mother, yes, mother Mary comfort me…singing words of wisdom…

Ah what's the point?

For how long he hung there was beyond his grasping reason, perhaps days, months, years, grinding decades, maybe? The room sat as piercingly silent as before until he felt a ripple of movement trembling in the near corner.

Something was happening.