Silence Returns


What with the global pandemic and everything that has followed, I felt that, during this difficult period, I should refrain from promoting my two ‘Silent’ books – they are (after all) set in a post-global pandemic world – though (hopefully) far worse than the real thing. But then, months on, I thought: ‘But they’re a good yarn: why not let  people read what they bloody well want to?’ So here I am, presenting an excerpt from this book – the second of the literary duo…

As the cover suggests this book isn’t my usual comedic fare: just the opposite – with death and destruction possible at any moment. Anyway, here’s a random extract…

No one had come running at the sound of the shotgun blast. I for one was most grateful that we were all inside the compound; the door had been reattached; and for a while we had a degree of seclusion. But not for long: “Whomever set that booby trap might still be here.” Karen warned.

“I’d say it’s odds-on.” Colin agreed – recovered now that Wayne’s body lay hidden beneath a bus company tarpaulin.

“I certainly hope he is.” Shane spoke menacingly as she fingered the trigger of her shotgun.

“Me too.” Kylie said as she withdrew her pistol from its holster. But when she released the empty clip into her free hand she added, “That’s if I had any ammo left of course.”

“Likewise.” Karen and Colin said in unison; then giggled nervously at the coincidence.

Dexter meanwhile was worrying the escape door at the rear of a double decker bus.

“I guess we’ll have to take his.” He said as he nodded in the direction of the depot office building.

“His?” I queried.

“The bloke who set the booby trap.” Dexter explained. “That’s if he’s got any. Those might have been his last two shells.”

“Why do you refer to him as ‘him’?” Karen asked.

“Yeah.” Shane sided with her leader. “Could’a been a woman. Well a girl anyway.”

“A woman wouldn’t do such a thing.” Kylie said – rather naively I thought.

“What makes you so sure that ‘he’ is still here?” I asked the youngest boy in our group.

Dexter had the bus door open and was in the process of climbing aboard. Again he nodded towards the office building.

“Saw some movement in an upstairs window, didn’t I.” He replied.

‘So we’re not alone.’

“Tasman?” I asked.

Tasman looked across at the building. “As much as I admire the concept of vengeance,” he said, “I really don’t think we have the time or manpower. And like Shane said – we can’t go wasting any more lives. Irritating as it is, Wayne’s murderer will have to go free.”

‘If you call this place freedom.’ 

“Agreed.” I said in a tone that I hoped suggested finality, “He’ll face his accusers in a higher court than ours.”

Tasman cocked his head upon one side at this. I recognised it as a look of puzzlement.

“When he faces his maker.” I explained. “God.”

Tasman appeared to accept this. But clearly Colin, Shane, Karen, and Kylie were not about to be easily dissuaded. I could understand this. I didn’t know how long they’d been together, but they’d been through a lot with Wayne. They were almost family. They were certainly the only family any of them had left. Now their big brother lay dead beneath bus company property. Tasman and I wanted to continue with the task at hand: The others had other ideas.

It was Dexter who chose our path.

“No keys.” He shouted from inside the vehicle. “Probably hangin’ on a hook in the office.”

‘Damn!’

“Can someone check the other buses?” I suggested; but I knew my hope was forlorn.

As the only two present with decent weapons, it fell to Tasman and I retrieve the keys.

“Couldn’t we hot-wire it or something?” I whispered to my friend as we crouched en route to a parked car that stood half way between the bus and the office building.

The concrete ran with water as the incessant drizzle didn’t let up for a moment. As we closed upon the abandoned three-door hatch-back, Tasman answered.

“Could you?” He said.

‘No. And if I can’t, then by extension neither can anyone else. Great!’

We’d left our haversacks with the others, but not before donning our hand guns, and removing the hidden suppressors, and fitting them to our Heckler & Koch MP7s.

“If we’re going to have a shoot-out,” Tasman had explained, “at least our side won’t be making any noise.”

‘Hard to explain away the sound of two military weapons in a civilian town.’

As we settled behind the cover of the car, Tasman ran an attentive eye along the length of the building that faced us. The lower floor consisted of mostly solid brick wall, broken only by a door and a large observation window. The upper floor had smaller windows set into it at regular intervals along its length beneath a flat felt roof. A shot could ring out from any number of them, and we’d never be able to guess which one until it was too late.

“This is ridiculous.” I grumbled into Tasman’s shoulder.

“It is, isn’t it?” He chuckled. “Here we are – trying to save the world, and all we’re doing is fighting one of our own kind. Well your kind.”

“That’s good old Earth humans for you.” I replied as I patted him on the other shoulder. “Always ready to put a spanner in the works. So what’s the plan?”

Tasman didn’t answer immediately. Instead he verbalised his thoughts for my benefit.

“Since our enemy booby-trapped the pedestrian entrance,” He spoke softly, “logic would dictate that he would likely repeat the act with the office door. Any other door for that matter, including the back one – assuming there is one.”

I nodded agreement.

Tasman was continuing:

“Access to the upper windows are unobtainable without ladders; therefore they’re probably unprotected by semi-automatic devices like the booby trapped entrance.”

“Fine,” I said, “but we have no ladders.”

“We don’t need ladders.” He replied. “In fact we don’t need the windows either.”

He then held out his MP7 so that we could both see it. “We are going to behave as though we really know how to use these.”

I didn’t understand, and said as much.

“How would U.S Navy S.E.A.Ls get in without taking fire?” He asked.

It was a metaphorical question, but I answered it anyway.

“Down ropes – out of helicopters. Big problem: No ropes. No helicopters.”

“Doesn’t matter.” He said as nodded to a part of the building just beyond the huge observation window, “We have a drain pipe.”

I felt a nervous, girlish giggle coming on. The situation was becoming intolerably silly.

“Don’t be daft.” I said. “We’d have to get past the window – and if it’s booby trapped…”

I left it hanging there.

“What’s that white plastic thing mounted on the wall above the door?” Tasman asked in what appeared to be a complete change of subject.

I peered through the drizzle. “Um, I think it’s one of those motion detector things.”

“It detects motion.” He said. “How interesting. Why is it here?”

“It’s an anti-burglar device. When someone gets detected, a big light comes on, and everyone can see them – usually on CCTV.”

“So where is the light?” He asked.

I looked around. Several lights sat atop tall metal poles around the perimeter wall, but none appeared to point in the direction of the office. Then I noticed an unused wall bracket above the large window.

“It’s been taken down.” I said.

Tasman nodded knowingly. “How quickly do they react?”

I thought back to the security lights that Father had installed in our country home. He’d mounted several in strategic positions around the grounds, and all of them had been fabulous at illuminating various forms of wild-life as they found their way into the garden and out-buildings. I recalled that many were the times that my sister and I had watched in breathless wonder as badgers, foxes, deer, and suchlike took advantage of the food that we had laid out for them.

 “A couple of seconds.” I answered, “That’s assuming that these are anything like the ones my father had fitted at home.”

“Slow.” He observed.

He then indicated the cast-iron drainpipe that he’d referred to earlier. It climbed the full extent of the two storey building, and was attached to an equally sturdy gutter at roof level.

“That is our destination.” He said.

He then turned to wave in the direction of the bus. Dexter’s hand appeared fleetingly at one of the upper windows. Moments later the plastic ‘glass’ was pushed from its rubber recess, and fell with a clatter to the concrete below. Then Shane’s single barrel appeared over the lip of the window frame. But it wasn’t the small girl who held it: It was Karen.

“Covering fire.” He explained. “Doesn’t hit much, but confuses the hell out of the enemy. Now when I say ‘run’ we run towards the drainpipe together. Don’t pull ahead of me, and whatever you do don’t lag behind me. We must be one. Understand?”

‘No – not really.’

“Yes.” I replied. “Together as one: got it.”

“Right then, my beautiful Earth female,” Tasman said, “run!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

P.S I really should write a third book. Everyone likes a trilogy, don’t they?

 

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