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The whole of mainland Europe is under fundamentalist control. Only Ireland, protected by the military might of America, remains free.
Gordon Aldridge has a mission – To use his potentially murderous powers to help secure the release of American hostages from the heart of fundamentalist England. If he can control and target the butterflies, only his enemies will die; if he can’t, everybody will.
The evening call to prayer rang around the cobbled market square, echoing from the surrounding buildings and the burned-out shells of what had been The Black Bull and, next to it, St. Michael’s church. Seconds later, the same high-pitched wails bounced back to Ahmadzai’s ears from the rugged limestone scars that dominated the approaches to the Yorkshire town.
Ahmadzai slammed the window closed, muting the sound, and turned back into the room. “Still in Ireland, are you absolutely sure?”
“Yes, Excellence.” The man did not raise his bowed head.
“Then he’s a fool.” The governor smiled, enjoying the fear that emanated from his lieutenant. He sucked in a breath between clenched teeth. He could almost taste it. “And how are your beautiful daughters?” This time the man did look at him, confusion creasing his brow, but not chasing the wariness from his eyes.
“They are well, Excellence.”
Ahmadzai’s hand moved to the butt of his holstered pistol. The man’s widening eyes followed it.
“That is good.” He dropped his hand from his weapon. “You would do well to keep them so.” His smile broadened. “I know that you will not let me down a second time.” His heavily ringed fingers flicked a dismissal.
The man bowed his head and backed toward the door. Ahmadzai’s hand moved to the breast pocket of his combat shirt, thumb and finger unbuttoning the flap. He could feel the gloss of the photograph beneath the fabric. He pulled his hand away. He didn’t need a reminder of what Gordon Aldridge looked like; the young man’s image was branded on his memory. It would remain there, a mocking reminder of his own failure, until the job was finished. He’d entertained him in that very room. He looked around at the gilt-framed hunting prints that adorned the walls. Why had he not killed him then? Because, he’d been scared—absolute ruler of England’s northern provinces, and he’d been afraid of this boy, hardly out of his teens. The memory brought the taste of acid bile bubbling into the back of his throat. If he’d been scared, what chance did his bumbling lieutenant have? Not much.
The man had his back to him, his fingers curled around the door handle. He turned, and his mouth dropped open.
“I’ve changed my mind.”
The single shot hit just above the bridge of the man’s nose, throwing his head back against the timber of the door. He hung there for a second as if the bullet had nailed him to it, then crumpled into an untidy heap on the Persian carpet, the pool of blood that spread from the exit wound barely discernible against the predominantly red design.
Ahmadzai looked down at his weapon and nodded—a perfect shot, and from the hip. He holstered his pistol. “Wazim!” A chair scraped across the floor beyond the door. He grinned. The gunshot had not spurred his aide into action, but the call of his master had. “Wazim!” he repeated, just for effect. The door swung inward, hit the corpse, stopped, then closed again. “Wait!” Did he have to do everything himself? Grabbing the feet of his dead nephew, he dragged him clear of the door. “Now! ...Ah, Wazim.”
The man who squeezed around the half-open door was weasel-faced and sallow-skinned with a neatly trimmed but long moustache that completely obscured his upper lip. His blue business suit looked to be at least one size too big for his skinny frame.
“Yes, Excellence.” His eyes flicked to the body, and Ahmadzai was pleased to see the bobbling of his pronounced Adam’s apple.
“Clean up this mess, then track down those two Irishmen and get them over here.”
~ * ~
The body and the blood had been cleared away. The door clicked shut, leaving Ahmadzai alone in the opulently furnished room. He turned back to face the window. The boy was a fool; he was right about that. If he’d returned to America, even the long tentacles of Ahmadzai’s network would not have been able to snare him. Instead he’d stayed in Ireland, not easy, but far from impossible.
He took a step toward the open, red velvet curtains and peered out over the market square. A squad of militia crossed left to right in quick time. There was no one else in sight. He looked up at the darkening sky. It could only be a few minutes to curfew. A rifle shot cracked out. He shook his head, but his smile remained fixed. A little hasty perhaps, that one, but dusk to dawn had the advantage of being flexible. People were unsure, and when they were unsure, they were scared, and when they were scared, he was in control. His expression hardened. What if Gordon Aldridge wasn’t a fool? What if it was arrogance? What if he thought that his Satan-born powers made him invincible? Ahmadzai’s fingers curled into fists, then relaxed. It didn’t matter. He knew where he was, and satanic powers, or not, sacred dagger, or not, Gordon Aldridge would soon be dead.
Born in Bradford, England, David gained a degree in education at Kesteven College before going on to work in London and Warwickshire. He now lives in South County Dublin, Ireland with his wife Mary.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 302