February 2018 - LM - GRAND FICTION CHALLENGE!!! - Page 2
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  1. #11

    As the British Airways 707 gently banked north, Harry Wingate gazed through a starboard window at the South African coastline, lit up silver by the rising sun against a dazzling sea of points of light, and could not help breaking into a smile.

    Like any successful business man, he wore a tailored suit and travelled in first class. And like any professional broker of specialised drilling equipment, he carried catalogues of specifications, blueprints, export licences and all other associated documents in his briefcase. But Harry was none of these.

    Of course, there are subtle ways to smuggle diamonds, or almost anything else, but Harry preferred the simplicity and security of carrying them on his person, that would only become apparent in the event of an intimate body search. He figured that if customs were prepared to go that far, he was pretty much scuppered wherever he hid them. And a dozen or so previously uneventful, but lucrative trips only spurred his confidence.

    Yet, this trip was going to be different Harry thought to himself. Instead of handing over the diamonds to his boss, he would bide his time and sell to the highest bidder and make a killing.

    Maybe an unfortunate phrase, he suddenly thought. As his boss ‘Archie Malloy’ was nothing less than a ruthless gangster, with the resources of the whole outfit behind him. But Harry had a plan for that - a second life.

    His thoughts were interrupted by the clinking of the drinks trolley, wheeled by a pretty stewardess.
    ‘Would you like a drink sir?’
    Harry instantly relaxed into his persona. ’Yes, a vodka martini please - shaken not stirred.’

    Once Harry had cleared Heathrow customs, he grabbed a cab and headed for his rented flat in Kensington to put his plan into operation. He was due to meet Archie the following evening, so he had to act fast. From his wall safe, Harry retrieved all the documentation needed for his ‘second life’ - passport, birth certificate and driving licence immaculately rendered by his regular forger, Inky Fingers, for a special price, of course.

    Under his new name, Cecil Bond, he hired a fast car, taking with him only his clothes and the stash of diamonds. Of course, he had to get out of London, but going abroad would be another risk he did not want to take straight away. Somewhere off the beaten track, but with an international airport - just in case. Having studied at its university for a year, he decided on a place well known to him - Cardiff. He would stay at a hotel initially, until he found a found a flat, and lay low for a while, until the heat died down. But first, he had to hide the diamonds, for if Archie ever caught up with him he would need a bargaining chip that might save his life.

    When Harry failed to show up for the meet, Archie immediately knew something was up - Harry was never late.

    In his Eastend warehouse, Archie gathered his crew of hoods and spelt it out. ‘I want him found, and want him found today!’ Smashing his fist on a nearby wooden crate and splintering a slat.

    ‘If he’s got any sense, he’s already got a new identity. So, haul in every forger this side of Lambeth Bridge and make ‘em talk!’

    He turned to one of his men, who looked like a heavyweight boxer in a fly weight’s suit. ‘Joey, go check Harry’s ex, that bird in Hammersmith, see if she knows where he might have gone.’

    Three hours later, Archie got the call, from his most trusted lieutenant, Soapy. ‘We tracked down Inky boss, and with a bit of persuasion, he spilled his guts easy enough. Harry’s new identity is ‘Cecil Bond’.’

    Two hours later Joey checked in. ‘She dunno nothing’ boss. Just that the only time Harry ever lived outside of London was when he was a student at Cardiff.’

    After that, it was just a matter of time. Archie sent Soapy and Joey to Cardiff to check out every hotel, motel and dive in town. With bribes, or sometimes threats to find out if Cecil Bond was a guest.

    Archie picked up his buzzing mobile. ‘Hey boss.’ Said Soapy. ‘We tracked down Harry to the ‘Pillow Talk Hotel’. You want we should go in there and rattle ‘im?’

    ‘No. he’s too smart to have the diamonds on him. Watch him ‘til he makes his move, then follow him.’

    A couple of days later, Harry had found a buyer, at a very generous price, and hired a car to retrieve them.

    He headed west, along the coast, constantly checking his mirror for a tail. Eventually, arriving at the single track turn off for Saint Austell’s church. An ancient Celtic structure cut halfway up the cliff side.

    Soapy and Joey followed discretely, but left their car at the turn-off. ‘You heard the boss.’ Said Soapy. ‘We don’t wanna spook Harry before he gets the ice.’

    On a wet and windy day, they decided to wait at the top of the steep set of stairs leading down the cliff to the church. While inside, Harry took out his penknife a sliced through the stitching of a hassock and pulled out the bag of gems. Holding it tightly in his hand, he gingerly ascended the steps as the wind and rain blew in from the sea.

    As Harry reached the top, he heard a familiar voice. ‘Hold it right there Harry, and throw us the diamonds.’ Looking up he saw Soapy with a revolver trained on him.

    Harry quickly held out his arm over the cliff edge, holding the diamonds. ‘You shoot me Soapy, and will it take forever to find the diamonds!’

    ‘Sorry Harry.’ Soapy relied. ‘ Either way, I got my orders.’ He waited for a response, then continued. ‘Diamonds are forever.’ Smiling at his own wit and aiming his gun. ‘But for you Harry…..you only live twice!’
    Last edited by Harper J. Cole; February 20th, 2018 at 10:50 AM.
    My debut novel Subcutis is now available from Amazon ...

    You can find me on Twitter: @HarperJCole

  2. #12
    The Gatekeeper - Grand Fiction Challenge Entry

    David looked at the old man in disbelief, then turned to view the white fog filling the mysterious forest behind him. Beyond the fog, he couldn’t make out anything but more trees, but he didn’t recall entering the woods.

    “Step forward, young man,” the old man said.

    David, chewing on his bottom lip, did as he was told, but with a question. “I’m sorry, but…who are you?”

    The old man grinned, “I’m Saint Peter,” he said.

    David’s eyes were calm, but soon grew wide with surprise as the meaning behind the name grew clearer.

    “No. No. Oh, no. You’ve got to be kidding me,” David said looking in disbelief at the clouded forest around him but seeing nothing. He turned in a circle, and then the opposite way, yet nothing changed.

    “Calm down, son,” Saint Peter said, his fluffy white beard blowing in the light breeze. “So you know who I am, do you? Do you also know why you are here, hmm?”

    David leaned over, staring at the fog blowing over his ankles as a dizzy spell came upon him. Saint Peter, much more spry than he appeared, rushed over to guide David to one knee. The ground was dry beneath him, but the grass was bright green, and to him it looked as real as anything he had seen so far.

    With a shaky hand, David hesitantly reached out to touch the grass, and as he did a wave of electricity flowed through his finger as he cried out in pain.

    Images of a baby boy no more than a month old flooded his consciousness. Photos of the boy being born, of the boy nursing from his mother as he looked on. There were images of him holding the baby boy in his arms, and a final photo of a hand, his hand, reaching out toward the baby in the backseat of a car before the little boy was snatched from his grasp and the vehicle exploded in a flash of white light.

    Through the chaos, one word clawed its way over his tongue and across his lips: Lewis.

    “Lewis,” David said, as a whisper at first, but he wasn’t finished. “Lewis. Lewis. Just say something, Lewis,” he said, progressively getting louder.

    The hoarse voice didn’t stop him, but the progressive clarity in his voice seemed to encourage him. Saint Peter looked on and slowly shook his head.

    “Lewis, listen to daddy’s voice. Please say something. Say something. Say something to daddy, please.”

    Tears welled in his eyes and the world blurred, yet David persevered, calling, then screaming louder and louder still.

    “Lewis! Lewis, please,” David cried, as the tears fell freely. “Let daddy hear you, please. Please, God,” he said spinning around in circles.

    “He’s gone, David,” Saint Peter said to the young man. “You hear me? He’s gone.”

    For a long moment David stood blankly. Those words didn’t register until it did and David’s tear-streaked face turned to the old man and asked, “Where is my son?

    “Your son didn’t make it, David. I’m sorry. He’s dead.”

    “What the hell do you know, old man,” David said, angrily pushing past Saint Peter. “You tell me where in the hell is my son. I want my son.” That fleeting moment of rage evaporated as quickly as it had arrived and sorrow returned.

    As he watched the struggles of yet another parent, Saint Peter contemplated his purpose as The Gatekeeper. All of the shattered lives he had to witness from the gates of heaven as the parents cried, their face and body language running the gambit of emotions and he felt each and every one of their troubles.

    Somehow this felt different.

    David began screaming his son’s name again, spinning around, seeing nothing, but continuing to scream. Saint Peter had never seen a parent so desperately clinging to their child’s life. He hadn’t even had a chance to tell the man that his own life had been spared.

    Through the screams he said, “David,” but the man ignored him as if he wasn’t even there. He calls out, the man’s name twice more then finally yelled, “David!”

    David looked at Saint Peter awestruck, as if seeing him for the first time.

    “David, you’re being sent back to Earth. You didn’t die. You get to go back.”

    Saint Peter showed David an image from a glowing tablet that showed him laying on a gurney with nurses around and an IV in his arm.

    David pushed the tablet away, “Well I’m not going without my son,” he said defiantly, with dried tear marks showing on his face.

    “Well you can’t stay here,” the old man said.

    “I told you. I’m not leaving without my son,” David said, staving off tears.

    Saint Peter looked into the younger man’s eyes and he knew that there would be no changing his mind. For the second time in 400 years he had a decision to make. He didn’t have the power to force anyone to leave, but at the same time he couldn’t let anyone stay without consequences.

    Saint Peter looked down on the man who took up residence on the ground in front of him.
    David wasn’t leaving.

    Saint Peter looked down at the glowing tablet as the nurses began acting feverish around David’s body. If he stayed much longer death would take him, too.

    “Come on, David, please,” he pleaded.

    David ignored him.

    Saint Peter looked at the glowing tablet, swiped up and looked at the image. The baby was intact. David’s son lay on a hospital gurney and he contemplated the impossible as again he looked in David’s direction.


    “I’m not…”

    “Not going without your son. I know,” Saint Peter said. “You’re going in his place.”

    David peered at the old man incredulously.

    “Would you be willing to die in place of your son, David? Tell me now.”

    David leaped to his feet. “Yes. In a heartbeat, yes. Take me, please.”

    “Then come with me,” Saint Peter said.
    My debut novel Subcutis is now available from Amazon ...

    You can find me on Twitter: @HarperJCole

  3. #13
    Link to secure entry - A Second Life
    My debut novel Subcutis is now available from Amazon ...

    You can find me on Twitter: @HarperJCole

  4. #14
    Link to secure entry - Second Life
    My debut novel Subcutis is now available from Amazon ...

    You can find me on Twitter: @HarperJCole

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