Chasing The Wind by B J Kibble by B J Kibble - Read Online

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Summary

Based on alternative events had a plot to kill British Prime Minister Thatcher in 1989 succeeded. Paul Cain, ex-policeman, soldier and government agent is thrown into a political nightmare. Treachery and murder dog his every step in a European Union where security has become sacrosanct under the unstoppable tyranny of a psychopathic demigod.
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ISBN: 9781611606751
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40

CHASING THE WIND

by

B. J. KIBBLE

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS

www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Published by

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS

Whiskey Creek Press

PO Box 51052

Casper, WY 82605-1052

www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Copyright Ó 2013 by B. J. Kibble

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978-1-61160-675-1

Editor: Dave Field

Printed in the United States of America

Dedication

To Marilyn—never forgotten

*

With specials thanks to my friend Richard Ross, true husband and father, former American soldier and police officer.

‘He never gave up on life: Life gave up on him.’

*

I am grateful to the following for inclusion of a poem by Emily Dickinson. Reprinted by permission of the publishers and Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Preface

As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?

­Ecclesiastes. 5:16}

In 1984 terrorists planted a bomb in the Grand Hotel Brighton, England, during the Conservative Party Conference. They failed to remove the government of the day—but what if they had succeeded?

What if the event accelerated Europe into a Federated Union with a centralized government in Brussels, the Presidium, who hold to the premise that security is paramount, sacrosanct?

What if they in turn birthed a regime originally meant to protect the people, but which quickly became a tyrannical organization—the Federal Security Division? This is a force that implements draconian measures in the name of the collective State. Special internment camps spring up for subversives and any who speak out against the Union; where oppression and cold-bloodied murder are rife.

In the summer of 1994, one man is embroiled in this political nightmare, yet at the same time he is faced with the possibility of redemption from a millstone of guilt about his past—that is, of course, if he can survive.

Chapter 1

Paul Cain would blow his brains out. There was nothing complicated about it—sane or insane, people did it when they’d had enough.

Reluctant at first to leave the skin-tight warmth of his bed, he finally tossed back the duvet and stood, naked and shivering, in the chill of the sparsely furnished room.

Not even a whiskey bottle could lie to him that morning. Death loomed with the same clarity as the mental pictures of last night’s ferocious thunderstorm. The truth was, he’d been planning to top himself for ages, and it was pure self-deceit for him to think that it was down to another fitful night’s sleep, or to another pointless day raking through the past. This was death then—a plunge into freezing waters instead of that warm, comfortable current that drifted in with old age.

Somewhere at sometime, someone told him that it was no hard thing dying if you’ve lived right. That day was long gone, and no doubt the owner of the words long dead—as were all Cain’s friends and lovers.

Hell, I’m not certain of anything anymore.

He threw on a toweling robe and trudged downstairs into the kitchen of his Hampshire farmhouse, gripped the edge of the butler sink and let the ice-cold flagstones sting his bare feet.

Ignoring his warped reflection, he peered through the grimy window. The storm had left an early June day swept by persistent drizzle, and a lone vehicle crawled along the main road. Some hapless tourist lost again. What other sort of idiot came out on a day like today.

He slouched in a chair by the oak table, listened to the loud incessant tick of the wall clock, sunk the tepid leftover dregs of scotch and winced as it burned to his gut.

Cigarette in shaky fingers, he stood, puffed at it and stared at the cupboard where he kept his old service gun. A friend that reminded him of better days, but were they? Did hell start while one was alive? Was it simply a preview to the eternal horror?

Struggling against the failing hand of reason, he walked to the cupboard and took down the weapon.

With his mind transfixed by the lethal power of the Browning 9-millimeter automatic, he played it in sweaty palms, its weight bestowing a familiar sense of security.

Death was preferable to a life-crippling guilt, guilt that no one and nothing on God’s rotten earth could redeem him from. Eyes shut, he took a deep breath, pushed the barrel into his mouth and eased back the hammer.

A knock at the door jerked his hand and the muzzle struck his teeth.

Shit!

He rested the gun on his tongue and tasted bitter gunmetal. Three urgent raps followed. He closed the hammer, eased the weapon out and shoved it under a tea towel.

The man on the doorstep was a stranger, but he knew the type. They were all from the same rotten womb—cloak and dagger merchants.

Water dripped from the man’s pink nose as he grasped together the lapels of his sodden suit. Good morning, I’m Major Roberts.

Cain tightened his grip on the latch. What the hell do you people want?

Please forgive this intrusion, Mr. Cain.

Name’s Longthorn, has been for two years. Mr. Kite ought to update his files.

Roberts, short, stocky, and balding from a life of army caps, stood with his back bent slightly, his chubby face rutted by his profession, yet his tired eyes held an unmistakable kindness.

I’m not from Kite’s section. My bag’s Military Intelligence…or what might remain after this new European Order’s finished with it.

Not interested, Major, same coven, same pot. He started to close the door.

Roberts shoved a hand against it. I’m here of my own volition.

Get to the point, Major. I’ve things to do.

An old friend of yours asked me to come… John Dekker.

Grief. He rubbed the stubble on his chin. I thought he was dead. Is he still fighting other people’s wars?

May I come in?

Cain swung the door open. On second thought, we’ll talk outside. I could do with some fresh air.

Of course. Anyway, the dog needs a run.

Dog?

Roberts turned and stroked the wet head of the black Labrador sitting on the concrete path behind him. This is Storm. Very apt for today. He smiled. I’m afraid I haven’t a mack. It wasn’t raining when I left London.

Cain grabbed one of the wax jackets off a peg and a pair of Wellington boots from the pile on the stone floor, handed them to him and said with a wry smile, I keep spares for clandestine meetings.

Roberts grinned and walked in, dog at his heels. The animal shook off the rain, yawned and licked some rancid butter from the floor.

I won’t be a minute. Need to shove some togs on, Cain said as he bent to stroke the animal’s neck. Whiskey, Major?

Too early for me.

Really.

Cain returned from upstairs as Roberts pulled on the last boot. Good fit?

The dog sniffed at the Wellingtons and Roberts shoved him away. A little tight, but they’ll do.

Outside, pushing hard against the wind and rain, they worked their way down a steep bank into a grassy field and stopped in the middle. Both were hunched up, backs against the onslaught. Hands plunged into pockets, hoods stretched over heads like a couple of monks.

Roberts looked at him. Awful weather. I thought a tired old winter might have—

I haven’t seen John for a few years. Cain studied his reflection in the mud-smeared shine of his boots. I guessed he wasn’t dead. He was always too quick, too clever.

He speaks highly of you, Roberts said. He told me about your last operation.

Come off it, you’re not here to pass on his best wishes.

Roberts cast a furtive look about the field. I’m asking you to trust me.

Trust? Cain shook his head and chuckled. I don’t even trust myself.

If you’ll just let me—

I’m out of it. I’m Joe Longthorn now.

But—

I don’t bother anybody and nobody bothers me. Sometimes I go to the pub and burgle a mind or two. That’s about as covert as it gets. He stared down at a ripple on a puddle. The Cain is dead. Long live the Longthorn.

Look, I’m sticking my neck out here.

He glanced toward the house and tasted gunmetal. It’s your neck. You can do what the hell you like with it.

The Labrador barked and sprang to its feet, face set like granite towards a coppice at the bottom of the field.

Roberts rubbed the dog’s head with a knuckle, knelt and whispered to it. It tore off. He can smell something.

Now, dogs you can trust, Cain said.

The wife likes him around the house. She’s not been the same since we lost our son.

Cain shoved his fists to the bottom of his pockets and tried to find a vestige of blue in the steel-gray sheet of sky. Sorry to hear that.

Suffering is obligatory in this life, Mr. Cain.

Yeah, but if I’d been where I was supposed to be…my wife wouldn’t be dead.

Roberts lifted his head and set his face against the rain. Sometimes life offers us a second chance.

Does it? He retreated into the uncomfortable silence and peered towards the trees where the dog thrashed about in the undergrowth.

The rain and wind stopped abruptly, and the sky split open like a ceramic tile struck by a hammer.

Roberts pulled back his hood and ran a hand through the damp remnants of hair. I love this country despite what the new Euro-gods are doing to it, but I detest the weather, don’t you?

Cain unzipped his jacket. I find it easier to accept the devil I know.

The dog reappeared, barked, then dashed back into the trees.

Roberts chuckled. He’s found something. That’ll make his day.

Cain began to unwind as thick wedges of light burst through the broken cloud. Yeah, they’ve got the easy life. He leaned his head back as the hot sun burned the chill from his face, and a whiff of pungent wood smoke had him staring at the black cotton wool balls rolling over the blurred tree lined crest of the distant hill. Major Roberts. I don’t want to bury any more friends, or walk about with my eyes in the back of my head, one hand on the edge of a curtain and the other on an automatic. John’ll understand.

The dog’s bark changed to a shrill yelp.

Storm! Roberts started for the trees.

Wait. Cain grabbed his arm. Were you followed?

Roberts screwed up his brow, his gaze flitting between Cain and the trees.

Think, man, that’s what you’re bloody trained to do!

My dog—

Screw the dog. Where’s your damn gun?

A shot rang out and spooked a host of birds into frenzied flight.

The Major’s head juddered. Another round tore through his chest and hurtled him backwards.

Cain threw himself to the ground and lay frozen in the churned mud. The only sound was the roar of blood in his ears.

The Major’s body lay over a meter away, but one of his boots remained erect by Cain’s head. He crawled to the corpse and searched it—no gun. He reached a trembling hand towards the Major’s broken face and closed the eyelids.

Not wanting to die hugging the ground like some coward, he pushed himself up.

Two figures broke from the tree line and closed on him. They were garbed in the black-green fleck uniform of the European Federal Army and black ski masks hid their faces.

The shorter of the two leveled his rifle. Keep your hands where we can see them.

The tall one strode over to the Major’s body and booted it.

Cain said, I think he’s dead, don’t you?

Drawing an automatic pistol, he pointed it at Cain, then his arm fell away to the corpse. A loud crack and the body quaked. He is now, the man said.

With the tip of his rifle stuck under Cain’s chin, the short soldier searched him with his free hand.

His colleague walked up and thrust out a fist.

Cain grabbed his side, slumped to his knees and snatched for breath. Why…why don’t you two freaks get it over with?

The tall man shoved him to the mud with a boot, pressing it against his face. Finding you couldn’t have been easier than if Roberts had given us a lift.

Why the Major? Cain asked.

The killers glanced at each other and the short one said, We have a message from our governor, Cain. Stay out of things that don’t concern you.

The words were a signal for the tall man to lay into him.

Cain coiled up as the blows came fast and hard. He had taken beatings before, but this guy was scoring goals with every kick. Within seconds the agony turned to a numbing sensation, but he felt the crack to the back of his head, the pain unbearable.

Through misted eyes, he watched the figures saunter off and then the world disappeared into blackness.

* * * *

Rain hammered down when he came to. He lay shivering in a marshy pool, an earthquake in his head. Every part of him hurt and he could hardly see let alone move.

He locked his jaw and dragged himself towards the farmhouse. At first, the going was easy over the boggy ground, but the incline to his back garden was a mountain of mud.

He clawed his way up, halted near the top and pressed his face into the slime. Lungs squashed in a vice, he hung from hands stricken by an icy arthritis.

Driven by the image of the telephone in the kitchen, he pulled himself over the crest, wiped the sweat and mud from his eyes and worked his way up the concrete path.

Slumped against the front door, he fumbled in his pockets for the key. Shit. Lost it somewhere in the field.

The Major’s green Ford Sierra was parked at the end of the path and he crawled toward it; prayed the car wasn’t locked, hoped to God it had a radiophone.

He clicked up the handle and slued the driver’s door open with his elbow. Arm up and over the seat, he located a telltale cable, curled his stiff fingers around it and wrenched. The receiver bounced off the seat and cracked onto the concrete. He grabbed it and wrestled his mind for Kite’s emergency number. Kite would bring him in with the minimum of fuss—standard procedure.

He stabbed a knuckle at the buttons. Kite’s line was dead. He tried again—nothing. He tapped out 999 and slumped forward into darkness again.

Chapter 2

Cain woke with a start, bleary-eyed, mouth parched. A sharp odor of disinfectant was suffused with an elusive, subtler scent.

Beyond the hospital room, he heard muffled voices and a trolley trundled past with its glass contents chattering.

A gust of air rattled the blind as the door swung open and a young nurse entered. Her full smile exploded the freckles mapping a youthful face.

So, you’re awake at last, she said. We thought your skull was cracked, but there are no bones broken at all. You’re a very lucky man.

I’m a bloody thirsty one. He focused on her, peered into the sparkle of her hazel eyes and then recognized the unknown scent—faded roses.

She laughed and curled her warm hand around his wrist. Bloody pulse first.

He eyed her nametag. What day is it, Carol Lacey?

Still Monday. You came into A and E this morning.

Where am I?

Southampton General. They told us to put you in a private—

They?

She popped a thermometer into his mouth. They’re waiting outside. Important by the looks of them. I expect they’d like to know who attacked you.

He spoke around the glass tube. So would I.

She removed the thermometer, made a quick note on the board at the bottom of his bed, and then set four plastic chairs in a half-circle. Best keep your visitors in one place. No need to be at Wimbledon with them.

She pulled up the blind and left, but her sweet smell dallied.

Hello, Paul?

He spun his gaze from the window and looked up at the slim, middle-aged man in the charcoal pinstripe. Mr. Kite, what the hell’s going on?

Kite motioned silence with a finger to his lips. I’ve some people with me who wish to talk to you. He paused at the door, took a silver fob watch from a pocket of his maroon waistcoat and glanced at it. Think you’re up to it, old boy?

As long as they don’t sit on me body.

Kite threw him a wry smile. Watch out for the man in the suit, a Mr. Simister. I know what you’re like.

People change, you know.

Of course they do. Shan’t be a tick.

Kite’s eccentricity was reassuring, and to the ignorant and naïve his Oxbridge banter cemented that impression.

He knew the real Kite though, and the man’s right eye said it all. A glass eye, and a damned good copy at that. The faint outline of a scar ran from it down the side of his narrow, bent nose, and faded at the edge of his small mouth.

Kite returned with three men and ushered them to the chairs.

The rotund, uniformed police officer offered a polite smile, but the young army Captain, his uniform full of knife-edge creases, avoided eye contact. The third man was tall and lanky with a gaunt, sallow complexion, eyes dark and cold; a face to keep children awake at night. He wore a well-tailored black suit, yet his shoes were dull and scuffed. What the hell was Kite on about?

Here’s a sickly man who might easily snap in a breeze.

Scraping a chair back, the man sat and spoke directly at him. "What the hell are you playing at?"

Cain gaped back.

Mr. Simister, please, Kite said. Paul, this is Commander Abbot of Hampshire Constabulary. Captain Fairmile, of Federal Army Intelligence, and last, but of course not least, Kite adjusted his cravat, Mr. Simister, head of the Federal Security Division’s British National Police Unit.

Listen, I was supposed to be safe, Cain said. This is down to you people.

Rubbish, Simister replied.

Cain glared. Roberts is dead and I came a close second. I’d like to know why.

Simister’s frown stretched the skin over the sharply delineated bones of his face. What the hell were you and Roberts up to?

The door opened and Carol popped her head in. Can I get you gentleman anything?

Simister spun around. No. Piss off.

Grief. Cain tightened his jaw. What’s your bloody problem, mate?

Kite jumped up. Thank you, nurse. Perhaps a round of tea?

She nodded and the door banged behind her.

Captain Fairmile removed his shiny peak cap. Roberts was from my section, but he had no official business in Hampshire.

Cain caught a fleeting glance from the soldier’s young face; the eyes lacked that indelible image of combat, of all hell loosed on earth. Well…he’s dead.

Fairmile brushed something off his tunic. Err…dead, yes.

Simister leaned forward. But you’re not, Cain. Odd, don’t you think?

Cain fought the sudden jab of pain in his head. It might be to the likes of you.

Fairmile said, Roberts was in pursuit of something not sanctioned by our section.

Simister jerked his head back. We’ve gathered that, you bloody idiot.

The fellow is simply stating the facts, Kite said with a supercilious grin.

One fact is sure, Kite. Simister stabbed a bony finger at him. Your lot can’t even look after one of its own.

Kite pursued Fairmile. Please continue, Captain.

Roberts was head of our terrorist information section. He shrugged. That’s it, really.

Captain Fairmile. Commander Abbot placed his official brown baton and gloves on the end of the bed. What was Major Roberts working on at the time of his death?

Fairmile studied his shoes.

Captain, Kite said, You cannot attain any greater heights of secrecy than with those who sit in this room, including Mr. Cain.

Fairmile suddenly looked less honed by his military stone. Roberts’ brief was to gain intelligence on a man called John Dekker and—

Enough! Simister said. That’s classified, you prat. It’s strictly a BNPU and FSD matter.

Abbot sighed. Mr. Simister, not everything revolves around the BNPU or the FSD. If this Dekker is the key, then let’s hear about him. We’re talking cold blooded killers, not shoplifters.

Commander. Simister forced his back against the plastic chair. The BNPU holds things together in this country, not the so-called intelligence agencies or the civil police. So don’t be clever with me. His voice rose. The new internment camps are full of clever people.

Abbot peered at Kite. Kite shook his head.

Furthermore, Simister went on, I trust Captain Fairmile understands his position, and in the interest of Federal security, chooses his words carefully.

Captain? Cain tried to catch his attention. The men who killed Roberts…could they have come from your section?

Good God, no, Mr. Cain. Fairmile’s remaining wax of discipline drained from his face.

You’re talking crap, Cain, Simister said. Why did Roberts come to see you?

I don’t bloody know.

Simister glanced at the others. Roberts simply decided to go out for a drive in the pouring rain, have a nice cup of tea with a defunct operative and just happened to end up dead.

Cain shrugged.

Abbot shifted his weight. Mr. Longthorn, Cain, or whatever your name is. What was your relationship to Roberts?

I’d never met him before. You’re not the only people looking for answers. What about an explanation for the hiding I got?

I appreciate that, Abbot said. But we’re all accountable to someone, or should be. He glanced at Simister. For me, it’s the Chief Constable.

And your infantile Masonic Lodge, Simister said.

Abbot stiffened. You can play at policemen, Mr. Simister. I can’t afford to. The general public is my primary concern not the BNPU or FSD. He looked back at Cain. Is there anything you can remember that might help?

The killers were professionals, Cain said. They wore Federal Army uniforms, so perhaps we should be asking the Captain or Mr. Simister.

What the hell’s that supposed to mean? Simister shot back. Anyone can get hold of a uniform.

What…what makes you so certain they were army types? Fairmile asked.

Instinct, experience. Believe me… I know, and Mr. Kite will back me up.

Kite nodded.

Simister said, I reckon you shot the Major over some little scam you both had going.

Cain balled his fists and forced them into the sheet. I’ll tell you something, if I wasn’t—

Gentleman, Kite said. This is going nowhere.

Cain eased back into the pillows. The ensuing silence was hostile, protracted.

Kite checked his fob watch. Abbot pulled at the collar of his white shirt. Fairmile peered at his shoes while Simister wiped a trace of saliva from his mouth.

Cain stared at the hairline cracks in the water pitcher, an attempt to calm his temper, his head and body on fire.

Why don’t they all piss off?

Simister peered at Kite. This is a bloody farce. I want him moved to a military hospital until it’s sorted.

Kite sat forward. Mr. Cain is not under arrest and he’s still my department’s responsibility. I know Paul, and if that’s the way he said it happened, then that’s the—

Rubbish! Simister studied Cain. You were a bent copper and they kicked you out. When the army got pissed with you they did likewise. He turned to Kite. I’ve read his damn file.

Kite leaned back and folded his arms. Paul has an exemplary record. Surely you’re aware that misinformation is pertinent to a field agent’s cover?

Might I add something here? Fairmile said.

No! Simister punched his warring finger at Kite again. You’re pissing against the wind. For years, you and your kind have balkanized the intelligence services to your own ends, not Britain’s or Europe’s. Well, that’s all over, dead, and you’re about to be buried with it.

Abbot stood and collected his gloves and baton. It’s okay for you cloak and dagger people, but I’m a simple copper seeking simple answers.

I’ll ensure you’re kept up to date, Kite said.

Simister stood and clasped his gloves. You’ll bloody well keep us all up to date. His face twisted to a grin. As of midnight Friday, I’ll be the new director of the FSD. All departments will be informed shortly. It’s all about authority, Kite. A concept you seem unable to grasp, despite your days spent fagging at boarding school.

Kite appeared dumbstruck at Simister’s news and rubbed the eyelid above his glass eye.

There is one other fact, Fairmile said with a rebellious glint in his eyes. We think Major Roberts was a member of the ICENI.

Simister twisted his gloves between his hands. Why the hell wasn’t I informed?

There wasn’t any corroborative evidence, sir.

ICENI? Cain asked. What sort of animal is that?

They’re a highly organized group of anti-federalists, Kite said. Nationalists, hell bent on getting Britain out of the New Europe.

Bollocks, Simister said. They’re bloody terrorists. I intend to eradicate these bastards, and anyone else who tries to destroy the new union. Don’t give this gutter trash your damnable glory label, Kite.

Once, Cain said, there was a little corporal who thought just like you.

Simister gripped the back of his chair. Kite can’t protect you forever. Your type has no place in the new order.

I don’t give a toss about your new order, Cain said. You’re no policeman, you’re a frigging gangster. He glanced at Kite; his friend’s confident smile had disappeared.

I’ve got no more bloody time to waste here. Simister shoved his chair aside. I’m leaving two officers outside. Let’s say, for Mr. Cain’s protection. Keeps it official. He tapped the Captain on the shoulder. Fairmile, you’re with me I believe.

Carol, tea tray in hand, pushed the door open with her elbow. Simister swept past her.

Kite shot up and rescued the tray before she dropped it. You will excuse our colleague, wrong side of the bed and all that.

Don’t worry, she said, I’m used to it.

"Yes, of course…of course