Tributes to authors.

Bored, with too much time on my hands.

A McN**

The tropical air was sultry; everything, including the ghillie suit that Rick Stone was wearing was wet, as he lay on the damp soil amongst the thick stemmed plants. His only companion was the steady drip-drip of the moisture as it condensed upon the broad leaves, forming drops which rolled un-endlessly across their glossy green surface, to fall in a steady rhythm onto his uncovered head.

He was sweating, the heat was unbearable, but he dare not move, not when he was this close on target. Even his breathing was shallow and he pressed his face into the dirt, forcing his eyes to the very tops of their sockets to catch of glimpse of his mark. He raised himself up onto his elbows, and pushed himself forwards with his toes, just a few centimetres more and he would be in position, where, as he had first done many years before, Rick Sloane would commit murder.

Rick had been born some forty years previous, on a skanky council estate in South London. Unlike the other kids he wasn’t really interested in playing soccer, or going for sticky fingers behind the bus shelter with the estate slapper, Rick was, in short, a loner.

His parents had somehow managed to remain together, even though his father was a raging, violent alcoholic, who would come home most nights pissed and beat varying degrees of crap out of his wife, and also the young Rick. It was then that he learned to hate, not just his deranged father, but also the life, and the ever diminishing opportunities which it offered him. He had wanted to work with animals, small fluffy ones he thought, and on his tenth birthday his mother had bought him a hamster to encourage his ambitions. But the hate only grew, as two days later he awoke to find his new pet dead, wrapped in bodge-tape, and his father lying snoring on his bedroom floor. Rick knew that he needed to get away; he was nails, and needed more from his life than this shit-hole could offer him. So, after many tears from his mother, he joined the ACF.

* * * *​

Patrick Fitz-gerald, and his mucka Gerald, had been together in a small bed-sit on the Fools Road, in Belfast, for almost five years… working.

They were both of Irish descent, middle aged, balding and slightly chubby. Pat was sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by various electrical components, a rectangular Tupperware container, with a blue lid, and a large lump of something wrapped in silver paper, that smelled of marzipan.

Carefully, he un-wrapped the foil and took a bite.

‘You want some of this Gerry?’ He asked, as he glanced across the kitchen to where his oppo was preparing the midday meal, Gerry shook his head. He had to watch the calories. The middle age spread was starting to affect him, and he was conscious of his appearance.

Pat took another bite of the chocolate coated marzipan, which he had bought from the local Spar on his way back from B and Q. Where only a few hours before he had gathered together all he needed to assemble the device, which was, at this moment taking shape upon the gingham tablecloth before him.

Turning his attention back to the table he took a long test tube, into which he poured a small amount of oil, before slipping a silver ball bearing into the thick liquid. He then took a cork, through which he had pushed two nails, so that their heads would act as contacts inside the tube once he had stoppered it. This would be the tilt switch; the backup should the main trigger fail. Inside the Tupperware he had glued a strong magnet, a battery and the class B, SPD Nonel detonator. All that now remained was to shape the charge, and melt a couple of small holes in the plastic walls of the container, through which he would thread some fine fishing line. This would be the main det line and the arming device.

‘This ******* thing is buggered, it’s stuck.’ He looked across at Gerry, who was struggling with the grubby, fat encrusted tray upon which he had placed the shoulder of lamb, which he wanted to roast in the old gas oven. ‘Pat, come here will yas, give me a hand. Can you stand behind me and help slide it in?’ Pat shook his head, he was being distracted, but he was also hungry. Slowly, with a sigh, he stood and walked the few paces across the kitchen to where Gerry was bending over, gripping the tray hard.

‘You need some ******* oil ya daft bastard, it’s seized, you‘ll never be able to push it in like that.’ Gerry looked over his shoulder, his face showing only derision.

‘Don’t be daft, if you grease it up you’ll taste it on the meat later, anyways, what would you know? I’m always the one having to do it in the kitchen.’ Pat laughed, it was true. Gerry really was a giver. Indeed, Pat had never known anyone, not even his estranged wife, who was so good in the kitchen.

‘Here, grip it hard, I’ll stand behind you and push, but I really think you need to lube it up before we shove it in.’

‘Shut yer face, and just push.’ Pat, without waiting for another word, thrust his whole weight forwards, causing Gerry to call out in pain. ‘Look what you’ve done ya daft bastard,’ there was blood all over Gerry’s trembling hands, ‘now I’ve gone and cut me self on the ******* rails.’ Pat pulled back, ready to thrust again. ‘Don’t even ******* think about it, get me a cloth so I can clean this up.’ Pat sighed, he was sure that he could have got it in, if only Gerry would have let him push again. But it was clear that his help wasn’t needed, so he walked to the stainless steel sink, where he wet a cloth and threw it at Gerry, so that he could stem the flow of blood from his injured hands.

‘I’m gonna finish this thing,’ Pat said, turning towards the table, ‘we’re on a deadline you know, can’t be buggerin you all day.’ Gerry turned away, he was as disappointed as Pat, but he knew that he was right; he had to finish the device.

Pat retook his place at the table, where he started to mould a yellow-grey putty into a rough triangle, he could feel the active ingredient tingling on his skin, and knew that he would have to work fast. If this shit got through the skin and into the blood, then it was a one stop to the Looney bin. When the triangle was formed, as well as it ever would be, he glued it carefully to the inside of the tub, around the magnet. Now all that he had to do was connect the wires and trigger to the det, but not before inserting a small plastic disc between the last two contacts. He would pull this out at the last moment, arming the device. His hands were shaking; time was tight, because as soon as he had completed this task, someone would be getting a few hundred grams of Czechoslovakia’s finest up their arse.

The door opened quietly as Pat put the finishing touches to the device, and both men turned.

‘Igor,’ Gerry said, with an excited tremor in his voice, ‘how was Prague?’ Igor was a friend, and had just returned from his home in the Czech Republic. He said nothing, only smiled knowingly. He was a tall, handsome man, and some said that he was indeed Czechoslovakia’s finest.

* * * *​

The Eden Project is a 50 hectare visitor attraction, situated in a disused clay mine just outside of Saint Austell in Cornwall. It contains the world's largest greenhouses, called biomes, inside which a collection of plants from all around the world are housed. There are two main domes, the Mediterranean and the Tropical, and it was just outside of the second of these that a tired looking man, wearing black trousers and a white shirt, walked slowly from his white Ford Focus towards the worried looking attendant, who was standing beside a closed fire exit.

PC Samuel Bow, Sam to his friends, was the local copper. He was tall and confident, with an athletic form. His family had moved to the UK from Jamaica in the sixties, and not wanting to follow his father in to the family business in Brixton, he had joined the Royal Navy, or more accurately the Royal Marines. After almost fifteen years service, much of which was spent at Poole in Dorset, he was finally posted to Plymouth, where he and his wife decided to settle after demob. But Sam was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, nothing much ever happened in Saint Blazey.

He followed the attendant into the Biome and stopped, as the humidity hit him like a wall.

‘Where is he?’ He asked, in his heavily accented English. The attendant pointed towards a stand of dense greenery, on the other side of the dome.

‘He’s under the Ensete Ventricosum,’ the man answered, causing Sam to raise an eyebrow. The guy was a dick of the first order, and seriously needed to get a life.

‘The what?’ He asked, lazily.

‘The big green tree, over there.’ The man pointed once again, and Sam, without another word, made his way along the gravel path which led to where the man had pointed.

Rick tensed; his sinews were like cables as he prepared himself to strike, to kill… the small green tree frog that had appeared before him. He took one or two deep breaths to oxygenate himself, and fought to control his heartbeat, it was moments like these that he lived for.

Suddenly, he heard a noise behind him. The crunch of a footfall on the gravel beneath the canopy, he dare not turn to look, if he had been compromised he would know soon enough. He had to strike now, it maybe the only chance that he would get. As he pulled his arm back he felt himself being grabbed from behind, he fought against the vice like grip, which now had a firm hold of his collar. Twisting violently he fought to free himself from his attacker, but it was no use, the man was too strong. He would just have to take the pain, and hope to god that the interrogation phase would not be too brutal. He had prepared for this moment, he knew his R2I, but never thought that he would have to put it into practice.

He was pulled roughly to his feet, and felt the grip release slightly, only to be reapplied, this time to his upper arm, turning him towards his attacker. Rick stood, motionless, looking into a dark face with eyes that were as black as coal, and he felt a shiver of fear down the ridge of his sweating spine.

‘What the **** are you doing Rick?’ Sam Bow asked in a tired voice, knowing the answer before he received it.

‘I’m sorry; I can’t answer that question… Sir.’ Sam let out a long sigh, he had done the E&E course himself, and knew that he would get nothing more from the twat.

‘Come on Rick; let’s get you outta here.’ Rick remained staunch, unmoving, until Sam pushed him out of the bushes, and into full view of the bemused visitors.

‘My face,’ Rick said in panic, ‘don’t let them see my face!’ He thrust his head forwards, looking at the ground, ‘I’m deep undercover,’ he whispered, as Sam led him through the crowd, and on towards the door.

Once outside, and out of view of the bystanders, Sam stopped and turned Rick around.

‘You’re a ******* walt Rick, and you’re gonna get yourself in a lot of trouble if you carry on like this. Just leave it, join a ******* re-enactment group or something, but stop scaring people.’ Rick looked bemused.

‘Re-enactment?’ He let out a short snort of a laugh, ‘amateurs, worse than Airsoft. I’m doing my acclimatisation training,’ he paused before tapping the side of his nose, knowingly with his index finger, ‘for the tropics,’ he added, quietly. Sam sighed.

‘Like with your Mountain, Arctic Warfare training, on the clay tips?’ He pointed behind him towards the massive white hills, which had once filled the depression in which they were standing. ‘Listen Rick, go down the pub, take your usual seat and give some unsuspecting a thousand yarder, then tell them all about being second on the balcony. You’ll get yourself some free beers, and then you can go back to playing Ghost Recon.’ Rick lowered his head, though not in shame, these people would never understand him, and although his actions were legendary, no-one could ever know his true identity. He was a ghost, moving among the populous with the stealth of a cat, but his time would come, he was sure that his time would come.

* * * *​

Pat and Gerry made their way gingerly towards the battered old Transit, which was parked in front of the bed-sit. Neither could really walk, each step was agony, but both knew that the line between pain and pleasure was a fine one.

‘Gerry, you got that fuckin bomb?’ Pat asked, as he unlocked the rusted door. Gerry let out a low moan as he thought of the hours that he would now be sitting on the hard passenger seat, before they reached the ferry to the mainland.

‘Course I do, now let’s get this thing done.’ They both turned, and waved up at the window, where Igor was standing in all his glory.

‘Czechoslovakia’s finest.’ Pat said, dreamily under his breath.

‘What… what d’ya say? Gerry asked.

‘I said,’ Pat paused as he climbed into the van, beside Gerry. ‘I said… we’re off to see yer highness.’

* * * *​
What Breaking Strain was the Fishing Line, was it Monofilament? Snake Bite? come on, this is important.
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