The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Executive Imperative: an extract

The new Jake Baculum thriller from bestselling novelist Grit Masterley

"Of course I can help you," the Arab grinned. His teeth glinted, apart from the missing ones. "I have here a sample of my humble merchandise..."

Still grinning, but his eyes dead and flat, he reached into an inside pocket of his dirty white hijab. Jake did not even blink, although the crinkles around his ice-chip eyes may momentarily have become a tad less amiable. The professor continued to return the Arab's smile.

"DOWN!" Jake yelled as the Arab's hand came into view holding a Russian-made Karpov-Korchnoi 9mm automatic with silencer and laser sighting device. The red eye of the laser caught the professor's pipe-stem and barely two and a half hundredths of a second later the pipe disappeared in a spray of meerschaum fragmentation fragments. The professor looked startled. This was not the kind of situation a liberal education had prepared him to cope with, Jake thought. Well, at least the professor would no longer be leaving that trail of finest quality Giorgio Armani tobacco smoke for the Korean-made Tae Kwon Doh Al-Qaeda helicopters to follow. A good thing, too. They'd had more than enough of that kind of trouble already.

Now the baleful red eye was sliding across the professor's forehead, but Jake reached up and grabbed the man's wrist and pulled him to the ground as the second 9mm parabellum slug whined over them. That one would have parted the professor's hair if he'd had any hair, Jake thought as he pulled the Black and Decker rapid-fire high-velocity Streetclearer machine pistol from its holster at his left ankle and sent twenty-one per cent of the contents of its magazine spraying towards the terrorist at a rate of three hundred rounds per minute.

The titanium-jacketed hollow-point ammunition caught the terrorist in the abdomen and sent his shredded intestines flying out through the small of his back. The flat dead eyes of the psychopath narrowed and gleamed with fanatical hate as splinters of his shattered sternum made a glistening pincushion out of his bladder. Pausing only to spit a maniacal curse the Arab pitched forward and died almost on top of the professor.

"Did you have to kill him? the professor asked, rising shakily from the ground and brushing the desert sands from the leather patches on the elbows of his Fortnum and Mason tweed suit.

Jake was tempted to let the professor have the remainder of the Streetclearer's ammunition right between the lenses of his gold Marks and Spencer pince-nez, but he resisted the temptation successfully. If the brain in which the free world's most valuable chemico-bacteriological warfare secrets were stored was going to be splattered all over the sands of the Gobi desert, Jake "Boner" Baculum wasn't going to splatter it. It wasn't in his contract.

He said simply. "Would you rather he'd killed you?" and, without waiting for an answer, continued on along the sands.


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