ETWG First Chapter Book Award: Flight into Secrecy by David L. Atkinson

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Flight into Secrecy by David L. Atkinson is a Finalist in the Mystery/Thriller category of Published Books for the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards.

Patrick Steele has to travel back to Japan to justify recent behaviours that may have revealed his connection with the Gurentai. He is given a task to complete that finds him on the ill-fated Flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur. Hours later he awakens in a cell in a place and country of which he has no knowledge.

Being the resourceful man he is, Steele manages to escape and travels north meeting up with his fiancée Naomi Kobayashi in Astana the capital of Kazakhstan.

Steele is naturally curious about the fate of the other 238 passengers from the plane which drives him onward to investigate further. He discovers that there are links between Russian organised crime and a Muslim group which stirs fears in his mind regarding the fate of MH370. This causes him to go to the Venice of the North, St Petersburg, where he finds the leader of the Russian mafia and a link with the Muslim pilots of the plane.

All does not go well however, and Steele and Kobayashi are captured by their mafia enemy and incarcerated in MH370 on the way to the target that Steele suspected all along – in London.

Can Steele extricate himself from this seemingly hopeless situation?

Has Steele convinced the Gurentai that he is trustworthy enough to deserve their support?

Will Steele manage to deflect the missile in which he is incarcerated from killing thousands in London?

This story is a speculative journey based upon the data and misinformation surrounding the loss of Malaysian Flight 370 in March 2014.

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Award-Winning First Chapter

The concrete that he was lying on was cold and gritty against his right cheek. Patrick Steele was careful about opening his eyes because his head felt funny! He couldn’t really decide how it felt, his head, nor did he know why he was lying on a concrete floor. The grit under his cheek scratched annoyingly when he moved his head even slightly. Steele’s right eye was closest to the ground and he figured that if he opened that one, anyone observing wouldn’t notice the movement of the lid. Slowly he opened his eye but he still couldn’t see anything. Wherever, he was in total darkness but there was a draught that caused him to blink. Steele risked his left eye but again couldn’t see a thing. All Patrick had gleaned from this exceeding cautiousness was that he was lying on a concrete floor in near complete darkness.

The senses are wonderful gifts and, at times, it is possible to ignore the data they are collecting for you, so Steele closed his eyes, forgot about the smell, sight, feel, taste and listened very carefully. He concentrated and stretched out with his hearing first of all close by. Patrick was listening for breathing other than his own and once again he was in no rush. The Aikido training he’d partaken in taught him to wait carefully but proactively in such situations. After what seemed like ages, he reckoned five minutes; Steele decided that he was alone. He lifted his head slightly and opened both eyes. There was no source of light apart from a slightly pale bar at floor level that Steele decided was coming under the door of the room in which he was incarcerated. He waited longer but there was no sound or movement. Patrick eased his head a little more and discovered the reason he’d woken up on the floor. There was a stabbing pain through his head from the region behind his right ear, he explored delicately with his fingers and found a lump that felt the size of an egg and was sticky. Obviously, someone had hit him from behind, or he’d fallen and hit his head and the stickiness would be his own blood. He paused while the flashing lights brought about by his movement subsided from before his eyes.

Steele considered his situation and what led up to this predicament in which he found himself. He had been an operative of the Gurentai, a sub-group of the Japanese Yakuza, helping to correct the errors that justice seemed to make, and was very well paid for his work. Patrick had fallen in love with one of his Japanese associates, Naomi Kobayashi, and they had been engaged, but then she’d disappeared along with the mentor who had guided them both in a number of cases.

Aikido had been an art that Patrick had to learn and embrace before being fully admitted into the Gurentai. Over the subsequent years he’d honed his skills to the point where he was very fit and an efficient killer, for which he’d received a considerable remuneration which was paid into a Swiss bank account. His accountancy training enabled him to invest and handle the accumulated wealth efficiently, to the point where he owned a property in France and a complex in Yorkshire.

Steele had also built a team of people who had become more family than how they had originally begun – as employees. As he’d been orphaned at an early age Stacey Fordyce, who had begun life with him as domestic support, was now a surrogate mother although she still did his work. Her husband had also worked in Steele’s garage with his cars and as a handyman, but sadly died. The late Bill Fordyce had been replaced by Jessica Chase the partner of Patrick’s technological wizard, Ethan Small. Ethan had been crippled by a bullet intended for Steele and Patrick had supported the lad ever since, although these days he gave back probably more than he received, in terms of ability. This tight little group had happily accepted Naomi into their sphere of influence and loved her almost as much as Steele did.

Naomi Kobayashi was tall for a Japanese girl, about 5 feet 8 inches only a couple of inches smaller than the man himself, she was slim and very fast particularly with her wakizashi – Japanese short swords. She was better than Steele at Aikido but even she struggled against their mentor, Takuo Sumisu. He was elderly, no one knew how elderly, he appeared quiet and reflective rather than violent; and, he was supremely intelligent. That was the Gurentai cell and the only personnel Patrick had met from the organisation. There were other cells in countries around the world but even when they had worked with others there were never any real names. This high level of anonymity was their security and it was that security that had brought about a massive change in circumstances, with a situation in which he’d become embroiled recently. It had led to Naomi and Takuo disappearing for a time leaving him, as he’d known would happen if his work had been discovered by the authorities. When the case had been completed Naomi returned in the most dramatic fashion.

Patrick snapped back to reality with the mental image of his Japanese fiancé, naked and sitting on his chest, pinning his arms with her knees and holding her swords to his neck. She was capable of being a very angry girl. Steele groaned aloud at the memory of trying to explain his brief affair with a Canadian barista and the punishment he received afterwards on his dojo. He groaned aloud at the bruising memory of that session and it could have ended badly for him but for Stacey coughing politely and holding a tray of drinks. Indirectly, that case had led him to this spot, wherever that was, right now.

Steele eased himself to a sitting position; his head swam slightly, and tried to take in his new surroundings. He looked for camera surveillance but it was too dark. The room had a bed which was iron framed, with a thin mattress, a pillow and a rough blanket. Using the sense of touch to explore ones surroundings was quite interesting as it generated pictures in the mind which were dredged up from memories of things seen, in whatever format. Patrick sat on the edge of the bed which squeaked in response. He’d walked the perimeter of the room only finding a bucket, which was the sole additional item to the bed. Patrick used the bucket for what it was intended and then felt his way back to the bed. Patrick was alone, he was in a country with which he was unfamiliar, and he was unarmed. In short not everything in the garden was rosy.

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