Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Friday, April 30, 2010

Captain Midnight: "The Mediterranean Intercept"

At literally the last minute - the book was already at press - Moonstone asked me to write another (very) short story for the limited edition Captain Midnight Chronicles hardcover. Because of the page count, there were a few pages left blank, so instead of keeping them that way, the publisher thought we should include an exclusive-to-the-hardcover bonus story. They asked me on Monday to write it, and somehow I pushed through and turned it in on Wednesday afternoon.


Anyway, the only way to read the story, "The Mediterranean Intercept," will be buy purchasing the limited edition hardcover. But that doesn't mean I can't present an excerpt here....
Fifteen minutes later, Captain Midnight was racing through the crowded streets of the Egyptian coastal city in a commandeered roadster, heading for the Café Albatros, where North had arranged to meet with the informer codenamed Fatima. It was late evening, and well past the designated rendezvous time, but the leader of the Secret Squadron prayed that the woman would still be there.

As he drove, he removed the soft leather aviator’s helmet, goggles and scarf, revealing the carrot-colored hair, slate gray eyes and rugged features of James “Red” Albright. He mentally reviewed the identification routine that Ed North had relayed to him before Joyce rushed the rescued agent to a hospital. When he arrived at the café, he parked the automobile at the curb and made his way inside, his eyes searching the restaurant for a European woman in a green dress.

He found a likely candidate at the end of the bar, an attractive brunette in her mid-twenties sitting alone, nursing a tall fruit drink. Her body language was the giveaway – she was obviously tightly coiled, as if prepared to bolt at the slightest provocation. He approached her slowly, and settled upon the empty stool to her right. There was little time to spare, so he spoke as soon as he sat down. “Excuse me, miss. Could you spare a cigarette?”

She eyed him warily. “I only have Gitanes,” she replied.

“ That’s all right,” Albright said. “I became accustomed to French tobacco during the war.”

“You’re very late, Monsieur North. I was about to give up on you.”

“I’m not Ed North, Fatima,” Albright said.

The girl’s eyes widened in panic, and she started to rise from her seat. Albright laid his hand lightly on her arm. “It’s okay, Ed sent me in his place. I’m SQ-1.”

“SQ-1? But that would make you…”

Albright nodded, and attempted a reassuring smile. “That’s right. Can we talk?”

The girl sat back down, and fumbled a pack of cigarettes out of her purse. They weren’t even Gitanes, but a local blend. “I suppose I have to trust you. There’s so little time…”

“What’s your real name?”

“Susanne Vigue,” She took a deep drag on her cigarette, exhaled. “For the last three years, I have been secretary to Pierre Lubec. You know him?”

“We’ve met.”

“Then you know that he deals in munitions. His best customer is a man who calls himself Shark. Ivan Shark.”

Albright wasn’t surprised. Ivan Shark was a megalomaniac genius with a private army of mercenaries and fanatics, whose mad desire for power would be satisfied by nothing less than world conquest. Such ambitions required substantial firepower. “Go on.”

“Shark plans an attack upon the canal, and Pierre has provided him with the special materiel he requires to carry out his plan.”

The Suez Canal, 192 kilometers in length, connected the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, and was one of the world’s busiest and most important waterways. If Shark was able to damage it and shut it down for any length of time, the consequences would be staggering.

“What is Shark’s plan?”


Charles Gramlich said...

Congrats on getting it in. That is a last minute rush job.

Rip Jagger said...

I've just about left Moonstone comics, but you've got me intrigued about this collection. I might have to find the cash for it. Thanks.

Here's a little something for you.

Hang in there.

Rip Off