Hell And Gone

Hell And Gone

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by Henry Brown

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A black market Russian tactical nuke. Religious extremists who must conquer at any cost. An alienated teenager with a death wish. An Israeli city. These ingredients compose a terrifying recipe for U.S. intelligence.

How can suicidal killer Bassam Amin be stopped before the Israeli's take action...without assistance from the U.S. military; without fracturing the


A black market Russian tactical nuke. Religious extremists who must conquer at any cost. An alienated teenager with a death wish. An Israeli city. These ingredients compose a terrifying recipe for U.S. intelligence.

How can suicidal killer Bassam Amin be stopped before the Israeli's take action...without assistance from the U.S. military; without fracturing the Coalition Against Terror; and without triggering global jihad?

All hopes are pinned on retired commando "Rocco" Cavarra and twelve other alpha male SpecOps veterans who have never worked together. They must plow through an African civil war; infiltrate a heavily defended desert fortress; wrestle the WMD away from Amin and his fellow sociopaths while surrounded and outnumbered ten-to-one; then waltz out of harm's way without tipping off the local warlords or genocidal government. Hooyah! But how should Rocco's Retreads handle the hard-charging Mossad agents Israel shot into the hornet's nest to help the mission along-or was it to frag Cavarra and take over the operation themselves?

Only a maniac would volunteer for such a mission. Only a monster would use an A-bomb for terror. Both maniacs and monsters are on a collision course that could blow the whole world to hell and gone.

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Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
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0.59(w) x 9.00(h) x 6.00(d)

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Chapter 1

Fifteen-year-old Bassam Amin breathed slowly and deeply through a plastic straw. He'd become oblivious to the burning, itching discomfort of being buried under hot sand for hours. His secret was meditation.

Bassam's meditation had nothing to do with the Koran, nor the teaching of the holy men. He concentrated, instead, on remembering the belly dancer he'd seen on Egyptian television two years ago. His mind painted her every contour, her every expression, her every mesmerizing motion. Every smile, every wink, every toss of her hair. Every jiggle of flesh and every wag of the hips. He rotated her image to view her at all angles, stripping away her costume and dressing her back up again.

He'd never met the woman. He'd never met any woman who wasn't married, betrothed to another, or of too high a station to concern herself with an impoverished Palestinian bastard. With the changes happening in his body and mind over the last couple years, the wonders he'd never tasted became all the more alluring.

Females were all he could think of sometimes.

Besides killing infidels and liberating his homeland.

Whump! A trainer's foot stomped on the sand over his chest.

Bassam exploded out of the ground, spitting out the straw and sand from his lips. He hyperventilated while sprinting at full speed, eyes not even open until he brushed the sand from them on the run. He risked tripping and injuring himself this way, but it would get him off to a quick start.

His eyes stung. The structures of the obstacle course appeared as translucent outlines against the blinding white light of the day. His skin itched terribly all over but he dared not slow down toscratch.

As he approached the rope, he planned out the trajectory of his jump—the higher he caught it, the shorter the climb and the less time it would take. He measured his stride so he wouldn't need to slow down. He hit the log and sprang into the air. If he missed the rope at this speed and angle, he would hit the side of the pit hard enough to break something.

He didn't miss. He caught the rope high and his arms took over as his legs now hung limp. Here's where the hyperventilating paid off—his muscles had plenty of oxygen. If he used his legs on the way up, he'd be penalized thirty seconds.

Hand over hand, he pulled himself toward the thick beam from which the rope hung, back muscles popping painfully. At the top, he held on with one hand while his other felt around for the knife he knew should be lying on the beam. His fingers closed around the blade of the bayonet and he put the handle between his teeth so both hands were available to suspend his weight.

Now his arms and shoulders ached, but he knew the longer he waited the weaker they would grow. He hyperventilated again, then reached out for the first monkey bar.

The bars were fastened between two shipping ropes extending, at a shallow angle, diagonally out and down from the wooden beam. The structure bounced and swayed crazily. Cautious trainees gripped the bars with both their hands, then waited for the swinging to stop before moving to the next. Bassam swung straight from one bar to the next but couldn't help breaking rhythm due to the dangerous undulations of the hanging bridge. Now his wrists and forearms ached, too.

The last bar hung over a narrow plank atop a fence eight feet high. He waited until the swaying of the bridge positioned him directly over it, and let go. His feet hit the plank and his legs bent to absorb the shock. He struggled to gain his balance, gasping for breath.

He had to pause a moment—his lungs were burning and he felt light-headed. Trainees who'd made good time up to this point usually fell here, too exhausted to maintain their balance.

Bayonet still in his mouth, now dripping with his saliva, he held both quivering arms out at shoulder level and walked the plank.

The fence made a sharp left-hand turn ahead and Bassam slowed to a snail's pace before he got to it. He almost lost his balance making the turn, anyway. But he stayed upright, regained control and picked up speed.

At the end of the fence a tire swung back and forth from a rope tied to a horizontal pole with a sand-filled duffel bag on the other end. The pole balanced atop the notched end of a swiveling fulcrum. A thick, round rubber slab filled the center of the tire. Bassam took the bayonet from his mouth and wiped the handle on his pants, then gripped it and watched the swinging tire. He had to strike hard and accurately, or the knife wouldn't support his weight.

As the tire arced across his front, he swung downward with all his might. The blade sunk into the rubber slab only about an inch-and-a-half. It would have to be enough. He stepped off the plank, the one hand still clutching the bayonet, his other hand grabbing his wrist. This was Bassam's favorite part of the course. His momentum made the fulcrum pivot while his weight gradually overcame the weight of the duffel bag at the other end of the pole and he was eased forward and down to earth.

He wrenched the blade loose and fell upon a straw dummy, his legs wrapping around the torso. The bayonet slashed against the straw neck while his free hand squeezed what would be the lower third of the face. He half-severed off the head, but his weight and inertia were too much for the dummy. He and the dummy went down, its supporting post uprooted from the sand.

He panted and cursed, looking around to see if he was disqualified. His eyes locked with a judge's. "Go! Go!" yelled the judge.

Bassam thrust the bayonet into the chest and left it planted there, reached down into the hole where the neck had been and extracted two training grenades. Holding one in each hand, he rolled off the dummy and crawled toward the concertina wire before him.

He flattened against the sand, turned his knees out and pushed with his legs, plowing a furrow in the sand with his cheek and ribcage. He pressed himself down as hard as he could, and still the razor barbs of the concertina tore at his shirt. He had to lift his head up several times to adjust his direction, and each time he did, the concertina pricked his head and neck.

Finally he crawled into open space. Here he struggled to work the pins out of both grenades. He let the spoons fly and cooked them off for three seconds, then sprang to his feet facing right. A mock building wall stood twenty yards away. He slung the first grenade through the window, transferred the remaining grenade to his throwing hand and whirled to the left. On this side loomed an open-top oil tank some fifteen feet tall. He lobbed the second grenade and dropped back to the ground between the banks of the crawling trench. He heard the grenade bounce off the side of the tank—his angle hadn't been high enough—and the pop of the fuses blowing to his right and left.

"Go! Keep going!" shouted one of the trainers.

Bassam crawled forward under more concertina. The trench dropped deeper into the earth. His cheek plowed sand again, so he couldn't see ahead very well. But the coolness and the stench told him the "swamp" lay just ahead. Rumor had it the trainers relieved their own waste into this water. It certainly stunk as if they did.

Now Bassam's hands were wet. He was at the swamp. He took a deep breath and slithered into it. The wire hung so low it touched the surface of the water—there was no possible way to avoid submerging oneself in the disgusting muck and still make it through the course.

The swamp was deep enough for Bassam to crawl a little more comfortably without getting snared by the wire. If comfort could, in any way, be associated with this liquid hell. At the bottom of the swamp, his hands closed on a heavy object of metal and wood. He scooped it up and kept going.


Khaled Ali found it a bit disturbing to see Jan Chin laughing. The portly Chinese advisor's normal expression was a scowl that made Ali suspect he was always on the brink of maniacal wrath and any little thing might push him over the edge. But watching a trainee's face prune up in disgust at the horrible smell of the swamp, then crawl through it, always delighted Chin.

Ali, too, enjoyed pushing the trainees beyond their normal tolerance. He'd seen and smelled death, mutilation and many things a weakling couldn't bear to think about, all without blinking. But to see Chin grinning made him squeamish.

The two men stood upon the wooden tower overlooking the obstacle course, from which every part of the camp—and miles of landscape beyond—could be observed. But neither the Nubian Desert to the west nor the Red Sea to the east commanded their interest just now.

The young trainee made it to where the concertina wire ended and rose out of the swamp, dripping with scum of unspeakable origins. He cocked the slimy Kalashnikov and opened his eyes. He fired a burst at the target to his left (a life-sized cardboard effigy of an Hasidic Jew), stitching a line of bullet holes center-mass, then swung to his right and emptied the magazine into the last target (a cardboard Uncle Sam with fangs and devil horns). He then fell face-down on the sand, sucking hard for air.

Ali clicked the stopwatch. Chin, scowling again, leaned over to look at the elapsed time.

"He failed to get the second grenade inside the oil tank," Chin said. "Penalize thirty seconds."

Ali snorted. They could give Amin three such penalties and he would still hold the record for this course. Ali descended the tower, walked over and kicked the exhausted trainee in the leg.

"Go clean that weapon and yourself," Ali said.

Bassam rose wearily and staggered toward the field showers.

Chin nodded at Ali. "He has the sort of motivation you want."

"Everyone here is motivated," Ali said.

"He didn't hesitate at any obstacle. He showed no fear. No concern for life or health."

Ali nodded. "I have found my volunteer."

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Hell and Gone 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Sudarshan_ More than 1 year ago
While I don't go in much for thrillers, I enjoyed reading this particular one. There were some very good details on covert warfare operations in general, and US military operations in particular. The author is probably ex-military, I guess. The details of a terror training camp in Africa were also chilling, and nicely done. Despite the abundance of characters (twelve guys on the mission to stop a suicide bomber from detonating a nuclear bomb), I can distinctly picture most of the men as individuals. The book kept me engaged throughout - it's nice to see a thriller that emphasizes teamwork, rather than one macho hero(ine) saving everybody's day. On the whole, a recommended read, especially if you're a thriller fan.
timetravel More than 1 year ago
Hell and Gone by Henry Brown is a top-notch military thriller. The author takes great care to create characters that are believable and unique. Normally I can get lost in a book with many characters, but the characters in Hell and Gone were introduced in such a way that it was easy to follow. This is a realistic story about a teenager recruited by a terrorist training camp for an attack, and a group of elite ex-military men sent to prevent the use of a nuclear suitcase bomb strike upon Israel. Great writing creates scenes so well crafted that I felt like I was in a strange land in the middle of the action. One of the parts of the story I found most interesing was the the author's descriptions of the physical effects on the men following a firefight. I think this author's work can compare with any of the more famous thriller authors today. I am very pleased to recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers.
427SOHC More than 1 year ago
There are plenty of thrillers available that deal with threats that concern all of us in this age of terrorism. Some are even semi-realistic. None I have read, however, get down to the grunt-on-the-ground level like this little novel. If you're looking for sexy encounters, or just plain sex, you need to look elsewhere. Just as in real life combat operations, there's no time or opportunity in Brown's narrative for a lot of rolling in the hay. Likewise, I was pleasantly surprised by the vernacular. The language is salty in places, but does not belabor the story. Only a handful of the characters go beyond a "type" into any sort of sharp definition. This I find realistic for a situation where a bunch of relative strangers are thrown together in desperate times to beat the odds. Also, some of the simple "types" are so well sketched that most of us can "recognize" them from our own lives. One of the more detailed characters had my teeth grinding every time he appeared in the narrative. If it was the author's intention to draw a character that some of us can recognize as being a waste of oxygen, while the character draws breath, he did it well. I know I was superimposing another name and face from the real world on this particular character. The weaponry details, tactics and mutual support aspects of the story were as well done as I've read in any novel. There are no super men or women in "Hell and Gone", just some flawed people going into a supremely dangerous situation with their eyes open. Some are not capable, whether morally, physically or intellectually of performing perfectly, or even of doing the right thing. Sounds like life to me. I can heartily recommend Henry Brown's "Hell and Gone" to anyone who wants a timely thriller about imperfect humans thrown together into face to face combat for some reasons right, and some wrong.
Winston_Crutchfield More than 1 year ago
In the tradition of “The Expendables” and “The Dirty Dozen”, Hank Brown delivers rock solid military action with just a hint of techno-thriller. Brown paints “Rocco’s Retreads” with a sold brush that emphasizes gritty, realistic action instead of a troop of invincible soldiers. The fighting is brutal and intense; the characters are recognizable and empathetic. The language of the book is noticeably less crude than one might expect from this type of military fiction, which makes the book that much more enjoyable. The plot is straightforward, and complications derive from perfectly natural mission-creep rather than complexly contrived circumstance. Brown stays on target and develops his characters and story without resorting to vulgarity, graphic violence, or gratuitous sex. This is a book about experienced soldiers on a dirty covert op; the writing is well-rounded and professional. I enjoyed reading this story, and immediately went looking for the author’s blog (do a quick search for “two-fisted blogger”). Henry “Hank” Brown is definitely an author to watch.