9 Lives

9 Lives

by Mark Bellino

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Overview

Jack Cooper is an agent employed by the government to analyze surveillance footage and identify potential civilian security threats. Over a short period, Jack narrowly survives several horrendous accidents. He grows paranoid of his extra-ordinary circumstances, and searches through secret archives in an attempt to find anything that can explain the premonition he has deep down inside that his survival could not be simply due to pure luck.

He stumbles across information which tells of an ancient Amazonian myth, called Madariwa-Madariwa. The myth promises him survival of his next near death experience, whatever it may be.

Destiny then places him in the middle of a terrorist plot. In order to save his family he must sacrifice his own life. Is the myth real or just a fable? Jack has only seconds to answer this question.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452080987
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 10/07/2010
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

9 Lives


By Mark Bellino

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2010 Mark Bellino
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4520-8098-7


Chapter One

"Morning," says a middle-aged man while stretching his arms as he wakes from a very deep sleep.

"Morning, husband," replies the woman lying next to him in bed. She smiles at him and says, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could just lie here all day."

"The Lord knows I need the rest. But I've got some big bad guys to catch."

"Jack, what time will you be home from work tonight?" asks Jack's wife, Susan.

"I should be home at around six. Why?" replies Jack.

"Remember we have your folks coming for dinner. Please don't be late this time!"

Jack rolls his eyes as he leaves the bed and says, "Susan, I'll try my best."

"Jack, please promise me you won't be late," replies Susan.

He turns to face Susan and smiles mischievously, saying, "I promise ..."

A few minutes later the couple is in their en-suite bathroom preparing themselves for the workday ahead. Jack takes out his shaving cream bottle and squirts a dash of gel into the cup of his right hand. He lathers up the gel before applying it to his face. In smooth strokes he shaves the thick facial hair growth from his face and neck.

"So, any new terror threats I should know about?" questions Susan.

"Well, you know those four terrorists in Florida we identified two months ago?"

"Yes, what about them?"

"They're going to be sentenced today. I'm sure they're going to be locked away for a long time."

"I hope they throw away the key," says Susan, after stepping out of the shower and towel drying her hair.

Once the couple is dressed they descend the steps of their home.

Jack walks up to a pretty young lady seated on the couch in the family room. "Good morning baby," says Jack.

"Good morning daddy," replies the girl.

Jack walks into the kitchen and takes an apple out of the bowl sitting on the kitchen table. After polishing it on his shirt, he takes a large bite out of the juicy fruit.

Susan walks into the kitchen and pours herself a cup of coffee. She turns to the young lady seated on the couch and says, "Have you eaten, Tina?"

"Yes mom. Stop bugging me about the same thing all the time!" replies Tina.

"Tina, I'm your mother. I'm allowed to ask questions about your health. You are as stubborn as your father!"

"I've eaten. Okay?" says Tina, in an attempt to conclude the conversation.

Susan reluctantly accepts Tina's response and continues to drink her coffee.

"Has the paper arrived?" asks Jack, looking towards Tina.

"Yes, here it is daddy."

"Thank you baby." Jack picks up the paper and begins reading it. "Oh, it made the front page."

"What made the front page?" asks Susan.

"The trial of those four terrorists," replies Jack. Jack holds up the newspaper to show Susan. Mug shots of the four men accused of terrorist activities appear under a headline that reads, 'Court Decides Fate of Terrorists Today.'

Susan stares at the pictures for a few seconds before replying, "Like I said, I hope they throw away the key."

"Did you have something to do with that, daddy?" asks Tina.

"Yes, I came across some surveillance footage that raised a few alarm bells. We decided to listen in on their correspondence and ended up obtaining information which eventually led to their arrest."

"Are you in any danger, daddy?" Tina continues to question.

"No. They have no idea who I am or that I work for Homeland Security. I never come in direct contact with the terrorists. Although, on some days I wish I could, to show them exactly what I think of them."

"Well, I worry sometimes. It sounds like a dangerous job," says Tina.

"You don't need to worry, baby. I'm safe. It's the police and FBI, as well as the prosecutors who have to be cautious," reaffirms Jack. "They'll be locked away soon enough, and there will be no chance of them getting out anytime soon." Jack walks over to his daughter and gives her a reassuring kiss on the forehead.

"Oh, is it eight already?" says Susan, who suddenly picks up her pace.

Susan and Jack both walk over to the closet next to the front door of the house. Jack reaches into the closet and hands Susan her coat before getting his own. Jack grabs his car keys hanging from a hook fixed to the wall next to the closet.

"See you guys later," says Jack, who leans in to kiss his wife.

Susan kisses him and responds, "Don't be late!"

Jack turns to Tina and winks before glancing back at Susan to say, "Stop bugging me about the same thing all the time!"

"That's not funny," replies Susan.

Chapter Two

It is 2017 and Jack lives in a reasonably large, double story home in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. The street he lives on is situated along the James River, and is occupied by several beautifully manicured houses mainly owned by lawyers, doctors and successful engineers. Several houses feature stone clad walls, oversized windows, and landscaped gardens. Each house is custom designed, and set on a large property. Tall, mature trees line the street and induce a feeling of tranquility.

Jack works at Homeland Security in Richmond, Virginia. He is in charge of a team of surveillance analysts and threat detection statisticians. Jack's team reviews video footage, telephone conversations and written correspondence to detect terrorist threats to the United States of America. His job requires specialized training and a high level of intelligence in order to learn and apply the techniques necessary to identify potential security threats, evaluate and rate the risk, and report or document the findings appropriately. His team is efficient at analyzing massive amounts of information and filtering these to report only threats with realistic probabilities, in order to avoid flooding the police and FBI with false alarms.

His parents, Janet and Ted, are still alive and live approximately thirty minutes away from his home. They have raised Jack to be a respectful, responsible person, and have taught him that honesty and integrity are the most important virtues in life. Jack remains close to his parents and sees them on a regular basis.

A few traumatic experiences in life have shaped Jack to be a cautious and somewhat tough individual, who puts his trust in only a handful of people.

Jack has been happily married to Susan for twenty four years. They first met while attending the same university, and started dating soon after. Susan works at a nearby school as an office administrator, and enjoys her job. She is a fit lady who believes in regular aerobic exercise and a wholesome diet to keep her healthy. Susan is also a dedicated mother and wife, and loves her family more than anything else. She sometimes thinks Jack takes life too seriously and wishes he could relax a little more.

Tina is their only child, and is in her final year of studies at the University of Virginia, where she is working hard to become a Chemical Engineer. Tina is an intelligent person, who is also privileged with beauty. She has long, straight brown hair and beautiful blue eyes. Her mother thinks that she is far too thin and is constantly on her case about eating properly. Tina is the apple of her father's eye and she is certain he will protect her no matter the circumstance.

It is obvious that Jack is blessed in many respects and he is grateful for his rich life. In fact, knowing how easily this can be taken away from him fuels his motivation to serve his nation diligently and faithfully.

Chapter Three

It is 8:05 a.m. and Jack gets into his car to start the drive over to the Homeland Security offices, located in the center of Richmond. The drive would normally take only fifteen minutes, thanks to Powhite Parkway Toll Road, but traffic prolongs the trip by about ten minutes on most days. Jack reverses down his driveway and then accelerates down the street. He peers into his rear view mirror and watches his home disappear in the distance.

It only takes a few minutes before Jack reaches the toll gate. Jack drives through the toll and follows the sharp ramp onto the Parkway. The bridge ahead has become a gateway for Jack. It separates his personal life from his work life. It fuels his ambitions and objectives in the current direction of travel. It provides calm and peace when he returns home in the evening. Somewhere in the middle of the bridge, where the natural beauty of the river can be admired, he is reminded that irrespective of which side he is on, there must always be purpose, for it is this purpose that keeps us alive and greatly motivated.

As Jack's car leaves the bridge, it travels over an expansion joint, signaled by a small bounce in the ride. Jack's mind instantly becomes focused on the workday ahead. He mentally prepares himself everyday prior to arriving at work. He cannot afford to take his job for granted, or to become complacent with his tasks. The security of millions of people is in his hands, and he must commit himself fully to ensure he is able to protect the public. To date, Jack has never had a situation where his team has missed a crucial piece of data or failed to identify a security threat. He wants to ensure his perfect record is never tarnished.

The rest of the drive over to his workplace is uneventful, which allows Jack the opportunity to think about some recent activities the department has been developing. I hope Joan has completed the analysis of Fergo's accounts. I'm positive we'll find something on him. He won't get away with this forever. Drugs will destroy this nation if guys like Fergo aren't stopped. Brazilians are making security complex these days. At first drugs and terrorism were separate, discrete activities. Now the two have merged together in an attempt to over-burden the system. Meanwhile guys like Fergo continue to feed cocaine into the bodies of our Nation's future. It won't work if I have something to do with it. Not a chance. If we crack him, we'll take down two major threats at once. I hope Operation Liquid Assets works. I wonder if the trials on the liquid tracers have been completed. Our moles will need to be positioned on a sufficient number of money streams to confirm the frame of the network and provide us with the evidence we need to take him down. This one's going to work ... I know it.

Jack has been studying a major case for almost a year now, which, in the interim, led to the arrest of the four terrorists headlined in today's newspaper. At the top of the case is Fergo Saboto, who is a very powerful Brazilian drug lord. Fergo's primary workings involve the movement of significant volumes of cocaine into the United States. He also funds terrorist activities for several reasons, but primarily to distract them from tracing large drug shipments into the country. He often supports terrorist rings that have a political motive, as their strikes are almost always more effective then tasking arbitrary criminals to implement his plans. It is also much more difficult to trace his support of terrorist rings as their financing structures are complicated and elusive.

After making one final turn Jack can see the building he works in up ahead. He is always cautious when approaching the building, and watches carefully for anyone that may be trailing him. Although his involvement in security cases is discreet, it is possible for his identity to be leaked by insiders. After satisfying himself that it is safe to proceed into the premises, Jack turns into the building's driveway and swipes a security clearance card to access the facility.

Once inside, Jack exits his car and proceeds to the main security entrance of the building, where he joins a short line of people who are waiting to go through a security check point.

"Security pass please," says the security officer waiting at the front of the security check point.

"Hey Earl," replies Jack.

"Hello Mr. Cooper. You know it's standard procedure for me to check."

"I know. You're just doing your job."

"All clear. Please proceed. Have a good day Mr. Cooper," replies Earl.

Jack's briefcase is analyzed by a security officer before he is allowed to walk through a body scanner. The entry procedure is very strict, as infiltration by an unwanted individual would compromise many cases as well as the safety of the individuals involved.

"Hey Jack," says a lady, who enters the elevator at the same time as Jack.

"Hey Joan."

Joan feeds her security card into a panel located inside the elevator and selects the tenth floor of the building.

"You have a good weekend?" asks Joan.

"I managed to take the girls out to watch a movie."

"What did you watch?"

"It was a chick flick. I fell asleep," replies Jack, who simultaneously rolls his eyes.

The elevator stops at the tenth floor and Jack and Joan exit the lift. Jack enters a double door security check point, which allows only one person through at a time. Once inside, the doors lock and Jack places his thumb on a fingerprint scanner. After he is cleared, the exit door is opened and Jack is able to walk into his office area. Jack waits for Joan to clear the security check point.

"So, have you been able to complete your analysis of Fergo's financial movements?" asks Jack.

Joan turns to Jack and says, "I need a few hours this morning to finish. It's looking really good, but I want to make one hundred percent sure I get this right. You know we will only have one shot at this."

"Okay. Let's go over the results this afternoon then."

"Sure thing. Will four be okay?"

"Yes, that should be fine ... oh, wait! I have something on tonight. We'll have to make it three," replies Jack.

"I'll try my best boss," confirms Joan, before walking briskly towards her office to get started.

Jack walks down a long passage and turns to face a door on the right, at the end of the hallway. He takes out a door key and unlocks the door. He then punches in a security code, which releases a magnet lock. He opens the door and enters his office, which is situated in a corner of the building.

Without wasting a moment, he puts down his briefcase and turns on his computer. After entering a password on his computer, he walks over to a desk positioned on the left side of his office and slides a coffee machine towards the edge of the surface. Jack loves coffee, and drinks at least six cups on a normal day. He cuts open a fresh pack of coffee grounds and empties the packet into the coffee machine. He then takes the coffee urn and exits his office to fill it with water at a small kitchen located steps down the hallway. Once back in his office, he empties the pot into the back of the coffee machine and places the urn back on the hot plate before sliding the machine back and turning it on.

Jack's phone begins to ring. Satisfied that the coffee machine now simply needs to do its trick, Jack walks over to his desk to pick up the phone.

"This is Jack Cooper," says Jack.

"Hello Jack. This is Brandon Smith over at the FBI," replies the telephone caller.

"Hey Brandon, how can I help you?"

"Well, I wanted to give you an update on the liquid tracer program. We've tested the prototype and it works. We can essentially mark a group of notes with a unique tracer. The analyzer is able to accurately distinguish notes from different groupings. This is what we need to track the movement," confirms Brandon.

"Great, I'm glad you guys pulled this off. This is good news for Operation Liquid Assets."

"So, when will you be ready to implement the plan?" asks Brandon.

"We should have a model of Fergo's primary cash movements completed by this afternoon. We will then need to reposition our moles to obtain samples from these streams. It will probably take about four weeks to do that. I'd like to get them in place before we introduce the traced notes into the system. This will tell us not only where the money goes, but how quickly it gets there," replies Jack.

"Okay, we will remain on standby."

"Thanks. You can expect our call next month," says Jack.

"Good stuff. You take care, Jack."

"I will. The same to you. Goodbye," replies Jack, ending the conversation.

By now Jack's coffee is ready and emitting an aroma into the air, which is somewhat calming to Jack. He walks over to the coffee machine and pours himself a full cup of coffee. Jack does not add anything to the liquid, and is quick to take his first sip.

"Now that's what I call good coffee," says Jack aloud. He turns back towards his desk and says, "Let's get to work."

Jack sits down at his desk and begins reviewing the security messages he has received. The messages are sorted into various categories. He starts with those messages grouped under 'Security Flags' and prepares to diligently review each one.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from 9 Lives by Mark Bellino Copyright © 2010 by Mark Bellino. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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