In the aftermath of the horrific 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, surviving family members of the innocent victims come together in hundreds of grief counseling sessions to deal with their losses and depression. One small counseling group becomes so mired in their anger and frustration with their own government's inability to find the terrorists, they decide to go after them on their own. Drawing on their individual strengths and diverse backgrounds, these survivors come up with a surprisingly simple plan to draw the reviled terrorist from his lair. Their personal journey of retribution takes them from New York's Times Square to Europe, from Russia to the Middle East, navigating oceans, traversing borders, and climbing mountains, all the while evading pursuers, for a fateful face-to-face meeting with the World's most sought after terrorist.
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JOURNEY FOR REVENGE
By Tom Renk
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Tom Renk
All right reserved.
8:25 am. 93rd Floor, WTC
Will showed up for his first staff meeting in the conference room on the 93rd floor a few minutes early, and began introducing himself to the other early arrivers. They were for the most part all young and confident in their dress and stature; they exuded an aggressiveness that was certainly a reason for part of the investment firm's success. He began to realize his path to the top might take a bit longer than he originally thought it would; he obviously would need to exceed their efforts.
Precisely at 8:30 am the boss walked in with two underlings trailing behind him. He sat down and everyone else immediately quieted down and took their seats. Jamie White, the floor Investment Sales Manager, offered his usual 'pump up the team' words of wisdom for a Tuesday morning, because the markets had experienced a typical rollback the day before. He hoped that would turn around today. Suggesting some sales themes for the day, he then rolled smoothly into introducing the newest addition to the firm, William Meredith III, to the assembled traders and investment managers. He quietly hoped the new addition would encourage some work ethic improvements to his charges.
Jamie White explained how Will Meredith would be carrying on some long-standing family traditions, first started over a century ago in London. He shared background information about Will's father being a legend in financial circles, just as his grandfather, and great grandfather had been in the London financial markets. Meredith was mortified that all this attention was being focused on him.
Jamie asked Meredith to stand up and give the assembled staff a short bio of his background, his schooling, and his hopes for the future. William knew this was coming because his father had told him it was kind of a right of passage, that all new investment managers had to do it, and that it was no big deal. Everyone in the room had gone through the same thing.
So he stood up, tugged his jacket down and decided he'd get this hazing requirement out of the way quickly at the front of the room. He walked around the long table parallel to the windows.
He opened with a variation of his interview speech, which had helped him to get here, but he wanted to keep the overall presentation relatively short. As he was reviewing his past and schooling, he began to notice a couple of people sitting at the large conference table facing the windows were staring out into space, ignoring what he had to say. That seemed rude but they had gone through this exercise many times, so he chose to ignore it. They weren't going to intimidate him; he kept on speaking about his hopes for the future with the company.
Then more of the group of traders facing north started fidgeting in their seats and a few made whispered comments as they poked their seatmates. The general state of the audience disintegrated. No one seemed to be listening.
William paused for a moment. Then the others seated at the table with their backs to the window, started turning around, and they too started murmuring.
What the hell was going on, he thought? Why couldn't these jerks at least give me a couple minutes of attention?
Suddenly a young woman started screaming, jumped up from her chair, and ran out of the conference room. The others just sat there with their mouths open gaping into the bright morning light. William was now pissed!
Being at the end of the room where the drapes were, William didn't have a clear vision of what they were all looking at out the 93rd floor window. He wondered what could be so damn important that everyone was so transfixed, completely ignoring him on his first day on the job. He took a couple of steps forward, around the corner of the conference table and looked to his right ...
His first reaction was, "What the hell?" His brain could not make sense of what he was seeing. A huge object was filling his entire field of vision and seemed to be hurtling towards the building. His mind couldn't comprehend because he knew they were on the 93rd floor ... what the hell was out there? And way up here?
He tried to focus on the large object, and when his mind finally realized what it was, it plowed right into the conference room, and exploded right in front of his eyes ... It was 8:46 am.
* * *
8:40 am 14th Floor, North Tower
Pasha and Mina gathered the children for some early morning exercise in the building's day care center facility on the 14th floor. They were going on a short field trip to the lower level of the building to see how donuts were made in the coffee shop. Pasha liked these kinds of field trips because the children got some exercise and she learned things too.
Most of the 20,000 people working in the two buildings were already in their offices. The lower level would not be as congested and it would be easier to keep an eye on the children. When they went on excursions later in the day, during coffee-break times, the hallways and retail centers downstairs would get very crowded. The children would get scared with all the people rushing about. 8:45am was the perfect time to schedule the excursion. Pasha and Mina had the ten children, including their own, hold hands. The biggest kids were on either end of the line with the smaller children in between. Both women walked on either side of the little group to keep them organized and together.
They left the day care facility and headed down the hall and around the corner to the elevators. The cars were very efficient in this building and upon hitting the button, which Pasha knew she must do or every child would scream that it was their turn, the car arrived almost instantly. They loaded the ten children into the car and she pressed sublevel 2.
Just as the two doors closed there was a terrifying, loud screeching impact sound that reverberated throughout the building and echoed loudly within the elevator shaft. There was a couple seconds of horrific shaking of the car within the shaft. The grating sounds continued to rumble, and were unlike any sound they had ever heard before. Mina felt the elevator shudder and the building tremble as all the children started screaming. She reached for the elevator 'open door' button.
As she did, the lights within the elevator flickered a couple times and then went out for good. The children continued screaming in the dark and Mina tried to calm them down as Pasha tried to feel for the open door button on the board in the corner. Just then the elevator started moving from the 14th floor but it did not go down as they had requested it to do. Instead the elevator started climbing and they felt as if it was gaining speed.
The children were screaming even more now, creating a frightful situation in the complete darkness. The elevator continued to rise and as it did they heard additional loud exploding sounds and high wind velocities blowing around the elevator car as they hurtled upward. The car was shaking and stuttering but continued to climb floor after floor.
In the darkness Pasha, Mina and the children had no idea how high they were ascending. Still searching for the control panel, she felt her way to the phone box below the panel. She would call for help and they would come and get them all. Just as she grabbed the phone from the box, she realized that the elevator was beginning to slow down to make a stop.
As it came to a stop, the elevator doors automatically opened, to a flaming wall of super heated gases generated by thousands of gallons of aviation fuel burning at 4,000-degrees Fahrenheit. The exploding wall of terror rushed into the elevator cabin seeking oxygen, the fuel it so desperately needed.
* * *
9:02 am. WTC, South Tower
Dennis Shanahan had been right about feeling something unusual 15 minutes earlier. Shortly after he had felt the jolt, which actually shook the entire building, the security intercom system reported a serious fire in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The tinny-sounding announcer had initially recommended leaving the buildings, and then a short time later had come back on the PA system advising people to remain in the South Tower, as there were safety concerns for people exiting the Tower because of falling debris. Everyone was advised to remain in their offices for the time being until safe passage could be established out the south side of the World Trade Center.
Many office workers were uncomfortable with that command, especially those who had been in the buildings 8 years earlier when a terrorist attack had occurred. Many people decided they were going to leave the building regardless. Some wanted to see what all the commotion was about.
Not easily ruffled after 25 years in the FBI, where he was trained to follow the rules, Dennis remained at his desk. He tried to work but found himself drawn to the extraordinary view to the south and the Statue of Liberty. Sitting at his desk he gazed out the window when something caught his eye in the southwest sky, out over the Hudson River. It was a flash of sunlight reflecting off something. He tried to identify what he'd seen and continued to stare at the strobe like effect. Then he recognized the light was actually the sun reflecting off a large jet aircraft making a sweeping left turn towards Manhattan.
His eyes focused in on the large aircraft as it slowly continued its turn over the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. He presumed it was making an approach to either La Guardia on his left, or making a wide turn heading for Kennedy out on Long Island. But at the altitude it was turning at seemed awfully low. Dennis thought that if the pilot got much closer the plane might actually clip a building in Lower Manhattan.
He sat at his desk watching this odd approach continue as the seconds ticked off. The plane finished its turn with its wings dipping and rising as if the pilot was trying to level out. In these maneuvers he actually squared up on a direct path to the South Tower. Dennis thought, he must certainly see one of the tallest buildings in the world right before him.
Like watching a horror movie film clip, he sat there mesmerized by the sight of the incoming plane. He could not take his eyes off of it and wondered if the pilot had a heart attack. The plane was going to hit the building!
He could not move from his chair as the craft closed the distance. By the time he truly realized the plane was flying right at him, it was too late. The Jet aircraft traveling at over 280 miles per hour slammed into the building. It was 9:04 am.
* * *
Four hours earlier.
5:15 am. Tuesday, Greenwich Village
William Meredith, III reached for the digital alarm clock as it went off. He debated hitting the snooze button, but remembered the new job was starting this morning, and that was too important to be late for.
He was finally on his way. Today, he was starting his journey as an investment banker just like his father, William Meredith II and his Grandfather, William Meredith before him. While they had both made their marks in London's financial markets, he would make his name and fortune on Wall Street across the Atlantic. He knew he had a lot to accomplish if he was to live up to the family name. That was why the job was so important. It was the first step in making his Father proud. That was his goal. It was time he got the ball rolling.
His parents divorced about 15 years ago. As a young boy, he survived having to share his parents, going back and forth, week in and week out. In retrospect, he felt like his parent's marital problems had made him a stronger person. After the divorce, was finally settled, he went to live with his Father, which surprised Will because he was still unaware of what his Mother had done, or not done, to cause such a court decision.
His father raised him in the south of England just miles from the Cliffs of Dover, about an hour south of London. They lived in a turn of the Century country home, with lush surrounding gardens and a pine forest on the 25 acres. The home was immediately adjacent to a still somewhat functional 14th Century castle that figured prominently in English history. It was even on the tourist circuit and occasionally had Royal Family events on its grounds. Life was good for Meredith and son, and together they prospered.
His Father taught him how to be respectful and resourceful, how to make money and how to help those who could use a helping hand. His Father was good at what he did. So much so, that while Will was still a boy his Father had been knighted by the Queen for all his charitable works. While this charitable work had been important, Will thought it was for his Dad's uncanny ability to make money in the stock market, and then to invest in all sorts of international companies. That was what made people really take notice.
William Meredith had major holdings in shipping, in electronics firms, in major grain commodities and in the foreign financial markets. His wealth had grown so that it probably did rival the Queen's.
The senior Meredith became a role model for everyone in the financial and business world in London and across the UK. Because of his willingness to share his fortunes with many charities throughout England, he had become a favorite of the Royal Family. Through all this he had taught his son to always share in their good fortunes and that was now a part of William's nature. And that would all start this morning once he made some money on his own.
Then one day, Sir William Meredith II surprised all of England and the financial world when he announced that he was retiring at the ripe old age of 50. He decided he and his son would take the considerable wealth he had amassed, and relocate to the United States to live the good life. He announced that he wanted to become a gentleman farmer, and raise racehorses in upstate New York. And that's what he did.
William and Will pulled up stakes and headed west to America, settling in New York State less than 50 miles north of Manhattan. Since moving west, they had built a new life for themselves, had applied for U.S. citizenship, and made many new friends in the States. His reputation as a good man had preceded his travel across the Atlantic and he and his money were gratefully embraced and accepted.
Raising thoroughbred horses had agreed with his Father and he took to it with a vengeance, over the years producing some strong runners at the New York state tracks. It was a new challenge and he took to it with the same zeal that he had approached life back in England. While they lived less than two hours north of Manhattan, his Father insisted he was a dirt farmer, and not a financier.
So now it was Will's turn to carry the Meredith name forward. The challenge awaited him just like it had for his father and Grandfather; it was just a different field of play. He had breezed through Harvard with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and had just graduated from Wharton with a Masters in International Finance. The Wall Street financial institutions took note of his background, his family pedigree, and his grades and he quickly received a number of corporate finance offers. He was on his way as the best and brightest of the Meredith clan.
No, he decided, he couldn't take another 10 minutes of shut-eye. Today, his quest to make both his Father and Grandfather proud started. He had no intention of ever being a farmer, or a racehorse breeder.
Will jumped out of bed, took a quick shower. He dressed with a bright blue shirt and conservative striped tie, and a dark blue pin stripe suit. He headed for the door, locked up his loft on West 10th and University Place in the middle of Greenwich Village, jumped on the elevator, and was on the street in a matter of minutes.
Excerpted from JOURNEY FOR REVENGE by Tom Renk Copyright © 2011 by Tom Renk. 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
JOURNEY FOR REVENGE is a book of intrigue with a dose of "who done it" and a big "gotcha". The book brings us together as one looking for satisfaction after the tragic events of 9/11. JOURNEY FOR REVENGE should definitely be a book club choice and made into a movie.
I have often wondered what the 9-11 victim's survivors must have been feeling after their tremendous personal losses. How did they feel? How angry and frustrated were they? Journey for Revenge answers those questions and more. It tells a story of getting even for the heinous terrorist act.The survivors that band together in grief counseling decide they aren't satisfied with what the U.S. government is doing to get the terrorists so they decid3e to do it themselves. The characters are real, the settings are real and you feel as if you are a part of this ragtag band of brothers and sisters. Their journey is remarkable and in the end very satisfying. You will enjoy this book!