The Evolution of Fear

The Evolution of Fear

by Paul E. Hardisty

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Overview

The Evolution of Fear by Paul E. Hardisty


Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit. Gripping, exhilarating and, above all, frighteningly realistic, The Evolution of Fear is a startling, eye- opening read that demands the question: How much is truth, and how much is fiction?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781910633243
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 05/01/2016
Edition description: Second Edition, Second edition
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author


Canadian by birth, Paul E. Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. His debut novel, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger.

Read an Excerpt

The Evolution of Fear


By Paul E. Hardisty

Orenda Books

Copyright © 2016 Paul E. Hardisty
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4956-2774-3



CHAPTER 1

No Difference the Instrument

30th October 1994: North coast of Cornwall, United Kingdom


It was a good place to hide. From almost any vantage the cottage was invisible. Notched into a wooded draw at the top of the bluff, accessible only on foot, the place looked as cold and dead as the Devonian slate and mudstone cliffs from which it was made. Forty minutes now he'd been watching the place, as dusk faded and night came, but he'd seen no one, nothing to suggest danger. Just the crash of the waves on the shingle beach below, the whip of wind through the trees.

Claymore Straker shivered, pulled up his collar and watched the storm come in off the Irish Sea. Rain clouds scuttled overhead, low and fast, moving inland over the gorse and the stunted, wind-bent trees. The first drops touched his face, the cold fingertips of a tenhour corpse. Winter was coming, and he was a fugitive.

Eight and a half weeks he'd been here, anchored into the cliffside, staring out at the grey solitude of the sea, watching the depressions deepen. Fifty-nine days, one thousand, four hundred and twenty-two hours not knowing where she was, not knowing if she was alive or dead, uncertainty burning away the very fibre of him. And today he'd cracked. He'd succumbed to worry and fear and he'd walked all the way to Crackington Haven, fifteen miles across the national park. Defying Crowbar's orders, he'd gone into the village, found a public phone, and he'd made a call. Just one. And now he was more worried than ever.

Clay hefted his bug-out bag onto his shoulders and started towards the cottage. The path tunnelled down through a tangle of wind-shaped scrub, the branches closing over him as he went. Hands reached out from the darkness, snatched at his clothes. A thorn caught his cheek, nicked open the skin under his left eye. He cursed, bent low and followed the track as it swung back towards the cliffs. By the time he emerged from the thicket, the rain was coming hard and flat, squalling over the bluffs. He raised the stump of his left forearm over his eyes, trying to shield his face from the icy darts. There was the dark outline of the slate roof, the chimney pot just visible, the low stone wall that enclosed the small courtyard.

He had just moved into open ground when the clouds broke. Moonlight bathed the cliffline like a parachute flare. And there, just outside the cottage door, the back-lit silhouettes of two men.

Clay stopped dead. A gust raked through the scrub, a loud tearing as a sheet of rain whipped over the bluff. The men were only metres away, blurs in the slanting rain. They were looking straight at him. Seconds passed, slowed to the tick of insect wings in a childhood dream, then stalled completely in chrome-white illumination.

Surely they'd seen him.

One of the men shifted, shook the rain from his coat. A voice rose above the wind. Clay couldn't make out the words, but the tone was calm, unhurried. As if commenting on the weather. Or the football scores. And in that moment, as the realisation came to him that perhaps these men were simply lost, walkers strayed from the park, he thought how powerful are the doubts we carry inside, how strong these prisons we make for ourselves.

He was about to raise his hand in greeting when the two men turned away and walked the few paces to the cottage. One bent to the lock, worked it a moment, then pushed open the door. The other pulled a gun and burst inside.

It was as if a gallows door had opened beneath his feet.

Adrenaline hammered through him. He wavered a moment, then sprinted to the wall and dropped to the ground. A loud bang from inside the cottage amped out through the open door – a gunshot? A door being kicked in? Clay pulled the .45 calibre Glock G21 from under his jacket, cradled it dry in his lap, worked the action. He remembered Crowbar slamming the gun on the table the day he'd left him here. Stay put, his old platoon commander had said. I'll come get you when things calm. Whatever you do, stay clear of town. With that bounty on your carcass, every poes from here to Cape Town will be hunting you.

Clay swallowed hard then started along the base of the stone wall, keeping low. He reached the cottage, crouched and looked seaward across the courtyard. The door was less than five metres away. It was the only way in or out. He waited, listened, but all he could hear was the pounding of the surf and the wind buffeting the cliffs, and above it all the drowning crash of his own heart.

How the hell had they found him, here of all places? Had someone recognised him in town? He'd been in and out in less than twenty minutes. Who, other than Crowbar, knew about this place? Knew he was here? Questions boiled in his mind.

But he didn't have time to think them through. The door opened and one of the men stepped out into the rain-swept courtyard. He was short and stocky, powerfully built, and wore a black, thigh-length raincoat and a black baseball cap. He took a few steps towards the wall, shoes crunching on the gravel. They were city shoes; must have been wet through. A pistol with a long silencer hung from his left hand. He stood for a moment looking out to sea. Clay raised the G21, steadied it on the stump of his left arm and aimed for the middle of the man's chest.

Just then, the second man stepped out into the rain. He was taller, wore a dark jacket and was bareheaded. Slung across his chest was a Heckler and Koch MP5 machine pistol. As Clay shifted his aim to take out the more heavily armed man first, the shorter man reached for his cap and pulled it off his head, slapping it against his thigh as he turned to face his companion.

'Hy is nie hier,' he shouted above the wind. 'N' volledige opfok.'

Clay's heart lurched. The sound of his native tongue pierced something inside him. He's not here, the man had said. A complete fuckup. He'd said it in Afrikaans.

'Ja, maar hy was hier,' said the taller man, looking out towards the bluff. But he was here.

The other man nodded. 'Kan nie ver wees.' Can't be far.

Clay knelt behind the wall, the Glock trained on the man with the MP5. His hand was shaking. These were his countrymen, Boers by their accent, men who by their look and demeanour had in all probability fought against the communists in Angola and Southwest Africa, as he had. Their presence here, in the foresight of his gun on an autumn night on the north coast of Cornwall, seemed impossible, the ramifications a nightmare.

Clay knew he had to act quickly. He could run, disappear into the heathland, go west along the coast, give himself a head start. But they'd already managed to get this close. If he ran, they'd follow, just like they'd done with the SWAPO terrorists all those years ago, tracking them like Palaeolithic hunters, wearing them down with calloused feet, pushing them hour by hour towards the quicksand of exhaustion. It made no difference, the instrument: helicopters or spears, stones or high-powered assault rifles. Even, as he'd learned to his horror, back then during the war, the cocktails of muscle relaxants and incapacitating agents that shut down everything but your brain, suffocated you as you fell to the sea from four thousand metres, a silent scream drowning in your throat. Clay shuddered at the memory.

The tall man turned, looked down the track, readjusted the sling of his weapon so its muzzle pointed down, and said something to his companion that Clay could not make out. A gap opened in the clouds. Moonlight flooded the gravel courtyard again, pale as a false spring day. The two figures stood silhouetted against the hammered steel background. Clay breathed in, steadied his aim.

I did not ask you to come here, he said. I did not will this or want it in any way. I know why you are here, and I cannot let you leave. You have given me no choice. No choice.

He exhaled, squeezed the trigger.

The large-calibre slug hit the tall one between the shoulder blades, severing his spine. His legs collapsed under him and he sandbagged forward, inert, hands limp at his sides. Before the dead man's face hit the gravel, Clay shifted left, aimed for the other target and fired again. This time to wound, to incapacitate, not to kill. The man spun right, fell to the ground. But then he was up, scrambling towards the cliffs, his feet flailing and slipping in the gravel. Clay was about to fire again when the lights went out, the moon suddenly obscured by a thick bank of cloud. The target was gone, black on black. Clay could hear the man scrabbling on the crushed stone. He aimed low along the wall of the cottage, fired blind once, twice, aiming at the sound: deflection shooting. Slowly his night vision returned. The tall one was where he'd fallen, face down, the rain pelting his back. Otherwise, the courtyard was empty.

CHAPTER 2

2.7 Seconds of Nothing


Clay scanned the open ground beyond the wall. Nothing. Had he hit the other guy? The way he'd spun and fallen, Clay guessed yes. But he couldn't be sure. Unarmed, the guy would try to run, if he could. But did he have a backup weapon? He might be hiding on the cliff side of the cottage, hurt, bleeding, waiting for Clay to come to him; or perhaps he was moving around the building now, trying to flank him.

The clouds had thickened, and the world was every shade of black, liquid and heavy, screaming out its anger at these desecrations, this waste. Clay leaned into the wind, almost blind, soaked. The cliff edge was a pace away. Waves exploded against the rock below sending chutes of sea spray hurtling up towards him, the foam black like the sky, the salt coating his lips, stinging his eyes. He turned and crouched, tried to cover his eyes, peered along the cliff edge. Nothing. Just the dark outline of the cambered roof, the low front wall built into the cliffside. Clay knew he had to move fast. By daylight, his chances of getting clear would fall away rapidly. Any hope he might have had of getting some information out of his would-be assassins was gone. At this point it was about one thing: survival.

Clay sprinted back to the courtyard and knelt beside the corpse. The rain had washed the bullet wound clean, sluiced the blood away over the gravel. He pushed the Glock into his waistband, flipped the MP5's strap over the dead man's head and pushed him over onto his back. The man's eyes were open but his nose and teeth were smashed. Pieces of gravel pushed into the skin, the mouth, pierced through the bottom lip. It would have hurt like hell if he'd been able to feel anything when he hit the ground.

Clay grabbed the machine pistol, checked the action and flipped off the safety. The other man's handgun was there in the gravel too. Clay picked it up, thrust it into his jacket pocket and sprinted towards the back of the cottage. Rounding the corner at a crouch, he moved along the landward wall. Here he was in the lee of the wind, shielded from the rain. At the far corner he paused, took a deep breath, raised the MP5 and rested the forestock on his stump. This was the fourth side of the building, the only place he hadn't checked. If the guy was still close, this is where he'd be. Clay breathed out and pivoted around the corner, swinging the MP5 around and down the line of the wall, into the full fury of the wind.

No one. Just the slate and the dark grass grown up around the stone foundations, and beyond, the dark, godless anger of the storm. Clay looked out across the rain-swept gorseland. If the man had fled out there, Clay would never find him. He moved along the wall towards the cliff and peered over the edge. It was forty metres straight down (d), with only a narrow, slippery ledge of slate and an involuntary seconds of nothing but gravity (g) and empty space to the shingle below.

The man had disappeared. Perhaps he'd fallen off the cliff and been dragged out to sea, taken by the storm. Or, with his friend down, he'd panicked and run. If so, he was probably making his way back to wherever they'd left the car. The nearest paved road was about three kilometres inland, paralleling the coast. Either way, Clay could be sure of one thing: word would be out fast, and they'd be closing in.

It was time to go, time to get back to Rania, find her and disappear for good. Keep that promise he'd made to her, to himself. Maybe change the trajectory of his life, find some of those things he'd been looking for, atone for the wrongs, one more just done.

Clay let the MP5 hang on its strap, turned back and made his way to the courtyard. He'd grab a few things from inside then sprint to the road. If he could find the car, he'd take that. If he couldn't, he'd go overland on foot.

The men had left the cottage door open and the swirling wind had carried rain and dead leaves across the old slate floor tiles. Clay slipped as he came in, caught himself, started towards the fireplace. He'd taken three steps when a flash of movement caught the furthest edge of his vision.

Clay's instinctive turn towards danger was less than one-eighth complete when the blow caught him high on the left shoulder, knocking him off his feet. He crashed to the floor, the MP5 flailing about his neck. A dull ache spread through his arm, replaced almost immediately by that acute precision of screaming nerves, hot and wet. He turned to see his assailant slam down hard onto the slate, forearms breaking the fall with a crack, a bloodied blade in his left fist. It was the gunman, the Boer from outside. He'd slipped as he lunged in attack, and now he grunted in pain, scrambled to his knees and dived at Clay, the blade flashing. Clay rolled left and whipped his arm across his body and down onto the man's forearm, deflecting the blade and sending his attacker twisting to the floor. Clay followed through, driving the man's knife hand down hard onto the slate flag. The knife spun across the floor. Clay groped for the MP5's pistol grip. His finger found the trigger. He was about to raise the weapon for a shot when the Boer lunged. A burst roared out in the enclosed space. Rounds clattered off stone, splintered wood. The Boer hit him with a full body tackle, punching the air from his lungs. He came down hard on the slate. The Boer's full weight was on him now. The pistol grip was gone from his hand. The Boer grabbed for the MP5's forestock, wrenched it hard, jerking Clay's head forward. They were face to face, inches apart, the smoking weapon wedged between their bodies. The Boer was trying to pivot the MP5's muzzle down into Clay's chest. Clay could feel the thing digging into his ribs. He twisted his torso and drove his hand into the space between their bodies and grabbed the weapon. As he did, the Boer bared his teeth like an enraged hyena, snapped his head forward. Clay turned his head just as the Boer's jaw cracked shut, an enamel snap and the kiss of lips against his cheek. A kiss that would have taken away half his nose. Clay's hand was on the pistol grip now. He found the trigger guard, prised away a finger, crushed it against the curved metal of the guard. The man screamed in pain. Then the shallow-grave rip of the MP5, its detonations muffled and drummed up through two chest cavities. Bullets shredded the kitchen cabinetry. Cordite stung his nostrils. For a fraction of a second they stared at each other, realising that somehow neither had been hit. Clay had his thumb wedged into the pull space behind the trigger now and jerked back hard on the pistol grip, hammering his knee into the man's body. The Boer grunted, clamped down hard on the MP5. The guy was strong. Clay was winning the battle for the trigger but losing the fight for the gun. He tried to roll out, but the Boer outweighed him. He could feel the bastard's breath on his face, smell the cigarettes and crap coffee. The gun's barrel was coming down onto Clay's throat, touching now, as the Boer levered his weight, still trying to pry Clay's fingers from the trigger. Clay gasped for breath, pushed back with all his strength. He could feel the barrel crushing his windpipe. Pain seared through his brain, began its too-quick metamorphosis into panic. The Glock was there in his belt, he could reach it with his stump. If he still had two hands this would be over. But he didn't, and it wasn't. The Boer shifted his balance forward, putting all his weight into the MP5, trying to choke Clay to death, going for the kill.

There are moments in any struggle, any battle, when outcomes hinge on the thinnest line, a fraction of a degree. Now, Crowbar used to call it back then, during the war. The moment when winning or losing, living or dying, depended on what you did right now. Whatever Crowbar was, he was no fatalist. Nou, seuns, he'd yell, charging forward, R4 dispensing single-shot judgement on any who chose to stand and die. Now.

Clay raised his knees and pushed up hard against the floor, a powerful hip thrust that over-balanced his attacker, momentarily releasing the pressure on his neck. Clay arched his back, lined up the man's head, and with every joule of energy he could summon, whipped his neck forward.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Evolution of Fear by Paul E. Hardisty. Copyright © 2016 Paul E. Hardisty. Excerpted by permission of Orenda Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Dedication,
Epigraph,
Map,
Part I,
1 No Difference the Instrument,
2 2.7 Seconds of Nothing,
3 A Talisman of Sorts,
4 The Chasm between Now and Then,
5 Their Glorious Youth,
6 Three-Day Head Start,
7 A Hundred Hours,
8 Candaules' Queen,
9 The Difference between Living and Dying,
10 Just a Deep Breath Away,
11 Instruments of Darkness,
12 Leave Me in the Sun for the Vultures,
13 Purgatory,
Part II,
14 The World Can Go and Fuck Itself,
15 Weapons Ready, Hearts Racing,
16 Constantinople Electric,
17 It Could Have Been Any of Them,
18 Likelihood and Consequence,
19 Maybe It Had Never Been There at All,
20 Things You Do Not Know,
21 It Can't Hurt You,
22 English as a Foreign Language,
23 Wanted Dead,
24 A Few Miles from Deep Water,
Part III,
25 F=GMm/r2,
26 Dead Reckoning,
27 Extinction,
28 The Killing Gene,
29 Looking Down Through Blood,
30 Tears for Wool,
31 This, You Were Given,
32 Twelve Years of Silence,
33 Honoris Crux,
34 Altruism,
35 Thirty Weeks and a Hundred Years,
36 Backwards from Being,
37 Everything They Shared,
Part IV,
38 Trust,
39 Natural Selection,
40 The Ladder of Divine Ascent,
41 As Good as Anything Else,
42 Playing House,
43 The Illusion of Mercy,
44 The Only Thing That Mattered,
45 A Question of Faith,
46 A Hell of a Thing,
47 Hurt,
48 Each Minute Has a Price,
49 Dark Wells of Gravity,
50 The Blind and Ruthless Levers,
51 Violence Having Been Done,
Part V,
52 Should Have Been Twenty,
53 The Future Spread out before Them,
54 The Price You Paid,
55 Death Comes Soon Enough,
56 Life,
57 Her Dark Insanity,
58 What You Had To Forsake,
Acknowledgements,
About the Author,
Copyright,

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