Below is the promised Chapter 1 of Infil 1, the novel I am serializing here. If you’d like a pdf, epub or mobi version then just click the link to charlesvella.com. If you have any problems getting your copy just email me at CharlesLVella@gmail.com. I hope you enjoy Infil 1.
Copyright © 2017 by Charles Vella
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission of the author.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Read more by Charles Vella at amazon.com/author/charlesvella
“We lost him.”
The line hung silent. Dead. Dead like the frigid, still night air. Dead as they’d all be if they didn’t get in front of this. Dead for so long it seemed no one was on the line when the receiver coughed.
“Are you on a secure line?” The voice following the cough was a three a.m. croak. The question explained the delay. He’d looked at his cell phone and make sure it was the secure one. Did he have to do it in the dark? Make sure not to wake up his wife? Or did people with that kind of money, that kind of wife, sleep in separate rooms?
“What do you think I am? Stupid?” This time the silence hung over the line just long enough to answer the question.
“Where? How?” Not who. The working definition of a vital mission. Wake someone up in the middle of the night and say ‘we lost him’ and his mind goes right to damage control without slowing to figure out who the hell you’re talking about. Must see him in his sleep. As they all did. As they all had for the last few months.
“He entered the country a couple of…”
“Entered the country?” Wide awake now. That message dropped like a bucket of cold water over his head. Could hear him bolt up in bed. His voice dropped to a hiss. Must be in bed with his wife. Probably wondering when her clearance had last been updated. Not that it mattered. No one was cleared for this. “This country? The United States? He’s here? What the hell happened in Paris?”
“His passport’s here at any rate. It passed through Kennedy a couple of hours ago. We’re getting the surveillance video to verify it’s him. Paris says he hasn’t left the apartment there but I wouldn’t put much faith in that.”
“Why the hell would he come here?”
“No idea.” Or plenty of ideas. Just none that aren’t too terrifying to contemplate.
“Wait a second, wait a second. Paris is saying he’s still there?” You could almost hear the gears clicking in his head, running through scenarios, possibilities. Trying to find a glimmer of hope in the vat of dog shit they’d fallen into. “Then maybe it’s just his passport. They might’ve given it to someone else. We could live with that,” he said with growing confidence. “That passport isn’t traceable. Even the FBI can’t follow it back to us. And you can’t interrogate a passport.”
Or a dead man. The thought slipped past, like a subliminal messages in a movie theater. ‘Buy popcorn.’
“I wouldn’t get my hopes up. They’ve probably been sitting outside the apartment drinking coffee with the heater running full blast waiting for him to come out the front door. My guess is he walked out the back.” But to be fair, don’t discount the possibility that they’d nodded off and he’d walked right past them, slapping his hand on the hood as he passed.
“Sitting outside the apartment? The entire time it took to fly across the Atlantic?” A deep sigh and a rustle as he got out of bed. “OK, OK. Let’s assume the worst. He’s here. You’ve got to bring him in. We can’t have…”
“You haven’t been listening. I said we lost him. By the time I got the call he was long gone. Immigration said ‘stand over here’ and he just walked away. Never picked up his suitcase. We have that. Mostly the crap we gave him. He evidently hasn’t bought much in the past six months. If that’s worth knowing.”
“Walked away? They got the alert and didn’t hold him? Why the hell not?”
“Because we−” We meaning you, you arrogant bastard. We meaning you over my yelling, cajoling and begging, “only put a watch flag on the passport. Remember? We didn’t want some cowboy hauling him in and screwing up two years of work. ‘Keep it low key. We don’t want him hauled in every time he crosses a border.’ ”
More dead air. Maybe, just maybe, he’s getting the hint about who owns this fiasco. But that’d be too much to hope for. Better stick to realistic dreams, like Santa Claus or super models who said, ‘you’re the man I’ve been looking for’.
“Then they should’ve flagged it and told us.” Not trying to keep the petulance out of his voice. The kid who didn’t get a violent enough video game for Christmas. Life isn’t fair.
“They did?” he exploded. “Then why the hell−”
“Word came through channels about an hour after he’d passed through Kennedy.”
“Channels,” he said dully. His anger gone soft like a balloon with a slow leak.
“Channels is what we wanted and channels is what we got. According to the immigration agent the passport was flagged but there weren’t any instructions to hold him. He wasn’t sure what to do so he told him to wait on the other side while he called a supervisor. He just walked away.”
“He just walked away,” he repeated tonelessly. “What time?”
“What. Time. Did. He. Just. Walk. Away?”
“Midnight.” The word slid out on a small rush of air. Another migraine coming on. Another migraine? It’d been one long migraine ever since getting involved in this travelling shit show. “Quarter after. Flight from Paris was delayed. They called me about one.”
“And you’re just now calling me? What’ve you been doing in the meantime?”
“Looking for him. What do you think?” Staring at my phone and thinking about this conversation? Trying to convince myself it’s just a nightmare? Just wait a while in case I wake up? OK. That too.
“Why the hell would he come here?” he asked again, this time with a small grunt that said he’d reached his home office and lowered himself into a chair. It was easy to forget how old he was, until little things like that grunt gave the game away. You get over seventy and you might look fifty, but it was still painful to get up and down from chairs. Botox and tailors can’t keep the age from creeping into your bones.
“That’s the question.” The question that didn’t bear thinking about. If they’d suddenly come up with something for him to do in the US you can bet it wouldn’t be Christmas shopping.
“Why hasn’t he reached out to us?”
“He did. From Europe. The train. Remember? We have to assume that since then they’ve been sitting on him too carefully.” At least that’s what we have to hope. Like clinging to a life preserver while the Titanic sucks you under. If I just keep swimming…
The silence settled like the dust after an explosion, stinging their eyes but giving them the leisure to survey the carnage around them. “Do you think…” he finally began, but the words trailed off, as if they scared him and he’d decided he couldn’t bear to hear them out loud.
I’m not paid to think. I leave that to the people who created this fiasco. The big picture boys. “If they’d made him they would’ve killed him back there.” Wouldn’t they? Yes. Unless… The unless didn’t bear thinking about, what they could do with him over here. Now there’s a headline any terrorist would die for. ‘US Undercover Agent…’ just fill in the atrocity. Details at eleven.
“You’ve got to go back.” A note of panic in his voice now. His mind’d shown him the same headline. “Over all of it. Make sure there’re no loose ends. No holes. No way anyone can trace him back to us.”
“They can’t trace him back to us.” Keep hitting that note of confidence and maybe it’d fool one of them.
“And you’ve got to find him. Make sure he’s not picked up by anyone but us. Ever,” he snapped out, as if revoking a statute of limitations. “But don’t raise any wind. No one can know we’re interested. Understand?”
“Sure. Anything else?” Peace on earth? Goodwill to men?” But he was talking to a dead line. Dead like the frigid, still night air. Dead as they’d all be if they didn’t get in front of this.
Keep reading, tell a friend
If you’ve enjoyed Infil 1 so far the next chapter will be available soon. Thanks for your interest and please consider telling a friend. Because Infil 1 isn’t for sale yet you can’t leave a review, but I’d love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment on my blog or Facebook page. Thanks very much for your interest.
I’ve had at least two people ask me when the sequel to Right of Passage is coming out. Since this is a large portion of my readership I thought I’d let you in on my writing schedule.
I have a working title to the second book in the Police State of Anarchy series but I’m not sure about it yet so I’ll just call it Book 2 for now. Book 2 is a dystopian road trip across the America of 2065 so if you want to see how the craziness around you might play out be sure to watch for it. I’m about 30,000 words into the first draft, which is probably between one third to one quarter the ultimate length. I’ve worked out most of the plot at a high level so I’m aiming to put it out in the late spring or early summer next year.
In the meantime I’m going to serialize the first installment of a new series, Infil 1. I’ll post a chapter here every month. I’ll also make a cumulative version available on my website so if you join late, or if you just want a Kindle-compatible or pdf version you’ll be able to get that. If you want to know more, you’ll find Chapter 1 here next week, so watch this space.
As always thanks to those who have taken the time to read and to write reviews on Amazon.
I’ve been a little disappointed in the reception of Soul Source. The people who’ve read it have really liked it and I think it’s the best thing I’ve written so far, but it’s only gotten three reviews on Amazon, which means there are no real marketing avenues open for it. If you’re one of the people who’ve got a copy please give it a try. If you’ve read it then please consider writing a review. If you don’t have a copy or are interested, I’ll be running a free promotion some time later this month, or if you’re willing to risk $2.99, then just click here. (amazon.com/author/charlesvella if the link doesn’t work.) You can always email me at CharlesLVella@gmail.com if you want me to notify you of free and reduced-price promotions.
I’ll have some more information up on the sequel to Right of Passage along with some other announcements in the next few days, so please stay tuned.
Thanks very much for your interest.
If you are a member of Goodreads I am running a giveaway of a paperback copy of my book, Soul Source or Back and There Again, between now and September 17. Please enter and tell a friend.
I confess, I sometimes read the news. Not to stay informed. Our society has reached a state where being informed only depresses me. I read them looking for ideas for my novels. Because I’m currently working on Book 2 in the Police State of Anarchy series, a satiric look at society through the eyes of people unfortunate enough to live our future, I’m especially on the lookout for things that are funny and dangerous. I think I found a good one, a guy who describes himself as a libertarian fascist.
A libertarian fascist? What are their political rallies like? The all powerful leader addressing huge crowds of people arguing with everything he says? Do they build the all powerful state first so they can take it apart? Or do they alternate, build the all powerful state on Monday, dismantle on Tuesday, build again on Wednesday…? How does someone like that describe himself? ‘I’m devoted to following the all powerful leader and letting the state make all my decisions as long as, you know, I can keep my free will.’ Does a libertarian fascist leader feel bad about leading? ‘You will obey everything I say, I mean, only if you agree with it. I don’t want to tell you what to do.’
What can’t you do with a character like that in a novel?
The problem is that if the funny part of being a libertarian fascist is obvious, so is the dangerous part. Libertarianism exists along a range from Thomas Jefferson, who was skeptical of large, powerful government, to some people today who evidently believe we should be ruled by the rich and powerful assisted by mobs and go back to a world described by Hobbes as ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’ Fascism exists on a somewhat narrower range, from Mussolini to Hitler, or from those who are uncomfortable with the indiscriminate murder of groups of people for arbitrary reasons and are really in it for the uniforms, to those who excel at it.
People such as this self-styled libertarian fascist don’t know what a libertarian or a fascist really is. They don’t have any logical consistency in their world view or any stake in society. They are people who have failed and need someone to blame so they can avoid examining their own inadequacies. These people have always been around, but they used to be avoided and ignored. Now we put them on television and wonder why they say outrageous things. If you giggle and take videos if your toddler repeats a swear word she doesn’t understand, see how long it is before she’s swearing like a sailor.
Fascism isn’t a philosophy. It’s a hodgepodge of nonsense designed to provide a fig leaf of respectability to racists and thugs. You can’t talk from a basis of facts and logic with someone who describes himself as a fascist. It is an emotional appeal. The only way to win an emotional argument is to scream louder or resort to violence. That’s why these people show up at rallies armed. They have nothing intellectual to promote, so they jump right to intimidation.
When I read about the Third Reich one of the things that always strikes me is the extent to which it was run by misfits and losers who had been at the margins of society and suddenly found themselves in power. If you believe it can’t happen here then go back and read accounts of why so many Jews stayed in Germany until it was too late. If you want to imagine life under the kinds of people you see at the racist rallies today then go back and read about Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Be sure you stick around for the ending though. Because if you have anything to lose, following people like that will almost certainly guarantee that you lose it.