Read London Bridges: A Novel Online

Authors: James Patterson

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Thrillers, #Mystery & Detective, #Psychological, #Suspense, #Espionage, #Psychological fiction, #Police Procedural, #Police, #Suspense fiction, #Terrorism, #Washington (D.C.), #Suspense fiction; American, #Cross; Alex (Fictitious character), #Police psychologists, #Police - Washington (D.C.), #African American police, #Psychological fiction; American, #Terrorism - Prevention

London Bridges: A Novel

BOOK: London Bridges: A Novel
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Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges
Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges

London Bridges

Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges
Chapter 1

Colonel Geoffrey Shafer loved his new life in Salvador, Brazil's third-largest city and some would say its most intriguing. It was definitely the most fun.

He had rented a plush six-bedroom villa directly across from Guarajuba Beach, where he spent his days drinking sweet caipirinhas and ice-cold Brahma beers, or sometimes playing tennis at the club. At night, Colonel Shafer—the psychopathic killer better known as the Weasel—was up to his old tricks, hunting on the dark, narrow, winding streets of the Old City. He had lost count of his kills in Brazil, and nobody in Salvador seemed to care, or even keep count. There hadn't been a single newspaper story about the disappearance of young prostitutes. Not one. Maybe it was true what they said of the people here—when they weren't actually partying, they were already rehearsing for the next one.

At a few ticks past two in the morning, Shafer returned to the villa with a young and beautiful streetwalker who called herself Maria. What a gorgeous face the girl had, and a stunning brown body, especially for someone so young. Maria said she was only thirteen.

The Weasel picked a fat banana from one of several plants in his yard. At this time of year he had his choice of coconut, guava, mango, and pinha, which was sugar apple. As he plucked the fresh fruit he had the thought that there was always something ripe for the taking in Salvador. It was paradise. Or maybe it's hell and I'm the Devil, Shafer thought, and chuckled to himself.

“For you, Maria,” he said, handing her the banana. “We'll put it to good use.”

The girl smiled knowingly, and the Weasel noticed her eyes—what perfect brown eyes. And all mine now—eyes, lips, breasts.

Just then, he spotted a small Brazilian monkey called a mico trying to work its way through a window screen and into his house. “Get out of here, you thieving little bastard!” he yelled. “G'wan! Beat it!”

There came a quick movement from out of the bushes, then three men jumped him. The police, he was certain, probably Americans. Alex Cross?

The cops were all over him, powerful arms and legs everywhere. He was struck down by a bat, or a lead pipe, yanked back up by his full head of hair, then beaten unconscious.

“We caught him. We caught the Weasel, first try. That wasn't very hard,” said one of the men. “Bring him inside.”

Then he looked at the beautiful young girl, who was clearly afraid, rightly so. “You did a good job, Maria. You brought him to us.” He turned to one of his men. “Kill her.”

A single gunshot ruptured the silence in the front yard. No one seemed to notice or care in Salvador.

Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges
Chapter 2

The Weasel just wanted to die now. He was hanging upside down from the ceiling of his own master bedroom. The room had mirrors everywhere, and he could see himself in several of the reflections.

He looked like death. He was naked, bruised and bleeding all over. His hands were tightly cuffed behind his back, his ankles bound together, cutting off the circulation. Blood was rushing to his head.

Hanging beside him was the young girl, Maria, but she had been dead for several hours, maybe as much as a day, judging by the terrible smell. Her brown eyes were turned his way, but they stared right through him.

The leader of his captors, bearded, always squeezing a black ball in one hand, squatted down so that he was only a foot or so from Shafer's face. He spoke softly, a whisper.

“What we did with some prisoners when I was active—we would sit them down, rather politely, peacefully, and then nail their fucking tongues to a table. That's absolutely true, my weaselly friend. You know what else? Simply plucking hairs . . . from the nostrils . . . the chest . . . stomach . . . genitals . . . it's more than a little bothersome, no? Ouch,” he said as he plucked hairs from Shafer's naked body.

"But I'll tell you the worst torture, in my opinion, anyway. Worse than what you would have done to poor Maria. You grab the prisoner by both shoulders and shake violently until he convulses. You literally rattle his brain, the sensitive organ itself. He feels as if his head will fly off. His body is on fire. I'm not exaggerating.

“Here, let me show you what I mean.”

The terrible, unimaginably violent shaking—while Geoffrey Shafer hung upside down—went on for nearly an hour.

Finally he was cut down. “Who are you? What do you want from me?” he screamed.

The head captor shrugged. “You're a tough bastard, but always remember, I found you. And I'll find you again if I need to. Do you understand?”

Geoffrey Shafer could barely focus his eyes, but he looked up to where he thought the captor's voice had come from. He whispered, “What . . . do you . . . want? Please?”

The bearded man's face bent close to his. He seemed almost to smile. “I have a job, a most incredible job for you. Believe me, you were born for this.”

“Who are you?” the Weasel whispered again through badly chapped and bleeding lips. It was a question he'd asked a hundred times during the torture.

“I am the Wolf,” said the bearded man. “Perhaps you've heard of me.”

Part One

THE UNTHINKABLE

Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges
Chapter 3

On the sunny, blue-skied afternoon when one of them would die unexpectedly, needlessly, Frances and Dougie Puslowski were hanging sheets and pillowcases and the kids' play clothes out to dry in the noonday sun.

Suddenly U.S. Army soldiers began to arrive at their mobile-home park, Azure Views, in Sunrise Valley, Nevada. Lots of soldiers. A full convoy of U.S. jeeps and trucks came bouncing up the dirt road they lived on, and stopped abruptly. Troops poured out of the vehicles. The soldiers were heavily armed. They definitely meant business.

“What in the name of sweet Jesus is going on?” asked Dougie, who was currently on disability from the Cortey Mine outside Wells and was still trying to get used to the domestic scene. But Dougie knew that he was failing pretty badly. He was almost always depressed, always grumpy and mean-spirited, and always short with poor Frances and the kids.

Dougie noticed that the soldier boys and girls climbing out of their trucks were outfitted in battle dress uniform: leather boots, camouflage pants, olive T-shirts—the whole kit and caboodle, as if this were Iraq and not the ass end of Nevada. They carried M-16 rifles and ran toward the closest trailers with muzzles raised. Some of the soldiers even looked scared themselves.

The desert wind was blowing pretty good, and their voices carried all the way to the Puslowskis' clothesline. Frances and Dougie clearly heard “We're evacuating the town! This is an emergency situation. Everyone has to leave their houses now! Now, people!”

Frances Puslowski had the presence of mind to notice that all the soldiers were pretty much saying the same thing, as if they had rehearsed it, and that their tight, solemn faces sure showed that they wouldn't take no for an answer. The Puslowskis' three-hundred-odd neighbors—some of them very odd—were already leaving their mobile homes, complaining about it but definitely doing as they were told.

The next-door neighbor, Delta Shore, ran over to Frances. “What's happening, hon? Why are all these soldiers here? My good God Almighty! Can you believe it? They must be from Nellis or Fallon or someplace. I'm a little scared, Frances. You scared, hon?”

The clothespin in Frances's mouth finally dropped to the ground as she spoke to Delta. “They say that they're evacuating us. I've got to get the girls.”

Then Frances ran inside the mobile home, and at 240-some pounds, she had believed her sprinting, or even jogging, days were far behind her.

“Madison, Brett, c'mere, you two. Nothin' to be scared of. We just have to leave for a while! It'll be fun. Like a movie. Get a move on, you two!”

The girls, ages two and four, appeared from the small bedroom where they'd been watching Rolie Polie Olie on the Disney Channel. Madison, the oldest, offered her usual “Why? Why do we have to? I don't want to. I won't. We're too busy, Momma.”

Frances grabbed her cell phone off the kitchen counter—and then the next really strange thing happened. She tried to get a line to the police, but there was nothing except loud static. Now that had never happened before, not that kind of annoying, buzzy noise she was hearing. Was some kind of invasion going down? Something nuclear, maybe?

“Damn it!” she snapped at the buzzing cell phone, and almost started to cry. “What is going on here?”

“You said a bad word!” Brett squeaked, but she also laughed at her mother. She kind of liked bad words. It was as if her mother had made a mistake, and she loved it when adults made mistakes.

“Get Mrs. Summerkin and Oink,” Frances told the girls, who would not leave the house without their two favorite lovies, not even if the infernal plague of Egypt had come to town. Frances prayed that it hadn't—but what had? Why was the U.S. Army swarming all over the place, waving scary guns in people's faces?

She could hear her frightened neighbors outside, verbalizing the very thoughts racing around in her head: “What's happened?” “Who says we have to leave?” “Tell us why!” “Over my dead body, soldier! You hear me, now?”

That last voice was Dougie's! Now what was he up to?

“Dougie, come back in the house!” Frances yelled. “Help me with these girls! Dougie, I need you in here.”

There was a gunshot outside! A loud, lightning-bolt crack exploded from one of the rifles.

Frances ran to the screen door—here she was, running again—and saw two U.S. Army soldiers standing over Dougie's body.

Oh my God, Dougie isn't moving. Oh my God, oh my God! The soldiers had shot him down like a rabid dog. For nothing! Frances started to shiver and shake, then threw up lunch.

Her girls screeched, “Yuk, Mommy! Mommy, yuk! You threw up all over the kitchen!”

Then suddenly a soldier with a couple of days' facial growth on his chin kicked open the screen door and he was right in her face and he was screaming, “Get out of this trailer! Now! Unless you want to die, too.”

The soldier had the business end of a gun pointed right at Frances. “I'm not kidding, lady,” he said. “Tell the truth, I'd just as soon shoot you as talk to you.”

Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges
Chapter 4

The job—the operation, the mission—was to wipe out an entire American town. In broad daylight.

It was some eerie, psycho gig. Dawn of the Dead, either version, would be mild compared to this. Sunrise Valley, Nevada; population, 315 brave souls. Soon to be population, 0. Who was going to believe it? Well, hell, everybody would in less than about three minutes.

None of the men on board the small plane knew why the town was being targeted for extinction, or anything else about the strange mission, except that it paid extremely well, and all the money had been delivered to them up front. Hell, they didn't even know one another's names. All they had been told was their individual tasks for the mission. Just their little piece of the puzzle. That's what it was called—their piece.

Michael Costa from Los Angeles was the munitions expert on board and he'd been instructed to make a “bootleg fuel-air bomb with some real firepower.”

Okay, he could do that easily enough.

His working model was the BLU-96, often called a Daisy Cutter, which graphically described the end result. Costa knew that the bomb had originally been designed to clear away mine fields, as well as jungles and forests for military landing zones. Then some really crazy, sick dude had figured out that the Daisy Cutter could wipe out people as easily as it could trees and boulders.

So now here he was inside an old, beat-to-hell cargo plane flying over the Tuscarora Mountain range toward Sunrise Valley, Nevada, and they were very close to T, for target.

He and his new best friends were assembling the bomb right there on the plane. They even had a diagram showing how to do it, as if they were idiots. Assembling Fuel-Air Bombs for Dummies.

The actual BLU-96 was a tightly controlled military weapon and relatively hard to obtain, Costa knew. Unfortunately for everybody who lived, loved, ate, slept, and shit in Sunrise Valley, Daisy Cutters could also be assembled at home out of readily obtainable ingredients. Costa had purchased a thousand-gallon supplemental fuel bladder, then filled it with high-octane gas, fitted a dispersing device, and inserted dynamite sticks as an initiator. Next, he made a motion brake and trigger assembly using a parachutist's altitude-deployment device for parts. Simple stuff like that.

Then, as he'd told the others on board the cargo plane, “You fly over the target. You push the bomb out the payload door. You run like your pants are on fire and there's an ocean up ahead. Trust me, the Daisy Cutter will leave nothing but scorched earth below. Sunrise Valley will be a burn mark in the desert. A memory. Just you watch.”

Alex Cross 10 - London Bridges
Chapter 5

“Easy does it, gentlemen. No one is to be hurt. Not this time.”

BOOK: London Bridges: A Novel
13.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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