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Authors: Matt Hammond

Tags: #Thriller, #Conspiracy, #government, #oil, #biofuel

Milkshake

BOOK: Milkshake
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Milkshake

 

by

 

Matt Hammond

 

Published by Night Publishing, Smashwords edition

 

Copyright 2011, Matt Hammond

 

ISBN 978-1-4661-8290-5

 

Thank you for downloading this e-book. You are welcome to
share it with people you know personally for non-commercial
purposes but it may not be shared over the Internet other than via
the network of e-book distributors supplied by Smashwords and
according to Smashwords terms and conditions.

 

All characters are fictional, and any resemblance to anyone
living or dead is accidental.

 

To discover other books by Matt Hammond, please go to
http://www.nightpublishing.com/matt-hammond.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Shredded paper lay on the restroom floor, still wet from
recent mopping. A steady stream of scalding water misted the mirror
above a hand basin. Standing at the urinal, David heard the creak
of a stall door. A warm hand from behind pressed something firmly
over his mouth. As he inhaled and began to drift asleep, his mind
replayed the last conversation before David Turner’s life
paused.

“You bloody do this every time we fly. You get sucked into
the whole holiday mode thing, have to buy the largest cappuccino
you can find, then spend the next three hours backwards and
forwards to the loo.”

“I need a pee before we board the flight, I’ll be back in a
minute. I’m sorry but once we’re on that plane it might be another
hour before that seatbelt light goes off, so I’m just making the
most of every opportunity.”

Twenty years of marriage to Katherine had taught David to
leave it there. Anyway, this was different. It wasn’t a holiday.
They were emigrating. The events of the previous September had
unsettled millions of people. Thousands had investigated emigrating
to safer, distant shores. The Turners had secured teaching posts in
New Zealand. This would be a one-way flight from London to
Auckland, via Singapore.

 

* * *

 

David was sitting in the staffroom, eating a sandwich he
couldn’t taste. “A bloody plane’s only flown into the World Trade
Center.”

“A plane, straight into it,” repeated the Deputy
Principal.

“How big was it?’

“A smallish one, I think, but the top of the building is on
fire. People are trapped. It’s live on the News.”

The sandwich and staffroom were gone. Faceless people stood in
silhouette against the glass and the open sky beyond it. He could
make out the flat roofs of office blocks, cluttered with elevator
machinery, switchgear rooms and air conditioning units.

He walked towards the window, focusing on water running down
the glass. It was snowing. His eyes followed the flakes downwards,
watching as they became caught in the violent updrafts which
swirled beneath him. A flashing blue light caught his eye. He was
up against the glass, looking straight down, past his feet, to the
New York street far below.

He stepped back, turned and was now looking around his own
living room. He heard a television and his mind found the images of
a second plane being eaten alive by the South Tower.

The wing dipped, the plane gracefully turned and the Tower
took the impact as if full in the chest. No time to dodge, it
absorbed the missile and was torn apart on the opposite side by the
force of the explosion within.

“What film is this?”

David turned to answer Katherine and found he was in bed,
tightly holding her hand. Pixelated orange fire shimmered on the
ceiling above his head as fragmented shards of glass and masonry
wafted down in slow motion towards him.

“Are you awake?”

“Yes,” she replied

“I think we should go.”

 

* * *

 

Somewhere deep in his unconscious brain, an electrical impulse
touched a neuron and David sparked back to life.

Blinking hard, trying to focus through the blackness, David
felt the cold solidity of unyielding concrete against his cheek and
the cool of the May evening. The drone of nearby aircraft and the
smell of their fuel re-awakened his other senses. He was lying face
down, looking underneath a row of parked cars. Head aching and eyes
stinging, he tried to stand as he struggled to remember.

Swaying unsteadily in the vacant space between two cars, his
vision cleared, sharpening the bright yellow lights, aeroplane
tails and shining paintwork of illuminated car bodies. Looking out
across the airport from the top floor of a car park, his mind
replayed.

Two hours ago they had checked in for their flight, watching
as their cases disappeared through a rubber flap. David had joked
about the sum of his possessions: passport, ticket, wallet
containing a small amount of Singaporean cash for their short
stopover, a credit card and his British driving licence. Everything
else they owned was either in a shipping container about to land in
New Zealand or in one of those cases.

Now the gentle ‘tick, tick, tick’ of an
idling car engine snapped him back to the present. Cars enclosed
him on three sides. The fourth enclosure was the low wall of the
car park. He crouched, feeling sick.

His foot brushed something. He looked down, the glare from the
lights blinding him as he peered into a void, his head instantly
filling with waves of disorientating vertigo. Moving his hand to
meet his foot, he could feel leather. It was soft, in folds, hard
beneath. Both hands felt a jacket and it was on someone’s
back.

Cigarette smoke seeped into his nostrils, clearing his head.
Someone pushed him roughly from behind. He fell, turning to rest
the back of his head against a car wheel, feigning confusion,
looking up, through semi–closed lids, squinting for a clearer
view.

The silhouette of a man gripped the leather–jacketed figure
under both arms and lifted, shuffling towards the low car park wall
until the limp body was against it, facing out into the
night.

The body slumped forward, torso resting on the wall, arms
dangling over the edge. David’s throat tightened as he realised
what was about to occur. How long had he been there? Had he been
drugged?

As the questions ran through his head, there was a
grunt.

The leather-jacketed body was gripped from behind by his belt
and heaved off the ground. The rasp of a zip scraping against the
concrete wall broke into the conscious spaces between David’s
confused thoughts.

The body was lifted until his knees were level with the top of
the wall. It was clear his centre of gravity would inevitably send
him over the edge.

The man released his grip. The victim instantly crumpled
ungainly to one side, half sitting, half kneeling, oblivious to his
fate, then toppled silently forward and was gone. The killer
stepped back, no macabre curiosity to witness the fatal descent,
watching as the limp flailing body collided with the road
below.

David’s incoherence flashed an image from
the TV News last September. A faceless figure stepping from the
edge of the smoking World Trade Center through the void left by the
melted safety glass and out into the cool autumn air of the New
York morning, leaving behind certain fiery death for one of their
own choosing.

He sat motionless. Someone who had just killed a man in front
of him carefully stepped over his outstretched legs and climbed
into the waiting car. The engine note rose, the door clicked shut
and it glided slowly away.

The distant lights blurred as his focus disconnected. They’d
both left good teaching jobs, sold their house at a good profit,
their cars, and had both gained New Zealand residency. They’d said
goodbye to friends and family, and shipped all their possessions on
ahead. There was nearly £200,000 waiting for them on the other side
of the world. He'd made his choice.

Breathing deeply, he pulled sweating palms slowly over his
face, trying to wipe any memory of the last fifteen minutes,
erasing all questions from his mind. For now, he had to focus on
acting normal, find his way back to Katherine and board the
flight.

He peered at his watch. It was more than fifteen minutes since
he had left Katherine waiting in the Terminal below. Where had the
time gone? Looking around the brightly lit rooftop, a few cars were
huddled together in small groups. Did one of them belong to the
victim? He tried the doors of the nearest car; both locked. Nothing
to indicate its owner had just been wrenched from his seat and
thrown over the side of the building.

Shaking uncontrollably, he made his way towards the lift. The
button marked
Terminal
re-enforcing the reality of what had just happened. The doors
closed, encasing him in the warm silent atmosphere.

Had he been drugged or beaten unconscious? He felt a sudden
wave of panic as he checked his body for signs of his own blood.
Adrenalin could be masking the pain of physical injury. No blood,
no stab wounds, no clothing tears, nothing to indicate he had been
taken by force.

He had woken next to a motionless body. Could the victim have
been alive, alert even, as he plummeted towards the ground. Who was
he? Why had David been allowed to witness his murder without any
apparent further retribution?

He followed the signs back to the departure lounge,
deliberately not looking left towards where, by now, the shattered
body would have surely been discovered.

David instinctively felt for his wallet. His passport was
still there. The motive for his abduction was apparently not
robbery. Perhaps a failed attempt had resulted in an argument
between two thieves which had got out of hand.

An irrational feeling of guilt almost overwhelmed him. Could
he have saved the man’s life if he had been coherent enough to
realise what was going on? Confrontation was not in his nature.
Pacifying loud-mouthed teenage boys in class was the limit of his
heroism. Should he have tried to reason with the killer? What if he
had been armed? Perhaps the victim had been stabbed, shot even?
Surely a gun would have been heard even above the constant aircraft
noise. Keeping still may have saved his life; the murderer seemed
to completely ignore him.

His eyes scanned for the police who roamed the airport,
machine guns at the ready, and he was torn between trying to avoid
them at all costs and deliberately walking up to the first one he
saw.

The sooner he was on that plane, the better. Meanwhile there
was a bloodied and battered body lying at the base of the car park.
Anyone driving past could not fail to see the crumpled corpse lying
in an oozing pool of blood.

David imagined a pretty young woman gazing aimlessly from the
airport shuttle bus seeing the unnaturally contorted legs and the
growing pool of dark liquid. She screamed at the driver to stop.
Startled, he braked hard as the woman frantically pointed to the
motionless body now level with his side window. The bus driver
called the control centre on his radio. Drivers behind picked up
their mobile phones. Ambulances and armed police were already on
their way. The area would be cordoned off in minutes.

For now, this was only in his head. If he was arrested on
arrival in Singapore, he would just tell the truth.

Peripheral vision caught a familiar blue sign. He still
needed to pee! Entering a vacant cubicle, David locked the door and
sat down. With legs shaking and palms still sweating, he tried to
relax.

“Mr Turner?” It was his name. Someone was calling his name!
“Mr Turner, you in there?” David sat perfectly still. The police
may have already started searching but surely not found him
already, let alone know his name. He took a deep breath, leant back
to flush, and unlocked the door. “Mr Turner?”

“Yes. that’s me.”

“Mr Turner, you’re gonna be late for your
flight. It’s been called for the final time and your wife asked us
to come and look for you. She said you went to look for a loo about
twenty minutes ago, so you’d better finish up and follow
me.”

David remained a few steps behind, fearing even the most
mundane of conversations would reveal his panicked state of mind.
They passed a queue of people awaiting security clearance who eyed
him suspiciously as he was escorted to a separate x–ray
machine.

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