‘Jed Walker is right there in Reacher’s rear-view mirror.’ Lee Child.
A deadly countdown has begun…
The world is under cyber attack. The secretive terror outfit, known as Zodiac, are preparing to unleash chaos. The options for the hackers are endless.
From massive data breaches, take-downs of critical infrastructure, and commandeering military hardware, nothing networked is safe. Knowing where they will strike is half the battle. The only thing certain is their intent to create a devastating global catastrophe.
The US President has the power to enact the Internet Freedom Act — the ‘Kill Switch’. Turning off the Net will stop the attacks. But it’s not that simple. The US will plummet into pandemonium if electronic communications cease. The rest of the world will follow.
One man, ex-CIA operative Jed Walker, has 36 hours to stop the terrorists. But for Jed, Zodiac isn’t the only thing he has to worry about. To protect the future he must reconnect with a woman from his past. No matter which way he turns, he has tough choices to make. Not everyone will get out alive. For Walker the countdown starts now . . .
KILL SWITCH is book three in the Jed Walker series. (Note: you can read them in any order)
READ ON FOR A SAMPLE:
It’s an interior shot. Dark. The camera finds a man on a seat. He is slightly to the left of frame. We see him head to toe. He is slouched. Not big, not small. Average. His hair is longer than short, blacker than brown. He wears wire-framed glasses. The scene is poorly lit. We cannot see his face in detail.
The scene changes. The lens or camera moves towards the seated man. It’s centred on the figure, from the waist up. The lighting is better now, the focus too. He is in his thirties. Fine lines around his mouth and eyes. Two days’ stubble. Sweat beads on his forehead, then slides down onto his nose. His glasses slip. A lip is swollen and cut.
The man pushes his glasses back to their position on the bridge of his nose. His nose is straight, never broken, but the viewers will not take much notice of that.
They won’t, because they’ve just seen something else.
His hands. They moved together, as one, even though he only used one finger to push the glasses back.
They moved as one because they are connected at the wrist, by handcuffs.
It’s then that the man’s outfit makes more sense, and those watching will make the connection.
He is wearing an orange jumpsuit. A prisoner.
But this man is no prisoner of the law, and all of a sudden the audience gets it.
They have seen footage like this before. From Syria and Iraq and other places where nothing good comes of such an image.
This is a hostage situation. Propaganda. The audience will now know that the man seated is there not of his own volition. He is captive. But what will happen next? Should they look away? Will they see the captors? Will there be a beheading?
No. It’s not like that.
This man? They’re making him do something.
And he is about to talk, to the camera. There are unseen people
around him, those who must be forcing him to do this, those who gave him that fat lip and the bruise coming up on his cheek. That’s what the audience at home will think, that’s what the world media will say: this poor guy has been worked over and they’re playing with him.
But it’s worse than that. It’s worse because as bad as it seems for this man, it’s going to be just as bad for those watching. What this scene is about today? It will take up all the air time for the next thirty-six hours.
Because what the captive man is about to say, what and who he is, will irrevocably change the world. All within the next day and a half. Forever.
Walker exhaled. Inevitability . . .
The CIA taught Jed Walker how to travel. How to remain
inconspicuous. Avoid capture. Prior to that, military service taught Walker how to kill a man with nothing but his bare hands, and that’s all he had at his disposal right now, having just passed through airport security at LAX. Well, that’s not exactly true, he thought, in hindsight, watching the two men approach. He had his small backpack, which contained a change of clothes and toiletries. A few items would do. A toothbrush through the eye socket into the brain. The straps of the backpack could be used to choke a man. He had a paperback novel in there with an orange cover that he’d found in his hotel room that morning – and from the few pages he’d read during the cab ride to the airport, it could probably bore them to death.
A few decent options, but none was a good one right now.
He made a mental checklist of the possibilities around him. Steel- framed chairs. Laminated, sharp-edged tabletops. Metal stands in gift shops. Any number of items from said gift shops. The overpriced food from the restaurants. The fast food – he could force-feed these two guys a couple of foie-gras geese and watch them have coronaries. Gavage, it was called, but in France they used feeding tubes and corn and fattened the geese up for seventeen days then slaughtered them at four months. Funny how the Europeans had such strict laws for some things. At any rate, Walker didn’t have seventeen days, let alone four months. A glass beer bottle to the temple would be quicker. A twist of a neck.
But not now. Inevitability, and all that.
For Walker, a life on the outer had honed his thinking. Improvising. Making do. Surviving. To use what was at hand and to adapt on the fly and do whatever it took to see one more day.
He knew from the scene in front of him that he only had seconds of freedom remaining. Maybe thirty. He was trapped and he had little choice but to take what was coming.
Walker knew that none of his evasion training would come into play today. It would not help, because today he was a target. Not randomly selected. Not pulled aside for conspicuous behaviour. The men who came for him knew who he was. They had purpose. A singular goal.
So. Cut and run, or stand and fight? Neither option good. Not here. Not against two uniformed TSA officers. One had his hand on his holstered Glock. The other had a taser drawn in his dominant hand, hanging by his side. They only had eyes for Walker.
It was inevitable.
The two men dressed as TSA officers found Walker with ease. They knew what he looked like because they had seen a photo of him. They knew what he was capable of because they had read a brief summary of his physicality and experience. They had both served in Special Forces units, but their target today had done that too – and then some. They knew it was him because he was six-three and 230 pounds and he moved with the physicality of a pro athlete. He was thirty-nine years old and in his physical prime; statistically, he’d never be faster or stronger than he was now. They knew he had about twenty years’ experience with the military and CIA doing special ops work. Rated beyond excellent in hand-to-hand combat and the use of firearms. Capable. A man not to be underestimated. Which is why they had their weapons ready. Their orders were simple: apprehend and render him to another country.
Hands on holstered weapons made it clear to Walker that these guys were not here to chat. They were not sent to relay a message or warning about his mission. They were here to detain him.
And he had a plane to catch.
Walker was in LAX’s terminal six. He had already passed security, so turning back wasn’t an option. And there were cameras everywhere.
Locked doors and security up the wazoo. So, running for it was not an option either.
But he remained calm, because that was his general disposition and because Buddha once observed that inward calm cannot be maintained unless physical strength is constantly and intelligently replenished. Walker had not read much of Buddha, and his mental image of the deity wasn’t exactly the symbol of physical peak conditioning, but he’d heard that titbit from a member of the Gurkha Regiment, and they were among the toughest soldiers he had ever met. The remark had come after the soldier, serving in the British Army, had disarmed two insurgents trying to gain entry to Baghdad Airport. Neither insurgent survived the encounter, or kept their head. Walker learned never to pick a fight with a Buddhist.
With running ruled out, Walker was left with two choices.
The first was to fight. Put these two guys down and run; hope to get away. But these TSA officers were ready for him, and back-up would be on hand within seconds. LAPD and the TSA’s own heavily armed response units would be minutes away, tops.
He could see the cafe just twenty paces ahead, where he had planned to wait for his boarding call over a couple of strong coffees, and maybe even read the newspaper. The paper could wait, but the caffeine he needed. Long night. Long week. Big days and weeks ahead.
Walker sighed. Relaxed his shoulders. Decision made. No point fighting.
Which left one option.
Give himself up to detention.
So, Walker relaxed and took what was coming. It was inevitable.
He watched the two federal officers approach, a few yards apart and coming at him from the side. He put his backpack on the floor by his feet and kept his hands in clear view, his arms loose and hanging by his sides. One of the TSA guys, the one with a hand on a taser, kept approaching while the other, with his hand on the butt of his service-issue Glock, slowed and took a step to Walker’s side.
Five seconds of freedom remained.
Whatever this was, Walker was certain that he would miss his flight, which was boarding in twenty minutes. How often were the flights to Alaska? He had no idea. Every couple of hours, he figured, tops. With oil and gas prices so low, he saw no good reason for workers to be flooding into the state. Lumber and fishing crews would be year-round or seasonal, not some kind of fly-in-fly-out types with any regularity. That left tourism and those visiting family and friends, and there couldn’t be much call for that, especially just as winter had so recently ended.
Walker was confident that he could be out of here within two hours. Three, tops. He would phone a friend, and that friend would place a call, and then more phone calls would be made down the chain until word filtered down to these two front-line guys. The officers would apologise, he’d be issued a new plane ticket and retrieve his papers and backpack and be on his way. He’d board a flight to Alaska, where he had plans to avert a terrorist attack. Call it two to three hours, beginning to end.
But it still didn’t feel right, and he still wanted coffee, and a good fight would wake him up good and proper, that’s for sure.
The TSA officers slowed as they neared, watching Walker with intense curiosity. The one with the hand on the Glock looked around. No-one batted an eyelid as they passed, regular people wheeling their carry-on baggage, drinking coffee from styrofoam cups. In their eyes, just another random stop-and-search. Thank 9/11 and the Boston bombing and recent events in New York and St Louis for that. A couple of wars and the Patriot Act played a part too. Just another day at LAX.
The two uniformed officers stopped just short of arm’s reach from Walker.
‘Josiah Walker,’ the taser wielder said. ‘Place your hands on your head. We’re bringing you in.’