Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sniper Fixation

I've been writing again (yay) and one of the stories really speaking to me is called Hidden Depths: Secret Graves. It features a sniper and a forensic geologist as two of the main characters and I've been reading a LOT about snipers and guerrilla warfare lately. I think my Evil Day Job co-workers are a bit concerned by this. I already have a bit of a reputation for being...forceful. But at work I limit myself to a cricket bat - really.

Have you ever really looked at an author's reference bookshelves? Seriously...mine look like my house is occupied by someone who flits between romance, history, forensics, terrorism and knitting. It almost scares me. Where else will you find a book on heirloom lace knitting right next to the Sniper Field Manual which is also next to a book on the Difference Engine?

Thankfully it doesn't phase Mr. Maura too much. He does like to borrow my books but I think he's now somewhat immune to amazement at the books arriving on our doorstep and the muttering under my breath I do as I read them and take notes.

"I'm an author." At least it covers a lot of ground.

So here's a bit of the start of Hidden Depths: Secret Graves to enjoy. I've got about 3 chapters but I'm layering and polishing them before I dare show them to my publisher. This story is her fault, anyway.

(c) 2010 Maura Anderson

Damn, he was too keyed up to sleep. Again.

Simon stretched, his back protesting the movement. The kinks from the last three-hour shift in the hide on the hard rooftop of the commercial building made him feel every day of his thirty-four years now that he didn’t have his mission to focus on. It was a good day, though—the hostages were safe. Mission accomplished.

Too bad the suspect offed himself instead of facing the music. That cowardly final act cheated his victims out any kind of closure, but it also meant Simon been unable to take the shot he’d been set up for most of the day. Hours spent watching the building’s entry through the scope and waiting for the suspect to show himself were for nothing. The craven bastard had shot himself inside the store instead and couldn’t even do that right—he was still technically alive when the hostages managed to open the door, though not for long.

Running his hands through his short-cropped hair, Simon rubbed his fingertips against his scalp. Even his skin felt way too tight. The war of control between adrenaline and the need for stillness always made him jumpy after a mission. Exhausted or not, he was wide awake.

Ah, hell, maybe he could tire himself out enough that he’d relax and be able to sleep. Marius already told him that he was going to be off rotation for a bit and stuck doing some babysitting for some scientist Marcus was trying to recruit. Why Marius thought putting him together with some civilian was a good idea, he’d never know.

With the M24 safely stowed in his weapons locker, Simon stripped off his concrete grey BDUs and tossed on the running gear he kept in his locker. MP3 in hand, he headed toward BTI’s fully tricked-out gym.

It was late enough that the gym should be empty or nearly so. He didn’t want to talk to anyone, to dissect the mission or even to just make small talk. The muscles in his jaw jumped and he made a conscious effort to relax it.

He felt raw and vulnerable, like his nerve-endings were exposed. Damn, he hated that feeling, that weakness, and it only seemed to be getting worse lately. Instead he’d told Marius he was fine, just tired.

His boss hadn’t called him a liar. Quite.

Marius knew him far too well to be fooled that easily.

Pushing open the door of the gym, Simon saw there was only one other person there. Not someone he knew and the other man was doing bicep curls in the free weight area.

Simon got himself set on the treadmill and started running, MP3 player blaring the classic rock that helped him focus on his steps and breathing and to not think too much. But this time he found himself examining the other man’s reflection in the mirrored wall across from the treadmills.

The man was big, maybe six-five or six-six and really muscular. His features made Simon think of Hawaii or the Pacific Islands, with long black hair he’d pulled back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck and deep caramel colored skin.

Running at an easy pace, Simon watched the other man trade barbells and saw an intricate pattern of lines below the hem of his shorts, covering his thighs to his knees. Was it a tattoo? The man looked and moved like a pagan warrior.

But he’d never even shown he’d noticed Simon’s presence.

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