Garrison glanced at his phone. 7:45am.

He sat perched on the edge of his bed – tense and uneasy. It was still dark outside. His smart trousers chaffed against his more than amble crotch, while his starchy shirt heaved and gritted its teeth, desperately trying to contain his explosive biceps.

He looked at the phone again. 7:46. Garrison was all at once dreading the call and craving its arrival.

Being a secret agent isn’t what it used to be, he thought to himself. Once upon a time, he’d hop from one nerve jangling, adrenaline pumping mission to the next. One week he’d be assassinating the leader of a newly formed dissident African Republic with just a potato peeler, the next he’d be infiltrating a Lithuanian drugs cartel, posing as a busty Vilnius call girl. They were exciting, heady days. But above all, they were busy.

But in these more austere times, field operatives at the agency were no longer paid a salary. As part of a savage budget cut, the powers that be forced John and his fellow agents to go freelance. Now they found themselves pitching for whatever missions were on the go – undercutting each other’s quotes, waiting months for their invoices to be paid and anxiously hoping there would be enough espionage to go around.

Lately however the international geopolitical landscape was unusually serene. No-one was invading anyone else. Nobody seemed in the mood for politically motivated murder. The arse had fallen out of the illegal arms dealing industry. Spy business was slow. The gaps between missions began to grow and the bills started to pile up.

Garrison was finding living in London without a steady income extremely challenging. He was forced to downgrade his beloved Knightsbridge penthouse to a flat-share with a loud and sexually aggressive professional couple in Chigwell. A second hand mountain bike replaced his Aston Martin. He went weeks between Martinis – until Aldi began running a very decent deal on Vermouth.

Now he was sitting on his bed, hoping that the recruitment agency would call – and that he would be able to get some temping work today. The Dressed and Ready List, they called it. You get up, you get ready for work — and then you wait to see whether there is any. If you don’t get a call by eight, you can pretty much undress and go back to bed. It was, Garrison decided, the most depressing experience of his life. And he was an orphan.

Garrison had dined with royalty, been congratulated and thanked by Prime Ministers – now he was hoping there might be a half day’s data entry on the go somewhere.

‘Suck it up, John,’ he told himself.

His phone lit up. He recognised the number. He took a deep breath and concentrated on sounding ready – but not desperate.

‘Hello,’ he said, sounding desperate.

‘Hi John, it’s Amanda for Robinson Recruitment. How are you this morning?’

‘What’ve you got for me?!’

‘Ooh, you’re keen, aren’t you hun? Right, well I’ve got an insurance company who needs someone to un-staple around eleven thousand brochures and then re-staple them with some slightly smaller staples. They’ll need you to wear brown shoes.’

‘How much are we talking?’

‘It’s, eh, seven pounds an hour.’

‘Seven pounds?’ Garrison growled. ‘Seven. Fucking. Pounds?’

‘Shall I put you down for it?’

This situation reminded Garrison of a time he had found himself in Prague a few years back. He had cornered a double agent who was in possession of some highly sensitive data – the kind of data that, in the wrong hands, would compromise the safety of every man, woman and child on the face of the planet. Following an intense and exciting fist fight, Garrison had the agent pinned to the ground. He refused to tell Garrison where the flash drive was. But Garrison was renowned as a man that didn’t take no for an answer. He was a man used to getting what he wanted. It took him nearly twelve hours, and some of the most toe-curling ‘techniques’ in his locker, but the treacherous little canary finally sang for Garrison. They gave him an MBE for that one. But that was seemed like a million years ago now.

‘OK,’ he replied, finally. ‘Seven pounds it is. Email me the address.’

He grabbed his Oyster card, took a long, hard swig of Aldi own-brand vermouth — and left.

The End.


Tainted Outcome

April 16, 2010

The third installment of the ‘Tainted Trilogy’.

…Not Also, But Only.

Tainted Nog – Chapter 17

December 22, 2009

Seeing as its Christmas I thought I’d post a little teaser taster of my up and coming festive thriller ‘Tainted Nog’. The second of my Tainted Trilogy and the prequel to Tainted Milk. Its about a journalist who uncovers a terrorist plot to take over a sky scraper on Christmas eve 1988. Enjoy…

Garrison removed his vest and fashioned a makeshift bra for Sandra.
“Here” he said fastening and tightening it with the skilled light touch of a well seasoned seamstress… or lover. “This will keep your breasts warm.” His blood-stained torso glistened under the Christmas lights. The upper reaches of the forty foot Christmas tree provided amble cover while also affording Garrison a bird’s eye view of the entire Karamushi Plaza building’s lobby. From this vantage point, John Garrison could see all three hundred and forty terrorists and the eight hostages they held captive.
“I’ll be back in a second.” He reassured Sandra with the warmth of a well seasoned doctor or lover. Swinging gracefully from branch to branch, giant bauble to bauble, he settled just out of ear shot of Sandra.
“You still there buddy?” he whispered hopefully into his stolen police radio.
“You bet I am!” came back the comforting voice of Lieutenant Brown. “You think I’d miss this firework display?”
“Heh heh heh” chuckled Garrison, genuinely enjoying the banter. “I don’t have much time – I’m holed up here on top of the lobby Christmas tree”
“Sounds good” interrupted Brown, keen to remain involved in the conversation.
“I don’t want to worry her, but Sandra’s having a semi-serious allergic reaction to the pine needles of the tree. She’s swelling up like a stuffed turkey on Christmas day, which is tomorrow. If I don’t get her to a GP within the next few hours or so, she may be left with permanent scarring.” Garrison didn’t mention it to Brown, but it was this swelling that had led to Sandra’s bra not fitting her anymore.
“You know when all this is over John Garrison, I wanna buy you a beer.” said Lieutenant Brown earnestly, but manly.
“No way!” said Garrison curtly, in a way that shocked Brown. Had he done something to offend him? “I gave up drinkin’ a long time ago. How about a coffee instead?”
The sound of Garrison and Brown chuckling at this gag must have been enough to alert the terrorists to his location.
“Merry Christmas, John Garrison” rasped the familiar voice of Fritz Heidrichson and Garrison felt a gun nozzle digging into his neck.
“This is turning out to be one of the best Christmas Eve’s ever!” growled Garrison defiantly. He was being sarcastic though, it was almost certainly one of the worst.

…Not Also, But Only.

Tainted Milk #4

June 8, 2009

A short excerpt from Chapter 12.

The Barrister wiped the sweat from his soggy brow and stepped away from the Taoiseach.
“I’m sorry, I just need to take a drink.” Garrison eyed the Taoiseach steelely, trying to read his thoughts. If there was one subject that Garrison was an expert on, having experienced fifteen years working as an investigative journalist specialising in the Dairy Industry, it was bastards. The Taoiseach’s gaze was fixed on the Barrister. The Premier’s face pointed downwards and he watched the sweaty man from under his converging brow. The most devious of devious smiles cracked across his face. The elderly professional raised a cool condensation speckled glass to his mouth and allowed the refreshing milk gush down his arid throat. Suddenly it dawned on Garrison.
“Noooooooo!” and he leapt athletically across the table and towards him. As Garrison tackled the Barrister, pinning him majestically, he sent the glass flying towards the jury. But he already knew he was too late. The Barrister clutched at his throat and his eyes silently cried out a thousand words of pain to Garrison. But he was helpless to… help him now. The Barrister went limp in Garrison’s soft strong arms and the courtroom went quiet.

Garrison rose and turned towards the dock.
“Acid milk? You son of a bitch!” but the Taoiseach just grinned back.
“Prove it was me John Garrison. I dare you” and he cackled a demonic chorus.
“Order! Order!” thumped the Judge with his funny little wooden hammer. “I have no option but to adjourn this court case.”
“I don’t think so Judge” said Garrison, pulling the cape and wig from the Barrister’s corpse. “I’m going to represent myself!”
The courtroom gasped and the Taoiseach turned white.

“I call to the stand, my one and only witness… this cow!” The courtroom’s double doors swung open and there stood a black and white friesian cow. She strolled through the courtroom and towards the bench. She eyed the people she passed as she trotted on with disappointed accusing eyes that seemed to say ‘I’m going to put the whole damn system on trial.’

The Taoiseach’s Barrister rose and shouted “Objection, your Honour, this is highly irregular; a cow can’t be a witness” but as the Judge peered down at the infant boy sitting on his mother’s lap in the front row who was lifting a bottle of milk to his two year old lips, he banged his little wooden hammer once more and boomed; “Denied! I’ll allow the cow’s testimony!”

Garrison smiled and stared at the Taoiseach. ‘I’ve got you now, you evil, evil dick.’

…Not Also, But Only.

Tainted Milk #3

April 27, 2009

An excerpt from chapter ten.

Garrison looked through his letterbox and saw the mutant killer cow waddle through the hall and into the kitchen. Garrison knew this was his only chance.
“Is he there?” whispered Sandra with a non-verbal hint of the blood curdling terror she was no doubt experiencing.
“It’s a she sweetheart… and its one murderous dairy bitch from hell.”
“Garrison, it’s not the cow’s fault that she’s has been genetically engineered by the renegade government as one their private armies and/or bodyguards to kill enemies of the state like yourself and your now dead father who had found out about their plans to control the population using tainted milk supplies.” said Sandra smoothly and quickly. Note: Exposition is very hard.
“You’re right, that was insensitive of me. Sorry for flying off the handle there.”
Sandra roughly licked the left side of Garrison’s nose. This was the sign of love from her people and it was the first time either had exchanged such a gesture.
“What did I do to deserve you?” said Garrison and he licked her nose back.
“I don’t want to lose you” she whispered, erotically.
“Then for God’s sake keep low, stay close and if you hear so much as a ‘moo’, run like hell. We’re going in.”
Garrison quietly opened the front door and stepped into his house. The government had sent the cow to finish off what the Replicon Assassin was unable to do…kill him that is. Thankfully, Garrison wasn’t home when the cow had arrived, but by God he was now. He edged down the hall and went to draw his gun. It was empty.
“This is empty” he said “But how, I just loaded it before we left.”
Sandra’s head bowed low and she began to sob, erotically.
“I’m so sorry.”
“What the hell have you done?!” whisper shouted Garrison in a manner that was just loud enough for Sandra to know just how bloody annoyed he was, but not loud enough that the killer cow would hear him. Internally Garrison quickly reflected on the many days and nights he had spent perfecting his whisper/shout, getting the consistency and sound levels just right, recording decibels and drawing graphs. His editor at the newspaper had said that he was the top whisper shouter he’d ever come across in fifty years on the job. If you needed someone to be angry in a situation where you had to be quiet, Garrison was the man. But as Garrison looked at the now weeping Sandra, the half woman/half robot that he now knew had sabotaged his mission by emptying his gun of bullets, he remembered who had been by his side while he perfected the whisper shout, who had recorded the decibel counts and who had helped him make his graphs. It was Sandra. If she had sabotaged the gun, maybe she had sabotaged the research and if the research was tainted, then perhaps his whisper shout wasn’t as perfectly pitched as he had thought.

As he turned away from Sandra in disgust, he realised that she had indeed sabotaged his research too. There, less than a foot away, snarled and slobbered the terrifying face of the mutant killer cow. It had clearly heard his whisper shout. Garrison braced himself, this was it, his last moment on earth. And as the cow leaned back and wheeled up for the killer pounce, Garrison closed his eyes and awaited the inevitable.

The cow lurched forward and began laying into flesh with greedy… greed. Blood splattered across the room and the bovine’s mutated fangs ripped through bone and muscle. But Garrison was unharmed. He was still in one piece. Opening the eyes he thought he would never see through again, he saw Sandra, his one and only true love, the half woman/half robot who had stolen his heart only to betray his soul, wedged between the cow’s fatal fangs that thrashed and gashed and ripped her to shreds.

She had clearly thrown herself in front of Garrison, giving her life for his, which was ironic seeing as she had only recently betrayed him. She was being eaten alive, but she made no sound, cried no pain, she just looked deeply into Garrison’s eyes with a look that seemed to whisper… “I’m sorry.”

Garrison rallied himself into action and launched a foot violently into a nearby chair which shattered into a thousand shards of wood. He had very strong legs. Grabbing a jagged chair leg, now razor sharp following the damage his foot had done to it, he threw himself at the beast and wrapped his legs around its shoulders. With the sharpened piece of wood in one hand, Garrison was riding this monster like a bucking bronco and he looked great doing it.
“Hey cow! How about a taste of a steak that’s not very tender, but is bloody and well done” shouted Garrison exhausting all his knowledge of steak terms.
He drove the wooden stake into the cow’s brain with one foul and exciting movement of his arm and almost immediately the cow went limp. As the beast toppled over, very dead, Garrison held Sandra in his soft strong arms. The murderous cow had eaten everything below the waist and she was very quickly bleeding to death. Sandra looked down at where her legs used to be.
“Half a half woman?” she pondered aloud, remarkably philosophically for someone in her condition.
“You’re still more of a woman than anyone I’ve ever known… currently know or am likely to ever know in the future.” said Garrison instantly regretting the last needless bit of the sentence.
“I love you John Garrison. Forgive me” and as her heart exploded, she silently drifted away, erotically.
“Damn you Government!” called Garrison to the heavens and silently he vowed to make sure that Sandra’s life and subsequent death would not be in… vein.

…Not Also, But Only.

In order to make ends meet I have recently been forced to work as a ghost-writer for the Page 3 glamour girl Keeley Quinlan’s upcoming “autobiography”, Breast of Both Worlds (working title). Here are a couple of excerpts from it so far…

Chapter Seven: Get Up and Go

The days following my marriage to Danny were like some sort of drug. He was heroin and I was the junkie and our priest Fr. Quinn was a drug dealer (check for citation). When he said ‘you may now kiss the bride’, Danny’s lips were like a giant slobbery needle injecting his highly addictive saliva right into my veins and I was on a massive high when I was with him. When he was away though it was like I was coming down and I couldn’t cope. It was his prolonged absence while filming Detective Sergeant Kangaroo in Melbourne in 2007 that subsequently led to my debilitating actual heroin addiction, which in hindsight turned out to be absolutely nothing like marriage.

Chapter Ten: All Hands on Deck

The days following my divorce from Danny were like some sort of horrible heroin addiction or something. Following our split I embarked on a string of meaningless and ultimately unfulfilling – charity events. I was the face of everything from Alzheimer’s to Zinc Deficiency. My Agent Jonathon thought that it would change public perception of me. But after a four days of charity press events I sent my authorised look-a-like Vivienne to finish off my remaining commitments and headed off to Minorca for a much earned break. It was here, having been pictured slapping the villa’s elderly housekeeper, that I was forced to sleep with several local Paps in return for the negatives. The housekeeper in question refused a similar settlement in return for her silence so we had to buy her a jet-ski instead. You may think that this was a little extreme, but did you read about it? No, I didn’t think so, and you never will.

Chapter Fifteen: P’s and Q’s

The days following my marriage to Rio were like some sort of wonderful fatal car crash. And a few days later, the days following his funeral were like some sort of terrible charity event. I shut myself away from the world and grieved, only going out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It was hard to believe that this man who had been a part of my life for over a month was now gone. Needless to say I was inconsolable, but I knew that he would want me to go on and that I should use his money to fund something in his honour, something dedicated to him that would stand the test of time, my pop career. The ironic thing was that we were only days away from our scheduled appearance on Celebrity Wife Swap. I told the production company that I would still honour the booking, but they told me that Tess Daly sitting alone in my house for a week would not make for good television. That’s their prerogative I guess.

…Not Also, But Only

Tainted Milk #2

January 30, 2009

I’ve been working on this novel for so long now that I’ve decided to approach it differently to see if  I can enjoy more success. I’m going to try starting at the end and work backwards. This is an explosive and emotional excerpt from the final, but as yet unnumbered, chapter of Tainted Milk.

Garrison threw his arms around the Replicon Assassin and they embraced boldly and tenderly.

“I owe you my life, you son of a bitch.” wheezed Garrison. The weather vein had just missed his stomach and all his major organs but it was still quite restricting on his breathing.

“Hey!” said the Replicon Assassin sharply, but with a clandestine hint of humour that suggested that he wasn’t actually mad. “That’s no way to talk about our Mom.”

“Our Mom?” reeled Garrison, spluttering blood. As I said, the weather vein that now impaled Garrison to the gigantic milk container had miraculously missed all major organs, but Garrison was still bleeding internally from the injuries he sustained when he had jumped in front of the Replicon Assassin who was being shot at by the Mayor, using himself as a human shield. “What do you mean, our Mom?” but deep down, Garrison already knew the answer. The Replicon Assassin looked deeply into Garrison’s eyes with the kind of stare that could only be half robot.

“John Garrison, there’s something I have to tell you…” but Garrison quickly silenced him with a swift finger to his lips.

“Shhh… You don’t have to explain a thing… Brother.”

With the government now dead and the infected milk supplies destroyed, Garrison was quickly elected Prime Minister of Ireland. But how long would the peace last?

…Not Also, But Only.

Tainted Milk #1

December 20, 2008

This is a short excerpt from a sci-fi adventure spy romance novel that I’m working on. Its about a journalist who uncovers a government plot to use the milk supply to control the population. I’ve been working on this novel for over five years now and had originally intended it as an uncomprimising bleak view of the future but now, unfortunately, having spend so long trying to write it, its now actually set later this year, so its lost a little bit of its future punch.

The Replicon assassin stepped through the lunch-time rush and right up to Garrison’s table.

“You the journalist who wrote the exposé on the infected milk supplies?” Garrison eyed the Replicon steelelely. He knew it was a rhetorical question. That’s the only type of question robots ask. Garrison had know* choice. It was either go quietly to certain death, or risk the lives of everyone in the small café by trying to shoot his way out. And even though the government had already risked each and everyone of these people’s lives already with the contaminated milk supplies by giving it to them in the first place without a care for their safety. He wasn’t willing to do that. That would make him as bad as them. And he wasn’t. He was better than them. Much better. They were far below his level. He turned to Sandra, half Replicon, half the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and kissed her softly on her human side.

“I have to go my sweet. ” he breathed into her ear.
“No…” she protested passionately.
“Shhh, this is what true love really means.”
“I love you John Garrison. I always will.” They embraced boldly and tenderly and let their passions unfurl right there in the café. Garrison’s soft strong arms entwined with Sandra’s and their necks aligned as if they had been designed to do so, slotting alongside each other like ying and yang, human and half human, hero and woman.

The Replicon assassin, who ironically would later become an ally of Garrison’s, had seen enough and dragged Garrison out the door with every intention of slaying him. He never got the chance.

*purpously mis-spelled. While Garrison had no choice. He also knew he had no choice.

…Not Also, But Only.