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Sample - Easy Killing


Easy Killing 



Thirty miles east of Edinburgh, beyond the horizon visible from the coast line, the ocean going powerboat sliced through the lazy swell of the North Sea. The boat’s course of north by north west on a line of 335 degrees took it directly from a minor port in Holland, to Aberdeen.

The man on the bridge, dressed in full yellow reflective survival kit, had been riding with the throttle fully forward for the last six hours; his concentration was intense. The retractable hard-top canopy of the bridge was open along its tracks for a distance of one metre.

            The man checked his watch, and, right on time, his only other crew member, female, came up from the galley below. The woman spread her legs, steadying herself in the bouncing boat, and then gripped a chrome safety-rail with her right hand. She lifted her right leg and nudged the man with her knee. He turned, and took one of the half-full enamel mugs containing hot coffee, from her left hand. He smiled, and turned away again, still concentrating on the boat’s compass and heading.

            The woman raised her voice above the thunderous roar of the engine and the noise of the slipstream. “Where are we?”

            The man turned, and the boat’s slipstream whipped his long hair across his face. The woman reached up and gently teased the brown strands out of his eyes.

            The man nodded toward the west and bellowed, “The Firth of Forth. We cross the current in about fifteen minutes. Even the wind is with us today. Look.”

            The female turned and looked to the stern. Her blonde hair lashed over her forehead, and the wind created a distinct parting across the back of her skull. She nodded, smiling, as she saw the wake of the powerful V 12 engines drifting in a westerly direction. “Maybe five more hours, yes?” she shouted.

            The man took his left hand off the ship’s wheel, and wiped caked salt from around his mouth. His lady companion placed a beautifully manicured finger on his lips and gently brushed away a few grains that he’d missed. She put her mouth close to his ear. “Have I missed bad weather?” she said loudly.

            The man lifted his head above the sloping toughened glass screen in front of him. He grinned at her. He raised his voice. “Not really, I just could not resist the sting of the spray – so refreshing.” And, as if on request, sea spray lashed his face. He ducked down below the screen, and wiped his face. “Try it. It awakens your senses.”

            The woman smiled, and waved a dismissive hand. “I’ll pass.”

The boat, ‘The Little Dutch Girl’, shot off the top of a wave, props screaming at the lack of water resistance, and then bottomed out with a thump. The sea trough was nearly ten feet deep. Coffee slopped out of their mugs, but neither the man nor the woman showed the slightest concern. This would be their fifteenth trip in seven years, and their last run. Far better run out of enthusiasm before you run out of luck.

            Fifteen minutes later, the woman eased the engine speed back to a fraction more than idle, as the man lashed a water-tight fish box to a round orange buoy. The buoy had a small flag moulded into its top.  The box was a metre long, by a sixty centimetres wide, and twenty centimetres deep. The buoy was the size of a child’s Space Hopper, and made from heavy duty rubber. The man struggled. He wiggled the box from side to side to get it to the rear of the slowly rocking boat. He looked to the bridge, where the woman studied the GPS, constantly taking readings. She looked over the man’s shoulder, and watched as seven polystyrene coffee cups she’d previously thrown overboard drifted in a south westerly direction. Satisfied, she turned to the radar, and then checked her watch. She frowned, shaking her head.

            As the man let the box thump onto the deck, the woman turned, and again looked at the drifting cups. She pulled the throttle back to idle. For two minutes, the only sound to be heard was the slap of water against the hull. The man leaned back against the engine cowling, watching. He picked up on the woman's sudden start at the radar, and stood bolt upright. She showed thumbs up, and shouted. “Got him!” She pressed an LED button to the right of the wheel three times; seconds later the LED blinked six times. The man tipped the box forward, over the stern. He darted back to the six boxes stacked in the middle of the boat, and repeated the operation as many times.

The woman shouted again. “Your camera! Your camera!”

He ran to the bridge, grabbed a sealed Nikon DSLR and clicked away as the woman pushed the throttle forward. The stern of the ‘Girl’ dipped, as the twin screws bit into the water of the North Sea. The racing bow lifted out of the water, and the boat roared forward.

The man shot two frames every five seconds until the buoys were out of sight. His last shots were taken from atop the captain’s seat. For the next hour, at three minute intervals, he would take snaps of their position showing up on the GPS. Each hard-copy print of his photographs would show the date and time.

            Ten miles away to the south west of the Little Dutch Girl, and running at a steady speed against the current that was easing toward it, the fishing coble ‘Border Reiver’ sat low in the water as Skipper Andy Johnson steered his course. Andy held a thermos flask in his right hand, as he unscrewed the top with his left. His elbows rested on the ship’s wheel, as he studied the radar.

Two years previous, Andy had spent three months, and a substantial amount of money, at his local nautical college on a course entitled the International Yachtsman’s Skipper’s ticket. Andy’s resultant qualifications now allowed him to take a motor vessel, or sailing ship, out into shipping lanes without supervision. Today, as far as his friends and family were concerned, Andy was simply keeping up his required hours at sea, as per his ticket’s yearly requirements - and maybe get a little net fishing in; something he did twice a year.

The Reiver’s radar had highlighted the ‘The Little Dutch Girl’ five minutes earlier. Andy had watched the boat steer a fast tangent across the top right quadrant of his radar’s sweep, pause for a minute or two, then just as quickly disappear from the small green screen.

Andy looked around his small self-made wheel house; a two-metre by two-metre box made from exterior grade plywood, and fitted with a felt roof, and an open-to-the-elements entrance. He found the boat’s log, and made his day’s entry. He looked to the sinking sun and picked up a Nikon camera. He shot six frames of the sun just above the hills on the distant shoreline, then turned ninety degrees, and shot another half dozen of the Bass Rock.  Turning to the boxed in engine sited mid-way between the wheelhouse and the stern, Andy pushed a lever with the flat of his left foot and the Reiver picked up speed. He sat back on a high, chrome, free-spinning chair. He wedged the ship’s wheel under his right arm-pit, and lit up a joint. Wedging his booted feet against the engine boxing, he felt the escaping heat begin to warm the soles of his feet. Andy settled down for the steady journey to a point north-east of his present position.

Within sixty minutes, after zig-zagging back and forth across the current, Andy spotted the orange buoys jettisoned from the Little Dutch Girl. In the course of another thirty minutes, he had hauled his catch on board. He slid the fish boxes to the far side of the engine, where a tarpaulin covered ten more fish-boxes, two of which contained cod fish freshly caught that morning. Locking the wheel to allow the Reiver to circle, Andy spent fifteen minutes sharing the contents of the fish-boxes from the Dutch Maid, amongst the other ten boxes. The contents were laid along the bottom of the fish-boxes before the cod were divided and put on the top. Each box was sprinkled with crushed ice taken from three cool boxes. The orange buoys were then cut adrift, and the fish-boxes from the The Little Dutch Girl were smashed and thrown overboard.

To complete the masquerade, Andy threw nets overboard, and again trawled in a zig-zag fashion, for another hour, in a south-westerly direction. He relaxed, lit up another joint, and checked the reddening sky in the west. He smiled, nodded, and mumbled, “Red sky at night, Andy’s delight.”

Now nearly seventy miles apart, The Little Dutch Girl and the Border Reiver continually increased the distance between them. On board the ‘Girl’, the man steered the boat on a new course, still to the same destination, but closer to, and following, the Scottish coast line.

The woman brought the man’s cell phone up from the sleeping quarters, took over the wheel, and handed the phone to him. He tapped in a text to a lady based in Rotterdam. In turn, the English speaking lady in Rotterdam, put in a call to a man in London, and simply said. “The fish are back in the water.” Two hours after he’d received the call from Rotterdam, the man in London received a call from a phone box in Leith, Scotland. The caller was Andy Johnson.

Andy said, “No fish in the water.” and hung up.

The man smiled, raised the glass of whiskey he was holding, and said, “Cheers.”


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