Mark Terry

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DIRE STRAITS: A Derek Stillwater Novella

August 17, 2011
Hi everybody! I've started a project. I will be publishing a serialized Derek Stillwater novella (unless it grows to a novel) here on my blog titled DIRE STRAITS. I can't promise you it will be posted every day (unlikely), but probably 2 or 3 times (hopefully) a week until I complete it. When it is completed I will probably also publish it as an e-book. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this story. It's a little bit different (sort of) than the Derek Stillwater novels in that it's a flashback (prequel). I think we'll all learn a little bit more about Derek here. Enjoy (and wish me luck).

p.s. And tell your friends!



Mark Terry 

            The stolen kayak rode hard in the swells. Derek Stillwater slouched in the cockpit, gazing south toward Cuba only a few miles behind him. He was fairly certain he had avoided the Cuban Navy, but he couldn’t count on it. There were boat lights out there and he could only hope that a kayak wouldn’t show up on their radar before he made it to international waters.
            It was almost midnight and dark roiling clouds blotted out the stars. The clouds didn’t bode well. A storm was brewing. A big one.
            It was approximately one hundred miles of open water, sharks and bad weather to cross the Florida Straits back to the U.S. Not to mention that the Cuban government would like to catch him, arrest him for espionage, torture him, try him – probably in that order – and have him shot by firing squad, no last requests, no hand-rolled Cohiba cigar.
            He dug in his paddle, keeping the dark smudge and dim lights of Havana to his back.
* * *
Five Days Earlier
            The flight from Toronto, Canada landed at the Jose Marti International Airport southwest of Havana, clunking down heavily on the runway. In the airport, Derek Stillwater, wearing a summer weight tan suit, presented his passport.
            The Cuban inspector studied it. “Senor Peter Hamill.”
            Derek nodded.
            “The purpose of your trip?”
            “Your business?”
            “I’m with a biotechnology company located in Toronto, Ontario.”
            “Where will you be staying?”
            “The Riviera Hotel.”
            “Length of stay?”
            “One week, two if necessary.”
            After some suspicious mulling, the inspector stamped his passport and allowed him into the country. It was 1992. The Soviet Union was in financial disarray and their relationship and economic support to Cuba had become tenuous at best. Dr. Derek Stillwater, PhD, fresh out of the U.S. Army after Operation Desert Storm, was attached to the Central Intelligence Agency, an expert on biological and chemical warfare and terrorism.
            The U.S. was concerned about Cuba’s biotech industry. Derek and other analysts believed Cuba was developing biological weapons. Derek’s job was to confirm it.
            Outside the airport, Derek stopped to let the tropical breeze kiss his cheeks and ruffle his hair. The air was a little smoggy – there were surprisingly more cars than he had expected, although many of them seemed to be U.S. vintage 1950s and ‘60s – he saw a 1956 Chevy Bel Air, the only one he could recognize, but there were plenty of others.
            A line of taxis waited. He strolled toward a white cab, a Volkswagen. His Spanish was slim and not part of his cover anyway. The cabbie quickly shifted over to English and they negotiated a price to the Riviera Hotel.
* * *
            The Riviera Hotel was a high-rise in blue and white, vaguely reminiscent of 1950s architecture, or what Derek thought might merely be Pre-Revolution Glitz. He checked in at the desk. Just as he was turning over his passport, someone behind him cleared his throat.
            “Senor Hamill?”
            Derek turned. The speaker was a short, Cuban man wearing a dark slacks, a white shirt and what looked like a cashmere sport coat. “Si? Who are you?”
            The man held out his hand. “I am Juan Osorio. I will be your liaison with the Centro de Biotecnologia Cuba.” The CBC, the company Derek was to inspect because the CIA believed it was a front for the development of offensive biological weapons. And what were the odds, he thought, -- was Senor Osorio actually with the CBC or somehow affiliated with the Direccion de Intelligencia, Cuba’s intelligence organization? The safe money bet on Juan Osorio being with the DI.
            “Pleased to meet you,” Derek said, shaking his hand.

Copyright Mark Terry 2011

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Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Cool. Intriguing start. I hope Derek's crossing goes better than Diana Nyad's.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Thanks. Glad you like it.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Brendan Mackey said...

Great idea! I'm was planning on doing the same thing starting this Fall. I look forward to hearing about how this works out for you.

6:20 PM  

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