Join Douglas Misquita, author of the thriller Haunted as he virtually tours the blogosphere in December 2011 on his first tour with Pump Up Your Book!
About Douglas Misquita
The desire to write and tell entertaining stories was inspired by Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. A series of short stories followed through school, college and university eventually culminating in the first full length novel ‘Ingram’ which was reworked, retitled and released as ‘Haunted’ which has been very well received by fans of the genre.
Douglas currently works in the wireless telecommunications industry and besides writing, plays guitar and sings with a group of music enthusiasts, is a movie buff and enjoys traveling to places steeped in history.
Find out more at www.douglasmisquita.com
In the Eastern bloc, a rogue dictator state is stockpiling Citex, a deadly nerve agent…
Across the globe, an international trade house funnels Balkan organized crime activities through its business channels and now hatches a plot to distribute Citex to major cities in the world, creating a nexus with terror that threatens to bring the world order to the point of anarchy.
And only one man stands in the way of global terror and paranoia. One man seeking redemption and waging a personal battle against the demons of his past.
Get your adrenaline rush as the plot unfolds breathlessly from the gritty streets of Los Angeles to the remote fringes of Russia, from the depths of the Pacific to the skies over Panama and from the sun baked desert to the exotic villages of Costa Rica.
Watch the Trailer Here
Read an Excerpt
Inside the black BMW 5 series sedan, three men sat restlessly. They had been waiting in the car for nearly an hour, watching the doors to the restaurant on the other side of the road. A box with cold French fries that had lost their crispness long back lay on the dashboard next to a half-empty pack of cigarettes. One of the men reached for the cigarette pack, pulled out a cigarette and fired up. The flame from the lighter cast his features in flickering red-orange momentarily. He took a deep drag, exhaling blue smoke toward the roof, stuck the cigarette back between his teeth and looked out the windscreen, past the flick-flick of the wipers. The curtain of rain undulated in a sudden gust of wind.
Outside people were rushing down the sidewalks quickly, hugging themselves against the pelting rain, meeting the downpour head-on, or battling it with umbrellas that threatened to blow inside-out. Cars zipped by, their lights a streak in a time-exposure photograph. The lights from the shops stood out like blurred irregular yellow circles in the rain.
A police cruiser came up behind the BMW, its headlights throwing illumination into the car. The men in the BMW tensed slightly. The cruiser’s headlights went out and darkness returned to the BMW. In the dark, the man in the back seat instinctively touched the weapon he was carrying in a holster strapped around his chest. Three pairs of eyes locked onto the rear-view mirror as the cruiser’s door opened and a fat officer whose belly overflowed the straining leather of his belt by nearly two inches climbed out into the rain. There was a distinct metallic clack as the man in the back seat cocked his weapon and held it out of sight below the rear window. He looked back into the mirror and his eyes locked with those of the men in the front seats. The man in the passenger seat shook his head slightly indicating that he put the gun back.
The fat officer glanced fleetingly at the BMW as he slammed the door shut and then turned on his heel and ran toward the general store behind them, ducking his head against the downpour. They watched him go inside and turned their attention to the female officer who was sitting inside peering into the BMW, a frown on her face, her fingers tapping a beat on the steering wheel. They saw her reach for a crumpled magazine on the dashboard and unfold it, hiding her face.
They could only see her fingers holding the edges of the magazine. Then abruptly, she threw the magazine back and reached for the radio handset, spoke into it, nodded and then replaced it. She spoke quickly into the radio again and a few seconds later the fat cop came running back, shielding a brown paper baggie that was already developing a dark spreading wet stain. He got into the car, slammed the door shut, and exchanged a few words with his partner. The engine growled and the light bars mounted on the roof came to life flashing red and blue as the cruiser took a sharp U-turn in the rain and raced away its siren wailing.
The man in the back seat relaxed and slipped his weapon back into its holster.
The taillights of the cruiser had just disappeared around a corner when the doors to the restaurant under surveillance opened. The occupants of the BMW sat up, alert. The man they were waiting for emerged, ducking against the rain, holding a jacket over his wife’s head and his. Their five-year-old daughter was cocooned between them, clutching her father’s trousers. The men in the car watched as the family made its way awkwardly, but at a quick pace, heads bowed against the rain, to a silver Ford Explorer parked nearby along the sidewalk. They heard the shrill chirp of the alarm being disarmed; the taillights flashed thrice. They watched the family climb into the truck. The engine started up and the rear lights blinked on. The Explorer pulled out onto the road and headed past the BMW, going the other way.
The man in the driver’s seat turned the key in the ignition, swung the BMW around and followed the truck at a safe distance.
In the Explorer, special agent Kirk Ingram took his eyes off the road and the red taillights of the car in front of him momentarily and glanced at his wife Madeline in the passenger seat and then at the reflection of his daughter Lisa in the back seat, in the rear-view mirror. Lisa was playing with Freddy, the stuffed teddy bear she kept in the Explorer to keep herself occupied when they went out. A smile crossed his face.
“What are you thinking about?” his wife asked, not looking at him. She was absentmindedly playing with her hair, curling it around her fingers.
“I’m thinking that I’ve been blessed immensely with two wonderful and beautiful women.”
She looked at him, cocked an eyebrow. Ingram looked at her and was reminded of the time he had first met her. She had given him the same coquettish look and he had felt irresistibly drawn toward her. At thirty-five, Madeline looked as beautiful as on the day they had first met. And the years had given her an independent, mature look, making her all the more appealing.
“You’ve been working too hard, Kirk. That’s all.”
“No, I’m serious.”
She looked straight ahead. “Saying that isn’t going to let you off the hook,” she said teasingly. At the same time both of them knew she was serious. “You’ve got to make it up to the two of us.” She nodded at their daughter. She looked at him.
Ingram leaned over and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “And I promise you I will. As I said earlier: no more assignments. Not for a long while. I’ve put in for a desk job so that I can spend more time with you and Lisa.”
“I hope so, Kirk,” she said with a trace of doubt in her tone.
“Hey,” he said, “what is this?”
She shook her head apologetically.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just that I feel much more secure knowing that you’re not lying wounded or dead in some godforsaken place.”
Ingram sighed and rubbed her shoulder. “Don’t think that,” he said, rolling his eyes toward Lisa. “I’m here now.”
She looked out the window at the lights flashing by.
From the back, Lisa said, “Daddy, Stacy’s building a tree house.”
“A friend of yours?”
“From school; you’ve met her so often.”
“Oh.” He looked at her in the mirror. He found it a bit disconcerting that he could forget. “Most probably a one room run-off-the-mill house, right?”
“What’s run of the mill?”
“Daddy means ‘ordinary’,” Madeline explained helpfully.
“I guess,” the little girl replied.
“Well then, we’ll get you a bigger one. I’ll start on it second thing in the morning.”
“Why not first thing in the morning?”
“I’ve got to fix you a breakfast fit for a queen first.”
Lisa smiled and rocked Freddy the bear.
In the passenger seat, her mother also allowed herself the pleasure of a smile though she had the unsettling feeling that all it would take was one phone call and her husband would be back on the trail of some terrorist who thought nothing of killing an innocent baby because he didn’t like the way the baby looked at him. And she would be waiting at home dreading the phone call that informed her solemnly that he wasn’t coming home.
‘No,’ she thought firmly, shaking the thought away. He was willing to give it a try, and she’d be damned if she didn’t help him. One thing was sure; she was going to make it really hard for anyone to take him away from her. And maybe she was being optimistic, she thought as she stared past the flick-flick of the windscreen wipers, hoping for too much, but she felt she could persuade him to switch careers. Go in for something more benign. But when she looked back at him, at his strong features and unruly black hair, she shook her head imperceptibly. He’d never do that. But she’d think of something.
“David’s Mom told me a lot of people want to kill you, Daddy. Is that right?”
“No, Lisa,” Madeline said before Kirk could reply. “David’s Mom’s got that wrong.” Mentally she made a note to call David’s mother the next morning and put her straight while her husband and daughter worked on Lisa’s tree house.
“David says Daddy’s going to get killed by a knife or bullet.”
Ingram glanced at Madeline. His look said, ‘Who are these people?’
“Did he say that?” Madeline said.
“Well he’s wrong just like his Mom. Now I don’t want you talking to David anymore, okay?”
“He keeps talking to me.”
“I’ll call his Mom and tell both of them to stop talking to you.”
Ingram’s eyes flicked toward the rear-view mirror and they narrowed imperceptibly. He was being paranoid, he thought, imagining they were being followed. He mentally kicked himself: ‘Don’t screw it up; you make one wrong move and you’ll lose them both. It’s come to that.’ Unknown to Madeline, Kirk had found out that she was visiting a marriage counsellor. He had tracked the counsellor down and it had taken some pushing, but he managed to find out that his wife was at the point of leaving him when she made her first appointment with the counsellor. It was only because of Lisa that she hadn’t filed for divorce right away. And it was this that prompted Kirk to take a hold of himself because whatever anyone thought, Madeline included, Kirk loved his wife and kid dearly.
He sat back deeper into the seat and concentrated on the road, trying to think of something to talk about. ‘Strange,’ he thought, ‘I don’t know what to talk to my wife and daughter.’ In fact he was at the same loss earlier at dinner. But Madeline had a lot to tell him, so his problem went unnoticed.
His eyes strayed over to the mirror again and he realized the BMW was nearer. ‘Drop it,’ he told himself. ‘This is a free road.’ They had as much right to be on the freeway as he had. But his survival instincts burned into him from years of experience were automatically coming to the fore even though he tried to shake the thought away.
His phone rang. His wife’s features visibly darkened and he knew what she was thinking. He let that pass and answered the call, putting the phone to his ear. He heard a deep male voice at the other end. “Listen carefully and do as I tell you and no harm will come to your wife and daughter.”
“Listen.” The voice was calm. “We are tailing you and have enough firepower to send you and your family to hell, Mr. Ingram. That will happen if you act over-smart or call for help. If you want proof that this is not a joke, look into the rear-view mirror on your side.”
Ingram’s eyes flicked over to the external rear-view mirror, his mind racing. He saw the BMW behind, its lights probing like spotlights through the rain, very close now. He could barely make out the shadowy figures inside. As he watched, the car’s headlights flashed thrice, and the next instant, the rear view mirror exploded. Ingram instinctively recoiled as shards of glass flew backward and a big hole appeared in the plastic housing of the mirror.
He glanced at Madeline and saw that her face was a personification of shock and confusion. He looked back at Lisa but she hadn’t noticed anything. It was a good thing the windows were rolled up because of the rain. He glanced at the traffic on either side of him and considered his chances of dodging through the flow. No, he thought, the BMW was too close, practically bumper-to-bumper, and if these guys were expecting any evasive manoeuvres from him, it would all be over in seconds.
“Kirk,” Madeline began in a worried voice, but he put up his palm.
“What do you want me to do?” he said into the phone.
“There is an abandoned scrap-yard one mile north, off this road. Arakaki Scrap-yard. You know it. Drive there!”
Ingram knew the place: Arakaki Scrap-yard was set up by a Japanese immigrant and was not far. It had recently been closed and abandoned when Arakaki’s land deals with corrupt government officials had been exposed. “And then what?”
“Later. And no tricks, Mr. Ingram. Their lives are in your hands.” A click. The line went dead.
“Who was it?” Madeline asked.
“I don’t know.” His voice was tight. If he were alone, he would have resorted to his usual dare-devilry. But now his worst fears of someone harming his family to get at him, was coming true. He discarded the idea of calling the police as soon as it occurred to him. They would show up with their sirens blaring and lights flashing and the guys in the BMW would panic. Maybe they would flee, and then again, maybe they would just blast the Explorer to molecules.
His only option was to call for inside help. “Madeline,” he said in a low voice so that he wouldn’t upset Lisa. There was no sense in beating around the bush so he decided to lay it out for her plain and simple. “Don’t look back. There’s a black BMW behind us. They want me to drive to the Arakaki Scrap-yard otherwise they’re going to kill us all.”
Madeline twisted round in her seat, her eyes wide with fear. “What?”
Lisa looked up, noting the tremor in her mother’s voice.
“Don’t look back. Just listen.”
She looked at him, their eyes met. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. But it wasn’t working.
Ingram said, “I don’t know what they want, but they said they’d leave the two of you out of it, whatever it is.”
She reached for her phone, her hand shaking uncontrollably. He grabbed her hand and shook his head. “No police. They warned me they’d kill us if we call the cops.”
“Oh my God, Kirk.”
“Listen to me: Call Richard. Keep the phone out of sight of the rear windows. Tell him the problem and tell him to come to Arakaki with backup. Use your phone.” She held the phone low as she pushed the keys. She slouched in the seat and held the phone to her ear so that the backrest hid what she was doing.
The call did not connect.
Ingram took a deep breath. They were almost at the scrap-yard.
“Okay,” he said, “When we reach the yard, I’ll get out of the car and try to stall them. That’s the time you call Richard again.”
“Yes, I’ll call him, but–”
“Madeline.” He gave her a reassuring look. “Trust me.”
“Okay, good. Now I want you to get behind the wheel when I step out of the car.”
“Why must I–”
“Madeline,” he said as he turned off the freeway and onto the exit that led to the scrap-yard, “If anything happens to me, just drive away. Okay?”
“You heard me. Don’t look back. Just drive away. Go to the police.”
Then there was no time for further argument. Up ahead, they saw the scrap-yard.
He turned the Explorer into the scrap-yard, under the run down, rust-pocked metal signpost arching over the gateposts. The headlights of the Explorer threw yellow illumination over the junk cars and scrap metal piled up all over the place, as if they were thrown there by a kid who had cleared his room up of all the toy cars he had outgrown.
Ingram’s eyes darted all over, searching the mounds of scrap for movement. But he couldn’t see too well in the rain. Behind, the BMW sedan turned into the scrap-yard, and turned broad side so that it blocked the entrance. Ingram cursed. He turned to look at Madeline. She was sitting rigid in her seat, her breath coming in gasps. He reached over and held her hand. She flinched.
“The BMW’s blocking the way out,” he said in as calm a tone as he could muster. “But it can’t stand up to a head on collision with the Explorer.”
She gave no indication that she understood.
“Daddy,” Lisa said in a small voice looking at the towering stacks of junk cars around them. “Why have we come here?”
With dented front grilles, smashed-out headlights, shattered windscreens and caved-in roofs, the scrap vehicles looming over her looked evil. The rain fell hard on the metal and sounded like the beating of a thousand cannibal drums amplified in the close confines of the clearing.
“Somebody wants to meet me here, sweetie.”
“Who?” she persisted, her nose pressed to the windows.
“We’ll know soon enough.” He turned the car around so that it pointed back the way they’d come, slipped off his seat belt, twisted the handle, opened the door and stepped out into the rain, walking away from the car. Even as he slammed the door shut, Madeline was climbing over the gearshift into the driver’s seat.
Ingram stood in the rain, looking around. He didn’t have to look at Madeline to know she was frantically pushing re-dial on her phone. He wiped rain from his face. He looked at the BMW, but the doors didn’t open. He waited for almost a minute.
“It’s been a long time, Kirk,” said a sonorous voice.
He spun around.
There were three men standing behind him. He recognized the shorter man almost immediately Danny Miller, Los Angeles’ most feared mobster until the FBI had come down on him in an explosive raid. Ingram had headed the raid. And the moment he recognized Miller, Ingram spun back around toward the Explorer and shouted, “Madeline get out of here! Now!” He ran toward the car, waving his hands wildly, gesturing emphatically toward the entrance. “Get out!”
He saw Madeline open the door and beckon to him, misunderstanding. He saw Lisa, her face pressed against the window, her mouth moving, forming words he could not hear. Madeline put one leg over the gearshift to climb back into the passenger seat. He shouted again at the top of his voice and she looked in the direction he was pointing.
Now he saw the three men from the BMW climb out of the car. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. He saw automatic weapons rise up into position, the metal glinting in the Explorer’s lights. He heard Miller cackle loudly behind him, taunting him.
Images from years before flashed before his eyes: The raid on Miller’s hideout. Heavily armed FBI agents swarming the compound engaging Miller’s men, the bursts of gunfire, the screams, the shouts, the blood. Miller’s three-year-old twins clutching their father, tears staining their faces as he led them away from the fighting. Miller’s wife running behind them. The crossfire that hit her in the head and neck. Her gurgling screams echoing in the courtyard. Miller turning around. The wild look in his eyes as he beheld his wife lying in a pool of blood. One of Miller’s kids running toward his mother. The explosion that knocked Miller back shattered Ingram’s femur and tore the kid apart. The bullets from Miller’s gun that dropped three agents in succession. The bullet from Ingram’s gun that was intended for Miller but took the other kid in the chest. The spent cartridge from that bullet flying before his eyes, spinning in the air, falling to the ground with a metallic clink. Miller charging toward him.
“Noooooo!” he screamed.
Madeline suddenly comprehended what was about to happen and pulled the door shut, her face masked in panic and fear. Ingram heard the Explorer roar. The wheels spun, throwing up plumes of muck, caught in, and the vehicle raced toward the BMW.
The three men standing near the BMW opened fire.
He heard the dull thunks of the bullets punching into the front of the Explorer. He heard the sound of glass shattering over his scream. One of the headlights blew. The Explorer skidded in the mud, fishtailed out of control, hit a heap of derelict chassis, rose into the air on two wheels and landed on its side, sliding through the muck. The men jumped aside. The Explorer hit a derelict that was lying with its hood half buried in the muck. The derelict acted as a crude ramp and the Explorer went over partially and came to a halt with the shriek of metal. It lay at an angle on its left side, the beam of light from the single headlight shone into the air, reflecting off the falling, callous rain.
Ingram ran hard. He heard Miller shout out something. He saw the men barring his way, had a vague impression of something swinging. Something hit him in the chest, and he saw stars, fell on his face, pain exploding through him.
He looked at the Explorer. The rear windows were smashed into spider’s web formations. He could not see her, but he had to get to her. His eyes were glazing over from the hit and blackness threatened to creep around the corners of his vision. He could not breathe. He felt burning pain in his scalp as someone grabbed him by his hair and yanked him to his feet so that he was looking at the Explorer. He struggled and tried to lash out with his feet, but one of the men hit him on the nape of his neck with the butt of a gun and he crumpled to his knees, his torso held up by his hair. He felt a wave of nausea and coughed up bile. Blackness swept over him and then lifted, like a flash storm.
“You know what kept me alive after you put those two bullets into me, Kirk?” Miller shouted. “It was my hatred for you. And my resolve to avenge my family.”
“Your family was a mistake and you know that,” Ingram shouted back desperately.
“But you killed them and you know that!”
“Daddy!” Her voice was distant. Pleading.
“How touching,” Miller was saying. Ingram realized Miller was pretty near. “Daddy thinks he has the situation in hand, Lisa. But he doesn’t!”
That was followed by a vicious kick to Ingram’s ribs. Ingram doubled over in pain, coughing up blood.
“I’m going to get my revenge, Kirk. You are going to watch your daughter and your wife die and then you are going to die. This is payback.”
Ingram tried to lunge for him, but was easily overpowered by a kick in the mouth. He lay there on the ground, tasting the blood in his mouth and spat out a tooth. He watched two of the men walk toward the car. Suddenly he could make out his daughter’s form in the front seat of the Explorer through the cracked windscreen. Miller smiled and put his foot in the small of Ingram’s back, pinning him down. Ingram felt the cold barrel of a gun touch the base of his skull. The other men pinned his hands and feet down.
The men wrenched the driver’s door of the Explorer open and Madeline’s limp form tumbled out onto the door. They dragged her out. Lisa jumped out and crouched over her mother. One of the men pulled her back and she screamed. In the rain Ingram could see she was crying.
“Danny,” Ingram said, his voice pleading. “Please. Take–”
“Oh shut up!” Miller said dismissively. Ingram felt the pressure on his skull ebbing as Miller took the gun off his neck.
Then there was a loud bang.
Ingram saw his daughter’s body twist grotesquely from the impact of the bullet. He saw the spray of blood, watched her small body spin forever and fall to the muck and lie there, never to move again. He screamed – a wild animal scream. He thrashed madly, trying to free himself. He saw the men pull his wife up. Her head and hands hung limply. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks.
“Miller!” His voice was breaking. He heard the click of Miller’s gun being cocked again. They heard the roar of an engine. All heads turned. Bright headlights blinded them as a Honda Civic turned into the yard, headed right for them. Gunshots rang out from the Civic and one of the men near the Explorer clutched his neck and fell. Another shot, and another man dropped lifeless.
Then Miller fired thrice in the direction of the Explorer, swung his gun toward the Civic and was barking out orders to his men as he repeatedly pulled the trigger. Madeline’s body jerked twice with the bullets. The man, who had been holding her up, dropped her body and ran for cover, firing wildly at the intruder as he went. The car screeched to a halt, bullet holes in the windscreen. One more shot and another of Miller’s men fell. More gunfire and Miller fell back clutching his shoulder in agony. The pressure on Ingram’s limbs began to ease off as the other men began to back out of the clearing urged on by the lead spewing from the Civic. Return fire from Miller’s gang punched big holes into the Civic and blew one of the tires.
Ingram’s world turned red. He kicked out and spun over onto his back, and found himself staring down the snub barrel of Miller’s gun. He moved just as Miller squeezed the trigger. The explosion was deafening and the muzzle flash blinded him. The bullet grazed his ear and ploughed into the muck. His ear felt like it was held between red-hot tongs.
There would be no second chance.
Ingram buckled his knees up, twisted his waist and fired his feet straight into Miller’s midriff. Miller flipped backward, the gun flew out of his grasp. Ingram pounced on him, straddled his chest and his hands closed around the man’s neck, choking life out of him. Insane rage turned Ingram into an animal. Miller clapped his palms over Ingram’s ears hard, the air pressure nearly bursting Ingram’s eardrums. His ears already ringing from the sound of the gun going off in close proximity, Ingram let go of his stranglehold on Miller and the mobster hit out at Ingram’s solar plexus. Ingram coughed and gasped for breath. Miller punched him in the gut and pushed him easily aside and grabbed for the gun that lay in the mud near the body of one of his goons. As Miller raised it, he saw FBI agent Sean Walter swinging his automatic at him. Both men fired at the same time. Walter missed. Miller’s shot took the agent in the head and threw him back across the hood of the car, splattering the windscreen with brain matter. Walter’s body slid down to the ground, swayed unsteadily on its knees and then fell face first.
Agent Richard Depalma ducked behind the wheel on the far side of the Civic when his partner was thrown across the car. He had been too late to warn Walter, but if he didn’t do something now, Kirk would soon join the body count. From where he was, Depalma could see the bodies of Madeline and Lisa lying face down near the Explorer. He pumped out his spent magazine, pushed a new one in, chambered a round, turned, and fired over the hood. His shots were wide but they sent Miller running behind the junk. Taking a deep breath, he stood up behind the car and panned his weapon in sweeping arcs.
No one. Just the sound of the rain.
Ingram was coming around.
“Kirk, you okay?”
His eyes darting all over the place, Depalma ran out of cover, over to Ingram. He grabbed Walter’s gun as he ran past the body.
“Backup is on the way,” he said, helping Ingram to sit up and shoving the gun into his hand. “We were nearby when Madeline called.”
“He killed them,” Ingram said in a voice devoid of expression, looking dumbly at the gun. “He killed them, Richard. He–”
“I know,” Depalma said, nodding. He glanced at Lisa’s body, blinked rain from his eyes. “Stay here. I’m going to see if they’re still around.” He patted Ingram on the back and then was gone. Ingram looked at the bodies littering the yard – Madeline’s, Lisa’s, Walter’s and four of Miller’s men. Two left. And in this yard, they could still make a lethal combination.
Depalma saw two fleeing figures ahead dodging among the cars and he fired. The two figures split up going separate ways. ‘Damn,’ he thought. He went right, into a crude path between the cars, slowing down to a cautious trot, weapon raised. He blinked water from his eyes, scanned the area, moving slowly. The cars could give anyone numerous places to hide. He heard a shot and a bullet ricocheted off a door with a metallic zing. Depalma ducked and spun around, just as another bullet ploughed into a tire. Now Depalma had a fix and he fired, heard the bullet hit something and saw a figure running deeper into the yard. Depalma gave chase.
Ingram closed his eyes, willing himself to stop thinking about his wife and child. He focused with great difficulty because his mind kept playing back their murders relentlessly. His hands trembled and he bit his lip with the effort. When he opened his eyes, he looked different. Not the man who had just lost the two people he loved most in this world. His eyes were narrow slits, burning with vengeance. Blood dripped freely from his split lips mixing with the puddles of rain. His hair was plastered across his face. His jaw was set in cold determination giving him a grim, foreboding appearance.
And now he understood what drove Danny Miller all those years in a Federal prison and kept him alive when he should have died from his gunshot wounds.
Slowly he stood up, looked around, feeling the weight of the gun. He touched the cold metal to his skin and breathed deeply. He heard gunshots from somewhere.
“Miller, you son of a bitch! Your wife and kids deserved to die!” he shouted. “You hear me, asshole! They deserved everything that happened to them!” His taunts were answered by silence. He heard the sound of the raindrops on the tons of metal all around him.
He heard a sound behind him and spun around, dropping to the ground, raising his weapon and squeezing the trigger twice as he fell, all in one fluid motion. Miller ran out into the clearing, gun spitting lead. He dived, dodging the bullets Ingram had let go and hit the ground hard and rolled toward the other end, coming up on one knee, spinning on it and ducking behind a car, his back to the door.
Ingram jumped to his feet and fired into the car, moving sideways, so that he would end up on the other side of the car facing his enemy.
Behind the car, Miller felt the thumps as bullets punched into the door he was resting his back against. The window above his head exploded and glass rained down on him. He waited a second and then began making his way toward the front of the car. He crawled over to the front fender, peered over and saw Ingram making his way around the other side. Miller jumped up on the hood, the metal bending under his weight. He fired as he ran on top of the car’s roof. He was in a clear advantage. But he slipped on the rain-streaked metal and his aim went off. The bullet that would have killed Ingram grazed him in the thigh, dropping him. As Ingram fell, his gun went off, expending its last bullet. Miller fell off the hood, Ingram’s freak bullet zipping past his head by an inch, and he hit his head against the rear bumper.
For a whole two seconds the two men glared at each other, their hatred burning fiercely within them, searing each other as their eyes locked. Both raised their weapons at the same time at point blank range, and pulled back on the triggers simultaneously.
Then with a cry of rage, Miller threw himself at Ingram, gun raised like a club. Ingram rolled and Miller landed in the muck. He recovered instantly, rolled away as Ingram’s foot landed where his larynx had been an instant ago. Miller reached out and grabbed a two-foot long lead pipe lying nearby and swung it viciously at Ingram. Ingram moved back, feeling the deadly hiss of the pipe cutting through the air and that gave Miller time to get to his feet. The two men circled each other like wrestlers waiting for the other to make a move. Miller held the pipe menacingly. Abruptly Miller lunged forward, making as if to swing at Ingram’s head and crush his skull in. But in the arc of the swing, he lowered his hands and the pipe struck Ingram’s knee. Ingram fell to the ground, clutching his knee and Miller moved in. He swung at Ingram’s head. Ingram put his hand out to ward off the blow and the bar smashed into his wrist, snapping the bone. Ingram cried out in pain.
An evil smile pasted itself across Miller’s face as he raised the bar over his head and prepared to swing again. Ingram had a split second and used it to kick upward at Miller’s groin. Miller’s face contorted in pain and he dropped the pipe and clutched at his privates. Ingram reached up and threw a roundhouse punch with his good hand. The blow spun Miller around and dropped him like a sack of bricks beside the pipe. Ingram reached out and caught Miller by his greying hair and pulled his head back. He didn’t see Miller’s hand grip the pipe. He was about to break his neck, but hesitated as his mind replayed his daughter’s violent death.
“Fool!” Miller shouted as he drew the pipe toward him and rammed it backward into Ingram, knocking him back. Ingram stumbled and fell, clutching his broken ribs. Miller stood, and walked toward him, slowly, drunkenly from the shooting pain in his abdomen. He swung the pipe, Ingram backed away along the muck, gasping from the pain in his chest. Each breath was like his insides were on fire. Miller swung again. The tip of the pipe caught Ingram in the cheek, splitting it open with a deep gash. Blood dripped freely.
Ingram’s hand touched something round and flat. He glanced down out of the corner of his eye and saw it was a hubcap, buried partially in the muck. He pulled his body back and his back touched something solid. End of the line. No place to back up further. His fingers dug into the muck, closing around the hubcap. He had one chance to pull it free of the suction and throw it.
Miller swung. Ingram ducked, at the same time pulling at the hubcap. It came free, and his hand rose with the momentum of his pull. He saw the pipe coming at his head. He let go of the hubcap. He heard a grunt and the pipe hit him on the head hard enough to stun him. With his last burst of energy, he lashed out with his feet, kicking Miller’s feet out from under him. The pipe flew through the air, landed somewhere in the junk. Ingram crawled over to Miller. Halfway there, he slumped into the muck. He couldn’t move. The pain was intense. His breath came in ragged gasps and wheezes.
Miller saw him lying at his feet helpless and looked around for something to kill Ingram with. His eyes fell on a rusted spike protruding from the mounds of junk and he walked toward it. He coughed up blood and spat. He yanked the spike out, turned and walked back to Ingram. He put his foot under Ingram and flipped him over onto his back easily.
Ingram stared up at him through vacant eyes. He saw Miller raise the spike above his head, his lips curled in a demonic snarl. He tried to move out of the way, but his body was too drained emotionally and physically to respond. Surprisingly, he was very calm. Large drops of rain fell from heaven above into his eyes and open mouth.
The spike hurtled toward him.
Miller’s body jerked and his eyes grew wide in surprise. Blood flowed from the bullet hole in the centre of his forehead. Miller stopped his downward plunge, swayed unsteadily and then toppled forward, still holding the spike.
Ingram heard Agent Richard Depalma scream. It seemed to come from very far away. The spike pierced into Ingram with an odd puncturing sound as it went through flesh and organs and Kirk Ingram’s scream merged with Depalma’s and reverberated in the scrap-yard. Ingram had a blurred impression of Miller’s lifeless body falling over the upright spike, and heard and felt it go through Miller, impaling the gangster.
The end of the spike came out from Miller’s back, like a grotesque rusted pin, holding the two men together.
Then everything went black.
What Reviewers Are Saying
Fast paced, filled with plenty of high-octane action and incredible twists and turns, Haunted is one action-thriller guaranteed to give an adrenaline rush. Douglas Misquita, Jr. has impressed and how!
There is nothing better than an intelligent and lucid thriller that pulls you into the narrative and keeps you there till the very end.
Frankly the reader never feels that an Indian author has written this, and I mean no disrespect towards Indian authors. I am merely doffing my hat at Douglas’ caliber as an action-thriller writer, the meticulous research, the erudite language, the taut narrative and the nearly impeccable editing, apart from the look and feel of the book of course. That reminds me… I got to buy one, a hat that is, if Douglas plans to keep writing thrillers like this.
The opening pages are simply mind-blowing – the buildup, the chase and the encounter – all leave you quite stunned and yet asking for more.
The pace dips a bit in the subsequent pages, but picks up where it has to and from then onwards it is one tremendous ride. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill terrorism stories but a tight adrenalin packed one, involving Citex, a deadly nerve agent.
You travel along with Kirk Ingram, the slightly larger than life protagonist/hero, through his trials and tribulations – his highs and lows, his success and setbacks, his smiles and tears – in his quest to destroy organized crime in all forms.
Through the US, Eastern Europe and the Balkans you come across characters – some pitch black, some white and others with distinct shades of gray. You get a sneak peek into the methodologies adapted by the bad rather ugly and evil guys, their logistics network, their fronts, their lives, their agenda and their motivations.
There is some fabulous underwater action too.
I won’t be surprised if your GK or your vocabulary travels northward at the end of it. And there is a twist in the tale too – but don’t expect me to play the spoiler. That is something I will not do.
Do not expect to skim through the book and this is no cursory read. It demands your full attention and is worth every bit of it.
Needless to say, Haunted will make for one helluva movie too. Umm, come to think of it, it may all depend on the caliber of the production team and the person wielding the megaphone and periodically hollering, “cut” as well.
There are many events and characters peppering the book that may leave you with the feeling that a few of them could have been pruned out. Yet towards the end they all converge and all the loose ends get tied up neatly. A word of advice: do try to read this book at one go or at least cover as much as you can every time you sit down or curl up to read it. You may have to go back and forth a few times in order to get the flow or refresh your memory… but then it is all worth it.
My rating: 4/5. A compelling read, it will appeal to all age groups. For fans of the action-thriller genre – this is one book you’ll love to sink your teeth into.
I look forward to Douglas’ future writings with interest.
Haunted Tour Schedule
Monday, December 5th
Interview at The Examiner
Tuesday, December 6th
Review at Mad Moose Mama
Wednesday, December 7th
Interview at Paperback Writer
Thursday, December 8th
Review at Booksie’s Blog
Friday, December 9th
Guest Post at Reviews by Molly
Tuesday, December 13th
Interview at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
Wednesday, December 14th
Interview at The Plot Thickens
Thursday, December 15th
Interview at Pump Up Your Book
Friday, December 16th
Review at The Hot Author Report
Douglas Misquita’s HAUNTED ONLINE BOOK TOUR DECEMBER 2011 will officially begin December 5th and end December 16th. If you would like to host him on his tour, please contact Jaime at jmfictionscribe(at)yahoo.com.au. Thank you for your support!