My new release, “A Soldier’s Fear,” will be released at the End of May 2015. Read an excerpt below to get a taste of what’s to come. You won’t be disappointed…
~~ One ~~
Dominic jumped into the back of the armoured truck along with the rest of his unit; he looked back sharply. “What the hell?” he mumbled, as he heard the sound of rubber beat against the dirt road. He saw an old worn 4×4 screeching to a halt behind them. A woman climbed out of her vehicle hurriedly and walked up to his commanding officer, almost tripping over her own feet. Dominic smiled as he watched on with great amusement. Dominic could not hear the exchange of words between them; however, he had surmised that she did not get the reply she was hoping for from his CO. Nevertheless, he did notice the dogged determination of the woman who would not take no for an answer. The woman headed for the armoured vehicle looking very pleased with herself. It was apparent to Dominic that she had won her case with his CO. The woman attempted to climb in, albeit clumsily.
“Damn it,” she said, as she slipped. She tried to regain her footing, but lost her balance completely. Dominic peered over the back of the truck in amusement. She stood up, dusted herself off and grabbed his hand.
“Thank you,” she said, as she climbed into the truck.
The commanding officer approached the truck and addressed his men before they set off. “Okay soldier’s, we have a tag-a-long, her name is Miss Clancy. She is a freelance photojournalist and will be shadowing our convoy for the next two days. No need to make any allowances for her, its business as usual,” he grunted, then glared at Olivia before walking around to the front of the vehicle and climbing in.
“Okay what are we waiting for? Lets go,” he shouted, making Olivia jump in her seat.
Olivia sighed with relief as she squeezed in between two soldiers seated opposite Dominic. He looked at her quizzically then turned away. She fumbled with her camera and changed the lenses, not noticing all the soldiers’ eyes resting upon her in curiosity. The soldiers were SAS Special Forces on their way to the Sinjar Mountain to gather intelligence. The journey was a rough one, as the road was rugged and craggy. Olivia gripped hold of Dominic’s leg on more than one occasion, to steady herself. Dominic maintained a nonchalant demeanor throughout the journey; however, he was highly amused by this curious haphazard woman.
“I am so sorry,” she said, feeling rather embarrassed. It was the third time now that she had placed her hand on Dominic’s thigh to prevent herself from falling on to him.
He looked into her eyes briefly, nodded, and then turned away from her in a disgruntled manner. Olivia looked at him pensively. His handsome, rugged good looks were not lost on her. Suddenly, she felt very aware of her appearance. She tucked a stray hair behind her ear and straightened her top. She knew she was not looking her best today. That morning she had jumped out of her camp bed, splashed her face with cold water, brushed her teeth and jumped into her borrowed off-roader to catch up with the convoy. Her mission, the Sinjar Mountain. She wanted to capture the plight of the Kurdish people on camera and show the world exactly what was happening in Iraq. Their situation was dire, food non-existence, as they were desperately trying to find sanctuary. Many of them were trapped on the southern side of the mountain. But at least 20,000 were being aided across by the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish rebel faction, and by US air strikes on Islamic State. This was Forcing ISIS to withdraw back from their position temporarily, giving the YPG a window of opportunity to escape down the other side of the mile-high mountain.
It was not just the Yazidi people who were forced from their homeland; there were Christians, Shabak Shias and Turkmen too. Forced to leave their homes in which their people had lived for thousands of years. All they were able to take with them when they fled their homeland was what they could carry in their hands and on their backs.
Many of the Kurdish people were well on their way to safety now. Nevertheless, the siege of Mount Sinjar is not yet broken; many thousands more remain on the southern side of the 60-mile-long ridge,unable to reach the safe passage that the Kurdish fighters had secured.
Many women and children had taken up refuge in over nine locations on Mount Sinjar. Their alternative was almost certain death. Up to 40 children had been killed in their town and many more were threatened with death. The only option open to them was to flee.
Dominic glanced at Olivia discreetly and watched her as she was looking down into her camera. He was fascinated with her diligence and determination. She was a very slight woman, out here all by herself. He wondered, what the hell she was thinking and if she was truly aware of what she was letting herself in for. Dominic’s attentions were drawn to a soldier at the front of the truck; he had the full attention of the men around him while he was relaying a story. There were roars of laughter echoing through the truck. Olivia looked up curiously and smiled to herself, then, she caught Dominic glancing at her camera.
“Would you like to take a look?” she offered.
He took the camera from her delicate small hand and began to scan through the images. He was impressed to say the least. The images were harrowing. Each one told their own story. Each one filled with a haunting agony and sadness. He handed the camera back to Olivia and looked into her eyes pensively, holding his gaze long enough to make the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She felt a nervous knot forming in her lower stomach, feeling embarrassed, she turned away and fidgeted with her camera.
It was many hours later before the armoured vehicle finally stopped. Dominic’s CO. was shouting his orders and the soldier’s climbed out of the truck one by one. The soldier’s were more than ready to get out and stretch their legs. Olivia jumped out behind Dominic and took it up on herself to walk along side of him. Although he did not show it, he was quite enamoured by this curious attractive woman. Olivia placed her hand securely around her camera and then focused her attention on Dominic.
“My name is Olivia,” in case you were wondering, she said while clicking away.
Dominic looked into her face; he did not reply and then turned away. Olivia was furious, how rude, who does he think he is? She thought.
“Okay fine, you are clearly a man of few words. I just thought it would make our journey more bearable, if we could exchange pleasantries.”
“I don’t do pleasantries,” he retorted.
“I am beginning to see that now.” She picked up her pace and walked a few steps a head of him. She walked in silence until they reached the foot of the mountain, then the unit paused. Under direct instruction, the soldiers followed their commanders’ orders, then, they began the long, one-day-trek up the side of the mountain. They needed to reach the other side where the Kurds were situated and struggling. US troops were already deployed in several of the nine locations; their intermittent airstrikes along with the RAF were aiding the peoples crossing. Both the UK and the US were there to aid the safe crossing of the Yazidi/Kurdish people who were trapped on the mountain to safety, giving the YPG much-needed support against ISIS who were relentless in their quest to devastate and destroy everything that did not fit within their own beliefs. They were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar, or face slaughter by an encircling group of Islamic State jihadists. With thousands of families, hungry, tired and in desperate need of help, it was going to prove a tough mission to get them all across the craggy ridged mountain safely. Food supply drops had been organised for various locations on the mountain for later that day. This would provide much-needed body fuel for the thirsty and starving people, who were so weak they could barely walk. Dominic was very aware that this was going to be logistically challenging.
It was many hours before they came across the YPG, who were aiding the people over the mountain. There were many injured woman and children, clearly exhausted and in need of food and medical attention. Olivia scanned the tired and helpless faces as they neared them. She was speechless and not as mentally prepared for the reality presented before her as she thought she would be. Dominic’s unit wasted no time in helping as many people as they could, attending to the most in need.It took less than a day for Dominic’s unit to reach the KPG and it was going to take much longer to get them all across the other side of the mountain safely. They were moving at a snails pace. They were in poor health, starving, and in need of medical help urgently.
Olivia felt the tears well-up in her eyes when she caught sight of a young mother kneeling down on the ground, cradling her unmoving child. She was screaming while looking into her child’s closed eyes and rocking from side-to-side. The woman’s inner pain was evident all over her saddened face. Olivia ran over to her and looked down at her child. She checked for a pulse, sadly, she could not find one. She screamed out for help and Dominic came running over. He picked up the child and checked her vitals; he looked into Olivia’s teary eyes and shook his head. The little girl was gone, lost to this world now, like many before her. Dominic shook his head sadly, as he handed the small child back to the devastated mother. She was wailing and holding up her child towards the sky, as if she was talking directly to God. Olivia could not understand what the woman was saying as she shouted out hysterically. A Kurdish woman nearby came over and offered her support, placing her arm around the mourning mother. Her cries lessened, but she refused to leave her dead child, insisting on carrying her over the mountain. This was an all-too-common scene amongst the Kurdish families making this long exhausting journey. Children were weak and some were not strong enough to continue. Many had died and the grieving mother’s were losing their will to carry on.
Olivia felt as if her heart had been ripped apart. She could not imagine what the young mother must be going through. She stood back, unhooked her camera from her photographers’ vest and began to snap away. She caught the haunting image of the woman with her lifeless child wrapped securely in her arms.
“How do you do this?” said Dominic, as he walked up behind Olivia taking her by surprise.
“This is what I do; I report the news in pictures, to show the world what is going on in these fragile countries. Do not stand there in judgement. I feel for every single person here, it is not easy by no means. I am not out here under the security blanket of a big organisation; I am out here at my own risk. Like you, I risk my life many times for my job. I help people where I can, however, a lot of the time, my help is worthless, there are too many in need and I am one person. The best thing I can do for these people is bring their plight to the attention of the world. Then pray that the images strike accord and help is sent their way. I mean you are here aren’t you, the Americans are here, they are getting help. Why do you think that is? I shall tell you why, because one way or another, their plight like many other plights of innocent people caught up in some pointless war around the world, is brought to the forefront of the media. Therefore, it cannot be ignored by the western world. We all play our part and do what we can, however small that part maybe.”
Dominic stared into her tear-filled eyes and took a deep breath, “I am not standing in Judgement of you, in fact, I admire you. Although, I do think you are a little foolish for coming out here unattended, unsponsored and all by yourself. Anything could happen to you, this is a very fragile country you could be kidnapped or worse, killed.”
“Well that is the risk I am prepared to take. This is what I do, this is what I live for,” Olivia wiped her eyes and began to walk on.
“My name is Dominic,” he shouted after her.
Olivia stopped in her tracks and turned to look at Dominic. She glanced into his smiling face, “Nice to meet you Dominic,” she smiled, then turned and continued to walk ahead.
Dominic’s eyes followed her as she walked on. What an annoyingly stubborn woman she is. Foolish, determined and extremely attractive, he thought.
A cloak of darkness blanketed the mountain; nighttime had sneaked up on them, making the journey very difficult to continue. Dominic and his unit halted and ordered everyone to stop and rest up for the night. They set up camp and Dominic and his men were to take turns on watch. Dominic’s CO. came over to him and took him aside,
”Don’t let Miss Clancy out of your sight, Officer Pearson. The last thing I need is her blood on my hands.”
“I Got her covered,” replied Dominic.
The thousands of tired Kurds slept where they lay. The sounds of crying children and mourning mother’s echoed across the mountain. They were so exhausted and hungry and the food drop expected mid-afternoon had not yet arrived. Some food supply drops had been made over the previous days by the US; but much more was needed. There was not enough food to go around; but, it was better than nothing was.
Dominic was on late watch and Olivia could not sleep, so she ambled over to him and sat down beside him. They talked into the early hours of the morning and Dominic was beginning to feel a warm connection with Olivia. As much as he was trying to fight his growing feelings for her, he could not deny their strength that pulled on his heart. He looked into her eyes and leant in towards her, Olivia did not turn away, feeling the same pull on her own heart. Then, as if he had been awakened from a dream, he pulled away before his lips met with hers. He stood up and walked away, taking up position several feet ahead of her. Olivia watched him walking away with her mouth agape, what was all that about and why did he walk away from me? It makes no logical sense whatsoever.
Olivia was floored, and she had no idea what had just happened or why Dominic just upped and walked away. What she did know for sure, was that Dominic had made a huge impression on her. He encouraged her heart to race in a way it had not done so for years. In the midst of all this devastation on the mountain, they had made an unexpected connection. A connection neither one of them had planned for nor expected in a million years. Feeling crestfallen, she stood up and walked amongst the many people lying down huddled together on the mountain.
The YPG were doing what they could, as they too walked amongst the crowds. They were checking on the wounded and analysing who was unable to carry on. She walked through the crowds like a ghost, silent and discreet, unnoticed by the masses. She took out her camera and snapped a group of children who were huddled together in a dirty, old, grey blanket of sorts. They were snuggled tightly together and sleeping after an exhausting day of walking. Olivia lay down herself; feeling exhausted and tried to catch a couple of hours sleep, knowing the following day was going to be an arduous one physically. She rolled out her sleeping bag, slipped inside, and then closed her eyes.
END OF EXCERPT