She’s Coming For You – Chapter 32

Mike Alvarez had discarded his suit about three hours previously and hung it on the coat stand by the door in his office. He had loosened his tie, and he still felt warm, even with the air-conditioning on full. Opposite him, Claudia Reyes was a little chilly, as this temperature for her was like home in the summer.

“So, what do we have?” asked Alvarez. On the conference call with Alvarez and Reyes were Susan del Piero in Burgos and agents Grady and Del Bosque in Leon.

“Well, sir,” replied Susan, “we have a seventy-five percent identification from James Adam here in the hospital in Burgos and a hundred percent positive ID from the bus driver of the airport bus and from the hotel here in town. The local police are getting contact information from the hotel based on this being a murder inquiry as regards Santiago de Compostela and an attempted murder inquiry in Burgos. The victim in Santiago was on the train when James Adam was attacked and went on to Valladolid and Leon, before arriving in Santiago de Compostela.”

“Thank you, Susan,“ said Alvarez. “Now Grady and Del Bosque up there in Leon, what do you have for us?”

“Grady here, sir. From a train perspective we’ve checked the bookings, the man in question was on all the trains that the victim was on, even from Leon to Santiago de Compostela.”

“Right, so what the hell was he doing? Following them? Waiting for an opportunity? Or waiting for his terrorist friends to show up somewhere?”

“We won’t know that for sure, unless we can capture him alive, which will be difficult,” replied Reyes.

“Damn right there,” replied Alvarez. “This guy is from Spetnatz, anyway. Del Bosque, what about hotels, where did he stay? Do we know?”

“Yes, we do, we know where he stayed in Pamplona, Burgos as Susan said, and Valladolid, but we haven’t found where he stayed in Leon yet, although we soon will. The trail goes cold as soon as he gets off the train in Santiago. No hotel in Santiago had a guest of that name staying there.”

“Thank you, all of you, good work. So, to sum up, we have Pat Walker in all the places we have listed out, we know he was there, we know he did it, but the question is, where did he stay, who did he become next, and where is he now? Let’s all go up to Santiago and see what we can find of the elusive Mr Walker.”

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 31

Kim Samuels was pleased she’d paid in advance for all her hotels. It meant no awkward conversations about cash or credit card or whether she’d like the receipt emailed to her. There was just a quick shake of the head when she was asked whether she’d used anything from the minibar. With her travel bag inside her rucksack, she walked to the train station using an indirect route. With the station in view, she pretended to tie up her shoelaces, giving herself some time to scan the approaches to the platforms.

It looked exactly the same as the previous day when she’d gone on the train to A Coruna. The police had not tried to hide – a car was parked outside with two men on either side of the doors, studying everyone carefully.

Samuels had chosen her train well because another train would soon arrive and there would be an influx of people to the platforms. Most passengers in Spain are met by at least one other person, leading to large crowds on platforms and in the station waiting areas.

It was more difficult to spot the terrorists as they kept out of the way of the police and yet watched the same set of passengers. Samuels spotted two likely lookouts and thought how best to deal with them, should the need arise. The other hunting knife she’d bought in Pamplona, more of a stiletto really, nestled inside the cuff of her jacket.

She carried the rucksack over her left shoulder, distorting her body shape slightly and keeping her right hand free. She carried her ticket in her left hand. She walked past one of the policemen who barely glanced at her.

Once inside, Samuels saw one of the terrorist watchers sitting in a seat facing the doors. She followed other passengers to mask the view of him and then turned left where another watcher stood right by the door taking people to the platform. Samuels carried on towards the toilets as the door was not yet open.

She returned two minutes later. Two policemen inspected people’s tickets before allowing them onto the platform. The terrorist watcher had made himself scarce. Some people, hoping to meet people off the train, were complaining to one officer they weren’t allowed to go onto the platform, so Samuels made the most of the argument by showing her ticket quickly to the other officer who nodded impatiently, before helping his colleague with the complainers.

Samuels looked at her fellow passengers and relaxed slightly. Her seat was at the end of the carriage facing back along the train. She doubted anyone would try to do anything on a train full of people, but you never knew. The journey to Pontevedra took twenty-five minutes. The ironic thing was that the previous day at the station in A Coruna, she’d seen no terrorist lookouts at all, which made her think the terrorists had based themselves there. They’d assumed she wouldn’t be visiting their city. Or perhaps they assumed she couldn’t be an assassin as she was a female?

She felt like she was being hunted now, but she could cope with that. Samuels wondered how long it would be before the Americans started tailing her, too. They would be more professional and more difficult to spot as they would choose people who fitted in with the local population. They might also not dismiss females so readily.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 30

Update – MASSACRE IN SANTIAGO

Another shooting in pilgrimage city

Killer found dead.

A man’s body, matching the description of the lone gunman responsible for the worst mass shooting in the city, has been found at the Pazo de Raxoi this evening.

All extremists will be hunted down and caught like rats says PM.

There is no reign of terror in the city says mayor as fourth violent death occurs in last 24 hours.

The man’s body was found at 5 pm today. He had been executed with a single shot to the temple. The identity of his killer is unknown.

This death follows hard on the heels of another shooting near Vigo station earlier today when a man, again matching the description of the Tren Turistico murderer, was found with multiple gun wounds near the Guixar station. Police think this man might have been heading down to Porto on the train.

Extra security measures will be in place throughout Galicia to reassure the expected influx of pilgrims over the next few weeks, many of them from Asia.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 29

The outstanding reason to visit A Coruna is to see the world’s oldest active lighthouse, built by the Romans in the 2nd century and re-clad in the 18th century to protect the old structure. The lighthouse is a wonderful sight, but make sure to walk along the coastline here to experience the pounding of the waves and the strength of the wind even on a gentle day.

There are secluded coves where you can burn an unwanted passport and bury the ashes in the sand, which is soon washed over by the hungry tide.

You might begin to understand why the coast to the west of A Coruna is called the Costa da Morte, the coast of death. Ships have been wrecked along this coast for centuries and the jagged rocks, frothing waves, and strong tides have to be treated with great respect even today, when modern technology makes us feel safe.

The Aquarium Finisterrae is close by and the highlight is the vast Nautilus tank, which allows visitors to become familiar with the fish life of the Atlantic Ocean.

This city was the departure point of the Spanish Armada in 1588, a fleet that failed in its attempt to invade England and end the Elizabethan age. Even though the fleet was defeated and scattered to the four winds, the English still felt that A Coruna should be punished.

In retaliation, Sir Francis Drake raided the city a year later, an attack that was only repelled when a local heroine called Maria Pita killed the English standard-bearer with a spear. This event is commemorated in a statue in Praza de Maria Pita, the heart of the city. This square also houses the Palacio Municipal.

Nearby is the Xardin de San Carlos where lies General Sir John Moore, killed in 1809 during the British retreat from French forces. Charles Wolfe’s poem to the fallen general is reproduced on a nearby wall. The general died when his left shoulder was mostly blown off by a cannonball during the Battle of Elviña, which took place on 16th January of that year.

Moore’s army was attacked by the French under Marshal of the Empire Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult during the Peninsular War. Napoleon had defeated the Spanish armies and caused the British army to withdraw to the coast following an unsuccessful attempt by Moore to attack Soult’s army.

Starting on Christmas Day, 1808, the British forces retreated across northern Spain for more than two hundred and fifty miles through the mountains while their rearguard fought off repeated French attacks. Both armies suffered from the harsh winter conditions and it’s estimated 3,000 British soldiers died during the retreat.

When the British eventually reached the port of A Coruna a few days ahead of the French, they found their transport ships had not arrived. When the fleet did arrive and the British were in the midst of embarking, the French army attacked, forcing the British to fight another battle before departing for England.

The British held off the French until nightfall, when both armies disengaged. British forces resumed their embarkation overnight and the last transport ships left in the morning under French cannon fire. Sir John Moore died after learning that his men had successfully repelled the French attacks.

In the Parque de Santa Margarita is the Casa das Ciencias with its planetarium and gadgetry mainly aimed at children. In the park are many rubbish bins where you can discard items of worn clothing that no longer have any use.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 28

Update – MASSACRE IN SANTIAGO

Lone gunman kills 3.

Unknown terrorist kills tourist near Museo do Pabo Gallego.

All killers will be hunted down and caught like rats says PM.

Tourists need have no fear about their safety and security says mayor.

An unknown gunman was being sought by police this morning after killing an innocent tourist on board the Tren Turistico as it started to go up the steepest hill on its round trip of our pilgrimage city yesterday.

The killer was described as being about six feet in height with fair skin and an athletic disposition, who also killed two Muslim bystanders.

Hand grenades were found, but none were used in the attack.

The cold-blooded, lethal killer is extremely dangerous and should not be approached under any circumstances by anyone.

Extra security measures will be in place to reassure the expected influx of pilgrims over the next few weeks, many of them from Asia.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 27

After listening to the testimony of witness seven, Inspector Maria Sanchez put out a bulletin to all officers, describing the man responsible for all three murders earlier in the day. They would increase security at all points of departure in the city and at the airport and all major railway stations in Galicia.

In the morning, all leave was cancelled and officers would make enquiries at all the hotels in the city, looking for people who had checked out on 21st August.

The man was dangerous and armed. The police primed response units to come to any potential flash point in an instance. The police were on high alert, aware that it would look bad if Spain allowed this assassin to get away.

Some officers had sympathy with what the man had done, after all, he’d stopped a terrorist incident and two jihadis were dead. It was just because he’d shot an American – perhaps he was excited and got carried away with emotion – that all this palaver was taking place.

Americans shot each other in vast numbers per day, so just one more death didn’t add much to the overall figures.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 26

Inspector Maria Sanchez of the Policia Nacional was interviewing the passengers of the bus in the Praza do 8 de Marzo at the time of the Tren Turistico incident. Sanchez was twenty-seven years old and ambitious to get on in the police service. She had done well so far in this world dominated by machismo.

Sanchez wore black jeans and a blue top with a silver crucifix around her neck. She had short brown hair and hazel eyes that looked quizzically at each of the first six passengers, whom it seemed had seen nothing useful but had heard a short burst from what most of them understood was a firecracker.

They were all sitting on the left-hand side of the bus listening to music or playing one of those time-wasting games on their phones where you go around shooting people in a made-up world. How ironic this was, thought Sanchez, when real people were being shot in the real world, if you could have been bothered to witness it. But you wouldn’t have received any points in the game for seeing a real killing, would you? she thought, staring at the backs of the so-called witnesses as they left the interview room. She felt jaded already as witness seven shuffled into the grey room and sat down at the shiny metal desk.

Witness seven was a man in his late forties, with shifty eyes who seemed unable to make eye contact with Sanchez. He looked around and patted down what remained of his unruly hair.

“This is the interview room for the people from the bus who witnessed the shooting?” he asked, looking bewildered.

“It is,” said Sanchez, “you’re in the right place, don’t worry.”

“Where is the interviewer then,” he replied. “Has he just popped out of the room?”

Sanchez wondered about slapping the man around the face, as she could do without this kind of sexism when she was pursuing her line of enquiry. Instead, she chose sarcasm, something she was carefully nurturing by watching British TV comedies, without the subtitles.

“Well, the interviewer took one look at you and decided he had better things to do, so he left you to me, Inspector Sanchez of the Policia Nacional.”

“Well that’s all right, I didn’t mean any offence by my question.”

“None taken,” lied Sanchez through her gleaming white teeth. “Anyway, you said witnesses to the shooting, but sadly none of your fellow passengers on the bus witnessed anything worth reporting, so how are you different from them?”

The man smiled and sat up straight in the metal chair. “I saw everything,” he said proudly, “and it’s not what they’re saying on the TV news. They’ve got it wrong as usual, but I am glad I can be of help to everyone and set the record straight.”

Inspector Maria Sanchez looked hard at the man before pressing the record button on the recorder. “The testimony of witness seven from the bus regarding the Tren Turistico incident, today the 21st August. Please proceed, witness seven…”

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 25

The new head of the network in A Coruna had many associates. When contacted, all of them had expressed sympathy with the events of earlier in the day and had agreed to help hunt down the person responsible for at least interrupting, and possibly killing, their fellow fighters in the middle of their mission, of their God-given work against their enemies.

All these people had a mobile phone and a picture of the man responsible. He would not get far when he made a run for it. At least one pair of keen eyes watched airports, railway stations, bus terminals, and even local ferries.

What they all did not realise was the person they were dealing with would not make a run for it and was rather good at what they did, having survived many similar situations in the countries where the forefathers of these watchers had come from.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 24

Madrid: American Embassy – 21st August – Evening

 

One of the resident staffers at the embassy was in the office of Claudia Reyes. Mike Alvarez was connected with at least one of the security services of the United States of America.

“What do we know, Mike?” asked Claudia.

“We know that an American citizen, whose name I won’t reveal to you for security reasons, has been shot dead at almost point-blank range by a man of the Muslim faith, whom we believe was from North Africa.”

“And I heard that the assassin was killed too, along with an accomplice nearby, in two rather different ways,” replied Claudia, wrinkling her nose at the diplomacy of the question.

“Yes, the shooter had his skull smashed by a weight, taken from a table from a nearby outdoor restaurant. The weight was used to keep the umbrellas in place.”

“So, pre-meditated then, Mike. Those weights are heavy, we’re looking for a strong man here.”

“Agreed on both accounts. Whoever it was also knew how to kill people with a knife as the blade severed the spinal column, causing instant death. Two very clinical and sadistic murders.”

“A professional hitman then?”

“Agreed, which is why he’s flown the scene and does not want to come forward as the hero the media have portrayed him as.”

“He won’t be collecting the reward money either,” said Claudia looking at the notes Alvarez had given her. “Who is the guy, I mean I am not sure why you can’t tell me his name.”

“He’s been touring northern Spain with some of his buddies, places such as Pamplona, Burgos, Valladolid, and Leon. All on the train.”

“Wait,” said Claudia, “Burgos? On the train? When was he in Burgos?”

“I don’t know, I have just read the notes from the interviews, and these remarks were the back story on why they were in Spain. What’s special about Burgos?”

“It might be something and nothing, but an American tourist, James Adam, was attacked on the train there. I will ask Susan to double check this.”

Mike Alvarez nodded and waited while Claudia sent Susan del Piero a text and an email. Susan was out of the office at the moment.

“Do you think these terrorists followed them across northern Spain?” asked Claudia once she’d stopped writing.

“Could be, could be, not necessarily on the train, but watching at the stations, waiting for an opportunity to strike. There’s a whole network of them in this country, I am sure of it. It’s like the Reconquista in reverse.”

“So, Mike, what else can you tell me about the dead man? You can’t tell me his name, but is he famous or something, is there likely to be a backlash?”

Mike Alvarez smiled and readjusted his position in Claudia’s deliberately uncomfortable wooden chair. She offered people a choice – leather or wood – and it always interested her which option they chose.

Alvarez looked at her and said, “In these days, many people are famous for a short amount of time – the Warhol quote of fame for fifteen minutes is very true – but let’s just say this guy was infamous, for what, two hours maybe. And perhaps three or four times during the last two years, yeah, about that length of time.”

“What? Infamous for two hours, three or four times. Who is he, a traffic warden in Beverly Hills putting parking tickets on celebrity vehicles in the name of efficiency and strict interpretation of the parking laws? Huh?”

“No, he is, or was, a trophy hunter, someone seen smirking behind the carcasses of cute, dead animals. He had many death threats, but he wore them like a badge, never thinking someone would carry out their threat.”

“Are you saying these Muslim terrorists are animal rights activists who have taken down a trophy hunter? That doesn’t jive with me. I don’t believe many Muslims believe in animal rights.”

Mike Alvarez smiled and leaned forward onto her desk.

“You know what else doesn’t jive, Claudia, why a Muslim terrorist would kill just one tourist, when he could have sprayed the whole train with bullets.”

“Right, but who knows what goes on in the mind of a deranged lunatic.”

“This was a targeted attack, Claudia. Don’t tell anyone this, but the man who died was shot eight times in the head, eight times in the face, with a pattern that an ashtray could cover. I know he was close, but that is one hell of a marksman we have here.”

“That’s more in keeping with cleaving someone’s skull and severing the spinal column of another man, isn’t it?” said Claudia. “Maybe our hero isn’t the hero, but the man responsible for all three deaths and that is why he has not come forward, maybe he killed our fellow American.”

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 23

           Pat Walker was no more.

Kim Samuels looked back from the hotel mirror.

She had folded all the clothes worn earlier in the day inside a black plastic bag, placed inside her rucksack. This was in the cupboard in her room. It was like the matryoshka dolls Samuels had seen in Russia and its satellite countries, one way in which the relocation of people during Stalin’s time became clear in cultural terms.

Samuels smiled at herself. Her hair was a different colour and the sandals without socks made her look more like a pilgrim than an assassin. The footwear had also taken three inches off her height. She would discard the shoe supports in separate litter bins in the next few hours.

A thin jumper worn over a Lisbon T-shirt had replaced the travel jacket. Her last touch was to wear shorts with buttons on the pockets, which contained her new identity. She would burn the old passport on her trip to A Coruna the following day.

Samuels intended to continue on her holiday. The people searching for her would scour the train station, the bus station, and the airport, expecting her to make a getaway, but she wouldn’t be doing that. She’d liked all the cities she’d visited so far and she looked forward to deciding where she should go next, rather than following someone else’s itinerary. This would be true until she caught the train from Vigo down to Porto, when she would be back on her hunt.

Kim’s hotel had two entrances, and she used the side entrance this time, which led out into a narrow alley where it would be difficult for anyone to conceal their presence. She popped a sunhat onto her head and placed a cheap pair of sunglasses over the top, just to make herself appear like a tourist.

Samuels opened the door and looked up at the balconies with their green railings and potted plants. She saw no one watching, so she stepped out and turned left. It was time for Kim Samuels to walk around Santiago de Compostela. She was feeling hungry and thirsty and headed away from the hotel towards a bar recommended in the guidebook she clutched in her left hand.