She’s Coming For You – Chapter 6

Susan Del Piero, a staffer dealing with medical questions at the American Embassy on Calle de Serrano in Madrid, took the call at 9:20 am, Spanish time. She jotted down the details of the five-minute conversation on her I-Pad, and when the hospital had rung off she went to see her boss, Claudia Reyes.

“Claudia, do you have a moment?” Susan adjusted her glasses as she spoke, a nervous tick she was trying to stop, but it kept resurfacing in times of potential stress.

“Sure,” said Claudia, smiling at Susan, “is there a problem?” Claudia was thirty-five, and now she was in Spain she enjoyed wearing stylish clothing that brought out the dark hues of her Mexican heritage from the south of Texas.

“I think there might be,” replied Susan, slipping into the black leather chair opposite Claudia. “I received a phone call from a hospital in Burgos. The Spanish inspector on the train coming from Pamplona found an American citizen unconscious in a washroom on the train. His name is James Adam, from Vermont, and he has serious head injuries on account of someone smashing his face repeatedly against the rim of the toilet. Mr Adam has not regained consciousness.”

“Is this a terrorist attack in any way?” asked Claudia. 

“It is at least a hate crime,” replied Susan. “Mr Adam was travelling around Spain, minding his business, and he gets knocked into the middle of next week. He had been volunteering as a translator in Barcelona.”

“We are always trying to help people and this is what we get by way of gratitude,” snorted Claudia. “It’s terrible – we should let these countries sort themselves out and not be kind to them in any way.”

“Mr Adam spoke to no one on the train from what other passengers told us, but he had a big Stars and Stripes on his backpack, so there’s no doubting his place of origin.”

“Yes, some of our citizens could do with toning it down and not ramming their nationalistic agenda down other people’s throats, but they shouldn’t end up unconscious in the bathroom of a train.”

“Should I head up to Burgos and wait for him to regain consciousness?” asked Susan.

“Not yet, if you can get the Closed-Circuit TV footage from Burgos station for the people who got off the train there. Once he regains consciousness, it would be good to have some descriptions of potential suspects. I think the attacker got off the train there rather than risk being associated with the crime by staying put. Sounds like we have someone with anger issues.”

“Thank you, Claudia. I’ll write up the notes from the phone call and from our conversation and put them in the system. I’ll request the footage of the station platforms and forecourt from RENFE and see if we can find the attacker. He won’t get far.”

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 5

The train from Pamplona arrived at the station called Rosa de Lima on the edge of the city of Burgos. Buses to the centre of the city run roughly every thirty minutes – there was an electronic schedule to the right just before I exited the station – and the best destination to alight is Plaza de Espana, which is not the nicest part of the old town, but things soon improved as I headed towards the cathedral.

Top of most people’s list of priorities is the cathedral. It was certainly the first place the people I was following went to. The western front is spectacular and you can see the twin spires from most of the old town. A long period of cleaning now means the cathedral shimmers in the sunshine and the carvings are all delicate and finely done.

The cathedral was busy, but the edifice is so vast that the numbers soon dropped off as I moved further into the depths of the cloisters. The central dome exhibits Moorish influences and is supported by four piers that fan out into buttresses that reminded me of the Plateresque style similar to silver filigree. There’s a multitude of carvings to admire.

In the cathedral’s floor, right under the dome, is a slab of pink-veined marble, the last resting place of El Cid and his wife Jimena. El Cid is the national hero of Spain and his story is worth knowing. Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a Castilian knight in 11th century Spain. The Moors called him El Cid, which meant the Lord (probably from the Arabic Al-Sayyid), while the Christians referred to him as El Campeador, meaning ‘champion’ or ‘outstanding warrior’.

On the north wall of the cathedral is the remarkable Golden Staircase or Escalera Dorada by Diego de Siloe, the son of Gil de Siloe, the greatest Spanish sculptor of the 15th century. Diego’s sculptural style is a mixture of Italian Renaissance, Gothic, and Mudéjar, called Plateresque. Influenced by both Michelangelo and Donatello – he studied in Florence as a young man – Diego animated his figures and create forceful compositions. He sculpted the Escalera Dorada between 1519 and 1523, and it combines both his sculptural and architectural gifts in a work of painted and gilded magnificence.

The main entrance to the old town and the cathedral precinct is via the Arco de Santa Maria, a south-eastern facing arch that used to be part of the city walls. The arch has exquisitely carved statues of King Carlos V and famous people from Burgos, including El Cid. These carvings were made between 1534 and1536 to appease Carlos, who was upset that Burgos had taken part in a noblemen’s revolt against their monarch.

From the arch, I headed over the Puente de Santa Maria and turned right. Following the signs, it was a twenty-minute walk to the Monasterio de las Huelgas, a Cistercian house remarkable for its Mudejar craftsmanship. This monastery dates from 1187 and was built as the future mausoleum of Alfonso VIII and his queen, Eleanor. The main church contains the tombs of sixteen Castilian monarchs, including Alfonso and Eleanor. Napoleon’s troops ransacked the church, carrying away its treasures, but they left the tombs intact – hopefully as a mark of respect – and when the tombs were opened, many regal jewels and costumes were found. These now form the core of the exhibition in the museum.

Back in the old town I headed up the hill, past the western front of the cathedral, and walked past the churches of San Nicolas and San Esteban, plus the city’s newest arts centre, the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, that houses art installations and contemporary art exhibitions. At the top of the hill is the Castillo that survived a siege by the Duke of Wellington before being destroyed by the French in 1813. The interior and exterior walls have been reconstructed, and it’s worth looking around the castle to see the various views over the city and the surrounding countryside. The views from the mirador, about one hundred and fifty yards down from the entrance to the castle, are even better. 

Hunters vs Hunted

Trophy Hunting is upsetting. It angers me there are people who want to kill beautiful animals for pleasure. I wish someone would hunt these trophy hunters and poachers. I don’t have the courage to do this myself. Luckily, as a writer I can create a character who does do this.

 
This book called She’s Coming For You details such a person.
 
And the book is available at a special low price of $0.99 until 22nd January.
 
Alex Peters has loved animals her whole life. When her friends expressed their sadness that no one was hunting the hunters of animals, she decided to rectify the situation. 
 
In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite from their ordeals.
 
Now she was not undercover.
 
She was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal. There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks. She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.

Odd things from Britain

England has many strange, yet real, traditions such as
  • Cheese Rolling
  • Haxey Hood.
For less than $1 you can read This book  which describes 40 made-up traditions in a similar vein to the real ones. All the stories are distinct and can be read independently; this is a book for the busy individual who has a spare five or ten minutes to discover the secrets of Biscuit Rolling.
Former athletes and DIY enthusiasts can marvel at people’s spitting, blowing, and digging exploits.

Strange Groups

This excerpt is from the book entitled 40 Strange Groups. Little is known about them, hence the shortness of the book and the low price.

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On 5th December 1872, the ship Dei Gratia was about 400 miles east of the Azores, when crew members spotted a ship adrift in the choppy seas. Capt. David Morehouse was surprised the vessel was the Mary Celeste, which had left New York eight days ahead of the Dei Gratia and should have already arrived in Genoa. Morehouse sent a boarding party to the ship.

Below decks, the crew’s belongings were still in their quarters. The ship’s only lifeboat was gone. Three and a half feet of water was sloshing in the ship’s bottom. The cargo of industrial alcohol was largely intact. There was a six-month supply of food and water— but there was no one on board to to consume it.

What happened to the ten people who had sailed aboard the Mary Celeste? This is the main premise of The Mary Celeste Society, who meet every month in Lisbon, to try and find out what happened to this mysterious ship. As Joao Goncalves their chairman says no one knows for sure: “Theories have ranged from mutiny to pirates to sea monsters to killer waterspouts. The story of the Mary Celeste might have drifted into history but for Arthur Conan Doyle’s J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement in 1884; his sensationalistic account, printed in Cornhill Magazine, set off waves of theorizing about the ship’s fate. This is what we continue today. We would like to have found the lifeboat as that would have given us a clue about what happened.”

Speculation concerning sea monsters was easy to dismiss as the Mary Celeste showed no signs of damage, other than from storms. The ship’s fully laden condition seemed to rule out pirates. One theory bandied about in the 19th century was that the crew drank the alcohol onboard and either mutinied or fell overboard after pushing the captain and his family into the sea. Another theory assumed that alcohol vapors expanded in the Azores heat and blew off the main hatch, prompting those aboard to fear an imminent explosion. But the boarding party found the main hatch secured and did not report smelling any fumes. Nine of the 1,701 barrels in the hold were empty, but these were made of red oak, not white oak like the others. Red oak is known to be a more porous wood and therefore more likely to leak.

Another theory has come to prominence in recent years as Joao Goncalves explains: “Seaquakes have been mentioned as a possible reason why the crew would leave the ship, but that in itself wouldn’t be enough, because you would be moved up and down violently in both the main ship and the lifeboat. It would be more dangerous in the smaller ship, so why do that? There has to have been something else, some other reason. Fire has been mentioned, but why when there was no evidence of any fire on the ship? Perhaps the alcohol from some of the barrels caused a flash fire and everyone jumped overboard expecting the ship to burn? There was no smell of alcohol when the other crew arrived. Who knows, it remains a mystery.”

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 4

Pat Walker sat in her seat and watched the world go by. Fields the colour of lightly toasted bread, haystacks, power lines, low scrubland and villages on hillsides were all becoming more of a blur as the train picked up speed, leaving the traffic on the road in its wake. Tractors came and went and limestone ridges and high, bare hills replaced the fields. It looked hot out there, though the heat wouldn’t bother her. It said ‘preferente’ on the glass door and she smiled; she wasn’t used to travelling in this kind of luxury. The only noise came from the door sliding open to let people through.

 

At the next two stops there was a rush of people to the exits, but only so they could have a quick cigarette before the train left. After Vitoria, Walker had a quick evaluation of her fellow passengers beneath the luggage racks full of bags. A woman with bulging eyes read El Pais, an overweight man with a pale complexion and dressed in beige clothes was hungrily circling words in a puzzle book, and a ginger haired youth wearing a Barcelona shirt ate his ham and cheese sandwich while reading Don Quixote by Cervantes. Walker wondered whether the human inside the Barca shirt ever heard the squealing of the pigs as they died to provide him with his lunch.

 

The older couples at the back of the compartment were whispering and pointing out of the window, without an apparent care in the world. A phalanx of family and friends would meet them at their destination, the Spanish way of caring for people and for connecting with their nearest and dearest. The forecasts are that in 2025, the Spanish will be the healthiest people in the world because of this social connectedness.

 

Walker began to read her book as she nibbled her lunch of prepared vegetables and fruit. She smiled at how the plot of the book was developing in a way that real life never did and continued to read until jolted from her reverie by a smack on the back of her head from a black rucksack. The owner of the rucksack continued down the train before coming to a stop in the next compartment.

 

She resisted the urge to remonstrate with the offender as she didn’t wish to start a scene. That scene would happen soon enough. She put her book down and watched the person who had placed the rucksack on the rack. When he moved, Walker would move, and she vowed to teach him a lesson in manners in her own inimitable, quiet style – after all, he should have apologised, shouldn’t he? Everything would have been fine if he had, but he hadn’t, had he? It would serve him right.

 

Walker bided her time until the train was ten minutes from Burgos, when the rucksack owner headed for one of the large toilets at the end of the carriage. Walker followed at a careful distance, noting how sleepy most of her fellow passengers were.

 

She reached the toilet door just as it was closing.

Hunting the hunters

Trophy Hunting is upsetting. I wish someone would hunt these trophy hunters and poachers. I don’t have the courage to do this myself. Luckily, as a writer I can create a character who does do this.

This book called She’s Coming For You details such a person. And the book is available at a special low price of $0.99 until 22nd January.
Alex Peters has loved animals her whole life. In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite. Now, she was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal. There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks. She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.

British Eccentricity

England has many strange, yet real, traditions such as
  • Bog Snorkelling, 
  • Bonfire Night, 
  • Cheese Rolling
  • Haxey Hood.
For less than $1 you can read This book  which describes 40 made-up traditions in a similar vein to the real ones.
All the stories are distinct and can be read independently; this is a book for the busy individual who has a spare five or ten minutes to discover the secrets of Biscuit Rolling.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 3

Four hundred and eighty-eight miles south-east of Pamplona, a small freighter, a little over 10,000 tons, was leaving a north-African port and heading towards the Straits of Gibraltar, with its final destination the north-west of Spain.

The crew of ten were hired because they knew the fishing areas of the eastern Atlantic and because of their belief in a cause. Anyone checking the ship would have seen nothing untoward. The only modern piece of equipment was the inflatable boat kept in one hold.

The freighter’s cargo was hidden away in a secret compartment made for the occasion. Neither the cargo nor the inflatable would make the return journey.

The crew all believed they would come back. The freighter ploughed on to its destination, keeping close to the North African coast as it headed towards the Straits of Gibraltar.   

Killing Animals

Trophy Hunting is upsetting. The fact that there are people who gain pleasure from killing a sentient being from a cowardly distance.

I wish someone would hunt these trophy hunters and poachers. I don’t have the courage to do this myself. Luckily, as a writer I can create a character who does do this.
This book called She’s Coming For You details such a person. And the book is available at a special low price of $0.99 until 22nd January.
Alex Peters has loved animals her whole life. In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite. She was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal. There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks. She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.