She’s Coming For You – Chapter 45

Maria Sanchez kept her siren off and parked out of sight of the station. She had already radioed her colleagues at the station to come and meet her on the road looking down on the entrance. It was 8:44 am.

Sergeant Villa and Constable Ortiz soon arrived, out of breath as it was an uphill walk.

“Have you seen anyone matching the description of the man we all seem to be hunting?” she asked.

The two men shook their heads.

“How about the people we expected to meet yesterday in A Coruna?”

“Yes,” said Ortiz, “a North African was walking along the platform looking through the windows and another boarded the train and took a seat in the middle carriage. I suggest we adopt a pincer movement on him.”

Sanchez nodded.

“It’s difficult to be sure,” said Villa, “but I think there’s one down there just inside the entrance facing towards the trains and another one at another set of exit doors down the side.”

“So perhaps four at the station,” said Sanchez. “That makes sense. Their leader is probably not here, but coordinating things from somewhere close by. We know one died in Santiago – the one stabbed in the neck, the other one killed that day only arrived via Algeciras five days ago – and the assassin killed another one out in the Islas Cies. That makes seven, which is the number supposed to be in the house in A Coruna. Let’s be careful. Villa, go down the side of the station and then check the outside of the train. Ortiz, come with me. We’ll search the train from opposite ends as you suggest, but before we do…”

Sanchez unlocked a box in the back of her vehicle and took out three handguns she’d requested for the operation in A Coruna the previous day. She handed out the weapons, having checked they were all loaded. Sanchez provided spare bullets. They concealed the weapons in the holsters in the small of their backs.

It was 8:48 am, ten minutes until departure. The police split up and walked calmly down to the station. Sanchez and Ortiz walked through the main entrance and Sanchez casually looked around as if searching for the list of scheduled departures.

There was a man where Villa had said, but she carried on to where the train to Santiago and beyond waited. She gestured to Ortiz to check behind her as she spoke to the platform inspector, requesting that the train not go anywhere until she’d given the all clear.

The inspector looked at her and nodded. He started to walk down to the front to tell the driver; he knew full well that radio communications could be intercepted.

Sanchez followed him, intending to search the train from the front. Ortiz hopped on at the back and started slowly meandering through the carriages, stepping aside to let people pass, and helping people with their luggage. 

Villa kept a low profile, checking all the people on the outside of the train. He hoped no one started shooting as there were many potential victims on the platform. He moved around to the other side of the train and saw one of the North Africans he’d seen earlier boarding. Villa ran over and followed him onto the train. The potential for hostage taking was huge. He hoped no one thought of this other than himself.

Ortiz saw Sanchez approaching and realised he should stop. This was the carriage where the North African had sat down. He was not there now. It was also the carriage where the assassin had reserved a seat. Perhaps he was in the bathroom. Ortiz had not seen a man matching the description of the assassin from Santiago in the rest of the train. He looked at Sanchez and shook his head. She shook her head. No sign of the assassin. No sign of the North Africans.

The station clock read 8:53 am.

In the carriage, the door of the bathroom slid open.

A man stepped out and ran out of the carriage door. Ortiz and Sanchez gave chase but stopped when they came under fire from another platform. They hid behind a roof support. The bullets ricocheted off the concrete and bystanders screamed, dropping flat to the floor. Whoever was firing was using a silencer.

Some shots rang out and the running man fell to the floor. Sanchez looked and saw Villa scurrying towards the body. Ortiz watched the platform where the original shots had come from and saw a man’s raised arm holding a gun. Ortiz fired a full clip into the area at the other end of the arm and the gun fell to the ground. Sanchez and Ortiz emerged from behind the support with their guns raised. There were no more shots.

A hundred yards away, Ali and Arsalan wondered how Suleiman would take the news that two more of his people were dead, shot by the police this time. There were only three brothers left. Ali believed he’d killed the assassin of two of his friends in Santiago and Islas Cies.

He’d met the man staggering along a back street near Guixar station, wearing the clothes Ahmed had told him about the day before when he’d phoned during the pursuit of the man to the Islas Cies. The man was drunk on his success of the day before and had become overconfident. Suleiman had wanted to check his claim and would be back soon with an answer.

Washington, Jefferson, and Adams watched the people being escorted off the Santiago train. None of them looked a likely candidate for their British assassin. There’d been a Spanish version of the OK Corral in between the platforms and those Spanish police appeared to be fine shots, judging from the bodies being examined, but not quite in the assassin’s class, however. He’d tricked them again.

Was he going to Santiago on the slow train from Guixar or heading down to Portugal, again from Guixar? The Americans would have to split up to find the answers to those questions. They decided the odds were 2-1 on Porto, so Washington and Jefferson headed that way, whereas Adams went up to Santiago. Back in Madrid, Mike Alvarez made a few calls, asking for the authorities in Galicia and northern Portugal to help his men with their enquiries.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 44

Inspector Sanchez had barely time to change before heading down to Vigo in the early hours of 25th August. A man’s body had been found in a small boat just off the Islas Cies by a fishing boat heading back to Cangas. The local police surgeon had provided a thorough overview of the condition of the body and had noted the lethal blow had been applied with an expert eye.

When Maria Sanchez read this, she knew who was responsible. Of the cell of people in A Coruna, two were now dead, leaving five who would search for the assassin. The police would have to be careful because these terrorists were armed and would not be afraid to use the weapons.

She dropped off Sergeant Villa at the Urzaiz station and carried on to Guixar station. She reckoned the assassin would try to leave Vigo straightaway after the attack, so he might have gone already, but police procedure dictated that thoroughness and leaving nothing to chance were paramount.

It was around 8:15 am as she entered the station. It wasn’t busy at this hour, just a few people waiting for the train to Oporto. Backpackers on a train odyssey, a man travelling light with a delightful orange bag and yawning loudly, elderly couples looking anxiously at their watches, and a few young people going to play a team sport were all waiting.

She walked over to the ticket counter and showed her ID to the ticket-seller who had two colleagues with him.  

“Good day,” she said, “I was wondering whether you sold a ticket to this man recently,” and she showed them a picture of the assassin taken from a CCTV camera near the Islas Cies ferry the previous day.

“I did,” said a woman, standing next to the seated ticket-seller. “He carried a black travel bag and looked windswept. It was yesterday afternoon, and he wanted a ticket on the faster train to Santiago de Compostela at 8:58 am.” The woman looked on her ticket ordering system and found the seat she’d allocated to the man. She wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it to Sanchez.

“Thank you, and that faster train is from Urzaiz?” asked Sanchez.

“That’s right,” replied the woman.

“Has he done something wrong?” asked the ticket seller.

“He has,” replied Sanchez, “why do you ask?”

“Oh, you’re not the first to ask this morning,” replied the seller. “Someone from military intelligence wanted to know about him just ten minutes ago.”

“Military Intelligence? Did he have any ID?”

“They don’t carry any,“ came the reply.

“What did he look like, this man?”

“Rather North African, but with a good accent.”

“Thank you,” replied Sanchez and ran out of the station to her car. She radioed her colleagues to warn them that there was a lot of interest in the 8:58 am train to Santiago and to be on the lookout for potential terrorists in the area.

Sanchez watched a local police vehicle speeding past as she headed off, listening to a police radio report that someone had shot dead a homeless man near the city centre. Three men in a small car eager to discover the way to Urzaiz station followed her at a distance.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 43

Inspector Sanchez had barely time to change before heading down to Vigo in the early hours of 25th August. A man’s body had been found in a small boat just off the Islas Cies by a fishing boat heading back to Cangas. The local police surgeon had provided a thorough overview of the condition of the body and had noted the lethal blow had been applied with an expert eye.

When Maria Sanchez read this, she knew who was responsible. Of the cell of people in A Coruna, two were now dead, leaving five who would search for the assassin. The police would have to be careful because these terrorists were armed and would not be afraid to use the weapons.

She dropped off Sergeant Villa at the Urzaiz station and carried on to Guixar station. She reckoned the assassin would try to leave Vigo straightaway after the attack, so he might have gone already, but police procedure dictated that thoroughness and leaving nothing to chance were paramount.

It was around 8:15 am as she entered the station. It wasn’t busy at this hour, just a few people waiting for the train to Oporto. Backpackers on a train odyssey, a man travelling light with a delightful orange bag and yawning loudly, elderly couples looking anxiously at their watches, and a few young people going to play a team sport were all waiting.

She walked over to the ticket counter and showed her ID to the ticket-seller who had two colleagues with him.  

“Good day,” she said, “I was wondering whether you sold a ticket to this man recently,” and she showed them a picture of the assassin taken from a CCTV camera near the Islas Cies ferry the previous day.

“I did,” said a woman, standing next to the seated ticket-seller. “He carried a black travel bag and looked windswept. It was yesterday afternoon, and he wanted a ticket on the faster train to Santiago de Compostela at 8:58 am.” The woman looked on her ticket ordering system and found the seat she’d allocated to the man. She wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it to Sanchez.

“Thank you, and that faster train is from Urzaiz?” asked Sanchez.

“That’s right,” replied the woman.

“Has he done something wrong?” asked the ticket seller.

“He has,” replied Sanchez, “why do you ask?”

“Oh, you’re not the first to ask this morning,” replied the seller. “Someone from military intelligence wanted to know about him just ten minutes ago.”

“Military Intelligence? Did he have any ID?”

“They don’t carry any,“ came the reply.

“What did he look like, this man?”

“Rather North African, but with a good accent.”

“Thank you,” replied Sanchez and ran out of the station to her car. She radioed her colleagues to warn them that there was a lot of interest in the 8:58 am train to Santiago and to be on the lookout for potential terrorists in the area.

Sanchez watched a local police vehicle speeding past as she headed off, listening to a police radio report that someone had shot dead a homeless man near the city centre. Three men in a small car eager to discover the way to Urzaiz station followed her at a distance.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 42

“He’s gone missing?” said Suleiman, almost hissing into his phone. “How can you let that happen, you were supposed to be monitoring him, stopping him from drawing attention to us.”

The trusted lieutenant mumbled an apology and insisted that Ahmed had not returned his calls and that he’d not met him since he’d arrived in Vigo the previous day.

Suleiman knew that what the man had said was true, so he softened his tone, because he needed some motivated brothers to search for the man causing them so many problems. He encouraged the lieutenant to look for Ahmed and to let him know when contact had been made.

Suleiman then phoned Ali to give him some instructions. Ali told Suleiman that Ahmed had phoned him yesterday when he was heading towards the Islas Cies on the trail of the assassin, but now there was no reply from him. Ali kept saying sorry, because he should have told Suleiman about the conversation sooner.

“Ali, please stop apologising, Ahmed will turn up somewhere. We should concentrate on finding this infidel. Please go to the Guixar station and see if the man has been to that station, ask about people buying tickets, and see where they were going next. My guess is that he will double back to Santiago and try to head eastwards. I will go to Urzaiz and ask Mohamed, Rashid, and Arsalan to meet me there, so we can ask the same questions. Our man is more likely to head there, I think. But go to Guixar, and if necessary come to Urzaiz, and let us know what you find.”

Ali agreed and rang off.

Suleiman believed that Ahmed had met his death on the Islas Cies, but he had heard nothing on the news, although this was probably because the police were telling the media to keep quiet about his demise until they had caught the perpetrator. So much for democracy.

Suleiman made two more quick phone calls and then headed to the Urzaiz station where he hoped to find news of the man they were all looking for.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 41

Vigo is the largest city in Galicia, the most north-western region of Spain. The city is arrayed along the sloping southern shoreline of its namesake ria or estuary. Over 300,000 people call Vigo home and it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of days exploring the sights, as well as taking a ferry to the Islas de Cies in the mouth of the estuary.

Vigo is supposedly the largest fishing port in the world with around five kilometres of wharves where stocks are landed. If you love seafood then this is probably as good a place as there is in Spain to sample the fruits of the ocean. On the Rua de Pescaderia there are permanent granite tables where people sell fresh oysters on an almost daily basis. Fish is also sold at the Mercado de Pedra throughout the day and at stalls along the seafront early in the morning where the fish is fresh.

For an orientation to the geography of the area, it’s best to climb up the streets and staircases to the top of the city, called the Castro Park. This hill offers spectacular views over the city, the estuary and the Cíes Islands. When I was there I saw police and coastguard boats speeding towards the Atlantic side of the islands.

In the gardens of the castle, the visitor can see the remains of settlements from the Castreño or hillfort culture (dating between the 3rd century BC and the 2nd century AD), the steep walls of a seventeenth century fortress, and monuments to the renowned mediaeval troubadour Martín Códax. There are three anchors in the gardens in memory of the Battle of Rande, otherwise known as the Battle of Vigo Bay.

From the castle gardens, head towards Rei Square, which contains the Town Hall, and then on to Paseo de Alfonso XII, where there is another fine lookout point over the estuary and the port. This street contains numerous examples of the city’s symbol, the olive tree. I continued along Poboadores and Anguía streets towards O Berbés, the old quarter of the fishermen which still preserves some of the typical houses, with arcades and archways. Nearby is the fish market and there are plenty of places to eat.

Teófilo Llorente Street leads to A Pedra Square, with its market and oyster sellers. I then headed along Oliva Street until I reached the Collegiate Church of Santa María, the Cathedral of Vigo. Afterwards, I continued to Almeida Square, which contains the fifteenth century Casa Ceta and the Casa Pazos Figueroa, a Renaissance building from the sixteenth century, occupied by the Camões Institute.

The best beaches in the area are on the Islas Cies. The number of visitors is strictly controlled and you can’t just turn up at the ferry and buy a ticket as they’re sold out weeks in advance. These islands were the haunt of pirates in the past, such as Sir Francis Drake who used to raid Spanish shipping from his hideout here.

Nowadays, the islands are nature reserves. The Illa de San Martino is an off-limits bird sanctuary and the other two, Illa do Monte Ayudo and Illa do Faro, are connected by a narrow strip of sand that creates a lagoon. The ferries run here from Vigo and less often from Cangas and Baiano. There’s a light house and some beach bars. If you want to get away from the crowds, the beaches on the Atlantic side are more likely to offer you the solitude you’re looking for, though they might be breezier.

The final item to mention about Vigo is that there are two railway stations in the city, Vigo Urzaiz and Vigo Guixar. Make sure you know which station your train is arriving at or leaving from. My train from Pontevedra arrived at Urzaiz and my train to Porto in Portugal left from Guixar.

I’d previously purchased my ticket for Porto, but I spoke to the attendant at Guixar station about a ticket for A Coruna. I made sure she got a good look at me, my face, and my black travel bag. All identifying marks to relay to the various groups who would now be coming after me, I felt sure. I also enquired in my English-accented Spanish what time the trains were to A Coruna from Urzaiz and repeated one time in particular, 8:58 am, as though this was the train that most interested me. I bought a ticket for this train.

I did some shopping – different shoes, black trousers, a shirt with racing cars on it, a Spain baseball cap, and above all else an orange bag. All these items were taken back to my hotel and sneaked through a side entrance. Before going upstairs, I asked whether I could checkout the night before as I had an early start.

They agreed. I didn’t want the hotel staff to see me in my new outfit as I would look different and they wouldn’t recognise me. Once out of the hotel in the morning before light, I would be able to have breakfast and also get rid of the items I had been wearing, in various bins on the way to the station.

Office Life

5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story.

One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, and a couple have sex over a desk when no one is watching, but someone is listening.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

Office Life is available here.

Office Life

5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story.

One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, and a couple have sex over a desk when no one is watching, but someone is listening.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

Office Life is available here.

Office Life

5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story.

One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, and a couple have sex over a desk when no one is watching, but someone is listening.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

Office Life is available here.

Office Life

5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story.

One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, and a couple have sex over a desk when no one is watching, but someone is listening.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price from 26th August to 1st September

Office Life

5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story.

One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, and a couple have sex over a desk when no one is watching, but someone is listening.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price from 26th August to 1st September