A secret organisation delivers swift justice where the system fails.
Pages filled with tension and suspense.
The Olympus Project
The Phoenix Series Book 1
by Ted Tayler
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
The late evening sunshine bathed everything on the far bank of the river. The man in the water was barely breathing. He hooked his right arm over a lower branch of one of many overgrown bushes and trees scattered along the waterline.
A thinning group of people peered across the water, shading their eyes. The glare of the sunlight blinded them as it disappeared behind the rooftops of the nearby buildings. The group continued to gaze across to the opposite bank. They searched and searched for a glimpse of their quarry but saw nothing. He was too tired to move. The bushes and tethered barges strung along that stretch of water below the Pulteney Weir provided the perfect shelter.
The man rested. Safe, for now, his mind drifted back to the last few hours' events. His plans had gone out of the window when that stupid female copper recognised him and shouted. A bullet shut her up, but an old bag, no doubt her mother, chased after him and lashed out with her handbag. He remembered descending the steps to the towpath in a blind panic, trying to calm his nerves and gather his thoughts.
He thought he could make it back to the Land Rover. Get the hell out of this city. Then he spotted a uniformed policeman running towards him. He had no choice but to turn and sprint back towards the steps. The man remembered running alongside the Weir. He was only a few strides from the spiral steps leading to the street. At least there, he might see a chance of escaping among the city crowds.
He had heard a shout feet away. As he glanced over his shoulder, he spotted his nemesis. That meddling policeman had pursued him the length and breadth of the country. With a warning shout, the policeman was on his heels and launched himself towards him. They both fell headlong over the railings and into the river's murky waters. Both men surfaced, gasping for the air knocked from them by the force of the impact.
At first, the man struck out for the opposite bank, with confidence, despite his lack of experience. The policeman followed. The man soon realised his adversary was a much stronger swimmer and any thoughts of a quick escape were futile. The two men grappled, and while both concentrated on gaining the upper hand, they drew closer and closer to the Weir and its lethal foaming waters. The nature of the water altered around them as they fought, and both men realised the danger they faced. Finally, they disappeared under the surface and got tossed around under the Weir like socks in a washing machine.
The water clutched at the man’s legs, dragging him further under the water. He cracked his knees and elbows on the concrete buttresses of the Weir. He punched and kicked at the policeman as they both tried to swim back towards the surface. When they did, the respite was brief. A second to take in an invaluable lungful of air, and then the water snatched them back under the churning waters. They resumed their battle at once, but their struggle took its toll. Their actions grew more and more laboured. Both men soon reached the end of their tethers. Neither man knew which way was up any longer. Battered and winded, each swallowed large quantities of water. The man sensed the policeman release his hold and watched as he drifted away.
The man didn’t know if his nemesis had sunk to the riverbed or surfaced and reached safety. The man felt happy he no longer needed to fight and was prepared to resign himself to his fate. He sensed his lungs giving up the ghost as an excruciating pain built within his chest. The man broke through the surface and took a desperate breath. The pain increased. Successive breaths brought little relief, but he willed himself to press forward, away from the direction the policeman had gone.
As he surfaced again for a moment, he realised that he was near the far bank. He drifted in silence behind a barge. The man forced himself, against his instincts, to swim under the near side of the barge’s hull, keeping the river wall at his fingertips. When he surfaced once more, he continued to breathe. Each breath was becoming more manageable, but it exhausted him.
With a supreme effort, he got his right arm over a branch and rested; he needed to stay focused because if he slipped under the water again, he understood there was no chance of saving himself.
From his place of sanctuary, he saw people running on the towpath. He heard sirens blaring somewhere nearby. He tried to check his condition. He had suffered cuts to his legs and shoulder, but he didn’t appear to have any broken bones. He felt bitterly cold. He was suffering from shock. There was no time to worry. A helicopter throbbed overhead. As night fell, a searchlight would soon probe the little nooks and crannies trying to find him. If only he could evade capture long enough for them to believe he drowned in the Weir. To assume his body had floated downstream. Maybe he could yet escape this mess.
An hour later, the towpath had emptied. The armed response men had withdrawn; the paramedics and onlookers had disappeared. He looked across to the opposite bank where a distinguished-looking, elderly gentleman stood in the shadows of a bridge talking on his mobile phone. The man looked right at him as if this man knew where he was hiding. Had the man near the bridge called the police? Was this how it ended?
The elderly gentleman smiled to himself. Then he spoke aloud as if talking to someone in a crowded room. Someone who struggled to hear what he said: -
“Hold on for a few minutes more, Mr Bailey. There’s a good chap. Our people will be along in a tick to remove you. You’ll be safe then and among friends.”
Ted Tayler is the international best-selling indie author of the Freeman Files and Phoenix series. His next project is another series of challenging mysteries set in England in the 1930s. Brothers In Crime is scheduled to appear on Amazon from October 2023.
Sign up to his mailing list at tedtayler.co.uk to keep informed about future release dates, giveaways, and exclusives. In addition, readers can find him on BookBub, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Ted Tayler lives in the English West country, where his stories are based. Born in 1945, Ted’s been married to Lynne since 1971. They have three children and four grandchildren.
Since he published his first novel in 2013, Ted has sold over 50,000 books and surpassed 20 million page reads on Kindle Unlimited. His thought-provoking mysteries appeal to readers of Sally Rigby, Joy Ellis, Pauline Rowson, and Faith Martin. His action-packed thrillers are a must for fans of Mark Dawson, Jack Mars, and J C Ryan.
Gus Freeman’s cold case investigations are carried out with reasoned deduction rather than bursts of frantic action. In each of the 24 books, unsolved murder is accompanied by romance, humour, and country life. The core message in the 12 Phoenix novels is that criminals should pay for their crimes. Unfortunately, the current system fails to deliver the correct punishment, so Phoenix helps redress the balance.
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