This Means War! by John Locke

“Anything yet?” Bronson asks.

I shake my head.

“All silent. Our guy is still asleep.”

I follow my routine of checking the camera feeds. The laptop’s screen is split into six windows, each shows a distinct part of the apartment we are watching. In the top right corner, our guy is sprawled in his bed, heavily snoring. Even though I exactly know where the guy is, I check all the feeds one by one.

Bronson sighs, gets up from the couch and walks to the desk where I’m sitting. He bends over to see the screen better.

“Lucky bastard,” he says. “I wish I had the time to finally have enough sleep.”

I notice the book in his hand he was reading. There is a silhouette of a woman on the cover, and the title says This Means War!

“Is it any good?” I nod towards the book.

“Certainly more interesting than watching this guy sleep, eat, take a shit and go back to sleep.”

“That’s surveillance for you.”

I check six feeds. The guy is still sleeping.

“What is it about?” I ask.

Bronson looks at the book as if the answer was written on the book cover.

“There is this guy, Donovan Creed, ex spy, now head of a security company, counsellor of the White House. He is obsessed with security threats and working out countermeasures. The White House didn’t act on his report on potential threats, so he makes an example–“

I lift my hand, stopping him.

“Don’t spoil it. I might give it a shot. Tell me what did you like.”

“Well, it’s fast-paced. You can hardly can come up for breath as you follow the story. Locke doesn’t really bother with descriptions.”

“How do you know how the characters look like, then?”

“Of course, there is some description, but minimal. For example, you are told that Callie is a beautiful blond and has grey eyes, but not ouch more.”

“Hm…,” I say.

“Actually, I don’t mind.”

“How do you know how the places look like?”

“If I tell you a guy walks into a bar, you already have a picture in your mind about a bar. Maybe I throw in some details like glass and mirrors and shining chrome. Do I need more?”

“I can picture it.” I do another round of checking the feeds on the laptop. The guy is still snoring.

“Right. I don’t say I would mind some more details here and there, but I can live without it.”

“What else?”

“The characters are crazy.”

“In what way?”

“Mentally. Not asylum-crazy, but not normal like you or me.”

“We are normal?”

“Compared to Creed or Callie? For sure. We don’t kill people because we don’t like them, for one. We don’t kill people to achieve some higher purpose, either.”

“But Creed does.”

“Callie too. And a bunch of others.”

“It supposed to be a trait?”

“It sure makes it interesting. I wouldn’t read a book about six days of sheer surveillance boredom.”

“You have a point.” After almost a week of sitting on my ass and watching this guy, I want to kill someone myself.

“Is the story interesting?” I ask.

“Yeah, man. It keeps you guessing until the end. And when you think you don’t have loose ends, there comes the twist.”

“I like twists.”

“Sometimes the plot seems too complicated, but in the end everything comes together.”

Another round of video feeds, and I still got snores.

“I think I give it a shot,” I say.

“Start with the first one in the series. You need the backstory to understand everything. But you will go through them real fast, I promise.”

I nod, but before I can say anything, one feed catches my eye. I pick up the radio.

“Bravo team, this is Eagle nest. I need immediate intervention! Over.”

Bronson drops his book. “Son of a bitch,” he says, staring at the screen.

“This is Bravo team, copy Eagle nest. What is the situation? Over.”

“Intruder in the hall. Six feet, male, armed with a handgun, slowly advancing towards the bedroom. Over.”

“Twenty seconds until intervention. Bravo Team out.”

In less than a minute, the Bravo Team breaks into the apartment, and after some shooting, catches the intruder, wounded but alive. Our guy wakes and he is visibly shaken but unharmed. I save the recording for the report. Then I stand, stretch a bit to work out the kinks.

“We are done here,” I tell Bronson. He is already disconnecting the cables to pack the equipment.

“What is the title of the first book?”

It takes a moment for him to register that I’m not talking about the operation.

“Oh,” he says, “Lethal People.”

Sounds good. Let’s see what this Creed guy is up to.