Friday, March 23, 2012


SOL OCCAXUS (Sunset) Monday, 19 September, 2011

CREPUSCULUM (Evening Twilight)

I. Friday, 23 September, 2011
II. Thursday, 29 September, 2011
III. Thursday, 29 September, 2011
IV. Sunday, 16 October, 2011

VESPER (Evening Dusk)

I. Sunday, 23 October, 2011
II. Sunday, 30 October, 2011
III. Wednesday, 9 November, 2011
IV. Monday, 14 November, 2011
V. Monday, 14 November, 2011

CONCUBIUM (First Sleep – Coitus – Rest)

I. Thursday, 17 November 2011
II. Sunday, 20 November, 2011
III. Friday, 25 November, 2011
IV. Thursday, 1 December, 2011
V. Thursday, 1 December, 2011
VI. Thursday, 8 December, 2011
VII. Sunday, 11 December, 2011


I. Sunday, 1 January, 2012
II. Thursday, 5 January, 2012
III. Saturday, 7 January, 2012
IV. Monday, 16 January, 2012
V. Sunday, 29 January, 2012
VI. Sunday, 29 January, 2012
VII. Friday, 3 February, 2012
VIII. Friday, 3 February, 2012


I. Sunday, 12 February, 2012
II. Saturday, 18 February, 2012
III. Wednesday, 22 February, 2012

MATUTINUM (Dawn Goddess)

I. Monday, 27 February, 2012
II. Sunday, 4 March, 2012
III. Sunday, 4 March, 2012
IV. Friday, 9 March, 2012
V. Friday, 16 March, 2012
VI. Friday, 16 March, 2012
VII. Friday, 16 March, 2012
VIII. Friday, 16 March, 2012
IX. Wednesday, 21 March, 2012
X. Wednesday, 21 March, 2012
XI. Wednesday, 21 March, 2012
XII. Friday, 23 March, 2012
XIII. Friday, 23 March, 2012
XIV. Friday, 23 March, 2012

DILUCULUM (Dawn Twilight)

SOLI ORTUS (Sunrise)



Michael Mara drifted quietly away from the downstairs room where General Bob Arnold and the other agents were huddled around the console. He felt that he was in the way and so climbed back up the stairs to the balcony bedroom. The telescopes and audio-mikes remained on automatic and whirred and focused in response to commands from below. He stepped out onto the observation deck, having found a pair of binoculars. Across the narrow valley Alexander’s villa was lit up like a baseball game. Occasionally, in the dark shadows, bursts of orange flame could be seen and the noise from the alarms and the shots intermingled. It felt very real and very immediate and he knelt down, afraid of attracting a stray bullet. Through the binoculars he saw that there were figures on the balcony surrounding the villa. He recognised them as Alexander and Rod Mallory.
As he watched Michael had the sensation that the whole scene was being played out for him in cinematic slow motion. He saw Rod Mallory reaching over the balcony for the gun that he had hidden and then pointing it at Alexander’s back. He watched Alexander half-turn and then fall backwards out of view. He saw Rod then turn and point his gun at somebody else. He saw the figure crouch and recognised immediately that it was Isabella. He heard the shots and then watched as another figure ran onto the balcony. He soon realised it was another woman, Isabella’s athletic cousin, Zoë, with her wild eyes and wild red hair. There were more shots as she discharged a gun as she ran. She then stopped suddenly and slumped against the wall. He could not make out where Rod was and thought that he must be on the ground behind the balcony wall.
Isabella . . . he saw Isabella crawl forward toward Zoe. Thank God! He thought. “Look over here, Isabella. I’m here,” he whispered. There were more shots. She should get away from the villa as fast as possible, he realised. “Isabella. Get away. Run Isabella. Isabellllla . . .” he screamed out across the valley as loud as he could. Michael saw her suddenly look up and around somewhat confused. “She must have heard me,” he said aloud as he watched her disappear back into the shadows. Suddenly there was a noise there was a noise behind me and turning in fright, lifted the binoculars to swing them in his defense. It was Bob Arnold.
“Steady on Michael! It’s me! What’s happening up here?” the General grunted. “I heard shouting. I thought something had happened to you.”
“No. Nothing physical anyway,” Michael replied tersely as he turned back to look at the villa.
“Our teams nearly have control. Both al-Sa’igh and the man Sancho are down,” Arnold explained.
“Dead?” he asked.
“And the others?”
“Withdrawn to . . . Oh fuck! What’s that?”
Arnold rushed past Michael to the balcony. Ahead of them a bright blinding flash burst through the windows of the villa followed by a thunderclap that rolled across the valley. He thought he felt something pass close to his ear as he was thrown to the ground by the force of air. Arnold fell on top of him. “What’s happened?” Michael asked as he stared up into Arnold’s frightened face.
“Alexander’s place has blown. Stay down, Michael.”

Over the next ten minutes Michael heard the crackling death rattle of glass and masonry and occasionally another thunderclap sounded and debris bounced off the observation deck. He pulled out from under Arnold and lifted his head to the level of the rail. He needed to see what had happened. “Isabella! Oh no! Not you too, Isabella,” he cried out loud. Turning slowly away, he began to crawl back towards the bedroom across the glass-strewn deck.
“Where are you going, Michael? Come back!”
“I’ve got to go over there. Don’t stop me, Bob.” He stood up and began to race towards the door. He heard Arnold behind him barking orders into his radio-mike. Dave met him at the foot of the stairs. Michael pretended to stop and as the agent relaxed he ducked under his arm and out the main door.

Skirting the villa perimeter Michael opted for a direct route and a headlong run down the steep valley towards the villa on the other slope. He soon fell and tumbled out of control down through the groves of chestnut and oak. Down and down he tumbled. He could feel the low-level juniper bushes tear at his legs but did not care. Hitting a dry riverbed he got unsteadily to his feet. He heard somebody behind him but began to climb again. A piece of burning wood landed close to his head and sparks and smoke filled the air as they cascaded down on him from above. Suddenly his legs were held and he lashed out.
“Stop it, Michael, or I will shoot you to prevent you going any further.”
Michael stopped struggling. The tone and intent of Dave’s voice told him he meant it. “Dave! Please let me go. I must . . . I must . . .” He started to cry and searing uncontrollable tears coursed down his face. “Isabella’s in there. I must try to help her.”
“I know, but it’s not possible, Michael. It’s too fucken dangerous this way.”


Sa’id Alkahiri’s apartment on the New Jersey shoreline gave him an uninterrupted view across the Hudson River of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. It was a clear day with late summer sunshine glistening off the windows of the skyscrapers. The cell phone in his pocket began to vibrate and he took note of the caller identification number as he opened its flap.
As-salamu aahalaykum, my brother!” a voice said.
“And peace, God’s mercy and His blessings be upon you too, my brother!”
“How does it go with you?”
“I leave tomorrow to perform my duty. The demon Massoud will take his leave of us soon.”
“You will be remembered as a true martyr of the Bayt Kathir. How will it be achieved?”
“I am posing as a journalist. Musallam al Bahr travels with me.”
“It is good to have friends at this time. God’s blessings be upon you both!”
“What of you, my brother.”
“It is very near, Hasan. We are prepared and the fatwa of our glorious leader will soon be achieved. We will punish the unbelievers for their defilement of the Holy Places.”
“Are Radiyyah and the children with you?”
“Yes, but they leave tomorrow for Doha. Tonight we will feast on the habshah and chew the tambul. Even now there the hawjiri frankincense is making the foul air of this putrid place smell of the mountains of the Jabal Samhan.”
“That is good, Sa’id. I will pray for them on their journey.”
“Thank you, Hasan.”
“I must go now, my brother. Goodbye.”
“We will meet each other on the ezirit road into paradise, my brother. May God wrap you in a bisht cloak of golden thread to help you on that journey. Farewell!”


As Michael Mara and the agent Dave re-entered the house after a climb back up the hill the echoes from explosions in Alexander’s villa still reverberated around the room.
“Michael,” a voice called from the living-room.
“Yes, Bob,” Michael said defeated and weary as he entered the room.
“Come with me, Michael, I need to talk to you.” Arnold’s said. “You can wash up later.”
Arnold’s tone was tautly serious and Michael saw so was the General’s facial expression. “What is it, Bob?” he asked.
“Let’s go in here.” Arnold directed as he pushed open the door of one of the other bedrooms and after a quick inspection invited him in. His features were ashen as he spoke, “I’ve some very bad news, Michael.”
“What is it Bob? Have they found Isabella?”
“No. It’s not about Isabella Sanjil, It concerns . . .” He began to shake his head. “. . . I don’t know how to say this.”
At that exact moment Michael knew what Arnold was going to tell him. Something had happened to Caroline. “Caroline?” him whispered.
“Caroline . . .” He looked away. “Has been found dead.”
Jesus!” Michael felt the air around him evaporate.
“I’m so sorry.”

Michael hardly heard him. There had often been times in the past where, in lonely moments, he had played out this scenario in his head, particularly when his wife’s increasing Agency fieldwork appeared to become more and more dangerous. Sometimes he had wondered whether it was his concern for her or a concern for his work in Hoxygene that drove the abstract game of irrational anticipation. In his waking state the concerns were dismissed as responses of reasonable paranoia but sometimes in his sleep the nightmares of guilt were much more vivid. He had dreamt a coffin, draped with a confused top-spread of Union Jack crosses and Stars and Stripes, being lowered into a snow-blanket-covered ground of an English West Country church’s chestnut-pocked graveyard. He had dreamy seeing her face smile up at the sombre and grey-faced mourners as their handfuls of frozen earth hailed down to bounce off the varnished oak of the casket lid. Michael’s legs weakened, and he staggered to the edge of the room’s small bed and sat down. He stared wide-eyed at Arnold, wanting to disbelieve him. “What . . . What happened? When? Where?” he stuttered."Are you certain?"
“Mexico. Caroline was found. . .” Arnold stopped unable to look directly at Michael.
“Tell me, Bob. Fuck you! Don’t mess with me. Not with Caroline.” Michael stood up and pulled at Arnold’s jacket.
The soldier jerked away. “She was found with somebody else, Michael. A Mexican drugs enforcement officer. It looks like they were the victims of a cartel assassination.”
“Found where, Bob?”
“I . . . I don’t have all the details yet, Michael.”
Michael realised an evasion. “The fuck you don’t. Tell me, Bob!”
“I’m so sorry, Michael. It’s . . . it’s just that Caroline was found . . . They were found in his bedroom, in his bed, naked. Both killed with single shots to the head. She didn’t suffer, Michael.”
“I don’t believe you,” he shouted.
“Keep your voice down, Michael. We do not want to draw attention.”
“Fuck the attention, Bob. Who was the Mexican?”
“A man called Diego Rios. He is . . . he was a commander in the Federal Preventive Police and apparently part of the combined task-force she was briefing.”

Somehow, knowing his name made it worse for Michael. This man Rios suddenly had an identity, a life, and a past… a reality. He breathed, he lived, and he made love. Had he made love to Caroline? What was she doing with him? Why did she do it? She must have been drugged or threatened? He then thought of his own recent behaviour and the tone of their last conversation. Both of them were at risk, both of them had succumbed to that wanting. Caroline was dead, he was alive. He felt the guilt, she could feel nothing, he realised as he slid off the edge of the bed and slumped to the floor. He stared at the space between his feet, and began to open and close the gap between them like shutters. He needed to contact Caroline’s brother. He needed to make arrangements. He finally looked up at Arnold, who hovered, embarrassed and silent, above him. “Bob, ask Dave to drive me back to Ajaccio. I need to get back home.”
“Michael, nothing can happen tonight. Our plane will bring you to London in the morning. There is a flight to Mexico at mid-day. I have you booked.”
“Yes. Caroline’s body is in the morgue in La Paz. You have to go there to give a formal identification before an autopsy can occur.”
“An autopsy. No way.”
“Michael I’m really sorry but this goes all the way to the top. Both the American and Mexican Presidents have been informed. Caroline was part of a high priority joint federal task force.”
“I know.”
“A forensic autopsy will be automatic.”
“Shit. Not to Caroline it won’t!” Michael’s medical training had convinced him of the necessity of autopsies but this was personal and difficult to rationalize. He wanted to know everything and nothing about the circumstances of Caroline’s death.
“The coroner’s court will be in camera and all reports secret.”
It was as if Arnold had read Michael’s thoughts. “Will I have access, Bob?”
“Yes. You have top-level security clearance.”
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” he whispered. “Who would do this to Caroline, to us?”

The room was suddenly quiet but Bob Arnold continued to hover like a waiting vulture of sympathy. He moved closer and hunkered down onto his knees beside Michael. “Michael, there is something else I need to tell you about.”
“What else could there be Bob?” Michael said wearily, not listening and not caring. “What the fuck else could there be?”
“We think we know who might have been responsible for the kill . . . for shooting, Caroline.”
Michael’s head shot up. “What? Who?”
“How well did you know –”
At that moment the bedroom door swung open with a loud bang. Karl, clearly agitated, burst into the room. “General. Come back to base. Stat!”
“What is it, Karl?” Bob Arnold stood up.
“The French Security Minister and our Ambassador in Paris are on the lines. They are demanding your instant attention and are not happy campers.”
“Shit! Just what I need,” the senior officer groaned.
Karl and Arnold hurried out of the room. Michael shouted after them, “Bob, what were you going to tell me? Bob! Don’t leave me alone, please. ”
Arnold stopped and looked back down at him. “Michael, I really am very sorry. I wish there was more I could do to make it easier. Throw some water on your face and come after us. I’ll continue what I was saying there. I must go.”

Arnold was gone, and Michael Mara couldn’t move. As he rocked back and forward against the bed, he began to cry again: for Caroline, for them; for what they had had …once.

And he wished for hope and thought of Isabella.

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