The Prisoner

My novel Revolution Day is currently available for 99p in the Crooked Cat Easter Sale, along with lots of other great books – today is your last chance to snap it up for the reduced price.   To whet your appetite, here’s a short excerpt.  Ageing dictator Carlos Almanzor is taken by Manuel, his vice-president, to see a prisoner who appears to have information about a threat to his regime.  But who is the real threat.  Is it the dissidents, the Americans, or Manuel himself?

 

The young man was sitting bolt upright in the chair, a posture which at first sight sat oddly with the expression of overwhelming weariness upon his face. Closer inspection would reveal, however, that his arms and legs were strapped to the chair, preventing him from slumping forward and giving him very little freedom of movement in any direction. There was blood around his mouth and nose, and bruises were beginning to form around his eyes. Facing him, in two more comfortable chairs against the far wall, were two guards, dressed not in uniform but in jeans, t-shirts and trainers, their thick arms copiously adorned with tattoos. A key turned in the lock of the room’s heavy door, and the door swung open.

“Sit up straight. You’ve got some important visitors.”

Three men entered the room; first, holding the key, an intelligence officer in a grey suit, a surprisingly slight and innocuous-looking man. The other two were known to all present as the Vice-President (and Minister of Information) and the President of the Republic. The guards sprang to their feet and saluted enthusiastically, hastily moving to positions behind the prisoner so that the VIPs could occupy the chairs they had just vacated. The intelligence officer also saluted, and waited for his guests to sit down before addressing the President.

“Presidente, allow me to present to you Hector Aguilar, until recently an activist with the Freedom and Democracy Party, who has provided us with some important information which we believe you would wish to hear.”

“I would salute you too, Presidente,” said Aguilar, “but as you can see, my arms are tied to this chair.” One of the guards moved to hit him, but the Vice-President stilled him with a wave of his hand. He then turned to face the President.

“Thank you for setting aside some time from your busy schedule to come here, Presidente. You have seen the intelligence reports, but I thought that it was best for you to hear the information from the horse’s mouth.” He nodded to the intelligence officer, who turned towards the prisoner.

“Tell the President what you told us earlier today.”

Aguilar hesitated for a moment. Then, as the nearest guard began to crack his knuckles, an expression of resigned weariness came over the prisoner’s face and he finally began to speak.

“There is a faction within the Freedom and Democracy Party which has ceased to believe that change can be achieved in our country by peaceful means. I myself have been a member of this faction. For some years now, some of those who hold this view have been making approaches to various agencies of the United States government, and to known counter-revolutionaries in exile, in particular those who were loyal to General Salgado prior to his death, with a view to securing support for…” He began to cough, spraying droplets of pink saliva into the air.

“Give him some water,” said the intelligence officer. One of the guards poured some water from a plastic bottle into a small cup, which he raised to the prisoner’s mouth. This seemed to calm him, and he resumed in a clearer voice.

“With a view to securing material and financial support for an uprising.”

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