Hunted, the third in The Hunt Trilogy series is available to purchase or read for free from Amazon. Follow the link at the end of this sample to be redirected to the editors Amazon page.
Ten years later.
Midday, but it looked like the middle of the night. Obliterating the sun from sight, the hot winds lifted the dry sands and shot-blasted anything that hadn’t found shelter. Huddled together, a group of tents fought against the wind and sand to stay erect. Positioned two hundred metres from a huge expanse of water, Habbaniyah Lake, next to a small copse of young Acacia trees growing out of the ruins of an old house. Four small ponds surrounded the ruins.
The storm made the land all around look like an inhospitable alien landscape.
Today was not a day for the weak!
Inside one of the tents, a young man walked around, agitated by the wind blowing outside, battering the sides of the shelter. He disliked the grit on his teeth. He swigged from a bottle of water as he paced, constantly spitting out the sandy liquid. He spoke in English with a slight American twist. “Why did my father die?” he demanded.
A man sitting as part of a circle of four men, in the centre of the tent, answered him in Urdu. “He was killed fighting for what he believed in, his country and his faith.”
The young man nodded as he paced around the group. He picked up a fresh bottle and took a swig, gargling before spitting again. He cursed at the wind outside. One of the other men said, “Your father was a brave man, he sought revenge for the killing of his family, your family.”
The young man took another mouthful of water before turning to the man who spoke. “Who killed him?” he growled.
“The British Government. They sent a team to capture him, but they slaughtered him like a dog!”
The others in the group sat nodding their agreement.
The young man’s fists clenched, his knuckles went white and his arms taut as he thought about his father dying this way. His facial features were the spit of his father’s, though he was taller and had a thicker build, and his young beard was still a gingery red colour.
The first man to speak, his uncle, looked at him walking around the tent, he said, in a booming voice, “Sit down, Maaz, you are making me dizzy!”
Maaz’s parents had given their son this name because it meant “Brave Man”, but until three years ago, Maaz went by his western name, Stuart, which he hated! He had been taken to America as a young boy after his parents died. There, a young couple who lived in California had brought him up, they had loved him and doted on him from the first day he had come into their lives. Maaz had shown no interest in going back to his birth home, he had asked no questions about his family and his roots, and so killing his adoptive parents had been easy. The device that had killed them had totally obliterated the family car, instantly vaporising their bodies, and spreading everything over several hundred metres of the remote countryside they had visited that day. Maaz had then started his long journey back to his homeland.
He was fourteen-years-old when he was first approached. Unknown to his parents, he had been secretly groomed and brainwashed at the local Mosque he had started going to. A year earlier, a man had befriended him, misleading him into believing the west was poison and he had to escape the lies the governments of the western worlds were pushing onto him.
Working his way back to Iraq he had sought out his uncle. It had taken him just over a year to get home. Dropping down the east coast of America and entering into Mexico, then into Columbia and finally Brazil. He had learnt to steal, lie and trick, and to do whatever he needed to survive, even kill! Eventually, he had stowed away on a ship, which had crossed the South Atlantic into Sierra Leon. He then made his way across Africa, through Egypt and into Jordan, until finally entering Iraq and home. For a fifteen-year-old boy, it had been quite an adventure. But what he experienced over the next three years – once he was back in Iraq – hardened him up, making him the man he was today: strong, cunning, and weasely. He wasn’t a coward, just very self-protective. Others hated him for it, but he survived.
Maaz stood looking at the men. “I want my revenge on these dogs. I want to find them and kill them with my bare hands!” he shouted, waving his clenched fist.
His uncle looked at him and smiled. “It might be an opportunity to get him away from here,” he thought. He had heard things around the camp about Maaz and how he battled. He worried about his nephew’s safety, even though he didn’t like the young man, but Maaz was his brother’s son, so he felt he had to protect him. “How do you propose to do this, Maaz?” he asked, staring at him.
Maaz sat down, joining the circle, and stared into his uncle’s eyes. “I will hunt them down in the U.K. and make them suffer. I will kill them with as much pain as I can. I shall do this for my father and mother.”
His uncle looked at him for a few moments. “Very well, you have my blessing. Now, you must go and get yourself ready, you will leave tomorrow.”
Maaz smiled at his uncle and thanked him, he nodded at the other men, then got up and left to prepare. Again, the storm had him cursing all the way to his tent.
The next morning, the sun had come out. Maaz stood looking at the area around the camp. He stared at the lake, it looked as if someone had laid a red carpet across the surface – the sand had settled as a fine dust cover over the water. He watched as it gently rippled up to the shoreline. Being too far away to hear it, he imagined it to sound like the small streams and narrow gorges he used to visit when he was a child in America. He shuddered at the thought and then smiled to himself at the wreckage he had left scattered over the beauty spot.
The animals used to transport goods and materials were wandering around, their ropes having come loose in the storm, eating what little vegetation had survived the shot blasting throughout the night. Maaz spotted a horse lying down, it looked as if it was fidgeting on the ground. “Probably having a good scratch,” he thought. He then noticed a couple of birds sitting on top of it and stared for a moment longer, realising the horse was dead!
While he stood watching as they ripped into the horse’s open wound on its belly, his uncle came over to him and slapped him on the back, he wanted to see him off, but before he left he wanted to give him a gift.
“Your father, my brother, wanted you to have this. He was very proud of you, Maaz. He loved you more than life itself. Go and seek his revenge for your family.”
Maaz took the simple wooden box and looked at it, turning it in his hands for a few moments. Opening it, he found it contained a length of purple silk. Smiling, he unwrapped the cloth. He could remember his father holding it up and waving it around, telling him stories of how he had killed a thousand horsemen in one night with it. He used to sit, transfixed by its length and beauty as his father surrounded him with stories of how brave he was. Or at least that is what he wanted to believe, he was actually too young to remember anything. He shook his head slightly and smiled. “He was a fool,” he said to himself. He took the Khanjar out of the box. It was heavy. “Solid Gold,” he smiled.
The handle had a ruby embedded in the end and the blade stretched the length of his hand, curving slightly to a pinpoint tip. He ran his finger lightly along the edge, drawing blood – it was razor sharp. He cursed the blade, then wrapped it back up and placed it in his bag. Maaz hugged his uncle, “I will make you proud, uncle, and my father will be smiling down on me.”
“Go. And return with victory in your blood and peace in your heart,” his uncle blessed, as he hugged him back. Maaz boarded the jeep that would take him on the first part of his journey.
As it drove off, his uncle looked at him thinking, “I will not be seeing you again young man, may you find your peace.” He then said a little prayer, asking his brother, Anshu, for forgiveness.
End of sample
Hunted can be found on the author’s Amazon page here. Before you look at Hunted click here to have a look at The Hunt Trilogy. You get all three books plus a bonus book, Barracuda Jewel in one easy downloadable pack.