Read Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2) Online

Authors: Sean Black

Tags: #Bodyguard, #Carrie, #Gangs, #Angel, #Ty, #Supermax, #Ryan Lock, #Aryan Brotherhood, #Action, #President, #Thriller, #Pelican Bay

Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2)

BOOK: Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2)
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DEADLOCK

A Ryan Lock Thriller

Sean Black

Published by Sean Black
Copyright © Sean Black, 2010
Cover by
J. Simmons
e-book formatting by
Guido Henkel
This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Praise for Sean Black:

“Sean Black writes with the pace of Lee Child and the heart of Harlan Coben.” —Joseph Finder

“A voice to be reckoned with.” —Robert Gregory Browne

“Black’s style is supremely slick.” —The Daily Telegraph

“An action movie on the printed page. Throw into this mayhem Ryan Lock, a protagonist tough enough to take on the Jacks of this world (that’s Bauer and Reacher) and you’ve got an adrenalin-rush read that you’re not going to forget any time soon.” —Russel McLean

“Sean Black write like a punch in the gut.” —Jesse Kellerman

“This is a writer, and a hero, to watch.” —The Daily Mail

More books in the Ryan Lock series:
Lockdown
Gridlock
And for information about Sean Black and the Ryan Lock series please visit:
www.seanblackbooks.com
www.facebook.com/seanblackthrillers

Prologue

The California/Oregon Border

Ken Prager woke to blood at the back of his throat and the barrel of a shotgun pressing hard into his right eye. He opened his left: a burning wooden cross was embedded in the centre of a muddy clearing ringed by giant redwood trees.

Then, as firefly embers from the blazing cross were sucked heavenwards by a swirling wind, came the question he’d been dreading for the past six months. A question that, depending on his answer, might be the last words he ever heard. Worse still, the question came from the blonde-haired woman on the other end of the shotgun.

‘Who the hell are you?’ she asked him.

Prager cleared his throat to speak and she withdrew the gun just enough to allow him a glimpse of a lone figure flanking the burning cross. Arms folded, face obscured by a ski mask, the figure stood in silence, waiting for an answer.

‘You know who I am,’ Prager said. His voice sounded cracked and tentative to him – the voice of a liar.

He put a hand down on the muddy ground and tried to lever himself up and on to his feet.

‘What’s all this about?’

‘You tell us,’ the woman said, ratcheting a round into the chamber of the shotgun and re-sighting it in the middle of his forehead. ‘Now, why don’t you try again? And this time we’d appreciate the truth.’

Prager choked back a laugh. ‘The truth?’

The truth was, Ken Prager wasn’t sure who he was any more. Six months ago he’d been Special Agent Kenneth Prager, devoted family man, and a six-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Then he’d been asked by his bosses at the Bureau to go undercover, to become Kenny Edwards, a marine fallen on hard times who’d found a new purpose in life: ridding the United States of America of anyone who wasn’t in possession of white skin.

But he’d quickly found there was a snag. In order to convince the others of his new identity, he’d first had to convince himself. Then, to complicate matters further, and despite the fact that Ken Prager had a wife at home, he’d fallen in love. Those six months had blurred the edges of his identity to a point where he was no longer sure he could answer the question of who he was with any certainty. Not even to himself.

He felt the woman leaning her shoulder into the stock of the shotgun, the tip of the barrel pressing painfully into his skull.

‘We need an answer, Kenny,’ she said.

Prager blinked the rain from his eyes.

Stick to your story. Wasn’t that the mantra? They wouldn’t ask you if they already knew. If they knew, you’d already be dead.

‘You know who I am,’ Prager repeated, taking his time over each syllable, trying to inject a tone of certainty into his words.

‘OK then,’ the woman said, with the slightest of nods to someone standing behind him. ‘Maybe this’ll refresh your memory.’

There was the low rumble of a diesel engine and a black van squelched its way to the centre of the clearing and stopped. A masked driver clambered out of the front cab and walked round to the side.

Prager caught the flash of a tiny shamrock tattooed on the knuckle of the man’s right hand as he clasped the handle and threw open the van’s side panel with a game-show flourish.

A dome light illuminated the van’s cargo space. Two people crouched on the floor. One a woman in her early forties, the other a boy in his mid-teens. Bar the ropes securing their hands and feet and a single strip of silver gaffer tape covering their mouths, they were both naked.

Turning his head, Prager vomited on to the muddy ground beneath him.

‘Jesus, no,’ he muttered, staring into the terrified eyes of his wife and son.

Part One

1

One Month Later
450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California

The package was sitting on Jalicia Jones’s desk when she arrived at her office in the Federal Building a little after seven in the morning. It was a large, padded manila envelope with her name written on it in big black capital letters. Beneath her name was her title. No return address. No stamps. Just her name and title.

Jalicia Jones
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Organized Crime Strike Force

She took a final sip of the skinny latte she bought every workday morning across the street at Peats coffee shop and tossed the cup across the room. It went in off the rim of her wastepaper basket. She high-fived fresh air in celebration of the three-point coffee-cup shot, then sat down and stared at the new arrival.

It wasn’t internal mail, that was for sure: they used perforated envelopes for hard copies sent between departments. By rights she should speak to her legal assistant and try to work out who had delivered it. Maybe even have one of the US Marshals Service guys, who provided security for the building and its staff, check it out for her. But, almost immediately, she dismissed both those notions. Jalicia was a young woman who had conditioned herself over the years to suppress unease and confront fear. You didn’t get from the bullet-ridden streets of South Central Los Angeles to an Ivy League law school without that ability.

So, instead of following procedure, she picked the package up and shook it gently. Feeling faintly ridiculous, she held it up to her ear. What was she expecting to hear, she wondered, a ticking clock?

To hell with it.

She ripped open the top of the envelope, turned it upside down with a shake, and stifled a laugh of relief as a single DVD disc clattered out on to the wood. All that angst, and for what? It was probably surveillance footage, dumped on her desk by an over-eager intern who’d started work before she had.

She picked up the shiny silver disc – and that was when she noticed what looked like a strip of meat stuck to the inside of the bubble wrap. Pulling a letter opener from her desk drawer, she lifted the top of the envelope to get a better look.

What she’d taken to be a strip of meat extended all the way down into the envelope. Carefully, she prodded at it with the letter opener. Her stomach gave an involuntary lurch.

Grabbing for a tissue from her handbag, she extracted the paper-thin rectangle of what she could now see was human skin and laid it out on the desk. The edges of the ragged rectangle were charred black. At the centre of the slab of skin, rendered in dark ink, was a swastika.

The sound of the phone on her desk ringing made her jump.

‘Jalicia Jones,’ she said, her gaze still transfixed by the near-translucent scroll of skin with the charred swastika at its centre.

Silence at the other end of the line.

‘Hello?’

There was a click, and then a woman’s voice, human, but unmistakably automated. ‘You have a collect call from…’ There was a pause before the voice added, ‘Pelican Bay State Prison. Press one to accept this call.’

Jalicia pressed the number one key on the pad. There was another pause, then a man’s voice, deep and masculine: ‘Ms Jones?’ There was an emphasis on the Ms.

‘Yes?’

‘This is Frank Hays.’

She opened her mouth, took a deep breath, trying to compose herself.

‘You know who I am, right?’

She knew who he was all right. In fact, when she glanced over to the cork board on the opposite wall of her office, his face stared back at her. An old mugshot of a white male in his mid-twenties, with a square head, his hair down to his shoulders, a ratty mustache and a look of utter contempt for the rest of the world.

But the name underneath the photograph wasn’t Frank Hays. It referred to him by the nickname he’d earned in prison: Reaper.

Next to Reaper’s picture were six other mugshots. Together, these men on the wall of Jalicia’s office constituted the leadership of America’s most feared prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood. Violent white supremacists, they’d banded together in California’s notorious San Quentin Prison in the late 1970s; what they’d lacked in numbers they’d more than made up for in their ability to terrorize everyone who crossed their path, other violent criminals included. And within their ranks, within their leadership even, Reaper had earned a fearsome reputation based on his complete disregard for human life. It was rumored that during his first week in prison, having been threatened with rape by the leader of a long-established black prison gang, Reaper had responded by beating the gangster unconscious and nailing him to the wall of his cell with a hammer and four nails purloined from a prison workshop.

Jalicia took another deep breath. ‘I know who you are.’

‘Good,’ said Reaper. ‘You get a special delivery over the last couple of days?’

‘This morning,’ Jalicia said, her eyes drawn back to the parchment of skin. ‘Pretty neat trick. Hand-delivering something when you’re in prison.’

There was a low, throaty chuckle from Reaper. ‘I heard it was on its way, is all. You know who it belongs to?’

Jalicia knew all right. The swastika tattoo had almost certainly been carved from the mutilated body of Ken Prager, an undercover ATF agent who’d infiltrated a white supremacist group the authorities believed was carrying out an assortment of criminal activities on behalf of the incarcerated Aryan Brotherhood leadership. ‘Yeah, I know.’

‘So, you and me,’ Reaper continued. ‘I think it’s about time we had a talk.’

‘About?’

‘Just make the arrangements. And make sure it stays on the down low. I ain’t gonna be any use to you dead.’

2

Twenty-four Hours Later
Pelican Bay Supermax Prison, Crescent City, California

The seven-hour drive from San Francisco to California’s highest-security prison had given Jalicia plenty of time to chew over Reaper’s request for a meeting, and what it might mean for her case against the Aryan Brotherhood.

In the administration building she was greeted by Warden Louis Marquez, a dapper Hispanic with a prosthetic left eye, his eyeball having been gouged out of its socket by a disgruntled female inmate early in his career as a correctional officer. Marquez got Jalicia to sign the prison’s standard release form, certifying that she understood that the prison operated a strict ‘No Hostages’ policy, then passed her on to a barrel-chested lieutenant by the name of Williams, who explained that he was in charge of monitoring gang activity among the prison’s three and a half thousand inmates. Williams had facilitated Reaper’s phone call to Jalicia, but beyond that he was equally in the dark as to what Reaper was so eager to discuss with her.

Williams led her into a white-walled meeting room tucked away from the prying eyes of other inmates. Jalicia took a seat, while Williams keyed his radio.

‘OK, you can bring him in now,’ he said.

A minute later the door opened, and Reaper was led into the room by two guards. A double set of handcuffs and leg restraints were linked by a heavy belly chain which looped around his midriff. A white spit shield covered his nose and mouth.

Reaper shuffled forward and was dumped into a chair opposite Jalicia by the two guards, who took up positions either side of him, hands poised, gun-slinger style, on their tasers. He sat there in silence for a moment.

Jalicia turned to Williams, who was standing behind her, arms folded. ‘Could we lose the mask?’ she asked, hoping that the request would go some way towards establishing trust between her and Reaper.

BOOK: Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2)
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