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Enemy of Freedom by Paul Coulter

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Genre/Category: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
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Enemy of Freedom by Paul Coulter
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Enemy of Freedom is a thriller that reads like the worst case headlines for America's near term future: Terrorists Detonate Refinery. Hundreds Dead at Tunnel Blast. V.P. Assassinated in Nerve Gas Strike. President Lewis Announces Run for 3rd Term.

When she discovers gross improprieties in the arrest of Imad Khalif, Assistant U. S. Attorney Kyrie Langford contacts investigative journalist Davis Brandt. Kyrie is a conservative young woman with a strong record of convicting terrorists. Brandt is a firebrand reporter for the Washington Post, a divorced man single-minded about exposing administration abuses. Together, they uncover clandestine government activities of totalitarian proportions ...


Three miles off Cape May, Captain Magnus Nording logged the Princess Anna’s safe arrival into U.S. waters. A pilot came aboard at Fortescue, New Jersey to steer the vessel up the Delaware’s northbound channel. At Port Penn, one of Nording’s crewman stepped into the communications room.

“Captain wants you on the sonar, sir,” he said to Mr. Juhl, the second mate.

“He does? That’s Reisner’s job.” Juhl wondered why Captain Nording didn’t use the intercom, like usual.  “I’ll just radio the bridge, see what’s the trouble.”

Juhl turned to his console. The crewman ducked beneath a bulkhead. He was tall for a sailor, made even taller by dark, curly hair that rose three inches above his scalp. He moved with speed, but silently. From beneath his sleeve, he drew a knife as he stepped behind the second mate.

Before Juhl pressed the radio’s transmit button, the crewman grabbed a handful of collar and reached around. In one smooth motion, his knife sliced easily through Juhl’s skin, epidermis, cartilage, larynx, carotid artery, and esophagus. It severed halfway through Juhl’s neck. The blade was short, but extremely sharp. Juhl slumped to the floor, blinking with disbelief. He’d been promised a first mate’s berth on the company’s newest ship next voyage. This was supposed to be his last trip on the Princess Anna. That part was true, Juhl realized as he died.

Two decks below, a much shorter man stepped into the engine room.  He had a handsome face, but wasn’t vain about it. His manner was so friendly, girls flirted with him every time they were ashore. The other crewmen weren’t jealous, since Iannos had a gift for keeping parties going. He always had a joke to tell, a cheerful laugh, a ready wallet. In addition to English, which all the sailors used as a common language, Iannos spoke Greek, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.  He easily attracted clusters of pretty women and he knew how to share.

“Captain wants your repair log,” Iannos said to Mr. Halvestrom, the engineer. “Now?  I usually write it up when we’re in port.  What’s the hurry?”

“Didn’t say, sir.  Maybe he needs it for his table’s wobbly leg.  Maybe for his own, tonight.  The middle one, you know?”

“Hah! I’ll have to tell him that one.” Halvestrom smiled with appreciation at Iannos’s questionable wit. He scratched within his longish beard, found a speck of grit, held it up to the light, examined it. “All right, I’ll dig out the log. Do me a favor – keep an eye on the gauges for me.”

“Yes, sir.”

When Halvestrom turned to root through stacks of grease-stained papers on a metal table, Iannos reached into his pocket.  He favored a utility knife, because you could retract its blade.

But like his tall companion, he also kept his weapon very sharp. He grabbed the big Swede by his beard, yanked hard so his neck came around. A shame. Of all the shipping company’s officers, he liked this engineer the most. He happened to know that Halvestrom had three young daughters, all adopted.  And never cheated on his plain-faced wife.

Nothing to be done but make it a quick, painless death.  Iannos put all his strength into the strike. Halvestrom must have been about to exhale when the blade sliced through his trachea, because Iannos heard a hiss of air.

“Please forgive me,” he said to the dying man.

Iannos let go of Halvestrom’s beard and cradled him gently to the floor.

As the ship continued toward New Castle, the first mate and five crewmen were killed, too. Inside the wheelhouse, Captain Nording didn’t know that eight men lay below with gaping throats.  Around the corpses, eight red pools began to darken.