[Excerpt]: The Seeds of Stars

His underwater “space odyssey” didn’t last long, though, and after a couple of minutes, the cave narrowed and turned into a man-made tunnel with concrete walls which formed an arched ceiling. The tunnel ascended gradually, and after another few yards, Kobra had emerged in front of something which looked like metal steps, leading to a door.

He pulled himself up, grabbing the railing and stepping on the corroded metal. The ladder seemed solid, and he reached the door safely.

This is “the back door”, he thought, observing the thick, once painted in khaki, green metal. From here, the lab’s staff could escape, using a mini-submarine for ten, twelve people like these daft Plexiglas things they use here to show tourists the underwater world of the bay. You can even swim out by yourself, if you’re a good swimmer and can use an aqualung.

Despite the corroded metal and faded paint, the door looked inaccessible, and Kobra didn’t have any special equipment to open it or cut through. He hadn’t noticed any hint of a handle or a lock either. Indeed, why do you need an outside handle on the door which serves as an escape route?

There should be something. Some kind of a hidden mechanism. The bluish light of his torch glided around the door in a fruitless attempt to open it. I can’t believe I’ve made it all this way here just to get stuck in front of the door. It won’t stop me. Kobra gritted his teeth.

His gloved fist banged at the wall in helpless anger.

What is it? He frowned, touching the cold, moist concrete.

The wall’s surface looked smooth, but… He had knocked at the wall again, and the muffled sound of a cavity replied to him.

‘It’s a void,’ Kobra whispered to himself.

He pulled out a hunting knife he took from the boat and made a couple of powerful knocks with its heavy handle. The wall’s plastering had broken and opened to reveal a square niche, carved in the thick mass of concrete. The beam of his torch illuminated the void, revealing the long metal lever.

Kobra needed all his efforts to push it down, and finally, the gnashing sound of the sliding door echoed around the cave. Despite all his titanic efforts, the lever seemed stuck halfway down, and so did the door.

The gap looked big enough for him to squeeze through, and he took the first, uncertain steps into the darkness.

His torch illuminated the corridor with bare walls and no other doors. The debris of plastering and bars of the reinforcement were sticking out of the ceiling and hinting at an attempt to destroy this place.

Kobra moved slowly and carefully, not only because of his fear to tear his diving suit, but also because his flippers made his walk awkward and clumsy.

The corridor wasn’t long and opened to a much larger space which looked like a laboratory.

The same mess of debris, pieces of glass and plastic, broken furniture and old-fashioned, bulky computer monitors on working desks, all covered in dust—that was all that was left of the top secret project. Kobra squatted in front of a half-burned hard drive.

It seemed like the staff had left these premises in a hurry, destroying and burning everything that they couldn’t take with them.

Kobra shook his head in deep regret, observing the leftovers of computers, equipment, and furniture. Everything which could’ve given at least some clues about what was going on in this lab had been either destroyed by the staff or by the time, moist, and the war.

On the opposite side of the room, he noticed another metal door which was partly opened. The gap was too narrow for him. He tried to push it aside a bit more or find a similar opening lever like on the first door but struggled. The door was stuck completely.

He pushed one shoulder inside, trying to film as much inside as possible. The cold beam of his torch snatched a control panel with an endless amount of buttons, scales, and mini-screens.

This is a control room. 

He made an effort to move his arm slightly to illuminate the opposite wall, but his flippers slipped on a wet floor, he lost his balance, and fell back in the lab’s room.

He stretched his empty hand instinctively to protect himself from the fall, but it was too late, and he ended up on the slippery concrete. He sat up, trying to find something to hold on to, and only then noticed a piece of white plastic which stuck to his glove. Taking a closer look, he realised it was a negative of a photo in a plastic frame. A tiny hint from the ‘70s and ‘80s, a piece of a much bigger puzzle which supposed to be classified and hidden here, in these mountains forever…

Kobra squinted, examining this piece of film under the unstable light of the torch.

The photo depicted a group of vertical objects which looked like stalagmites with polished sides. Their shape reminded him of slender spindles used for making woollen threads. It was impossible to distinguish their real size. The only thing Kobra could bet on was the fact that this photo was taken somewhere in a dark, enclosed space.

Another cave? He arched his eyebrows, putting his finding in the hidden pocket of his suit.

He took a few last photos of the lab, when his camera beeped, asking for charging, and he decided it was enough material for the next ten broadcasts.

He shot the last final look at this space, sighed, and headed back to the exit.

The trip back in the dark and silent underwater “cosmos” was quick and easy, and soon, he reached the surface.

He pulled the mask off, observing the surroundings. His boat remained where he moored it. The full moon, bright and cold, came out of the light clouds, illuminating his way out of this rocky mini-fjord.

Kobra reached his boat, changed back into his clothes, switched his camera off, and navigated slowly between the rocks to the “corner” of the cliff.

After a few minutes, the boat made the final careful turn to the open waters of the bay and…he froze on the spot.

It had appeared from nowhere, a boat much bigger than his, some kind of a hovercraft with a fan on its stern. The vessel moved fast, and Kobra needed to turn back to the cliff to avoid the collision. Instead of slowing down, it seemed like the hovercraft picked up speed and was racing to catch up with him.

Kobra made a semi-loop, revved the engine, and headed to the bay. And then…he didn’t even realise what had happened. A gunshot ripped off the sleepy waters of the bay, and then another one and again.

‘Jesus Christ!’ Kobra screamed, shouting down the buzz of bullets. ‘Who the fuck are you?’

He turned around. A tall dark figure, dressed in all black, stood on the aft, and then a second one joined it. He could distinguish the third one on the stern, navigating the vessel.

The gunfire made him flattened to the bottom of his boat. He was squeezing everything possible out of its powerful but still tiny engine.

‘What the fuck?’ he couldn’t stop screaming.

The salted waves were hitting his vulnerable vessel with vengeance. The gunfire didn’t allow him to navigate, and he lost his way completely.

The sound of a helicopter interrupted the chase for a moment.

It sounds like the coast guard. A slight wave of hope hit his mind.

The next moment, he heard the bullet pierced the thick material of his boat, the vessel went out of control, swirled like in a maelstrom, and threw itself to one of the massive rocks, sticking out of the waves.

Kobra hit the stone. And then…there was just nothingness.

 

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New Release Giveaway!

Winter holidays are over, but I’ve got a little gift for my readers and followers.

Read my new release “The Seeds Of Stars” for free! Download it on Booksprout . 

Hurry up! The amount of copies is limited.

Happy New Year! I wish your 2020 to be filled with great 5* reads.

[New release]: The Seeds of Stars. Excerpt.

‘Kobra? Can you hear me?’ The distorted, pale face of Kira had immerged in front of him.

He was back in the hospital again, and this time, it seemed like the pain calmed down slightly. At least, he could focus now.

‘Kira? You’re? Here?’ he murmured, trying to raise his head from the pillow. ‘What’s going on? Who are these people? Why do they want to kill me?’

‘It’s a long story. Now, we need to get you out of here as soon as possible.’ Kira sounded determined. ‘Can you walk?’

‘I hope so.’ He made a weak attempt to get of the bed, but the headache pressed his head again.

‘You had a minor concussion when you flew out of your boat and landed on the rocks,’ she explained.

‘Why do we need to go? We need to report this to the police. We need to tell them what has happened.’ He worked hard to pull himself together, but struggled. ‘Where is the woman? The police officer?’

‘A woman?’ Kira frowned.

‘Yes. There was a woman here. She told me she is from the police.’

‘Who was she? Did she show you any ID?’

‘No, but she spoke with an accent.’ Kobra played his last card. ‘She followed me my first day in Perast, and then I saw her again on the embankment near the marina. She told me her name was…ehm…Katarina…Marina maybe? Ah, I don’t remember.’ He squeezed his aching temples with his palms, but his short-term memory had failed him.

‘Whatever her name is she is not from the police.’ Kira made an impatient gesture. ‘She might be one of them—the people who tried to kill you.’

‘And you? How did you know what happened? Why are you here?’ Kobra raised his watering eyes to her.

‘I’ll tell you everything when we get out of the hospital,’ she promised. ‘Now, we need to hurry.’ She rushed around, gathering his belongings from the bedside table and chairs.

Somebody’s steps echoed at the end of the empty corridor, and Kira froze on the spot. The door was left half-opened, and Kobra could see the familiar slim silhouette of the brunette woman.

For a moment, the time had stopped for Kobra. He saw the woman striding down the hall, and Kira rushing to the heavy ward’s door.

‘Halt! Halt!’ The woman shouted, the black barrel of a gun flashed in her hand. She aimed at Kira, but the door slammed in front of her just in time.

‘To the bathroom! Quick!’ Kira grabbed his hand and pulled him from his bed, slamming the bathroom door behind their backs.

Kobra, still heavily drugged, responded with a delay. His head was spinning, all his movements clumsy and awkward.

‘Follow me,’ his companion commanded, opening the second door which led to the some kind of a resting area and from there to the hallway.

‘The door at the end.’ Kira nodded to the hallway. ‘It looks like a fire exit.’

They crossed the empty corridor and, to their relief, the door led to the steps and outside to the rear of the building.

A sudden wave of nausea made Kobra stop and cling to the railing. His hospital gown, long and baggy, had constrained his movements even more.

‘Are you okay? Can you walk?’ Kira who had made her way almost to the exit needed to return to him. She pulled a tiny radio out of her pocket and commanded to somebody: ‘Meet us at the rear, next to the fire exit.’

‘Copy,’ a familiar male voice had responded through the radio’s interference.

She put his arm over her shoulder carefully and helped him the rest of the way downstairs.

The metal door gnashed, and Kira glanced outside, Kobra caught himself thinking he might’ve spent a while here. The evening was dark, but he could distinguish a silhouette of a parked car at the opposite side of the road.

‘Finally…I was ready to go inside and search for you.’ Edel’s voice sounded from the driver’s seat.

He revved the engine, and the car flew along the almost empty streets.

‘What has happened? Why did it take you so long?’ he continued questioning, throwing inquiring looks at a still dopey Kobra.

Usually polite and calm, Edel’s voice sounded strict and almost abrupt.

‘We’ve grown a “tail”,’ his fiancée responded. ‘I’ll tell you the details when we leave town. Now, just drive.’

‘Damn! We need to move to plan B. We can’t risk flying directly from here.’

‘Edel, maybe you can explain what the fuck is going on?’ Kobra gathered his last efforts. His heavy head was spinning. The road lights pierced his eyes like needles, making them watering even more. ‘How long have I been in the hospital?’

‘I’ve told you already. You had a brain injury,’ Kira answered instead. ‘You spent almost two days there. You’re lucky to survive such an attack at all.’

‘Where are we going now?’ He wanted to ask, but everything had been spinning in front of him, sucking him back into a massive black hole of unconsciousness.

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[New release]: Calling all bloggers and fellow authors! I need your help.

Dear blogging friends and all thrillers’ fans,

I have a new release, coming out December, 11th.  It’s just over a month before the great day, and I need your help. The ebook is ready for pre-order on Amazon and all major platforms, the paperback is live.

“The Seeds of Stars” is a thriller/suspense novella with some historical references and the plot set in Scotland, Berlin, and the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. I would like to spread the word about it as much as possible by setting up a blog tour/blog feature with the full information about the book.

If you’re interested in participating, please contact me via email (saltandnovels@gmail.com) or comment under this post. In return, I can feature your book/business/etc. on my blog, Facebook page/in the group, on Pinterest board, etc.

Thank you all for supporting me!!

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Blurb:

The life doesn’t promise to be joyful for a “Chernobyl child” born straight after the nuclear disaster. True…but not for such an adventurer, adrenaline junkie, and popular extreme sports’ blogger like Yuliy Kobrin aka Kobra. Adopted by a British couple, Kobra spends his life in urban exploring and travels.

Skiing in the Scottish Highlands, Kobra meets a young German couple, Edel Baum and Kira Schneider. The new friends invite him to their luxurious house, where Kobra’s attention is drawn to Edel’s collection of World War II antiques and a mysterious Yugoslavian file which the couple asks to translate for them.

The file reveals classified underwater facilities from the Cold War times, hidden deeply in the Kotor Bay of Montenegro. Yuliy can’t miss an opportunity for such a discovery.

Six months earlier, a prominent scientist died in his apartment in central Berlin. The authorities believe it was a heart attack, but a police officer, Trina Stahl, thinks this case is far more dangerous and complicated.

All hell breaks loose for Kobra when he comes under attack in the Kotor Bay, when he realises his new German friends are not who they say they are, and his life now is of an interest for many parties. From Montenegro to Scotland, from Berlin to the Isle of Skye—Kobra is on the hunt for a mysterious alien object, the Seeds of Stars, but also for the truth about his own past.

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[New release]: “The Seeds of Stars” is on pre-order now. Paperback is live.

  My new thriller/sci-fi novel “The Seeds of Stars” is out in December.
You can get your paperback already now or pre-order an ebook on Amazon 
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Blurb:
         The life doesn’t promise to be joyful for a “Chernobyl child” born straight after the nuclear disaster. True…but not for such an adventurer, adrenaline junkie, and popular extreme sports’ blogger like Yuliy Kobrin, aka Kobra. Adopted by a British couple, Kobra spends his life in urban exploring and travels.
          Skiing in the Scottish Highlands, Kobra meets a young German couple, Edel Baum and Kira Schneider. The new friends invite him to their luxurious house, where Kobra’s attention is drawn to Edel’s collection of World War II antiques and a mysterious Yugoslavian file which the couple asks to translate for them.
           The file reveals classified underwater facilities from the Cold War times, hidden deeply in the Kotor Bay of Montenegro. Yuliy can’t miss an opportunity for such a discovery.
           Six months earlier, a prominent scientist died in his apartment in central Berlin. The authorities believe it was a heart attack, but a police officer, Trina Stahl, thinks this case is far more dangerous and complicated.
           All hell breaks loose for Kobra when he comes under attack in the Kotor Bay, when he realises his new German friends are not who they say they are, and his life now is of an interest for many parties. From Montenegro to Scotland, from Berlin to the Isle of Skye—Kobra is on the hunt for a mysterious alien object, the Seeds of Stars, but also for the truth about his own past.
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