Saturday, July 7, 2012

Angel in Flight (Excerpt) by Gerry McCullough

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a low flying Angel!
You’ve heard of Lara Croft. You’ve heard of Modesty Blaise. Well, here comes Angel Murphy!
Angeline Murphy – Angel for short – a Belfast girl on holiday in Greece, sorts out a villain who wants to make millions for his pharmaceutical company by preventing the use of a newly discovered vaccine for malaria.
Angel has a broken marriage behind her and is wary of men, but perhaps her meeting with Josh Smith, who tells her he’s with Interpol, may change her mind?
Fun, action, thrills, romance in a beautiful setting – what’s not to enjoy?


Angel in Flight

Chapter One

        Sounds and movements from the outer door. A voice speaking Greek. A key rattling in the lock.
Angel glanced quickly over to the foot of the stairs. No good. She couldn’t get up there in time.  Useless, anyway. It was a dead end.
She ran down the passage. There was a recess to one side. Her outstretched hands clutched the handle of the door and she tugged it open.
She was in, the door pulled shut behind her, her breath coming in ragged gasps.
The outer door opened.
People coming in, footsteps and voices.  Louder.  Coming in her direction.
She crouched down motionless.
Footsteps growing still louder.   Voices almost in her ear.
The steps went past, the voices were no longer close beside her.
The men opened the door of a room at the other end of the passage.  In another moment they had gone in.
*                      *                      *                      *                                      Angel pressed further back into the closet.  It was deep, a small room.  Only one door.   No windows.  A collection of junk filling up the space, pieces of household equipment.  Brushes, a mop-bucket which cut her shin. 
She tried to flatten herself against the rear wall.  There was something in her way.  She found herself backing into it.
Old clothes.  A pile of them, propped against the back wall. She turned round, feeling cautiously with one hand.
She didn’t want to believe it.
Up from the depths, in spite of her efforts to push it down, came realisation. 
She moved her hand carefully round.  Something very cold.
She knew then.
Outside the closet, all was quiet.
Her exploring hands must have unbalanced it.
The dreadful bundle fell forward, the cold face kissing hers, the dead arms embracing her.
How did she manage not to scream?
The two men had closed their door.  When she looked out of the closet there was no light from that direction, only a few faint beams from the moon shining through a nearby window. She thrust the closet door open. Half lifted, half dragged the body forward until the faint moonlight fell directly on the white face.
She recognised him immediately.
There was no doubt that he was dead.

Chapter Two

When Angeline Murphy, Angel for short, walked away from Mickey Murphy, the violent man she had been fool enough to marry a year before, the first thing she did was to enrol in an unarmed combat course.
Never again did she intend to be a helpless victim of anger and aggression.
The second thing she did was get a licence and buy a gun.  A small convenient .22. She thought she would be ready to use it if necessary. The gun laws in her native Belfast were stringent enough, but Angel managed to get around all the obstacles.
Never again.
Six months later, feeling a lot calmer, Angel booked a holiday to Greece and flew to Athens on a foggy day which turned into bright sunshine halfway over.  They wouldn’t let her bring the gun, of course. By that time she’d learnt how to use it.  But she’d no expectation of needing it on her holiday.
Angel booked into the Alexandria, on the Venizelou Panepistimiou, a pleasant hotel, well-appointed without being overly expensive.  She was reluctant to venture out to explore on her first night.  However, a good night's sleep in her luxurious hotel room did wonders for her morale.  Breakfast in the sunny restaurant downstairs helped even more. A young, attractive looking Greek waiter took her order.
‘Ach, isn’t it a beautiful day?’ Angel said to him.
His name, pinned to his collar, was Zervas. ‘All days in Athens are beautiful, miss.’
‘So far, certainly. But don’t be calling me miss, Zervas. My name’s Angel.’
They chatted for a few more minutes about the best places for Angel to see, and then, breakfast over, she set out, relaxed and light-hearted, to begin her holiday with a little sight-seeing in the city centre.
She turned down the Korai and strolled along the Churchill Stadiou, one of the main shopping streets of Athens.  A delicate breeze lifted her long fair hair and floated it out gently around her shoulders. She wandered along, delighted with everything she saw, past shops, pavement cafes, little open-air stalls and kiosks.  Her huge dark eyes were constantly attracted by windows full of brightly embroidered clothes, expensive jewellery, or cheap gifts for tourists.
Presently, Angel stopped to buy a cup of coffee at one of the little cafes, and a paperback book at one of the dozens of kiosks scattered along the edge of the pavement. They seemed to have anything from Greek vases to paperback Agatha Christies, or freshly squeezed orange juice.
She sat listening with amusement to the chatter of the Athenian crowd, and the strident noise of the traffic. The sun, the noise and the colour had lifted her to a pitch of happiness she couldn't remember having felt for over a year. Since the early days of her marriage to Mickey.
Angel finished her coffee and stood up. She walked up Churchill Stadiou into Omonia Square – Harmony Square – feeling ready to burst into song.  The sunlight sparkled on the fountains, the heat rose from the ground – and there he was, like the demon king in pantomime – suddenly, out of nowhere.
 She was crossing Omonia Square when she saw him.
Walking across in front of her, not a hundred yards away.
Angel stood stock-still.
Then she began to back away, treading on the toes of an old man selling roasted almonds, bumping into a fat woman heavily laden with shopping.  A watermelon bounced across the pavement.
‘Sorry,’ Angel muttered, and looked hurriedly round for somewhere to retreat. 
The sun still sparkled on the fountain.  Heat still rose from the ground. The noise of the traffic and the busy Athenian crowd filled her ears.
This couldn’t be real.
This must be some kind of nightmare.
The last night she had seen Mickey, his hands had been round the throat of the girl he had called Sylvie.  Squeezing.  Squeezing.
Angel should have tried to help her.  She should have attacked him.
But she had failed in her efforts to fight back against Mickey’s strength too often.
Until later that night when she turned her life around. When she left.
She need never see Mickey again. Or so she’d thought.
Someone picked up the fat woman’s watermelon.  Angel slipped in behind the roasted almond stand, and peered out.
Mickey was still there, gazing into a shop window, exchanging some remark with his companion.  Above the noise of the crowd, his laugh, unmistakable, floated over to her.  
‘No, no, Theo  - d’ye think it’s Onassis you’re talking to?’
The other man’s reply was lost in the screech of a red car – a taxi? – skidding past, its horn blaring angrily.  Mickey was coming on, moving in her direction.
In the six months since she left Mickey, so much had happened.
She had become more than expert in the art of Judo and other self-defence tactics.
She had learned to use her gun.
She had a temporary job with the BBC in Belfast, which might lead to something permanent if she made a good impression.  Working on the local news programme, mainly as a runner so far.
But none of that made any difference.
The sight of Mickey had the same effect on her as it used to do six months ago, while she was still stubbornly struggling to make her marriage work, still believing that Mickey would change back into the charming, loving man who had swept her off her feet such a short time before.
She didn’t want to meet him.
The red car pulled up level with her.  A business man, tall, elegant, grey-haired and with an impressive moustache, got out and went on his way.  She stepped out, raised her hand.  Darted to the front passenger door.  Opened it.   Scrambled into the seat.
Said the first thing that came into her head.
‘The Herodes Atticus theatre, please.  And hurry.’



Gerry McCullough, born and brought up in North Belfast, is an award winning short story writer, with a distinguished reputation. She has had around sixty short stories published, broadcast, or collected in anthologies. In 2005 her story Primroses won the Cuirt Award (Galway Arts Festival) and she has won, been short listed, and been commended in a number of other literary competitions since.
Gerry lives in Conlig just outside Bangor. She is married to singer-songwriter, writer and radio presenter Raymond McCullough, and has four children.
         Gerry's first novel, Belfast Girls, was published by Night Publishing in 2010 and has been in the top 100 bestsellers list on paid UK Kindle for over a month recently and at Number 1 in Women's Literary Fiction. Danger Danger, her second Irish romantic thriller, published by Precious Oil Publications, is fast catching up on Belfast Girls, as is her collection of 12 Irish short  stories, The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus. Her new book Angel in Flight, featuring Angel Murphy, the new Lara Croft, is now out on Kindle. Gerry’s plan is that this new book will be the first of a series about Angel, the strong-minded Belfast Girl.


  1. Thanks heaps for posting this, Lia! I'm honoured to be on your blog with these other great writers.

  2. Anytime. Thanks for sharing your story!