Another first page of a novel perhaps.

Cribbs looked up at the canopy, bulging above him. It was full and solid, like a half-melon and reminded him of the breast that he had kissed last night before he left for this, his last mission.

The night air was cold and he counted the seconds down, knowing that the earth soon would rush up towards him, sucking him to the ground. He hadn’t much time.

Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and then at twenty he put his legs together and prepared to hit the field that he knew would be iron tight. He felt a spike of pain as he landed that almost thrust his legs out his hips. As he rolled to his right the revolver dug into his thigh, causing him to momentarily forget the ache that was spreading through his body.

But he was down. He lay, panting fast, and as his breath pushed small clouds into the moonless night sky, he waited. After a minute or so his heartbeat steadied and he started to pull the silk parachute which slipped silently across the earth, like a nightdress falling from a lover.

It was beastly cold.

And quiet.

Cribbs rose slowly to his feet, trembling as darts of white pain travelled up his back, but he knew it was not fatal or damaged. It was what he was used to and it would soon ease. He dragged his pack and parachute to the edge of the field. The earth seemed scrapped and barren, with sharp stubs of what might have been corn, but appeared trampled and dead. He reached a ditch and shuffled the nylon into the mud and dirt that smelt very rotten. As he trod it down, liquid bubbled and seeped over the top of his boot, it was cold and stank.

He moved quickly to a small group of trees that had been stripped bare of any thin branches. North Koreans were eating anything, he knew that. Squatting, and from his backpack, Cribbs took out a small flashlight and high powered phone. That was the only way he could get to the next stage, and to get out he would have to use his initiative.

He waited as the signals bounced through the atmosphere to a Cirris Class satellite that was being guided to stay overhead by a Sergeant, based in Nevada, almost 9,000 miles away.

The phone glowed. He was through and swiftly thumbed instructions onto the screen.

Cribbs downloaded and checked the grid references once again and tried to memorise them.

Then, and with some reluctance, he put the phone on the ground and taking a small phial of acid carefully poured the liquid onto it. As it fizzed and melted and he thought this was not a great plan.

But now he was alone and had one job to do and then get home.

Saying to himself over and over the numbers that would be crucial, he started to walk.

Dawn was breaking over a cold land, and in his mind, he kept the one picture that he needed to focus on, that of The First Lady of North Korea, Ri Sol-ju.

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