Excerpt from Chapter 3

I finished a draft of chapter three, which introduces Bobcat. I thought I’d share an excerpt. It’s likely to change in the final manuscript, but here’s a taste of the initial encounter between Bill Penn, the main character, and Bobcat. To set this up, Penn has escaped Inspector Viruet and finds himself in a creek bed, nursing minor burns. Up walks a wiry man carrying a shotgun.

The hermit lowered the shotgun and stepped toward Penn, who scuttled backwards, losing purchase in the loose gravel and raising a cloud of dust. He almost bleated in fear.
“I bet you’re on the run,” the hermit said. “Am I right? Well?”
“Who from?” the hermit said, moving closer, the barrels hovering over Penn’s shoulder.
“Who’s after you?”
“No one’s after me,” Penn said.
Penn glanced to his left and right.
“It’s BES, alright,” the hermit said. “The fear is in your eyes. Only environmental security agents make people afraid like you are.”
Penn licked his lips.
The hermit smiled. “Which agent is it?” he said, almost giggling as raised himself to full height and let his weight rest on one leg. “Blair? Yamashita? Ngoro? Oh, he’s a nasty devil. Cut your throat to save a tree and claim you were going to saw it down.”
Penn shook his head slightly, uncertain about the hermit’s point.
“No? Hmm.” The hermit relaxed and clicked on the shotguns’ safety. Keeping one eye on Penn, he climbed up a large rock, and sat on top Asian-squat style. It gave him a good view of the gulch. He laid the shotgun on his lap. “Oh, I bet I know who’s after you. Viruet, isn’t it?”
Penn nodded, breathing more slowly, though he didn’t move from his spot.
“I knew it! Ha! She’s the best. The very best.”
“The best?” Penn asked, now curious about this wiry man who had an air of dark experience.
“How did you get away from her?”
“I’m not sure I should tell…”
“Oh, don’t worry about me,” the man said, looking up at the sky as if waiting for something. “I’m no friend of hers or the agency.”
Penn could not think of a reason to hold back from the man, who already knew part of his story. Penn told the story of his escape.
“You’re lucky, Bill, though I don’t expect your luck to last long. She was first in her class at the academy, and she’s got a record that’s the envy of every ES agent on the planet.”
“How do you know so much about her, Mister …”
“Oh, sorry to be impolite,” the hermit said. “I had to check you out first. My name’s Bobcat.”
“Sort of a
nom de guerre, I suppose,” he said. “Creates a nice image in the mind, don’t you think? Crazy loner in the outback. Woo-hoo-hoo!” He twirled a finger by his temple. “Marketing people in New York West would call it branding.”
“So how do you know about Viruet?”
“Oh, I hired her.”

Let me know what you think. Is this scene working for you?

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