Psychological thriller by Paul Dale Anderson
TITLE: Running Out of Time
AUTHOR: Paul Dale Anderson
TYPE OF WORK: Novel; suspense action thriller
LENGTH: Approximately 120,000 words
John Morgan is a hired assassin. John, 42, is employed by Sam Adams, a retired military and CIA operative who now owns a private security firm in Franklin Park, Illinois. When John is targeted for assassination in a parking garage at O’Hare Airport, he has no time to think. He responds automatically, twenty years of intense training activating muscle memory, and he takes weapons away from the twelve assassins and kills them all in a life-and-death shoot-out. John survives despite overwhelming odds, a debilitating shoulder wound, and surveillance by persons unknown who hacked into the Chicago Police Department’s security camera network.
While John is recuperating from shoulder surgery at the company’s private clinic, two additional teams of assassins destroy Sam Adams’ company headquarters in an old factory building a block away from the clinic and then attack the clinic. Sam and 43 other company employees were in the building when it exploded. Tom Jefferson, one of the men Sam had sent to guard John, is immediately killed when the clinic is attacked. Despite being weak from loss of blood and woozy from the effects of morphine, John picks up a pistol and gets out of bed to help the remaining guard, code-named Jimmy Carter, defend the clinic. Once again John’s superior training helps him to survive.
Not knowing whom to trust with Sam dead, John and Jimmy drive to Washington, D. C., in John’s silver Subaru to seek answers from Sally Arbogast who works for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Sam had sent John to Washington to deliver a package that Sally had requested, and John was ambushed and Sam killed after John gave Sally the package. Was there something more than routine intell in that package that could have triggered the deaths of so many people? Because the contents of the package are missing from Sally’s locked desk in the Hart Senate Office Building, Sally tells Morgan and Carter all she can remember: Sam had reported that George Korben, a reclusive billionaire, subsidized the education of John Dade and then placed Dade as an aide to the co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Sam’s surveillance of Dade revealed Dade passing classified information to Aaron Burr, CEO of BBCTO, in exchange for money.
Morgan and Carter research BBCTO and discover it’s a private intelligence contractor, similar to Sam’s company, owned by Korben. When they infiltrate BBCTO’s training facility west of D. C., Morgan and Carter are captured and tortured before managing to escape. They go to Sally’s apartment for help because there’s nowhere else they can turn.
John tells Sally that she may also be a target of BBCTO, not only because she is now helping them but because she had read Sam’s report. John convinces Sally to leave Washington and hide out in Pittsburgh until John and Carter can kill Korben.
After dropping Sally in Pittsburgh, Morgan and Carter drive to St. Louis to enlist the aid of Hugh Wilson, one of Sam’s friends from their days together in the Army and the CIA. Hugh and his grandson Harold are computer programmers. Hugh organizes a small army of Sam’s friends, all men now in their seventies, to help John take out Korben. Meanwhile, Carter goes back to Virginia with rocket-propelled grenades from Hugh to blow up BBCTO’s stockpile of weapons and ammunition.
John meets Gordon Lightfoot and Simon Frieze, two more retired CIA friends of Sam’s, in Tulsa. Together, they blow up Korben’s oil wells and attack the 32-story Korben Industries building, a virtual fortress disguised as a modern skyscraper, where Korben reportedly lives on the top floor. Hugh attacks Korben’s investments electronically, selling off Korben stock and disrupting manufacturing processes.
Since Homeland Security contracts BBCTO to investigate acts of terrorism, Aaron Burr has access to federal resources he can use to track down Morgan, Carter, and Arbogast. Burr sends four assassins to Pittsburgh to kill Sally Arbogast, but Carter intervenes. Carter and Sally drive west to join Morgan. They meet in Kansas City and immediately head back to Washington, D. C., barely avoiding the assassination teams Burr has following them.
Morgan and his men abduct Josh Dade to get answers about BBCTO and Korben’s secret plans. Then they launch an all-out attack on the BBCTO training facility, killing more than a hundred men and destroying BBCTO’s buildings and equipment. Burr immediately reports the attack to Homeland Security and the FBI as an act of terrorism, and Morgan, Carter, Simon, and Gordon become federal fugitives and hunted terrorists. Every cop in the country considers them armed and dangerous and is out to kill them on sight.
Because nothing is ever what it seems in the world of espionage and clandestine operations, Sally doesn’t know whom to believe. She knows she’s in love with John Morgan, but does she dare trust him? Is he only using her as a decoy to bring Korben and Burr out into the open? Sally’s best friend, Wanda Simmons, betrays Sally to Burr who suspects John’s emotional involvement with Sally Arbogast. Burr holds Sally hostage in an abandoned motel outside Tulsa to lure Morgan’s team out of hiding and into a death trap. It is Burr, not Morgan, who uses Sally as a decoy.
With the help of two wounded vets who are old friends of Sam’s, Morgan, Carter, Gordon, and Simon rescue Sally and kill Burr. But John now realizes his emotional involvement with Sally makes both of them vulnerable, and he tries to drive her away from him. Not only does he seek to protect her, but he can’t afford personal distractions as he prepares for a final showdown with George Korben.
Korben is probably one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, and he is certainly the most diabolical. John learns that Korben has tapped into the computer system of all the major espionage networks, and Korben now controls those systems from a sub-basement bomb shelter beneath his fortress in Tulsa. Korben plans to manipulate intelligence to escalate threat levels in Russia, China, and America. When the threat reaches DEFCON One, all three nations will launch nuclear missiles at the others. Korben will watch the end of the world from his bomb shelter in the sub-basement.
Gordon and Simon, dressed as businessmen, enter Korben’s building and disable the security cameras. Gordon takes keys and an electronic ID card from the maintenance supervisor and admits Morgan and Carter through a loading dock in the back of the building. Using the ID and a special key, they access the elevator leading to the sub-basement. Their objective is to hold off the guards long enough for Gordon to give Hugh remote access to Korben’s computers and alter the threat levels. Simon uses Semtex to blow a hole in the elevator door and Carter and Morgan rush into the room with their guns blazing. Morgan and Carter are both wounded, but they continue to fight until Gordon can locate a computer terminal. Korben destroys the terminal while Gordon is using it, and no one knows if Hugh got into the system or not. Korben phones for reinforcements, but Simon disables the other elevator to the sub-basement before they arrive. With both elevator doors ruined, there is no way in or out of the sub-basement. Simon is killed, and Morgan’s men hunt down Korben to get revenge.
Before dying, Korben presses a button to activate a time-bomb that will destroy the bomb shelter and everything in it so no one can use the computer banks to prevent Armageddon. Gordon helps the injured John Morgan get to the ruined elevators, and they open the maintenance trap door in the carriage roof and climb the cables to escape before the time-bomb explodes. Morgan barely makes the climb because of his injured shoulder and wounded leg, but he grits his teeth against the pain and wraps the cable around his arm like a rifle sling, inching his way up. Just as they are about to exit the building, the armed reinforcements Korben called arrive to block the exit.
But Sam Adams, though badly burned, had survived the explosion in Chicago and Sam earlier booby-trapped the basement entrance, killing most of the reinforcements before they’re able to kill Morgan. Sam and Sally Arbogast shoot the remaining antagonists and Morgan and his men escape before the building blows up.
Hugh informs them that he and Harold have successfully restored the threat levels to normal. Sam uses his connections at the CIA to clear John and Carter, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds hearings to fix blame and insure nothing similar ever happens again.
John and Sally are married, and John takes a desk job in Washington because it’s time to settle down and put away his guns. Despite overwhelming opposition and debilitating wounds, John Morgan overcomes adversity, falls in love, saves the girl and the world, and lives to tell about it. Only John can’t tell about it because it’s still classified. So I’m telling the story for him in the form of a novel.
Told in third person omnipotent, episodic chapters alternate points of view between John Morgan, Sally Arbogast, and Aaron Burr. The author is a former Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and an active member of SFWA, HWA, and ITW.