You will have been eagerly tracking the opening chapter of David Schaffer’s acclaimed Whiskey Tango Foxtrot as it unfurls across the blogosphere, this week. It’s Day Four now, and it’s Crime Thriller Fella’s turn to publish extract four. Read all five and you will have the pleasure of reading the entire first chapter.
Schaffer’s WTF, out in paperback and ebook by Penguin Ireland, is picking up a lot of heat, not least because Brad Pitt’s production company is adapting it as a comedy show for HBO. It follows a number of people who discover they’ve come to the attention of the Committee, a global cabal that seeks to privatize all information. Each of them take part in the secret resistance struggle spearheaded by a scarily clever hacktivist collective – a struggle built on radical politics, classic spycraft and eye-popping technology.
So, then, here’s the fourth extract of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot — enjoy!
She worried that her shipment was getting picked through and pilfered from. It was high-end stuff. If the bozos at HQ had their way, the crates would probably be stamped expensive and already lost and sorry about colonialism. Worrying about it kept her up at night.
Though there were other things that kept her up at night also. The subtropical heat, the mouse-size cockroaches, the regretful thoughts about Rich. And how much regret are you allowed when you’re the one who did the dumping? And the loneliness. Sometimes—often— her day was a screen, a phone, a couple of merchants, and three meals by herself. That wore thin.
A man was coming toward her. One of Zeya’s underlings, but not the one who had deposited her in the infernal waiting room. She recognized this guy from an earlier fruitless wait; he’d brought her a Coke once. She did not stand up but tried to look unbothered as he approached.
“Follow me, please,” he said. It was five degrees cooler outside the little room, and that relief slipped down her collar and into the humid biome beneath her shirt. Leila could hardly wait. By the end of the day, she would have the crates de-palletized, inventoried, and stacked in the storeroom she’d rented beneath her office. She was having an effect; she was causing things to happen. Huzzah!
She tried to tamp down her excitement. Not until you see it. Not until you touch it. And was there something troubling in the way this lackey was walking through the little corridors of the big building? Some slump in his shoulders?
Shit. He didn’t want to get where they were going. He was actually slowing down.
And then her worry bloomed into certainty. Somehow she knew. That huzzah had been premature. Of course the colonel had screwed her again; of course her shipment had not arrived or would not be released. The hot wait was just a two-hour insult, and she was an idiot for sitting through it. What the fuck? She was trying to help this place, and she had a way to be of help.
They entered a room and passed a klatch of officers taking tea at a plastic table, and Leila could feel their eyes on her. At every door, there was a boy with a rifle, sweating under a helmet. The menace was present in everything here; it was like walking by a man holding a stick, the man silent, the stick raised above his head.
They arrived at the underling’s desk, and he indicated a chair where Leila should sit. She didn’t sit. “My boxes aren’t here, are they?” she asked the lackey in Burmese. She didn’t know the word for “shipment.”
He turned around, shook his head minutely, failed to meet her clamped gaze. Yeah, he hated this. “You will sign?” he said in English, pushing toward Leila a sheaf of papers. She’d seen those before. She’d signed them already.
She picked up the papers on the desk. Oh, fuck it. If they weren’t going to release her shipment this time, she was going to make trouble.