Excerpt from Chapter 4 - Voss meets Redenbacher

Voss climbed the steps and unlocked the door. Off the main tiled entrance hall three doors either side led into empty rooms; the last occupants worked for the Wehrmacht administration during WWII. In one corner was a small round table next to a stone staircase with wooden bannisters. He pushed the glasses back up to the bridge of his nose and climbed the stairs to the first floor landing. Thin sheets of peeling plaster paper hung from the ceiling and a few leaves, blown in through a broken window at one end of the passage, sat neatly in a pile, settled in one corner.

After resting to catch his breath, Voss walked along the passage to the end office and opened the door. The room, sparsely furnished with a large oak desk and chair, an easy chair in one corner, and a small electric fire, smelled of mold. Voss pulled the fire in front of the easy chair and switched it on before sitting. He tossed the envelope on the desk and rubbed his hands together as the bars on the fire started to glow, wishing he was back in his own office.

The cold damp air and desolate surroundings echoing with past nightmares reminded him of postwar East Berlin. His mother, raped by the Russian soldiers, queued for bread and soup; clothing came from dead bodies, and worst of all, the constant cold that crept into the bones. As he grew up he found the way to a better life. He joined and trained for the police and after two years was put forward by his superior for a position in the Stasi; the East German Secret Police. From that moment on he built a reputation for being tough and established a network of informants and influential people. The informants came mainly from the working class and the influential from government offices and the armed forces. It did not take long to become a rising star but after a further ten years the Berlin wall fell and with it his job.

Voss decided that after learning so much about the West and its growth in economics and technology, there was a slot for him in industrial security. This turned out to be a boom business and after recruiting some old colleagues and hand-picked thugs, his company began to prosper. In the rebirth of Berlin during the eighties and nineties, the new technologies industries moved forward at a fast pace, each company wary of competitors and not too fussy about what the security organization they employed did to protect the products.

Redenbacher was the latest Industrialist Voss added to a list of clients; a man with an ambitious plan that meant an assured economic future in advanced technology. The technology, however, rested with a competitor. He needed it at whatever cost. It was the biggest project Voss had taken on. He and Redenbacher planned everything down to the last detail. Timing was crucial. Now there was a complication and Karl, his trusted right hand man had let him down. 

Voss rubbed his hands and felt the warmth from the fire. Redenbacher was going to be mad at him but not for long. It was just a question of eliminating the problem and getting back on track. Time was tight but things could still work out provided the situation was resolved within twelve hours.

“Voss, are you there?” Redenbacher’s voice boomed along the passage as he climbed the stairs.

“I’m here, Gunter,” replied Voss. “I’m on my own.”

Gunter Redenbacher was very sensitive about public opinion regarding his company, the consortium, and his personal life. Any whisper or accusation, malicious or otherwise about the project, and the EU would investigate.

Now, with Brussels oozing enthusiasm, and with the excited buzz about the first test, scheduled for the following week, Redenbacher, head of the consortium, exploited the situation to squeeze the financial minister for the last part of the financial package.

Everything was on track for a successful outcome but only just. Voss’s head ached.

“There you are,” puffed Redenbacher.

At seventy-two, Gunter Redenbacher could be mistaken for a man in his fifties. Tall and well built, his muscular body was a little overweight. What distinguished him and marked him as instantly recognizable, especially by the press, was a shock of bright red hair and bushy eyebrows. A rather large bulbous nose overshadowed a very neat waxed moustache that twisted into a sharp point at either end. Born into an aristocratic Prussian family, Redenbacher was old money, old school, and socially still living in the past. Not so in business. He was aloof and arrogant and pushed his board members and anyone else who got in his way to the limit. Voss got on well with him but at a distance. Redenbacher was not the kind of man to trust completely, either on a personal level or in business.

“So what is going on? I thought you had everything under control?” Redenbacher pulled the other chair near the fire and unbuttoned his long coat before sitting down. “Do you need me to do anything?” he said, placing a large black umbrella on the floor next to his chair. He tweaked either end of his moustache between forefinger and thumb, first with the right hand and then with the right in quick succession. His gray eyes pierced through Voss without blinking.


I love the political intrigue aspect of this. Be careful about overusing 'telling' and underusing 'showing'. There is a lot of telling in this piece The phrase 'timing was crucial', is unnecessary as you can show us why it is by the way your characters play out. Build the tension using lack of time as a factor.I like some of the descriptions, especially the one where Redenbacher twists his moustache. Is he going to be a particularly 'dodgy' character?

This looks like the beginning of a thriller. Your good descriptions have built the scene, with just enough of past situations to intrigue the reader. Now is the time for your characters to intereact to bring the story into high gear. 

Thanks guys, I really appreciate the comments. This is one reason why The Story Mint is such a good place for aspiring writers. This piece is from chapter 4 and is where the reader meets these two men who share a secret. They will do anything to get at the plans for a secret Hyper Sonic Stability system from the Americans - even if it means killing someone.