Untitled Black Ops Thriller by Sam Alcott — part 1

(Today is my son’s birthday.  He is 11.  He’s working on a novel, and asked me to post the first few chapters to get feedback.  Ideas for titles are also welcome.)















2000 hrs, Military Headquarters, California

Adrian, 31, 2/10/16

“And…Fire!” the training officer yells. I shoot at the target and hit it in the center. I’m a fairly better shot than the rest of my team. I don’t know why, it’s not like I’ve been training longer, in fact most of them have been training much longer than me. We’re specially trained black ops Marines and have been in the military most of our lives. 

“Nice shot, Adrian,” our training officer compliments me.

“Thank you sir,” I say.

“Okay Marines, report to the obstacle course station” our training officer orders us. By us, I mean my team, we’re Delta Squad, and there are seven of us. Me and Sam are the riflemen, Henry is the sniper, Alyx is the engineer, Marolyn and Jacob are the submachine gunners, and Carter is the commanding officer.

We head to the obstacle courses, which consist of tubes to climb through, barbed wire to crawl under, far jumps, and walls to vault over. When we’re done a voice speaks out of the loud speakers: “Delta Squad, report to Hanger A.”


CHAPTER 2: Peter Sheppard

2100 hrs, Military Headquarters, California

Adrian, 31, 2/10/16

My team and I are as confused as a turtle at the bottom of a well. “A new mission?” asks Henry.

We half run to the hangars where Colonel David Baker, the man who’s in charge of our whole organization, and two personal guards are waiting. David is wearing a suit with a red tie. His guards are wearing similar outfits but with blue ties.

“What is it sir?” Carter asks as we salute.

“There is a terrorist by the name of Peter Sheppard, and I need him dead. He’s been smuggling in weapons and may use them. He’s in a small town in New York and has a team with him that is very dangerous. Which is why I’m counting on Delta Squad to get the job done,” David answers.

“How will we get there?” Carter asks.

“You will be flying in one of our best armored choppers, it is covered with steel plating, has a heat seeking missile launcher, and automatic machine guns on the front, back, sides and bottom. It is very fast. We will be controlling it and will fly you to your destination from headquarters,” David answers with a proud smile on his face.

“And where is this magnificent helicopter, sir?” Carter asks.

“Right there,” David answers as a crane-like machine carries in the armored chopper.

I have to admit, it is an amazing vehicle. “Are you ready Marines?” David yells.

“Sir yes sir!” we all answer. Then we walk into the chopper and get seated. The chopper has two windows on either side, and they’re actually the only way to see outside.

“Good luck,” David says to us as the chopper lifts off the ground.  


Chapter 3: Flight

2100 hrs, outside of Military Headquarters, California

Adrian, 31, 2/10/16

The flying tank soars through the night sky, almost gracefully. Our team doesn’t talk very much, but today’s an exception. “Why would they suddenly send us on a mission at night, to kill a terrorist?” Sam asks.

“I don’t like it,” Alyx says.

“A mission is a mission, and this is perfectly normal,” Jacob concludes.

Just then the hum of the helicopter blades ceases. And then we’re launched into free fall. “Hold on! Everybody hold on!” is all I can get out of my mouth before the chopper slams down on rocky ground and explodes.


Chapter 4: Chopper “Malfunction”

2200 hrs, unknown location

Adrian, 31, 2/11/16

The ringing in my ears is dreadful, but at least it signifies that I’m still alive. I open my eyes to find Marolyn is unconscious on the ground next to me. I try to stand but there’s a heavy piece of metal debris on my heavily bruised left leg.

I observe the area around me. Alyx and Jacob are on the ground about five yards away to my right, and Sam is about ten yards away from them. I look to my left to find Carter crouched over a piece of the chopper, and Henry is nowhere to be found.

“Sir?” I ask.

“Yes, soldier?” Carter answers back without turning his head.

“We should have gone for the parachutes,” I say.

“I did,” he answers, and this time there’s a long silence. “There were none,” he concludes.


20 Responses to “Untitled Black Ops Thriller by Sam Alcott — part 1”
  1. Thorsby says:

    There should be a linebreak when another character is speaking.

    • Todd says:

      Yeah, I should have edited that part better. I’ve seen it done both ways.

  2. G.Friday says:

    “The chopper has two windows on either side, and they’re actually the only way to see outside.”

    Yep. Them’s windows allright.

  3. Holly says:

    Nice job, Sam — fast-moving and very suspenseful!! I’m looking forward to hearing why the squad was set up like that!!

  4. Miriam says:

    Wow! That’s really exciting, Sam!

    I love the way you start right off in the middle of the action, demonstrating your narrator’s skills and revealing some important aspects of his character by showing him at target practice. Of course, this also foreshadows his team’s quick application those skills in an actual operation.

    Your take a sophisticated approach to narrative and action — you should be very proud of your writing here.

    Looking forward to reading more…

  5. Maritza says:

    I want to read more Sam! Great job.

  6. MSL says:

    Very good pacing and then got exciting, but now that we are at the edge of our seats… well, let’s just say my balance is not very good and I would like the next chapter.
    I liked the tough-guy attitude that wasn’t just to be a jerk and push people around, also that the thinking has room for ideas beyond jarheads-just-following-orders-like-robots (for example, “My team and I are as confused as a turtle at the bottom of a well.”)
    Please let me know when Chapter 2 is ready.
    And happy birthday!

  7. Alidoro Barcherini says:

    you are well on your way to being a widely read, fantastically successful novelist! Happy 11th birthday!

  8. R. Sikoryak says:

    Happy birthday, Sam! And great job on the novel!

  9. Charles says:

    I was asked to take a look at this by a friend because I am a Marine. If you are going to write about the military you must do your homework, and I can instantly tell that you have not. You’re not showing that you understand how Marines are organized, equipped, trained or stationed. You show no understanding of Marine Corps culture or terminology.

    If you want to make your military writing believable, go grab everything Tom Clancy wrote in the 1980’s. I was in the Corps when he started to make the writing scene and his books were passed around constantly. I have only caught him in 1 technical mistake in all of his books. I have talked with a lot of other military folks and they generally agreed with me about Clancy’s exacting attention to detail. Clancy was never in the military, but his stuff rings true because he worked his ass off researching and interviewing.

    Then go grab as much as you can get about general military history and Marine Corps history. Don’t skimp on personal accounts of military action. Google is your friend. Even better, go to the USMC page at Wikipedia. You could easily get lost in there for a month.

    Go to your local library and ask the librarian for help on finding research material.

    Some Marine Corps commands also host a museum of one sort or another, go visit them. If you can manage it, try to visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

    Furthermore, an MSOT would not be the first choice for chasing after a terrorist on U.S. soil. Typically that would be handled by the FBI, Homeland Security and local law enforcement agencies. Even though everyone is supposed to be cooperating these days, I’d still be surprised if the CIA and NSA provided much in the way of intel support without someone holding their feet to the fire.

    Finally, if you are looking for a guy in New York, someone in California is unlikely to be at the top of your list of who to call.

    • Todd says:

      Thanks for your comment!

      I’ll admit, Sam’s understanding of the details of the military life is less than complete. I also suggested Tom Clancy, but, as he’s 11, maybe not for a few years yet.

    • Todd says:

      Sam replies: “We apologize for the inconvenience.” And, “Does he know I’m 11?”

      Still, all your advice is helpful and sound. He’ll get there.

    • Kelly says:

      Oh puleaze Charles, the author is only 11 years old.

      “I have only caught him in 1 technical mistake in all of his books.”

      Sheesh. What other hobbies have you got?

  10. Curt_Holman says:

    Suggested title: ‘The Protagonist Sanction’

    • Todd says:

      I love 70s spy novel titles, it was always “The Unusual Name Noun.” I was once in a pitch meeting and, for the sake of a place-holder, described a spy movie called The Bournemouth Conundrum. Cracked everyone up.

      • Curt_Holman says:


        Once a movie on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 has a scene in a campus library, and the host and the robots exclaimed “It’s the Ludlum Library!” “It’s ‘The Horshack Conspiracy!’ “The Forbin Conundrum!” and they volley titles back-and-forth that increasingly sound like gibberish. Naturally, someone made a list of them all, but it loses something when you don’t hear their delivery:

  11. Love the movie feel. Could the movie be animated? Military ants? Maybe a neurotic team member with glasses, bookish, introspecftive-you get the picture. Just kidding.
    The piece moves with rhythmic intensity so the reader wants to know where he or she is going and wants to go there. Narrative drive in the great pulp tradition. Staccato speech. More. Give us more.
    Maybe comic book style fits better than movie feel. I can see the ballons coming from the character’s mouths. Just me saying that I like the vividness. Raised on Classic comics I often translate novels into comics in my head. These chapters work for me. Sam-finish the novel. Draw the comic book.

  12. Renata says:

    Happy belated birthday Sam! Very good writing, you should feel very proud. You are going to accomplish great things and you are well on your way.

  13. John says:

    Nice work Sam. My title suggestion – A Mission is A Mission

    Keep going.


    P.S. Nice to have your words back Todd – I really enjoy your blog.

  14. Ed says:

    Sam’s the guy that wrote Prometheus, right?