Eagle in the Sky

A novel by Wilbur Smith

.....Many of Wilbur's fans are attracted to his novels by his romance in addition to his adventure and intrigue. 'Eagle in the Sky' is one of the very few Smith novels that is centered more around the romance of the story, although many parts are as exciting as any novel he has written. If you love to read about the relationships in Wilbur's stories, this is the story for you.

.....'This book starts as a young man named David, an incredibly handsome and rich playboy, who discovers his love of flight and develops it until he becomes one of the premier pilots in the world. David's infatuation with flight seems to be the only thing he can count on to provide happiness and security in his otherwise aimless life.'

.....Debra is the girl who finally tears David away from the meaningless relationships that plague his existence. She lures him to Israel to fight the never ending war in a Mirage against the enemies that surround them on every border. Debra's father is known as 'The Brig' and is the commander of a squadron of aircraft that David is invited to join.

.....David and Debra accept an invitation to the wedding of their best friends, Joe and Hannah, when disaster strikes and their lives are altered forever.

.....'It had obviously been carefully rehearsed, for as the three waiters placed the salvers upon the table to the laughter and applause of the guests crowded in the garden below them, so they drew back the sheets of the plastic on which a thin display of food had been carefully arranged to cover the deadly load that each copper salver carried.'

.....'The brown-faced waiter lifted a machine pistol from under the plastic sheet, and turned swiftly to fire a traversing burst into the two paratroopers behind him at point-blank range. The clattering thunder of the automatic fire was deafening in the walled garden, and the stream of bullets slashed through the bellies of the two guards like a monstrous cleaver, almost cutting them in half.'

.....'The waiter on David's left was a wizened monkey-faces man, with bright black berries for eyes. He too lifted a machine pistol from his salver, and he crouched over it and fired a burst at the paratrooper at the gate.'

.....'They were going for the guards, taking them out first. the pistol shook and roared in his fists, and the bullets socked into human flesh with a rubbery thumping sound.'

.....'The guard had cleared his Uzzi, and was trying to aim as a bullet hit him in the mouth and snapped his head back, his paratrooper beret spinning high into the air. The machine-gun fell from his hands as he fell, and it slid across the tiles to David. David dropped flat below the stone steps of the terrace as the Arab gunners turned their pistols on the wedding crowd, hosing the courtyard with a triple stream of bullets, and unleashing a hurricane of screams and shouts and desperate cries to join the roar of the guns.'

.....'Across the yard, a security agent had the pistol out of his shoulder holster and he dropped into the marksman crouch, holding the pistol with both arms extended as he aimed, he fired twice and hit the monkey-faced gunman, sending him reeling back against the wall, but he stayed on his feet and returned the agent's fire with the machine pistol, knocking him down and rolling him across the paving stones.'

.....'The yard was filled with a panic-stricken mob, a struggling mass of humanity, that screamed and fell and crawled and died beneath the flail of the guns.'

.....'Two bullets caught Hannah in the chest, smashing her backward over a table of glasses and bottles that shattered about her. The bright blood spurted from the wounds, drenching the front of her white wedding gown.'

.....'The center gunman dropped his pistol as it emptied, and he stooped quickly over the copper salver and came up with a grenade in each hand. He hurled them into the struggling, screaming throng, and the double blast was devastating, twin bursts of brightest white flame and the terrible sweep of shrapnel. The screams of the women rose louder, seeming as deafening as the gunfire - and the gunman stooped once more and his hands held another load of grenades.'

.....'All this had taken only seconds, but a fleeting moment of time to turn festivity into shocking carnage and torn flesh.'

.....'David left the shelter of the stone steps. He rolled swiftly across the flags toward the abandoned Uzzi, and he came up on his knees, holding it at the hip. His paratrooper training made his actions automatic.'

.....'The wounded gunman saw him, and turned toward him, staggering slightly, pushing himself weakly away from the wall. His one arm was shattered and hung loosely in the tattered, blood-soaked sleeve of his jacket, but he lifted the machine pistol and aimed at David.'

.....'David fired first, the bullets struck bursts of plaster from the wall behind the Arab and David corrected his aim. The bullets drove the gunman backwards, pinning him to the wall, while his body jumped and shook and twitched. He slumped down leaving a glistening wet smear of blood down the white plaster.'

.....'David swiveled the gun on the Arab beside the kitchen door. He was poised to throw his next grenade, right arm extended behind him, both fists filled with the deadly steal balls. He was shouting something, a challenge of a warcry, a harsh triumphant screech that carried clearly above the screams of his victims.'

.....'Before he could release the grenade, David hit him with a full burst, a dozen bullets that smashed into his chest and belly, and the Arab dropped both grenades at his feet and doubled over clutching at his broken body, trying to stem the flood of his lifeblood with his bare hands.'

.....'The grenades were short fused and they exploded almost immediately, engulfing the dying man in a net of fire and shredding his body from the waist down. The same explosion knocked down the third assassin at the end of the terrace, and David came to his feet and charged up the steps.'

.....'The third and last Arab was mortally wounded, his head and chest torn by grenade fragments, but he was still alive, thrashing about weakly as he groped for the machine pistol that lay beside him in a puddle of his own blood.'

.....'David was consumed by a terrible rage. He found that he was screaming and raging like a maniac, and he crouched at the head of the stairs and aimed at the dying Arab.'

.....'The Arab had the machine pistol and was lifting it with the grim concentration of a drunken man. David fired, a single shot that slapped into the Arab's body without apparent affect, and then suddenly the Uzzi in David's hands was empty, the pin falling with a hollow click on an empty chamber.'

.....'Across the terrace, beyond range of a quick rush, the Arab's face was streaked with sweat and blood as he frowned heavily, trying to aim the machine pistol as it wavered. He was dying swiftly, the flame fluttering toward extinction, but he was using the last of his strength.'

.....'David stood frozen with the empty weapon in his hand, and the blank eye of the pistol sought him out, and fastened upon him. He watched the Arab's eyes narrow, and his sudden murderous grin of achievement as he saw David in his sights, his finger tightened on the trigger.'

.....'At the range the bullets would hit like the solid stream of a fire hose. he began to move, to throw himself down the stairs, but he knew it was too late. The Arab was at the instant of firing, and at the same instant a revolver shot crashed out at David's side.'

.....'Half the Arab's head was cut away by the heavy lead slug, and he was flung backwards with the yellow custard contents of his skull splattering the white-washed wall behind him, and his death grip on the trigger emptied the machine pistol with a shattering roar harmlessly into the grape wines above him.'

.....'Dazedly David turned to find the Brig beside him, the dead security guard's pistol in his fist. For a moment they stared at each other, and then the Brig stepped past him and walked to the fallen bodies of the two Arabs. Standing over each in turn he fired a single pistol shot into their heads.'

.....'David let the Uzzi drop from his hands. He went down the stairs into the garden.'

.....'The dead and wounded lay singly and in piles, pitiful fragments of humanity. The soft cries and groans of the wounded, the bitter weeping of a child, the voice of a mother, were sounds more chilling than the screaming and shouting.'

.....'The garden was drenched and painted with blood. There were splashes and gouts of it upon the white walls, there were puddles and snakes of it spreading and crawling across the paving, dark slices of it sinking into the dust, ropes of it dribbling and pattering like rain from the body of a musician as he hung over the rail of the bandstand. The sickly sweetish reek of it mingled with the smell of spiced food and spilled wine, with the floury taste of plaster dust and the bitter stench of burned explosive.'

.....'The veils of smoke and dust that still drifted across the garden could not hide the terrible carnage. The bark of the olive trees was torn in slabs from the trunks by flying steel exposing the white wet wood. The wounded and dazed survivors crawled over a field of broken glass and shattered crockery. They swore and prayed, and whispered and groaned and called for succour.'

.....'David went down the steps, his feet moving without his bidding, his muscles were numb, his body senseless and only his finger-tips tingled with life.'

.....'Joe was standing below on of the torn olive trees. He stood like a colossus, with his thick powerful legs astride, his head was thrown back and his face turned to the sky, but his eyes were tight-closed and his mouth formed a silent cry of agony - for he held Hannah's body in his arms.'

.....'Her bridal veil had fallen from her head, and the bright copper mane of her hair hung back - almost to the ground. Her legs and one arm hung loosely also, slack and lifeless. The golden freckles stood out clearly on the milk-white skin of her face - and the bloody wounds bloomed like the petals of the poinsettia tree upon the bosom of her wedding gown.'

.....'David averted his eyes. He could not watch Joe in his anguish, and he walked on slowly across the garden, in terrible dread of what he would find.'

....."Debra!" he tried to raise his voice, but it was a hoarse raven's croak. His feet slipped in a puddle of thick dark blood, and he stepped over the unconscious body of a woman who lay, faced down in a floral dress, with her arms thrown wide. He did not recognize her as Debra's mother.'

....."Debra!" He tried to hurry, but his legs would not respond. he saw her then, at the corner of the wall where he had left her.'

....."Debra!" he felt his heart soar, she seemed unhurt, kneeling below one of the marble Grecian statues, with the flowers in her hair and the yellow silk of her dress gay and festive.'

.....'She knelt, facing the wall, and her head was bowed as though in prayer. The dark wing of her hair hung forward screening her and she held her cupped hands to her face.'

....."Debra." He dropped to his knees beside her, and timidly touched her shoulder.'

....."Are you alright, my darling?" And she lowered her hands slowly, but still holding them cupped together. A great coldness closed around David's chest as he saw that her cupped hands were filled with blood. Rich red blood, bright as wine in a crystal glass.'

....."David," she whispered, turning her face toward him. "Is that you, my darling?"

.....David gave a small breathless moan of agony as he saw the blood-glutted eye sockets, the dark gelatinous mess that congealed in the thick dark eyelashes and turned the lovely face into a gory mask.'

....."Is that you, David?" she asked again, her head cocked at a blind listening angle.'

....."Oh God, Debra." He stared into her face.'

....."I can't see, David." She groped for him. "Oh, David - I can't see"

.....And he took her sticky wet hands in his, and he thought his heart would break.' (Pages 108-113)*

.....Debra has trouble dealing with her blindness, and forces David to leave her alone, hiding away from his attention. Only later when David suffers a tragic accident which transforms him into a walking monster does Debra give him a chance to prove his love, but what would happen if Debra received her sight back? Find out in this exciting romantic novel.

Smith, Wilbur. 'Eagle in the Sky' Doubleday & Company, Inc. New York, New York. 1974.