Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and current ABC News consultant, has taken his first stab at fiction writing.
In "The Scorpion's Gate," Islamic fundamentalists take control in Saudi Arabia and the United States may be headed toward another war in the Middle East. The book is set five years in the future, and although it is a work of fiction, Clarke said it is not impossible that some of the events could become reality.
"The book intends to raise these issues, but I'm not giving odds that these things will happen," Clarke said. "As a matter of policy, for example, our country advocates democracy in the Middle East. That could lead to the overthrow of the Royal House in Saudi Arabia. If that country did become a republic, it's not clear that the good guys would be in charge. So while I'm not predicting the fall of the House of Saud, I am raising questions that would emerge if that were to happen."
You can read an excerpt from "The Scorpion's Gate" below.
The waiter flew through the lobby café.
Behind him came a blizzard of glass shards, embedding ragged-edge daggers of shattered windows in arms, eyeballs, legs, brains. The concussion wave bounced off the marble walls with a mule-kick punch he felt in his stomach. Then there was the deafening sound of the explosion, so loud it surrounded him with a physical force, shaking every bone and organ in his body.
Brian Douglas dove for the floor, behind a tipped table. His response was automatic, as if muscle memory had told him what to do, innate reflexes from those terrible years in Baghdad when this had happened so many times. As he flattened his body on the plush carpet, he felt the floor of the Diplomat Hotel shake. He feared the fourteen-story building would collapse on top of him. He thought of New York.
Now there were long seconds of silence before the screams began, cries to Allah and God's other names, in Arabic and English. Once again there were the shrieking voices of women, painfully highpitched and piercingly loud. Once again there were men moaning in pain and crying out as glass continued to shatter onto the floor around them. An alarm rang needlessly above it all. Just a few feet away from Brian, an old man wailed as the blood streamed down from his forehead and spilled across the front of his white robes, "Help, please! Help me, please! Oh God, please, over here, help!"
Although Brian had been through bombings, it chilled his bones, knotted his stomach, made his head throb, blurred his vision, and caused him to choke, gasping for air. His eardrums were ringing and he had a sense that he was somehow disconnected from the reality around him. As he tried to focus, he sensed something was moving inches to the left of his head. With a chill shudder, he realized it was the twitching fingers of a hand severed from a body. Rivulets of blood ran down the upended tabletop to his right, as though someone had thrown a bottle of red wine against it.