Sunday, February 3, 2013

An Excerpt From Chain of Command

Signing Chain of Command at the Official Launch Party

As I leave you guys today, I’d like to say a huge thanks for partying with me. I’ve had a great time joining you here at the Goddessfish Party Pavilion.   I leave you now, with an excerpt from the first chapter of my debut thriller, Chain of Command, which R.L. Stine, the thriller master himself, says, “…will shock you—and the shocks keep right on coming. Colby Marshall has written a book that deserves to be called THRILLER." 

I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and if you do, please consider purchasing Chain of Command!  And without further ado, here’s the excerpt:

By Colby Marshall

Zero Hour

His heart rate never rose above sixty as he looked through the scope of his .50 caliber sniper rifle at the unfortunate soul caught in his crosshairs.

He kept his breathing even. He inhaled deeply, slowly, so he could hold his breath as long as it took when the moment came. Then, he controlled his exhale equally. Hold. Breathing when he pulled the trigger could affect the shot’s precision. He had done this a time or two. Actually way more than that. 

But this one was different.

This one he knew.

Still, no reason to worry. Stick to the protocol.

He fixed on the target’s head in the center of the scope. The perfect kill shot. Just the way the United States military taught him.

Beside him sat a cell phone, the prepaid kind you could pay cash for in any discount store so it could never be traced. Only one person had the number to this phone.

He sucked air into his nostrils, noting the feel of the air temperature as he watched the glowing face of the phone, the clock flicking in time from 8:59 to 9:00 PM. The phone vibrated against the cement. He turned it on and listened in his earpiece.

“You good to go?”

“Yep, have to go now. Target locked.”

“On my three,” said the voice.

It was important their shots go off at exactly the same time so the message would be unmistakable.

He heard the voice count it off at the other end of the phone. “One...”

His finger tightened on the trigger. His eyes bored into the skull of the man he was about to blow apart. He was lucky he still had a clear shot, but then again, his plans rarely went wrong. Amazing that something so incredible and horrible could be counted off in the same manner as ripping a Band-Aid off of a five-year-old kid’s knee.


His finger tensed just the right amount and held there, ready to fire.


As he squeezed the trigger, he heard the shot at the other end of the line. A blast right on top of my own. That’s a new one.

Even as the recoil slammed his frame backward, he was already back on his feet and disassembling the rifle. He thrust the pieces into his case in less than thirty seconds, then ran down the stairwell, calm but rushed.

And he was right to be in a hurry. He’d not only just heard the gunshot that killed the President of the United States. He had just executed the Vice President.

Day 1: Early Morning
Washington D.C.

The phone rang. The shrill cry of her mockingbird ringtone crowed in the air demanding an answer. Try as she might to ignore it, it just wouldn’t stop.

“All right, all right!” Fifty-three-year-old Elaine Covington rolled over in her bed and pulled the receiver to her ear. This had better be good.

“What?” she barked into the phone. The numbers on the clock beside her four-poster bed read 12:44 A. M. Who the hell would be calling at this hour, and what was so important they felt like they needed to wake her up?

“I’m sorry for the lateness of the hour, Madame Speaker,” said the voice on the other line, tension seeping through the cracks of his tone. His first words were too fast, his last few too slow, as if he didn’t know what to call her. “But it’s an emergency. This is Bert Royal.”

She knew him, though her staff spent more time with him than she had. There weren’t many occasions when her position required her to interact with President Seymour’s Chief of Staff. Elaine clutched the phone tighter as Bert spoke.

“The president and the vice president have been shot. Both are dead. Madame Speaker, you’re the first Congressperson, um, former Congressperson to know.”

Through the white hailstorm in her mind, the lists of what to do, what to say, in what order, and to whom battled for dominance. She had to get dressed, had to get out of this room, out of bed, damn it. 

“Give me ten minutes. No, make it fifteen. Get that new bimbo press secretary we just hired. Meet me at the back office.”

No, Madame Speaker. I’m sorry. I’ve got orders to send a car with a special detail to take you to a secure place.”

She swore. What her exact words were she doubted she’d remember. She agreed to be ready within the hour. She dropped her cell phone back on the nightstand, her knuckles still white from clenching the phone.

She lay back on her pillow. Surely she was in the middle of a dream. A nightmare. Congress would assemble; she would have to preside for hours over a debate about whether or not to attack the country responsible.

Suddenly, her eyes flew open. She sat up straight in her bed. She hadn’t been asked to show up at the Capitol. She had been told she’d be taken to an undisclosed location where she would be debriefed.
It was as if she’d been slapped across the face the same way her grandmother smacked her once when she talked back to her at age ten.

President Seymour was dead.

Vice President Tifton was dead.

The Constitution dictated the next person in line.

Elaine Covington blinked twice. She was now the President of the United States.

I hope you’ve enjoyed spending a little of your day with me.  Don’t forget to leave a comment on any of my posts today for a chance to win a cool Chain of Command messenger bag.  The bag giveaway winner will be announced the afternoon of Feb, 4 on my facebook fan page and my twitter, so be sure you’re following me in one of those places to claim your prize.

Follow me on Twitter here:
Like me on Facebook:

And if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen here today and would like to know more about my books, please check out my website at  Consider joining the newest addition to the site, the SWAT page at, a members-only page that allows fans of the books to gain access to exclusive material such as deleted chapters from Chain of Command, SWAT-only giveaways, and sneak peeks at my newest thriller, which will be published in June 2013.  Thanks again for hanging with me today, and I hope you’re having a great weekend.  Cheers!


Debby said...

Thanks so much for sharing the excerpt. I am adding it to my list.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Catherine Lee said...

WOW...How did you manage to get a comment from R.L. Stine? Is there an interesting story there?
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

colbymarshall said...

I hope you like it, Debby!

Thank you, Catherine. I met R.L. Stine at BEA a few years ago when a few friends and I saw him looking for a seat in the cafeteria. We were all saying, "Is that R.L. Stine? It is! Let's get him to have lunch with us! We'll give him our seat!" After that, ran into him at several other events, and I've been lucky enough to stay in touch. He read my book and offered the comment for me to use. I was quite honored.

Mott Smith said...

I have read the book and love it! Ready for the movie......