Tag Archives: Blood

All the Blood It Wants

Cece would have to drive or Graham would start knocking her around, so she just went to the quiet place. Like sitting on the dock at her dad’s lake house, nothing but the sparkly water to hypnotize her. She didn’t have to do a goddam thing. Whatever happened was somebody else’s doing. She could drive like that. Just do whatever Graham said. Turn here, slow down, turn off your lights, pull over.

+++++“Leave the engine running,” Graham said. “Be ready to high-tail out of here.”

+++++Cece paid no attention to what Graham and Steve were doing. If they got caught, it was on them. She wouldn’t remember a thing. She did register, vaguely, that the street was too dark for town. No orderly line of lights marching down the street, but a scattering of dim, bluish spotlights on broken glass, old tires, battered trash cans. Lock the doors, kids.

+++++“Here he comes.” She stared straight ahead, foot on the brake, hands tight on the wheel. Graham’s window rolled down. “What you got for the head tonight, my man?” Graham and his phony ghetto slang. Sometimes him and his football buddies talked that way all day long. Most of them stopped around black people, but not Graham–he was right in their faces with it. Funny for a guy always on about sending them all back to Africa. Maybe that was it. Maybe then he’d own talking cool.

+++++“You just hand it all over to Stevie.” Steve, in the back seat, had his window down and his pistol pointed at the guy.

+++++A tap beside Cece’s head and she jumped, her quiet place cracked apart. She turned to see the barrel of another pistol at her window. Another at the back window. The car suddenly surrounded. Somehow she managed not to scream.

+++++“You ain’t pull that shit again.” The dark face leaning in at Graham’s window was hard as steel, his voice deep and steady.

+++++Graham’s face twisted into a smile. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.” No ghetto voice this time.

+++++“You don’t think we know that car? We been tracking you five blocks.”

+++++“I told you,” Steve hissed from the back seat.

“Shut up, Steven.” Graham’s dangerous voice.

+++++“What you think, Bullet?” It was the boy outside Cece’s window. She couldn’t see his face, just the gun barrel against his Crimson Tide sweatshirt. “How ’bout they leave the bitch and we call it square?” Now Cece’s throat sealed up, no air coming in.

+++++“Steve,” Graham said, “Shoot him.”

+++++Steve made a guttural sound in his throat, the only sound in an agonizing stretch of silence. Then the guys outside the car exploded with hooting laughter.

+++++“Steve, shoot him!” Bullet had Graham’s voice dead on. The others banged on the car, doubling over with laughter.

+++++“Steve, you hand over that piece,” Bullet said, “and Tex, whatever you carrying. And every goddamn penny y’all got.”

+++++Cece, hands shaking, managed to get one breath while Graham threw them his cash and pawed through her purse for more. Then another breath. She remembered the engine was still running.

+++++“Go, go!” Graham hissed.

+++++“Cleat, get the keys,” Bullet said.

+++++Cleat had her door open and keys in his hand before she could move. Steve took the moment to grab for his pistol–like all his moves, stupid. They pulled him half out of the window and cracked the top of his head with the handgun he had never fired, opened the door and hauled him forward. His foot caught on something under the seat.

+++++“What the fuck?” Bullet said, stepping over Steve to pull the thing out, grasping the handle and pulling the sword out of its wooden sheath, the blade glowing blue in the weak flicker of the streetlight. “Tex got a toy.”

+++++Graham thrust his arms through the window, clawing the air as Bullet pulled the sword just out of his reach. “Get your filthy black hands off that!” he growled, as enraged as Cece had ever seen him. “That’s my great-great-grandaddy’s sword! General Hood gave it to him–”

+++++Cece couldn’t believe it; he was giving the speech. Outnumbered, out-gunned, half out of the car window with his arms pinned. She could have recited it along with him. –for breaking the Federal line at the Seven Days Battles at Richmond. It was rare, manufactured by Kraft and Goldsmith of Columbia, S.C.– The gang drowned him out laughing before he got to Richmond, but he said the whole thing, anyway. He couldn’t help himself.

+++++Bullet nodded and another boy slammed a three-foot piece of rebar on the back of Graham’s head, making a sound that was familiar to Cece–a quiet swish followed by a whap. Except her dad used a broom handle. The rebar’s swish was higher-pitched and ended in a crunch.

+++++They pulled Graham and Cece out of the car, sat her against a light pole and propped him, sagging like a rag doll but still struggling, against the passenger tire. Bullet drew the sword out slowly and stood at attention, pointing it straight ahead of him. Charge. He knelt beside the son of the Confederacy while they held his arms against the car. Cleat popped a beer and shook it over Graham’s head. His eyes fluttered and he inhaled, choking and gasping. Bullet showed him the sword, then slowly brought the edge to his throat while Cleat turned his head to face Steve. Bullet nodded and they shot Steve twice in the head.

+++++“I recognize you,” Bullet said. “Your granddaddy lynched my granddaddy.”

+++++“Great-great-granddaddy,” Graham said.

+++++Bullet pushed the blade against his Adam’s apple and looked at Cece. “We’re gonna do him last, so he can watch what happens to you.”

+++++No one made a sound. Cece looked straight at Bullet, then grasped the bottom hem of her cashmere sweater and pulled it over her head. She tossed it aside and sat there in her bra. Her skin translucent in the vapor light, pale as marble, with patches of deep blue edged with yellow. She got to her knees and turned around so they could see the welts on her back, the angry reds black in the blue glow.

+++++They wouldn’t be able to tell Graham’s work from her dad’s. It didn’t matter.

+++++She turned around to face the silent, motionless boys. Arms relaxed at her sides, she looked at Bullet again. “Do me last,” she said. “so I can watch him die.”

+++++Bullet looked. They all did. Then he nodded slightly and drew the blade across Graham’s neck, artery to artery, precise as a surgeon. The blade was razor-sharp. That was another part of the speech Cece knew well. How Graham had bribed his uncle to sharpen the antique sword in his metal shop, defying the purist collectors. “I’m not destroying heritage,” Graham had said. “I’m getting ready for war.”

+++++The struggle lasted seconds, and they let his body slump into the spreading pool of blood. Bullet leaned over and wiped the blade clean on Graham’s letterman jacket. The boys dragged the bodies off the street, back into the neighborhood dark.

+++++“That’s all the blood it wants for now,” he said, turning the blade around in the blue light, easing the tip under Cece’s sweater and flicking it over to her. He sheathed the sword and walked casually after the others.

+++++Cece sat staring at constellations of shattered glass flickering blue under the street light, like muted morning sun on wavelets pushing toward shore. She wondered where Cleat was with her keys. She knew cleats from the lake house, safeguards against drifting away. Graham used cleats for traction, biting into the ground to launch him at his enemies. She wondered if he and Cleat had ever faced off on the field.

+++++She shrugged on her sweater and wobbled to her feet. She had some walking to do. Any direction led out.


Horizontal Vertical

+++++A low swung smile on her heart-shaped face. Half naked- topless in bordello -red panties. Her left leg slung at a ninety-degree angle across a black scrunched cocktail dress. Her right leg straddling the arm of an easy- fit budget sofa upholstered in an aggressive shade of convict orange. On the floor beside her, an open tub of vaginal jelly three fingers of blow and a dinky gold plated cocaine spoon. It was noon. The sun vomiting diluted rays of insipid light into the room. A slit of dust on the coffee table and a shit- strewn kitty litter box sat by the back wall . It stunk of broken promises . Kiki Loveheart aka Mizz WhipKink aka Maddie Summers aka Sweet Cheeks 69. Gig artiste and professional freelancer. Eking out a piecemeal existence:

+++++Daytime nurse-afternoon phone sex operator night time glamour escort and weekend stripper. Forced to juggle four jobs just to live in a cramped foul- smelling roach-ridden walk up. She stared ruefully at her purple jazz-berry mirrored Jimmy Choo’s. She felt like a Penthouse pin-up in those heels. They elongated her calf muscles popped her pelvis and kinked her hips. Strutting the sidewalk never felt so good. Kiki blinked- yawned and slowly got up . Barefoot. Tiptoeing to the refrigerator she took out a cold bottle of sparkling San Pellegrino and rolled it against her forehead.


+++++‘Keeeeeki?’ A goopy taffy- laced little voice. It could have belonged to a third grader or a whiny half-bagged grandma, but it belonged to Michael Wiesel. A squiffy- eyed Buddha -faced eight-toed high- talking sex perv. Serial fraudster bourgeois rapist and TV Judge. Presiding over his own prime-time TV show. Pitting litigants in person against one another. Miserable little suburban dramas. Scripted for mass consumption. Of course, it was a ratings winner, and Wiesel wore his success like an electric lit billboard. His patterned argyle socks vintage Rolex silk-satin tux and two-ply cotton designer shirt screamed smug money. But his aging blond- comb-over pomaded across his jutting forehead-swollen bucket-gut and peeling- pink-skin humbled him on occasion especially at funerals country clubs and IRS meetings.

+++++‘Keeeeeki. C’meer. I want chou to freshen up. Put on a dress or somethin’ pretty. You look like a syphilitic ghetto slut. Clean yaw self up. Dirty bitch.’ His accent pure New Yawk. Purple gums on show. He threw a couple of C-notes on the floor flashing his platinum-circled pinkie. Loose-lipped pig mouth slapping her butt with another slew of insults: ‘You need a tan – lose a few pounds – I like your hair straight – classy chicks wear perfume – get bigger tits.’ Twenty-eight years old and still listening to fruitless fuck balls who reminded her that she was just a split second vignette in THE BIG PICTURE. She switched her gaze between a moldy slice of Kraft deli-deluxe and Wiesel’s spreading bald spot. Swirling her tongue around her index finger. Winking.

+++++‘ Got a better idea.’

+++++‘Yeah ?’

+++++‘Hmmmm. Why don’t I text Nahhhtashhha? And we mix it up .’ Natasha: Twentyish. Nouveau redhead. Faux Russian accent big bazookas – shapely ass – creamy lips. Sweeter than Nutella and Kiki’s bestie. The pair of them responsible for a rash of tricks that would make even the hardest hustler blush.

+++++‘ Whaddaya have in mind?’

+++++‘Wait and see.’

+++++‘Do it .’

+++++‘Okayyyyy . Make yourself more comfortable. Take off your pants.’ Kiki grabbed her phone from the dresser. Natasha would be there in a few minutes. Wiesel caught between the bastard of time and his own carnal greed. Pacing the floor like a one-eyed tiger.

+++++‘Hurry up.’

+++++‘She won’t be long. Relax. Sit down. C’mon.’ She patted the seat with a fiendish glint in her eye. Then slid on thigh -scraper black velvet boots- and a black leather string bikini. Wiesel’s creeper peepers on her downy v shape mound peeping through the slit of her gusset.

+++++Bitching to herself:

+++++‘Ground zero of the Walmart sex trade. Puny limp dick with big dick complex. Today I’m jumping off that pyramid.’

+++++‘Whaddaya say. Speak up?’

+++++‘I said you know you make me so hot for it.’

+++++The creases on Wiesel’s face lined with dust and type 2 diabetic sweat. Everything Kiki did to make things better slam -jammed into nothing and now here she was star of her own dime -store crime story. Her mind somersaulting at freeway speed : Cancer -table sex- a black swan- yogi -tea homilies- dead- sister cancer be- yourself shaman- mantras -truck stop suicides -cancer blue- rubber covered- asses booby- trapped commitment -rib eye steak pus-filled promises -Je Je Spa Happy Ending Massage Kung Fu nuns Himalayas autoerotic strangulation.

+++++Squatting on a throne of debt . Kiki was tired of sleazo tricksters. Tired of renting herself out to small-souled roly poly hardballs. Tired of one bowl -easy mac frozen dinners- three minute hustles with teenage dopers and cheapo plastic heartbreak. Her brain backed up with years of toxic yesterdays .Ever since her only sister had succumbed to cancer. She felt trapped in a psycho blizzard. She wanted out. Wiesel. He was the catalyst. Sprawled there. On her green linoleum five dollar arm chair. Balancing papers on his balloon shaped stomach. Tapping his foot to an invisible beat. Kiki stiffened. The double thump of her heart jumping three seconds. She had a driving primal urge to glass him in the neck. Playing every move slowly in the dungeon of her mind. Psych out!

+++++It wasn’t the most original way to kill someone but it was definitely doable. It made her body tingle. She knew that Wiesel kept at least 10 grand in his grab bag.  A pre-packed emergency kit stocked with doomsday end of the world shit. Wiesel carried it everywhere he went. Bragging to anyone who’d listen that he was ready for Armageddon. It was the perfect get away bag. Ideal for two huzzies on the lam. Kiki’s murder plan simmering. Something gross and a little immoral was about to happen.

+++++‘Ding dong ding ding dong.’

+++++‘That’ll be Natasha.’ Kiki buzzed her up. Wiesel moistening his mouth. Moving to the bed. Panting his fairy tale sex romp through pepto bismol coughs. Natasha bouncing into view. ‘Well hellllloooo! How ya doing ?’ Rude cute in a stylized red plaid mini. Cropped shirt- white gartered knee highs a striped tie with pigtailed hair and cheap mary jane shoes. She slow-kissed Kiki, cupping her face in her hands. Wiesel unbuttoning his shirt. Revealing an expanse of silver and brown gorilla chest hair and a thatch of wispy fuzz springing from the nape of his neck. He stank of onions and tuxedoed fraud .

+++++‘You know what I love about your type?’ tracking the curves of Kiki’s thighs. Natasha pulled away grinning.

+++++‘Our type?’

+++++‘Yeah pussy princesses.’ Kiki’s eyes narrowing.

+++++‘What?’ Ignoring the sarcastic inflection in her voice. Sucking his teeth.

+++++‘You understand that sex is just a business. I don’t have to think too hard. I fuck you. Pay you. You’re: MINE.’

+++++His mildew eyes clinging to her ass. She had to dig her nails in her palms to stop herself from puking in his lap. In a bitter sweet tone part Marilyn Monroe part Morticia Adams she whispered:

+++++‘Let’s try something new.’

+++++A dangerous smile hanging on her lips. Together they cuffed Wiesel to the bed. Kiki placing a blindfold on his eyes.

+++++‘C’mon -let’s get on with it.’ He growled.

+++++Kiki and Natasha shared a knowing wink. Natasha banging her hips in Wiesel’s face. Toying with him while Kiki got busy.

+++++‘You think you know our type? Think again!’


+++++Gagging him with a pair of sheer stockings. Deaf to his protestations. The gentle curve of her mouth promising more pain. Natasha binding his ankles with uber kinky bondage tape and leather restraints. Kiki steaming:

+++++‘It’s you and your type. You’re the limp dick asshole who’s got your greedy cheating hands all over the city. Everybody knows you’re as crooked as hell. We’re the only ones hurtin.’ Kiki marched into the kitchenette. Smashed the San Pellegrino bottle against the wall and stomped back to the bedroom. Ignoring the little yelps and spittle dribbling down Wiesel’s chin. He was thrashing around like a bottom-trawled fish gasping for air. Kiki gripped the base of the bottle. Jabbing it into his neck. Slicing open his throat. Hitting both carotid arteries and his jugular. Blood rhymes splattering the sheets. A symphony of choking strawberries. Warm. Red mulch.

+++++They racked up the balance of the coke Kiki armed with the grab bag. ‘C’mon let’s get outta here.’

+++++A few moments of thin silence. Kiki’s voice strangely alien, eaten by the shadows in the room :

+++++‘Ghetto sluts like me. Always end up vertical not horizontal.’

Fun Sized

James Savini was not happy. He held the miniature Tootsie Roll in his left hand, his thumb and index finger delicately fixed around the wrapper. His right hand propped up his .38 Special. He twisted and turned the tip of the barrel, pressing it into Sam Overton’s forehead. It would leave a mark. How much of a mark was up to Overton.

“What the fuck,” Jim said, “Is this?” He held the Tootsie Roll cautiously, as if it were a piece of packaged shit. Overton closed his eyes. Warm liquid ran down his leg and onto his flip-flops. The smell of piss followed.

“Tha-Tha,” Mr. Overton stuttered, “That’s a Too-T-oo–Tootsie Roll.”

“I know what the fuck it is, Sam,” Jim growled, “What was it doing in my kid’s pillow case? Where’s the good shit? The king-sized stuff that you always pass out? Little Jimmy’s been cryin’ for an hour.”

“I r-r-r, r-r-rannn out,” Overton sobbed.

Jim cocked the hammer back and pushed the barrel even harder, putting Overton fully into his foyer. Jim dropped the candy, reached behind himself and pulled Overton’s front door shut.

“My bullshit reservoir floweth over, Sam.”


“Little Jimmy saw kids coming out of your place with the good stuff. What gives? You think my kid is a fattie? A big old porker? Think he needs to stick to wimpy shit?” Jim pulled back the gun and gave Overton’s gut a nice hard kiss. With his knee. Overton, a short, fat, shape-less man, made an oomph sound, curled up, and put his hands up to hide his face. Jim opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a knock on the door. He gave Overton another kiss. Right in the kidney. With this shoe.

“Not a word, ya hear?”

Jim opened the door. There were two girls, both dressed like Disney princesses. Probably about 9 or 10, he figured. They held out two pillowcases and pleaded.

“Trick or Treat!”

Jim scanned the porch and found an orange bowl, filled to the top with the rabbit turds that his boy had brought home. He snatched it, dumped half the bowl in each sack, and told the girls to fuck off. As one of them started to cry, Jim slammed the door and fumbled for the porch light, flicking it downward. There would be no more treats tonight. Overton looked up and squealed.

“D-D-Don’t H-H-Hurt me, Mr. Savini.”

“Oh, I’m not gonna hurt ya. You’re gonna hurt ya.” Jim reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic tube.

“This here,” Jim said, “is for giving especially large pills to big and nasty dogs.” He paused and picked up the Tootsie Roll from the floor. “You, Mr. Overton, are going to stick this right up your ass.”

Overton’s hands trembled. Still curled up, he reached for the plastic tube and the Tootsie Roll. Snot dribbled down his lips and hung off of his chin. He wiped it with his forearm, fumbled to hold onto the items, and dropped them. Jim frowned.

“My well of patience runneth empty, Sam.” Jim raised up a foot and brought it down on Sam’s toes. Sam howled, and his eyes bulged.

“S-S-S- Sorry, J-J-J–”

“Mr. Savini,” Jim corrected.

“Sorry. Mr. Savini.”

“Apology accepted. Right after you stick that up your ass.”

Overton reached for the items and, trembling worse than before, shifted the Tootsie Roll into the launch position. He pulled down his athletic shorts, revealing an ass that was half acne and half Albino. Overton closed his eyes and sunk the tube in the sweet spot.

“Deeper, Sam.”

Overton scrunched his face and gave the tube a final shove. His face turned red. He bit his lip and let his head hang.

“That a boy, Sam,” Jim said, patting Overton on the head.

Jim walked into Overton’s living room. In front of him stood the largest freshwater fish tank Jim had ever seen. It seemed to cover the whole wall. Fish swam in slow, lazy circles, in and out of fake plants and a plastic pirate ship. They weren’t going anywhere either. Jim pointed at one, which seemed to glisten more than the others, and smiled.

“Sam Overton. You never told me you had a Platinum Arowana. That’s a hell of a fish. And I know my fish. That’s a rare color, Sam. A fish like that will run a man at least $400,000. Where’d you get the cash for a specimen like that? You’re comfy, Sam, but you ain’t that comfy.”

Sam eyed Jim and said nothing. Talking would only make it worse.

“I suppose you could say that I’m a man who’s been… inconvenienced. But I know how to fix this.”

Jim snatched a lamp from a nearby side table, turned it upside down, and brought the base squarely into the fish tank. The sound of the glass breaking was almost muffled by the whooshing of the water. Dozens of fish flopped this way and that, and then stopped. Their bellies moved up and down.

“That’s better,” Jim said, side stepping an expanding puddle of water. He opened a nearby closet and pulled out a broom and a dustpan. “When you get that thing out of your ass, go scoop up that fish. Have it stuffed.”

Overton sniffled.

“And Sam?” Jim whispered, stooping down to Overton’s head. “You still owe us for that stash of blow that you lost. The boss says you’ve got a week. I think that’s fair. Oh! And one more thing.”

“Y-Y-Y—ess? Mr. Savini?”

“I want a box of Snicker’s bars with your payment. The good stuff. None of that fun-sized shit.”

Payback – Part 3: The Greater Good

Koff! Koff! Koff!
+++++Where am I?
+++++Oh shit – blood – shit. Oh god, here…
+++++Gaakkk! Koff! Koff!
+++++That’s the second time I’ve thrown up in two minutes…the smell is terrible – it’s in my hair and on my clothes…feels like there’s another waiting to come up. Jesus…can’t see straight…feel sick as a dog…right hand side of my body feels numb – no, not numb, dead.
+++++Last thing I remember – the airport – the car with Natasha…talking to her then I get cattle prodded from behind and looks like they’ve shoved me in the boot. Then…yes – someone, no, two others fried me again. Oh shit, here it comes again…
+++++Gaakkk! Gaakkk!
+++++Shit – just dry heaving now. That explains the splitting sensation running through my skull, the lights before my eyes and the fact that my right leg seems to have taken on a life of it’s own. Okay, think Amy – what would Mom and Dad do in a situation like this? Probably have never gotten themselves into this situation in the first place.
+++++What the fuck was I thinking, walking out of the airport like that in broad daylight. Should have come up with a disguise. Stupid stupid stupid! Should have turned and ran the minute I saw Natasha.


“Well, that’s one loose end tied up.” Courtney said as she focused on the road ahead of them. The lights on the bridge were out again, meaning that driving along it would require her undivided concentration. “That should cheer Adrian up.”
+++++“I don’t think he really cares either way,” Kelly replied. “He’s just focused on the business.”
+++++“Wouldn’t you be?” Courtney asked. “I mean, if you think about…”
+++++“Cut the chatter girls,” Natasha snapped from the back seat. “Just get us to the farm house – we’ll dump the car in the river far enough away from the bridge that it won’t be noticed. The odds of anyone finding the body there are almost nil.”
+++++“Aww, looks like you lucked out on cleaning out the trunk this time sis…” Kelly chirped.


Think Amy, think!
+++++Good thing I lifted that security guard’s pistol at the airport. If I shoot the lock off from here the bullet will more than likely deflect straight back at me. If I wait for them to stop to retrieve me then I’ll be outnumbered. Of course, there’s always the chance that they’ll just dump the car into a river or push it off a cliff…
+++++Either way – I have to try something. So, here goes nothing! Hate trying to aim with my left – I was always terrible with it compared to my right.
+++++Blam! Blam! Blam!


“Wha…?” The first gunshot rang out inside the car, narrowly missing Natasha as the bullet tore through the back seat. It smashed into the windshield, prompting Courtney to twist the wheel sharply. The second shot punched a hole through the roof of the sedan, while the third punched a hole in Courtney’s skull, painting the remaining portion of the front windshield with blood and brain matter.
+++++“Courtney!” Kelly screamed as she saw her sister slump over the steering wheel, her scream simply increased as the car skewed violently to the left and pierced the protective barrier that usually stopped vehicles from simply pitching over the edge of the road and into the raging torrent of water below.
+++++For a few seconds, everyone felt that sensation of weightlessness that came with a sudden, sharp free fall. The sedan twisted, rolling over on its self as it hung in the air. The vehicle slammed into the riverbank, skidding on its side and filling the air with a crunching noise usually heard by the participants in a head on collision a fraction of a second before the engine tore through into the passenger compartment.
+++++The air was suddenly still – the only sound was the noise of a few birds in the trees that lined the riverbank itself. There was a brief flicker of movement from the car as Natasha tried to haul herself out of the passenger compartment. As she pushed the door open and dragged her bruised and bloodied body from the car, she fell into the shallow water of the river. As she pulled her face out of the cold water, she saw it was coloured with her blood.
+++++She heard Kelly’s weak voice from somewhere behind her. Struggling to get to her feet, Natasha half-stumbled, half-crawled around the wreckage of the car. Kelly was lying in the water, her head resting on a large stone where a pool of her blood was forming.
+++++“…Mom…I can’t see anything…”
+++++“I’m right here baby – I’ll go and get us some help.” Natasha said as she reached her daughter, cradling her in her arm.
+++++“Mom huh?” Natasha looked up – Amy was standing less than six feet away from her, pistol raised in her left hand and pointing it straight at the pair of them. Even in her current condition, Natasha could see that Amy wasn’t exactly one hundred percent either. “You know, normally this would be a very touching scene, but in light of the last two weeks I can’t think of a better way to make you suffer than to make you watch your own daughter die slowly.” Amy wobbled slightly, the sensation in her right leg still not enough to be counted on.
+++++Natasha sprung at her, knocking away her pistol with one hand while grabbing at Amy’s throat with the other. The force of her bull-rush knocked them down into the shallow water.
+++++“I’m going to kill you for what you’ve done bitch!” Natasha screamed as she pulled Amy’s head up, only to smash it back down against the rock-strewn surface beneath her.
+++++“NO!” Amy screamed, managing to get her left leg up under their bodies and push Natasha off her with whatever force she could muster. Amy heard some sort of grunting sound as she tried to clear her head whilst trying to get to her feet in anticipation of Natasha’s next strike.
+++++Amy’s vision was still blurry but she saw Natasha slumped against the underside of the sedan with a large spike of metal that was protruding from her stomach. Amy wobbled as she scooped the pistol up out of the water, and then turned to face Natasha. Blood was oozing out of her mouth.
+++++“I’ll do you a deal – you answer my questions and I promise you that I will get help for your daughter,” Amy said. “Refuse and I’ll kill you both right now.”
+++++“What’s it matter – I’m as good as dead already,” Natasha half laughed. “How do I know you’ll keep your end of the deal?”
+++++“You don’t – you’ll just have to hope that you tell me what I want to know.”
+++++“Okay…koff!…okay,” Natasha said, looking over towards Kelly. “I’ll tell you everything…”
+++++And she did.
+++++Natasha told me how my father had faked her death a number of times to flush out rogue agents within the Agency.
+++++How Knotmann had taken my mother’s work after she had left and tweaked it a little until it was worth more than anyone could possibly imagine. They called it the Bellerophon Project. The Ravenstone Foundation was born out of this and became their primary focus once the spy game had gotten old. Medical technology became the main source of income. The key members took their knowledge with them and became millionaires the legitimate way.
+++++Apart from the odd piece of wet work here and there, Natasha and Stone were the company’s lion tamers. Their job was to deal with former agents that posed a threat to the future of the business.
+++++“So, why chase down my parents? You knew they would never come out of hiding – why didn’t you just leave them alone?” By now Amy had lowered her pistol. Natasha looked pale – her blouse was stained with her blood.
+++++“Uuuhhgh…they had to be eliminated…don’t you understand? Everything was based on your mother’s research…no matter how successful we were…there was always the risk it would all come tumbling down…it was too important…”
+++++“So important that people had to die for it? People that were your friends?” Amy spat. “Is that how you repaid them? By killing them?”
+++++“…koff!…you’re so naïve – your parent’s knew the risks when they left…this was bigger than all of us…”
+++++“Who gave the order to kill my parents?” Amy said, kneeling down at Natasha’s side. “I need to know so I can end all this and get on with my own life.”
+++++“Knotmann…died on the island…you killed Stone…I’m last on the list…”
+++++“I really doubt that the chain ends with you – my mother warned me to watch out for you…buy you don’t look like much now.” Amy spat.
+++++“You still don’t get it do you? Jesus, this is it! This is your pitiful life that you’re living right now!” Natasha seemed to be fuelled by something else now. “Just…save my daughter…koff.”
+++++“Like you saved my parents?” Amy said, standing up. “You’re dead in a minute from my gun, then I’m going to go and finish off that daughter of yours over there, nice and slowly. Then I’m going to find out who’s behind all this and take care of them too. Just know that you bought this all on yourself. You and your little crew took away the only thing that mattered to me.”
+++++Koff…koff…tell it to someone who gives a shit bitch!” Natasha spat with a smile on her face. “You’re as good as dead when you walk away from here – they’ll hunt you down…”
+++++Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!


2 days later

The funny thing is, after killing Natasha I felt even more detached than before. Rather than feeling good about it I realise that I feel sad. She was right – this is my pitiful life and there’s no one to blame about the course I’ve taken other than the reflection in the mirror. I have to finish what I’ve started – one way or the other.
+++++I called an ambulance for Kelly – I know now that we have a lot in common. We’re both products of our environment. There’s no reason for her to pay for her mother’s sins so dearly. Courtney on the other hand…well, nobody’s perfect.
+++++When I got to the hotel I found two surprises waiting for me.
+++++The first was Ethan. He told me how he had tracked me to New York using some of his father’s equipment. I wanted to tell him to turn and run – to get away from me as fast as he could because the longer he’s around me, the greater the chance that he’ll get hurt.
+++++The second was a complete dossier on the Ravenstone Foundation that he had compiled. The last two days have been spent deciding what to do. As I sit on my motorcycle, heading towards my destiny, his last words before I left still float around my head.
+++++“You may have bitten off more than you can chew,” Ethan said to me as I lay in bed with him. It’s getting to be a habit of mine, sleeping with him, but it’s one I don’t want to break. “I mean, you’re only one person.”
+++++“I have to finish what I’ve started.” I said, my voice wasn’t convincing.
+++++“You’re questioning if this is a good idea aren’t you?”
+++++“How did you know?”
+++++“You’re shaking slightly.” Ethan said, pulling me closer to him. He smells so good, so warm and safe.
+++++“Please…you shouldn’t have come here…”
+++++“Amy, I can take care of myself – besides, you needed my help whether you realised it or not.” He’s right – the dossier. That would have taken me weeks to compile.
+++++“Well Dorothy, I hope you find what you’re looking for at the end of this particular yellow brick road,” He said as he got up. “Because I don’t feel like attending your funeral just yet.” He begins to get dressed. Neither of us speak for the moment. “Look, there’s some equipment in the suitcase by the door – you might find it useful, plus there’s a bike downstairs for you to use.” He grabs a bag from the couch and moves towards the door. “I’ll be at Dad’s place if you want to talk about…this…when it’s all over.”
+++++So, here I am – standing at the front door of the Ravenstone Foundation. The last person I need to deal with is sitting in the penthouse of this building. I hope he’s enjoying his last day on Earth.
+++++I walk into the lobby – there’s one guard on the front desk. Before he gets a chance to speak I fire a bullet into his skull. Taking the master key to the elevator I override the controls and head straight to the penthouse. As the door opens I have both pistols drawn. The two goons in suits barely have time to register what’s going on before I blow their brains out. Surely I should feel something at my casual lack of regard for these men’s lives – but I don’t. Have I fallen so far that there’s no way back now?
+++++I head straight towards the double door at the end of the corridor. As I push it open, I expect there to be armed security personnel swooping down on me as I enter.
+++++“Welcome Ms Tempest, please come in. We have much to discuss.”
+++++I find myself alone in the room with one man.
+++++Adrian Stone.


He lifted the glass in his hand, examined the liquid within it and drank from it slowly, savouring the taste. As Adrian returned the glass to the table, he turned and looked out of the window, surveying the city below the headquarters of the Ravenstone Foundation.
+++++“Ms Tempest, please put your weapons away.” Adrian said. “This room is constantly monitored, should you choose to shoot me then the security complement will destroy this penthouse, resulting in your death as well as mine, so I don’t see why we can’t discuss things like sensible adults.”
+++++“You must understand why I’m here.” Amy said, refusing to relinquish her aim.
+++++“I want to say up front that as far as I am concerned, all the business you had with my business partners is over. I’m told that if you hadn’t called for assistance when you did, my sister Kelly would be dead now.” He said, turning to face Amy. “I thank you for that. My mother – on the other hand – deserved what she had coming to her, as did my father.”
+++++“What? Mother?” Amy said. “Well…sorry – not that knowing this would have made any difference.” Her stomach suddenly churned.
+++++“I understand. I asked my family and co-workers to leave all that business behind them when I joined the board. However, they persisted against my wishes.” Adrian replied. He looked at the pistols, which were still pointed at his face. “Well, now that we’re here, what’s you next step?”
+++++“What happened to my mother’s work – the Bellerophon Project? Did you turn it into some sort of biological weapon?” Adrian laughed at Amy’s suggestion.
+++++“Nothing so mundane, I can assure you – there’s limited profit and extensive jail time for that sort of endeavour.” He said. “No, your mother’s work created something with a far greater influence than that.” He got up out of the chair and scooped up the remote control from his desk. Amy felt herself tense, and then she saw the large screen behind him wink into life.
+++++“The Bellerophon Project is the proverbial golden goose of the medical world. It has allowed us to develop a drug called Temerax – which will inhibit and eventually reverse the production of cancer cell growth within the human body.” Amy felt her stomach drop. She lowered both of her pistols as Adrian explained more.
+++++“You see, we’re basically a giant pharmaceutical company. Over the years, we have been gradually phasing out our older drugs and replacing them with newer, stronger ones. Eventually we will get to the final drug – but in the mean time, there’s money to be made.”
+++++“You mean you let people suffer and die while you sit on the cure?” Amy was horrified. “That’s okay with you? Don’t you understand that by not preventing those deaths you are responsible for them?”
+++++”Oh, I understand completely my dear.” Adrian replied. “I have always made it a personal point to see the suffering of the masses at first hand, to feel their pain for myself, to understand their sacrifice. They are the martyrs for our cause, for the greater good if you will.”
+++++“However, the money we are earning is being put towards other projects. You have to understand, if we release Temerax in its final form right away, there will be a population explosion. The economic and societal infrastructure of the world just isn’t ready for the pressure that would bring to bear upon it, and in case you hadn’t noticed, there are very few places on this planet where one can be alone anymore. Part of the Foundation’s goals are to plough our profits into construction programs across the globe, education centres in the third world countries and trying to stabilise the more…contentious regimes on the planet.” He paused for a moment. “Unfortunately, people have been blinded by the materialistic gains they have achieved and allowed selfish, base desires to rule them and it has dragged the Foundation off course so to speak.”
+++++“And…my mother’s work…”
+++++“Will – in time – end the pain and suffering of millions.” Adrian said, walking towards Amy and taking hold of the pistols in her hands. He gently eased them free of her grip and looked her in the eyes. “Ms Tempest, I am truly sorry for what was done to you, but all of this violence can stop now. There is a suitcase by the door containing enough money to live three lifetimes over. I want you to take it, go back to Mr Saunders and become that which your parent’s wanted you to be.”
+++++“How do I know you won’t try to kill me?” Amy said. Adrian smiled at her.
+++++“What purpose would that serve? To be brutally honest, you’re nobody and I have much greater things to concern myself with. As far as I’m concerned you no longer exist.” Adrian said, extending his hand.
+++++We shook on it – and I knew he was right. It was over – the people who killed my parents had been punished and I finally felt something for the first time in weeks.
+++++Relief. Relief that it was all over. As I entered the lift I looked at Adrian Stone and realised he wasn’t a better person than me, he was just different. Just like Ethan.


As Adrian Stone watched Amy Tempest drive away on her motorcycle, the door to his office opened.
+++++“She’s clear of the building now,” His assistant said.
+++++“Thank you Iris.”
+++++“Should I arrange for her termination?” Iris said as she placed several newspapers on his desk.
+++++“Didn’t you hear a word I said on the radio? We’re leaving her alone.” Adrian replied as he opened the Financial Times. “Besides, we may need her services in the future. Now, what’s happening in the world today?”

Payback – Part 2: Safehouse

I rub my temples as I sit in the dark kitchen. I can hear the rain outside, like some sort of incessant drum beat to a song no one truly understands.
+++++The light flicks on and I instinctively shield my eyes.
+++++“How are you feeling?”
+++++The voice belongs to Malcolm Saunders – my father’s best friend in life and a man who owed his life, and those of his family, to my mother. He was always Uncle Mac to me.
+++++“It’s funny – I thought I’d feel different after watching Stone die.” I replied. He walked across to the kettle and switched it on.
+++++“Take it from me Amy, revenge is a hollow act,” Mac said as he dropped a teabag into the mug. “It never makes you feel better. How many sugars do you take?”
+++++“Two.” I said. “I don’t want to feel better – I just want them to pay.” Yeah, I sound bitter but then I think I have a right to.
+++++“And just where do you stop?” The second voice entered the room. I turned around. It was Ethan, Malcolm’s son. “Where do you draw the line Amy? At what point do you decide that you’re going to step outside of the circle of blood?”
+++++Ethan Saunders – Ethan is three years and a half older than me – so that makes him around 24 now. He was literally the only other person I interacted with while growing up. Ethan was my best friend – hell, he was my only friend. Whenever he and Uncle Mac came to the island I could barely contain myself. My parents knew I needed some sort of social interaction with another person my own age as I was growing up…and as I became older I tried to hide the fact that he’s the first man I’ve ever been in love with. If I’m being honest, I’ve had a crush on Ethan since I was twelve years old.
+++++And I don’t know what to do about it. It’s just another one of those things that Mom and Dad never got the chance to tell me about.
+++++I find myself holding back the tears as I look at Ethan. I know he means well, but he doesn’t understand.
+++++Actually, that’s a lie – he understands exactly what I’m going through – if there’s one person on the planet that knows precisely how I feel, then it’s Ethan. Only he chose a different path to me. Does that make him a better person?
+++++Two years ago THEY found Uncle Mac and Aunt Mary-Ann in the small town in Ireland they were living in at the time. They used a car bomb – about fucking typical of those bastards. Somehow Uncle Mac was thrown clear – Aunt Mary-Ann wasn’t so lucky. Mom managed to manipulate the hospital records to show that Uncle Mac died as a result of his injuries while Dad got him out of there. Ethan was staying with us for the summer – I remember hearing him crying himself to sleep some nights.
+++++I was too scared to go into his room at first – I didn’t know what to say to him. Then one night I found him sitting in the kitchen just like I am now. We talked until the sun rose – and I can remember every single word of that conversation. That was also the first time I ever kissed a boy too. I felt bad about it until Ethan told me not to, but he didn’t want to “take things further” until “he knew what he wanted to do with his life and until I was older.”
+++++“I’ll stop when it’s over.” I answer him – my voice is flat and I try to keep it free of emotion. Uncle Mac hands me the cup of tea. It sears the inside of my mouth as I take a sip from it – no one makes a cup of tea like Uncle Mac. Ethan says something to him – I can’t catch it – and Uncle Mac makes his way out of the kitchen, leaving me alone with Ethan.
+++++“How’s his hip these days?” I ask once I’m certain that we’re alone.
+++++“Not so bad as you’d notice, they got most of the remaining fragments out when they installed the new replacement six months ago,” Ethan replies, looking into my eyes with an intensity that makes me feel uncomfortable. “You’re expecting a lecture aren’t you?” I nod. “Well you’re looking at the wrong person for that.”
+++++“Aren’t you going to tell me to forget about it all and move on with my life?” I ask. Ethan shakes his head.
+++++“We’re different people Amy – you need to do this, I didn’t.” He said. I broke eye contact with him; something feels strange in my stomach when I look at him. “All I will say is that I want you to be careful, and you know that none of this will bring them back.”
+++++“I can’t forgive and forget…” My teeth are gritted together as I feel the tears starting to roll down my face. “I…I…just…”
+++++“Amy, it’s okay,” I can hear the sound of the chair Ethan is sitting in scrape against the stone floor. I can feel his arms around me – he wraps me inside his arms and it feels so warm, so safe, that I can’t hold it back anymore.
+++++I cry. I cry so much that Ethan’s shirt is stained with my tears where I bury my head in his chest in some sort of twisted reflection of my face. I can feel my legs starting to sag and he takes up the slack, literally holding me up in his arms.
+++++“Come on, you need to get some sleep,” His voice is quiet and calm. He picks me up and carries me upstairs into their guest bedroom. I’ve stopped crying now – I just feel weak, empty and alone. He turns to leave and I put my hand on his shoulder.
+++++“Ethan…I…I don’t want to be alone…”


I didn’t want to get out of the bed. There in Ethan’s arms I almost forgot about the sequence of events I’d set in motion. Almost. Reluctantly I pulled the covers back and began to get dressed. I noticed that there were the first few cracks of sun sneaking in through the blind on the window. I was in my underwear before Ethan woke up.
+++++“Every time there was a sound during the night you woke up,” He said. “Amy, you’re safe here – no one is going to…”
+++++“I thought I was safe on the island and look how that turned out.” Neither of us said anything for a minute. “I should go, I’ve risked too much by staying here.”
+++++“What?” Ethan said as he got out of bed. “You’re not making any sense.” I pulled my shirt on over my head and looked at him – his hair was a mess and he had put his boxer shorts on backwards.
+++++“I’ve lost everything – I can’t risk losing you too.” I said. He looked shocked, he was about to say something but my hand on his mouth stopped him.  “I need to go now, but I promise you I’ll be back. Say goodbye to your Dad for me.” I button up my jeans and leave the room before my resolve wavers. I didn’t say anything else to him before I left. As I pulled away on my bike I saw him watching me from the bedroom window.



new-york-city-12345New York
8 hours later

“Can you zoom in any closer?”
+++++“It’s from a satellite for god’s sake Courtney, it’s already blurred badly enough.”
+++++Both of them looked at the image that had been relayed to them from a contact in France. They then compared it to several other images from the surveillance cameras of the buildings surrounding the alley that Alex Stone’s car had been found in.
+++++“I’d say that’s our girl.”
+++++“At least Alex had something nice to look at before he checked out.”
+++++“Mmm…we’ve just got some imported video from Heathrow…that’s her. Looks like she’s coming our way.”
+++++“Okay, blow up whatever you can and print it off – I’ll go and warn Natasha.”


“There was a time when David Tempest and I were lovers. Did you know that?” Natasha Nicolov said as she felt the water running down her back. Behind her there was a snort of disgust as Kelly shook her head.
+++++“That’s gross! What makes you think I want to hear about that?”
+++++“It was a long time ago and far, far away. If it weren’t for his help I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Natasha said as she savoured the sensation of the sauna.
+++++“You have some way of showing your gratitude to him.” Kelly replied.
+++++“Hush little girl, there’s so much you have yet to learn…” Natasha’s comment was cut off by the door to the sauna opening. The rush of cold air accompanied Courtney’s entrance like a reality check.
+++++“Save it for another day. We’ve just got confirmation that the Tempest girl is heading our way. My guess is that she’ll be landing in forty five minutes with some unfinished business.” Both Natasha and Kelly stopped what they were doing. Natasha stood up and grabbed a robe from the wall.
+++++“Get the photos to my office – I told Adrian that this loose end needed to be dealt with but he wouldn’t listen to me.” Natasha said as she looked at the two young women standing before her. Courtney was every inch the sophisticated raven-haired temptress she was while Kelly looked more like a mall rat with her short spiked red hair. Despite both of the girls being nearly twenty-one, Natasha was surprised just how different they were from each other. “Follow me.”


The boardroom had a strange green hue to it. The table that occupied the middle of the room looked almost lost amidst the myriad of faces looking down at the lone occupant from an oversized screen with the word Ravenstone hanging above it in slate grey letters some eight inches in height. Dressed in a sharp suit and tie, Adrian Stone never took his eyes off the screen as he engaged his virtual participants in discussion.
+++++“…and at what point do we anticipate that Temerax will be viable for sale?” Adrian asked. A man occupying the bottom quadrant of the screen coughed and adjusted his tie.
+++++“We believe that the product will be ready by the end of the next financial quarter – subject to FDA approval.” He said. Adrian nodded.
+++++“Can we speed up the process? I’d like to make the announcement at the next shareholder meeting if at all possible.” The severe looking woman in the top right quadrant spoke up.
+++++“We can try Mr Stone – we would just need to go to human trials a month earlier than anticipated.” Adrian nodded at her response.
+++++“Very good, now to other business…” the sound of the door to the boardroom being thrown open caused Adrian to turn around. Natasha strode into the boardroom dressed in her robe, flanked by Courtney and Kelly. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ll pick this up later.” He pressed a button on his desk and the screen winked off.
+++++“Adrian, we need to talk…” Natasha sounded authoritarian. Adrian sat down on his chair.
+++++“Save your breath, I already know what this is about.” He said. “Like my father and his predecessor, your obsession with the Tempest’s has gotten out of hand. For whatever reason you’ve held this grudge over them for nearly two decades, please remember that we are trying to run a business here.” Adrian twisted around on his chair, staring at the screen as a stream of data began to flow across it. “A business that does not need to attract any unwanted and unnecessary attention to itself.”
+++++“I am sorry about the death of your father Adrian,” Natasha said. “I’m simply looking to avenge it.”
+++++“Natasha, whilst I may grieve for my father privately I am under no illusions as to the deeply despicable flaws within his character,” Adrian said. “I am sure that his death was something that was long overdue. Now, if you wish to try and clean up this mess that you’ve instigated then do so – only please try to do so without drawing any attention to yourselves.”



Flight 261
London to New York
35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean

The flight is boring – even in business class. I’ve been sleeping as much as I can – this is only the second time I’ve been on an aeroplane in my life and it’s a new sensation to me.
+++++My sleep is filled with dreams that play through my head like the movies on the in-flight entertainment – only unlike the effects laden blockbusters produced by Hollywood, these are all too real…
+++++I’m sitting on a bench with Mom – we’re looking out over the sea and she tells me everything. I’m 15 years old and suddenly everything makes sense. The training, the drills, the incessant secrecy and the sense that we were living on borrowed time. It all falls into place.

20 years ago

“Mr Knotmann wants the latest batch of the test serum for delivery to his office this afternoon.” Mary-Ann said to Katie as she entered the lab.
+++++“What? But it’s nowhere near ready – we haven’t even got the results from the latest animal tests back yet?” Katie replied, looking at her friend with an expression of bewilderment etched on her features.
+++++“I know – however it turns out that they have some guinea pig to trial it upon in the hospital wing.” Mary-Ann replied. “Looks like someone ended up on the top of the expendable list.”
+++++“Poor bastard,” Katie said. “Well, I’ll deliver the serum to Knotmann in a few minutes. I have a few more things to document.”


Knotmann peered over his glasses at the tray of test tubes filled with a reddish-brown fluid. He stroked the small tuft of hair on his chin obsessively whenever he was deep in thought. Seemingly satisfied with the samples, he handed them to one of the young research assistants – a man Katie knew went by the name of Moore.
+++++“Excuse me Mr Knotmann, but what exactly are you planning to do with the serum?” Katie said, feeling uneasy as she watched Moore walk out of the office. “It’s still highly unstable at the moment; as head of the research department any new trials should fall under my supervision.”
+++++“Indeed they should Doctor Westland,” Knotmann replied. “However, I’m taking personal charge of this project now. You will be briefed in full when the time is right. Now, I’m sure that you’re a busy person and I wouldn’t want to keep you from your work.” Katie recognised when she was being dismissed from something. Katie knew that any form of dissent was treated harshly by the Agency, yet as she got up and left Knotmann’s office the sensation in her stomach began to grow in intensity.


By the time Katie had returned to her office, she found Mary-Ann in an agitated state. She was visibly upset and the moment she laid eyes on Katie she dragged her into the ladies room.
+++++“What’s wrong?” Katie asked. Mary-Ann looked like she was on the verge of tears. She was gulping down big breaths of air as she was trying to stop herself from hyperventilating.
+++++“It’s David…”
+++++“What? What about David?” Katie asked, the knot in her stomach nearly doubling her over now.
+++++“He was shot…in the park…” Katie could feel her head starting to swim as the words started to sink in. “Katie…he’s the test subject.” Something clicked inside Katie, switching her over to autopilot.
+++++“I have to get him out of here – that serum will kill him.”
+++++“How?” Mary-Ann asked. Katie looked at Mary-Ann.
+++++“Okay, this is how we’ll do it…”
+++++Five minutes later, Katie headed directly back to the lab. As she stood at the door she could see Moore inside loading up the vials of serum. Entering the lab without saying a word, Katie went directly to the refrigerator. Inside she removed a series of tinted vitamin B shots that looked just enough like the serum to pass to the untrained eye.
+++++“I think that Doctor Evans wants to see you,” Moore nodded and walked out of the lab. Mary-Ann had agreed to distract Moore for just long enough to allow Katie to do what she needed to do. As she switched the vials over Katie realised that at least one was missing already. Cursing under her breath, she placed the vials in her jacket pocket and walked out of the Agency building.
+++++Lunchtime was spent at the bank, withdrawing half of her savings in cash and transferring the other half to a friend in Scotland. Katie went back to her rented apartment and cleared out everything of value to her; three photographs of her family, a necklace her mother had given her and her gun.
+++++As soon as she returned to the Agency building, Katie made an immediate detour to the hospital wing. Nothing could have prepared her for the sight she would encounter.
+++++David Tempest was barely conscious. His pupils were dilated yet he managed to recognise Katie’s face as she knelt down beside his bed.
+++++“I’m going to get you out of here,” She whispered. “Please hang on.” Katie felt David’s hand squeeze hers. A faint sign of understanding and life.
+++++Heading directly to her locker, Katie smiled when she saw the package in there that Mary-Ann had left for her. If things were going according to plan then her colleague would already be out of the building. Putting the small brown packet in her lab coat pocket, Katie just needed one more thing.
+++++A disguise.


The building was in chaos – the explosion had torn a whole through the power grid and everything was going into lockdown. The internal security personnel had orders to account for everyone going out of the building – yet they were drowning in a sea of people fearing for their lives.
+++++“Please, I’ve got to get this man to a hospital,” Katie said as she struggled to carry the security guard through the throng of people. One of the desk staff tried to stop her.
+++++“Dr Westland, where are…?”
+++++“He was caught in the initial explosion,” Katie explained to the guard – a man she knew as Curtis, she had no clue if that was his Christian name or his surname. “He’s got burns and took a nasty blast of Halon gas from the fire suppression system.”
+++++“Okay, go!” Curtis said, pushing Katie and the injured guard through ahead of the others clambering to get out of the building. The fresh air hit Katie like a brick, prompting her companion to cough as well. Once she managed to get to her car she pulled the baseball cap off the security guard and fired the engine to life.
+++++Looking over at David Tempest, she knew he wasn’t out of the woods yet, but at least they had a chance. Her foot pushed down on the accelerator and Katie never looked back.



Rusk Holm Island
Off the coast of Scotland
Two and a half weeks ago

The shadowy figures seemed moved in tandem, covering each other as they approached the small balcony. As one opened the door the other stepped in, the stub-nosed rifle held in his hands and aimed at the bed. Joined by his colleague a moment later, he motioned towards the bed.
+++++“Hey, that’s a…”
+++++“Stone said to clear the island,” The other replied. “No questions.” He gestured to his partner towards the bed.
+++++“Excuse me,” The woman’s voice made both men turn around. “That’s my daughter you’re talking about.”
+++++Phfft! Phfft! Phfft! Phfft!
+++++Amy woke up as the two now very dead bodies hit her bed. Suddenly realising what was going on, she saw her mother standing at the bottom of the bed.
+++++“Come on Amy, it’s time.”
+++++Following her mother through the house, Amy found herself stepping over or around dead bodies. She was at a loss for words as they made their way down the stairs to the ground floor. As Katie reloaded her pistol while she walked, David limped made his way up from the basement.
+++++“We clear?” He asked.
+++++“We’re clear.” Katie confirmed. He nodded and lifted open he access door that was cut into the floor.
+++++“Mom, Dad…what’s going on?” Amy asked as Katie ushered her into the basement. David handed her a wetsuit and breathing apparatus.
+++++“They’ve found us.” Katie said. “You need to go.”
+++++“What? What do you mean, I need to go?”
+++++“You need to get out of here,” David said. “They don’t know about you and it’s us they are looking for.” Amy watched her mother load an automatic rifle.
+++++“But…the three of us…we could escape…”
+++++“We would just be delaying the inevitable.” David replied as he gently pushed Amy into the small opening in the floor that led out to the ocean. “Baby, we love you, but we can’t protect you anymore.”
+++++“You need to leave – get to Uncle Mac’s on the mainland, take the money that’s in your bank account and live your life.” Katie said, holding her daughter in her arms for the last time. “I want you to turn around, leave and never, ever look back.”
+++++“But…” Amy couldn’t see clearly through the goggles her mother had pushed over her head. She couldn’t determine if it was the condensation inside them or the tears that were streaming from her eyes. “I…I can’t do this…”
+++++“Yes you can,” David said. “Now go!” Amy turned and sank into the water. Before her head disappeared under the waves she saw her parents kiss.
+++++“Now, I figure there’s about two dozen of them,” David said as he slammed home a magazine into his pistol. Katie handed him a shotgun that he slung across his back as she began to load up her bag with grenades. “If we split up and work around the island in opposite directions we should be okay.”
+++++“You’re such an optimist,” Katie’s expression was grim. “Just promise me that you’ll meet me at the gazebo – I want to be in your arms at the end.”
+++++“I love you Mrs Tempest.”
+++++“I love you too.” Katie replied, kissing David again. “Now, let’s get this over and done with.”


I awake with a start as the plane touches down. By the time I’m through customs and making my way through the arrivals lounge I realise that I’ve picked up a shadow. She’s about my height, long dark hair and a glare that looks like it could melt glass. I make a few calculated stops at a several of the concessions just to confirm that she is actually following me then I decide to act when she’s pretending to look through the European copy of Vogue.
+++++“Excuse me,” I attract the attention of one of the security personnel. I stand close to him so she can’t see what I’m doing. “I’m really sorry about this, but can you see a woman with dark hair standing about thirty five feet behind me at the news stand?”
+++++“Yes ma’am,” He replied, casting a glance over his shoulder before looking back at me. The clasp on his holster is easy enough to pry loose.
+++++“Well, I overheard her talking to her friend about pick-pocketing some of the business class arrivals,” My lie is seamless as he returns his attention to the woman. My hand is ready to act.
+++++“Thank you ma’am, appreciate that.” The security guard replies and then moves towards her. As he brushes past me I manage to lift the pistol out of his holster and stash it inside my bag. Perfect! The guard has no idea that his weapon isn’t where he thinks it is. I head towards the airport exit without a second glance, confident that the delay will be enough to shake her.
+++++Once outside I head for the taxi rank. I’ve got a short stop planned at a hotel in downtown Manhattan before…
+++++The large black sedan screeches to a halt in front of me. The window opens and a woman is looking at me. I recognise her face from somewhere – maybe one of Dad’s files?
+++++“Amy Tempest, I presume?” Her voice is clipped and I realise who it is.
+++++I think about pulling the gun from my bag – however I feel something stinging in the base of my spine. I have a fraction of second to realise what’s happening before I lose consciousness and slump to the concrete.
+++++“She’s one cocky bitch,” Kelly said as she returned the taser to her bag. Courtney walked out of the arrivals lounge to she her sister lifting the unconscious figure of Amy and dragging her towards the trunk.
+++++“Yeah, but we’ll soon knock that out of her.” Courtney said as she helped Kelly.
+++++“Hurry up you two, I want to get out to the farmhouse before sunset.” Natasha barked. Courtney nudged Kelly as she looked at Amy in the trunk.
+++++“I think you should zap her again, just to be on the safe side.” She said. Kelly had a wicked grin on her face.
+++++“I’m glad we’re on the same side.” Kelly said as she pulled the taser out of her bag again. “You’re an evil bitch.”
+++++“Takes one to know one.” Courtney replied as she slammed the trunk shut. “I call shotgun.”
+++++“I call nine millimetre.” Kelly snapped back as she hopped into the car.