General Quintet and an Absconder
The General Quintet and an Absconder
“I’ll trudge the rest of the way.” Tariq had his beautiful chauffer stop a block from the warehouse. As he walked, the Iranian recalled the poignant promise he made referencing Tolkien’s Bilbo and the battle of five armies. ‘I don’t know who the other four combatants are yet, but I’ll be one.’
“Ghazi is two, Bob is three and Sergey is four.”
[You’re one rampaging force shy.]
“I’m also the only one without armed troops behind me.” By coming from the West, the programmer failed to see the motorcade parked to the East. They on the other hand, were observing and noted the new arrival.
Entering the long-abandoned structure, the tardy comrade waved to his squad mates. He progressed further into the room with his heels echoing on the concrete floor.
“Where were you?” The sheik emerged from the back room
“My flight was deplaned for some ridiculous security protocol.”
Ghazi spun back towards the structure’s rear section, as if the answer didn’t interest him—which it really didn’t. The late arrival followed the retreating Arab to the rear deck of the abandoned freight terminal.
This does make the situation interesting. Tariq grinned at the sight of a small ashen-faced man seated in a chair. The well-known person was easy to recognize but the costume he was wearing was entirely unexpected: a dozen sticks of dynamite were strapped to his torso.
[Army number five is a turnabout.]
A dictionary definition of ‘ironic’ should feature this illustration. In a room full of Islamic terrorists, the white Anglo Saxon protestant man was rigged up as the suicide bomb.
“Bring my prisoner to the boat.” Again, bin Omani simply shouted the instruction without targeting it to an individual.
“Come along.” Tariq was nearest to the trussed up captive: he took the shoulder of his suit jacket and abruptly tugged the man upright.
“Did you see your captain at the airport?” Ghazi offhandedly inquired.
“I didn’t bump into Kareem.” The programmer spoke the truth but his fingers gripped into the prisoner’s soft arm hard enough to make the man squeak. I assumed that I was the final arrival.
“I’ll deal with his punctuality later.” The sheik spoke to no one person in particular. “I will simply lead this unit as I would have done even were your commander was in attendance. Our guest of honor is comfortably restrained, so I know of no further reason to wait any longer.”
Kareem’s absence is disconcerting but I see a chance to establish myself as a lieutenant. Ghazi wouldn’t know the current rank structure. The men in the unit didn’t know exactly where the Iranian fit in either.
“Call the guards to join us.” The Arabic-Canadian barked a loud order. He scooped up one of two Uzi machine guns that remained on the floor: each of the jihad men and Ghazi were now similarly armed.
Two men are already on the speedboat. Tariq performed a quick tally. Two were guards and two others were attending to the prisoner. Kareem would be seven and Tariq was number eight. That left still two members short but Ghazi hadn’t mentioned any other absentees.
[Sheik bin Nasty might have sent some on a sub-assignment.]
Our commander’s absence worries me. Was it possible that he spotted Jacqueline somewhere? Seattle a populous city but there was still a chance of a coincidental sighting. Jacqueline, be careful and be safe. With a roar from the powerful twin engines, the boat surged into Puget Sound.
“You won the Wall Soft takeover bid.” The grey-fringed man in the TNT waistcoat shrilled. “Why are you doing this now?”
“I suffered a small Awi.” The sheik cracked a wordplay joke that the captive couldn’t possibly understand—but one of his squad members did.
[Was Tariq Awi the ouch that Ghazi felt?]
The sheik has astutely deduced what happened to him—and who did it.
“If you needed my help,” the human hand grenade whimpered, “all you had to do was ask. You should’ve known that.”
“To force an opponent into moving a key piece, a chess player may use a power piece to threaten. It’s then up to the other whether to peacefully relocate the offending unit,” Ghazi’s hand stroked the frightened man’s bomber jacket, “or accept a mutual destruction in the next turns.”
“I’m too important,” the tiny man’s weak voice didn’t quite match his grandiose assertion, “to be used as a mere pawn.”
“Bishops, rooks, castles, queens and even kings are expendable pawns for the master.” The sheik enigmatically smiled. “Play this endgame with me and when I’ve achieved my victory, you’ll be amply rewarded.”
“What if your plan isn’t successful?”
“Only the contents of your shoes will attend your state funeral.”
“I’m can’t make out the occupants from this distance.” Agent Wilkins, of the troop tasked with caring for and occasionally buffing those shoes, watched the boat pull away from the warehouse. He didn’t like it but was under direct orders to stay out. “I’ll give him ten more minutes to call.”
After the elapsed time, four dark suited men jogged to the door. Each drew a weapon and adopted the academy-approved stance.
“Now!” The leader entered swiftly and shouted. “Clear!”
There was only one other exit and Wilkins signaled his men to move to it. They employed similar entry procedure.
The end of the derelict building was open at the harbor side and outfitted for dockage. It was deserted but ominous evidence remained.
“This is not an encouraging sign.” The agent scuffed his patent leather toe on the remaining Uzi that would’ve been Kareem’s. The nick it put on his black footwear wasn’t attractive and loosing his charge wouldn’t look appealing on his service record either.
“Give me at least two hours.” As she parked in the hotel lot, Jacqueline impatiently quoted her boyfriend. Walking to the door, she added her own sentiment. “But it only takes two seconds to get killed.”
‘You’ve risked enough,’ the young woman recalled her argument from the drive from Wall Soft to the warehouse, ‘and we’ve won. Don’t go in.’
‘We’ve trekked this ground before.’ Tariq had stood firm. ‘The man I saw him with in Bangkok means that until people know he is a washed-up has-been, Ghazi is still a major-leaguer. His current limbo status has made him even more unpredictable. For example, he must know Wall didn’t bring him down, but he has summoned my Jihad unit to Seattle anyways.’
‘And you’re supposed to owe Bob personal protection because a Thai monk said you have karma.’ She had oversimplified for effect.
‘I can’t be certain if a busy holy man spoke with me in Phenom Rung, any more than I can confirm the reality of my pesky Norse spirit.’ Tariq had set a comforting hand on hers, as it rested on the shifter knob. ‘How thoughts arrived in my mind doesn’t matter: the crux issue is that they are there and I believe in what I need do. Correcting a wrong by committing another is like paying a debt off with a credit card.’
“An honorable man is exasperating,” in the present Jacqueline entered the lobby, “even when his morals are part of what is endearing about him.”
“Has a package arrived for me?” The girl quoted her room number and wondered again about the mysterious item Sam was sending.
“There’s nothing yet.” The clerk checked the in basket.
“I’ll inquire again later.” She planned to kill some waiting time in the shower and changing. “If it shows up: send it to my room.”
“How critical is that two hour delay?” Jacqueline paused and she held the door slightly ajar while deciding. “I’ll honor that and maybe Sam’s gift will be handy.” Behind her, the door swung almost shut.
Bob and Sergey both know what I look like and Ghazi is now aware of his previously presumed dead computer expert’s involvement. Those two snippets of information are like nitro and glycerin—soon to combine.
[You could explode before the other human bomb does.]
Thanks, I needed that. Tariq’s mental tongue was in his mind’s cheek. In the distance, the Seattle cityscape dwindled into the omnipresent haze and looking back towards the bow, he saw Ghazi consulting a map.
The sheik certainly had political wherewithal to get him here so fast. Tariq saw where the explosive politician sat shivering from the chill wind, and his fear of detonation. I’m not an expert on manufacturing bombs but I do know one needs a way of triggering them. He looked closer and saw that the blasting caps were wired into a small black device with an antenna.
[That metal matchstick is an awfully short fuse.]
Since I don’t see any bulky pockets in Ghazi’s robe, I can surmise he has a remote transmitter in his shoulder bag. Although he couldn’t see the back of the dynamite belt now, the programmer recalled it was buckled at the rear. I didn’t see that it was locked in place either.
Several minutes later, the sheik took a two-way radio out of his shoulder bag and carried out a brief but unheard conversation.
I’ll assume he’s talking with my two unaccounted-for squad mates.
[There was another boat slip at the warehouse but it was empty.]
Presumably, the others could be on a vessel that left earlier.
[Forewarned is forearmed.]
Foreknowledge is only my opportunity to panic ahead of time. It was also a chance to think and the programmer used it. Why would the sheik want a second boat? Was it his getaway craft?
He expects to succeed and not to need an escape—or to die inflicting maximum damage. That’s why the highly recognizable prisoner is rigged for a poignant blast and it suggests what the other vessel is intended for.
Satisfied that he’d fathomed the sheik’s plan, Tariq relaxed and patted the comfortable weight of the Uzi machine gun on his lap. I’m forearmed but seven other jihad members also have one like it. Sergey’s men all have revolvers. I’m not a Hollywood star to single handedly take on an army—or four. The Iranian fretted on how ridiculously outnumbered he was. I’m more likely to be as the villain in a typical action film, unable to hit with one bullet—while expending a clip of ammo from close range.
[I’ll modify my trite phrase to forethought is foreboding.]
“My dearest left the welcome mat for me,” Kareem cautiously tried the door and it fractionally moved, “or should it be the strumpet’s red light?” While awaiting her return, and in fact since the day of her flyaway clothes, the fat Arab’s mind had envisioned many scenarios of his ravishing this girl. From his window, he had watched her approach the lobby and then lingered for several moments to allow her to get settled in.
To gain the element of surprise if she was in the main room, the ex-cop pushed the door quickly and stepped with it. Was she in the shower? He could hear the water running in the washroom. Kareem held the door and eased it closed behind. He was about to latch a security chain, when the female emerged from the bathroom: she had only been washing her face.
“Get out!” Jacqueline’s voice was high-pitched from shock, and then she recognized the intruder. “My dad will be right back.”
“No he won’t.” The jihad deserter stepped threateningly ahead.
“I’ll scream.” The girl faked her eyes to the right then shot her body quickly the other way in an attempt to gain the door.
“This is a hotel.” The man’s reflexes were fast and his arm arrested her progress. “Females are expected to yodel, in the throws of ecstasy.”
“I thought you were my father’s friend.” Her ploy was to invoke guilt. The slight girl now regretted her failed bolt for the exit, as she was trapped in the grasp of someone far more physically powerful than she.
“And I wrongly presumed you were things that apparently you are not.” Kareem pressed his face down suddenly and he fiercely kissed her mouth. The girl fought to pull away and then she savagely bit his lip. With his full might, the Arab boxed the side of her head. “Be nice or I’ll be bad.”
Jacqueline’s knees became watery as her head surfed a breaking swell of near unconsciousness. She felt his free arm take her weight. Her body was held so close, that she could smell the stale sweat on his shirt. Her eyelids fluttered on the verge of a blackout and she was unaware of his lowering the two of them onto the bed.
Kareem licked away the tangy blood from his lip and sought hers again. This time she offered no resistance but her mouth lacked the fervor that his daydreams had often predicted.
“Where are your traditional clothes?” The man grabbed the one side of her silky blouse and ripped it aside. The buttons popped and a breast under a black lacy bra was now visible. Her skin tone was paler than Tariq’s and her hair was a lighter shade of brown. “Are you even an Islamic girl?”
Jacqueline didn’t respond to either query: she hadn’t even heard them. Then the pain from her badly bruised cheekbone served as a splashing of ice water. Tears ran from her freshly reopened eyes.
“I know you and Tariq are infiltrators.” This angle had featured in his most recent fantasies of her and it seemed the best theme for him to act out. He could also self-pardon his lustful motives by hiding them behind the auspices of his organization. He tore away the other half of her shirt and tugged her bra to her bellybutton. “I’ll find out your true affiliations.”
“By raping me,” Jacqueline read his rationalization and discounted it, “to satisfy your own base desires?” She felt a strong hand on her breast.
“Is Tariq your father,” Kareem recalled the intimate butt pinch he had witnessed, “or is he really a lover?” His hand left off groping to search out the waistband of her jeans.
Again Jacqueline didn’t answer but this time due to her watching for an opening. As soon as he exposes his tender genital area, I’ll kick it hard.
“I think you’re his whore?” Surely, such an attractive female wouldn’t be romantic with a man so much older. “He likes prostitutes.” The Arab’s fingers fumbled at her belt. “What’s your rate for a night or for a month?”
He’s only partially on top of me. Her dizziness from the solid cuff had now subsided. If I can distract him with pain, I might make it to the exit. The desperate woman grabbed at his exposed ear and twisted it with all her strength. Move now! She squirmed frantically towards the edge of the bed to the sound of his tortured howl. Releasing her grip on the tender flap of skin, Jacqueline tried another break for freedom.
“Aargh!” Kareem’s senses reeled at his pain and his hand shot up to fight away the attack on his ear. Suddenly, the initial hurt was gone but his victim was rising quickly. His arm flailed out and his fingers caught her blouse. The fat man jerked her back violently.
The material tightened on her shoulders: she wiggled to let the blouse tug free but wasn’t fast enough. Her arms caught in the sleeves and the inertia of his hard yank toppled the female backwards onto the mattress.
“No—more—struggles.” Kareem spaced his words to emphasize his ire. He threw a meaty leg over to straddle her hips. He had a new strategy.
“Please let me go!” With her spirits dampened by the failed attempt, Jacqueline tried appealing to his unseen sympathetic side.
“If you perform exquisitely for me,” Kareem pulled the ripped blouse from her arms and tied a sleeve around her wrist: after looping the shirt’s body over the bed’s head rail, he secured her other hand with the second cuff, “then I’ll consider letting you live.”
My situation is almost hopeless. The young woman tested the give in her restraints. My hands can’t reach down to protect my body.
“Let me see,” the rapist shifted his bulk off of her lower body, “what other treats you have in store for me.” He unzipped her jeans and tugged them together with her panties.
Jacqueline bucked and squirmed but Kareem’s superior arm strength overwhelmed her opposition. He slid the denim down her limbs. The pant leg came free of her right foot but remained bunched at the ankle of her left: he tied that to the footboard. She was now effectively defenseless.
“Is this the only way,” she spit caustic, “a swine like you can get laid?”
Kareem had completed his task on her ankle and his eyes traveled up her exposed flesh: this female had entranced him from a glimpse under her garments. The jihad captain stood to remove his western style clothing.
After stripping off his shirt, the Arab pulled a hunting knife from the back his belt. He had surmised he might need a weapon if Tariq had come back and a pained amble across the street had found a sporting goods shop.
“Now, you are mine.” He leaned over the woman’s body and wickedly grinned. “After I’ve been satisfied, you’ll belong to my blade.” Then as menacingly as a spider’s tongue might lick its trussed up insect prey, he drew the knife’s edge down a line connecting her one nipple to her navel.
“I have a possible kidnapping scenario in Seattle,” Wilkins put in an emergency call to his supervisor, “and a colossal national security issue.” The agent described the situation and told of the man’s final instructions.
“That precludes commandeering the local law enforcement resources.” The agent in Washington said to the agent in Washington. The state and the city are both called after the first president but the right gear and people were located in the DC namesake—where they were of no use here.
“I’m not absolutely sure we have a problem yet.” Agent Wilkins let his mind discount the machine gun. “My charge was confident of his safety and I witnessed no spurious activity on the boat.”
“A fairly important person in the Pacific Northwest has been trying to contact your charge,” the senior man confided, “but he hasn’t yet said what he wants to talk about. Could this be related?”
“Hello?” Collin’s voice traveled through a twilight zone in a series of circuit clicks. “Bureaucracy!” The asshole said it as a cuss word. He had talked to twelve people in a circle before being sent back to the first one—who still couldn’t or wouldn’t respond. “Nine tenths of the civil service is just a gargantuan government make pointless exasperation project.”
“That many are required to prevent the public’s nattering,” the agent in Seattle retorted, “from annoying the ten percent doing the critical work.”
“Touché.” Hersker chuckled. They two obviously weren’t destined to agree on much but he had found an outlet from the jig and reel. “I’ll assume the critical work closely involves the man I’m trying to reach.”
“Who are you,” in standard law enforcement style, Wilkins demanded the information as if the respondent was a strapped into an interrogation chair—and fitted with testicle electrodes, “and why do you want him?”
“Who are you,” the executive wasn’t that easily cowed, “and why do you feel qualified to hear my answer?”
“Agent Wilkins commands a Secret Service protective detail,” the DC bureaucrat averted the standoff, “for the man that Collin Hersker, a senior executive of Wall Soft Systems in Seattle, wants to speak to.”
“At this precise moment he’s beyond contact.” Wilkins offered.
“Wall Soft’s new owner wants to meet with him.” Collin reciprocated.
“Perhaps,” the agent’s mind scrolled quickly through the known facts: the man into the warehouse appeared of Arabic decent: the Saudi sheik had the means to compel a clandestine meeting, “that talk is already occurring.”
“I strenuously doubt that but it begs me to ask why you think so.”
“Because Ghazi bin Omani successfully took over Wall Soft.” Agent Withers used a tone of voice that would’ve fit talking down to an idiot and he had to consciously refrain from adding ‘duh!’
“No—he did not.” Hersker pulled the conversational grenade’s pin. “The press and obviously you too, aren’t party the latest news.”
“He might not have known,” the befuddled agent unguardedly voiced his inner mental workings, “when he agreed to the private summons.”
“Agent Wilkins, did you just let slip,” akin to his Lamborghini Diablo’s gearbox, Collin’s mind shifted and grey matter wheels chirped on the walls of his cranial highway, “that your charge is missing, after having taken a clandestine meeting with Sheik Ghazi bin Omani?”
“They left in a speedboat.”
“I suggest you need my corporate resources,” the executive surmised that keeping an exposure cap was a high priority, “as urgently as I want your up-to-the-moment information.”
Powered by twin Caterpillar engines, the Atlantis 55 speedboat cruised north through the Puget Sound. The jihad man doing the steering had an easy job, but for the rest there was only a tense waiting.
“Did I miss some instructions,” Tariq stepped between the dynamite carrier and the sheik, “while I was unavoidably delayed?”
“Before the guest arrived,” Ghazi bin Omani was semi-seated on the boat’s instrument console, “I told your teammates this mission serves our holy cause. I’m sure the situation of our hostage bears witness to that.”
“I overheard your conversation with him.” Tariq made the word sound as if it had a vile taste and indicated his chin at the captive. “Is Bob Wall the key piece we are looking for?”
“I’m convinced,” the Arab slipped briefly from an insanity of rage he’d been living in, “that Bob Wall has the man I’m seeking.”
“I’m sure you know more than I,” this chat made the programmer feel he was climbing Mount Everest wearing roller-skates, “but it seems like we’re sailing into a major international incident with no visible upside.”
“You will do your duty to Islam!” The sheik’s response bristled but he reflected on it for a second. Men about to die needed a valid, or at least a seemly rational reason. He could provide one, albeit slightly twisted from the actual truth. “Our glorious jihad is polluted at the top.”
[The high-rolling dervish has all his dinars on a roulette wheel.]
Ghazi knows Bob doesn’t own Omani Holdings but he’s betting on long odds that Wall’s connected with Tariq Awi. The programmer leaned closer as bin Omani had whispered. He hopes if his lucky number comes up, Bob and the real owner of the company will both be on the boat. If not, then his motivation will be all in retaliation against the one foe he can find—Wall.
“Many people are aware of the CIA having funded Osama’s Al Qaeda during Afghanistan’s resistance to Soviet occupation, but there are very few who know that linkage was never severed. Langley, Virginia is still his major sponsor.” Ghazi bin Omani smiled at the stunned look on his listener’s face. “Our prisoner’s first use is getting us on the yacht but any person strapped to a bomb would do. The second will cleanse the jihad.”
[That is a crock of festering whale blubber.]
Eskimos tell of that being a delicacy even tastier than ice cream and Ghazi presented a well crafted and partially true bucketful of ‘muk tuk’.
“Wall’s key piece will become your puppet,” Tariq extrapolated, “you will replace Osama and your prisoner’s being here provides a blackmail the Capitalists have no choice but to pay.”
“Precisely.” The sheik resumed his viewing ahead.
“I’ll take my captured booty,” Kareem’s fantasy veered into a different delusion, “like a Nubian swashbuckler.” He took the knife away from her tan skin and put it in his mouth. As Sinbad the Sailor after a seventh quest, he clenched the blade in his teeth whilst undressing.
“Special package.” A muffled male voice and a sharp knock sounded.
“HEL—.” The girl began, but her attacker clamped her mouth before it became a full plea: it was also uttered while the deliveryman was speaking.
“Leave it in the hallway.” The Arab’s one hand drew the knife from a dental scabbard and the other held her jaw. He heard a scuff near the door: it sounded as a box nudged against the outer wall. Then footfalls retreated.
“Where were we?” Kareem’s whispered breath in her nostrils was sour from his long flight and a day spent without his toothbrush. He stuck his dirk back into his teeth, roughly shoved her unsecured leg to the side and insinuated his hips between her thighs.
“You’re fat like a walrus,” the fleeting chance of her rescue was gone and Jacqueline had naught to loose from a taunt, “but hung like a scrimp.”
“You have to sign my receipt.” A male voice clearly rent the air.
The single-tusked walrus leapt off the bed and his blubber jiggled as he landed on his hind flippers.
Jacqueline’s eyes went wide. “John!” Her twin brother stepped inside and the door swung shut behind.
“Free.” The sibling’s eyes weren’t on his sister but concentrated on the nude-but-for-socks assailant—spitting a hunting knife into his right hand.
“Leave and live,” the jihad commander blustered, “or stay and die.”
“I’ll remain.” The young man spoke without a flinch in his fixed gaze. He recalled his father’s instruction on hand-to-hand fighting. ‘Fingers are deceptive but eyes can’t lie.’ John took several deep breaths and allowed his primordial self to step to the front. His vision became sharper and his awareness expanded to absorb ambient sensations. He tasted a salt tang in the air that was in part from the sea breeze and the rest, perspiration odor.
“That was a dumb decision.” The former policeman switched the blade from one hand to the other. The showy tactic was intended to install fear, of facing an experienced knife wielder. Kareem Kareem’s eyes flicked down and back once to assess his opponent: the heavy man outweighed the youth by sixty pounds and he expected to have the advantage of strength.
“We’ll see.” John stood poised, on the balls of his feet. Again, the internal voice of his mentor offered a suggestion. ‘One may hold a weapon but both might use it.’ The younger man saw the flashy blade work with his lower peripheral vision but he intently sought the eye movement.
The rapist’s mind was too busy to compose another quip. Should he stab or switch grip to slash? The weapon came to rest in his right hand: using his left had been for show but it apparently didn’t impart much awe.
“You can walk away alive.” Jacqueline’s words were primarily for the Saudi but they would’ve applied to her brother too.
Shiva’s Messenger was deep in his state of peak alacrity and the words sounded to him as if in slow motion. Without breaking direct eye contact, the young assassin noted a fleshy shoulder was slowly moving.
The knife-wielding man hoped his sweeping blade motions would lure the eyes but this ploy, like his others, failed dismally. He had also heard Fatima’s offer but his response was predictable. The ex-cop had shown in the gym, restaurant, on Bangkok’s waterfront quay and once again on the parking lot headlong dash, that proving himself was paramount, over even his own safety. Kareem Kareem was committed to the attack.
John watched the man’s pupils expand slightly and that brought another of his teacher’s maxims. ‘Instincts ready the eyes for improved vision.’ A natural function of physiology had pre-warned of impending action.
The portly Arab man dropped his eyes to his knife and thrust his hand forward, to pierce the heart. Looking up again, he was shocked to find the target was no longer in the onrushing tip’s trajectory. How did he move so inhumanly fast? Kareem frantically tried to adjust the dirk’s error.
John only seemed to react super swiftly because he was moving before the knife hand did. Utilizing his father’s tutelage, the well-trained youth had moved to the outside of the thrust. ‘Back and triceps are weaker than the corresponding chest and bicep muscles. Their speed is slower as they must work harder to oppose.’ In addition to sidestepping, the boy swiveled to present a smaller target: his front was facing the Arab’s side. Kareem had taken his shot and now it was the messenger’s turn.
The boy is good at this! With his blade hand now extended out too far, Kareem’s attempted repositioning had only slapped the back of his hand against the young man’s chest. Now the rapist had a dilemma: if he turned to face, his arm could be wedged between the two bodies. The Arabic man tried to swiftly retract his elbow for a second thrust. No! He willed his muscles to cease his motion but the nerves couldn’t react quickly enough.
‘Don’t fight a bigger man’s strength: use his own power against him.’ These remembered instructions were the last John required in this fight. As the jihad commander had pulled, the youth had pushed up on the arm. John’s hand cupped the pommel and guided the sharp point.
Kareem Kareem saw the blade tip rushing towards his face but his arm was powerless to stop it. Could this be construed as dying in a holy jihad? His conscious mind couldn’t formulate an answer to his question as seven inches of steel sunk into his left eye socket and delved deep into his brain.
“Thanks again.” Jacqueline gasped at the rapid action that was almost a blur. The first move was too fast for her eyes to focus on. Then John’s turned back obscured her vision: suddenly Kareem had a knife embedded in his skull. The corpse still hadn’t dropped to the carpeting yet.
John smiled, and with a snakelike quickness, he stepped and snatched a pillow out from under her. He bent and set the dead man’s head on it.
“That’s quite noble of you,” the girl bemused at his seemingly pointless act of kindness, “but I don’t think he felt any discomfiture.”
“The hotel can bill you for a stolen pillow after we dump the evidence.” Still calm after the killing deed, John set to work at the knot on her ankle. “Ripping up a bloodstained carpet would be more troublesome.”
“You’re the package Sam sent to help.” The deadly scene’s unfolding had left her little time to think. Now, the forger’s cryptic message made sense. “The post couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time.”
“You have to go shopping more.” John chuckled at his memory of the last encounter. “Each time we meet, you’re dressed exactly the same.
“Let’s go.” Jacqueline shucked her loosened bonds as another urgent thought came to mind. She hurriedly threw her silky dress over her head and didn’t bother with any undergarments. “We’ll talk on the way.”
“Corpses,” he glanced back on the way out, “have the patience to wait.”
“G-man equals A-hole.” Hersker composed an algebraic formula while two helicopters banked away to the North. “That ignorant Secret Services twerp stuck a gun in my face and hijacked my resources.”
“Send me another helicopter.” The Wall Soft executive spoke into his handheld radio and looked at the lot where three abandoned limousines sat with doors ajar. “Where is a car thief when you really need one?”
“Less than two minutes away.” The reply crackled. Transporting the mobsters had taken some time and this was that flight’s return trip.
“That was timed as nicely a fine Swiss chronometer.” Collin wistfully recalled his stolen Breitling: the Russian replacement just wasn’t the same.
“Last time those Russian goons showed up,” an American bodyguard explained, “we were as welcome as head lice in a daycare center.”
“Give me your guns and then go ditch those limos somewhere.” Collin sent the men away and smiled down on a blonde head: Oksana’s ear was crazy-glued to his chest. “I suppose our closely-guarded secret is blown.”
“Stop the car!” Jacqueline was already halfway over the convertible’s door, before the vehicle skidded to a halt. “That’s my friend Oksana.”
“Lyra?” The previous junky girl’s face was joy and puzzlement.
“~Later—please.” Jacqueline had more pressing concerns. She tapped her brother’s wrist: now wasn’t an opportune moment for disclosing her English fluency. “~Ask him what’s happening on Bob’s yacht?”
“~I don’t know the situation there.” The executive’s use of his recently learned linguistics preempted the interpretation. “~I’m not entirely certain of what’s going on here either.”
“~Were you the man Tariq spoke with?” She fished.
“~You must be Jacqueline.” Collin broke into a wicked grin. “~Bob is really not going to appreciate the same humorous irony that I do.”
“~I’m more concerned about Tariq and circumstances on the yacht.”
“~Our coach awaits.” The asshole gestured a welcoming hand at the helicopter. “~I was headed out there alone—but you are the new boss.”
“Do you prefer communicating in English or Russian?” Jacqueline had made her decision while watching the man’s manner in affectionately but firmly refusing to allow Oksana back onboard the flight.
“How long have you spoken English?”
“Since I was about two.”
“This just gets better,” he chuckled: his sexual preference would be just another candle on Bob’s mortification cake, “and better.”
“Unless it suddenly,” Jacqueline’s concern was that mortality issues needed resolving, before situations could be funny again, “gets worse.”
Tariq’s gaze rested behind on the speedboat’s wake: the churned white contrasted sharply on the dark navy blue surrounding a razor straight track: it could’ve been the contrail of an airliner—like one that struck a tower.
[Now is a good time to go there.]
His eyes remained open but his thoughts peered into a memory space.
Without warning, the elevator slid another half a foot and she flopped out like a beanbag: the woman’s bulk collapsed her rescuer to the floor.
The Iranian partially caught his fall with his hand on the bottom sill. The overweight woman was across him, on her back.
The elevator cab made a grinding groan: the lady attempted sitting up and she grunted as loudly. As her body began to cantilever, her flabby butt on his hip pressured his lower body towards the elevator opening.
‘You’re shoving me.’ He yelled and the lift gave a metal scream.
‘I want to live.’ She kept straining to sit up and her hands flailed for a purchase to assist. Tariq’s lower half was forced still further into the shaft.
‘You think this is just about you.’ His hand shot to the side in hopes of grabbing some carpet but his palm landed on the axe haft: it began to slide with him. The Canadian man looked up and saw that the elevator cab was beginning to move too: this time, there would be no stopping for it.
[You passed sentence on her.] Loki was onboard for this memory ride.
If she just would’ve rolled onto her damned hip before trying to bend.
[You can’t drive forward using hindsight.] The Norse trickster said.
‘A world of people doesn’t exist only to enable you to accumulate more affluence.’ The Iranian’s hand closed tightly around the axe handle. ‘I’m not dying so that you can selfishly live on.’ Tariq swung the weapon. The tail bit on a fireman’s axe is a spike, and that drove into the woman’s right breast. She didn’t scream but her straining slackened and he kept pushing. Her upper body fell back and the programmer’s legs scrambled aside.
‘My sweet lord.’ The woman’s voice was musical as the lift dropped.
[It was over when the fat lady sang.]
Abruptly, she stopped her song: jerked sharply and then went limp. Agony shot up Tariq’s wrist and warm wetness flowed into his lap. The elevator clattered away like an empty steel drum, dropped into a mineshaft.
Tariq’s outside two fingers had been in the path of the upper doorframe and the resulting amputation was done as neatly as by a bookbinder’s trimming press. The woman had lost substantially more: the torso’s lower part, from one breast and in an angle to her collarbone was on this floor: the rest was below, with the programmer’s pinky and ring fingers.
[Booty from the vault and stripped from her corpse has financed you.]
I looted her body of valuables and then drenched in her blood, I calmly descended from the 88th floor by a usable stairway. Tariq clearly recalled the rest of his escape. I repressed the incident: not because of what I did, but rather due to my absence of guilty feelings—my judgment was just.
“If more people used wealth for selfless purposes,” his mind snapped to the present and he looked at Ghazi, “this world might be worth living in.”
[Judging the Sheik wouldn’t take a lengthy celestial trial.]
“That’s one big boat!” Tariq’s eyes followed Ghazi’s finger to where he was pointing the steersman. The vessel glimmered white as a snow-covered mountain in the clear sunshine. Seattle is often a city of perpetual rain but the weather today was beautiful. The afternoon sun was high but descending and Bob’s yacht grew larger as the powerboat closed the gap.
The Squid. He read the gold lettering on the bow. With eyes traversing further astern, the programmer noted the waterline disparity.
We can’t board over the rear transom but Ghazi has seen that. The sheik made a circling hand motion and the helmsman obeyed with a course correction to swing a wide circle to the port beam. There is a gangway. Now on the other side, Tariq saw where a platform was slung on the hull.
In the elevator, he had felt an odd sensation in the fingers he lost later on. He performed an internal check: there was no foreshadowing this time or at least, it wasn’t exactly specific. His entire body was scattered with a slight tingling in places. Were each of those amputated like my fingers, I would look like a human slab of Swiss cheese. The boats bumped hulls.
[The generals from the five sides collide.]