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Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Amaira by Mastho
Amaira by Mastho
Limitless You by Mastho
Limitless You by Mastho
Kanchi by Mastho Vamsee
Kanchi by Mastho Vamsee
God Damn It Smith by Mastho Vamsee
God Damn It Smith by Mastho
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Pop A Cap Smith by Mastho Vamsee
Amaira by Mastho
Amaira by Mastho
Limitless You by Mastho
Limitless You by Mastho
Kanchi by Mastho Vamsee
Kanchi by Mastho Vamsee
God Damn It Smith by Mastho Vamsee
God Damn It Smith by Mastho

Sneak Peek Into - pop a cap Smith!

get ready for crazy action!

 

POP A CAP Smith!

Mastho Vamsee

Prelude

 

 

Guy Daniel lifted the night-vision binoculars to his eyes. In the jungle of Darien Gap in Prague the night was thicker and the air was darker than the urban nights he was accustomed to. He gazed in the specific direction that his guide Juan pointed in.

A couple of seconds passed and he thought he saw a faint movement in the bushes on the other side of the water. At that moment his heart began beating like the African drums.

 Guy Daniel was a big time criminal, wanted in several drug smuggling cases. His stint as a criminal by profession had witnessed huge ups and downs but he had been ruthless enough and slashes enough throats to make it to the big league. There was even a rumor that Guy Daniel was in a position to control at least eight senators.

He was here in one of the most dangerous jungles of the world, Darien Gap that night owing to an important reason. This was one big deal he had agreed to deliver to a mafia lord in Southern America who was said to be backing the dreaded terrorist outfit, Al Qaeda. Guy Daniel desperately needed this money as the elections were fast approaching in the United States. Money that would get him precious alliances with people belonging to an important power base. If he could pull this off, he would be able to expand his empire by three fold.

Heavy loads of weaponry need to be transported to Panama City and the route passes through the jungle he was presently squatting in.

But the reason Guy Daniel was personally supervising the transportation that night was another story. It was because he was terrified. Terrified of a rumor he heard. He heard the name of a man he never intended to meet. Not at the time of this most important deal and not ever in his life either.

Just before he started into the jungle that afternoon, Guy had received a phone call from a man who works for him in Panama City. There had been a terrible accident in Guy’s local office in Panama City and all four men in it, were burnt. Interestingly, each one of them had a bullet in his head! The lucky one who was away, called Guy up and informed him that he had seen a post-it slip stuck to a pole near the burnt office building. It contained a single word.

Smith!

The moment Guy heard the name, he felt like he held on to a live wire. Had the God damn DIA sent its formidable weapon to stop me?  Instantly, he felt the urge to cancel the order on hand.

But he had been paid half the money in advance and it had changed hands already. Now, there was no way for him but to face Smith… a foe, a nightmare… a man who’s meteoric moves and brilliant combat techniques laid some legendary names in the criminal world to rest.

The notorious Russian Mafia had named him Nyanya, the baby-sitter. May be because he’d make you feel like a baby when you are in his presence or whatever? Too many stories stormed in Guy’s mind. They say that when Smith was around, people witness the wrath of the God of destruction himself in play.

Back to the night in Darien Gap, Guy Daniel lowered the field glasses and dabbed his forehead with his sleeve. He looked around to feel assured once again. There were forty of his men around him, armed with most sophisticated weaponry.

The loads they were carrying were on twelve huge wheel burrows that were being pulled by his men. Moving around in vehicles was not an option in the Darien Gap.

Finding nothing more than a random movement in the bushes, Guy Daniel signaled to his men to move on. The criminal convoy was entirely on foot, marching along the water in a line formation of threes.

There were nothing but walls of darkness around them. They travelled with minimal lighting… with just a few battery-operated torchlights… and this made the darkness even scarier.

Around them was a ten thousand square mile rectangle of rainforest, swamp and mountains filled with a variety of deadly animals, insects and death-dealing outlaws. Planning his route earlier, Guy had decided to avoid the waterway that snaked through the forest, as he did not intend to engage into a futile battle with the rebels there.

 The thick and humid air made it difficult to breath. The convoy walked silently covering as much distance as possible and the only sounds were of some wicked insects screaming their butts out in unison.

And suddenly out of the silence, a thud was heard.

Guy froze in his tracks forcing his unsuspecting men to bump into each other awkwardly. They too seemed to hear the sound as everybody looked around in a vein attempt to penetrate the jungle’s darkness with their bare eyes. A few seconds passed in dreadful silence and they began moving again.

May be it was nothing, they thought. But what they did not notice was that the last three men in their convoy were now missing.

A quarter of a mile later came the next attack! Sounds of quick gunshots muffled by a silencer instantly brought tremendous chaos. No one knew what was happening or from which direction was the attack happening. And then there was silence.

The appalling sight of six dead men… right in the middle of the convoy this time lying in a pool of jittery crimson was unnerving...

All weapons came out into the open, ready to spray hundreds of bullets in any direction that showed a movement.

Guy Daniel rushed to his men and barked instructions in a hushed tone. No shooting. Any noise would simply make their situation worse. He ordered his men to place the dead men on a spare wheel burrow and pulled along. Teeth clenched, Guy looked desperately in all directions in vein.

Now, the cargo was positioned in the center of a rectangular formation by the remaining thirty-one armed thugs. Each one in the square formation faced out and pointed his weapon in the direction of the darkness, ready to shoot. The battalion started moving again.

The men at the back were walking backwards and the men on the sides were walking side ways, while the men in the front walked straight with Guy and his guide Juan leading them.

Time slipped by. Now, just three miles away from their destination, Guy began thinking. The enemy was following them for sure. He had the advantage of the trees and the darkness. He was invisible and they were sitting ducks to him. In a matter of minutes, Guy could loose another twenty men if the enemy began his attack. But he was not attacking… the rectangular formation of his men was perhaps making things difficult for him. But if he waited for the attack, there would be none of them left alive by the time they reached Panama City.

Coming to a decision, Guy Daniel signaled his men to halt.

“No point in waiting to be butchered, Juan. We need a counter attack now…” said Guy to his guide.

 “But how would you find him?” asked Juan in surprise. Guy Daniel smiled and dialed a number on his mobile. Twelve minutes later they heard the sound of heavy breathing… And then they saw a slender Somali holding eight leashes that had eight menacing hounds of different breeds tied to them.

Guy talked to the man for a moment and then handed him some cash. When the Somali let the dogs loose, they ran into the wilderness like angels of death. And for the next six minutes, neither Guy nor his men heard a sound. The dogs seemed to have disappeared. Guy looked at the Somali, who returned a look of assurance.

Guy looked at his watch for one last time and stood up. He gave the Somali specific instructions and signaled his men to move. The rectangular formation this time, began moving as quickly as possible.

As they neared the border, Guy’s lips broke into a smile. Looked like his ploy worked. Dawn was approaching but they would reach their destination even before that. They only had to cover about half a mile now.

Apart from the steady sound of the moving wheel burrows and the silent footsteps’ discordant noise on the grass below… the only other sound was of the invisible retched crickets.

But then, there was another sound…

An eerie sound of the several running footsteps and the sound of heavy breathing… Guy’s body shuddered and the grip on his weapon tightened. The sound was strangely menacing and seemed to be approaching them in rapid speed. It was coming right into them, right from the front direction.

Guy Daniel’s men heard it too. Tensed hands began gripping weapons… aims being taken… night vision field glasses being pulled out…

Guy snapped his fingers and Juan switched on a powerful battery operated floodlight, focusing it on the narrow path they were following… And what he saw made him drop his jaw…

The Somali cried in surprise, “My dogs!”

Right in before them were eight menacing hounds of different breeds, foaming from their open mouths, rushing fiercely like a tidal wave of wrath towards Guy’s men. But the dogs were not free; someone seemed to hold their leashes.

As Guy’s eyes focused on the human figure behind the hounds, he saw a tall athlete figure in a hood… his head bent forward… his left hand holding the leashes of the deadly creatures…

Fear was the emotion that burnt through each one present with Guy Daniel that night.

When the man in the hood stopped, so did the hounds in the most obedient fashion. The image of the man in the hood with eight dogs in the floodlight was somehow mesmerizing. Everybody stared as the man squatted down on the ground. The next instant, all the hounds cuddled around the hood man like they were little puppies!

Guy turned and looked at the Somali who was watching with incredulity. Panic struck, Guy yelled “Shoot them!” Right at that moment, the hooded man sprang up, let out a peculiar sound and dived into the wilderness, away from the floodlight’s illumination.

In a couple of seconds, the hounds were upon the men like devils from hell. The Somali tried to get into their way but he moved back, terrorized. They no more responded to him. Deafening gun shorts being fired at the dogs without much aim filled Darian Gap.

The dogs tore open four men’s throats in three seconds. Juan threw the floodlight and ran to the safety of the darkness. Guy ran in another direction while the place was filled with pitiable cries for help. Guns were still blazing away; the serene forest was being filled with screams of dying people and aimlessly fired weapons. They were hopelessly running or shooting their own men in darkness.

Fortunately for Guy, he found a tree that he could climb. Ascending it quickly, he pulled out his Beretta after adjusting himself on one of the branches. When he regained his focus, what he saw was what he would remember for the rest of his life.

It was not just the dogs that were tearing his men apart. Moving with incredible speed and skill was the hooded man with a  deadly dagger in hand. He was silently eliminating each gunman with precision. His movements were so harmonious, almost like a dance. To Guy, it looked like he killed each man with reverence… as if it was his daily prayer.

In a few seconds, Guy realized that it was simply impossible to take an aim at the man who moved with such incredible swiftness. Too quick… if he missed him, he would reveal his position. It would simply mean a suicide.

His mission and his dream were over. The hooded man just slit the throat of his ambition. The terrorist outfit would now be upon his track for the money they paid him. He was ruined!

In about twenty-one seconds, almost all his men were laid to rest. Guy counted the bodies on the ground. Twenty-eight!

Down on the ground, meanwhile, the dogs had gathered at one place. The hooded man was on the ground… he was bent forward with his right knee on the ground over a thug’s body … his hand holding a dagger that dripped blood… Slowly he lifted his head and looked around, as if to check if anymore were left alive. The next instant his head turned toward the tree Guy was hiding in.

Guy Daniel felt a rough shock. His heart almost popped out of his mouth. The hooded man’s face was not clear in the darkness… yet strangely, Guy felt that his eyes were glaring, or rather they were blazing… it was as if the stare was stabbing him. For two long seconds did those eyes look in Guy’s direction.

The next instant, the hooded man stood up and made a peculiar noise ushering the hounds into the darkness. Guy looked with terror as the hooded man tossed something at the huge loads that the wheel burrows carried.

And before he leapt out of harm’s way, a gun in his hand sent a bullet… right at Guy Daniel… but was it a deliberate miss? Guy wouldn’t know.

Boom! Exploded the weaponry... just as something hit Guy Daniel on his left side.

 

Guy Daniel woke up with a start. The terrible blast felt exasperating, as if it happened in his chest. Perspiring heavily, he took several minutes to get his racing heartbeat to slow down.

“God damn it! Smith!” he cursed under his breath, shaking his head in disbelief. He looked around the hotel suit as if to confirm if it was only a dream… Yes it was, a recurring dream.

Looking out of the window, he saw the regal streets of Washington DC. He wiped the sweat off, slowly sitting up on his bed… His trembling hand rose to feel his ear, unconsciously. The left ear… only half of it left… a souvenir from a Godforsaken night.

The dream left a bitter taste in his mouth.

But he had an important meeting that day… 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

“Hello?”

The woman’s voice sounded as if she belonged to another world. That afternoon, upon listening to her voice, John felt that the melancholy tone had a discomforting effect about it. It was difficult to guess the woman’s age listening to her vocals.

“I had called you up a year ago, mister. Do you remember me?” asked the mysterious voice on the line.

“Hmm, yes. I think so. You said you were a psychic…”

“And I said that I would call you with something important, exactly a year later…” said the soothsayer in a deep and sturdy tone.

“Okay?” said John without expression. His mind was racing in a thousand directions scanning his vast memory to see if he could find anything that could connect with such kind of strange calls.

“No need to strain your mind, mister. Nothing dubious ‘bout me, actually. In fact, this call is not about me, it’s about you,” she said as if she was actually reading his mind.

“Fine, I am listening,” said John, trying to ease out a bit.

 “Last year I called you up after my client Mr. Markus was killed…”

“Markus…” muttered John to himself. The squatting figure of a horrified Markus appeared before his eyes. Blood spurted from his throat when John pulled out his index and middle fingers were lodged into it. John observed no emotion connected to that memory.

“Oh, that’s how you had finished your job with Mr. Markus then…” said the lady sending a shock of surprise into John. She’s peeping into my head…

“Say something…” said John a tad impatiently now, feeling the uneasy sensation on the rise.

 “Last year, the Spirit informed me of something important, about you. But I was not permitted to reveal it then. And now, I have been revisited by the Spirit exactly a year later, mister,” said the psychic slowly as if weighing each word.

“Okay, and what do you want to tell me now?”

“The time is approaching fast…” said the lady on the phone. “Two days from now, it might be time for you to leave this realm, mister.”

“Say something… I’d surely welcome that,” said John who was now amused. “And who are you, actually? How do you know what’s going to happen to me? You don’t even know my name!” said John. The words ‘leave this realm’ strangely, gave him a deep peace inside.

“I am a psychic, mister. What happens to a man is Hitsuzen, destiny.  And the compassionate Spirit sends this insight to you, through me,” said the lady. She sounded like she wanted to quickly end the conversation now.

“And how do I pay you?” asked John, smiling.

“You don’t pay me, mister. You only pay me attention. This is a message from the Spirit. For many, I charge money. But for the work of the Spirit, I render my humble service free of cost,” said the lady.

“And…” said John, now softening up…

“For all I can reveal at this time, your death comes in two ways. It comes wearing a black robe. And… well, I… am… they are not letting me…” said the psychic as if struggling for words or with someone in her head …

She finally spoke a few seconds later, “I guess the second thing… it has to wait for now.”

“Just a minute, ma’am. Hitsuzen… If it’s my destiny to die in two days, what could anybody do about it? What’s the point in calling me?” asked John.

John perceived a smile the other side of the line.

“If Hitsuzen is presenting you with death, then it is Hitsuzen too, that you are being forewarned by the Spirit… as a chance to dodge your death…” said the psychic.

“Say something…” said John, “Thanks for calling, ma’am. Kind of you, but in Hitsuzen or in death I could only be myself. Bye…” said John.

“Just a moment,” said the soothsayer quickly.  “Mister, may be I don’t know your name. But I know that Markus was destined to be laid to rest by… a Smith…”

John fell silent for a second. The words did have a shocking effect.

“Yes,” said John finally. “You are right. I am Smith.”

Uttering those words, John’s lips transformed into a beautiful half-a-smile…

“Mr. Smith… forty-eight hours… Godspeed.”

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

That night, Jiri Teply sat looking at the old man before him. The man was deep asleep. Jiri loved sleeping people. They look so serene. Harmless. He always loved watching sleeping people… since he was a child.

One night, way back in the 1980s when he was just a little kid, he sat next to his father on the bed while he was asleep. He watched, and watched him more…

The closed eyes, the snoring mouth, the drool… But then his father woke up suddenly and looked at Jiri. Jiri felt very disappointed. He felt very, very sad. So he pulled out a live wire from a socket next to the bed and stuck it inside his father’s yelling mouth.

And then… Jiri began watching him again… this time, standing away from the bed… He watched in bliss, as his father convoluted awkwardly for a while and then was still again. The returning stillness brought back the happy feeling to Jiri Teply…

Presently, Jiri was squatting on the heavy cushion bed, next to a sleeping man; and next to him was a sleeping beauty. It was nearly four in the morning and Jiri was having a blissful time watching the couple deep in sleep.

Jiri’s long curly hair dangled below his shoulders and the black attire he wore had psychedelic colors on it that shone weirdly in the light of the bed lamp. For another long moment, Jiri kept watching them peacefully, with a half-smile and half closed eyes.

All of a sudden, he heard a crow cawing inside his head. It was unbearable, torturous. Jiri shook his head violently and took two beast-like deep breaths. A strange rage, a curious want to act, began running through his veins… it felt as if his nerves were set afire… At that moment, if someone looked into the eyes of the man in the black attire, the onlooker would have been frozen with fear!

Still, in a deep recess of his psyche, Jiri did not like to do what he was doing. He did not like to wake the sleeping man up and destroy the pleasure he was deriving. Yet, the abominable crow and fire-like sensation inside his body drove him into frenzy.

The next moment, he made a grunt-like sound and pounded on the sleeping man’s chest. The man woke up and looked at the squatting man in utter confusion. The woman next to him, however, did not wake up… she was perhaps drunk or was on medication.

As the old man tried to pull himself up to sit up straight, another blow from Jiri struck him down forcing him to fall back flat on the bed. With a wild move, Jiri sat on the man’s abdomen. The man opened his mouth wide to let out a scream. But the sound never escaped his lips. Jiri gave a punch on the chest of the man at precisely the place where his heart was located, centimeters below.

The man looked at Jiri in terror as his heart screamed with pain inside his chest. And the next second, the look turned into a pleading expression, his eyes filling with tears…

Jiri was making short and shrill noises with his mouth now… it looked like he was laughing in some sadistic way at his own gruesome act. He gave another punch, this time angling it in forty-five degrees across the man’s chest… a kind of a brushing over move on the heart, which made the man’s eyeballs tilt up as his eyelids closed and opened in slow motion.

The final blow was a flat hand thrust on the heart of the victim, bursting his heart and sending it into the state of permanent rest.

In a span of nine seconds, the man who was sleeping was woken up and sent into an everlasting sleep. The poor man would never know the reason he was forced to leave to un-earthly realms with such demonic persecution by a fiendish longhaired monster in black.

Jiri was jumping like the ghost of a wild ape on the dead man’s abdomen when the dead man’s mobile sounded an alarm set at four am.

Bucklash L Nees’ house stood silently witnessing the mobile’s alarm that kept screaming.

The senator would not snooze it today.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

It was all well planned. The execution was going to be just as perfect. Tilted Table Brewpub was about to witness the uncommon… something that would remain a horrifying memory even to the hooligans who frequent the bar most of the days in the week.

When Charles J Passmore, a journalist by profession entered Tilted Table bar, eight of the customers of that evening stole clandestine glances alerting each other. Target arrived. 

Charles went straight to a table and signaled for his regular brand of scotch. He was not aware of the eight pairs of eyes, prying on him with intense animation.

Father of two cute girls that go to primary school, Charles was a great dad and a devoted husband. He was devoted to his profession as sincerely as he was to his family. That was precisely the reason he had written a series of three articles in the Kansas City Star newspaper, in spite of being aware that he was kicking some serious crap and expose dangerous men with dreary reputation.

But Charles was a stubborn man. If children were being sold like commodities in his city, then it could be anyone’s kids, even his. He made sure that his skills at investigative journalism brought the dirty names of the dirty business, out in the open.

Presently, a man with fluorescent red skulls printed on a green sleeveless t-shirt, rose slowly and staggered toward the loo. On his way, he casually passed the journalist’s table.

The beginning of the act.

As he swung past the slender man, with rather exaggerated stagger, he happened to bump into the journo.

The unsuspecting Charles J Passmore stood up in haste in a bid to curtail the damage that the toppled glass’s contents did to his dignified attire. But as he did so, his head banged into the six feet two hooligan who was bending over Charles at the moment.

As if trying to assuage the impact of Charles’ hit, the gangster staggered backward, like one who was trying to regain his balance all in the act. Again, with an overtly exaggerated stupor, he fell back flat on the floor giving out a growl akin to a pig experiencing labor pains.

The next instant, seven men of hefty built, mobbed Charles before he could comprehend what was happening.

“How dare ya hit ma brother, asshole? Take this naw… won’t ya?”

The first blow was dealt with extreme power.

Charles was surprisingly agile for the heavy weight that threw the punch. He ducked giving the blow a miss and gave the guy a hard push sending him backward bulldozing him into his companions. Right at that moment, the red fluorescent skulls on a green t-shirt guy on the floor kicked Charles on his left calf sending him down.

As the journo fell on the floor, the fluorescent skulls hooligan punched him hard in his side.

Charles’ eyes watered as he gasped for air while he fell to the floor. Two ribs on his left side cracked delivering him intolerable pain. But that was only to be the beginning of a supposedly long ordeal for the journo.

Sudden chaos erupted in the bar. The customers of the Tilted Table bar began hurrying away from the fight scene when one of the goons caught hold of Charles’ hair and pulled him up. Four men, targeting the face of the victim, delivered the next eight punches.

In eleven seconds, Charles had a broken nose, a terribly swollen eye and three broken teeth with blood drenching his branded crème shirt. He looked desperately around for help but realized looking at the frightened faces staring at him in pity, that sadly he would not be getting any.

The manager of the Tilted Table Brewpub chose not to intervene. And none of the people in the bar tried to alert the cops either.

And then… out came a knife. It was shaped like a flower bracket on a computer keyboard… the dim red lights of the bar reflected on its glistening surface to give it a cinematic appeal.

What began, as a casual brawl of drunken men was now turning ugly.

Two men pinned the journalist’s hands to the floor, as he lied flat on his back. The man who had the knife in his hands, stood with his legs on either side of the slender victim, preparing himself to deliver the last move, his favorite, of splitting open the torso of the man using just half an inch at the tip of the flower bracket blade.

Charles was yelling for help, but in vein.

“Is there no one to help a man fighting for your kids, Goddammit?” cried the journalist in a resigned whisper… he knew they would be his last words on this planet.

The man with the knife lowered himself bending forward. This is it, thought Charles. He quit struggling. With trembling limbs and nerves on fire, he tried to still his body and become still.

Charles J Passmore closed his eyes as tears rolled down his temples. He remembered Joyce and Jane… and he remembered Lara, his wife. He apologized to them silently and prayed that the trafficking of children should disappear from the city.

Six seconds passed.

Charles did not feel the terrible pain he was expecting to experience. He realized that he did not feel the pressure on his hands anymore. In fact all he heard was extreme silence.

When Charles opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed, startled him beyond words. The man, who was supposed to be bending over him holding the blade, was bending backward instead. The knife was not in his hands now; yet it was the position of the knife that startled Charles more.

The knife was only half visible, the rear half. The other half was buried deep into the backward-bending thug’s wide-open mouth summoning a fountain of jetting blood. As the stabbed man fell backward slowly to the floor, Charles saw a tall figure sporting a hood… perhaps he was handsome… but he couldn’t really say, owing to the tears of relief in his eyes.

Charles saw two more of the thugs whose necks were stuck between the elbows and rib cage of the man in the olive green hoodie. Their eyes, popping out of their sockets went dead seconds later… matching the timing with their equally dead bodies.

Charles tried to lift himself up the floor, his every inch screaming in pain. Yet, the pain was overshadowed by astonishment witnessing the super quick death show before him.

They were more like solving a mathematical problem, his moves. This must be what they call lightning speed, Charles thought in awe.

Loud cries of frightened customers, who were trying to vacate the bar, filled the place. And yet the pain filled howls of the thugs outweighed them.

The hooded man freed the two dead men from his grip and jumped forward over Charles’ head instead of stepping back.

He is muttering something. But what’s he saying? Was he asking something?

The hooded man’s new move took the five surviving goons by surprise. The first thug to come out of his surprise, tried to run into the man in the hood with an outstretched knife, while two others pulled out pistols from their clothing.

The stranger in the hood bent forward with a powerful thrust meeting the charging knife-man’s face with his forehead, while he blocked the knife swiftly with a left hand chop. The moment the hoodie’s head connected to the knife-man’s face, a wicked sound of a broken bone echoed loud in the humdrum. Seeing this, drained all blood from the face of the onlooker; the thug who sported fluorescent red skulls on his sleeveless t-shirt.

The man with the knife covered his face as flooding blood drenched his filthy clothing. Moving like a venomous snake, the new man wriggled forward to his right and then to his left, and with a swift delivery of his elbow, connected to the fourth and fifth vertebrae of the man who covered his face in his hands.

Snap came the sound, and the man fell down dead without uttering as much as a sigh.

Two pistols roared in succession.

None of the terrified thugs’ bullets could connect to their target, though. But the ruffians never got another chance to take a better aim…. For, it was not an easy task to take aim at anything, when somebody’s bare fingers penetrate your throat…

Yelling like he has seen a ghost, the fluorescent skull t-shirted man who was yet unharmed by the crazy stranger, ran out of the Tilted Table Brewpub of Kansas City.

 

Charles got himself up and wiped his tears. He was still in utter shock to be able to smile at the almost certain death that he just escaped…

Who was this man in the hood who appeared after his prayers? That question would probably never be answered for him.

    
 ★        ★         ★

 

     A solo streetlight illuminated the dirty street but only partially. The man with red fluorescent skulls printed on a green sleeveless t-shirt ran into the street like death was chasing him. As he reached the other end of the lane, his face turned pale realizing that it was a dead end.

As he turned back in desperation looking for a way out, a figure appeared at the far end of the lane, strolling almost casually in his direction. The silhouette of the tall man in a hooded jacket sent a tremor up his spine.

Pete Samora had lived a dangerous life. He was merciless with at least a few dozens of men and women when they looked at him in horror at the fag end of their lives. Without the slightest feeling anywhere close to remorse, Pete killed so many that he lost count.

But today, he remembered all of them like an old film’s reel played on his mind’s screen. He saw all those terrified eyes, pleading for mercy. He felt the pain they must have felt. He felt sad for himself…

If only I could get a chance, just one chance to stab this villain hard and pull his intestines out… he thought. Yet, he felt bad for that thought and for all evil that he ever did.

Tears were now streaming down his eyes.

Pete Samora was crying… just like the hapless girl of thirteen, that he raped a hundred times at Big Ben’s, when he kidnapped and kept her there for three months until she died.

And when the man in the olive green hood walked all the way and approached him, Pete fell on his knees and then on the floor, sobbing like in infant.

When the stranger pulled Pete up by his hair, he remembered all his buddies who were now lying awkwardly in their own blood, just a few blocks away.

“Ya don’t have ‘ne mercy, man? Leave me alone, please…” said Pete clasping his palms together as if in prayer.

The man said something in response. His voice was hoarse and what he said did not make any sense to Pete. It sounded like a question… or was it?

Pete looked up straight at the hooded figure for the first time that night.

The man was six feet something. An athlete in built who looked tidy… almost like a musician rather than a ruthless assassin. He had a black bag on his back, with the strap across his chest.

When Pete looked into his eyes, they were blazing with rage… He shuddered.

The man cleared his throat.

“Who killed the dog?” was all he asked, his crackling voice sounding like a whiplash hitting the walls of the narrow lane.

Pete did not understand what was meant by the strange words, yet his survival instincts urged him to connect them to something he knew…

And then it struck him. 

“I… I…”

 But he was late. The man’s hand came down like lightning, slashing Pete’s cheek, cutting it in a way that the lower part of the cheek hanged down loosely, revealing the rows of teeth on his left side.

What did he strike with?

“Aaahhgrrr…”

“Who killed the dog?” asked the man again, this time, pulling his hood back and bending over Peter Samora with tremendous speed.

Those were the last words that Pete would ever hear. His heart reeled in sudden and unbearable pain. As his body began slumping down to the ground, a name escaped his lips.

The hooded man stood still as a statue.  And then, a deadly yell escaped his lips… It was the name that the now dead man uttered just before life drained out of his body.

“Leon Alekseeva…”

 

Chapter 4

 

She was thirty-nine and beautiful. The natural jet-black tresses that bounced about her shoulders had not a single strand of gray yet. With sharp looks, visible cheekbones and jawline, penetrating large eyes and a slender body, she could easily pass for a model. But she was not one. She was a respectable representative of the public, elected by them for the United States’ senate.

Senator Emily Jones was, that early morning facing a rather strange situation. Something that she was not really used to. She was being stalked, and moments back her suspicions met a confirmation.

Taking an off from her duties that day, she set off alone to the supermarket to by grocery earlier that morning. It was something she loved to do at least once a month. It gave her the feeling of utter freedom that her demanding job denied her day and night.

But after an hour’s shopping, she already spotted twice, a couple of men with neatly shaved heads stealing dubious glances at her. When she saw the men for the third time in another corner of the store, instinctively she rushed to pay for her purchases and left the store in a hurry. Once she was out, instead of walking to her vehicle, she squeezed herself into a narrow opening at the side of the supermarket.

Sure as hell, the bald duo too, sprang out of the doors in a hurry and seemed to looked around for her. Emily did not wait to watch them any further. She walked away from the parking lot and made it out of the supermarket premises from a smaller exit at the back.

Placing the groceries in the hands of a delighted homeless man on a bench, she walked towards the other end of the road. Her mind was racing. These men were not just some hooligans in Washington. They were professionals and she could recognize the type from her extensive experience in the field of criminal psychology.

Snaking her way through the labyrinth of lanes and by-lanes, he began thinking quickly. She could not go home now because they would probably be awaiting her arrival there. Going back to her car too, would mean walking into a trap.

She kept walking looking back over her shoulder.

She chided herself for making the mistake of venturing out alone. Just as she turned into an Indian eatery, she spotted a hurried movement across the street. Someone in a beige colored outfit pushed himself behind the display sign on the sidewalk.

Deciding against going into the eatery, she retrieved her steps and quickly walked away from the hiding stalker. Quietly emerging out of the lane, she gestured a taxi to a halt and jumped into it even before the cabbie got the car to a complete halt.

As the taxi sped into the not-so-busy roads, her mind began to relax and her pulse returned to normal in another few minutes.

‘So, the secret is out…’ she thought to herself, summoning her will to keep from panicking.

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