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Jim the old guy
Post subject: Overseer - chapters 6 (partial), 7 and part of 8
Post Posted: Nov 29, 2006 7:16 pm
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Joined: May 31, 2005 10:36 am
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“We’re going to play a little game,” and he hands the gun to Clark. Bosworth is shaking like a leaf on a windy day, shocked by the very thought of even holding a gun.
“Wha... well... uh.... I,” he stammers, on the verge of peeing his pants. The Aussie pulls the fully loaded gat from his other pocket and sticks it into Clark’s face. “One in six chances.” Clark gets the message and nervously raises the gun to his head, having to use both hands. The Aussie is ecstatic at the prospect of achieving his goal.
Clark, on the other hand, is whimpering like a whipped puppy. He barely gets the gun to his head, theorizing the advantage of one shot in six verses a fully loaded weapon. Sweat is beginning to form on his brow. His hands are shaking. His knees are knocking. Closing his eyes, praying to some unknown god, he pulls the trigger. Click! No shot rings out. Elated, he laughs apprehensively, hoping he had won and the evil that recently entered his life would go away.
“Lucky boy. Now, one more time.” That was NOT a request; it was a command. Bosworth was terrified, realizing the end was near. There was no escape, no back up plan, no police riding on white horses to his rescue. Tears streaming down his face, Bosworth pulls the trigger. BANG! Bits and pieces of his skull splatter on the floor, walls and computer consoles. Blood gushes from the wound. Bosworth Clark, ‘contestant’ number three was dead.
Now to find the passcard. With the attacking force of a wounded grizzly, he searched the entire lab, looking under counters, rifling through Clark’s personal items, examining the computer area, searching the small cabinet in the corner - all for naught. There wasn’t an inch that was overlooked. He even found a clipboard hanging on one end of the monitor counter, but it just had a piece of paper with some jibberish on it. Sighing heavily, he decided to search the corpse. No luck there. This was getting really annoying. He had killed three persons and found only one passcard. His ‘boss’ wasn’t going to be a happy camper. Tough. He would just have to get by without it. Wanting to relax a bit, he sat at Clark’s dining table and smoked a few cigarettes. This was not a usual habit of his, but there were times when it helped to calm his nerves. He knew nicotine was a drug and would provide a minor soothing of his emotions. Now, getting back to Clark.
The only negative side of killing someone is the stink. Nature releases any pent up bowels or urine upon a catastrophic death. Unavoidable as it is, the Aussie regards the cadaver with disdain. Considering his ‘subjects’ to be far inferior, he loathes this part of his vocation. At any rate, what’s done is done; time to remove the evidence. Clark was still slumped in the rolling chair as the Aussie wheels him to the door. The motion sensor on the inside of Clark’s lab activates the door mechanism and the door slides open. He looks up at the smoke detector on the wall and smiles. ‘Probably a tiny CD camera inside,’ he muses aloud. ‘But, who’s gonna see it? My employer is one of only two people who know of Clark’s whereabouts. The other is Clark’s employer, and he’s never going to visit this place.’
As the Aussie goes through the door, Clark falls from the chair. Before the door automatically closes, the Aussie, in a rage, flings the chair back inside the lab. He quickly grabs Clark by the collar before the door closes on him and drags him to the steel door that leads to the corridor. Thinking of an arid and empty gulch he espied on the fly over, the Aussie is unaware of several items that fall from Clark’s pockets. It wouldn’t matter anyway. By the time someone gets around to inspecting this place, he’d be in Brazil, free from punitive charges, living like a king for the rest of his life, out of harm’s way from the authorities.
The Aussie watches with amusement as the body of Bosworth Clark tumbles down the gulch’s rocky slope. It lands with a thud. Soon, vultures will feed on the cadaver and help to remove evidence that Clark was even here. Now he can get on with his next assign-
ment, whoever that might be. He looked forward to it with eager anticipation.
Before he turned to go, he thought about someone who just might stumble onto this place. If so, he decided to leave a little present. He took the gun that Clark used to kill himself, scratched the letters BJS on the handle and tossed it into the gulch. Then he smiled a wicked smile and left.

Later that day, the Aussie met with his ‘boss’ and gave him the good news.
“Did you, uh, get the passcard from Clark?” the boss asked.
“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”
“This is not a game, Mr. Professional Hitman,” was his sarcastic retort.
“Right. Well, here’s the passcard from Rona Morgan. But, I couldn’t find Clark’s passcard. I searched everywhere, but no luck.”
The boss’s eyes narrowed to tiny slits. His anger and disappointment were obvious. “Well, one is better than none, but I can’t overemphasize the importance of those cards.”
With that, he spun around and stomped off. ‘Good riddance’ thought the Aussie. And then he was off too. A cold shower is just what his psychologist would order. That is, if he had a psychologist. The last one who tried to psychoanalyze him woke up dead. Too bad, she was kind of pretty, too. Ha! Ha!

Chapter seven: 2037 A.D.

The trip back to the S.F.P.D. was quick, and, if I have any smarts, my visit will be likewise. My last trip caught Eve Clements in a good mood, if there is such an animal. This time, I might not be so lucky.
She approaches while I’m waiting in the hall near her office. “Sylvia Linsky came by to pick up her father’s personal effects. Must be nice having a job...for a change.” So much for the good mood routine. Some things never change.
“It really is. She’s paying me a small fortune, too.” Now for the coup d’ grace. “Do you want to know what it’s like to make really good money?” Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but, I’m tired of people using me as a sounding board.
“With all the kickbacks, I make a pretty decent living,” she snaps back.
“Yeah, you’re kidding about that.” She leads me back to her office, like a lamb to the slaughter. I carefully consider my next remark. “You know, lieutenant, I mean, we could sit here all day and trade friendly insults and that might be pretty fun. But, you know what I need right now? I need the help of an intelligent, knowledgeable, not to mention, gorgeous policewoman right now.” Well said, Murphy.
“You’re not as charming as you think, Murphy. What do you want?”
Sitting in her special ‘interrogation’ chair, I pull out my notebook and flip to the names page. First on the list is Sonny Fletcher. If I can locate him, maybe he’ll give me a lead on this whole sordid mess. Clements tells me he’s a retired P.I., like me. Hey! I’m not that old! He also has a little problem with the bottle. Definitely not my type of P.I. After buying Harley Fenwick’s P.I. rule book, the first rule I added was: Don’t drink, smoke or take drugs; they cloud clear thinking ability. However, she still hasn’t told me anything useful, so, I ask about Sonny’s record. That gets a rise out of her. It seems she and the Colonel like this guy for some reason. If I keep my mouth shut, she’ll call his parole officer and get me his address. It’s a deal. While I’m sitting there, she calls Sgt. Henderson and gets Sonny’s address. Thank you, Ms. Clements.
Next name is Rona Morgan. I’m hoping Clements can give me further insight to this woman’s death. No help there. Once the investigating officer deemed it accidental, that was it, finito. Overlord got me an even less than helpful response. Nobody knows anything about this character, except Linsky. So, after her negative, I take a positive, like in exit, out the door.
Leaving the police headquarters, I fly back to my client’s home. She eyes the insurance policy in a subdued manner and says she’s not hopeful. And, guess what? She doesn’t know anything about Overlord. Or Rona Morgan, for that matter. Another dead end. Hands in my pockets, I walk out to my speeder, deep in thought. But, not so deep to have forgotten my snack - another ripe banana. My spirits are lifted as I peel, eat and swallow nature’s yellow boomerang. Hmmm, hmmm, good! Only three left; better conserve them.
As I enter the speeder, I punch Sonny’s address into the on-board computerized street finder. Once it pops up, I lock on the locating device and set sail. When I get to his motel, I’m shocked to see the type of neighborhood he lives in. The streets are filled with prostitutes, insolvents, malcontents and miscreants. This is the bottom rung of society’s ladder. Crime is an every-second occurrence; a no man’s land, with the police being noticeably absent. What really disgusts me, though, is Sonny’s apartment building. Over-
run down, falling apart, and smelly too! Probably full of cockroaches and other undesirable bugs. The big question is: Why would Linsky hire a chump like this? Just because he once rented the office I’m now leasing? Can’t be! I’m mean, this guy’s a loser. Sighing deeply, I decide to check him out anyway.
After knocking twice, a straggly, gray and white haired man in his 50’s, donning a cowboy hat and jean pant outfit to match, answers the door in a less than exciting mood.
“What do you want?” He’s holding a glass of whiskey and smells the same. Peering through the chain-locked door, I get the impression he’s expecting his parole officer’s mother-in-law. Sheesh! What a winner! But, I do need to talk to him, so, I resolve to make the best of it.
“Yeah, I’m on a scavenger hunt and I need a paperclip, an empty toilet paper tube, and the answer to one question: Why would anyone want to kill Carl Linsky?”
“What makes you think I know Carl Linsky?” He responds with a gravely voice, taking another drink of the booze.
“Listen, Sonny, I know you’re busy trying to solve a lot of cases, but I could really use you help.”
“So, you’re a P.I.”
Well, duh! “Well, that’s what I tell all the chicks. My name’s Murphy.”
Taking another drink, he offers, “Alright, you can come in, Murphy.” He unchains the door and backs away. As I enter, I survey his one room dwelling. It was dirty and messy. Beer cans, whiskey bottles and empty take out containers covered the TV stand. Dirty glasses and unwashed dishes filled the sink. The tiny dinette table was filled with junk mail, used napkins, food-crusted silverware, and several other items as yet to be identified. While I’m doing this, Sonny goes to the door and peeks down the hall. Is he expecting someone else? He shuts the door and smiles at me.
“Mi casa es su casa,” he says in perfect Spanish.
“Gracias,” I respond. I know a little Mexican/Spanish I picked up in my travels.
“Nice place,” I add.
“Yeah, my travel agent got it for me,” he responds in true P.I. persona.
“I’d get a new travel agent.”
Nervous, suspicious of my motives, he raps his knuckles on the back of the dinning room chair. Finally, he blurts out, “C’mon, whaddya want?”
“Okay, what were you working on with Linsky?” Might as well be direct; I don’t want to stay here any longer than I have to.
Bringing his hand up to his lips, he kisses his thumb and avers, “I had nothing to do with Linsky’s death. Bible truth.”
“I’m not hear to talk about the Bible and I didn’t ask you about Linsky’s death. I just want to know what you were doing for him?” He seems to be evasive.
Worried, acting strange, as though he’s still expecting someone, he decides to be helpful. “Look, I just tracked down two people, alright? It was a Val Davis and a Rona Morgan.” Rona Morgan? Linsky must have had a special attachment to her. He had her obit in a drawer in his warehouse and then asks Sonny to track her down. Was Linsky suspicious of her fate? And who is this Val Davis? Another mystery person, I’m sure.
“Did you find them?” I ask.
“Yeah, and it didn’t take me long. There were in the ground and they hadn’t been there very long!” His voice rose in pitch with each passing word. This guy is rattled, to say the least.
“Is that when you dropped the case?”
“Yeah, right,” he answered much softer. “Look, I prefer not to talk about this anymore, okay?”
“Okay.”
“Gracias.”
“If you could just give me some more information about the names on the list.” I know I’m pushing, but I need a lead - big time! He’s withholding some info, I can sense it.
“I can’t remember!” he yells back.
“Come on, don’t hold out on me,” I yell in return. Then I go for the brass ring. “Do you want a bribe or something? You know that’s illegal,” although I believe that doesn’t matter to Sonny.
“I can’t remember, Bible truth,” and he kisses his thumb again in some sort of pseudo-
religio ritual.
“Look, Sonny, I’m gonna give it to ya straight. I’m working on Linsky’s suicide and I just need some info, a clue or a lead, something to keep the thing going.”
He pauses, trying to recall something tangible, thinking through the booze-fog veil that covers his gray matter. He snaps his finger signifying a triumph, of sorts. “Wait a minute. All right! Linsky told me to hang onto this, avisa, in case anything happened to him.” And he goes to the dresser and reclaims an item and hands it to me.
Well I’ll be snockered! It’s the missing black bishop from Linsky’s chess set in his bedroom. I twirl it in my hand, not quite figuring out why this would be important to Linsky. He tells Sonny to hang onto it unless he dies. And now he’s dead.
“It’s just a bishop. Anything else?”
“Just a warning.” His tone became more serious, almost ominous. “You better get off this case right now. Judgment Day is looking for me. It could look for you too. You better get out, amigo.” And he slugs down another shot of whiskey.
“I’ll keep your warning in mind.” We don’t exchange ta-tas as I leave the apartment. We just sort of looked at each other, like there was a psychic connection or mutual understanding between us.
As I get into my speeder, I take a closer look at the chess piece. The bottom has a piece of felt glued to it, but one corner seems to be sticking up just a tad. So, being the curious sort that I am, I pull on the corner and remove the felt. Lo and behold, I find the missing piece to Linsky’s passcard! Meditating on the possibilities, I fly directly to Linsky’s warehouse, making a brief stop at the local VCS drug store for a bottle of epoxy.
Once at the warehouse, I set out all the passcard pieces and glue them together. Let’s see, the passcard has a large letter E on it, along with the letters STG in pale yellow in the background. STG is probably the company who is paying Linsky’s tab and the E is most likely the number of people working on the project. So, there is at least five persons, among them Val Davis and Rona Morgan, no doubt. And if I recall the memo I found, it asked a question about the other seven. Are there eight people on this secret business? Or am I grasping at straws?
I slide the card through the passcard reader I hooked up earlier and the screen cursor starts flashing next to the ‘password’ prompt. Okay, so what is Linsky’s password? It has to be an anagram of HIP S.O.B. Let me think for a moment. Hmmmm. Then it dawns on me: The missing chess piece was a bishop. So that’s what I type onto the keyboard. Voila! A secret message appears and reads thusly:
MR. FLETCHER:
IF SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED TO ME, YOU CAN BE SURE IT WAS
MURDER. LET MY DAUGHTER SYLVIA KNOW. AT THIS POINT, I CAN’T
SAY FOR CERTAIN WHO WOULD WANT ME DEAD, THOUGH IT MAY BE
RELATED TO THE PROJECT I CONTRACTED TO WORK ON. OTHER THAN
VAL DAVIS, RONA MORGAN AND BOSWORTH CLARK, I HAVEN’T BEEN
ABLE TO FIND OUT THE NAMES OF THE OTHERS INVOLVED IN THE
PROJECT. IF YOU CAN TRACK DOWN BOSWORTH CLARK, HE MAY BE
THE BEST BET FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.

ALSO, I HAVE AN ADDRESS FOR YOU TO CHECK OUT:
ROUTE 12, BOX 4, FRESNO, CA 9365002
WHOEVER’S RUNNING THE PROJECT COULD BE BASED THERE.
C.L.

Murder! So, even Linsky felt he was in line to be murdered. But why? What was he working on that someone would kill for? Who would hire a surgeon with Linsky’s experience only to put him in harm’s way? And why did Linsky want to find out the names of the other project members? To warn them? Or, since Linsky’s estate consisted of only his speeder and house and very little cash, was he in the process of bribing his employer? Who is his employer? Overlord? Sheesh! The more info I learn, the more questions I have. And why are other people turning up dead? Is there some special attachment between Linsky and Rona Morgan? And who is Bosworth Clark and is he next to be murdered?
While still deep in thought, I find myself flying to the Fresno address. It was located in the heart of the hot zone. I assume the place is a front, designed to throw people off track, if there is a track to be on in the first place. However, Linsky seemed to think it was important, so I better check it out.
Upon entering, I step on an envelope lying on the floor just inside the door. It was a bill from the Electric Company postmarked Nov. 5, 2037. That’s just a few days ago. So, this place is still getting mail which means someone is actually using this dump for some reason. I may have to check back here every so often to see if any other mail is delivered.
On the wall opposite the door is a rather unusual decoration. A plaque with decorative plates attached to it. One is a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. Hmmm, that’s rather suspicious since that’s the bridge Linsky leapt off. The middle plate was the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the third plate was the opera house in Sydney, Australia. Strange; it looks like the plates can be rotated and there’s a number of LED’s on them. I wonder why? Also, there’s a piece of electrical conduit protruding from the display down to something behind a bookcase. I slide the bookcase to the left and to my amazement the conduit is attached to a wall safe. A safe! Why would someone do that? And what’s in the safe? Well, since cracking codes to safes is my specialty, I’m determined to find out. I just need to find a clue to opening it, probably something to do with the plates.
Empty boxes galore, none of which revealed anything exciting, were strewn about the floor. A map of the world on the wall; big deal, like I’ve never seen one before. Another box on the floor...hey! What’s this? Looks like someone’s day planner. I enjoy seeing what other people are up to. Well, well, well. It says he or she had an appointment for dinner in San Francisco on Monday at 6 p.m.; lunch in Paris, France on Tuesday at 2 p.m.; and breakfast in Sydney, Australia at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Boy! Am I glad I don’t have this kind of sched.... Hey! These places in the appointment book match the places on the rotating plates. It dawns on me the two are somehow connected. Then I turn quickly to peruse the wall atlas. Three time zones are highlighted; S.F., Paris and Sydney. Alright, Murphy, concentrate. It’s obvious this is all linked together and probably has something to do with opening the safe.
So, like a good little P.I., I sit down on a box and put on my thinking cap. I figure the number of hours that separate the three cities, starting with the 6 p.m. appointment in S.F.
Okay, now, let’s set the first plate to 6 p.m.; the second plate to 3 a.m.; and the third plate to 12 p.m.; push the set time button and voila! a red LED lights up above the S.F. plate. Now what? There are still two more lights to activate. I look back into the day planner and turn the page. There’s another clue stating three sets of three. Alrighty-dighty! I reset the plates and start with Paris and rotate it till it reads 2 p.m.; Sydney now reads 11 p.m.; and S.F. is set at 5 a.m.; push the set time button and the LED above the Paris plate lights up. Great! Two down, one to go. I reset the plates, set Sydney to 9 a.m.; S.F. to 3 p.m.; and Paris to 12 a.m.; push the set time button and the safe pops open. That went just like clockwork (pun intended).
What secrets lie within? What treasures are about to be taken as spoil? What kind of crap is this? A photograph? Are you kidding me? Who would go to all the trouble of locking a photograph in a safe? Must have some significance. There are two men standing side by side, dressed in suits and smiling. One is Carl Linsky (I recognize him from his driver’s license picture I found in his wallet), but the other guy I don’t. Maybe my client can identify him for me.
Suddenly, I’m busier than a one arm paper hanger. After I see Sylvia, I need to stop and see Wanda Peck at CAPRICORN Headquarters. Then, depending on what further info comes my way, I’ll need to pay another visit to the ‘evil queen of detectives’ Eve Clements and see if she has any helpful info concerning Val Davis and Bosworth Clark. I’m really starting to get into this case. It’s suddenly become very exciting. The only thing that preoccupies my mind is the possibility that I may end up on someone’s hit list. So far, a noted surgeon is dead as well as an electronics expert, not to mention Val Davis, who, according to Sonny Fletcher, is dead too. If I can gather enough info quickly, maybe I’ll be able to get to Bosworth Clark before he ends up dead.
My client was sitting quietly in the living room when I entered. It appears she’s deep in thought. When I say hello, she jumps a little, not realizing I had come in the room. The good news is: she identifies the other man in the photo as John Klaus, an old friend of her father’s. The bad news is: she doesn’t know anything about Val Davis or Bosworth Clark. Oh well, off to see Wanda Peck. But, as I fly to her office, I can’t help wondering why this photo was in the safe? Could John Klaus be next on the list of people to eliminate? Is he one of the ‘other seven’ Linsky referred to in his memo? If so, and if Val Davis and Rona Morgan were part of the mysterious seven, and they are dead, John Klaus
could be in mortal danger. I sure hope this Peck woman can be of assistance. I wonder what she’s like? Probably the school-marm type, old and decrepit, glasses that matches her repulsive personality, hair up in an unkempt bun, etc., etc., etc.
As I land my speeder on the roof of CAPRICORN Headquarters (I was told to do so when I set up the appointment with Wanda Peck), I’m unduly anxious over the meeting about to take place. Why was CAPRICORN investigating Carl Linsky? Could they have driven him to suicide? He may have been hanging by a thread and then Bam! in walks Wanda Peck and, next thing you know, Linsky is dead.
I descend the well lit steps down to the roof top lobby and ask for Ms. Peck. My mind is playing and replaying my introductory comments, as though I was at a job interview. Dealing with a stiff-necked op like Peck can be difficult, but, if I play my cards right and inundate her with the famous Murphy charm, she’ll be like putty in my.....
Oh My God! If that’s Wand Peck coming down the stairs, then I wish I was the King of Monaco. Medium height and build, short blonde hair, extremely beautiful eyes and face, silken dress cut to the knees, and a figure that would delight an entire CPA convention. She was the kind of woman that could make a man write blank checks. Of course, since I’m broke, that’s the only kind of checks I can write. And, somehow, I don’t think she would be impressed either way.
As she neared, I espied a “sun” tattoo on her right shoulder. Her grace and comeliness was complimented by several rings on her supple fingers. And her air of confidence was overwhelming, not to mention the aroma of Chanel No. 25, the most aromatic and alluring perfume on the face of the earth. No wonder Linsky committed suicide; he was enraptured and denied all in one encompassing moment.
“Wanda Peck. How may I help you, Mr. Murphy?” The voice of an angel, the beauty of a mermaid and the grace of a flamingo in flight, and she wants to know how she can help me? Marry me! That’s how!
“I’m interested in what you people do here at CAPRICORN. I’m a Pisces, by the way.” Sheesh! Is that the best I can do? As least I didn’t bite my numb tongue or drool.
“We’re a private organization that infiltrates and exposes any group whose intent is to infringe on civil liberties. I’m a Leo, by the way.” Touche! Glad we cleared that up.
“So, CAPRICORN has nothing to do with horoscopes?” What is wrong with me? That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever asked a woman. I think I turned into the putty.
“No, not officially. So, what brings you here?” Modesty is her temperance, coupled with a determination to get to the point. I guess I’m not impressing her much. I might as well get to the reason I’m here and forget about the hope of a lover’s rendezvous.
“I’m a P.I., and I’ve been hired to look into the apparent suicide of a man named Carl Linsky. Your name was in his notes.” Oh, this is getting better with each passing instant. First, I fall all over myself as I set eyes upon her, then, I accuse her of murder. Is there any other way I can screw up this query?
She’s totally taken aback by my insinuation. With a tone of deep remorse, she answers, “I read about Linsky’s death. I’m sad about it. But, why do you want to talk to me?” Good question, Ms. Peck. Before I can reply, she tells me to take a seat. So, I sit in the only chair in the reception area and she sits on the table in front of me. As she does, her dress rises well above her knees, revealing gorgeous long legs. Wow! Between Sylvia’s cleavage (no pun intended) and Wanda’s legs, I’m going to start taking salt-peter.
“I wanted to find out whether his run in with CAPRICORN had anything to do with his death.”
“I get the feeling you’re not convinced that Linsky’s death was a suicide. If that’s the case, I’d be glad to help you in your investigation.” Her candor inspires me. It also allays my fears that CAPRICORN was responsible for Linsky’s demise.
Reports of unethical practices by Linsky had filtered through the grapevine to Wanda’s attention. She checked him out, but found nothing to prove the allegations. And, since Linsky took a voluntary leave of absence, CAPRICORN dropped the investigation. But, she did mention that Linsky had other projects to work on. That much I already knew. The book deal and the secret project that people are just dying to be a part of, to name two.
Next I handed her the Linsky/Klaus photo I found. I’m very concerned for Klaus’ life. However, her response was more than enthusiastic. In fact, she was down right stunned and her shock heightened my interest, as well as her following remarks. She was genuinely surprised to see the two together. Why? Weren’t they old friends, as my client had verified? Nonetheless, she asked to borrow the photo and report any findings to me.
Surprised at her surprise, I asked her who exactly was John Klaus? Her answer jolted me. While I was concerned for his life, she had the exact opposite feeling. She called him scary, which made me sit up straight in the chair. Although he is not the leader of the Law and Order Party, he apparently has the power to “pull the strings behind the curtain”, speaking metaphorically. And I’m all too aware of the Law and Order Party’s agenda; extreme bigotry, especially for mutants, is the very foundation of their organization. While many people find that attractive, I find it repulsive. It was the political groups of the world that caused WWIII which resulted in the horrible mutation of countless thousands of innocents. It was good to hear that CAPRICORN’s agenda conflicted with that of the L & O Party. They were working feverishly to infiltrate and expose this lawless group of reprobates (my personal addendum, by the way). I marked an asterisk next to Klaus’ name and the L & O Party in my notebook.
Knowing my time was short with Ms. Peck, I quickly asked her if she knew anything about Val Davis, Rona Morgan and Bosworth Clark. No, she didn’t. But, when I asked her about Overlord, well, that was another pleasant surprise for me. It was, shall I say, interesting to learn that Wanda had heard Overlord mentioned before, especially in connection with the Law and Order Party. She didn’t know if it was a person, place or thing, but she DID know that it seem to represent a lot of power. This was the best and worst news I’ve heard so far regarding this Overlord “thing.” A breakthrough, finally!
Since there appears to be an unusual amount of reference to chess in this investigation, I decide to ask if she was a player. Her answer was enticing. “I play occasionally, but, I like my sports a little more physical.” I bet she does. Makes me want to take up power walking again. I can only imagine what she would look like in a pair of tights. Whew!
Leaving CAPRICORN, I head on back to my office. I want to ask the AID for info on a slew of names that has come to my attention. Several contentious thoughts race through my mind. Overlord is powerful, but what kind of power, and for or against whom? John Klaus, who I felt needed protection, seems to be the most dangerous man I’ve come across so far. CAPRICORN investigates Linsky, then drops the investigation, then acts saddened over his death, then makes scathing remarks regarding a friend of Linsky. This whole case is one huge paradox, and it’s in my lap!
Faxes flowed freely after I disconnected from the American Information Database. Boy, these guys are fast. Anyway, Overlord didn’t even register, but Law and Order Party’s fax was like reading Hitler’s resume. Originally conceived to fight rising crime, illegal immigration and the perceived ineffectiveness of the American criminal justice system, it seems to have taken a detour for the worse. It’s now involved with racial hatred, despicable acts of bigotry, and political narrow-mindedness. The scary thing is its growing popularity.
Bosworth Clark is married and has five children. What really bothers me was the statement that his current whereabouts is unknown. That does not bode well for my investigation.
Val Davis was a University of San Francisco professor who currently was assigned to the biological research department. Let’s see, she was married and divorced, and she died recently in a speeder accident. Yeah, right. I’m willing to bet it was no accident. This is not good. The death toll is rising and unless I get a break soon, I’ve got a bad feeling that it will continue its upward swing.
John Klaus’ resume read like a valedictorian’s. Graduated from Stanford Medical School; top of his class; later appointed as head surgeon at North Hill Clinic; accepted a position as chief surgeon at San Francisco General; and has membership in three contro-
versial groups: Knights of Columbus; The National Rifle Association; and the Law and Order Party. What really caught my attention was his status as a grandmaster chess player. There has to be some special connection between Overlord and the game of chess, but what, I don’t know. Maybe I should pay Klaus a friendly visit. Nope, no can do. His current residence is unknown and I’m willing to bet he’s not listed in the phone book.
CAPRICORN is an organization whose letters stand for Civilian Agency for the Pro-
tection of the Rights of Individuals and the Creation of Order, Reason and Neutrality. Sheesh! What a mouthful; no wonder they use an acronym. Anyway, they work closely with the local authorities, the FBI and Interpol.
Boy, all this crime stuff has given me the munchies again. So, I reach into my pocket and eat another ripe banana. Hmmm, good. Only two left. Better conserve them or I’ll have to buy my own. In the meantime, I call Wanda Peck to see if she’s got anything on the photo, but she’s not in. I call Eve Clements to ask her if she has any info on Bosworth Clark or Val Davis, but she’s not in. I don’t have anything to ask Sylvia and I definitely do NOT want to visit Delores Lightbody again, so, I decide to pay a visit to my new P.I. buddy, Sonny Fletcher. Maybe he knows this Klaus character. However, he wasn’t in either, but he did leave me a message. How did he know I’d be back? Must be his P.I. instincts. Anyway, the note read thusly:
Murphy,
I warned you to get off the Linsky case and didn’t tell you why, but you have the right to know.
A long time ago, believe it or not, I was like you...young, driven, invincible. I got caught up in an investigation that was too big for me. It cost me the most precious thing in my life. My wife was murdered by a man who calls himself Big Jim Slade. For me, he was the Angel of Death.
I’ve lived in fear and shame ever since, but have tried to find reasons to go on. Not long ago, I was tracking down the names on the list Linsky gave me and got a lead on the whereabouts of someone named Bosworth Clark. I ended up near an old Anasazi ruin, about 40 miles southeast of Tucson.
Something was waiting for me there - a sign from the Angel of Death....a sign that I’m sure he meant for me to find. At that moment, I knew that my Judgment Day was drawing near.
Meeting you made me take a hard look at myself. I’ve decided that it’s time I faced my demon. Slade feeds on fear, but not this time. I intend to avenge what he did to me or die trying.
I know my words of caution will fall on deaf ears....I still remember what it was like to be young. I only ask you to do one thing: Don’t end up like me.
Sonny Fletcher

My hands were shaking by the time I finished the letter. I feared for Sonny’s life; I was irked by the murder of his wife; I was dying to get my hands on this Slade nut case; and I was sweating with the fear of being found out by Slade or anyone else connected to this bizarre case. Like I said, a paradox if ever there was one.
Before I head out to the Anasazi Ruins in Arizona, I decide to stop at my office and punch Slade’s name into the AID. Here’s what the fax said: Big Jim Slade, considered to be an alias; Australian National; birth records unavailable; on Interpol’s ten most wanted for over three years; suspected of crimes dating back almost fifteen years; extremely dangerous, possibly psychotic; preferred method of execution: forced suicide via Russian Roulette.
Oh my Hell! This guy, mentioned by Sonny in his letter as the Angel of Death, is one mean hombre. Could he be responsible for all the deaths and accidents I’ve been hearing about? If so, it must be a very powerful and resourceful organization to finance such an assassin. I sure hope Sonny is careful, or he may be the Angel’s next victim. In the meantime, I’m headed for the ruins to see if I can locate Bosworth Clark. He might be able to shed some light on my investigation - if he’s still alive, that is.
However, there’s one more thing I need to do before I go to the Anasazi Ruins - I need to get a good night’s rest. I’ve had a long and strenuous day. There are times when being a P.I. can severely sap one’s strength. Today was jam packed with interviews, traveling and meditation. Tomorrow may prove even more difficult. I really don’t relish the idea of exploring the ruins, but it’s a must according to Sonny. Dreamland here I come!

Chapter eight: October 1, 2037 A.D.

The visionary contemplates his future. Cogitating on the overall scheme, he envisions the perfect government manned by perfect officials all of which are controlled by himself, the perfect sovereign. Filled with renewed vigor, he presses on with the plan. Oh, he does anticipate problems. Whenever one deals with imperfect humans there are always problems. A coup d’etat? Never! Problems? Possibly, probably. But, he designed this system to succeed, not to fail. Built in safeguards would prevent any one person to usurp his authority or overtake his project and use it for their own greedy ends. Eight people in eight different venues with eight different passcards and eight different passwords with eight different computers all of which have a security protect feature. And, although these computers are connected to the main computer via land lines, they interact and compliment each other through the use of undetectable and undecipherable vistion wave bands, developed and created by his own scientists. This was a tight-nit organization of highly qualified specialists whose sole purpose was to do what they were instructed to do. And why should they? For the simple reason that he paid them more than the going rate for their efforts.
As he continued meditating, there was a knock on his study door, startling him back to the present. Even though these doors were rarely locked, he used his remote control to allow the visitor to enter. He knew who it was and was expecting him. Checking his watch, he smiled to see that his friend was punctual, as usual.
“El Tigre, welcome to my humble abode,” a broad smile covering his face. This was his one true friend in his shrunken world. Extending his hand, the visitor, Samuel Q. Jones, took it warmly and firmly, placing his left hand over both in a gesture of mutual respect and compassion. “Well, I see you haven’t lost your iron-like grip, old soldier.”
“El Toro, I can’t tell you how good it is to see you again,” holding his friend’s hand for an extra moment. This was a friendship that pre-dated WWIII, back to their early military days when they were young and eager adherents to the just cause.
The next few minutes were spent exchanging toasts, sipping smooth scotch and puffing on Fuente Fuente Opus X cigars. El Tigre, Sam Jones, got his name from using stealth in the field, coupled with a fierceness unparalleled in his division. El Toro, the visionary, got his sobriquet, not because of his size and power, but rather, through his bullish nature in accepting and attacking his assignments with the aggressiveness of an enraged bull. After a few quiet minutes, cigars reduced to butts, several ounces of 50 year old scotch in their bellies, they broke out into an eerie laughter. The mere fact they were still alive after all they had been through was cause for shared sniggering.
Three drinks later, for that was their tradition (one to quench thirst, one to stimulate the mind, one to loosen the tongue), and tradition never suffered for any reason, especially after thirty years of established tradition, they got down to brass tacks.
“El Toro, what can I do for you?” asked Sam, knowing he wasn’t summoned for pleasure or entertainment. He assumed he was about to be invited to join his old comrade in some covert operation. This would be a welcome change from the lifeless existence he had been experiencing since the death of his loyal, respectful and loving wife less than a year ago. She died from an extremely rare form of cancer; there was no cure. And now, while perched in the depths of despair, at age 72, he saw a light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time in many years, he felt invigorated and uplifted. It was difficult to inform his children, whom he loved and admired, that he would be going under cover yet once more. But, he needed this opportunity to prove that he was still able to compete, to prove he was still a valuable asset for society’s welfare. His entire life was spent in the pursuit of world wide peace and justice, believing in the American way and the United Nations as the only true organizations that righteously sought that which was always so elusive. Whether this would be El Toro’s reason for asking him to his study or not was irrelevant. El Toro always considered the welfare of humankind to be the ultimate objective and he expended his energy in pursuit of just that. Sam would offer himself and his expertise willingly, no matter what the request. Besides, the invitation stated that two weeks would be all the time Sam would need to complete his assigned task.
“First, let me extend my condolences on the loss of your dear wife, Diedre. I, of all people, knew how close you two were.” Sam lowered his head in silent acceptance of El Toro’s sympathies, allowing a pang of grief to permeate his heart and mind. He had met Diedre in England back in 1990 while on assignment as a newly commissioned officer in the U.S. Marines. She stole his heart and never gave it back, cherishing it more than her own heart. Her death in 2036 was staggering, to say the least. They shared nearly 50 years of marital bliss, and this in spite of his profession. She never realized he was a spy and most of his work consisted of eliminating this official or that politician or handing over an escaped tyrant to whatever coup currently ruled until the next rebellion. She just thought he was an officer in the marines and as such, was required to move all over the globe in defense of his country. She served him selflessly and lovingly despite current trends regarding woman’s rights. He never patronized her, belittled her, or humiliated her, either publicly or privately. A closer friend he never had, the closest was sitting in front of him at this very moment.
“Thank you, my old friend,” was all he could muster. El Toro acknowledged his thanks with an almost imperceptible nod.
“Second, as I stated in my communiqué, I have need of your services, especially in relation to defense systems. Your reputation in this area is a well known fact. I can vouch for that personally,” and he allowed a faint smile to cross his face. “You are unrivaled by your contemporaries.”
“Defense systems? You planning on taking over the world?” When El Toro’s counten-
ance changed from smile to serious, Sam got the impression he was close to the truth. “You stated in your letter that my future, as well as the whole world’s future, depended on taking an aggressive stance in the matter of righteous government. This was a pursuit we were never able to fully realize, in spite of all our activities and efforts. Are we talking about WWIV?”
“Not at all,” the bull answered unwaveringly. And for the next couple of hours he expounded and expanded on his plan involving scientists, biologists, computer pro-
grammers and electrical engineers, all experts in their respective fields. To round out his elite group and to ensure the safety of the program, he needed a defense master and that is why Sam was invited to his study this day. A total of eight people working through a vast network of high tech computers would need advance security and protection. Although Sam would not be privy to all the names and locations at this juncture, he would eventually be the bull’s right hand man and second in command.
An easy silence followed for a few seconds, broken by El Toro’s query, “Well, are you interested?”
Sam looked him dead in the eyes and answered, “You know I am. I was just thinking of my children, that’s all.” And the two shook hands and embraced. If they were less prideful, tears would have flowed. But, as it was, this was the very objective they had both pursued for decades and now it was within their grasp.
Equipping Sam with a passcard, password, passcard reader and a security protect computer, he gave Sam directions to the secret location that would be used as his work place. Once it was used by the military for defensive purposes to protect the northern border of the United States. Now it would be used to create a defense system that would benefit the whole world, only the world was yet unaware of the visionary’s global plan. Sam knew of the secret base, having been entrusted with military secrets for several years. He also knew that the military sold a number of these abandoned installations to private concerns after the threat of war had been eradicated. He wondered if El Toro had purchased more of them and used them for the same end. Well, not to worry. If the bull wanted him to know more he would have told him. Right now it was his sincere pleasure to carry out El Toro’s wishes, which happened to be his wishes too.
“Success,” they said, clinking their glasses one more time and sealing the deal with two more ounces of the 50 year old scotch. Sam saw himself out and took off for the wild blue yonder. The visionary let out a long and deep satisfying sigh, knowing the project took a turn in the right direction. His goal of world order was finally reaching maturity.

Oct. 19, 2037 A.D.
Colorado Springs

Samuel Quirinius Jones II summoned his siblings and their marriage mates together to discuss their father’s disappearance. It had been 18 days now with no word from the aged patriarch. He promised them he would return in 14 days and he always, always kept his word. Never knowing their father’s line of work, they knew enough to refrain from delving into his business. But, in this case, and in lieu of their mother’s death, they felt they had to do something. Simply put, they were worried.
Sam II surveyed those present on this occasion. His brother Endicott, a computer analyst, and his wife Valaris; their younger brother Cedrick, a civil engineer and a world class long distance runner, and his wife Catherine; and their only sister and the baby of the family, Nicole and her husband William Jackson Jackson, a.k.a. Billy Jack Jackson, the sole heir of the Avatar Speeder Corp. All of the grandchildren were either outside making snowmen or downstairs in the REC room.
“Well, what do you think?” asked Sam II.
Nicole, the youngest and Papa’s favorite, an outspoken woman if there ever was one, was the first to speak up (then again, she was always the first to speak up). “We must contact the local authorities, the FBI and the military immediately. My horoscope this morning was unnerving, to put it mildly. And it’s unlike Papa to be overdue.” Everyone saw the logic of her request. Father was well known in those circles and had befriended many an official in his day. They owe the family this one favor. So, after a unanimous vote, each of the brothers contacted a respective group, notifying them of dad’s disappearance. Not one of the authoritative bodies shrugged at the request. They were more than happy to provide assistance.
APBs were sent out; operatives contacted; street informers approached; all to no avail. None of them were aware of the fact that Samuel Q. Jones, the family head, had no intention of being found. As far as he was concerned, he wasn’t lost. After accomplishing his original orders from El Toro, he was given a new set of instructions and was all too eager to carry them out. He simply lost track of time. This project was the most important assignment he had ever received. Time was of the essence. In fact, he couldn’t tell what day it was, let alone keep his promise to his children. The future of his family and all of mankind hung in the balance and it was critical that he fulfilled his mandate in the short-
est possible time.
Of all people, Sam knew the importance of maintaining communication silence. In his many sorties as an agent for the US Secret Service, and as a general in the US Marines, even the briefest of contacts with the outside world could spell disaster. It was like the little boy whose thumb plugged the huge dam and kept millions of gallons of water, the most powerful resource on earth, at bay. But, if he removed that little thumb, the ensuing deluge would be utterly disastrous. So, even if he wanted to contact the children, he simply could not. Some day he would explain all of this to them and they would understand.

Nov. 12, 2037 A.D.

Unknown to Sam Jones, trouble was brewing in the form of a rebel. One of the eight experts empowered by the visionary was about to use his own power and sell out the entire project. To the authorities? No, not at all. He was so enthralled by the very concept of ruling the world, controlling politicians and influencing (albeit by misuse of the com-
modities that would soon be at his disposal) the affluent persons of commerce, he simply could not resist the glorious opportunity to procure Overlord for his own personal greed.
Strip the creator of his creation; commandeer the self appointed commander’s plan; supplement the visionary’s plan via his own supplanting. However, timing was everything. He had to make sure that each of the seven individuals had accomplished their assigned tasks before he had them eliminated. This was difficult solely because the visionary concealed info that others were not entitled to see. Only through personal influence, advanced computer training and an inordinate amount of cash was he able to even begin to scratch the surface and learn of the visionary’s final objective. Once started down that path, the rest would be easy, for indeed, he had already seen to the demise of three of the seven. Four more to go and then the visionary himself would be killed.
There was a snag in his manipulation - Big Jim Slade. He hired the best in his field to erase the best in their fields, a calculated risk in view of the ultimate prize. Thus far, Slade had performed admirably, killing Val Davis and Rona Morgan, making it look like unrelated accidents. Then he killed, or so he says, Bosworth Clark by means of his preferred method of forced Russian Roulette. But, he was beginning to sense a rebellion on the part of the Aussie; something not totally visible on the surface; something from within his soul. He himself had been an expert at sensing a man’s desire to challenge his authority. Others had tried and they had died. This was the main reason for his tremendous success. Just when someone thought they were getting the upper hand on him, they found themselves waking up dead. And one day soon, after he had killed off those he was hired to, Slade himself would have to be eliminated. And, since he could not trust anyone else to do the job, he would have to do it himself. Now THAT would give him great pleasure.

As Slade approached his employer, he was excited by the prospect of carrying out another chore. Who would it be this time? Another prissy like Clark? Or, perhaps another woman? He especially enjoyed killing women. Val Davis and Rona Morgan provided a small amount of personal satisfaction, but the woman in Mexico six years ago was absolutely enlivening. He was able to torture her first, then he exacted his revenge when he forced her to shoot herself in the head. And her husband, coward that he is, will get the same someday, as soon as this other business is out of the way. And, as soon as he rids himself of this poor excuse for a human who hired him to do his dirty work. A thorn in the flesh, he loathed his employer and his superior attitude, and when all was said and done, his employer would be dead and done. He smiled to himself at the sound of that little quip. In fact, he began to laugh aloud and repeat the saying over and over. ‘And when all is said and done, my employer will be dead and done.’
“Something funny, Mr. Slade?” asked his silver haired employer.
“Oh, just a little ditty I thought of - makes me laugh.” And he grinned an evil grin.
“Well, why don’t you share it with me?”
“Perhaps someday.”
“I look forward to it,” the boss said, matching the evil grin looking at him.
“So, you got some more work for me.” It was a statement, not a question. He knew full well the reason his boss wanted to see him again.
“Yes, contestant number four, to borrow a phrase from your vernacular.” He handed the envelope to Slade, knowing the hit man liked to read the portfolio himself and draw his own conclusions.
“A retired general named Samuel Q. Jones, defense systems expert, age ..... 72? For a minute I thought you may have found someone a little more challenging. I like a good challenge now and then, you know. But, a 72 year old decrepit, retired general, what sort of bloody Drongo do you think I am?” This was getting tiresome. He would rather have another female to kill; at least they provided him with a certain amount of amusement.
“Be careful, Mr. Slade. This Jones character is not to be trifled with. He doesn’t look, feel or act 72 years old. He’s in great physical, mental and emotional condition. Do NOT underestimate him. You made that mistake six years ago and it nearly cost you your freedom. Remember?” And he grinned an evil grin.
It was all Slade could do to prevent himself from killing this crusty old duffer. How dare he keep throwing that blunder in his face over and over again. Turning his back on him, the Aussie closed his eyes, took a deep breath, let it out through pursed lips, and reopened the eyes. Turning to face his employer, he allowed a thin smile to form on his face. “Sure thing, boss.” The contempt on the last word was evident to his employer.
“Look, Mr. Slade, it’s obvious that you and I see things differently. But, keep in mind the goal we are reaching for - world supremacy! Think of it! The ability to literally control all those in positions of power and authority, to make them do as I please. Now, in order to keep them and their armies in check, I’m going to need a second in command who is ruthless, heartless, intense and murderous. I know I’m being blunt, but it’s necessary.” He paused for effect. “Do you, uh, know anyone who fits that description?”
Slade smiled and said, “Yeah, me.”
“There now, you see, you and I DO think alike at times. Now, let’s not waste any more time quibbling. General Jones needs to be eliminated fast. And this time, see if you can find his passcard. I need it to carry out my portion of the plan.” With that, he left abruptly.
The hit man smirked and thought of ways he would kill this reprobate. Breaking his neck seemed to be the one that pleased him the most. But that will have to wait. His employer put a lot of emphasis on those passcards. ‘Maybe I will formulate a way to secure those cards for myself. Although I enjoy my work, the more I kill the closer the authorities get to finding me,’ he thought. ‘And this may be my ticket to a long and healthy and wealthy retirement in Brazil.’

Following the directions in the portfolio, he arrived that night at Bunker 13 on the northern U.S. border. At one time, the bunker was heavily fortified, but now it was run down and unkempt. The old cameras on its exterior probably no longer functioned. ‘I wonder why they named it Bunker 13’ he thought aloud. If he only knew. It’s real des-
ignation was The Northern Border Bunker, manned to the max during WWIII. But it was unlucky to those who manned it. The winters were unforgiving, the wild life voracious, the mountains, forests and rivers protective and dense enough to have caused several deaths among the soldiers stationed there. It was the military personnel who dubbed it Bunker 13. And 13 was always an unlucky number for a hit man.
The door wasn’t locked, another bad omen for Slade. ‘Why would a retired general, specializing in defense systems, leave the outer door unsecured?’ he asked himself. He decided to be cautious and put his hands into his coat pockets, caressing the two guns located in them. That gave him a warm and friendly feeling. So did his old proverb, “Caution is my life line; over confidence is a death throe.”
Listening intently, he simply followed noises that were familiar to those of Bosworth Clark’s lab. Computers whirring, printers printing, keyboards clicking, and another sound that wasn’t quite as familiar. Not to worry, he has the element of surprise in his favor. A few moments later, he entered a room and espied the general working at a computer terminal. Wow! He was a big one. ‘I wonder if he’s as healthy as my boss claims?’ he asked himself, thinking that it might be amusing to flex his beautiful, well toned muscles in a little one on one. His martial arts skills hadn’t been tested for some time now and he needed a formidable opponent to keep him sharp.
Unseen to the hit man was something that merited his suspicion. The general had been alerted to the Aussie’s presence by one of the dilapidated cameras outside. They still worked efficiently after all those years of inactivity. Although the general was punching a keyboard, he was actually just going through the motions, keeping an eye on his ‘guest.’ He was all too aware of Jim Slade’s profile, seeing it many times over the years spent involved in covert operations. And now the slug was finally within his grasp. This would be a bonus, to say the least.
The hit man neared, confident of his ability to catch his prey off guard. This is going to be as easy as shooting kangaroos in the outback.
The general readied himself, elated as the Aussie slowly approached. He allowed his right hand to slip from the keyboard to his lap, where a biretta was waiting. This is as easy as falling down, he thought.
When the hit man was three feet away, the general twirled so fast it caught Slade completely unawares. “Welcome to my humble bunker, Mr. Slade.” His eyes narrowed, expecting the hit man to make a sudden move. But Slade was too cool for that anticipated action and he remained unnaturally calm, considering a gun was aimed at his chest. What did bother Slade was the fact that the general had been waiting for him. Did his boss set him up? Or was he just careless, like in Mexico? His eye twitched at the latter. He was finding it difficult to control his anger. His employer’s words were suddenly haunting him. And that irked him even more. Breath deeply, he told himself. Relax and don’t lose your concentration. Everything will be alright.
“So, you were expecting me, eh?”
The general moved the wheeled chair a few feet to his left, revealing the monitor showing the outside of the bunker. “You telegraphed your moves, Mr. Slade. Bad form for a man of your profession. And setting off the siren alerting me to your presence. Tsk! Tsk! Sloppy, don’t you agree?”
Siren? I set off a siren? Bad luck, that. And the number 13 also is a bad sign. Siren and 13, both rang terror into the Aussie, bringing back memories of long ago. Bad memories. He had to meditate, concentrate, focus, ponder his future prospects, not past failures. He couldn’t allow himself to lapse into a psychological trance, letting his mind control him instead of the other way around. Breathe, breathe, relax, relax, yes, that’s it. Get centered on the present, not allowing the past to get the upper hand.
“Yeah, I agree. So, you got the drop on me. Now what?” Slade maintained strict eye contact, hoping the general was too mesmerized to notice the hit man’s fingers curling around the guns in his pockets.
“Well, for starters, why don’t you remove your hands from those pockets.” This was Slade’s chance to redeem him self. But, the general was too experienced to fall for such an amateurish trick. “Slowly, please, Mr. Slade, very slowly,” even saying the words slowly. Slade had no choice. He was being out maneuvered with each passing moment. If he didn’t get a break soon, he would become the general’s abductee instead of the abductor. Not an inviting thought in lieu of his resolve to never, ever get captured.
“I’ve been hoping to meet you personally some day, I just never thought it would actually happen. You know, I was once very close to laying my eager fingers on you. Yeah, about six years ago, in Mexico. You remember Mexico, don’t you Mr. Slade?”
All too well, he thought. So that was it. A combined effort on the part of the U.S. and the Mexican authorities. That’s why he was nearly captured. And this old goat of a retired general had been a part of it.
“Well, well, well. What a pleasant surprise. One of my pursuers now has the opportunity to haul me in. Funny thing, though. We seem to be out in the middle of nowhere. The closest town is a 100 miles away. How do you plan to get me there? In a speeder? I don’t think so.” The hit man’s confidence and sereneness was beginning to wear on the general. Although not easy to upset, the hit man made a valid point. He would have to secure him somehow, and that would be difficult at best. The situation was nearly untenable. His next move would be critical. Perhaps it would be better just to kill him and be done with it. No, not a good idea. If there is one person who deserved to be taken alive to spend the rest of his miserable life in jail it was Big Jim Slade. And the general knew he was the one to do just that.
“Turn around and place your hands on your head,” the general commanded. Slade just glared at him, refusing to budge. “Don’t think I won’t shoot you. I’ve killed dozens like you during my career; another will not make a bit of difference. But, I would much rather take you in alive.”
‘No way,’ Slade thought to himself. ‘I’ll go out feet first before I will allow some over the hill retired general run me in.’ But, for the sake of buying a little more time, Slade did as he was instructed. Then he consolidated his thoughts, focusing on the general’s every move, anticipating when to strike.
The general cautiously arose out of the chair and slowly moved toward Slade. Having been in similar situations on previous occasions, he calculated his every step, not taking his eyes off his prisoner.
The Aussie closed his eyes, centering his thoughts on each and every noise in the room. One by one, he eliminated them from his audio faculty; the computer was not whirring any more; the printer had stopped in mid-print; the electric hum of power surging through the entire complex was weeded out; the crackle of a ceiling light bulb on the verge of burning out no longer existed; the keyboard ceased as soon as the general pulled the gun; even his own nasal breathing technique could no longer be heard. There was just the general and nothing else. Then he heard it. The chair creaked ever so slightly. Yes, come to me, general. Then he heard the khaki pants flutter and stretch as the general lifted himself to a fully erect stance. Boots, yes, the boots made soft thuds as Jones moved towards him. ‘Wait! Patience!’ the hit man’s mind screamed to be heard. Even with his back to the general, Slade knew exactly where he was, exactly how far and how soon before the general was within striking distance.
Samuel Q. Jones had his man. All he needed to do was close the gap, the six foot gap between him and Slade. But Slade wasn’t moving; he wasn’t even breathing, it seemed. He was perfectly still. He was waiting for him, the general could feel it. This was the way things should be. The prisoner plotting his escape; the captor counter-plotting the move. Two men, all alone, about to resolve the greatest contest of all time: who would really win in the fight between good and evil. The irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
The hit man was ready.
The general was waiting.
The gap closed slowly. Five feet…four feet…three feet…two feet.
General Jones knew Slade would make his move soon. And then WHAM! A round-
house kick to his gun hand, sending the weapon flying across the room. The general waited one second to long. Slade stood there smiling at his foe. But the smile was short lived. The general moved like a tiger on his next meal and Slade hit the wall, Sam’s head buried in his stomach. The breath quickly left the Aussie’s body, causing him to flinch one micro-second more than the general needed. Sam raised his head fast and furious, connecting with Slade’s jaw, nearly knocking him unconscious. But the general saw stars for a brief moment, his head responding to the force of its target.
And Slade was ‘The Body, The Mind, THE Man’, a man among men. His training had been so complete that the general’s blows only temporarily incapacitated him. As the general recovered, he reared back to send a powerful right cross to Slade’s exposed jaw.

_________________

"If you look to me for illumination, you better have a flashlight!"

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