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Jim the old guy
Post subject: Overseer - chapters 4-6
Post Posted: Nov 29, 2006 7:13 pm
Joined: May 31, 2005 10:36 am
Posts: 2947

Chapter four: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2037 A.D.

Parking the speeder in the main lot of the S.F.P.D. Headquarters, I can’t help but notice all the activity, like ants on an ant hill that’s just been stepped on. Every type of criminal is being processed perfunctorily, as though no one had a care in the world. The criminal is just doing his job; the police are just doing their job; the courts are just doing their job; and so on and so on. Maybe if people actually started to have real feelings for each other, then maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place to live in.
I enter the main door and approach the desk Sergeant. “Tex Murphy to see Detective Eve Clements.”
“You got an appointment,” he asked, not even looking up from his pile of paperwork.
“Uh, no, not exactly. I’m here on behalf of my client whose father died a week ago. You see, my client doesn’t believe...” He cuts me off in mid sentence.
“Hey, Sam Spade, I don’t need no song and dance routine. Take the elevator to the fourth floor.” Gee, thank you, Mr. Wonderful, servant of the people.
He makes me walk through the metal detector and I’m thankful I didn’t bring Raymond with me. I’d never be able to live it down. I find the elevator and whoosh! fourth floor in a nano-second. Swallowing my stomach, I find my way through the Major Crimes Unit to Eve Clements’ office. As I near her room, I overhear a butt-chewing of epic proportions. She’s ripping on some slovenly dressed detective, screaming insults and abuses as though she was getting paid for it. As the sore-butt detective leaves her office, we pass each other in the hall. He’s a big nosed cop with an easy saunter. As we pass, we eye each other suspiciously, but I’m not sure why. I don’t recognize him. One thing’s for sure, I’ll have to tread lightly when approaching Detective. Clements. She’s primed for action today.
“You busy?” I ask with a smile as I stick my head through the door.
Upon recognizing me, she smirks and waves me to enter. “Well,” pointing to a chair for me to sit in, “if it isn’t Tex Murphy.” Uncharacteristically pleasant, maybe the butt-chewing took the wind out of her sails. “Sold out any fellow PIs lately?” So much for the wind out of her sails hypothesis.
Recalling her friendship with the Colonel and in the spirit of good faith, I continue her metaphor. “Well, now that you bring it up, how is the Colonel doing anyway?”
“We had a drink together a couple of nights ago. He said if I saw you to be sure and tell you to ‘go to hell.’” Gee, don’t hold back on my account, Eve.
I have no remorse for turning in the Colonel. I did what I did and I’d do it again. And I tell Detective. Clements my true feelings. “He broke the law. You of all people should appreciate what I did.” Back at ya, honey.
“Officially speaking, you should’ve turned the Colonel in. Off the record, I wouldn’t trust you to walk my dog.” Maybe a further explanation is needed. I’m sure she’d understand.
“Well, I won’t apologize. You see, I’m a slave to my rigorous boy scout training.”
As quick as a wink, she retorts, “Then why don’t you be courteous, kind and obedient and get the hell out of my office.”
Whoops! Time to shift gears. “Look, I’ll be so quick, you won’t even know I was here.”
“The last thing I need is some pansy P.I. wasting my time.” Pansy? Moi? How dare she? “Give me one good reason why I should do any favors for you,” she challenges.
“Listen, I just went into business for myself and I’m kind of relying on people like you to help me out,” I plead. Out of her line of sight I cross my fingers for good luck.
“All right, Murphy. You’re lucky you caught me in a charitable mood. But be quick about it.” I wonder if ole big nose appreciates her generosity.
At any rate, I proceed to ask her several questions regarding Linsky’s death. She tells me there were six witnesses to his jumping from the bridge. After interviewing each of them, there was no reason to assume that anything but suicide was the cause. However, the fog made it impossible for a 100% identification, even though their general descriptions fit his profile. It wasn’t until they fished the body out of the bay that they found out who jumped. Using his personal effects, like his wallet, they determined his name and address and contacted his next of kin. Besides the wallet, there was a suicide note sealed in a ziplock bag. The handwriting was a perfect match. Boy, this doesn’t bode well for my client.
“Can I see the personal effects?” I ask.
“No. They can only be released to the next of kin. If she comes down, I’ll give them to her.” I’ll ask Sylvia to do that later.
Something else of note. The coroner found a small scar at the base of Linsky’s neck. The police assume he had surgery recently. On his neck? That’s strange. Coincidence?
My notebook was filling up quickly. I thank Eve for her help and rise to leave. As I reach the door, I hesitate for a moment.
“Forget something, Murphy?”
“I was just wondering. Aside from my turning in the Colonel, what do you think of me? Oh, and be kind, I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
She perceives my sincerity, so she gives me a straight answer. “The Colonel seems to think you’ve got the potential to be a good P.I., once you wake up to reality and get your priorities straight. I agree with his assessment, by the way.” A small smile appears on her face.
“Thanks, I appreciate that,” and I exit, feeling a bit better than when I entered.
Eve’s information has given me plenty to think about. Linsky writes a suicide note, seals it in a waterproof bag, jumps from the bridge in front of six witnesses, the coroner finds nothing unusual, and the police deem it a suicide. Despite this overwhelming evidence, my client believes it was murder! At this point, I’m leaning in the direction of suicide. How can I not?
As I fly to Linsky’s house, I prepare a speech to inform Miss Linsky that I will not be handling her case. Taking money from her at this point is tantamount to stealing candy from a baby. And I’m not a thief. Broke, yes, but no thief.
The house is a modest brick ranch with a high peak at each end. Located in New San Francisco, it shows more than the usual wear and tear. Somebody has been too busy to keep up regular maintenance. Before I can knock, she opens the door, anticipating a positive report from me. I don’t relish the idea of giving her the bad news.
I take out my notebook and share my findings with her. Then I tell her that her prognosis doesn’t look very promising. Her back is to me and she’s holding a drink with both hands. She’s upset; I can sense it with my P.I. instinct.
“So, you’re saying you’re not going to take my case.” She sounds despondent.
“Well, I don’t want to take your money if I can’t help you,” trying to sound reasonable.
Her voice becomes stronger as she says, “Fine. Leave.”
I search for excuses to soothe her soul. “I’m just being straight up, okay?”
Not bending a hair, she comes back with, “If you won’t help me, I can do what I can on my own. It certainly won’t be the first time.”
I sigh deeply, trying to think of what to do. Considering I’m broke and considering she seems desperate to find the truth, I finally cave in. “I charge $400 a day, plus expenses.”
She does a 180, literally and emotionally, and tells me she only has a thousand dollars. But, if I’m successful, she’ll pay me a total of ten thousand when it’s over. She thanks me warmly as we shake on the deal.
“Now, you’re going to need to tell me everything you know so I can get started.”
“Oh, I will. Thank you, Tex.” Her voice quivered slightly, as though a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
Taking out my pencil and notebook, I begin asking her several questions. Apparently, her father was physically fit, had a positive outlook on life and was going to celebrate his 100th birthday by going skydiving. Doesn’t sound suicidal to me. As to who would murder him, she didn’t have a clue. He was a kind man and everyone liked him.
Next item on the list: I inform her that she should go back to the police station and get her father’s personal effects. I understand it’s difficult, but they could contain an important lead. She concurs.
As for the suicide note, Miss Linsky claims it was a forgery. Really? Either this is a murder masked as a suicide or this young woman is stretching her claim to its furthest limit.
“One more thing. How did you hear about my services?” I’m just being curious. She says she found a note written by her father that had my address on it, no name. She inspected the building’s directory, but didn’t recognize any names. After looking around for a while, she came across my office. She feels fate had a hand in finding me. I personally feel that fate has dealt her a poor hand. But, I’ll give it my best anyway.
Before she leaves for the police department, she hands me a key to the house and says I can come and go as I please. I’m also welcome to search anything and everything in order to find a clue or two. We agree to meet later, so I bid her farewell.
The furnishings were unremarkable, but pleasant nonetheless. Logs crackling in the fire place added a warmth I could get used to. Unpretentious cupboards devoid of anything useful lined the kitchen walls. Drawers gave up nothing important either. But, on the side board, next to the fridge, was a green case just asking to be inspected. I opened it and found some sort of drugs or medicine with a couple of syringes. Could addiction be the real cause of Linsky’s suicide? DeLeon Health Services was the provider of this little ditty. I’ll want to contact them later, if necessary.
Putting the case aside, I espy the fridge. All this detective work has given me the munchies, so I decide to check it out. Nothing spectacular, except for that bunch of bananas. Who keeps bananas in the fridge? Seeing that I was very hungry and the six bananas were rather ripe, I decide to help myself. I devour one and put the rest into my coat pockets for later consumption.
My next stop was the living room to warm my hands by the fire place. It was then I spotted a piece of paper on the coffee table lying amidst a set of dominoes and some kind of electronic game board. The note said blackjack in dominoes and 21 horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Sounds like fun. I mess around with the placement of the dominoes, hoping the board will light up and set off some fireworks or something. But, apparently I was unsuccessful. Still, I put the dominoes and the board into my speeder. It’s probably a ruse, but I can use a diversion from time to time. Backgammon is starting to get boring.
Linsky’s bedroom proved to be quite interesting. It seems he delighted in expensive boudoir furniture as evidenced by the cherry wood armoire, dresser and desk. The armoire contained clothes about 20 years out of date. Not much for fashion, just a fashionable bedroom motif. On the other hand, the desk produced two items of interest. First, a half finished ‘Dear John’ letter to someone named Delores. Second, in the middle drawer I found a letter from Banter Publications. It would look as though Linsky signed a book deal, received $22,000 in advance and did not deliver the goods. Another oddity.
On either side of the bed were two nightstands. The one contained a green address book. I flip through it until the name Delores Lightbody stares back at me. If this is the Delores Linsky was about to dump, maybe she could be helpful. My note book now contains her home address. The other nightstand had a chess set on it. Only something seemed amiss. The set had only 31 pieces; a bishop was missing from the black team. Aw, maybe it just fell on the floor.
As I exit the bedroom, I notice a closet door. Opening it revealed a ladder to the attic. Well, I could use the exercise, so, up I went. After pulling a string chain to lighten up the place, I found exactly what every attic contains - junk! Stuff that never found its way to the garage for a sale or the curb for disposal. Just as I was about to go back downstairs, I noticed a door in the corner. A door in the attic? Upon opening it, I found a furnished office. This is really fascinating. Sort of a tree house without the tree. A getaway that was only missing the ‘girls keep out’ sign.
On a table were some neurology textbooks and a tape recorder. Unable to resist the urge, I flip the ‘play’ switch and immediately wished I hadn’t. The terrified voice of a man screaming, “There in my head...there in my head...get ‘em out.....oohh, get ‘em out.....I can’t take it any longer” It was unnerving, to say the least.
In the titanium file cabinets I found a threatening note from someone named Blaine Warner. It looked rather childish, but serious just the same. I fold it and put it into my pant pocket. The credenza drawers were all empty, except for the one that was locked. I try to pry it open, but all I did was bend the blade on my pocket knife. Maybe there’s a key around somewhere.
Over on the other side of the room was Linsky’s desk. I slide open the roll top and latch onto a credit report for Sylvia Linsky. Looks like she didn’t major in money matters. There were several claims against her for defaulting on some bills. Interesting. I search the drawers, but found nothing worth while. So, I head downstairs, out to my speeder, and using the on-board street finder, I lock in Miss Lightbody’s address and take off. I’m hoping she can shed more light on this otherwise dull case. I am anxious to see what kind of dame Linsky would date. Probably a wet blanket.

Monday, Oct. 26, 2037 A.D.

The Aussie sat in his speeder, eating salad and drinking spring water. He had been watching this apartment building for two days now, since receiving instructions from his new employer. As to the reason why he wanted this woman eliminated, he had no idea. At this point it didn’t really matter. What did bother him, though, was the old man’s statement regarding the world’s future. Could it be the old guy has aspirations of ruling the world? Just what kind of plan did he have? What part would the hit man play in all this? Would he be used only to eradicate those who threaten his plan? And would he too be eliminated one day? The last possibility was more real than he cared to admit. Twice before he had to kill his employers. After receiving payment for a job in France, the entrepreneur tried to cover his tracks by personally blotting out the assassin. Then a mere six months later, an industrialist in Japan attempted to do the same. But this hit man is perfect in body and thought. He had anticipated the attempts on his life, for he knew the old saw: First order of business in an assassination is to kill the assassin.
He shook himself back to the present. If Val Davis followed her usual routine, she should be exiting the building in 3 to 5 minutes. She’ll enter her speeder, let it warm up for three minutes, and fly over to the U.S.F. biological lab. Except for today. When she gets about half way in the 10 minute drive, her maneuvering computer controls will short out, causing a terrible accident. And the best part is the number of witnesses who’ll testify to her mishap. CYA: cover your.... There she is. Time to get serious.
Three minutes later, the Aussie was tailing Miss Davis on her way to work. About half way, he pushed the red button on the remote control in his right hand. A small green LED lit up to manifest signal transmission. With a sharp 90 degree turn, the speeder veered into oncoming traffic. Horns blared, speeders twisted to avoid collision, people swore at the out of control, lousy woman driver. Miss Davis struggled furiously to regain control, all to no avail. She had been traveling above the San Francisco skyline, but now she was spiraling to the streets below. Screaming to anyone who would hear, shouting at anyone who would listen, and knowing that neither would do any good, she continued to pull vigorously on the control arm. Finally, mere feet from the pavement, she braced her hands against the windshield, as though this would prevent injury. The speeder crashed and buried its front end two feet into the asphalt. Val Davis, USF professor, biological researcher, divorcee of recent years, was dead. Her face torn from her skull, ravaged beyond recognition, the police had to identify her from her driver’s license and credit cards. Witnesses gave testimony that she had lost control and crashed. No other inves-
tigation was required.
The hit man mingled with the crowd that gathered at the crash site. He surveyed the wreckage and deemed it unnecessary to retrieve the small device used to disable the speeder maneuvering control. There was nothing left of the speeder’s front end, including the small device. Overhearing the police detective in charge, he smiled to himself. No, there would be no further need to investigate this accident, for that is exactly what it was.
As he walked away, he could not resist the urge to approach one of the officers assigned to crowd control. “Too bad, she seemed so young.”
“Yeah, too bad,” responded the cop, not having the slightest idea that one of the most dangerous men in the world had just spoken to him.
Rounding the corner, the Aussie laughed uproariously despite the carnage he just witnessed. ‘Stupid flatfoots’ he said. ‘I just can’t resist a flare for the dramatic. Must be the acting role I had in the school play all those years ago’. He laughed again as he flew away, knowing that on the morrow, there would be a substantial addition to his Swiss account.

Later that evening, the Aussie broke into Val Davis’ lab, hoping to find her passcard. He figured she would not take it with her to and from the lab and her apartment. If it was as valuable as the old man said it was, she’d probably leave it here at work. Earlier, dressed as a doctor, he had finagled his way into the morgue and searched her effects before they were sent off to the police department. He had also searched her car, bribing the lot attendant under the guise of her visiting brother. Both searches came up empty. Ergo, the card must be in the lab.
After several minutes of ransacking the lab, he came up empty. He searched the cupboards - empty; he searched the counters - empty; he searched in and around the animal cages - empty; he even took a chance and entered the Radiation Chamber - empty. However, a warning siren went off as he entered. It shook him to his foundations. Sirens, how he hated sirens. “Warning, radiation at level one,” said the computerized voice. The ‘Perfect Body’ was having trouble controlling the ‘Perfect Mind.’ He became disoriented, unsteady, claustrophobic. He needed to get out of this room. He headed for the door’s opening but ran smack into a closed door. This rattled him even more. “Warning, radiation at level two.” He began to abhor the warning voice. He had to get control.
‘Breathe, breathe deeply,’ he told himself. ‘Control your thoughts. Concentrate on the present; suppress thoughts of the past.’ Slowly and surely he regained his composure. Next, he found the control panel, opened it and pushed the slide switch to the off position. The sirens stopped; the warning voice ceased; his panic abated. He was back in control.
As he exited the chamber, it occurred to him he may not be the only one to visit this lab. So, he devised a plan to kill anyone who might be following in his footsteps. CYA. If someone gets suspicious, he’ll have to deal with the ‘Perfect Mind.’ Extricating a small pencil-like object from his shirt pocket, he pressed the tiny button at one end which ignited a small laser beam from the other end. A couple of swipes back and forth through the wires on the pc board would cause enough damage to thwart any attempts to shut off the radiation after the next person enters. He also disengaged the automatic cut off switch. At this thought he laughed. ‘Boy, would I like to see what kind of a crispy critter would exit after the radiation hits its highest level. Can’t be worse than the poor excuse for food served at Big Sur’s Family Restaurant, though.’
After exiting the chamber he pushed the ‘close’ button and the big, heavy-duty steel doors closed like a vice. The Aussie left the lab with mixed feelings. He had seen to it that no one would survive a visit to the Radiation Chamber; but he was not successful in finding Val Davis’ passcard. ‘Well, that’s just too bad,’ he thought. The boss will just have to do without. And he flew back to his secluded lodge, eager to get a good night’s sleep; eager to get on with his job.

That afternoon, he met with his employer. “Well, have you seen to the demise of ‘contestant number one?’”
“As a matter of fact, I have. You’ll probably read about it in tomorrow’s paper.”
“How did you do it?”
“Oh, it was nothing really. Just a little speeder accident. Happens all the time.” They both smiled at that.
“Excellent! Here’s the lowdown on ‘contestant number two,’” and he handed the Aussie a manila envelope.
“Hmmm, let’s see. A mutant named Rona Morgan. Lives in an apartment building down in the old city, in ‘freaktown.’ No problem. I’ll get started on it tonight.”
“Uh, no offense, but it would help if this one looked like an accident as well. Don’t you agree?”
“As a matter of record, I do.” The Aussie had no problem with that suggestion.
They were parting ways when the ‘boss’ turned and said, “Oh, by the way, where’s Val Davis’ passcard?”
The hitman’s face went blank. He was hoping the old guy wouldn’t remember. “Well, you see, it’s like this,” he began. The gray haired employer’s face fell from smile to frown. He knew this wasn’t going to be good. “I searched everywhere and, well, uh, no passcard.”
“Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. I need those passcards. It’s imperative that I get a card from each and every person you eliminate. Now, don’t let me down again. If you do, I’ll have to withhold your payment. Do I make myself clear this time?”
The Aussie glared at the man. A thousand evil thoughts zigzagged through his mind. But, in the interests of good sportsmanship and in lieu of the money he was getting paid, he simply said, “Yes, you have made yourself clear.”
“Thank you,” and the ‘boss’ smiled and flew off into the afternoon sun.
‘The Body, The Mind, The Man’ watched with rage in his heart as the old man left. His animosity toward his employer grew every time they met. Still, he had a point. If the passcards are as valuable as he leads on, then it will be worth his while to attain as many as possible. ‘On the other hand, if he tries to withhold payment, I’ll kill him with my bare hands.’ That was his last thought as he flew off to his next assignment.

Chapter five: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2037 A.D.

When Delores Lightbody answers the door, I’m treated to a big surprise - literally. A rather easy going, flashy dresser, cigarette in a long holder, prim and plump woman in her early forties bids me welcome. Not the shy and retiring type, she practically absorbs my presence with the grace of a hippo on speed. Her apartment matches her personality, gaudy with a neo-Vegas twist. Movie posters cloak the otherwise tawdry and brightly painted walls. The lighting was more fit for a house of ill-repute than that of a woman in mourning. Wet blanket? Hardly. But that’s what I needed to put out the fire of passion.
“Delores Lightbody?” I ask.
“Yes indeedy. Won’t you please come in.” I’d rather not, but that isn’t very polite. Safe, but not polite.
“My name is Tex Murphy and I’m a private investigator.”
“Well, well, a real live private detective. You know, I’ve always had a certain fascination for private dicks.”
Oh my God! A 250 pound sex machine in overdrive. Just what I don’t need. I adroitly work around several sexual innuendoes until finally I’m able to ask her some questions. Sticking to business will be a real challenge with this woman. Her mourning lasted until
the next available bachelor came along - and that was me!
Anyway, I learn that she and Carl Linsky were sort of engaged, or at the very least, close friends. Linsky’s original purpose in visiting was due to her profession - probate specialist, including the designing and implementing of wills. That’s when I informed her that my client is Linsky’s daughter Sylvia. A look of disdain immediately covered her face. It seems that she and Sylvia were not as close as she and Carl. Continuing, I mention that Sylvia was not convinced that her father committed suicide.
“Surely, you don’t mean murder?” she asked shocked by the insinuation. That really took her back. So did the ‘Dear John’ letter I showed her. She refused to believe its validity. “Carl would never resort to such skullduggery.” He loved her deeply and vice-versa. I say she could love a man, any man, any time.
Moving on, I ask her about the will. She said it consisted of very little; the house and the speeder, a small bank account, not much else. But she did add that Linsky had recently purchased a million dollar insurance policy. Bingo! Warning bells sounded in my head.
“And who are the beneficiaries?” I ask.
“Sylvia is the only beneficiary,” she answers, implying a possible motive. Indeed, a million dollars could make a lot of innocent people do a lot of terrible things.
Additionally, she tells me the money from the estate is to be split equally between Sylvia and the North Hill Clinic, where Carl had worked for years as a neurosurgeon.
“If you like, I can get you an appointment with the director, Arnold Sternwood. Then you have to owe me one,” she said with a sly look in her big brown eyes. I don’t want to owe her anything except a short good-bye. But, I’m not done yet.
The next point was disconcerting, in a way. She said that Carl loved to play chess. If that’s the case, then why does his set have only 31 pieces? Awfully careless. And, besides chess, he liked backgammon and dominoes. It brought to mind the set of dominoes I have in the speeder and the note I found with them. Strange bed fellows, if you ask me. A blackjack note and dominoes? Strange indeed.
When I asked her about DeLeon Health Services, I got a bit of a reprieve. It would seem that Carl received regular shipments of vitamin supplements for his health. This caused an inward sigh of relief. A neurosurgeon on drugs and suicidal would have me think twice before ever going to the doctor again.
The last bit of information concerned Sylvia’s background. Her mother left them at an early age and Carl raised her the best he could. As she matured to womanhood, she left home abruptly and went into some sort of unsavory work, perhaps the escort business. I don’t think she was talking about chaperoning kids to the prom. It’s a well known fact that escorts earn most of their money in the bedroom, not the ballroom.
Finally, in a continued effort to refine my investigative abilities, I ask her what she thought of me. Big mistake. “It’s too soon, Tex. Allow me to grieve first, then we’ll see what grows between us,” she ended that statement in a seductive tone. Time to exit, Murphy. Get out before the ole hormones kick into high gear - hers, not mine!

Several minutes later, I’m back in Lisky’s living room, talking with my client. I have a number of vital concerns to discuss with her, particularly the life insurance policy. Earlier, I had certain reservations about Sylvia’s murder claim. Now I’m beginning to see some motives come into play.
She hands me the manila envelope containing her father’s personal effects. I really hope there’s something in here that will shed some light on this case. Before I rip open the envelope, I decide to tell her of my meeting with Delores Lightbody.
After telling her of my visit with Delores, Sylvia relates her concern that her father would give a woman like that the time of day. I’m not getting into a mud-slinging contest here, so I parry her thrust with a thrust of my own - her father’s will. She takes exception to my insinuation.
“Why are you treating me like a suspect?” Because you just might be one. “For your information, if I sold the house and the speeder and added it to the cash, I might be able to pay off my father’s debt. I’m not going to benefit from this will.” The inflection of her voice denotes increased anger and frustration. But I need to know where my client fits into this scenario. I need to know if she’s really on the up-and-up.
“Except of course the million dollar life insurance policy.”
“I’m not going to get a cent of that! I’m surprised you’re even asking me about that. You know life insurance companies don’t pay off in case of suicide.”
“And that’s why you retained my services.”
“Well, you can think that if you want, but I don’t have to stick around here and be insulted by the hired help.” With that she up and left in a huff. I realized, only too late, that I had violated P.I. rule number 17: Never upset a client. I should have thought of that before I sounded accusatory.
But Sylvia was right about one thing - I was the hired help and it was time to get back to work. I empty the envelope into my lap. Four items appear. Two small keys, Linsky’s wallet, and the suicide note. In part it said ‘the pain is unbearable’ and he ‘could not go on any longer.’ Pain from what? The drugs? A guilty conscience? Some secret incurable illness? Maybe that explains the shipments from DeLeon Health Services.
In the wallet was Linsky’s license with his photo on it. I may need that for later reference. I have yet to have seen his picture.
Looking at the two keys made me think of the locked credenza in the attic office. I climb the ladder, go to the secret room, try the smaller of the two keys and voila! instant access. The only item in there proved to be very important - I hope. It seems Linsky leased a warehouse from San Francisco Properties at 6752 Federal Drive. If I’m not mistaken, that’s out by the old space port. Off I go into the wild red yonder!

Nov. 9, 2037 A.D., at a secret location
The visionary continues to update and allocate the data streaming to him from certain designated sources. He is saddened by the loss of three of these sources, but, at least they were able to complete their tasks before their untimely deaths. Too bad. They would have been secondary foundation stones of his new order. But he would remember them, eulogize them when the proper time called for it, indelibly etching their names into his New World Constitution.
He sat back and reflected on their friendships and loyalty. Dr. Carl Linsky, famed neurosurgeon and provider of infinitely critical information necessary for people control. Val Davis, biological researcher, whose contributions to this project cannot be overstated. And finally, a close friend and electrical engineer extraordinaire, C. Rona Morgan. Hers was the friendship that would be most missed. He shook his head in temporary grief. One committed suicide (he could not understand this), one died in a speeder accident, and the third died of accidental poisoning. Had he given it more thought, he may have made a connection, since all of these died within a week of each other.
Forcing his concentration back to the task at hand, he resumes his undertaking of gathering bits of information still coming across his computer screen. He must not be deterred. The project must go forward. Overlord must be implemented within the next few days. His own sanity demands it, his very being craves it, his entire soul necessitates it. As the madness grows within him, so does his determination. All will be accomplished despite minor setbacks, as though the loss of life was reckoned of little consequence. “To achieve that which is unattainable, sacrifices must be expected,” he said to no one in particular.
Yes, the visionary suffering from dementia in very advanced stages will push onward with all his very being. Nothing will be allowed to stand in his way; nothing can possibly stand in his way. Just a little longer and it will be finished.

Monday, Nov. 2, 2037 A.D.
Rona Morgan was born in San Clemente, California in the year 2002. An exceptionally gifted child, she moved through her elementary and high school grades with the ease of a tern in full flight across the ocean. Within a short time she had graduated magna cum laude from UCLA. Her specialty was electrical engineering, her success was all but guaranteed. Except for one inescapable fact: she was a mutant, living in the mutant section of San Francisco, living among the lowly and destitute. The schools did not discriminate against her, but several commercial concerns certainly did.
All but one - Gideon Enterprises. Mr. Gideon himself was a norm, one of those unaffected by the radiation of WWIII. When he looked at a person, he saw in them their personal worth. He looked at the secret person of the heart, not the deformed shell on the exterior. He was all too happy to hire Miss Morgan in 2028 and immediately put her to work, taking advantage of her superior skills.
For seven years she worked for Gideon Enterprises, enjoying a fond friendship with Mr. Gideon. But her aspirations went beyond working in someone else’s employ. She needed to branch out, expand her horizons, broaden her field of expertise. And, most important of all, she wanted to own and operate a business which employed mutants only. She did not do this in opposition to Mr. Gideon. She deeply appreciated the break he gave her. No, she did this because the mutant world had come under considerable attack from the ‘norms.’ Their claims that a defective body harbors a defective mind were completely unfounded. And she would make them learn a hard lesson, even if it took her entire life to prove it.
Shortly after leaving Gideon Enterprises, she was covertly approached by a visionary. Although details of his work were sketchy, it afforded her the opportunity to enhance her income. These monies would be used to supplement her growing business in the ever expanding field of electronics. The pay was good, in spite of its enigmatic source, and the work was rewarding. As she assisted in the secret project, she was able to use the latest technology in her field, which, of course, worked to her advantage. She had already made plans to purchase such equipment for her own commercial endeavor. Needless to say, she was excited beyond comprehension.
It was on a Monday evening when Rona Morgan ‘bumped’ into the Aussie. Every Monday, just like clockwork, she would stop at the local Shop N Go near her apartment complex. As she rounded the dairy aisle, she noticed her favorite milk was out of stock. It just so happened, that as she questioned the stocking clerk, the Aussie sacrificed his quart of the same milk in the spirit of friendship. Well, this was the very sort of thing she was trying to implement in the mutant/norm society. She thanked him sincerely and he said a most humble “your welcome.”
Minutes later she was inside her apartment. Relaxing after a hard day at both locations of work, she decided to have a quick snack before bedtime. She undressed from her work clothes, put on her flannel pajamas (the ones with the bunny tail and feet), and poured herself a large glass of milk. She also opened a package of chocolate chip cookies. “Hmmm. I could eat the whole bag and drink the whole quart of milk.” She was famished!
After a few cookies and one glass of milk, she began to feel cramps. They intensified despite her efforts to reduce them by means of antacids. Soon the cramps became pains, and then the pains became insufferable, and then came dizziness, vomiting and, last but not least, death. She collapsed on the bathroom floor, head hanging over the toilet, blood streaming from her mouth.
It was then that the Aussie used his special craft to enter her apartment. No one else was around, no one else knew he was there. He checked for a pulse but there was really no need to do so. Rona Morgan had been effectively eliminated. But now, how to make it look like an accident. For the crème-de-la- crème of hit men, it was a simple task.
In the electronics industry, there are times when certain connections are sealed using a special, odorless, tasteless epoxy. It was also extremely deadly if ingested. He knew she would buy the low fat milk, just as she did the week before. So, using a very thin syringe filled with the epoxy, he injected it into the carton of milk. Watching her through a pair of field glasses, he saw her enter the bathroom grasping her stomach.
Now, to make it look like an accident. Her small dining table was placed adjacent to the kitchen. A shelf above the table held several items of food and some cleansing products. Since the epoxy was common to her line of work, no one would think it had been planted by a professional killer. He loosened the cap enough to allow a small amount of glue to seep out when it was laid on its side. He positioned it directly above the glass of milk, which was almost empty. He allowed a very small portion to drop into the glass. Using gloves the whole time, there was no need for him to fear discovery.
After faking the ‘accidental’ death, he dicided to search her apartment for the passcard. Would she be like Val Davis and hide the card in a secret location? Other than her apartment? Time would tell.
He tore apart every room in the apartment, carefully returning each item to its original location. Bathroom, bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen - all his efforts proved futile. He searched the cadaver, the clothes she wore to work, the hamper where she put them, the shoes she wore, even her purse. Frustrated, he calmed himself and gained control over his emotions. When he opened his eyes, he noticed something under the dining table, next to the wall. A briefcase. How had he overlooked that?
Putting it on the table, he popped it open and went through every compartment. Great Lo above! How many different dividers does this thing have? Finally, angered by his unsuccessful efforts, he tossed the briefcase across the room. It hit the wall with a loud bang. Realizing he had to retrieve it and put it back under the table, he dejectedly went over and picked it up. The entire bottom piece of leather fell out revealing a secret location. There it was! The passcard! Glory be to Lo! He stashed it into his pocket and replaced the case.
Taking one last look at the dead body of Rona Morgan, he felt no remorse, no grief, no compassion. But he did think of the money that would be transferred to his Swiss account. That made him smile. And he left the apartment, undetected by any neighbors. After all, this was the mutant section of the city and the police wouldn’t go out of their way to investigate a mutant’s death. He laughed as he flew off in his speeder.

Chapter six: 2037 A.D.

Thanks to Linsky’s personal effects, I was able to locate and enter the warehouse he had leased. Nothing fancy, but definitely suitable. Several 55 gallon drums containing dangerous fluids were scattered throughout. Wooden pallets, an old mattress, boxes galore, and even a fork-lift. No key for it, though. Too bad, looks like fun. I also notice a desk, computer, bookshelf, drafting table, a cot and a file cabinet had been set up. No doubt Linsky used this as a secret office. With the number of reference books on the shelf, he may have intended to write his book, although it never came to fruition.
As I begin to move around, I trip over a small box on the floor. The box was new and partially opened, so, I looked inside. Nothing much in here, except a circuit conductor repair kit. What would I do with that? Well, it must have something to do with Linsky’s work, so I slip it into my coat pocket. Hey! I almost forgot! As I put the kit into the pocket, I grab a banana, peel it and inhale it in 30 seconds. Hmmm, hits the spot. I love bananas. Four left; at least I won’t starve for a few days.
I continue my search and notice a first aid kit on the wall almost hidden by a step ladder. My schooling at U. I. of U. and the training from the Colonel has taught me to follow my instincts and leave no stone unturned. So, I fold up the ladder and sloppily lean it against some boxes. Inside the first aid kit was a box of Heal Aid bandages. I flip the lid and, to my delight, several pieces of plastic fall onto my hand. Looks like someone cut up a charge card, or maybe a security card. I put the pieces together and two things become instantly apparent. One, this was a security card, the kind that’s used in conjunction with a security card reader. Two, there’s a piece missing. I wonder if Linsky did that on purpose? I guess that would depend on what Linsky was doing here.
Turning, I decide to inspect the cot. I shake the blanket and it reveals nothing; I pick up the pillow and it seems the tooth fairy left a little present. Say, this is a bottle of prescription sleeping pills; powerful ones, to boot. One of these could knock out an elephant. I’ll remember that if one ever charges me. All I’d have to do is jump on its trunk and force one down its throat. Easy as falling down. Into my pant pocket they go. However, I wonder why Linsky used these? Could the pain have kept him from sleeping? Did he have a drug habit? I might have to discuss this problem to Sylvia.
Next stop is the filing cabinet. The middle drawer contained a hand written fax with the initials S. F. on it. He says the first two on the list from Linsky were dead. Was S. F. a hit man? Why would Linsky need to cancel people’s subscription to life? Opening the bottom drawer revealed another mystery. A note mentioning a top secret project. Items needed for the project included a specially designed computer, like the one on the table next to the filing cabinet; a computer passcard, like the pieces of which I now hold, and a passcard reader, which I have not yet found. It also mentions a scrambled password. This note raises some serious questions. First, what is the secret project? How many people were involved in it? And who was running the project? Suddenly, this case was taking a significant turn for the better. I could feel excitement build within and loved the moment.
On the lower portion of the memo were two handwritten questions to add to my own. Who are the other seven working on the project along with the ‘contact S. F.’ in parentheses. And, Who is Overlord? Overlord? Now that is most curious. Could it be possible that eight people are involved with a special project and it is controlled by someone dubbed ‘Overlord?’ Is there any relationship between the seven mentioned on the memo and the two who are already dead mentioned on the fax? I shake my head as the possibilities begin to mount. The more clues I find, the less answers I have.
By this time I have had a long day and a small headache continued to increase in my head. However, I was finding too many interesting leads to let up now. So, the drafting table became my next target. The top drawer contained a newspaper clipping relating the death of 37 year old C. Rona Morgan. Once an employee of Gideon Enterprises, she died of accidental poisoning. But, it appears the police were not all that sure the death was accidental. The article mentioned ‘mysterious circumstances.’ Could she be one of the other seven? Naw! She was probably a friend of Linsky’s and he cut this out for senti-mental reasons.
The middle drawer of the drafting table coughed up three direct deposit slips. These things were used to give written proof that funds had been added to one’s bank account. But, they haven’t been used in years. Who would need something like this and why? At any rate, the slips added up to $60,000 in Linsky’s name. Someone was paying big bucks for something and one thing’s for sure, this isn’t the same money from Banter Publications. That amount was only $22,000. Maybe ‘Overlord’ is the payer. Now I know my headache is getting worse; I’m grasping at straws too early in this case. Nevertheless, I keep adding these tidbits to my notebook. I’ve only been on the job for a day and this little book is already filling up.
Taking a deep breath, I spot a corkboard on the far wall. It’s covered with drivel, but ignoring it could prove detrimental. Nothing worth while on the board; I wonder if there’s anything behind it. Sure enough, when I remove the corkboard I find a slip of paper tacked to the wall. It read, ‘HIP S.O.B.’ I never thought Linsky would use common profanity, he didn’t seem to be the type. This paper goes into another pant pocket.
Last but not least, I rummage through Linsky’s desk. The drawers gave up nothing substantial, but the plastic tray on top of the desk had an interesting note in it. Signed by a woman named Wanda Peck, it made reference to an investigation against Carl Linsky. Probably some kind of malpractice suit, that’s all. Still, better safe than sorry, so, into my notebook it goes. Looks like I’ll get a good use of my free two week subscription to American Information Database.
Well, I think that’s about all I’m going to find in this place. A little disconcerted over the fact there’s a piece missing to the security card and I have yet to find the passcard reader, I decide it’s time to go back.... Just then, I hear a strange noise, difficult to identify. My cat-like reflexes kick into overdrive as I take a defensive posture. In a flash, the noise turns to a BANG as the ladder I folded earlier falls to the floor, taking a couple of empty boxes with it. Whew! I heave a sigh of relief, shake my head for being so overtired, rub my temples to ease my headache, and start for the door. But something caught my eye. Behind the stacked boxes was a calendar on the wall. Who would pile up boxes in front of a calendar? Upon close inspection, the calendar was dated June 2037 and this was November. As I keep staring at the calendar, a little voice in the back of my head (right next to the headache) is telling me something’s afoot. So, I move the boxes, open the step ladder, climb to the calendar and remove it from the nail. Voila! A safe! Behind the calendar! Ha! My P.I. instincts were right!
Now, to examine and open the safe. Hmmm. Four rows of numbers, like on a vid phone, with three in each row. The bottom row had the zero with an asterisk on the left and the word ‘enter’ on the right. I continue to stare at the safe, trying to figure a way to open it. My search of Linsky’s warehouse revealed no clue or hidden numbers. Wait a minute; hidden numbers. Of course! The set of dominoes! If I place them in their respective slots on the electronic game board, according to the instructions, some lights will appear. Could that be the secret to opening this safe?
I run out to the speeder and bring the appropriate items back to Linsky’s desk. Let’s see, ‘blackjack in dominoes’ and 21 horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Rather actually placing the dominoes in random order in a vain effort to arrive at the desired solution, I get out my pencil and notebook. Working on a blank page, I feverishly add, subtract and re-add and re-subtract until an answer presents itself. Okay, let’s see, if I place the 4 and the 9 and the 8 in the top row; the 11 and the 7 and the 3 in the middle row; and the 6 and the 5 and the....I hold my breath...10 in the bottom row... Yes! The lights by the 4, 9, 8 are flashing. Great! Now, back to the safe.
I climb back up the ladder and press 4-9-8 onto the keypad. Then I press ‘enter.’ The safe pops open as though a Jack-in-the-box was going to jump out. Two items were inside the safe. The passcard reader I was looking for, which I immediately attached to the computer, and the original copy of the million-dollar life insurance policy Delores had mentioned. And guess who is the sole beneficiary? None other than Sylvia Linsky. A bit despondent, I consider the possibility that she is the murderer, if there really is one. And why not! It wouldn’t be the first time in history that a family member killed for money. The suicide angle would be the perfect cover up. Except for one thing: how does one get another to commit suicide in front of six witnesses? Now THAT could be difficult.
Now I can exit this place and continue my investigation. Despite my raging headache, there’s still time to make one more stop before heading back to my office. I fly back to see Delores Lightbody. Although the hour is late, somehow I just know she’s still up and raring to go....probably to bed with the next guy who walks through the door. Since I’m the next guy, I need a plan of attack, or, should I say a plan of defense. I’ll need to tell her the way it is, that we’re never going to get it on. If I’m firm and professional, I’m sure she will understand.
After knocking on her door, it didn’t take long for her to answer. Dressed in a sheer, almost see-through pink nightgown, still smoking a fag in her expensive holder, she states in a sexy voice, “I knew you’d be back. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.” She then motions me inside.
Here we go! “I don’t want to appear ungrateful, Delores, but you and I, we’re never going to get it on. I’m sorry, but we need to keep this on a purely professional basis.” I can’t let her down any easier than that.
“Say what you want. Your hungry eyes tell a different story.” This woman’s insatiable! Sounds like she’s reading a line from an Anna Nicole Smith movie.
“ the meantime, I’d like to ask you a few more questions.” It was the best I could do on such short notice.
She plops down on the sofa, flashes her eyes at me and responds, “I’ll do anything to help, anything.” I’m sure you would, Delores.
It’s in my best interests to be short and, well, not sweet, that’s for sure. So, I rifle off several questions regarding some of the names I’ve compiled recently. No, she doesn’t know who Wanda Peck is, or Overlord, or Rona Morgan. But, when I asked about the initials S. F., she had a different response.
“I seem to remember Carl mentioning somebody with those initials. It was Sonny....
Sonny something or other. Uh, Sonny...Fletcher! Yes, I’m certain it was Sonny Fletcher.”
“So, who’s Sonny Fletcher?”
“I think he was a P. I., like you. Although I doubt he was as handsome. I don’t know what he was doing for Carl.”
“Great! You’ve been a big help and I do mean that literally.” And with that last little tidbit I’m out of here. My exit is so quick the door closes behind by shear force. I head to my office, anxious to feed the names I found into the AID. However, when I get there, a message is waiting for me - from Sylvia. She sounds completely inebriated and requested my presence as soon as possible. My headache told me no, my heart told me yes. After my earlier accusation I felt it was only right to go and see her.
When I get into the house, I notice an empty bottle of vodka on the floor. Looks like Sylvia and Mr. Absolute had a contest and he lost. I knew she would be difficult to deal with - most drunks are - but, by the same token, she needed my assistance. And, as I found out, she needed my shoulder to cry on.
At first she mostly felt sorry for herself. Things like her daddy being dead, her mother walking out on her, etc., spewed forth like a dam that just busted open. When I tried to comfort her, she told me to stuff my pity, she didn’t need it. But I knew that wasn’t really so. Why would she have asked me to come to her if she didn’t want pity? But again, never argue with a drunk. Finally I had had enough. I told her she didn’t need any more alcohol, loathsome liquid that it is, but what she really needed was some beddy-bye. Ergo, I picked her up and took her to her bed, laying her down gently and covering her up. We said good night, but I don’t think hers will be very good. I’m sure the morning will come all too soon and she’ll regret this night’s episode. Shaking my head, I decide to cruise on back to my office, looking forward to a well deserved night’s sleep.

2043 D.D. Chelsee’s apartment

“You know, Tex, when we met, it wasn’t all that different from your night with Sylvia. But, of course, you were the one that was sloppy drunk.”
I furrow my eyebrows, trying to recall the event Chelsee is talking about. “What? You talking about the Bastille Day celebration at the Brew & Stew? I wasn’t that drunk.”
“Oh no. We met before Louie’s party. Come on, Sweetie, don’t you remember?”
Lighting up a Lucky, I look off to one side, exhaling a huge puff of smoke. Through the foggy mist of cigarette evil, my mind begins to float back in time. An early morning, on the street, head down on Chelsee’s counter. Yes, yes, it’s coming back to me. I was fitfully drunk and passed out at her Newsstand. Another puff of smoke jilts my memory even more. I hear Chelsee’s voice, “C’mon buddy, time to get up.” She pokes me with...
with... the end of a broomstick! Sheesh! This woman is mercenary! She’s trying to clean up the mess around her stand when I got up, still in a drunken stupor, and tried to help. I accidentally knocked over some magazines. Apologizing, I attempt to assist her in picking them up. She refuses, and I trip over something and fall into her open arms. And then she said something like, “Keep your hands off of me you pervert!” And then she....
“Hey! Now I remember, you punched me. I mean, my jaw hurt for a week and I never did figure out why.”
Totally unconcerned, she remarks, “Things have gotten better since then, haven’t they?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Maybe a little sarcastic, but she deserves it. I think my jaw still hurts.
“Listen, forget about that, let’s get back to your story. It’s starting to get interesting. So, what happened after your night’s sleep?”
“Well, okay, if you insist. The next morning .....”

Friday, Nov. 13, 2037 A.D.

Freshening up after a good night’s sleep, I’m enthusiastic over making some calls using my AID. Before I get started, though, I get a call from Delores Lightbody. Uh-oh! I hope she doesn’t pick up where she left off. She doesn’t. Instead, she informs me of an early morning appointment with Arnold Sternwood, director of the North Hill Clinic.
Early as usual, I wait patiently in the lobby for Mr. Sternwood. A few moments later, a well dressed, fiftyish African American approaches me and introduces himself. After a few brief pleasantries, he asks me what I want. Okay, no pussy-footin’ around with this guy.
“Did you or did you not have anything to do with the death of Carl Linsky?”
Totally taken aback, he quickly defends himself by stating, “It’s my understanding that Carl’s death has been ruled a suicide. Is there anything else?”
“Well, I’ve been hired by his daughter to investigate his death.”
“So, little Sylvia has her claws into you,” he retorts, almost accusingly. I can’t help but wonder if my client has any friends at all. Seems like everybody has had an unpleasant run in with her.
“Are you saying I should keep one eye on my Client?”
“A word of caution. I would keep both eyes on and both hands off Miss Linsky.”
“I’ll give it some thought. In the meantime, I need to ask you a few questions.”
He tells me of Linsky’s employment at the clinic, his outstanding reputation, and his surgical competence. Because of age, Linsky gave up surgery in favor of research in recent years. He also related his sadness over Linsky’s death.
As I perused my notebook, I decide to see if he knew Wanda Peck. Yes, she was investigating charges of malpractice, supposedly by Linsky. The charges were completely without merit, according to Sternwood. Carl took a voluntary leave of absence and Ms. Peck dropped the investigation. However, what he added was even more shocking. Wanda Peck was the director of the S. F. office of CAPRICORN. Wow! I will definitely make an appointment with her.
I asked him about DeLeon Health Services. He said they supplied, among other things, anti-aging drugs. This could be some good news. I’m having a hard time believing Linsky was some kind of drug addict. But, it did raise an interesting question: If Lisnky was clean, taking anti-aging drugs and wanted to skydive on his 100th birthday, then why would he commit suicide? It just didn’t add up.
Asking him what he thought of Sylvia Linsky caused him some degree of discomfort. He said, “That young woman is trouble. I won’t burden you with the details. Suffice it to say that she has a way with older men and knows how to get what she wants.” Hmmm.
Finally, I thank Mr. Sternwood and head back to my office. My list of names has grown significantly and I’m desirous of using my subscription to AID. Maybe there will be a clue or two among the faxes I receive.
The first fax made me chuckle out loud. My hot and horny ‘friend’, Delores Lightbody, had a slew of fiancées, applying for marriage licenses five times, but never had married. As a child, she entered several beauty contests successfully, but, as an adult, she had to join Overeaters Anonymous to loose weight. Maybe she should ask for a refund.
Rona Morgan’s fax was less farcical and more serious. She had a degree in electrical engineering, having graduated the top of her class at UCLA. Only 35 years old, she died Nov. 2, 2037 of accidental poisoning. That’s strange. Maybe I should check that out. Also strange was the fact she died just a few days ago and her name has come up in my investigation of Carl Linsky’s death. Could there be a connection?
Next fax to mechanically appear in the machine was Sonny Fletcher’s. Born in 1985, married one Maria Cartagena in 2016, survived her death in 2031, and he’s had a few DUIs of late. “Looks like ol’ Sonny has a drinking problem.” Something else caught my eye. He was a P. I. and, up until 30 days ago, had occupied the same office I just leased! Talk about coincidence! But this in itself doesn’t answer the question as to why Linsky hired him. Maybe I should go see Eve Clements and ask her if she knows his current address.
CAPRICORN’s fax helps me to partially understand their operations and activities. It didn’t mention Wanda Peck specifically, but, I put her on my list of people to visit. What really struck me oddly was the fax on Ms. Peck. It said no information available. Hmmm. Looks like she’s as secretive as the organization she works for. In fact, I know more about CAPRICORN than I’ll probably ever know about Wanda Peck. However, the possibilities are challenging, to say the least.
The last fax told me pretty much what I already knew about my client. She’s 26 years old, had three misdemeanor arrests, and her current address is unknown. Well, looks like I know more than the AID. Huh! I need to see her about a couple of things, too. But first, I’m off to the S.F.P.D. to interrogate Detective Clements. Hey, there’s a switch. I’ll interrogate her, instead of the other way around. I get excited just thinking about it.

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2037 A.D.

The trip out to the Anasazi Ruins didn’t take that long, but it afforded the Aussie an opportunity to reflect on the issue at hand. His employer had another ‘job’ for him. Some prissy named Bosworth Clark. The guy looked like a bloody Drongo. Whoever he was and whatever he was doing was not important. What was important was the method of execution. The first two had to look like accidents, a result of where they lived and their living habits. But this one would be different. For the first time since being hired, he would be able to use his favorite method of contract killing - forced Russian roulette. The Aussie smiled. Handing a gun with one round in the chamber to his mark would be completely exhilarating. He took a deep breath through his nose and let it out slowly through his mouth, clearing his lungs, clearing his mind. Thoughts from Mexico emerge again.
He recalled the woman in Mexico. After pummeling her for several minutes while she was tied to a cactus (the pain was excruciating), he loosened the leather strips binding her and sat her in a folding chair. Barely conscious, he slipped the gun into her hand and said she had five chances in six of living, one chance in six of dying. Weakened by the thrashing, she could barely hold the loaded weapon. So, being the good guy he was, he helped her by holding the gun to her head while she pulled the trigger. He was very disappointed when the gun fired on the first try, but not disappointed by the results. The woman who nearly caused his downfall was dead.
He smiled as he approached the ruins. They were huge, covering several acres. Ancient stone structures, devoid of flora and fauna, the very atmosphere containing the hint of death. Come to think about it, it was refreshing. After all, death was his life. It uplifted him, sustained him, soothed him. Having power of life and death in his hands was the most rewarding feeling he ever had. And once again, he was going to augment this feeling via another summary killing.
Now, if the instructions from the ‘old guy’ were correct, there should be a back way into this place. He spotted the main entrance, the one used by archeologists and tourists, and flew to the opposite side. Landing in a small open area, he exited the speeder and looked over his hand written map. ‘Through that opening and down the corridor on the other side should take me to a steel door’ the Aussie thought out loud. Folding the map, he started off toward his goal.
Moments later, he was facing the electronic steel door. ‘No problem’ he said and proceeded to short it out. The doors parted, like the Red Sea before Moses’ staff. However, he knew the doors would automatically shut in mere seconds, locking themselves afterward. That’s why the Aussie picked up a large and heavy stone (about 20 pounds) en route to this juncture. He stepped through the doors and centered the stone so the doors would close tightly on it, leaving him an opening to fit through upon leaving.
He found himself in a small room, facing another steel door. Great. He wasn’t told about this door. How was he going to get through this one? If he shorted the circuit, the door would open, but he didn’t have another large rock to keep it open. He approached the door for closer inspection and then he heard it. A warning sounder filtering through from the inside. He looked up and noticed he had tripped a motion sensor. With his murderous instinct, he quickly pulled out his gun, taking a defensive posture. But, why should he do that? If his info was correct, the only person on the other side was Bosworth ‘the nerd’ Clark. He certainly was no threat. It was then he recollected the blunder in Mexico. He maintained his stance, revolver at the ready.
Seconds later, the doors split apart. Must have been on a delayed timer, allowing the tenant to walk through without using a key or keypad or swipe card. Excellent! He walked in, like he owned the place. Despite the alarm, Bosworth Clark sat at a computer terminal, his back to the assassin. The Aussie hated sloppiness. Who was this Drongo expecting, his wife? A mistress? His employer? Perhaps. But who he was expecting and who was there were vastly different expectations.
Dressed in black denim slacks, dark shirt and tie, wearing his dark green overcoat, the Aussie regarded his prey. Smiling, he asked, “Bosworth, Bosworth Clark?”
“Oh, yeah...Yes,” he answers with a wide grin.
That’s when the Aussie pulls the revolver with one round in the chamber out of his pocket. He spins the chamber, holding it six inches from Clark’s face.
“Wha...what... is that?” Now he’s getting nervous, very nervous.


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

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