Chapter 21

October 11, 2011 at 10:12 am (The Job)

Mr. Chu’s hands felt almost as bad as they looked. He wasn’t concerned with appearances, but he hated pain. They weren’t healing as quickly as he’d hoped; as quickly as he’d needed them to. There was an unacceptable shake to them. The delicacy of the work he had to complete demanded that his hands be firm and steady.

He would have to make some adjustments.

The Mallach job should have been as simple as placing a bomb in the basement of his house, as he’d done on the Wappel Group job. The size of bomb required to hit Mallach was too much for Mr. Chu’s hands to create with any degree of safety.

He’d have to get in close and take care of it in a one-on-one basis. Mr. Chu didn’t like firearms. They were too quick, too loud and not nearly as dramatic as he preferred. Knives were worse. No, Mr. Chu had a backup plan that would be far more devastating to Mr. Mallach than simply shooting him in the head.

Mr. Chu enjoyed doling out pain. Bombs had their own beauty. His love affair with them would likely never wane. But a job like this called for something more. Mr. Chu had no interest in the family. His orders didn’t mention them, though they hadn’t specifically stated that they were to be left out of it, either. With a bomb, he would have gotten them all. Instead, he would focus all of his efforts on Mr. Mallach.

The family had remained at home while Mallach went away on business. Now, with the children put to bed, Mallach’s wife led him to their bedroom to welcome him home in style. Mr. Chu gave brief thought to interrupting the romantic interlude. He’d never experienced a moment like that before. His parents had taken that away from him long before he’d ever known he should fight for it. His castration had been complete; his parents had insisted on the removal of his penis as well as his testicles. A tube, inserted into his urethra, allowed him to urinate. The removal of his equipment didn’t alleviate the need, however. It may be phantom pain, or sympathy pain, but he still got aroused. It hurt and there was no way to satisfy his cravings.

Imagining the sexy, blond Mrs. Mallach pleasuring her husband, who was by no means a faithful man, annoyed him enough to get him moving. Perhaps he wouldn’t focus solely on Mr. Mallach. Pain inflicted on the wife would be felt by the husband.

Pulling several devices from his bag, Mr. Chu checked their contents and tested their weight in his hands. Pain stung his palms, but he ignored it. His first obstacle was the security system. The Mallach’s didn’t go in for electronic everything. They had enough money and big enough egos to want real people seeing to their safety. It made Mr. Chu’s job easier.

People could be overcome. They could be bribed. Motion detectors and invisible laser triggers were a pain in the ass. The guards were forced to stand in a little house at the end of the drive, rain or shine or, in this case, snow. It was cold in Chicago. The wind was bitter and the snow, though not much of it fell, was enough to be annoying. The guard house had doors that they kept closed to keep the heat in. Mr. Chu crept up to the back side of the guard house and crouched down near the base of the door.

A one inch gap provided all the room he needed to slip the cartridge underneath. A new device created by the agency and meant for enclosed spaces, it created a cloud of carbon monoxide nearly instantaneously. It lasted for fifteen seconds, robbing anyone caught in its foggy grip of the oxygen in their bodies, rendering them unconscious. The cloud dissipated quickly, allowing fresh air to return to the room. Once unconscious, the guards would remain incapacitated for several hours. Mr. Chu would be long gone before they ever knew what happened to them.

Walking through the guard house, stepping over the bodies of the two guards, Mr. Chu headed for the main house. The Mallach’s had several people on their household staff, including a butler. All staff should be asleep for the night, but Mr. Chu wouldn’t count on that. Having already observed the house from every vantage point, he’d determined that the weakest point was the back door. It led straight into the kitchen and was often left open while the cooks were working. It being nearly midnight, Mr. Chu assumed the cooks would no longer be working.

Circling around the property to the rear of the house, Mr. Chu approached the closed door. Testing the handle, he found the door locked. Pulling a mini drill from his pack, he quickly took care of the lock. Opening the door, he stepped inside the kitchen and looked around the darkened room. A stairwell off to the right led to the upper level. Taking it, Mr. Chu ascended to the upper floor and worked his way toward the front of the house. He passed the children’s bedrooms.

The master bedroom was an overly large room that took up most of the front of the house. There was only one interior door leading in and it entered into the middle of the room. He’d already been inside once and had the lay of the land. The bed was positioned on the far wall, beneath one of the windows.

Mr. Chu cracked the door open and slipped inside. The room was mostly dark. A faint light glowed on the bedside table. Mr. Chu could hear the faint moans coming from the bed. Stepping further into the room, he used one of the posts to block his movements. The curtains were open, but not tied back, giving him plenty of cover.

Mr. Chu was kind enough to wait until Mrs. Mallach came. He couldn’t tell if she was faking it or not. Either way, Mr. Mallach believed it. Stepping around the post, Mr. Chu approached the bed. Mr. Mallach was on his back, his eyes closed. Mrs. Mallach had collapsed on top of him. Two quick taps with his sap knocked them unconscious. Pulling duct tape and rope from his pack, Mr. Chu got to work.

***

“Welcome to the island, Mr. Leland.”

Ingram squinted in the sun, trying to see their host. His words reminded Ingram of the opening to every Fantasy Island episode he’d ever watched on TV. As Leland shook hands with their host, Ingram covered his eyes with his palm and looked down from the cliff.

They had one day to kill before the vote took place. One day for Donovan to make his move, if he had any left. Ingram hadn’t heard from his men on Rarotonga. He’d tried to contact Zaum several times, but the soldier was incommunicado. Ingram hoped that meant progress and that soon he would call to say Donovan was no longer a threat.

Assuming Donovan managed to get to the island alive he’d have one hell of a time getting up to the house. Ingram had a forty-man patrol down on the beach. Orders were to shoot on sight. He’d left two men at the base of the cliff, near the elevator and another two at the top of the cliff. Inside the house, he planned to put another twenty men in position around the meeting room. There was no way Donovan could run the gauntlet that he’d set down.

Leland didn’t bother to introduce their host to Ingram. Ingram was like the hired help to these people, invisible. As their host led them to the house, Ingram’s men fell into step behind him. Their sheer numbers helped ease some of the stress from Leland’s shoulders.

The house stood at the opposite end of the cliff top from the elevator leading down to the main island. It ringed the northern edge, curving in a half moon to match the curve of the cliff. The house was two storeys high and spread out over several hundred feet in length. The cliff top was five acres and the house used up half of that space.

Their host took them in through the main entrance and guided them along a marble hallway. The pale cream tiles shone like a mirror. After several minutes he finally reached the door to a suite of rooms. Pushing it open, he swept his hand out in a grand gesture, allowing Leland to precede him into the room.

“You will have full use of these rooms while you are in residence. Your staff can go to the servant’s quarters at the northeast end of the complex. Entertainment has been flown in and will begin in a few hours. You’ll want time to refresh yourself after your flight, I’m sure. I will send someone to show you the way to the lounge.”

Once their host had taken his leave, Ingram entered the room and explored the offerings. The suite held three bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom the size of his apartment back home. The main living area was sectioned off into several groupings. A full bar was tucked into one corner, next to the hot tub.

Ingram picked the first bedroom to the left of the main door and dumped his bags on the bed. “Since we both know I’m not your servant, I’ll be staying in here and you’ll be taking me with you for that entertainment.”

Leland nodded, taking his belongings to the only bedroom to the right of the main door. The largest of the three rooms, it had a king-size bed, a 400-square-foot walk-in closet, Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom and a private mini bar. The décor was too opulent for his tastes, running to velvet bed coverings and satin drapery in a deep navy blue with gold trim.

Dismissing his guards for the night, Ingram headed for the shower. He’d slept on the plane and didn’t feel tired, but he needed to bathe. He’d been drenched in sweat the instant he’d stepped from the plane. He would take an hour to relax and get ready for the evening. He didn’t want to be late. He found he was very curious to see what these old guys considered ‘entertainment’.

***

Parker thanked Gavin for getting her out of the hot zone. As she was heading for the front door a young boy raced in and pushed past her to get to Gavin. He was chattering a mile a minute in the native tongue and Parker had no hope of following it. His agitation quickly transferred to Gavin and Parker waited for him to clarify the issue.

‘You promise me you will help this tourist?” Gavin demanded.

Parker understood immediately. “You know where Donovan is?”

“He is in danger,” Gavin whispered.

“Tell me where he is. I can’t help him if I don’t know what he’s facing.”

“One of Zaum’s men found him as he was making his way to the docks. A fisherman who owed me a debt has promised to get Mr. Donovan to the island.”

Parker headed for the door. “Take me to him.”

Gavin raced ahead of her and led the way out the door. He set a quick pace through the alleys. Once they were away from his place, Parker contacted Simon.

“Donovan was seen trying to get to the docks. The soldiers on the island are led by a man named Zaum.”

“Where are you?” Simon asked.

“I’m headed for the docks.”

“I’ll meet you there.”

Parker wondered, briefly, who else would meet them there, but had to push the thought from her head as Gavin picked up the pace. He was quick and she had to watch carefully or risk tripping over debris littering the alleys. As they neared the main road, Parker gained enough speed to come alongside Gavin. She could see the anguish on his face.

“You’ll do as I say, Gavin,” Parker ordered. She didn’t want to have to worry about his safety if Zaum’s men started shooting.

Gavin ignored her and continued running toward the docks.

Her peripheral vision caught sight of three others running toward the docks about two hundred yards away. Too far away to hit. Just as she thought it, bullets hit the pavement directly behind her feet. Parker reached over, grabbed Gavin by the shirt and pushed him down behind a line of cars.

“What are you doing? We have to get to the docks.”

“The man in the trees will kill us before we ever get there. We’ll have to be careful not to step into his line of sight. Stay directly in front of me and keep low.”

Gunshots from up ahead spurred them on. Gavin had no trouble hunching down behind the cars, weaving in and out as he worked his way closer to the docks. Parker kept looking over her shoulder to see if the three guys were getting too close. The sniper could be anywhere.

“Parker, where are you?” Simon whispered in her ear.

“Directly south of the shooting,” she replied, using the flashes of light as a guide. “I’ve got a kid with me, guiding me in and there’s a sniper in the trees.”

“I can see more guys coming in from the west. Friend or foe?” he asked.

“Foe, they’re Zaum’s men.”

“I’ll take care of them,” Simon said. “You get to Donovan.”

Almost immediately she watched one of the three men fall and the other two immediately took cover. The docks were just ahead. The marina was packed full of fishing boats mixed with sailboats and small speedboats. The shooting seemed to be concentrated amongst the fishing boats. Parker couldn’t see Donovan yet, but assumed he was hunkered down, seeking cover.

Zaum’s man stood up and for a moment one of the marina lights illuminated him as he took careful aim at his target. Parker stopped, corrected her aim and fired. Gavin instinctively ducked at the sound of gunfire right near his back. Parker’s bullet tore through the soldier’s shoulder, weakening his arm. He dropped his gun and she heard the splash as it fell off the dock into the water. Racing up the dock, heedless of the sniper in the trees, Parker stepped up alongside the wounded soldier. He was frantically trying to remove another gun from his coat with his left arm.

Stepping in front of Gavin to block his view, Parker pressed her gun against the man’s temple and pulled the trigger. Quickly surveying the area, Parker leaned down and pulled her pack from her back. Taking the extra weapon from the soldier’s coat she tucked it into an outside pocket. Gavin had already moved off the main dock, down one of the side paths.

Pivoting to follow, Parker felt the burn of a bullet as it dug a groove across her back. Hissing out a breath, she ducked down behind a large barrel. The smell of gasoline assaulted her nose. Studying the words on the side of the barrel, her eyes widened as she read the English translation. Gasoline. Highly flammable.

Stepping away quickly, Parker had only moved a few feet from the barrel when a bullet pierced its casing. Flames leaped up as the gasoline spewed. Liquid hit her in the back, burning her already stinging wound. Parker leapt over the edge of the dock and dove into the water.

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