by John Nation
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
|'Where is the Sheriff?' Alex Whitingham asked the four men in front of him. 'You were supposed to have him with you when you returned.'
'We had some complications,' one of the men stated. 'Two people with him started coming towards us. It doesn't make any sense they spotted us. We were a hundred feet away parked against the curb. We were not doing a thing to draw attention to ourselves. We could not take the chance that somehow they did notice us. There had to be a couple of dozen people around and we did not want to make a scene. We will get another car and tail him again. Next time we will stay even further back. The first time he is by himself, we'll snatch him and bring him here.'
'Do not fail me again.' Whitingham warned. 'I am a lenient man and will let the blunder go by this time. If the next time you come back you do not have him with you, I will let Igor practice his magic on one of you.'
All four men started to sweat at the prospect of 'Igor' having them bound and helpless. Igor was the name people call Wallace Lichen when he was working. He was a psychotic who loved torturing people. There were many people that enjoyed torturing others, but Wallace had a special talent. Along with agonizing and gut wrenching pain, he also had the ability to keep them from dying. At least until he wanted them to. He knew when to pull away and give them time to recuperate before continuing his work. If he felt his victim going into shock, he got them out of it. He forced them to eat and drink to keep up their strength so they could scream loudly for the cameras and tape recorders. There were cases where he hooked IVs to keep them alive.
Wallace 'Igor' Lichen was disappointed his work would have to wait, but he would make use of the additional time. He hammered nails into the wall. On these nails he hung knifes, saws, chains, screwdrivers and other assorted items movies showed as being used to torture people. He would never use anything as crude as the items he placed for show. Those things would kill a person much too quickly. They were only there to add to the psychological terror his victim would have. The tools he used to inflict agony were much smaller. They did not do as much damage to the body, but inflicted far more pain. Igor was a man who enjoyed his work.
Lyle Montgomery was grinning from ear to ear after he hung up on Miranda. It had been several years since anyone had dared to challenge him so openly. He scoffed at the idea of Miranda making good on her threat. He did not meet with the arsonist personally, using a third party to pay him off so if by chance the arsonist was captured, he could not identify him. It was a pity about the worker in the flower shop dying, but these things happened and he would not lose sleep over it.
He was delighted that Samuel Robinson Sr. had told him to destroy Miranda. That was a task he looked forward to. She was getting ready to sell her shop in only days. She just did not realize that yet.
The second half of his assignment was to destroy her financially. He was well aware of her different holdings she took great pains to conceal. He would start with the easiest first. She had several thousand acres of cattle ground in West Texas. He picked the phone back up and started making calls. The first was to the right people to handle the problem in West Texas. The next was to see if he could take care of her immediately and not have to worry with the half year it could take to ruin her financially. If he could arrange it, Miranda would be in a fatal accident. Then he could deal with her estate. It would be simple enough to get them to do as he wanted.
Samuel Robinson Sr. was back in his office. He was in a foul mood and had been so since he found out about the death of his sons two days ago. Their bodies had arrived earlier that morning and were at the mortuary where they would stay until the funeral tomorrow. For the first time in over thirty years he wept as he gazed at them stretched out on the steel slabs. Never had he hated anyone as much as he did Sheriff Rick Johnson. When the CDs showing his slow death arrived, he would play them over and over with the volume turned to full blast so he could hear every nuance of his screams. He would play it so many times it would be burned into his mind so he could live it in his dreams.
The only thing that eased his torment was looking at the model of his soon to be tallest building in the world. The model itself cost over four hundred thousand dollars. It was seven feet tall, its walls a solid glass surface starting at the second story and going all the way up to the three hundred sixtieth floor, the floor that would be his office. The roof over his head came to a point. The model could be taken apart, revealing the lavish interior. There would be over forty-two hundred offices and businesses, each paying top dollar to lease a part of his building. And pay they would. Along with the construction crew that would build his tower, there would be a second, smaller unit. Lyle Montgomery had formed this group of workers and they would be doing work the FBI and SEC would frown upon. Each office would be bugged with the latest practically impossible to find monitoring devices. They would be an integral part of the electrical, plumbing and air conditioning. They were so advanced that all the equipment now available for detecting spying devices would be useless. The most modern counter surveillance systems would not find them.
He would sit in his office and watch and listen as boards of directors and leaders of industry planned for the future. He would invest in companies with breakthrough ideas while they were in their infancy. He would buy so much of their stock while it was cheap he would be a majority shareholder and get the majority profits.
If only his sons could be with him. They complained to him constantly that he directed their every move and controlled them as if they were puppets and he was the puppeteer. Perhaps he had been, but it had only been for their good. They had not realized he had been molding them, shaping them into men that could take command and lead. If they could have waited seven more years, until about the time his building was finished, strong men would have quaked in their presence. Governors and Senators would have called them for advice. Judges would seek their opinion on how to rule in a case. They would sit at the heads of companies, directing what paths they would take. All that was in front of them by the time they turned thirty. The world would be theirs.
The only world laying ahead for them now was the cemetery lot where they would be laid to rest. There would not be much there for them to control. He anxiously awaited the call from Alex Whitingham telling him how he was progressing with the murdering Sheriff.
Alex Whitingham was not calling his employer telling him how he was progressing because to this point, he had no one to talk about. Once more after their first failure, his men returned empty handed. When they pleaded their case to him the second time, saying the man with the Sheriff spotted them every time they got close, he was sympathetic and all smiles. Then he told each of them to pick a number between one and a hundred. He held several thousand dollars in his hand as he gave the command.
Each of the four gave a number, staring at the cash as they did.
'The number I selected was seventy-two. You picked seventy-five,' Alex said to one of the men. 'You are the closest to the number I picked.' He held the cash to the winner.
When the man reached for it, Alex's other hand flashed out, holding a Taser he jammed into the man's neck. Fifty thousand volts knocked him unconscious.
'Pick him up and secure him to the table,' Alex ordered the other three. He dropped the cash and reached into his coat. His hand came back out holding a pistol he pointed in their direction.
'Mr. Lichen. I have a small task for you.'
Wallace came in from the back room where he had been sharpening his instruments. When he saw the man clamped on the table, he began to smile.
'If you please, I need you to make an example of this gentleman. I hate to rush, but it needs to be quick, no more than three hours before he's dead.'
'Three hours is short, but I can accomplish a lot in that time,' Wallace stated.
The other three men turned to leave the room, but stopped when Alex pointed the gun at them once more. 'Do me the honor of staying and watching the show. Mr. Lichen enjoys an audience.'
As 'Igor' left to retrieve his tools, Alex said, 'I cannot have you think I am a liar. When last we spoke about failure, I promised you if you failed a second time, I would give one of you to Wallace. Now you can see I am a man of my word. You three will stand against the wall, not moving, not speaking and not interfering. I believe it would be educational for you to see firsthand what a professional Mr. Lichen really is.'
Igor walked in at that moment, carrying a large case he placed on a desk. Instead of blue jeans and t-shirt, he was now dressed in hospital greens. He opened his case and brought out his first item. It was a scalpel. He moved to the table and brought the knife down. Then, instead of slicing his victim, he started cutting away his clothes. Five minutes later, the man was naked. Igor put the scalpel down and picked up a spiral notebook. He took a magic marker and wrote in big letters on the cover, '219'. He put the notebook aside and turned to his spectators and addressed them as if he was a college professor and they were his favorite students.
'The first thing I always do is insure their eyes are always watching. It is so important they see what is coming. He pulled the eyelids on his victim open and placed tape over them so they could not shut. Once that was done he said, 'It is imperative to start slow. So many amateurs rush the work, slashing the person and punching holes in him. For five to perhaps ten minutes they might get a few screams, but their guest bleeds out so fast that soon the work is over. I begin with the basics. You would be amazed at what toothpicks can do.' He opened a box of toothpicks and pulled several out. He held them out so the people looking on could see them. 'What is your name, sir?' he asked the man stretched out before him.
'His name is Branson,' one of the men said while pushing himself as far against the wall as he could.
'Did I speak to you?' Igor shouted. 'If I want to hear words from your mouth, I will talk with you. If you are so impolite to interrupt me again, your tongue will be nailed on the wall next to the chains. It will add a little spice.'
He glared at the man for several more seconds before returning his attention back to his worktable. 'Now where were we before we were so rudely interrupted? Oh, yes. You were going to tell me your name.'
'I'm Branson. Please don't hurt me. I have a wife and kids.'
'Branson,' Igor said as he wrote his name in the notebook. 'For their sake, I do hope your insurance is paid up and your will is made out, for in three hours you will be dead. Over those three hours, you and I are going to work together. I keep a journal on all I do. I get feedback from those I work with so I can always improve. It is important that you tell me how much something hurts. If you would, please rate it on a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest agony.'
'I got money. Let me go and I'll give it to you. I have almost forty thousand dollars. Every penny of it is yours.'
'Thank you, Branson,' Igor said. 'You have given me a starting point for interrogation.' He moved to the end of the table and grabbed one of Branson's feet. 'You will not believe me, but it will be to your benefit to remain still. The more you move, the more this will hurt.' He took the toothpicks and slowly pushed them under Branson's toenails.
Branson's screams echoed off the walls. One of the men up against the wall tried to run out of the room, but when Alex put the barrel of the gun against his head and pulled back the trigger, remained in place.
It took almost ten minutes before Igor finished. Each nail had two toothpicks in it. He faced his audience. 'As you can see, already we have achieved a small measure of success. Branson is seeing the first inkling of what remains of his future. The good part about this phase of our work is that we have done nothing life threatening to him, but with only a touch, we can elicit more screams. Observe.'
Igor gently touched a toothpick. He smiled at the scream coming from Branson. 'This is a ready means of regaining his attention if he should start to drift away. Let me demonstrate.' He tapped the end of each toothpick. The screams of pain from Branson only stopped when he inhaled to gain breath to scream again.
Igor picked up the notebook and pen. 'Branson, on our scale of one to ten, how would you rate toothpick in the toenails?'
'TEN, TEN, TEN.' Branson screamed.
'Really? I honestly believe it is only a two, I will go ahead and jot your estimation down, but after another hour or two, after you have more experience with pain and can gauge better, we will come back and get a second opinion from you. I think the next time you tell me how it hurts, it will be far more accurate.'
Branson's hands were tied to the table in a way making it impossible to make a fist. Leather straps held each finger straight. Toothpicks were pushed under the fingernails next.
'Now, which hurts the most, the toes or the fingers?'
When Branson did not answer, Igor said to his spectators, 'This happens a lot at first. My patient thinks his silence will give me pause. He is attempting to retain some small measure of control. Let me demonstrate how he does not have any at all. Please, if you would, listen closely.'
Igor flicked his finger against first one of Branson's toes and listened to the scream. Next he touched one of the toothpicks in one of his index fingers. After Branson finally stopped screaming, Igor asked, 'Which do you think carried the most volume, the toes or the fingers?'
When at first no one answered, Igor walked towards them with toothpicks in his hand.
'His fingers!' one of the men shouted.
'Thank you,' Igor said as he returned to the table. 'That was my observation also.' He picked up his notebook and wrote in it. He faced Branson and flicked his finger onto the end of a toothpick, pushing it a hundredth of an inch deeper.
'Branson, from now on you will answer all my inquiries immediately. If not, I will keep doing this.' He tapped two more toothpicks. 'Will you cooperate with me now?' he asked.
'YES, I'LL ANSWER EVERYTHING!' Branson shouted.
'Excellent.' He faced his spectators. 'As you can see, in only minutes we have determined who is in charge and who is not in charge.'
He made another entry into his notebook. When he finished, he put it back on the desk and said, 'Normally I drag phase one out for several hours, getting acquainted with my patient and letting them get to know me. Since I only have three hours, I will have to rush. For phase two, I generally start with acids.' He pulled out a bottle and showed them.
Igor got the name of the bank where Branson kept his money and the location he kept the key to the safety deposit box. Again he turned to his class. 'See, there is nothing they will not tell me, and it took only a half hour for him to let me in on his secrets.'
Two hours later, the three men against the wall were ordered to remove the mutilated body of Branson and dispose of it. While they unfasten the straps, Alex said to Wallace, 'That took three hours of your time. Would it be possible to take a person six hours before he died?'
'Sir, once I took a person seven days. Six hours is nothing.'
Alex addressed the men hauling the body out. 'Hear that? If you should fail once more, the next one of you will spend six hours on the table instead of three. Imagine twice the pain for twice the time.'
The men carrying what was left of Branson almost dropped him at the thought. They would not fail again.