by John Nation
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
|Wallace ‘Igor’ Lichen waited for his next patient. For six days he waited. Even though he was idle, he was not bored. He read his journals about previous patients to pass the time. As he sat at the kitchen table, he would jerk and twitch. Unconsciously one of his hands and then the other would move, duplicating the actions he made when he inflicted his tortures. He uttered little grunts and sighs, and occasionally, partial sentences, too low to be understood by Alex Whitingham, the only other occupant of the house at the time.
Whitingham paid no attention to Igor. He had greater problems than a deranged psychotic at the moment. It had been four days since the Colonel and his band of mercenaries had gone after the Sheriff and the ones with him. The Colonel should have been back by now, turning over the bound and helpless Sheriff to him. The only reason he would not be here by now was because he and his band of paid killers were dead. He realized there was far more to the people he was after than met the eye.
He stopped his pacing and sat down as he weighed his options. To this point, Samuel Robinson Sr. had not pestered him much about when he would complete his assignment. Robinson was experienced enough in these matters to realize that sometimes it took time to arrive at the desired results. He did not think his employer would be patient too much longer.
He could take the sixty million dollars Robinson set aside for costs associated with capturing the Sheriff. He would disappear and live a life of luxury. It was the one option he did not want to use. Not only would he have to hide from Robinson and the enormous bounty that would be placed on his head, the people that knew and respected him for who he truly was would think of him as a coward. His reputation was as important to him as the money paid for the successfully completion of a contract.
He would dip into the funds set aside for him, but instead of using them to hide away forever, he would hire more killers. He would flood the county with them. There would be so many that by pure chance, one of them would encounter the Sheriff and his bodyguards. That person would either kill one of them or at least inform the others where they hid. From that point on, he would send wave after wave of killers after them. Eventually, one of them would succeed.
He sat motionless for almost an hour as he considered one more option. The Assassin. Rumors circulated among certain sets about this person. For almost a decade he believed he was only a myth, a story created to scare people like him. He discovered The Assassin was real when he was contracted six years ago to take out a certain target. This person was well protected. He spent five weeks gathering his team and making preparations to fulfill his contract. That evening, over two dozen men left to take up their positions. He expected about a fifty percent casualty rate among his people. He reached his observation point and pulled out binoculars to study the place he was to attack.
He saw at once he was too late. Emergency vehicles surrounded the house. A dozen bodies lay scattered on the ground. They were guards that lost their live trying to protect the occupant. The Assassin had accomplished by himself what Alex Whitingham was not certain his entire team could do.
He picked up his telephone and started the process of contacting The Assassin.
Alex Whitingham was not the only one concerned with the time it was taking to complete his task. Lyle Montgomery had pledged to place the contract for the parcel of land Samuel Robinson needed in his hands within three weeks. That time was now almost halfway over. When he made the statement, he believed he was giving himself plenty of lead time for any unforeseen problems. He would never have thought there could be so many unforeseen problems as he had encountered.
He dropped the Houston paper on his dining table. There were two stories competing with each other for space in the paper. One story was about over a dozen gang members found decapitated and mutilated in one of the city parks. At least in that case, a rival gang was the primary suspects. The other told of five jet mechanics found dead in a hanger at the edge of the city. That slaughter was not blamed on a gang and the police gave it top priority. Something else about these killing was strange. The people killed in the park were members of the gang he sent to kill Miranda. The five men killed at the hanger were the ones he paid to sabotage the aircraft that came close to killing her. Two separate groups of people had threatened Miranda. Before thirty hours passed, they were all dead. He did not yet know how she accomplished all she did, but she had some power that he had not yet figured out.
Miranda Skinner had to have a weakness and he had twelve days remaining to find it and exploit it.
Stan Chitwood entered the restaurant and waited for his employer. As he did every time, he tried to spot her before she reached him. As in every other case, he failed.
“Hi, Stan,” Miranda said as she stood at his side. Sara was next to her.
“You have to teach me how to do that,” Stan said. “If I could be that sneaky, I could get you a lot more information,” he said hopefully.
“You are doing great already, Stan. Leave the sneaking up on people to Sara and me.”
The two women took their seats and Miranda asked, “What new items have you discovered since we left you?”
“Quite a bit actually,” Stan stated as he handed a folder to both Miranda and Sara. “We will start with Montgomery first since he is the one I was originally called on to investigate. As we speak, he is in the same hotel room he has used since I first located him. I have a man there keeping watch over him.
“Montgomery seemed highly distressed at a couple of newspaper articles. If you look at the front of the folders I gave you, you will see the stories that have upset him so much. The man he met with, Chase Schmidt, was killed along with four members of his crew. The police have not released much information about that case, but I have discovered it was a blood bath. Schmidt was found hanging on a hook used to lift jet engines away from the wings of the aircraft. The other four were also butchered. On the other side of town, that gang he hired met a similar fate.”
“This town is getting too violent,” Miranda said as she placed the news stories away.”
“Yes,” Stan agreed. “Montgomery has been holed away in his room most of the time since these incidents. He stays on the phone almost all the time. I would tap it, but as I told you, he has equipment that would let him know the second we did that. He would go someplace else to operate from. He would not lose us in his move, but I don’t need the hassle.”
“No, I understand you cannot tap his phone,” Miranda said.
“I pay the maid each day a tidy sum to look around his room when she cleans it. I haven’t had a lot of success there, because whenever she goes in the room, he puts all his papers in the desk drawer and sits in front of it until she leaves.”
“I could get in and get anything he has in the desk,” Sara volunteered.
“That’s okay,” Miranda said while patting her hand. “We will leave it to Stan to take care of it.”
“Yes, I agree that will be best,” Stan said.
He continued with his briefing. “Now, I have told you what I have not found out, let me tell you what I have. You were correct about Robinson. He is the one paying for Montgomery’s services. It appears the flower shop you own is in the middle of an area of land he needs to erect a skyscraper. Once he has that tract, he can begin construction.”
“That would explain the sudden interest shown in the shop,” Miranda said.
“Yes. If he gets the land, he will build the tallest building in the world. Already firemen and other security experts are pestering the mayor and the governor that the risks for a building that size are too large to accept. Robinson has the cash and political clout to squash their complaints. The only thing in his way is you. With that said, would you like to hear my theory on who is out to kill you?”
“No, I believe I can figure that one out myself.”
“Miranda, you are rich, but you don’t even have a twentieth of the money he has. If he is willing to go for broke, he may be able to hire more thugs than you can defenders. It is not my place to butt into you financial affairs, but why not sell him the land? You would make a huge profit and at the same time eliminate a major danger.”
“I appreciate the concern, but as you know from personal experience, I am capable of taking care of myself.”
“Yes, I am well aware of that. I only wanted to present an option.”
As he gathered his papers to leave, Stan said, “I don’t know if this means anything to you in this present case, but Robinson lost his sons last week in Missoula, Montana. Wasn't that the place I sent a bunch of documents a few years ago when I was spying on you instead of working for you?”
“Yes it is. Do not let it concern you. I have other assets there taking care of any problems that may arise.”