Excerpt from The Hitman Chronicles: Nikira, Kevin & Simone
The Hitman Chronicles: Nikira and Kevin
Linden, New Jersey
“So you’re not afraid?” Nikira asked.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Kevin said, though his heart trip-hammered.
“Are you afraid of death?”
Kevin stared up into her dark eyes. He was determined not to show her fear. His gut told him that that would only make things worse – that she would feed on his fear. “We’ll all die sometime,” he said. “No point in getting worked up over it.”
“Ah, but you would say that,” she said. “Look at you – you’re a cripple. Worse, you’re not even a whole man. What does that feel like, hmm? What does it feel like to not be able to do that which God intended, to be fruitful and multiply?”
She smiled at him and leaned closer, and placed her hand between his legs. She brushed her lips against the side of his face, until her mouth was near his ear.
Kevin tensed and gripped the arms of his wheelchair.
“Tell me, what does it feel like to be half a man?” she whispered.
He could see her arm moving, could sense her hand in his crotch manipulating him, though he could feel nothing. He grabbed the wheels of his chair and shoved himself back and away from her.
She smiled at him, a smile as cruel as any he’d ever seen. “What a pity. You couldn’t even feel that. It’s what most men yearn for, but God has denied you that pleasure. No wonder you don’t want to live.”
“Go to hell!”
“God has cursed you,” she said, stepping close and leaning over him again. “That’s why you don’t care about life…because you have no life.” Nikira clicked her tongue and shook her head, feigning pity. “Oh, you poor little helpless half a man.”
He swung at her, putting all his strength and speed behind a punch aimed at her head.
But she was gone. One instant she was leaning over him in his wheelchair, her mocking face just inches from his, and the next she was halfway across the room. His fist cut through empty air. How did she move so fast?
Nikira threw her head back and laughed. “Oh, that’s just beautiful. Don’t you want to come after me? Do you want to get up from that cripple’s chair and hurt me? It must be so frustrating for you; your legs are as useless as your cock.”
Kevin’s voice shuddered with emotion as he said, “Just do what you came here to do and get it over with.”
Nikira’s smile snapped off. “Okay, then tell me where he is.”
“I told you, I don’t know the man.”
From out of nowhere a knife appeared in Nikira’s hand. Its six-inch blade gleamed in the low light. “Oh, but you do know the man. You know Duncan Gray very well, I’m sure. And you’re going to tell me where he is.”
She placed the blade tight against his throat. Kevin sat silent, waiting. If this was to be the end, then so be it. He wouldn’t betray his friend, no matter what.
“You know, I could kill you,” Nikira said. “But I think that’s what you want. You want to be free from your pathetic, worthless life. But there’s no fun in that for me. I think instead I should finish God’s work.”
She moved the knife around, until the tip of its blade pressed into the back of his neck.
She said, “What I could do instead is complete your paralysis. One little cut and you’ll become a full-fledged paraplegic – no legs, no arms, nothing but a brain on a worthless husk of a body. How would you like that, hmm?”
Kevin felt the cold finger of fear touch him now. Beads of sweat blossomed on his forehead and burst, sliding down his face.
Nikira smiled at him. “Yes, now we have something interesting to talk about, don’t we? Now you have a choice. You can tell me where Duncan is, and I’ll give you what you desire and kill you quickly. Or you can resist me, and after I’ve tortured the half of you that’s still alive, I’ll leave you with nothing – nothing but a nightmare life of helpless dependency.”
She pressed the tip of the blade into the flesh at the back of his neck. Kevin wasn’t sure if he felt blood or sweat trickling down his back.
Oh God, please have mercy on me.
He was afraid now. He wasn’t the man Kevin McAllister, owner of one of the largest technology companies in the country anymore. Once again he was that eight year-old boy, that skinny, terrified child in the wheelchair of the foster home in Long Branch. Once again his existence was filled with dread, with no hope for anything in life but pain and misery. But this time there was no escape. This time there was no Duncan Gray to come rescue him. This time the best thing he could hope for was a quick death. The other option was too horrible to contemplate.
To escape that horror, all he had to do was betray his best friend.
The Hitman Chronicles: Simone
Simone was a realist. She was twenty-one years old, and she knew that if she wasn’t yet an alcoholic, she was only about five minutes away from making her first “Hello, my name is” speech.
She left her apartment because the call from the bottle of gin on her kitchen counter had grown too strong for her to resist. She’d figured taking a nice long walk and getting some fresh air would be just the medicine the doctor ordered to help her fight her own personal demon tonight.
Her effort at sobriety proved futile because less than four hours after leaving her apartment, at just past midnight, she was exiting a local tavern accompanied by three college students – Americans like her – and she was soused to the gills. But hey, it wasn’t her fault; these guys had bought the drinks. She’d lost count of exactly how many after her third gin and tonic.
Simone staggered down the sidewalk between two of the students on her way with them to their hotel room. She vaguely recalled promises she’d made to the trio back at the bar – promises of pleasures of the flesh borne of drunken boasts.
Somewhere in the alcohol-soaked recesses of her brain a warning tried to give voice, but she couldn’t focus on that thought. She couldn’t call it up to a place where it made sense.
She weaved between two of the young men, gripping their muscled shoulders so she wouldn’t stumble and collapse to the cobblestone sidewalk. She floated along on their strength and smiled to herself, basking in her drunkenness, enjoying the feeling of comfort that in the past year she’d come to find only at the bottom of a bottle or glass.
They could do what they wanted with her; she didn’t care. It was only her body, and it didn’t matter. What mattered was the warm protection provided to her mind by the blanket of booze that enveloped it. Yes, that’s what mattered. That was the only thing that mattered.
The third student – the black guy – walked behind them. He smacked her booty as she walked between his two companions. She smiled back over her shoulder at him, and then glanced back and forth between the two on either side – one blonde, the other dark-haired, and remembered the catch line from some old school cop show about three young detectives: One black, one white, and one blonde.
For some reason that struck her as hilarious, and she broke out in a fit of uncontrolled tear-filled laughter. The guys laughed along with her.
That little sane voice drowning somewhere in the sea of liquor warned her that they were only playing along, that their only interest in her was to get her back to their hotel so that they might do all the things their lusty hearts and bodies desired…all the things she’d promised back in the bar. It hadn’t been the first time she’d made such promises, and it wouldn’t be the first time she’d kept them. She’d had a lot of fun in Paris.
A middle-aged woman passed them going in the opposite direction. The woman’s eyes locked on hers, and in them Simone saw concern and compassion. There was something about the woman’s eyes – maybe that look of motherly concern – that made her stop in her tracks and stop laughing.
The voice of sanity finally broke through the fog of alcohol. This was wrong. She shouldn’t be doing this, not tonight. She shouldn’t be doing this because it did matter.
“Hey, is everything all right?” the blonde boy asked.
She looked at him, forcing her eyes to focus. He was frowning at her, trying to display an expression of concern. She compared his eyes to those of the woman who’d just passed, and knew that his face was a lie. He didn’t care about her. He only wanted one thing.
The dark-haired one tugged at her arm, and not too gently. “Come on,” he said. “It’s not much farther.”
“Wait,” she heard herself say.
“Wait for what?” the brother behind her asked.
She turned back to him, hopeful that perhaps he would be the one to show compassion and understanding to a sister.
“I think I’d better just go on home,” she said. “I need to sleep this off.”
“Oh no, that’s bullshit,” the brother spat. “We’ve been hanging with you the whole night, spending our cash on you.”
“Yeah, you owe us,” the blonde said.
“Look guys, I just want to go home, okay?”
“No, it’s not okay,” the dark-haired one said. He grabbed her arm again, even harder this time, and pulled her off the sidewalk toward an adjoining alley. “You could’ve had it nice in our room, but since you want to play games we’ll get it right here.”
He swung her hard into the darkness, and Simone gasped as her back slammed into the alley’s brick wall.
They were pushing and pulling at her now, all three of them, moving her farther back into the darkness as they uttered their intentions.
The fog of drunkenness lay thick over her brain, but instinct took over. The dark-haired one still gripped her arm. She grasped his fingers and forced them back, bending until he cried out, “Ow, you bitch!” and let her go.
If she hadn’t been drunk, the blonde never would have been able to hit her. But her awareness and reflexes were dulled by the gin, and he punched her hard in the side of the head before she even saw it coming.
She was only out for a minute. When she regained consciousness she was down on her back in the alley, and the black guy was kneeling over her, yanking her panties down over her shoes.
She kept her eyes slitted and waited, and felt him position himself between her legs. He unsnapped his pants and pushed them down, then pushed her legs open and positioned himself over her.
Simone jerked her legs up and slammed them together, catching the brother’s hard dick between her kneecaps like a like a bear trap snapping shut.
He howled and rolled off her, and she was up on her feet in an instant. The blonde was coming at her. She saw him this time, and met his charge with a side kick to his chest. She tried to drive her foot through him. She wanted to feel it tear between his lungs and push his heart out through his back. She had to settle for him flying backward into the brick wall. She heard his head smack against the bricks with a dull thud, and he crumpled to the ground.
The dark-haired one called her a bitch again and rushed her from behind. She was ready for his assault. She was running on autopilot, her uncle’s training overriding the effects of the alcohol.
Simone caught him with a spinning back fist, knocking him off balance. She didn’t wait to see if he would fall. Her uncle taught her to never wait, to never give a target a chance to find a way out. She went after him, delivering a kick to the side of his knee intended to destroy cartilage and tear loose ligaments. His scream told her that she’d accomplished her goal.
She turned back to the black guy, who lay whimpering on the ground, grasping his crushed privates. She spun him onto his back and glared down at him.
A brother. He should have been looking out for her, instead of teaming up with these bastards to rape her.
His pain-stricken face swam in and out of her drunken vision. Simone forced herself to focus and started punching.
“Are you all right, Mademoiselle?” Michael, the night doorman asked.
“I’m fine Mikey, and how are you?”
Simone tried to sound sober, but her words sounded slurred even to herself. It didn’t help that that the sidewalk in front of her apartment building suddenly tilted, making her stumble forward into the surprised doorman’s arms.
He caught her before she cracked her head on the sidewalk. To show her gratitude she vomited on his highly polished shoes and passed out.
Michael helped her to the elevator and up to her apartment. As he carried her down the hall she woke up and muttered slurred apologizes about his shoes.
“Do not worry, Mademoiselle,” Michael said. “They will clean. Do you have your key?”
He carried her into her apartment and placed her on her bed, wrapping the bedcovers over her. Such a shame, he thought. The girl had no one to turn to – no one to care for her and take care of her. She only had alcohol and men. That was no way for one so young to live.
Simone lay on her side, waiting for the boat that used to be her bed to stop tossing on the ocean that used to be her bedroom. She heard Michael close her apartment door. She tossed the covers aside, ready to bolt to the bathroom if another wave of nausea struck.
Her mother’s photo sat on the nightstand – a picture taken before she was destroyed by cancer. In the photo she was the picture of health, smiling at the unseen camera. Even in the photo her eyes twinkled with life and vitality.
The woman she passed on the street tonight had eyes like her mother’s. That’s why the woman had affected her so. She hadn’t realized it at the time, but it had been as if her mom were watching her through the eyes of a stranger.
Simone closed her eyes and whispered, “I’m sorry mommy,” and drifted away.
The insistent jangling of the phone dragged Simone up out of unconsciousness. She groaned and turned over. The movement sent a spike of agony through her brain and she groaned louder.
She squinted at the nightstand clock. It read 3:30 in the morning. Who would call her at this hour?
The phone screamed again, sending a new blast of pain through her head. She answered it in self defense.
“Bonjour?” she croaked into the mouthpiece. Her mouth felt as if it were stuffed with cotton that had been soaked in sewage.
“Simone? Is that you?”
“Yes baby, it’s me. How’ve you been?”
“I’m…I’m fine. Kev, it’s three-thirty in the morning here…”
“I know. Sorry Simone, but this is important. You need to come home.”
For the moment the agony of her hangover was replaced by the dread in her heart. “Is…is everything okay? Is he all right?”
“Yes, he’s okay right now. But someone is after him. Someone dangerous.”
Someone? That didn’t make sense. There wasn’t any single someone who could fuck with him. But if Kevin said it was serious, then it must be.
Simone sat up, wincing against the throbbing in her brain that was trying to kill her. “Where is he now?”
“I don’t want to say over the phone. He’s pissed off, but he’s different. He’s acting like this is some serious shit.”
Simone tried to gather her thoughts, tried to put together what Kevin was telling her.
“Kevin, who’s after him?”
“Look, just get home as soon as you can okay? We’ll talk then.”
“Are you okay, Kev? You sound funny…”
“Just get here Simone, okay?”
“Okay…I’ll be on a plane home tomorrow.”
“Cool baby. Have you been keeping yourself together?”
“Um, of course I have. I’m always ready. That’s what he taught me – to be ready for every contingency. I’ll call you when I get there, Kev.”
Her right hand ached. Simone flexed it, and determined that it wasn’t broken. But her knuckles were ripped and bloody. She had a vague recollection of punching the black guy, and in her drunken state sometimes missing and pounding the cobblestone floor of the alley. She hoped she hadn’t killed him.
She staggered out of her bedroom into the kitchen. The bottle of gin was waiting for her on the counter where she’d left it when she ran out of her apartment to escape the temptation. She grabbed the bottle and cracked the seal and opened it, and holding her hand over the sink, poured the clear liquid over her damaged knuckles. She winced and hissed through her teeth as the alcohol burned and disinfected her wounds.
That done, Simone looked at the bottle, considering. After a moment’s contemplation she emptied the rest down the drain.
Simone Gray stripped out of her alley-soiled clothes and headed for the shower, stretching her muscles like a cat as she walked.
It was time to get it together. Uncle Duncan needed her. He was her only family, and whatever battle he had to fight was hers as well.