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Dead Blood - Part 1

The samba beats moved like rattlesnakes for their prey. It was a wild night, with a feverish pitch to the enjoyment. People were dancing as if their very lives depended on it – moving to a deadly beat that held them captive like prisoners of war. Rio de Janeiro was a wild city and this was a normal night. The beats rang like gunshots of madness. Or maybe those sounds were gunshots.

Two corpses fell to the ground. Each one had a definitive thud. The shells of the bullets that killed them fell to the ground as well. Then there was silence – if you forgot about the wild party going on. Blood slowly made its way out of the bodies, in the shadows. The dim light of the nearest street light wasn’t enough and neither was the light of the party. The sound was enough to cover that of the gunshots and that was all.

One figure stood solemnly in the shadows, scanning the corpses carefully. The figure wore a hat, like that worn by Dick Tracy and a long flowing coat to go with that. There was a slight breeze, enough to lift the coat by its lower edges. The blood was breaching the boundaries of darkness now. The liquid that emerged now was a mixture. An impure combination from the remains of two evils. Now the evils had gone and all that remained were two rotting corpses that were going to scare the hell out of the next person who saw them.

The figure stepped out of the shadows into the light where nothing but a silhouette outlining the face was visible. It was a man. He looked old, but not too old – probably 50 years old. His face had withered away with time, but not as badly as most men his age. His eyes were two tired orbs that had seen more of the world than they would have liked. If they had a choice now, they would have chosen to be blind from the very first day.

But now it was too late. Too much had been seen and there was too much left to see. More blood, more corpses. Maybe a smile somewhere along the way. There would definitely be the sight of a party in the middle of the road, for it was there right in front of him. All the colors; all the people; and all the invisible emotion.

However, there was going to be a rather sudden change to that itinerary. There would be bright lights … of police. And his ears would be subject to sirens. There would be more. The cars stopped near the alley and started scouring the area. There were more than 15 cops and they were breaking up the street party very quickly. The old man knew that something was wrong. He only wished he knew what exactly it was. He retreated to the shadows in case it wasn’t him that they were looking for. It couldn’t be him. This was a complete secret. No one knew except for him and the person who paid him … unless there was a leak. But who would leak the news? Certainly not him! Would his employer be responsible? It wasn’t possible. He’d be caught if the old man was.

The old man put those thoughts away to the back of his mind. His job now was to get out of there, alive and preferably in one piece. He wasn’t going to get caught by these amateurs. He hadn’t been caught in over 25 years and he wasn’t going to let it be a first time, just yet. He was old, but he had his wits and all the experience he needed to get out. And right now his experience told him to wait, watch and listen.

The cops spread out quickly and held their guns close to them, looking ready to shot at any moment, but in reality just too scared. If they were truly after him, his reputation had preceded this ambush. Yet he still couldn’t understand how on earth it could be an ambush. It was just impossible. He didn’t make mistakes. He was perfection. You didn’t survive as long as he did without achieving perfection.

The cops were now shouting among themselves, ordering each other where to look. The wind built up for one sustained fairly strong gust. The old man’s long coat was lifted by the wind and the old man realized it. There was just one problem there – a cop noticed as well. He kept quiet and beckoned to the others to look at his discovery. Suddenly, all the cops quietened down till there was no sound but the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves, trees and clanging old windows.

The old man noticed the silence and realized that he had been found. Now he had lost the choice of hiding in the shadows. He had to come out of the darkness and run. From an inner pocket, he slowly pulled out a small rectangular bar. He listened carefully and waited. He heard every footstep of the novice who had dared to come within five feet of him. He took a deep breath. It was time!

He turned around quickly, perhaps too quickly for any of the police. As he completed the turn, he threw the bar with lethal accuracy at his nearest adversary’s chest. The bar hit the man with the smallest side and, seemingly from out of nowhere, a blade escaped from the bar and plunged itself into the man’s heart. He shook for a second, before falling to the ground and lifting up the dust on his way down.

The other policemen had just about noticed what was happened and before they could realise that the old man was fleeing the site of the "crimes". Some of the smarter ones followed him with their eyes. But he was way too fast for them. They didn’t try to follow him. He was going to be caught. They had gone through this a million times and they were not going to waste this one chance at glory. The ones that stood alive, 14 of the policemen who arrived, stood still, staring at their dead compatriot and the mark that his murderer left in him.

 

The old man climbed up the fire escape of the building nearest to him. He sprinted up as fast as was possible for anyone, let alone a person of his age. He made it up 5 storeys in under a minute. When he reached the roof, he stood for a moment or two, to retrieve some lost breath. When he recovered, he looked around and then down the fire escape. No one was following him. Something was wrong with that. They knew where he had headed. Only one building had a fire escape and the alley had a dead end. It wouldn’t take them too long to catch him. Somehow this felt like a trap.

The old man turned around and carefully surveyed every detail of the building. He knew that there were no cops in the building. It had been condemned and he had personally inspected it before he started all this action. He scanned the skies. It was a cloudless night with more than a billion stars twinkling to the samba beat. He listened and tried to understand his surroundings. Something was missing. He didn’t know what. It all seemed too strange. And then it made sense and he jumped down to the ground as fast as he could.

Bullets flew across the building in hundreds and a few caught his wonderful hat and reduced it to shreds. There were so many bullets, counting them was as impossible as attempting to count the stars Each bullet flew over his head more as a demonstration in futility, each one failing in its original purpose. He thanked his lucky stars that there was a ledge to protect him. This ambush was getting too difficult and too well organized, thought the old man. This was going to be a long night – he could feel it deep down within his bones. He was being hunted down and he knew not how and why exactly. Of course, there were plenty of reasons that people would want to kill him about over the years, but he was careful. This was just too strange and "wrong" for him.

Once again, he cleared his mind and tried to plan an escape from his predicament. The bullets were still flying. There must have been more than 30 machine guns there, spewing bullets with no mercy for the guns or the roof that they were destroying. The old man realized that he had better crawl out of the way of the bullets before he could do anything else. He had lost his favorite hat. He didn’t want to lose anything else, especially not any body parts. So he tried to move under the cover of the ledge, but he noticed that the bullets were following him. They were using heat detectors. They could see him, even behind the ledge. This was too much technology. More than he had expected, at least. He had gotten out of worse situations, though. This was still not too tough for him.

He sat back against the ledge and studied the roof as carefully as he could. Anything could be detrimental to saving his life. And then he saw something. It was a set of pipes. There were two possibilities. It could be part of the dysfunction plumbing system of this building. Or it could be part of an a/c system. He was hoping that this was a condemned building with a/c. He needed it to survive. But the question was how he was going to get close enough to find out and use it.

Just then, a rather large "bullet" flew over his head leaving a trail of smoke in its wake. Two words came to his mind then – "Holy Shit!" He immediately turned his back to the "bullet" as it hit a wall on the roof. There was a huge explosion as the wall crumbled and the man felt the heat on his back. He turned around when the heat dissipated and turned his full attention back to the ambushers in the opposite building. The thought then struck him that their aim was not to kill him. They had plenty of chances to kill him – climbing up through the building or on the fire escape, firing their guns before he ducked. And the last chance they had was to fire the bazooka straight at him, seeing as they had tracked him down already.

There was silence. This is what the old man feared. He didn’t fear the bullets flying and the roof being blown apart. He feared this silence that had descended upon him. He was trapped for the first time in his life. This was too wrong for him to handle. Yet, he still had one freak of a chance and he was going to take it. He was prepared for situations like these. He pulled out a cigarette lighter and lit the flame. He stared at the flame for a second before he set his coat ablaze. That was going to be another coat down the drain.

He could sense that the people in the opposite building were startled by the sudden build-up of heat and in that moment, he stood up, screaming like a maniac, before he jumped off the roof to the ground below. The people on the other building stared down in utter disbelief. They had forgotten about their weapons and all their mission objectives. Now, they were stunned to silence.

The man flew to the ground faster than he believed it to be. And, then, with the agility of a cat and with the confidence of eight lives left, he somehow landed perfectly on his feet, without a scratch. As soon as he landed, he threw his coat off and ran out of the alley and onto the road.

The road was empty now. He presumed that the police down here had either joined his other adversaries or climbed up the building that he was on. All that remained on the ground were the three dead bodies and the flies that came for the feast. Some remains from the party were scattered here and there, but nothing more. However, his sole objective now was to run for his life. There wasn’t going to be any cabs around that he could pick up, especially after the events of the last few minutes.

 

The old man had been running for an hour. The stars were still up in the night sky. In a few more hours it would be morning and the sun would resume its assault on the earth below. And the old man would like to be sleeping around then. In his mind, thoughts of his escape and the series of events that took place floated around without meaning. He was confused, more than he had ever been. He had never been in such a situation before and the thought, that he might have been scared then, scared him now.

He stopped running for a minute to catch his breath. It had been a long night and there was still time left. He had a feeling that if they had planned to ambush him the way that they did, they would probably be following him or tracing his path. They wouldn’t let him go so easy. They shouldn’t let him go so easy.

He felt like smoking some grass. He had some in his hotel room and needed the drug. He was addicted and knew it. It was probably the marijuana that brought him nearer to his death. But he liked to ignore that for the few moments of pleasure and relief that he did get from smoking it in the first place.

He began running again, when this time, he heard the faint whirring sounds. It got louder with second, till he realized what the source was – a helicopter. It flew over his head with guns galore and a large searchlight. He knew it. It was getting stranger with every second that passed. He couldn’t understand what they really wanted and that was really all that irritated him

This time he was tired. His age was holding him back and so was his tired spirit. Yet he ran, on and on, though reluctantly. He wanted to stop, but it was more difficult than it seemed. Stopping meant tearing a piece of himself away. And he could not bear that much pain. All his thoughts were concentrated around why he shouldn’t stop running. And then he tore a piece of himself away.

He stood still and stared at the helicopter overhead. He was tired, confused and ready to die. But, all he wanted to know was why his pursuers were so persistent? How did they find out about his gig? What had he done to deem this chase? Those were his questions and his only fear was that they wouldn’t be answered.

The searchlight of the helicopter stopped around him. The light blinded him and hurt his eyes in the dark night, yet he didn’t look away or squint for a second. He wasn’t going to miss a thing! He hoped that somehow, something would happen. Maybe some real policemen would come and save him. Maybe some great big monster would rise from the sea and create enough of a distraction to allow him an easy escape. Of course, he knew these were only dreams. He just had one shot at reality and he was going to take it.

Then a voice sounded from the helicopter "Put your weapons on the ground and then get down on all fours, now!"

The old man complied with the orders. He took out the two guns that he was carrying – one in a holster in the small of his back, and the other in his left boot. He lifted each one slowly out of place and placed them on the ground in front of him, side by side. Then he got down on his hands and knees and waited.

The helicopter began descending. He could tell by the sound. He wasn’t looking up. His head was facing the ground and the only things that were helping him "see" the world now were his ears. They were his eyes and ears, all at once.

He estimated that they had come down to about 20 feet. It was time for some action. He had one chance and it had as much chance of working as he did of getting out of this mess entirely. AS quickly as he could, he moved both his hands forward, grabbed a gun in each hand and rolled to his right. By the time he was rolling bullets began raining from the sky to where he was. As soon as he completed the roll, he began firing his guns with deadly accuracy.

He was not aiming as anyone inside the craft. One gun was firing at the fuel tank and the other at the rotor blades. After 3 shots, each was disabled and the helicopter began its speedier descent to the ground. The old man got up and stuck as close to the nearest building as was possible. He watched the helicopter crash to the ground, the sparks fly and the fuel tank explode and reduce the helicopter into tiny pieces. And some of those pieces were soaked in blood and covered with bits of flesh.

After the fire from the explosion died down, the old man turned back to the pile of scrap metal and let his face sweat in the face of the blaze. It hurt his eyes and made him feel worse than he did. Nothing, however, was going to deny him those few seconds in front of the fire. He let his head droop after a while, when he let his ears to the watching and listening again.

He needed to think. If they were still going to follow him, they would be here in a minute. And then the fire brigade would show up soon enough. This place would be pretty crowded soon. He needed to rest as well. They probably had his hotel room covered as well. But he had to risk finding out. Maybe there would be something important there. Maybe there wouldn’t. But he would only know if he went.

He stared at the blaze once more and noticed a severed hand from one of the passengers, near his feet. He felt like vomiting, but refrained from doing so. He lifted each gun, aimed both at the hand and shot 10 bullets into the hand. Blood splattered from each hole that was made. The hand was thrown about the ground with the bullets but he kept his aim and fired without mercy. 10 bullets later, he put his guns away and walked away from the fire, and into the darkness, once more.

It was 3AM and he had ran all the way to his hotel. The whole city was quiet. He couldn’t understand why, but accepted the simple reason that, for once, everyone was too tired to party. This could mean only one thing – there was going to be a party so big, they’d wake up Miami. If he lived through the night and the following day, he would love to be a part of that party.

When he reached his hotel, he stayed a bit of a distance away. He remained in an alley facing the hotel, but didn’t proceed out of the shadows. He felt protected, what without his coat and in such grave danger. The word "grave" didn’t please him too much at this time.

There were no cars around. It was quiet. The lights in the lobby were on and it looked as if there was a small party going on within the boundaries of the hotel. Some of the lights of the rooms were turned on. None of them were on the same floor as his room or anywhere near his. It didn’t feel strange. It felt normal and seemed to be without any traps or ambushes. He looked out around the street. It was empty. All the street lamps were lit, some a bit dim, the others being way too dim. He would complain to the Mayor if he ever got the chance. If he had the chance, he would complain to a lot of people.

He stepped out onto the road and cautiously crossed it. He kept on looking in every direction, including up and down, checking if there was going to be any more trouble. He made it across the road safely and stepped through the semi-glass doors of the hotel. Once in the hotel, he looked around again. It was quiet. The smallish crowd that was here seemed to have retired for the night.

He walked past the front desk. He didn’t pick up any key because he hadn’t left any when he left. He had a "Do not disturb" sign on his door and he hoped that no one bothered to check it out. He had some pretty important stuff there. A few guns, some bullets and his contract for committing the murders. Looking back on what had happened, it seemed stupid to keep everything there, but he had never expected this. And he believed in the saying "Expect the unexpected!"

This was just too unexpected. As he stepped into the elevator, he wondered why he suddenly felt an urge to break out. He wanted to kill. He honestly wanted to kill some people. He wanted to see blood splatter over the bodies and the bodies fall to the floor with a thud. He wanted to smell the rotten corpses and the watch the flies afterwards. He wanted to inflict pain.

The elevator stopped where he chose – just one storey off the ground. He had chosen the room so that he could escape by jumping out the window. He didn’t want to try too many 5-storey jumps. If he made one mistake it would mean a certain death.

He walked down the corridor slowly. His room was right at the end, nearest to the alley where he was standing. The floor was covered with an old carpet that had a beautiful design that stretched across a long distance. The ceiling was bare. You could see the dampness in the wood weaken it, though not enough to bring the whole building down. The walls were meant to be peach. But they were dirty now and they had lost the original sweetness that it was destined to have.

As he reached the door to his room, he paused. He got that strange feeling again. This was all too easy. To his left was a window, facing the alley. To his right was the corridor and some 19 other rooms. He reached for the key in his pocket and just before he inserted the key, the strangeness struck him with a more accurate feeling. The "Do not disturb" sign that he had left on the doorknob was gone. They had made one mistake and he was lucky enough to have noticed.

Thoughts began rushing about in his head. It was difficult to think with the situation he was in. He knew that if he took too long, they would realize that he knew and would come out of the rooms and kill him anyway. He had to act fast and precisely. He still had no chance for mistakes. He was walking on the thinnest of ropes here and there wasn’t any hint of a safety net beneath him. More like a tank of hungry piranhas.

He carefully stepped back, with his back facing the window, facing the alley, and fired a bullet from each gun at the for to his room and the one opposite. As the doors opened, he fell back through the window and down onto the ledge beneath it. From each door emerged 2 or 3 figures with heavy machine guns. Without thinking, they began firing their weapons and starting killing each other in the process. The bullets flew in all directions and the figures ended up falling to the ground, embedded with bullets, that no bullet-proof vest could have saved them from. In the end of that, blood dripped slowly from each body to form a united pool of blood on the floor. The dirty peach walls were stained with the dark red liquid. And some pieces of the bodies lay across the floor. Nothing that could not be fixed wasn’t damaged. That excluded the dead bodies, of course.

 

The old man stood on the ledge for a second after the bullets stopped flying. Then he looked down, jumped back and fell on the tent before the entrance to the hotel. He fell right through it, but held onto the ripped cloth and that slowed his fall enough for him. The others would be here soon enough. Too soon for him to get away, probably.

He was correct. Some cars screeched onto the road in front of the hotel and then skidded to a halt. Goons with guns jumped out from the vehicles and the old man knew his time was catching up to him. They began firing at him without any preceding signs. He was already moving, still not quick enough. One bullet went straight through his right knee. The pain hit him and he fell to the ground, conveniently behind a parked car on the other side of the road.

The bullets started flying again. He was angry. The knee was killing him and he had to do something about it. He had two plans – Plan A was to run for dear sweet life. Plan B was to kill every bloody cur that held a gun. Plan A was almost out of the question. He prepared for plan B. From his shirt, he pulled out a Swiss army knife and flicked out the small blade. He inserted it into the knee cap and twisted it around, till suddenly he was able to flick the bullet out. It settled on the ground a few feet away. Next, he tore off the sleeve of his right arm and tied it around the knee because that’s what he thought should be done.

He put the blade away and then stuck his hand into his left boot and pulled out two cartridges. He unloaded each gun and put a new one in each. Plenty of bullets for what could be his final kill-fest. It would be a sweet one, even if he never made it out alive, or in one piece.

He began listening now and made out that a few of the goons were coming round his right side, from the alley side, hoping to catch him off-guard. They definitely were not expecting him to be firing his guns anytime soon. They expected wrong!

He turned around and fired 3 bullets. Each bullet hit its target and all 3 of them fell to the ground instantly. Yet another pool of blood was created. He hopped over to the dead bodies and checked the weapons. Two Uzi’s and a .44 magnum. The Uzi’s would do great with plenty of ammunition. The magnum was going to be his new "emergency" gun.

He put the magnum in his holster, his other 2 guns in each boot and held each Uzi, up by his face. It felt good! He jumped up above the car and fired the Uzi’s as if there was no tomorrow. He got one goon. The others ducked and finally knew what it felt like to be under flying bullets. And one of them knew what it was like to be killed by one. Not that he would get the chance to live to tell anyone about it.

Upon landing, he ducked in the cover of the car and then they started firing again recognized that Plan B wasn’t too great of a plan either. They simply had more guns and he did not have the agility or position to perform any acrobatics. He had lost his coat and was not on a 5-storey building. But what he didn’t get was where the technology had gone. Had they given up on those devices or were they ready and waiting to use them?

The bullets had stopped momentarily and he realized that he didn’t feel like he was in Rio de Janeiro. It felt more like the slums of a rotting town, where things like this happened every day without any end. It felt more like New York or Chicago, but definitely not anywhere else.

Police sirens started to ring and he understood that the true cops had probably turned up. He hoped an prayed that it was them. His prayers were answered and he was glad. He saw the cops round the corner opposite to where the cars of the goons had lined up. They also skidded to a halt and the cops began open fire. This led to bullets flying across each side. It was the perfect distraction for the old man who escaped through the alley. He escaped into the shadows and left the night behind him.

 

When the old man opened his eyes, all that he saw was the face of a staring kid. He squinted for a moment and then got up from wherever he was.

"Buenos dias, senor! Cual es su nombre? (Good morning, mister! What is your name?)" the kid inquired. He didn’t like to waste time.

"Huh? Déjame en paz! (Leave me alone!)" the old man replied, ignoring the ki’ds original question.

"Por que? (Why?)"

"No tengo ni idea … Cierra la puerta? Déjame en paz! Déjame en paz! (I haven’t got a clue … were you born in a barn? Leave me alone! Leave me alone!)"

The kid ran away. The old man didn’t know much Spanish, but it was usually enough to get rid of stupid little kids like that. He wondered where he was. He looked around. The only thing that he could make out was that it was late morning, nearly noon. He felt like he had slept 24 hours. He probably had. There was no sign of where he was, other than that he was lying on the side of a dusty road. He got up, dusted himself and looked at the kid, who was staring at him, expressionless. He gestured to the kid to come to him. The kid obliged.

"Yo … donde? (I … where?)" This is where the old man’s broken Spanish came into play.

"Campeche."

"Donde? (Where?)"

"Campeche, Mexico."

"I wonder how in bloody hell I got here"

"Que? (What?)"

"Nada! (Nothing!)"

The old man looked around. There was nothing but a long dusty road and a city in the far distance. It was probably Campeche. He couldn’t remember how he got there in the first place. All that he had was a vague memory of all events since he escaped the shootout through that alleyway in Rio. Now he was here in Mexico, probably a day later, with both his Uzi’s gone. Damn! And those were two great Uzi’s!

Now he had to get to Los Angeles. Somehow or the other, he had to get to the dude who hired him and get paid, both with plenty of money and answers. He deserved it. This didn’t end here. As he started to walk, he remembered the kid who was just standing behind him without any purpose in life at all.

"El padre? La madre? (Father? Mother?)"

"Ninguno! (None!)" The child smiled a brief smile at the old man.

The old man checked his holster. That gun wasn’t stolen. He pulled it out, aimed it at the child and blasted one bullet straight through the head of the child. The child made the most scared look on his face before he too fell with a thud, like every other corpse in front of the old man. Blood drained from the head. Innocent blood.

The old man looked on for a while and then said "Lo Siento, amigo! Vaya con dios! (I am sorry, friend! Farewell – Go with god)!"

The man took two steps back, before he turned and walked away towards the city. The child was still. Death was always still. But the old man walked on. Death had failed plenty of times with him. Yet success would come. Somehow, someway! Even if a million people had to die before that, the old man would lose his battle with death soon.