RAYNE: The 49 Project (end intro)

Boris’s listening session was cut short by the first gift Jacinta Scottford would give him. Someone was trying to get in the room undetected and they would have, had it not been for Ms. Scottford’s dead body keeping the door from opening all the way. He only had a few seconds to stuff the InfoChip with the interview on it in his sock pocket and think of a way out. Jacinta’s body, for the time being was, keeping whoever it was on the other side of the door which meant he was stuck in, unless this room had a backdoor!

            When the bureaucracy wasn’t as thick as it was apt to be, honest police officers were allowed to do their job, and raids were conducted on establishments like Boris found himself. Pimps, drug dealers, and other “business” people saw it best to install backdoors in some of their more frequented places just in case it was the season for political posturing – raids meant faces in the papers and higher ratings points. He’d known this was a popular spot but Boris hoped it was that popular. After putting Jacinta’s tablet back in her bag and gathering other InfoChips scattered across the bed, Boris took the bag, stood on the bed, reached up and began tapping the ceiling for a hollow sound.

            Wood splintered behind him as he saw two men step over the corpse and walk straight for the bed. They looked like they had a purpose and his heart sank as he thought of what it might be.

            Boris thrust himself using the bed as a catapult, foot first, at the first man making his way to grab a hold of him, kicking him in the process. He saw a scowl spread across the man’s face. Blood and a few missing teeth let him know he’d timed it well. Now he needed to use his feet for running.

            “Peasant!” the first man spat and grabbed Boris just as he made it past Thomas Nguyen’s lifeless body sliding off the bed. The second man caught a glimpse of the President and was stunned.

            “Stop!” he commanded. The first man continued to hold Boris in his tight grip.

            “Are you responsible for this, you stupid thief?” asked the second man. “Do you know who this man is?”

            The first man, still holding Boris, craned his neck to see who was on the floor and loosened his grip when he saw President Nguyen.

            “That’s the…” he said, barely above a whisper.

            “You come in here,” said the second man, “to steal the bag of a hooker then assassinate one of the most powerful men in the world?”

            “She’s not a hooker! She was that reporter from the TV.”

            “You know who you’ve killed?!” the first man asked, not believing Boris’s stupidity.

            “Yeah, it was my job.”

            “No,” the first man said, spinning Boris to face him, blood still pouring from the gaping hole where his teeth used to be, “it was our job.”

            “But the Almighty and Beneficent, made sure you were here first to complete this fool’s errand. We have been played, Errol,” he’d said to the first man, “and the stakes are very high. Leave this man to his work and its consequences,” said second man pointing to the knife still in Boris’s gut.

            “You guys are Shuarra,” Boris said. “Well you can cut all that beneficent, ‘we were spared the hit’ crap! Go back and tell your clan that we beat you again, the Family Rayne handled this one.”

            “I doubt,” the second man started as he leaned in closer to Boris’s face, “they would send such an insolent pup to do a job like this. You are, to say the least, unprofessional. So much in fact, I doubt you are what you say – a word of unsolicited advice, be careful who and what you claim. There have been many imposters who have disappeared…”

            “You can check me,” Boris said wincing, “I’m no imposter.”

            “Then you have destroyed your clan and for that I say, thank you. Errol, let’s go, and release the boy.”

            Errol’s grip tightened, “He must be punished for what he did to my face!”

            “Agh! Your pride. Save it for another day, you know we have resources who can fix that.”

            “That is not the point. This peasant must know his place.”

            “Fine! Take care of him then. And do this quickly. People like our deceased do not stay in a place like this for long without their peers eventually wondering where they’ve gone off to. You have two-minutes!” The second man hurried out of the room.

            Errol was a man of brute strength and let go of Boris for a split second, only to grab him again with one very strong arm – he’s going to squeeze me to death! He felt like his chest was being crushed as Errol tightened his left arm (the weaker of the two) and flashed a bloody toothless grin at Boris. When he saw the giant needle appear, as if he’d grabbed it from thin air, Boris almost hoped Errol would just squeeze his guts out and get it over with.

            The Shuarra were poison experts. He’d heard they had 50 specific ones tailored to the eye color of a mark. He knew some of them were concocted only to inflict painful agonizing death. Errol looked like the kind of guy that would carry around a vial full of agonizing death, Boris thought, but he didn’t want stick around to find out.

            It was the only chance he had; plans to be another body in a crummy motel room were out of the question, so he took it. Boris yanked the blade Jacinta shoved in his guts, her second gift to him, and with lightening speed shifted just enough for the leverage needed – he planted the blade sure, right in Errol’s throat.

            For a moment he froze, knowing he couldn’t waltz out the front where Errol’s astute and uninjured partner would be waiting. Boris hopped back on the bed, his painful wound oozing blood, and examined the ceiling closer than he had before the uninvited guests showed up. He found nothing. No seams to indicate a secret door, no hollow sound when he tapped for his life; there was no backdoor here and Boris would have to take his chances with a real Chess Player.

            “I’m fucked,” he said regretting he’d left the safety of the pond.

            He jumped off the bed and stepped around Errol’s dying body to slip in the bathroom. After a while his buddy was going to come back, the least Boris could do was have the element of surprise. If he was able to get the drop on Errol perhaps he might have the same luck again.

            Boris almost cried when he looked in the bathroom and saw the oversized mirror. A backdoor! He locked himself in grabbing old towels to plug up his wound. It wouldn’t be long before –

            BANG!

            It was Errol’s partner kicking at an even flimsier door than the one that they’d kicked in earlier. Boris dropped the towels and shimmied through the hole secreted behind the mirror in enough time to give him a head start…

            “And here I wait, just a few more seconds then I’ll have the upper hand,” Boris said.

            Errol’s partner, Abd Sharif of the Shuarra Clan, was who Boris thought had been trailing him all those many blocks, all the way to the alley where he was hiding behind a dumpster, where he spied the next alley he was going to run to and spring his trap! But he was very wrong.

            November Rayne had been watching the motel armed with the specifics of her mark. When the two Shuarra walked in and only one came out, she moved in for a better look. This was her job and she would be damned if those treacherous scoundrels took it right from under her nose. When Abd Sharif walked back toward the room, looking more agitated than he normally did, November was on his heals. She heard him kick the bathroom door in, silence; then a tirade of curses filled the air.

            “Flown the coup, have you?” she’d said to herself and disappeared before Sharif knew she was in the same room with him. Her clan wasn’t on the best terms with his but November dispatched for money. She had a mark in the wind and a personal vendetta was handled on personal time. The gruesome display of bodies hadn’t gone unnoticed but November was already in the mind of a hunter. Examining the mess would have to be done later – if she got back to the scene before the cops did.

            She was lucky the mark used that room, she knew exactly where the backdoor let out. When she saw Boris fall down in a heap on the dust patches that passed for grass, where she expected him to be, November began her cat-and-mouse.

            “Damn Shus,” she thought, “he looks pretty messed up. He may not make it to the drop spot.”

            But Boris did make it and his drug addled brain commanded him to run for the big building he knew he’d be safe near. There was only one way in and he could see anyone who decided to sneak up on him; they would be forced to face him head on. He had plenty of rounds left to take out a rival and make this calamity he was in worthwhile.

            Boris didn’t take into consideration that someone might be behind him.

            She’d been waiting for 2 hours in one of the abandoned factories 200 yards away from where Boris was standing. She sat in the dark, her black stilettos perched on a crate she’d left there three months ago. They always ran the cat-and-mouse to that spot, not because either of them was lazy, it was practical. Almost everyone had written off Commercial Row and its blocks of empty factories and buildings. Dead bodies were a common occurrence that very few investigated. The addicts stayed in an area they’d commandeered and away from a building they said contained ghosts of dead Family Rayne. The only phantom in the building was Carmel Rayne and if you saw her, you were the ghost.

            She received a call from November 20 minutes ago informing her she and the “mouse” were on their way to the cheese. It was time forCarmelto take action. She had her custom made bolt action rifle set up on a table she nailed to the floor herself.Carmelwasn’t leaning out the window, although she could have if she wanted to – no one was watching. She preferred to be at least 10 feet away from the open window and she draped black tarp over her body making herself invisible. There she waited, still as if she were a sculpture. November never understood how she could stand in one place, for hours, in stiletto heeled shoes. She thought her calves must cramp but they never did. No one in the Family Rayne ever sawCarmelsweat, especially when she was wearing heels – they’d taken to calling her Stiletto because of it.

            Her calves were relaxed, in fact, before a hitCarmelwas more relaxed than she ever was in the frantic pace of her life.

            Black tarp hid the curves of her body as if it was a cover thrown over a statue of Aphrodite, a warped Venus de Milo, traitor of the values she’d once espoused – love and beauty. This new stunning creature was a dispenser of death waiting to release her dark spoils at the sound of two magic words.

            Boris stood waiting for an attacker that would never come. November stepped in his “trap” and he rejoiced!

            “I’m saved,” he said, his words unintelligible because of the drugs. He’d recognized November when she would pass through training sessions, which he wished he could get back to. It was unfortunate, she didn’t recognize Boris.

            He walked toward her presenting Jacinta’s bag as he tried to communicate its importance to the clan.

            “We have to get this to Raz. Oops! RazDivine. Please don’t tell her I called her ‘Raz’, she’ll be so mad.”

            November stood her ground, stonefaced, watching Boris mutter words that made no sense. At one point she thought she’d heard him mention Raz, which solidified her information. A mark was trying to make his name off of one of the family and he had to be eliminated. She only needed Boris to walk a few more feet in her direction.

            “She’s gonna be mad anyways,” Boris said his laughter beginning to build up again, “I did something real stupid but it turned out pretty good. When that Shuarra comes here we can take care of him then we have to get this to RazDivine. It’s really important that we do. Everything will be better when we – ”

            “Pull it.”

            Somewhere in the distance Boris heard a faint sound, he’d almost swear it was a gunshot. But it couldn’t be, not on a beautiful night like this one. He could stop running because November was here to save him and they would bring… There was something important he couldn’t remember at the moment that he had to bring. It didn’t matter to Boris because he was resting from all the running he was made to do by the Shuarra. He would lie down a moment on the cold, soothing ground, look up at the stars for a while and then they would – just him and November would have their revenge on the Shus.

            “You could see the stars from here, not like in the city with all those tall buildings and damn lights,” Boris said to her as she stood over his dying body.

            “Yeah.”

            The stars looked so beautiful…

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