The International Writers Magazine
: Continuing our serialised novel
The Battle for Life Beyond the Grave - now reaches Chapter Sixteen

The Great Beyond - Chapter XVI
Alaskan Storm Brewing
Brodie Parker

Deep inside the grizzly infested wilderness of Alaska I found myself standing outside a wooden fence surrounding a shack. Inside was the guy I had threatened then turned over to my friends to be beaten mercilessly for the assault and attempted rape of the love of my life.

There was a hint of evil, a slight stink of it in the air coming from the dark interior. He was definitely linked to Shugg’s people in some way. Maybe a bagman or a low-level go between. The local wildlife seemed to pick up on it too. There wasn’t a living creature within ten miles of the shack. It was completely silent there; unnaturally silent. I rapped on the rickety gate with my scabbard and the noise echoed sharply over the trees filling the natural basin around the shack. No response from inside as the echo faded.
"Anyone home?" I called out. I knew he was in there. I could see his shape through the walls, in spite of the darkness.

Several silent moments passed, then a door swung outward slowly from the front. When it opened fully I could still see him standing in the opening, but he was still encased in darkness. Something felt wrong, then the shack exploded into flame. It quickly spread outward engulfing the landscape. Several rounds of gunfire erupted from the doorway and hit me squarely in the torso. The fire was no problem for me. Just another source of energy; a very potent and useful one. The bullets weren’t that big of a problem either. My skin was better than organic kevlar; effectively bulletproof. However, my body wasn’t totally physics proof. I was knocked backward through the trees and into a boulder. It stunned me and gave the fire time to spread farther. I pulled myself together and started draining the flames of energy and sloughing it off into the sky. I had to work quickly but I soon had it under control. I ran along branches and cliffs channeling out the fire and releasing it cooler and less lethal. I had the fire contained in a cube inside the fence when I noticed the enormous convection storm forming directly over us. The accumulated heat was rising and colliding with cooler air causing the winds to build up and tear at the charred and blackened forest. I quickly killed the remainder of the fire and flew up to try to dissipate the storm. I wasn’t sure what I was doing and it took some time.

When the storm was calm enough to blow itself out I started searching for him. I found him still inside the ruins of the shack. There was a hand cannon melted into his fist. He was barely recognizable and he didn’t move. There was still some life in his body. He couldn’t speak, so I tried telepathy. He was weak but still somewhat alert. Something was keeping him alive. I could sense it in his mind. I could feel him resisting but he couldn’t stop me. I looked into his memories and discovered what he was doing and why he was here. I could see the army being gathered on the other side. The search had ended for us there. They knew where we were and preparations were being made for an assault on the council. Their spies had discovered that the council was tearing itself apart over conflicts between several factions. Some had fled as exiles and the ruthless were taking control. On this side every agent was being summoned to a massive assault on my family. It had been discovered that we were guarding them, and the next logical step was to send their forces there. Both sides were throwing caution to the wind for this mission. They were coming at us with everything they had. Armies of thugs, murderers, assassins, mercenaries, madmen and every manner of soldier that could be called to arms against us were on their way to my family. I knew it would be big, but there were only a few of us against probably thousands.

The city was going to become a war zone. The place I grew up would become a desolate battlefield; soaked in blood and soiled forever. Intolerable. I had to get back. I wrapped up the remains of my prisoner in a web of energy after removing the gun and destroying it. Then I carried him over my shoulder as I started to move over the landscape. I contacted Urimaru and Jerry while I was nearing top speed. "Bad news."
"Is there any other kind?" Urimaru returned.
"What did you find?" Jerry asked.
"I’ll be there before dawn. We have to get everyone together and move somewhere else; preferably someplace deserted and defensible. Armies are coming after us. There’s going to be a war."
This was met with silence for a moment. I was flying low and watching for power lines.
"How are we supposed to convince May and your girl? Do we tell them everything? Can we avoid telling them everything?" Urimaru was thinking ahead of himself.
"We’ll deal with it when the time comes. Sloan is right. We can’t fight a war here. Too many people could be killed. We’ll gather everyone together after he gets back and meet at May’s house. We’ll decide where to go from there."
Jerry was being rational. I was thankful that he didn’t bring up the glaring issue of our gross outnumbering. We all had enough to think about as it was.

Marco was going to be big time from now on. His uncle Sal arranged the whole thing. He was the favorite nephew. He had always known this, and now he had proof. Uncle Sal took him aside one evening and explained how he was getting older and he needed someone around to look after things when he was gone. Someone capable. Someone who had been everywhere and knew everyone. Marco. He was relishing the reality of it. It was happening. After years of running errands for minor bosses and thugs he was getting a well deserved promotion. No more small time gigs. No more dimebags or cons. No more deliveries or tips. He was going to be big time. People would have to call him boss. He decided that he liked that.

Uncle Sal was very specific about this job. He had hand picked Marco for this task to prove that he was ready to move up. This job was extremely urgent. Some new people had been around asking about a cleaning crew. That’s what he had been doing of late. Go in, kill everything that moves, make the remains disappear. He had a knack for it. His crew was in high demand. That made him proud. It made him feel respected. He liked that too. This job only called for the killing. That rubbed him the wrong way. He didn’t like to leave the bodies; it left him with a feeling of incompleteness. He offered to burn the place afterward but Sal wasn’t having it. They wanted a quick clean kill and the bodies left where they fell. Marco felt that the status of his crew gave him the option of refusing the job, but this particular job meant promotion. There were four targets, all male in their late twenties. They lived together at the edge of town in a brick building. That’s where they were waiting; across the street in a big black car. They arrived shortly after nightfall and watched. The minutes passed as he sat nervously thinking about his new authority and how he could use it to get more, and anticipating the rush of ending another human life with impunity. He gets such a kick out of it. The lights inside went out two minutes after midnight. They waited another ten then went to the front door.

The lock was so simple he didn’t even think as he opened it. He just let reflex take over and they were inside without a sound. The streetlights shone in through the window and lit up square sections of the floor. There was plastic everywhere, wall to wall completely covering the floor. He didn’t smell fresh paint, and couldn’t think of many other reasons to cover the floor with plastic. He put it out of his mind and decided to move in quickly. There were four doors along a small hallway with another door at the end. He took the first and waited for the others to position themselves. On his signal they silently opened the doors and, .45s in hand, entered a room each. Marco saw a room with mirrors on the walls and swords and other weapons leaning or hanging in various places. The plastic covered the floor in this room as well. He moved in to search for a target and suddenly felt steel sting the skin under his chin. Someone had come from behind him. Several things passed through his mind in that instant. Failure and the disastrous loss of his promotion, the possibility that he could fight his way out of it, calling for help and even the urgent debilitating fear of his own death. This instant was all he had time to think in. The blade pierced though his throat. A gloved hand covered his mouth and a rush of air escaped from his opened windpipe. Some blood obstructed the passage and a sputtering sound came out as his body was lowered to the floor. Marco died within seconds. His crew had found the rooms empty and finding him on the floor were taken from behind as well. Their guns were removed and stored separately from the bodies. Thomas collected the blades and cleaned and stored them. Bob and Roach disposed of the corpses and Anthony replaced the soiled plastic. If any of the four of them had doubted before that Sloan had come back and was telling the truth, all that was gone now. They were coming after them as well. They returned to their hiding places. Soon the room was still again, but no one slept that night. The streetlights lit up window shaped sections of plastic on the floor.

© Brodie Parker - Begun May 10th 2004 - this Chapter July 2005

Missed Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here

Chapter Four here
Chapter five here

Chapter Six here
Chapter Seven here
Chapter Eight here
Chapter Nine here
Chapter Ten here
Chapter Eleven here
Chapter Twelve here
Chapter Thirteen here
Chapter Fourteen here
Chapter Fifteen here
Chapter Sixteen here
Chapter Seventeen here

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