Saturday, January 15, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 14

Pike pulled Jimmy Swift to his feet and jammed the barrel of his pistol into the center of the larger man’s back.

“March,” Pike said. “I want to be out of hear before the Federales arrive.”

“Fat chance,” Swift said. It came out as Bat chance.

They climbed the steps to the resort. At the top, Jiminez’s man was standing, albeit weakly, and leaning against the railing.

“You’re alive,” Pike said.

“I’m a tough little wetback,” the man said in Harvard-accented English.

“Not so little,” Pike said. “What’s your name?”

“Miguel Smith.”

“Smith? You’re kidding.”

“That’s what everybody says.” Smith pointed his gun at Swift. “Is this the bastardo who shot me?”


Smith lifted his pistol in preparation to strike it across Swift’s nose.

Swift covered his face with his hands. “Not the nose! Not the nose!”

“Later,” Pike said. “We have to get out of here. The police...”

“Won’t be a problem,” Smith said. The three of them walked through the resort, back to the lobby. Smith kept up pretty well for a man with a gunshot wound. Sirens were sounding as they started back, growing closer, and finally dying out. Law enforcement had arrived at the Imperial Laguna.

By the time the lobby came into sight, the sky was throbbing with red and blue lights. Many of the resort’s occupants were standing on their balconies or peering through their glass patio doors.

“So, is there another way out of here?” Pike said. “We could never slip past them, not with the way you look.” Smith’s shirt and jacket were stained with blood.

“You’re right. No one would believe such a handsome native would be hanging out with two such ugly gringos. But, really, it won’t be an issue.”

Two Federales, sub-machine guns hanging from their shoulders, crouched over the body of Jiminez’s other man. One of them looked up as Pike and the other two men approached. He whispered to his companion and pointed. Both officers stood and unlimbered their weapons.

“Stay here,” Smith said. His pistol stashed under his jacket, he walked toward the two Federales. One hand was raised in the air, the other held his side.

“This day sucks,” Swift said. Sucks came out as suds.

“Jimmy, if they arrest us, I swear to God I’m punching you in the nose again before they cuff me.”

Swift stayed quiet.

Smith returned to them. The two cops stood talking to each other.

“Come on,” Smith said. “We can leave.”

“How did that happen?”

“I’ll explain later.”

The three of them climbed the steps to the lobby, where more Federales stood. Most of them smoked cigarettes and ignored Pike, Smith and Swift. When they reached the parking lot, they found several Mexican Federal Police trucks and more officers smoking and trying not to pay attention to them.

Smith pulled a cell phone from his pocket. He spoke into it for maybe two seconds.

“The car is on the way,” he said.

“So how come we’re not on our way to jail?”

“Mr. Jiminez is very generous to many of our government institutions.”

“Right,” Pike said. “And what about your late friend in there?”

“Mr. Jiminez will pay for a nice funeral and supply his family with a healthy stipend.”

“What about me?” Swift said.

“We’re gong to have a nice conversation, Jimmy, and pretty damn soon,” Pike said.

“Let me talk to him,” Smith said. “I won’t take very long.”

“Easy, buddy,” Pike said. “I think you need a hospital first.”

As they spoke, a black van pulled up in front of the resort. Pike noticed it, primarily because it wasn’t their limo. It was probably the Mexican version of crime scene techs.

The van’s side door opened, and Pike saw a man dressed in a white jumpsuit. Yeah, a crime scene guy.

The man in white picked up a metal tube. The design looked familiar. The man placed it on his shoulder like a rocket launcher.

That was odd.

For a few seconds, nothing happened. Eventually, sparks flashed from the tip of the cylinder.

Black sparks.

Pike knew why he recognized the design.

“Run,” he told the others. “Move your asses.”

He grabbed Swift’s arm and jogged for the topiary at the edge of the drive. Smith was close behind.

“Tell your cops to get out of the way,” Pike said.

Smith shouted something in Spanish. It was too late.

Black lightning roared from the cylinder, followed a dark shaft of light. The light sliced through three of the Federales, cutting them in half. The lower halves of their bodies stood for a moment, as if refusing to acknowledge the end. Then the body parts tumbled to the asphalt, spilling fluids and ropey loops of intestines to the hard surface.

The beam continued to the front of the Imperial Laguna, cutting a swath of destruction through the structure. The path of the black wave of death changed. It moved in the direction of Pike, Smith and Swift.

“You’re right,” Pike said to Swift.


“This day sucks.”

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 13

“Get her back to the chopper,” Pike told Donovan. He didn’t stick around to see if Drake did it.

Pike ran full out, his gun in his right hand. He was already behind the curve in the situation, and if Gemma was in the resort, he wasn’t going to stop until he found her.

He sprinted up the steps to the lobby. The portico opened up into a huge, room with an exquisite marble floor. To the left was a massive counter that must have been sixty feet long. If there was a concierge on duty at three in the morning, he had found a hiding space when the shooting began. The right side of the room was devoted to a bar. There were dozens of tables, and soft music played from speakers mounted in the ceiling. There was no one present here, either.

There was no back wall to the lobby, just open space that provided a view of the hotel rooms and a pool that apparently wound its way through the resort. A dozen steps led down to the edge of the pool. One of Jiminez’s goons – the one who hadn’t spoken – lay on the concrete, curled into a fetal position. Pike didn’t stop to check on him. Another gunshot spurred him on.

The sound of the shot echoed off the concrete walls of the guest quarters, making it difficult to tell how far away it was. So Pike took a straight path, east toward the ocean. The resort grounds were illuminated by streetlights that were constructed to look like Mayan statues.

He ran for more than a quarter mile, though it seemed longer, thanks to the detours he had to take to get around that damned labyrinthine pool. Finally, he reached the edge of the resort property. The concrete turned to sand, and a set of wooden stairs gave access to a beach. Jiminez’s other man, the one who spoke English sat at the top of the steps, leaning against the railing support. He held his left hand against his side. Even in the pale moonlight, Pike could see a lot of blood around the wound and spattering the sand. The man’s eyes were closed and his chin rested on his chest.

Pike knelt next to him. He realized he had never asked the man’s name.

“Hey, you okay?”

The man slowly lifted his head. “Sure, never better,” he said.

He spoke so softly Pike had trouble making out the words.

The man cleared his throat and when he spoke again, his voice had a little more volume.

‘It’s one guy. White man. American, I think. Got a Glock. He ran down those stairs a couple of minutes ago.”

Pike nodded. He didn’t have time for words of comfort, and he didn’t believe the wounded man desired them. He followed the steps down to the beach.

It was a private beach, as it turned out. Beach chairs were stacked by the dozens at the top of a small rise of sand. Below, the Atlantic rolled in and out with a soft, pleasant roar.

There was movement to the right, about 40 yards away. A shadowy figure was tugging at something next to a stack of pedal boats, the kind of plastic contraption Mom and Dad could take out in calm waters to give the kids a ride in the ocean. The man pulled a rubber raft away from the pile of pedal boats. It had a small motor attached. He must have used it to come ashore with Elizabeth, then hid the boat from sight, in case anyone patrolled the beach.

The man used both hands to tug the rubber boat toward the water, so the gun must be stuck in a holster on in the waistband of his pants.

Pike ran again. The soft sand and the ocean’s murmuring masked his footfalls.

The dark figure was at the tide line when Pike stopped six feet away, gun raised.


The man raised his hands. There wasn’t enough moonlight to make out his features, but he was larger than Pike.

“Who are you? Where is Gemma Ravenscroft?”

“Well, hell,” the man said. He talked like he was suffering from a bad cold. Yet the voice sounded familiar.

“Who are you?” Pike stepped closer, and the big man jumped on him.

Pike couldn’t shoot him, not if he had any information about Gemma. Pike landed on his back with the other man on top of him.

Pike’s gun hand was free. He swung the barrel into the other man’s face.

“Shit!” The man rolled off Pike and covered his face with both hands. “Not the nose again! Jesus!”

A cloud moved away from the moon and there was enough light for Pike to see his opponent clearly.

The man who brought Elizabeth to the resort, the man who had vowed he was out of this, was Pike’s old pal Jimmy Swift.

To be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 12

“It’s a trap,” Drake said.

“Probably,” Pike said. They were speaking into the microphones of the headsets they had to wear in the chopper. Even with the earphones, the drone of the engine was nearly overwhelming. “Even if it is a trap, it may be a chance to get Gemma back. I have to try. But you didn’t have to come.”

Drake merely smiled.

Two of Jimemez’s men sat behind them. The drug lord’s personal pilot flew the chopper. He wouldn’t take part in the rescue. The co-pilot’s seat was empty. Pike hoped that space would be occupied by Gemma in just a while. He looked at his watch. 2:40. Pike tapped the pilot on the shoulder.

“Are we going to make it?”

“Si,” the pilot said. He was a small man, younger than Pike had expected. Apparently used to flying with armed men, the man was as calm as if he were riding a golf cart on the back nine.

“Is it me, or does this crate still smell like chicken nuggets?” Drake said.

Pike just looked at him.

“So sue me. I’m hungry again.”

The lights of Cancun came into view. The chopper set down on a rooftop. Pike, Drake and Jimemez’s two men quickly exited.

“Where are we?” Pike said.

One of the other men answered in perfect English. “On a building that belongs to Mister Jimemez. About two blocks from our destination.”

They took an elevator to the lobby. A dark limousine waited for them at the curb.

Pike checked the time again. 2:53.

The limo dropped them off in front of the hotel next to the Imperial Laguna. All the resorts looked the same to Pike, like something a McDonald’s architect thought Mexico should be.

It was 2:58. Pike and Drake moved to one side of the Imperial Laguna’s front drive. The other two men covered the opposite side.

At exactly 3:00 A.M. a woman was shoved out of the dark opening of the lobby. She stumbled across the parking lot, her head and face shrouded in shadows.

Drake pointed a gun a the parking and said, “Go.”

Pike ran, his own gun in his hand. He knew this could be a set up and that he was exposing himself to enemy gunfire, but he didn’t see any other way.

As he neared the woman, he said, “Gemma.”

The woman took a step forward and her head was illuminated by one of the resort’s streetlights.

Her hair was red, but it was a shade or two lighter than Gemma’s. He recognized her face.


Elizabeth Crassberg, the Brotherhood archeologist, looked at Pike as if she didn’t recognize him. There was a large bruise on the left aside of her face. Her eyes were wide, scared.

With his free hand, Pike grabbed one of her wrists.

“Where’s Gemma?”

Elizabeth moaned and twisted in his grip.

“It’s me, Pike. Calm down. You’re safe now.” Of course, she wasn’t. Neither of them were, standing in the open drive with no shelter. One of Jimemez’s men approached, the one who spoke English.

“What do you need?” he said

“Someone shoved her out here. See if you can find him.”

The man nodded and gestured to his colleague. Both men entered the lobby.

As if she had surrendered to her fate, Elizabeth stopped her resistance. She allowed herself to be led to the side of the resort’s entrance.

“Where’s Gemma?” Drake said.

“I don’t know. I hope she can tell us.”

“Who brought her here? Don’t tell me this brotherhood has its headquarters in a damn resort.”

Pike started to answer.

Until he heard the gunshots from the resort.

To be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011


Hi. If you’ve been here before, welcome back. If this is your first exposure to Donovan Pike, thanks for dropping by.

Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods is a pulp adventure novel I began writing last year. It is a work in progress, not a case of pasting in chapters of a novel I have previously completed. I write each installment shortly before it’s posted.

And as you can easily tell, it’s been a while since I wrote a new chapter.

Several events in 2010 derailed my writing output. In 2011, I’m fighting to catch up, move past the things that delayed me in the past and make some progress. If you’re interested in reading a tiny bit more about my last year and my hopes for 2011, I talked about it here.

For what it’s worth, I am committed to finishing Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods. Writing it has been a blast. I will continue to post chapters as often as I can.

Using my time more wisely is a big priority this year. That’s one of the reason I’ve discontinued the Donovan Pike podcast. I know that disappoints a few of you, who have told me that you prefer to listen to the story. If my bucking bronc of a schedule is ever under control, I’ll consider resuming the podcast. Until then, I hope you’ll be satisfied with just the written word.

Thanks for your time. Let’s get back to the action.