Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 16

In less than an hour, they were back at Jiminez’s compound, in the big room with the football memorabilia.

Jimmy Swift sat in one of the leather chairs, drinking from a mug of hot coffee. He winced with every sip.

“Got a cut on the inside of my lip,” he said.

“I’ll cry myself to sleep,” Pike said. He sat on the couch across from Swift.

The house was quiet. Elizabeth was nearly hysterical. Jiminez had given her some kind of pill and she was lying down in one of the many bedrooms in the massive house. Somewhere else in the mansion, Smith was being treated by Nugget’s personal physician–quite against his wishes. His boss had insisted.

Drake was in another room, using the satellite phone to make travel arrangements with the Ravenscroft people. When they got a line on Gemma, Pike wanted to be free to take off as soon as possible.

“Where is she?”

“I already told you I don’t know,” Swift said.

“I don’t believe you, Jimmy.”

“Christ, Pike. I’m not lying.”

“Smith wants to kill you. You get that, right?”

“The guy I shot?” Swift smiled.

“I might be able to talk him out of it. Or talk his boss out of it. Jiminez owes me.”

“Whatever. He wants to kill me. You want to kill me. The Brotherhood will definitely kill me when they found out I brought the chick to you. What difference does it make?”

“I don’t get you, Jimmy. You told me you were getting out.”

Smith shrugged. “I was, but something came up. It included a nice bonus and I, ah, owe some money to a certain pushy guy.”

“What was the job?” Pike said.

“Muscle, like always. The Brotherhood has a warehouse on Isla Mujeres, right off the coast. I was supposed to guard the place. I waited around by myself for a day or so, then all these choppers landed, with a couple of prisoners.”


“I guess,” Swift said, “but I didn’t see her. The guy in charge was a real asshole named Gustav.”

“We’ve met,” Pike said.

Swift nodded. “So you know. That’s why I keep my distance. They put somebody in a little room at the back of the warehouse. I know one of the chopper pilots. He filled me in on what happened. That’s how I knew about you. In less than an hour, the choppers took off again, leaving me alone. I busted the lock on the room and took a look around. That’s when I found the other broad.”


“Whatever. I was bringing her back to you, buddy. Maybe she overheard something that will help.”

“You did it out of the goodness of your heart, huh?”

“Hey, I’m tired of all the secrets and weird shit. It’s like being in a cult or something. I thought if I helped out, you could put a good word in for me with Ravenscroft and maybe I could get my old job back.”

Pike stared at Swift for a moment before he replied.

“Back in Florida you mentioned some kind of weapon the Brotherhood had. Was it the black light gizmo?”

Swift grinned. “You saw that?”

“Twice,” Pike said.

“Ain’t that crazy? Like some kinda Martian ray gun.”

“So that was the secret weapon?”

“No way, man. That’s like a tinker toy compared to some of the other stuff they have.”

Icy tendrils seemed to crawl over Pike’s scalp. “Like what?”

“Nope.” Jimmy Swift crossed his arms over his chest. “I can’t give you everything, man. Then you’ll just let that Smith dude shoot me.”

“I won’t let him shoot you, Jimmy.”

“You won’t?”

“No,” Pike said. “I think he wants to beat you to death.”

“Nice. So that’s it?”

“Maybe not, if you get me to this warehouse.”

Swift shook his head. “Waste of time, man. The Brotherhood won’t be there. They’ve got, like, a million of those places. And they’re the most paranoid bunch I’ve ever seen. They’re always moving around, sending out coded instructions, secret passwords, the whole deal.”

“How?” Pike said.

“How what?”

“The coded instruction. How do they get them to you?”

Swift nodded to coffee table. His pockets had been cleaned out. The only thing he had carried was a couple of hundred dollars in a money clip and a Blackberry. Both were on the table.

“Text message.”

Drake came through the door, his usual smirk plastered across his face. “Talked to Florida.”

“The state?” Pike said. “Did you tell them I said hi?”

Drake ignored him. “A jet will be at Cancun in four hours.”

Pike considered that. It would be good to have a destination in mind. He turned to Swift.

“Last chance, Jimmy. I need a location. Someplace to get a line on the Brotherhood.”

Swift shook his head. “I don’t know, man. I hear stuff. There’s supposed to be a lab in the Rockies somewhere. And the head dude has a castle or something in Europe.”

“What about the London headquarters?”

“That place? It’s for the tourists. They hand out brochures and stuff. Other than the place in Florida, I’m not sure–”

Pike stopped him. “What place?”

“It’s a lab, where they work out the bugs in the stuff they find. Two big buildings. The other is a barracks and training facility for their foot soldiers.”

“Where is it?”

“On Sanibel Island.”

One of Jiminez’s men opened the door and gestured to Pike. “Senor, you have a call. Someone named Pug. He said it was muy importante .”

“Drake, don’t let him leave.” Pike pointed at Swift.

He followed the Mexican down the hall, to a small alcove with an old fashioned rotary phone. Why the hell wouldn’t Pug call him on the satellite phone? He lifted the receiver.


He heard only a hum and the crackle of static.


When there was no answer, he hung up and turned around. Jiminez’s man was gone. Pike headed back to what he thought of as the football room.

“Okay, Jimmy, you’re going with us.”

He paused. Drake was gone. Swift’s wrist was handcuffed to the leg of a heavy table next to the leather chair. But whoever handcuffed him needn’t have bothered. Swift wasn’t going anywhere.

Jimmy Swift gazed sightlessly in Pike’s direction. His skin had the look and consistency of gray stone. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing.

Jimmy Swift was a statue.

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 15

From the van, the man dressed in white swung the cylinder at them swiftly, pouring forth the destructive black beam. There was no way to outrun the light.

“Down,” Pike said. “Hug the ground.”

Pike planted himself as flat as he could against the earth. The thick, black dirt smelled of jungle, which the area had been a couple of decades earlier. The right side of his faces pressed into the shells that surrounded the shrubbery. With his left eye, he followed the progress of the black beam.

It passed mere inches above Pike’s head. This close, the texture of the light was odd. It was glossy, like a sheen of oil on concrete. He hoped it wasn’t going to be the last thing he ever saw.

The black light cut through the shrubbery cleanly, raining leaves and thin branches onto Pike’s head.

He heard Jimmy Swift curse. The sound came from a few feet behind him and to the right.


“Here,” the man’s said, from Pike’s left. By pulling his head toward his chin, Pike could see the top of Smith’s head.

“Don’t let Swift get away.”

“Si.” Smith sounded happy.

“And don’t kill him.”


“At least until I talk to him.”

Smith chuckled. It was an evil little sound.

“Pike, where the hell are you going?” Swift sounded understandably nervous.

Pike didn’t answer. He crouched low to the ground and scrambled toward the road. Within a few yards, he was past the arc of the black light. The man wielding the weapon couldn’t reach Pike without cutting through his own van.

The surviving Federales found cover between vehicles and the rubble of the resort. They opened fire on the van.

Great. He was out of range of the weird ray gun, but now stray shots flew over his head.

When he reached the road, Pike moved until the bulk of the dark van was between his body and the Federales. He sprinted for the van.

The driver must have seen him. A gunshot shattered the passenger window. The bullet missed him, but small shards of glass cut Pike’s cheek and lip. He flattened his body against the side of the van. The metal hummed and vibrated from the black light weapon. Pike wondered about the weapon’s power source and how long it could fire.

A hand holding a gun poked out of the wrecked passenger window. Pike knew he was visible in the passenger side mirror, so it was only a second or two before the driver could shoot. With the black beam spewing death on the other side of the van, and the gunfire of the Federales peppering the van, Pike had few options.

Pike grabbed the hand and the gun. He pulled. The driver’s face slammed into the top of the door frame. The man was Caucasian, dressed in a white jumpsuit like the other members of the Brotherhood. Still holding the man’s gun hand, Pike drove a fist into the center of the driver’s face. The man dropped the gun and slumped back across the seat.

Pike opened the passenger door. The back of the van was filled with unidentifiable machinery. The loudest noise came from a box the size and shape of a large generator. From the front of the box, a thick silver tube connected to the base of the cylinder that fired the black beam. The second white-garbed man was focused on using the weapon to destroy the remaining cops.

“Nice suit,” Pike said. “Way to blend into the night.”

The man with the weapon whipped his heard around to look at Pike. Recognition filled his eyes.

“You,” he said.

“Me.” Pike fired the driver’s gun. The shot hit the man in the right shoulder. He looked vaguely familiar to Pike. Maybe he was an ex-Ravenscroft employee who had defected along with Jimmy Swift.

More shots poured in through the van’s open side door. The man Pike had shot was hit several more times.

“Give me the ray gun and I’ll get you a doctor,” Pike said.

“You’ll...never stop us,” the man said. Bright red stains flowered on his white uniform. He turned the cylindrical weapon toward Pike...

...and kept going until it was pointed at the bank of machinery. The black light arced from the tube and sliced through the equipment.

Pike pushed himself out of the van. He ran for the street.

The explosion lifted him from his feet and pushed him through the air. He crossed his arms over his face and tried to go limp. He struck the pavement with his arms first, then his chest. The air was forced out of his lungs. Something sharp and hot landed on his back. He had enough sense to move his hands to protect the back of his head.

Someone took him by the arms and pulled him to his feet. Pike’s vision was blurred, but he could make out the figures of Miguel Smith and Jimmy Smith.

And he could clearly see the flaming remains of the van. Most of the vehicle’s body was gone, along with the Brotherhood’s mysterious weapon.

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011