As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence. It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam. This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started. Each one is 99 cents!
“I don’t like this, Paulie,” Dannie claims as he puts a new vanilla-scented air freshener around his neck. Wearing the tan robe of a Librarian, the brown-haired man makes it a point to show the newcomers that he only has eight fingers in an attempt to intimidate them. “Very suspicious that they show up with a mermaid right after we attack Grand Aquae. I think we have a traitor who ratted us out, so they hired these two to follow us back to our hideout. We should kill them, put all the cages on the truck, and move.”
“Actually, it seems like this place is common knowledge,” Cassidy points out while getting out of the jeep. Shivering due to the air conditioning, the mercenary holds out her hands and turns to show all of her weapons. “We were told by the locals and figured it would be best to stay away. You know how our kind can be territorial. Of course, that changed when you cost us an easy score. We’re only here to recover our losses and get back to our own job. Once we unload the dolphin girl, my partner and I will be out of your hair.”
Sitting on a recliner, Paulie stares at Cassidy and takes a few long puffs on his inhaler. He puts the medicine under his cap, which has a faded basketball team logo that does not match the rest of the colors. His heavy breathing still has a slight wheeze due to exerting himself earlier in the day. As if to prove he has no fear and controls the situation, the kidnapper has Cola chained to a railing next to his chair. The conductor is unconscious beneath a net that is connected to a small generator the Paulie takes off his back and plugs into a floor outlet. The black-haired man’s khaki shorts and pocket t-shirt are wrinkled and marked with fresh sweat stains that he casually tries to remove with a detergent pen. Removing his top, he shows his guests that he has some well-defined muscle tone, but there are suspicious surgery scars around his chest. Not wanting to catch a cold, he grabs fresh clothing from Cathie and ducks behind the recliner to change.
Taking advantage of the silence, Cassidy does a quick headcount of their enemies and frowns when she hits double digits. Most of the kidnappers are busy tending to their latest prisoners, each person having a designated cage. The setup reminds her of a warehouse-sized garage where every employee has a work station that nobody else can touch. It would not surprise her to learn that every member of the gang has their own style and Paulie has created a system that allows autonomy while he gets a cut of every heist. Turning her attention to Cola, Cassidy wishes he was in a cage instead of next to the people she might have to shoot. Even though her she has complete faith in her abilities, she would rather not take the risk of someone using the conductor as a human shield. The mercenary stops looking around when she catches Cathie sizing her up, the other woman still regarding the pair with suspicion.
“So, when do we make a deal and get out of each other’s hair?” Lloyd blurts out from where he is sitting. Calmly sharpening a curved sword, he keeps an eye on Kennie as the grinning kidnapper inches closer. “Back off, skin tag, because this deadly shiny is mine. Only way you get to enjoy it is if I stick it in your ribs. As I was saying, my partner and I are only here to settle our accounts. No worries about us encroaching on your gang’s territory or taking over whatever system you have here. Just help us ransom off our hostage, we’ll give you a cut, and then you’ll never hear from us again.”
“Pretty chatty for the muscle. I think you misunderstand what we do here,” Paulie explains in a soft voice. Taking his seat, the man puts up the footrest and leans back so that he can stare at the model planes that dangle from the ceiling. “This is not a gang, but a haven for those who make their living through kidnapping. With the exception of Kennie, all of us work entirely for ourselves. I merely charge rent and match people who may need some help for jobs that require a team. For example, Cathie might be wanted for muscle while Dannie is a great sniper. It isn’t necessary for us to work together as long as we don’t fight amongst ourselves. Sadly, accidents happen and jobs have been known to intersect with each other. Nothing can be done about that possibility. Still, I’m unclear as to why my actions made it difficult for you.”
“Because you stirred their security, which prevented us from sneaking out,” Cassidy replies with a sigh. Feigning frustration, she starts to pace and has her path take her closer and closer to the electrified net’s generator. “They were checking everyone who looked suspicious and carrying an unconscious mermaid is fairly obvious. They weren’t going to believe she was drunk and we were helping her get to her room. We had to shoot our way to the jeep and fight our way out of the park. That’s too many wasted bullets for this job. Look, I don’t want to stay here any longer than I have to. Maybe there’s a person who pay for our losses and take this over? A sponsor, which I assume is what’s going on with that guy. I can tell that you were hired to take him since you’re keeping him so close.”
Dannie raises his sniper rifle and pushes the barrel against Cassidy’s temple. “Don’t you dare call Paulie a goon. He doesn’t take orders from anybody. We heard about the Holly Sage Express bounty and he came up with this plan. The trick is on the owner because we won’t be returning his conductor unless we’re given the train. A moving base is much better than a stationary one. Besides, the reward for this job is a lot more than whatever you’ll get for some knocked up sea cow. I think it’s time we kill them. What do you say, Paulie?”
“I say we wait a little longer because something doesn’t seem kosher,” the kidnapper boss answers while blindly groping for a thermos. Taking a long drink of the cold water, he pulls out his inhaler and turns it in his hand. “I left an agent behind to tell me if there was anything going on that I should know about. She would have told me about another kidnapping, but things have been silent so far. There’s always the chance that she was caught, but I doubt anyone would suspect an obedient mermaid. So, what aren’t you telling me?”
“My birthday, zodiac sign, favorite pizza topping, if I’m wearing underwear, why I smell like coconut, and the list of my secrets keeps going,” Lloyd says as he stands. Swinging his weapon, he wanders away from the group and examines the number lock on a cage. “Guess our theory was wrong. Good because I’m tired of talking. You see, we heard you were taking orders for your latest job and our boss wanted to find out who has your balls in a vise. The mermaid was going to be a juicy bargaining chip. You tell us the name of the person who wants that man with the Lost Boy haircut and you can ransom her off. We only want information because that Holly Sage Express bounty is going to be ours.”
“Your story just can’t stay straight.”
“I blame my attention span and a dire need for lotion.”
“As you said, your theory was wrong and I have no boss.”
“Well, I did say I was tired of talking, so I jumped around.”
“You’re outnumbered and have no gun.”
“Why do people always think I’ll turn violent?”
Cassidy ducks and grabs the barrel of Dannie’s gun in order to yank it forward, which causes the weapon to go off. The bullet hits Paulie in the stomach while the recoil sends the stock into the sniper’s face. Stunned by the impact, the robe-wearing kidnapper is unable to stop the mercenary from flipping the rifle into her hands and shooting him through the throat. Kennie is about to pounce on Cassidy when Lloyd decapitates him in one swing and follows up by slamming the blade into Cathie’s gut. Muttering curses and gripping her hammer, the woman slumps to the floor while the intruders rush the recliner. Shooting the generator for the electrified net, the pair grab Cola and Paulie who they drag behind the armored jeep. Before they can get inside, the other kidnappers recover their senses and scramble for their weapons. Those who have a clear view of the intruders are driven away by Cassidy, her shots precise and only killing two of the scattering enemies. No sooner has she cleared their side of the jeep than the other side is pelted with bullets that ricochet off the armor plating and reinforced glass.
“Stay behind the wheels, so they can’t get our feet,” Cassidy says while blindly shooting with the sniper rifle. She hears one person grunt from an impact, but she realizes that she could have hit a hostage. “Crap! Forgot that they had people in the cages. I’m going to have to lay down and aim low, but that won’t get us out of here. Only way we survive is if Arethusa uses the machineguns. Can you get out of your bonds and start firing? Just use the one in the ceiling that will face them. I’m not asking for anything fancy.”
“But using guns make me vomit!” the mermaid shouts from inside. Instead of shooting, she opens the passenger side door and reaches down to pull Cola inside. “When I was a slave, my owner would have us kill anyone who disobeyed. My stomach always twisted when I was chosen and I can’t even touch a gun without getting queasy. Giving you that shotgun without throwing up was a miracle. By the way, I was saved by a man who said his daughter was this tough woman with blonde hair, a twin gun lower back tattoo, and a scar on her forehead. Do you think-”
“This is neither the time nor the place!” the mercenary yells while risking a peek under the jeep. Seeing a sniper on the ground, she shoots the woman in the head and whirls around to hit a man in the shin. “Last chance to tell us the truth, Paulie. Did you take Cola for the bounty or were you hired to do it? Considering I can see your intestines, I don’t think you have much time to play games.”
“Kid, he died right after I got him off the chair,” Lloyd mentions as he pulls some throwing knives out from under his bandages. He jumps up to fling two of them and ducks as they thud into a pylon. “Okay, I thought that would work without ever trying it before, but apparently I’m not that good. These guys seem too stupid to charge as a group or come around, so why don’t we just get inside and drive off?”
Cassidy hits another enemy in the shoulder before being forced back behind the jeep. “This is just a waste of ammunition and time. You get in first and take the wheel. I’ll have to use the guns since nobody else can do it. We can let King Grannus know what we did here and see if he can send people to rescue the other prisoners. I’d like to help them now, but I’m fairly certain the kidnappers won’t hurt them. They’re going to be too busy arguing over leadership. Did you just hear a distant boom?”
Part of the roof is caved in by a blast, which is followed by another that punches a hole in the eastern wall. Terrified by the unexpected barrage, the kidnappers drop their weapons and rush out of the building with their hands high in the air. As Cassidy and Lloyd come out of hiding, they hear a chorus of machineguns firing outside and the screams of those who are killed by the onslaught. A third explosion shakes the hideout and tears another chunk off the roof, which is on the verge of collapsing. Hearing a roar behind them, the pair turn to watch a large vehicle pass a few feet from the front doors. The ground quivers and the sound of grinding metal is muffled by the building, which shudders from another impact.
“Will the two turds who work for that LaSalle bitch please get out here?” Laurencia asks over a megaphone. She can be heard whispering before the rumbling stops and she clears her throat. “I will give you five minutes to make a decision. Know that you’re surrounded by my armada. If you want to be destroyed then that’s your decision. Don’t think escape is an option because I’ll find you wherever you-”
“Kill them now for what they did to my family!” Parker Bulbosa screams over the megaphone.
“Let it go, you idiot!”
“Stop giving them chances!”
“You’re going to break the-”
Cassidy sighs and climbs into the jeep before coming back with a collection of chains and hooks. “Please give us a hand, Arethusa. The three of us are going to attach these to the cages that have living people inside. I count five, so it shouldn’t take long. Only put it on the doors because I just want to free them instead of taking them with us. Once the chains are set, we all get inside my baby and start a wild drive back to Grand Aquae.”
“But we’re going to have the doors dragging behind us,” Lloyd starts to point out. He stops when his partner returns with a jar that looks like it is filled with clay. “Oh . . . that’ll solve that problem. Wonder what we’re dealing with out there.”