Alastor and company were in sight of the Robinson house in Godless Avenue when they heard a siren blaring and Danny Walter's squad car roared past them to screech to a stop outside the yellow weatherboard house.
Alastor reached into his coat for his revolver, but Izzi said:
"Uh-uh, remember, we have to maintain the illusion at all costs."
"And cop killing is hardly maintaining the illusion," added Alfonso. "And we don't want Rodrigo getting any madder at us."
"Shit!" said Alastor, reluctantly leaving his gun in its holster. He thought for a moment, and then said: "Drive around to the back lane. The cops have got the front boxed up, so if she's there she'll flee out the back door."
"Good thinking," said Alfonso. He restarted the Fairlane to drive toward the back lane.
* * *
"Godless Avenue," said Hank Guynes as the three cops alighted from the squad car. "I wonder why they called it that?"
"According to Maureen, they meant to call it Goodness Avenue," said Tim Wyatt; "but the sign writer they sent around was dyslexic."
Opening the gate to start toward the front door, Danny said: "Tim, once you've been on the force a little longer, you'll learn never to believe anything that Maureen tells you."
* * *
Val had barely lain down to sleep when there was a hammering upon the front door.
"Who is it?" asked Rob, loud enough to awaken Val.
"The police. Open up."
"What do you want?"
"Don't play games, Mrs Robinson," said Danny Walters, hammering upon the door again. "Open up or we'll have to kick the door in."
"Okay, okay, I'm coming," said Roberta, walking as slowly and as loudly as she thought she could get away with.
* * *
"Sounds like she's crushing grapes in there," said Tim.
"Do we have authority to kick her front door in?" asked Hank. "Without a warrant or anything?"
"Technically no," admitted Danny. "But she doesn't know that. And it might help her to get her skates on."
"Or at least to crush a few more barrels of grapes," said Tim, as Roberta continued to stomp her way as slowly as possible toward the front door.
* * *
Upstairs Val jumped out of bed and hurriedly pulled on one of Roberta's dressed, then hunted round under the bed for her red shoes, which no longer seemed to fit her.
"Come on you bastards!" she said almost breaking a finger as she forced the left show on.
Crying out, she sucked on the finger for a moment, then eased the right shoe on with less difficulty. Then grabbing the small suitcase Roberta had packed for her, but forgetting her handbag, Val raced across to the door to the landing.
"Just keep them outside a moment longer, Roberta," said Val. She eased the door open to look out into the corridor.
After a moment she snuck into the corridor and tiptoed to the top of the stairs and started slowly down, wondering if she could make it out the back door before whoever it was outside the front door could get inside.
* * *
"I think Big Foot is almost here," said Hank Guynes with his ear against the door, startled as Danny knocked again.
"Sorry," said Danny as his constable started. Then to Roberta: "Open up, Mrs Robinson."
"I'm coming," said Roberta.
Reluctantly she opened the front door a few inches.
With memories of the barracuda at the Shady Rest Hotel, Tim Wyatt wondered if they were going to have to squeeze past Roberta. But finally, reluctantly, she opened the door wider and stood back to let them inside the house.
* * *
Val heard the front door swing open. She looked toward the back of the house for a moment, wondering if she could still make it to the backdoor without being seen. Then, hearing footsteps in the front hallway, Val reversed direction and raced back upstairs.
"Where can I hide?" she wondered aloud, looking about the corridor. Looking into the spare bedroom she saw the bedroom window open.
"I wonder," said Val racing into the room.
Looking out the window, she saw an ivy-covered trellis ending about a metre below the window sill.
"Oh Lord," said Valerie, not keen on heights. But after a moment's indecision she dropped the small suitcase out of the window.
"We'll, here goes everything," she said. Turning round she started backing cautiously out of the window.
* * *
Downstairs Roberta was trying to stall the three policemen as they pushed past her into the house.
"You can't just barge into my house without a warrant."
"Why the change of heart, Mrs Robinson. You let us bug the ground floor earlier. Now you don't want us here."
"It's late, I want to get to bed," protested Roberta.
"We'll only be ten minutes, just checking something out."
"One of the bugs caught you saying your sister-in-laws name," said Hank.
"Why did you say, 'Val' Mrs Robinson?" asked Danny.
"I was thinking about her. Wondering why she would kill Tony and all of those others."
The three cops exchanged looks, and then Danny said: "To tell you the truth Mrs Robinson, we don't think that she did."
"What?" asked Roberta, not sure if she could trust them.
"We've received numerous reports of three men in business suits posing as federal cops. We think that they've been doing all of the murders over the last twelve hours or so."
"What?" asked Rob staring at them. "But that's just what Val says."
The three policemen stared at Roberta Robinson, who blushed as she realised what she had said.
"Mrs Robinson, where is your sister-in-law? We only want to put her into protective custody, while we work out what the hell is going on," insisted Danny.
"The men chasing her have killed at least four people," said Tim Wyatt.
"And possibly as many as ten," added Danny. "As well as possibly being involved in two assassination attempts upon the mayor so far tonight."
"Two?" asked Roberta, genuinely shocked. "I had only heard of one."
"Well, it's up to two now," said Hank Guynes; "and counting."
"Mrs Robinson, you aren't helping Valerie if you let her run off again," said Danny. "So where is she?"
"Upstairs in the spare bedroom," said Roberta. Only hoping that she was doing the right thing by trusting the three men.
* * *
Upstairs Valerie was struggling to find the top of the trellis with her feet. Looking down into the dark, she was unable to see where it was.
"Come on, damn it, where are you?" cried Val. And as though hearing her, her left foot finally located the top of the trellis.
"Thank God," said Val as she started to lower her weight onto the trellis.
She had started to crouch down the wall to reach the wooden trellis, when with a loud snap the trellis broke in half beneath Val's weight, pitching Valerie screaming into the overgrown backyard.
* * *
Danny Walters and the others had already started toward the staircase, when they heard a woman's screams from upstairs.
"Come on," cried Danny, racing up the stairs with the others in toe.
* * *
The blue Fairlane had just pulled up outside the rear of the Robinson house when they saw Val climbing backwards out of the upstairs window.
"Here she comes," said Izzi.
"Thank you, Iz, you are now the world champion at stating the bloody obvious," said Alastor, making Alfonso laugh.
"There's no need to be like that," said Izzi.
They climbed out of the car and headed across toward the back fence.
"What is she doing?" asked Izzi, as Val tried to reach the wooden trellis with her left foot.
"It looks like the wah-wahtusi," said Alfonso, making Izzi laugh.
"You're as bad as him," said Alastor. "Just leave the jokes to me."
"Should we go in and get her?" asked Izzi as Val finally found the trellis.
"No, let her come to us," said Alastor. "In the yard she has a dozen ways to elude us. But coming out the back gate there's only one way…"
"Straight into our hands," said Alfonso.
"Exactly," said Alastor with a Cheshire grin.
Izzi and Alfonso sniggered like schoolboys as the three assassins ducked down behind the grey, deal wood fence.
Then as they ducked, the trellis snapped, pitching Valerie shrieking to the long grass.
Looking up the three men saw her lying in the backyard.
"Is she dead?" asked Alfonso.
"I don't think so," said Alastor.
After a moment Val started to climb slowly back to her feet.
"Christ," cried Val as rockets of pain blitzed through her left ankle.
"Should we help her?" asked Izzi.
Looking astonished, Alastor said: "Izzi, we're not here to help her. Only to abduct her and possibly kill her. No, let her get to the gate by herself. If she's injured that'll hurt her more and make her easier to manage."
"You're all heart, Alastor," said Alfonso, and the three assassins laughed.
* * *
Groping around the yard, Val managed to locate the suitcase, and then she started looking round for her handbag, before realising: "Shit, I left my handbag in the bedroom."
She looked up at the bedroom to see Roberta and Danny Walters looking out the window toward her.
"Mrs Celentano?" called Danny. "Please stop, we only want to help you."
"Sure you do," she said under her breath. Gripping the suitcase like it was gold; she hobbled across the small backyard toward the deal wood gate.
"Shit!" cried Val as she staggered out through the back gate.
"Shit indeed," said Alastor as Izzi and Alfonso grabbed her by the arms. "Going somewhere, Mrs Celentano."
* * *
Upstairs Roberta and the three cops crowded round the window peering out into the blackened yard.
"Can you see her?" asked Danny.
Peering into the dark, Roberta said: "I think she's hobbling toward the back gate."
The three cops peered out into the darkness, uncertain of what if anything they were seeing.
"How the hell did she get down from the second floor anyway?" asked Hank Guynes.
"She must have climbed down the trellis," guessed Roberta correctly. "There's a wooden trellis work below the window for the ivy to grow up."
"Help me out, then," suggested Tim Wyatt.
"What?" asked Danny.
"If she can climb down the trellis, I certainly can."
"Okay," said Danny as Tim reversed direction. "But be careful. Too many people have died tonight already."
With Hank and Danny helping, Tim backed out the window and began feeling around for the lattice work with his feet.
"How far below the window is it?" Tim asked.
"Less than a metre," said Roberta, as he continued to feel around for it with his feet.
After a moment he called: "Pull me back up."
Without hesitation Hank and Danny yanked him back in through the window.
"What's up?" asked Danny.
"There's no trellis beneath the window."
"There must be," insisted Roberta.
"Well, there isn't."
"That's why she screamed," said Danny Walters. "She must have been climbing down the lattice work when it broke away beneath her."
"Oh God, she can't be lying broken in the backyard?" asked Roberta.
"I don't think so," said Danny peering out the window. Then to Tim and Hank: "Come on, let's get downstairs."
The three policemen raced out into the corridor toward the stairs, with Roberta just behind them.
They raced downstairs, and then suddenly stopped.
"What's wrong?" asked Roberta.
"Where's the backdoor, Mrs Robinson?"
"Straight through the kitchen."
"Which is where?" demanded Danny.
"Straight through there," said Roberta, pointing to the middle door.
* * *
Alastor and Izzi were dragging Valerie to the blue Fairlane when they heard people running from the backdoor of the house.
"Let me go! Let me go, damn you!" cried Val. She almost managed to struggle out of their grip.
"Come on," said Alastor. He and Izzi picked up Valerie and carried her across to the Fairlane, and then threw her into the backseat.
Val screamed as she was tossed into the back of the Ford.
"Yeah, he's strong isn't he?" said Izzi, getting into the left side of the car, as Alastor climbed into the right. "I once saw him throw a guy right across a baseball pitch."
Staring at Izzi, Val thought, My God, he's completely mad!
Laughing, Alastor said: "Okay, let's get out of here."
* * *
"Shit me dead," said Hank Guynes falling in the dark backyard.
"Are you all right?" asked Roberta. She raced across to help him as Tim and Danny ran over to the back gate.
As the cops reached the alleyway, the Fairlane was already racing away.
"Damn!" said Danny.
Then as the Ford reached the corner, for a moment its licence plate was lit up by a street light.
"ALASTOR-1," read Tim Wyatt.
"Write that down," instructed Danny. Although Tim was already reaching into his shirt pocket for his note pad.
"Got you," said Tim as he wrote it down.
"Okay, let's return to the house," said Danny.
* * *
In the backyard they found Hank Guynes hobbling along with the help of Roberta.
"Come on, you old warhorse," teased Danny, taking Hank under one shoulder. With the help of Tim Wyatt he almost carried Hank back into the house.
After seating Hank in an armchair in the lounge room, Danny instructed Tim: "Go check that vanity plate with Maureen, while I check upstairs."
"What for?" asked Roberta as Tim strode across to the front door.
"In the hope of finding some clue as to why those guys have taken your sister-in-law," said Danny. Then he and Roberta headed toward the staircase.
* * *
In the car Alastor was holding Val, while Izzi ripped apart the clothing in her suitcase.
"It's not here," said Izzi.
"Where is it, Mrs Celentano?" demanded Alastor.
"Where is what?"
"The sheet of paper you were given by Mr Michaels in the mall yesterday?"
Val's eyes lit up as she understood at last, but lying she said: "I don't know what you're talking about."
Izzi place a hand flat against her forehead.
"She's lying," said Izzi.
"Of course, she's lying," said Alastor. "Where is it, Mrs Celentano?"
"It's in my handbag."
"You haven't got one with you."
"I left it back at …" she said: stopping.
"At your sister-in-law's?" asked Alastor.
"No," said Val, too quickly.
"She's lying," said Izzi.
"Did you have a chance to read the sheet of paper?"
"No, I've been too busy running from you three."
"She's telling the truth," said Izzi, taking his palm away from her forehead.
Alastor smiled broadly.
"You're going to kill me, aren't you?"
"No, Mrs Celentano, we're going to let you go … after we get that sheet of paper."
"Yeah, sure," said Val.
"Let her go?" asked Izzi.
"Right. Rodrigo said no more unnecessary killing and she hasn't read the paper. So if we let her go we ought to get back into his good books?"
"Good thinking," said Izzi with a lunatic grin.
Val looked from Izzi to Alastor and was unable to suppress a shudder.
* * *
In the second storey bedroom of the Robinson house, Danny Walters picked up the brown vinyl handbag from the bed and started hunting through it, while Roberta looked through Val's clothing for any possible clues.
"Valerie Celentano," he confirmed from her credit cards. "It's definitely hers."
"Whose did you think it was?" asked Roberta, looking up from examining her sister-in-law's bra.
"With everything that's been going on lately, including fake feds, fake ambulances, feral triage nurses, and murderous priests, Mrs Robinson, I'm taking nothing for granted," explained Danny.
Hearing footsteps in the hallway, they looked up as Tim Wyatt returned, helping along Hank Guynes.
"How'd you go, Tim?" asked Danny.
They all looked at the blond youth.
"There's no such number plate according to Maureen."
Danny stared at the young cop.
"What's going on here? Fake feds, now with fake number plates?" said Danny thinking aloud. "Unless they're British Royals or foreign diplomats they're in big trouble when we get them. No-one else is allowed to have unregistered plates in this country."
"What about the president?" asked Hank Guynes.
"Well yeah, but I doubt if the president is driving around assassinating people," said Danny, in the hope of lightening the atmosphere a little. "Well, not personally … He'd get his aides to do it."
"What's that?" asked Tim Wyatt. He walked across to pick up the sheet of paper, which had fallen on the carpet near Danny's feet.
"What's what?" asked Danny, looking around.
"'This is not really Earth,'" Tim read out as Danny and Roberta started reading over his shoulders. He turned to look at them: "Reads like a page from a script from Doctor Who or the old Twilight Zone show."
Looking back at the page, he read out: "'This is not Earth. We are in a sub-basement of Hell, cunningly disguised as Earth…'"
"My brother, Tony, wrote some science fiction in his teens," explained Roberta. "But I didn't know he still wrote it."
She took the sheet of paper from Tim and read aloud: "'This is not Earth. We are in a sub-basement of Hell, cunningly disguised as Earth and the universe.
"'That is why there is so much evil and injustice in the world today. Because Heaven and the universe are the Lord's domain, where he has absolute power. But he has no power over what goes on in Hell!"
"Wow, it's a creepy one," said Danny. "I think Rod Serling would have accepted this one for sure."
* * *
Alastor, Izzi, Alfonso, and Valerie were getting out of the car out front of Roberta's house, when Val suddenly raced off down the street.
Izzi grabbed his gun from his coat, but Alastor stopped him: "No, no, she's not important unless she tries to warn them inside." To Alfonso, he said: "Follow her in the car. But unless she returns here, let her go."
"Got you," said Alfonso getting back behind the wheel. He started the Fairlane and followed after Val.
"All right, let's go inside," said Alastor, looking back toward Roberta's house.
"The cops are still inside," reminded Izzi.
"The cops can't hurt us."
"Yes, but remember what Rodrigo said. We have to maintain the illusion at all costs."
"It's too late for that crap. We have to get that note back at all costs."
So saying, he started across the footpath toward the house. After a moment's hesitation, Izzi started after him.
* * *
Val ran down the street until she saw a railway station. She started to run past the station, and then noticed a small gate stood open.
After a second's hesitation, Val raced in through the gateway, as Alfonso pulled up outside the railway station.
"Oh God," said Val. Although relaxed a little by the hot bath, she desperately needed to find somewhere that she could have a few hours' sleep.
She raced across to the ticket booth, only to find it locked up.
"Damn you!" she said, going to kick the wooden door. But remembering what had happened when she had kicked the ATM machine, she stopped and staggered across to another small room. Which was also locked.
Beside that, though, was an open air waiting room, which at least would keep the rain out.
"And most of the wind, I hope," said Val as she wandered across toward it.
"Thank God," said Val, almost collapsing from fatigue as she walked in through the redbrick archway.
Slinking across to where she hoped the wooden bench would be, Val sat down.
"Ah!" she cried, leaping up again as she sat on an old man in the dark.
Lighting a match, the old derelict said: "Don't be afraid, honey. Come and snuggle up to me for body heat."
"How dare you?" demanded Val.
"Don't worry about him, luvie," said a blousy blonde Val could just make out in the light of the long match. "His talk is much worse than his bite. He hasn't been a threat to any woman for twenty years now."
"How dare you, Molly!" protested the old man.
"S … sorry," said Val; "I'm exhausted and desperately need a place to sleep."
"Well, you won't find anywhere in here," said Molly. "All the bench space is taken. I've slept here for twenty years. Old Ted there --," pointing at the old man --, "for nigh on thirty years. Brodie across the way for nearly forty years. And young Beth for about ten years … maybe twelve."
"Twelve," agreed Beth.
"But I've been running for hours," protested Val.
Cursing as he burnt his fingers, old Ted dropped the match, and they were back in darkness.
"Who you running from?" asked Brodie.
"You running from the law?" demanded Molly. "We don't need no crims bunking down here with us."
"Not the law exactly," said Val. She narrowly avoided a patch of vomit as she sat on the cold brick floor. "They're fake federal agents called …"
"Shit in a hand basket!" said Molly. "Not Alastor, Iscaron, and Alfonso?"
"Y … yes, I think so."
"Then you're already dead, honey," said Brodie.
"What do you mean?"
"You a Christian?" asked Brodie, surprising Val.
"Well … yes."
"But, like most Christians nowadays, not up on your mythology, I see," said Molly.
"I guess not," agreed Val. Puzzled, she wondered if the four railway people were all senile.
"Alastor," explained Brodie; "is the chief executioner in Hell. Iscaron, or Izzi, his second in charge, is the Avenging Angel of Death!"
"What?" demanded Val, putting her hand in the vomit as she stood again.
"Alfonso used to be a pope, centuries ago."
"A pope?" asked Val, wondering if she had heard correctly.
"Aha. Alfonso de Borja. Pope Callistus III. One of the two evil Borgia Popes."
"What about Rodrigo?" asked Val. "I've heard them talk of him as someone they have to take orders from. They … they seem to even be afraid of him."
"Rodrigo was the other infamous Borgia Pope. Rodrigo Borgia, also known as Pope Alexander VI. He was famous for sexually abusing every nun in the Vatican. And some say every young priest as well.
"He was also notorious for poisoning his enemies."
"Some say that he did the poisoning that his famous half-sister and mistress, Lucretia Borgia, went down in history for," added Ted. "After his death, like his ancestor, Alfonso, he became a devil and executioner in Hell."
"If Alastor, Iscaron, Alfonso de Borja and Rodrigo Borgia want you … you're as good as dead already," insisted Molly.
"But if they're devils, how can they spend so much time up on Earth?" demanded Val. "And how can they have any power on Earth?"
"On Earth?" said Brodie.
"She still thinks we're on Earth?" said Beth, sounding horrified.
"Well … aren't we?" asked Val. Again she wondered if the railway people were all senile.
"Of course not, luvie," said Molly. "This is Hell."
"Hell?" asked Val, staring into the darkened waiting room.
"We thought you had to know that if Alastor, Iscaron, and Alfonso are trying to kill you."
* * *
Reaching the front door of Roberta Robinson's house, Alastor reached into his coat for the key-gun again.
This time Iscaron (Izzi) did not tease him about the C.I.A. arresting them, as Alastor selected a key, inserted it into the front door and pressed the trigger.
The gun whir-whir-whirred for a moment before locking into place. And effortlessly Alastor opened the front door and he and Iscaron stepped inside the yellow weatherboard house.
"I see you're still got the Midas touch," teased Iscaron.
"Thank you," said Alastor. He closed the front door carefully behind them.
Putting away the key-gun, Alastor removed his .45 revolver from his coat as Iscaron removed his nine-millimetre pistol.
They looked about the front of the house for a moment, before hearing voices upstairs.
Starting toward the stairs, Alastor signalled Iscaron to follow, and they slowly started up the carpeted stairs toward the second storey.
* * *
Danny Walters reached across to take the sheet of paper from Roberta and read: "'This is not Earth. We are in a sub-basement of Hell, cunningly disguised as Earth and the universe.
"'That is why there is so much evil and injustice in the world today. Because Heaven and the universe are the Lord's domain, where he has absolute power. But he has no power over what goes on in Hell!
"'Hell is the Devil's dominion. And only Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer and their executioners - Rodrigo Borgia, Alfonso de Borja, Alastor, Iscaron, Adad, Azrael, and Hannibal - have any authority there.
"Everyone here has already lived his or her life up on Earth and has failed to qualify to enter the Kingdom of God upon death. Some lusted too much after women. Some lusted too much after gold, silver, or palladium and live here as street people.
"'Some were murderers, rapists, child-abusers, and so on. They are here as policemen.'"
"What?" demanded Danny, looking round at Tim Wyatt, then Hank Guynes. Like the two young constables, Danny Walters had wanted to be a cop and help people ever since he had been a kid, and could not imagine having been a murderer or rapist (or worse) in an earlier lifetime.
Looking at the sheet he read: "'They will endlessly repeat their so-called lives in hell, throughout eternity unless they manage to redeem themselves.'"
"Redeem themselves?" asked Roberta. "How do they do that?"
Tim and Hank shrugged, but Danny didn't seem to even hear the question.
Looking back at the sheet of paper, Danny said: "Alastor and Iscaron. If I remember my teaching from my Catholic School days, they're the Chief Executioner in Hell, and the Avenging Angel of Death."
"That's us," said Alastor, startling the four people in the bedroom. "It's nice to be famous."
Spinning round Danny, Tim, Hank, and Roberta saw Alastor and Iscaron standing behind them with guns in their hands.
"What the hell?" said Danny, starting to reach for his own side-arm.
Too late … as the two demons in human guise opened fire, killing Roberta Robinson and the three policemen.
"That's one way to redeem yourself," explained Alastor, to no-one in particular; "getting killed in the line of duty, or to protect your sister-in-law."
"Rodrigo will be shitting bricks when he hears about this," said Iscaron.
"I don't think so," said Alastor. He walked over and picked up the sheet of note paper, which he folded up carefully then put into his suit coat breast pocket.
"He said no more massacres. We have to maintain the illusion at all costs."
"They had all read the sheet. They all knew the truth about heaven and hell. They had to die. Even Rodrigo will see that," said Alastor.
"Well, I don't know," said Iscaron.
Tapping his breast pocket, Alastor said: "And when we give him back the sheet of paper, he'll forget all about being angry."
"Oh, yeah!" said Iscaron, grinning demonically.
* * *
Hannibal, Adad, and Azrael stood in the dark lounge room of the two storey brick house in Hunter Street waiting for their prey to arrive.
"Remember, no cock-ups this time," demanded Hannibal; "or Rodrigo really will send us all up one level."
"Yeah! Yeah!" said Adad, still a little out of sorts after returning from the dead.
"Just don't get yourself killed again, or this time Rodrigo won't intervene to get you resurrected!" said Hannibal.
"Okay," said Adad. He was starting to adjust to life again, so that his resentments and angers were easing away at last.
"Cut him some slack," said Azrael; "it always takes a little while to get used to dying and being resurrected."
"Yeah, that's true," agreed Hannibal. Then as they heard a car pull up outside. "All right be quiet and stayed concealed until the bitch gets right into the sitting room, so there's nowhere for her to go this time."
"Got it," said Azrael and Adad as one.
* * *
"Oh Lord, just let this awful night end," said Marla Goldenberg as the security car pulled up outside her house.
"Don't worry, Lady Mayor, you'll soon be safe inside," said Evan. Then to the other security guards: "Keifer, Willem go check out the grounds right around the house, to make certain that there's no sign of them, or any break in."
"That'll leave us sitting ducks here," said Marla as the two guards climbed out of the car.
"No, I'll drive around the block again while they're checking your house," said Evan starting the car again.
* * *
Inside the house they heard the car start up again.
"They're leaving again?" said Adad, surprised.
"No, no, he's just driving her round the block again while two guards check the outside of the house," said Azrael, using his psychic powers again.
"No sweat," said Hannibal; "we parked the Fairlane a kilometre away, and we used a key-gun to get inside, so there's no trace of breaking and entering."
"Oh, yeah," said Adad and the three fiends laughed like idiots.
* * *
Arriving back at the house, Evan saw Willem and Keifer waiting for him.
"Well?" he called.
"No sign of anyone," called Keifer.
"I'd bet my life there's no-one here," said Willem, unaware that he was about to do just that.
"Oh God, can we go inside now?" asked Marla.
"Yes, of course," said Evan. He signalled, and the other two guards walked over, so that the three men could try to shield the mayor with their bodies as they led her over to the front door.
"Come on," said Evan and they raced over to the front door.
Marla fumbled her front door key from her purse. Then Evan took the key from her and unlocked the door and they quickly stepped inside, still shielding Marla with their own bodies.
"I should be all right now," said Marla. She felt a little uncomfortable as the three men pressed up against her.
"Sorry," said Evan and they stepped away a little. "But remember paranoiacs on average live ten years longer than happy-go-lucky people."
"That's true," said Marla with a laugh. She started down the hallway toward the stairs to her upstairs bedroom, unaware at first that the three men were still following her. "Are you three planning to spend the night here?"
"We really have to escort you upstairs, and then check your house room by room, before we leave," explained Evan. He was careful not to remind her that she had already had four assistants killed that awful night.
"Oh, all right,' said Marla, starting up the stairs.
As they started up the stairs the door to the lounge room opened behind them and out stepped Hannibal, Adad, and Azrael.
"Surprise," said Hannibal.
"Shit!" said Evan grabbing for his handgun.
Too late as the three assassins carefully gunned down Evan, Keifer, and Willem, leaving a shocked Marla Goldenberg standing alone on the bottom step of the staircase.
"Please?" she said in terror.
"Show us your tits, and we'll give you a ten second head start," teased Hannibal.
"How dare you …?" said Marla. Her eyes almost leapt from their sockets as she recognised Adad, who she had seen less than an hour ago lying dead on a metal table in the municipal building forensic room. "You're dead."
"He was, but he's been resurrected," said Azrael.
"Hurts a little, resurrection," said Adad. "Still it's better than staying dead."
"That's true," said Hannibal and the three fiends laughed like the maniacs that they were.
Turning, Marla tried to run up the stairs, but only got three steps before they gunned her down.
Going over to check that she was really dead, Hannibal said: "Third time lucky."
The three assassins laughed manically again as they turned to head toward the front door.
* * *
Backing out of the redbrick waiting room at the railway station, Val strode across to the ladies toilets to wash the vomit off her hand.
* * *
Having sneaked into the railway station, Alfonso heard Molly and the others talking: "Imagine still thinking this is Earth?"
"Yeah," agreed Brodie. "Didn't it ever occur to her that God would never let the inequalities that go on everyday happen, if he had the power to stop them …?"
"And the only way God could not have the power to stop them would be if this is a sub-basement of Hell disguised as Earth and the universe," Alfonso finished for her.
"Who … who are you?" asked Ted.
Ted lit another match so that Alfonso and the waiting room were half-lit.
"Don't you know?" asked Alfonso, screwing a silencer onto his revolver.
"You're Alfonso de Borja, the most evil of the two Borgia Popes," Brodie mouse-squeaked.
"I like to think so," said Alfonso grinning idiotically as he opened fire upon the four railway people. "But that young upstart Rodrigo seems to think he's more evil than me."
He unscrewed the silencer and pocketed the gun and silencer, before turning to start back to the blue Fairlane.
* * *
Val stood in the doorway of the Ladies' toilet, watching fish-eyed for a moment, as Alfonso walked over to get into the car and drove away.
Once he was gone, Valerie raced across to the redbrick waiting room, where she found the four railway people dead, and started to scream.
* * *
Pulling up outside Roberta Robinson's house, Alfonso found Alastor and Iscaron waiting for him.
"How'd you go?" asked Alastor.
"No sweat, I let her go," he said as Izzi climbed into the car. "But I had to kill four derelicts who knew who and where we are."
"You killed four people?" demanded Iscaron as Alastor started into the Ford. "Shit, so did we!"
"What?" demanded Alfonso.
"Rodrigo will shit bricks when he hears we killed eight more people, despite his instructions not to go on a killing spree."
"Yeah," agreed Alfonso, nervously. "But he also said to maintain the illusion at all costs. They all knew we're in Hell and had to die to maintain the illusion."
"The same with ours," said Iscaron.
"I just hope that Rodrigo sees it that way," said Alastor, starting to close the car door, when the radio in the squad car in front of them started to squawk.
"Hang on a minute," said Alastor climbing back into the street.
"What the hell is he doing?" demanded Alfonso.
Iscaron could only shrug as Alastor walked across to reach into the squad car and lift the handset.
"Hello! Hello!" called Maureen tearfully from the police radio.
Alastor signalled for the others to be quiet. Pressing the button on the handset, in a perfect imitation of Danny Walters's voice he said: "What's up, Maureen?"
Almost crying out the words, Maureen said: "The mayor's just been assassinated on the third attempt. And the deputy mayor has suspended all inquiries into the Valerie Celentano murders, until the mayor's killers are caught."
"Got you," said Alastor, hanging up the handset. Walking back to the blue Fairlane he said: "Good news."
"Oh?" asked Alfonso.
"The second team's finally done something right. They've finally managed to kill that interfering bitch mayor."
He climbed into the front passenger seat as Alfonso started the Ford, saying: "Good news indeed."
The three demons laughed as they drove away.
* * *
This is not Earth. We are in a sub-basement of Hell, cunningly disguised as Earth and the universe.
That is why there is so much evil and injustice in the world today. Because Heaven and the universe are the Lord's domain, where he has absolute power. But he has no power over what goes on in Hell!
Hell is the Devil's dominion. And only Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer and their executioners - Rodrigo Borgia, Alfonso de Borja, Alastor, Iscaron, Adad, Azrael, and Hannibal - have any authority there.
Everyone here has already lived his or her life up on Earth and has failed to qualify to enter the Kingdom of God upon death. Some lusted too much after women. Some lusted too much after gold, silver, or palladium and live here as street people.
Some were murderers, rapists, child-abusers, and so on. They are here as policemen.
They will endlessly repeat their so-called lives in hell, throughout eternity unless they manage to redeem themselves.
People are redeemed - called up to Heaven by God -- after succeeding at a second or subsequent attempt at life, after dying to help others, or after being murdered.
The following people in this account were redeemed and called up to Heaven: Nathaniel "Old Man" Michaels; Sergeant Ed Quince; Sergeant Andrew Peters; Anthony "Tony" Celentano; Roberta Robinson (nee Celentano); Clive Westlake; Alma Westlake; Morgan old man; Tilda old lady; Tom Chapman verger; Mrs Murphy; Lorelei Chung cook; Fred Larkins hotel clerk; Rosie Piedersen prostitute; George bodyguard; Aaron bodyguard; Pedro bodyguard; Derek chauffeur; Marla Goldenberg mayor; Evan security guard; Keifer security guard; Willem security guard; Molly railway person; Brodie railway person; Ted railway person; Beth railway person; Sergeant Danny Walters; Constable Henry "Hank" Guynes, and Constable Timothy "Tim" Wyatt.
[The above is my explanation for all the injustice and suffering in the world. Take it or leave it! -- Philip Roberts November 2011]
© Copyright 2011
Philip Roberts, Melbourne, Australia