"Check . . . and mate," Ralph whispered, his face radiating with joy. His dark brown eyelids were tumescent because of the long-term insomnia he had undergone but now a faint smile adorned his pale face.
I won. My efficient toil will be ensued by my salvation.
Hesitantly, he grabbed the gun, a 22 caliber. There was only one bullet left but it would serve its purpose quite effectively.
One bullet is all I need.
He slowly put the gun next to his temple. In his entire life, never had he imagined of committing such an action but at the moment it was his best choice, the cat's pajamas. He took a final, deep breath and pulled the trigger . . .
Five meters next to Ralph's now soulless body, his best friend Michael laid on the floor, crying. He had seen Ralph killing himself and done nothing to prevent it. That was the deal. No interference.
Why did I allow this to occur? This should have been me . . .
"Dad," George was shouting while he was getting out of his bed, "I am starving. Is breakfast ready?"
"Yeah", Ralph replied to his five-year-old son as he was reading his news paper.
Wearing his glasses not only facilitated him in reading easier but also made him seem quite older than he was, especially with his slicked, dark hair being dyed all the way to the back. But that didn't bother him. He wanted to look older in order to infuse a sense of maturity and responsibility as his job required experienced and well prepared persons for any kind of situations, mere or severe. Being a police officer was really demanding that time for the sustainable increase in criminal activities didn't seem to settle on a steady degree.
"I saw a dream" his son said, enjoying now his breakfast, a boiled egg and a toast covered with peanut butter "It was about . . ." he hesitated, "It was about mom."
Ralph endeavored to be calm but his son's grief about his mother's death always used to make him unstable. Ralph and Mary had married in a catholic church in Rome eight years before. That was Mary's favorite European capital in which they also spend their honeymoon. Three years after their being connected with the unbreakable bonds of marriage they gave birth to their son who they named George.
Unfortunately for them, the part "… till death do us apart" came far sooner than they had expected. Mary died of a malignant mass in her lungs two years after her son's birth and since then Ralph never loved another woman.
The horn of a vehicle was heard and little George took his school bag. "I am going to miss you dad," he confessed, "Do you really have to go?"
"We've talked about this, George. It was not my decision to do it but I promise I'll be home till nine o'clock, just in time to say goodnight. Now go. You'll miss your bus."
"Okay dad", George clasped his father in his arms and kissed him warmly. Then he opened the door and left.
"I promise I will be home about nine o'clock" Ralph whispered to himself "just in time to say goodnight. Or so I hope."
George entered the bus and sat next to Camille, his best friend. There was no way to know that the bus's driver was not qualified to do the job. Neither that the man who was hired for that job lay dead in the trunk of the same bus.
Everything goes exactly as planned. Boss will be pleased, Kendal was thinking while driving the huge vehicle.
The fostering ring of his cell phone interrupted his hassling thoughts.
"Kendal", he answered, his voice calm, indicating a sharp professionalism. He listened silently for about half a moment.
"Yeah. All is done", he finally said and hung up immediately.
Kendal had never been more satisfied of himself. An hour before he had broken and entered in the school-bus driver's house where he had found him drinking his coffee.
"Who's this?" the driver had demanded.
"It is of no importance", Kendal had responded, his hand grabbing his pistol.
"I'm calling the police now."
"I doubt it", Kendal had said with outpouring self-confidence. Then he had fired, aiming the driver's left leg. After that he had started walking toward him, salivating like a lion about to consume its injured prey.
"It was nice to meet you", Kendal had smiled.
"Why me?" his victim had groaned.
"It's not your fault", he had said and finished him.
The first part of my mission is complete. Let's carry on.
We're leaving in half an hour, Ralph thought. I've been waiting for this mission since the start of my anticipative career.
"Good morning, Michael", he said, greeting his best buddy while entering their office.
"You ready for today?" asked Michael curiously.
"You bet I am. I didn't sleep the whole night thinking", Ralph stopped for a second, "Have you really contemplated what ramifications there would be if we failed."
"No. That's why I'm still coping with the situation"
"It's not time for joking man", Ralph cried in protest, "A potential failure of ours might cause the biggest drug-dealer of our town to escape . . . again"
The chief police officer walked in, adjusting his rather stiff mustache. He called for them and they complied instantly.
Chief Mara, otherwise known as The Fox, was a very respectable policeman, strict with everyone as far as laws and rules were concerned. His nickname referred to his unique cunning which had assisted him in several occasions where he had to cope with very clever criminals. There, where others came up against a brick wall he continued till the end, till his success. Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer. That was his motto.
"Mr. Ralph, Mr. Michael. I frankly hope you are ready for today's difficult task. It is of vital importance that you should follow my exact instructions. Sirs, we have been preparing this operation in three months. Do not screw it up. Understood?"
"Understood", they both answered.
"I wish you a good luck. I will be expecting news from you with great agony."
The two policemen heaved the heavy office's door and left.
"I think I left my gun downstairs" Ralph recalled.
"I need to refill my gun too" said Michael.
"We'll use the elevator, eh?"
"Yeah", said Michael and press the call button.
But they did not know that was the worst choice they ever made in their lives.
Five blocks away from the police station Kino Altamura had just finished placing the bomb in the electricity station in order for the provide to stop once exploded. His eyes were shining. His cell phone rang indicating the reception of a text message. It's time.
He sheered away from the bomb and activated it with his remote control. The following seconds were vital.
Once the bomb was exploded the station went down the next one on the grid tried to compensate, then the one after that, causing a full reactive power surge. Three point two seconds later, the entire sector went dark and electricity was not provided to the city.
That should be good. It's nice having an inside guy.
What the hell is going on, Ralph thought.
The elevator had stopped in the middle of the two floors and the light went out.
"The electricity supply must have been implemented", Michael guessed as if he could read his mind.
"We don't have time for this. Is there a way out?"
"I am afraid no. We have to wait for someone to get us out of here", Michael said.
Thus, they waited there patiently for the next twenty minutes discussing about their mission while time was running out.
"I don't believe they haven't realized we are here. I'll try to call them. We have a damn business to attend," Ralph protested and tried to call with his cell. "No signal", he ejaculated. "At least we'll have some light. He found his lens and illuminated it, shedding some light in the pitch-black cabin.
"I can't breath", suddenly Michael said.
"Damn! The oxygen in here is electronically restored. I had forgotten that. We are running out of air. Let me check the level." he found a board which indicated the levels of oxygen "It's low. It's at fifteen percent!"
"What!?" Michael cried. "We're going to die in here?"
"If someone doesn't locate us, we will", Ralph said.
"You know what they say" Michael mentioned "death caused by asphyxiation is the most painful of them all. I might as well kill myself with my gun."
"I've told you Michael", Ralph answered, "joking is not going to help you at the present moment."
"The truth is I am not joking", Michael pulled out his gun and put it near his head. "I have only one bullet left."
"That is totally unfair you selfish arrogant" Ralph tried to stop him, "Are you going to let me suffer?"
"I wish there was another way." Michael uttered weakly, the air supply going down even further.
"Actually there is." Ralph said and explained.
Kendal was waiting for little George's return at Ralph's home.
If the other plan does not work I will be here to finish the job. The only thing I'll have to do is call the cop and blackmail him. He would do anything for his kid.
The door opened and George ran into the house happily waiting to find his babysitter, Joan. But the only person who saw was a man sitting at the kitchen table. Slowly he started creeping up on him while he was thinking who that person might be.
If only they knew who I really am, the drug dealer was considering. What I have done for them is huge compared to what these two have done for me, he kept on thinking. Now they are going to suffer the consequences, the knock-on-effects that their dull, naive actions have caused.
The drug dealer laughed out loud and congratulated himself for his brilliant plan. The policemen, who were going to pursuit him, would be dead within minutes and no one could have evidence for his guilt.
He lit a cigarette and took a long drag, savoring the warmth as it permeated his lungs. Satisfied that everything was in order he anticipated every possible response his opponents could have. None. He had eliminated their every choice.
"We will play a chess game. The winner will have the privilege of killing himself and avoiding the painful, insufferable death."
"It's a deal." Michael agreed.
Ralph found his small chess board which he used to take with him while travelling. They set the pieces properly. For both of them this would be the last game of their lives.
Ten minutes had passed when the game was finally over.
"I won", Ralph said. It's time for my prize.
Next to Ralph's now dead body, Michael was starting to grasp the signs of his rather oblique feature. I cannot breath.
Facedown on the floor, Michael was gulping shallow breaths, scarcely able to inhale. The excruciating, acute jolt of pain seemed to penetrate every molecule of his body. It's over.
Now, despite his mind's focused intention, his muscles refused to obey the commands nerves were sending them.
Suddenly the lights went on and the elevator begun moving again. Thank God.
When the elevator reached the 1st floor and the door opened everyone gathered there in order to see what was going on. Apparently they had heard the penetrating sound of the gunshot.
Michael managed to catch a breath. His kegs were tingling now, a fiery and painful recovering but they still refused to corporate.
The first man who he saw was Mara who seemed both surprised and anxious.
"What happened here?" he asked Michael going near him. Michael was annoyed by his cigarette breath but didn't say anything. He explained everything that had happened.
"That is very sad" said Mara, "I am so sorry for what you had to experience. Please, I need you in my office now", he said and left. While he was going away, Michael noticed that Mara had dropped his cell. He hurried to give it back to him but before he picked it up he had seen a small text that was written on the screen. Its content left him speechless.
Kendal grasped the movement behind him and grabbed the kid in his arms.
His father is dead. There is no need to scare the kid, he thought.
"Where is Miss Joan?" the kid asked.
"She was sick today and didn't make it. I'll take care of you till your father comes back. My name is Kendal."
"Nice to meet you Mr. Kendal. I hope you like football."
"It's my favorite sport. What about playing?"
"Sure", George said and brought his ball.
"He is the drug dealer. He trapped us inside the elevator", Michael shouted. Everyone turned around, looking at him.
"Who?" finally said another police officer.
"Captain Mara. I saw all his text messages. Everyone of them is about murders and drug deals."
Mara was hearing astonished from the end of the hallway. I made a terrible, unforgivable mistake, he thought. How did I drop my cell phone?
He produced a gun aiming directly Michael's chest.
"Do not move or I'll kill him" he demanded but before he could finish his sentence another policeman hit him from the back and let him unconscious . . .
"Mr. Michael," George cried, "do you know where my dad is?"
Michael knew he had the obligation to share with the kid his father's death but while looking at his innocent, cheerful face he couldn't find the strength needed.
"I am afraid your dad won't return."
"Why?" George shouted, tears on his face.
"You are too young to fathom. Someday I will explain everything to you. What I want you to remember is that your father will always be with you in your heart. Do not forget that. Ever . . ."