Reads: 231  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two former closest friends now wage a war of wits and nerves.
Annihilation of the Bay Area is up for grabs.

Submitted: October 15, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 15, 2016




A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Four



Hamilton Johns now felt the tide turning in his war of wits with Longleat.

“Marlene; come down and go turn off Mr. Longleat’s car for him. He has some serious business to do and we don’t want to keep him unnecessarily.”

Marlene had no idea what Hammy was up to but she knew from his tone that he had discovered something that would take Longleat off the streets for a very long time.

“Yes sir.” She gracefully moved past the two men and scampered down the steps while Longleat ground his teeth.

Stop.That’s my car, Johns. Everything in there is private. You have no right to even get in it without my permission, or a warrant.”

“Oh, Marlene. Whoa. I think Mr. Longleat wants to turn off his own car and park it. I guess we have to let him. Come back up here and we’ll leave and get a warrant to search the entire building.”

Longleat looked slightly unmoored. Usually, he acted like a championship chess player; with speed and élan because he knew all the upcoming moves of his opponent and how to counter to defeat them.

Hammy watched his old friend trying to see what moves Hammy had in store for him. 

 Longleat nodded wordlessly to Johns and with a visible reluctance, he turned and began to descend the steps. Marlene stood to one side to allow him to pass. When she looked up in the direction of her partner, he had disappeared. She called. “Sir;Sergeant Johns?”

Hammy’s head popped up from the building side of the railing opposite the ninth step and the invisible (to her) outlines of an aperture in the building.

Up here, Marlene. Quickly. He may have a remote device in his car."

They both turned to see where Longleat was on the steps. He was almost to the first story landing. It was obvious to both officers that Longleat was moving at a slow pace and in a casual manner to deflect any suspicion from both himself and his vehicle.

Quick. Now you’re the bomb expert, Marlene . . . of the two of us. Find something to tear out or bite in two; anything that looks important.”Johns pointed to the opening and Marlene dove in and rubbed the walls for a switch. Her right thumb caught one and she almost gagged at the sight.

“I think he has a remote in his car. And he’s almost to the ground. Hurry.

Hammy turned back to follow Longleat’s progress. While he watched he took a bead on Longleat and tried to decide if he should shoot him now or wait for Marlene’s cry for help.

“Marlene. Anything?”

“Yeah; a hundred wires and two hundred switches. Shall I just pull and tear?”

“No; keep looking. I have a bead on him but it’s a long shot. I have to believe my gut. I think I know what he’s going to do. Come back out so he can see both of us; we can’t let him know I found the opening button. I’m closing it now as soon as you jump out.”

Marlene was out before her Sgt. completed his order. She was propelled by a systemic fear that held her mind in a vise between paralysis and flight. However, her physical instinct instantly combined with her sense of survival to jettison her frame through the opening and onto Hammy’s back just as Longleat leaned into his car and turned off the engine.

Hammy could feel the sweat surging down his sternum and awash in the small of his back. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He swallowed a dry swallow and tried to steady his hand and construct a careful and precise aim.

Longleat’s head and shoulders remained inside the car behind the open door.

He seemed to pause in that position for a moment as though he was considering his next move.

Suddenly, he stood upright. Hammy saw Longleat’s right hand coming out of the right pocket of his jacket just before he grabbed and slammed the door. “Good,” Sighed Johns and he took in a chestfull of breath and held it for a moment, “whhoo,” whooshing out a stream of air, “good, Officer; he couldn’t resist.”

Marlene was now both terrified and baffled as she wondered what these two crazy guys were up to.

“He is bringing the detonator with him. He wants us to see it and tell us what he’s going to do—make us suffer. Then he’ll go back down, get in his car, drive a safe distance away and explode that device that was outlined on his profile.”

Marlene’s fear level shot through the red zone.

“Are we just going to let him do that, sir?”

“Up to a point, yeah. He doesn’t know we’ve found his control chamber. As soon as I give the word, I’ll hit the button and you’re in there again looking for something that resembles a terminal. There may or may not be a counter. I doubt it; but maybe. But I think he was coning back to set it when we showed up. There. Now. Go.”

Hammy pressed the button hidden around and underneath the double railing of the grated staircase. He had remembered a discussion decades ago when Rupert had outlined his special way of hiding something.

‘always put it in the open and away from the secret door.’

Marlene had disappeared into the crawl space and Hammy stood up just in case Longleat looked up and saw no Marlene. This way, Longleat would naturally assume from his angle that Hammy’s body was blocking Marlene.

Longleat didn’t look up. Hammy figured his enemy was rehearsing his final vile outpourings by way of a chilling address to his oldest acquaintance, and once his oldest and best friend.

In fact, Longleat paused twice, as though he was rewording his speech; giving a final check to its form and points of emphasis.

Seconds passed.

Hammy was now drenched in and dripping sweat. He rubbed his right hand rapidly along his pant leg and dried his right palm to hold a steady weapon on Longleat as soon as the latter reappeared.

“I’ve found something,” called Marlene in a subdued shout, “it’s a small wire—or wires wrapped together, and they’re attached to a Smartphone.”

That’s it Marlene, that’s it. Yank the wires from the phone side. It might do it. "Then get out here right away. If he sees you’re missing, he’ll either run back to the car and be off and headed to a detonation point, or he’ll go down with the ship and detonate right away.”
Marlene was suddenly beside him.

Hammy pressed the button and the door to Longleat’s secret cave closed with a whispering whoosh.

A nanosecond sped by at the moment Longleat reappeared. His first look was up to the area of his cave and the position of the two police officers. They had scuttled down to the fifth step and waited for Longleat to reach them.

Longleat slowly labored up the final stairs to a position in front of his two present enemies. When he stopped, he took in a deep breath and raised his face of hideous mockery to stare at his captured prey.

“Well, Ruppee, looks like you shut down your vehicle but didn’t park it. Going somewhere right away?”

Hamilton John’s words were soaked in sarcasm.

This triggered Longleat’s rant against his old friend; the police; all his teachers who had sniggered at him; all his old loves who abandoned him; all the bigger, smarter guys at USF; the three psychiatrists who found him insane; anyone who had ever laughed at him or disagreed with him.

Marlene and Hammy listened patiently and Hammy pointed his revolver at Longleat several times, and a few times, he thumbed back the hammer. Even that gesture failed to stanch the flow of vituperation that vomited out of the sewer of Longleat’s soul.

Several times, Longleat put his right hand in his pocket and Hammy pressed his finger against the trigger. Longleat didn’t seem to notice or didn’t care about the invisible line between him living and dying while Hammy held him under the gun.

Finally Longleat stopped ranting. He had decided. He turned to go down the stairs.

“Oh, hey Ruppee, nice rant, man, Did you forget something?”

Longleat turned and the fevered flames of insanity flared in the coals of his eyes.

Hammy rose and stepped back to the ninth step where he leaned under the double railing and pressed the button, all the while holding his revolver pointed at Longleat’s head.

Longleat laughed. At first it was a nervous laugh but then he erupted into maniacal laughter as he pulled out the detonator from his right coat pocket and waved it at the two officers.

“What took you so long, Hammy? I figured you’d have found it long before now. "But see,” waving the detonator, “you’re there and it’s here.” He laughed again in peals of triumphant cackling.

At the same moment, five squad cars appeared around the corner of the building.

Marlene had called for backup while she was tracing wires in Longleat’s control center.

Longleat turned to look at the noise behind him and then quickly turned back to face Hammy and Marlene.

His face was clouded with determination and packed with malignancy.

“So you want it this way, Hammy? I thought you were more civic-minded that that. But,” sighing, “if you want us all to go together, fine. And by the way, my finger will fall on the trigger even if  I’m dead from your shot between my eyes, so,” smiling, “I suggest you call off your dogs or they’ll all go up with us; or don’t you care.?”

Hammy stood up. “You know, at times you were a real pain in the ass, Ruppee. And now here’s another one. You’re pissing me off, old sport. Put down the detonator and you won’t get hurt. I’ll do what I can to get you into Napa State for life; and no gas chamber. Now give me that thing.”

Hammy quickly stepped down three steps and held out his left hand to receive the detonator.

Longleat took a step back and began to laugh while he waved the detonator at his former friend.

“Are you crazy, Hammy? Give you this? Weren’t you listening . . . at all?” He laughed a mocking laugh and looked over the railing to see how close the arriving officers had advanced.

“Well, well; you are a damn fool Hammy; now you’ll have the blood of even more people on your hands; of course you won’t have any hands; you won’t have anything. 

"You’ll be just one of billions of specks of dirty-bomb dust; riding the waves of the blast and then the waves of deadly radiation that’ll take out most of the City, and probably the whole Bay Area.

"Think of it; no more Silicon Valley. Those bastards turned me down too. No more Stanford or Cal; they also laughed at me.” Longleat paused. He appeared to be checking off a mental list of his most hated. “Well, now’s the last chance for you to laugh, old sport, and he turned slightly as he heard the clamoring of the police boots on the steel steps.

“Ruppee, old sport; you forgot this,” and from behind his back Hammy produced the disconnected cell phone that Marlene had torn out moments before.

Longleat’s face crumbled as he repeatedly pressed the detonator. He swung his arms about as he continued to press and press and press. 

Suddenly, his balance deserted him along with his sanity.

He made a clutch for the railing. As the first backup officer grabbed him, Longleat desperately tore himself from the officer’s grip and completely lost his balance.

He pitched sideways and tumbled over the railing.

There was no time for a scream of terror before he slammed onto the top of a parked car, rolled off and then all the angles of his broken bones slid to the hard-packed ground. Officers rushed to Longleat’s savaged body.

He was still alive. The officers looked up at Hammy and shook their heads.

Longleat had a broken neck, two broken legs, and a shattered spine.

He died a few minutes later, just after Hammy reached his side and looked into his dying eyes.

“Ruppee; you’ll always be an old pal but that other guy living in there with you had to die, and he’s taking you with him.”

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Thrillers Short Stories