Russian Roulette

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
When an intruder steps into Doctor Holt's house, he finds himself caught in a deadly game of Russian roulette.

Submitted: December 01, 2014

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Submitted: December 01, 2014

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The scotch had never really helped. He thought it did, but it only made things worse. It added a momentary warmth, then flittered away and left him even colder than before. Now a days, though, there wasn’t much else to do. There wasn’t much to live for.

There was a warm glow in Dr. Holt’s study, but all he noticed was the cold, dark blizzard outside. The room stank with the scent of stale alcohol and wood cleaner. In his drunken stupor, he often spilt his drinks on the floor, which let off a terrible stench the next morning. Since he had clients come to his in-home office, he thought it best not to let the smell of alcohol fill his house. If someone found out about his drinking problem, he could lose his license - and his reputation.

The heavy silence drummed in his ears. Even after 5 years, he never quite got used to being alone.

Holt stared at the picture of his son, Jeremy, on his desk. He loved looking at his son with his football jersey and a wide smile on his face. That’s how he wanted to remember him. Yet, in recent days, that picture had begun to be the object of his torment.

Holt’s drinking had gotten steadily worse in the long years since his son had died of polio. He died in 1952, the same year Jonas Edward Salk tested his polio vaccine. Soon, no child would die of the disease. But Jeremy had. If his son had held on only a little longer, if Holt would’ve kept him hanging on, he would still be here. And, possibly, so would his wife.

There’s a knock at the door.

“No office hours tonight,” Dr. Holt called, pleasantly surprised by the steadiness of his voice.

There’s another knock.

Irritated, Dr. Holt stood up and carefully walked toward his front door, closing the door to his study behind him.

“I said there are no office hours tonight,” Holt said again, enunciating each word.

When he looked through the peephole, he was surprised to find no one there. He turned on the porch light, but still he saw no one. He rubbed his eyes, certain that it was just the alcohol playing mind games with him. Yet, even after a third look, there was no one.

Holt squared his shoulders and popped a peppermint in his mouth. Since becoming a heavy drinker, he always carried them with him. He opened the door, and a gush of freezing air crashed into his house, carrying snow with it. He tried shutting the door again, but the wind was too strong. He heard a click, and looked up to see a man in black holding a gun to his head. Slowly sobering, Dr. Holt stood up straight.

“Let’s step inside shall we, Doctor?” the man said in a deep, crisp voice. It was the voice of well-off man.

The man was tall, probably a foot taller than Holt himself. Dressed in all black - and having a bandana covering his mouth and nose - the man looked dangerous. His grey eyes had a menacing look to them. These were the eyes of a man who had seen and done terrible things.

The man didn’t take the gun away from his head. He followed Holt into his house, and waited patiently as Holt fumbled with the doorknob, trying to reopen the door to his study. Once they were inside, the man ordered him to sit down. Hastily, Holt obeyed. He had anticipated death with a great longing, but, now, at the wrong end of a gun, he realized that he did not want to die. He suddenly felt ashamed of himself. He felt like he was betraying Jeremy, caring more about himself than being reunited with his son. Still, that did not keep him from doing everything he could to ensure his own safety.

The man pulled out rope from the inside of his jacket and tied Holt to the chair. He took no special care with him; he just tied the binds as tight and secure as he could.

“Don’t scream, Doctor,” the man said. “I’m not going to gag you, but the moment you scream I won’t hesitate to blow your mouth from your face. Do you understand?”

Holt gulped and nodded slowly.

The man slumped into another chair and put his wet, muddy boots up on the desk. As he drank straight out of Holt’s Scotch bottle, he took off his hat and bandana. Holt was surprised to see how handsome the man was. He looked and spoke like a well-educated man. How could someone with so much potential throw his life away like this?

Another man dressed the same way walked into the room. He removed his mask as well, and Holt saw that he was a black man.

Convinced that this was all a drinking-induced dream, Holt tugged at the ropes. They held fast.

“They’re back there,” the first man said, and nodded toward a room behind his study: the room where he kept his medicines for his patients.

The black man went to the room, leaving them alone.

Holt then remembered this man. He remembered him even from his early childhood: walking hand in hand with his mother straight into his office. Holt remembered the bright smile he always had on his face, and how healthy and well-behaved he was all the way up until he was 18, when he started seeing another doctor. Is this really the same boy, though? It seemed like only years earlier he was the little boy who had giggled every time Holt put the cold stethoscope to his skin.

Holt racked his brain for the name of this man, but it kept slipping away like how a wet soap bar would slip through your hands.

“Nice place you got here,” the man said with a sort of arrogance that seemed to dominate every look and every move he would make. It even spilt over into his words.  “I could get used to a big house like this.”

“You could have one of your own,” Holt said, half-heartedly trying to talk his way out of this situation. “That’s what happens when you run with niggers like him.”

The man’s face never lost its cold, unreadable look.

“Watson,” he said to someone behind Holt, “you never told me you were black.”

The black man called Watson stepped out from behind Holt, and Holt immediately regretted saying anything.

“That’s not funny, Sherlock.” Watson said the name in a mocking tone.

Sherlock and Watson, Holt thought to himself. Like the detectives.

“Please,” Holt said. “you got what you came for. Just take it and go.”

Sherlock stood and walked toward Holt. “I’ll be the one to decide that, Doctor.”

Holt felt the cold metal of the gun press against his temple. His breath caught, and his whole body froze. He heard a click, the unmistakable sound of the gun’s safety turning off.

“Any last words?” Sherlock asked in an even tone.

Holt glanced at the picture of his son. He wanted his son’s face to be the last thing he saw in this world, and the first thing in the next one.

Sherlock squeezed the trigger, and as soon as it went off, Holt screamed. To his surprise, though, he was still alive. The smell of urine filled the air, but Holt barely noticed it. He was just trying to figure out whether or not he was dead, and whether or not it was a good thing.

“Looks like you won this round of Russian Roulette,” Sherlock said and, without even turning away from Holt, fired the gun again.

Holt was bewildered for a second, not understanding what happened. Then, Watson collapsed to the floor, blood flowing in a steady stream down his forehead and onto the floor.

Sherlock turned and pried a black bag from Watson’s cold, dead fingers, the bag with Holt’s medicines in it.

“Who are you?” Holt demanded in the voice of a mad man. “Who the hell are you?”

“Shut up,” Sherlock responded. “You are a pathetic, self-loathing old man.” He looked at the picture of Jeremy on his desk. “Your son would be ashamed to call you his father.”

Sherlock untied the binds that held Holt’s right hand to the chair, revealing a chapped, bloody wrist. Then, he pressed the handgrip of the pistol against Holt’s palm and closed his fingers around it.

“Take care of that for me, will ya?” Sherlock said with a wink.

Then, he took the bag and walked out of the study. Holt debated on shooting Sherlock before he could get away with all his medicines, but then he heard his front door open and shut.

Holt, realizing he had been holding in his breath, sucked in a huge gulp of air and then choked on the mixed scent of urine and sour, metallic blood. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the corpse of a man he had insulted moments earlier. Instead, he just stared at the picture of his son. He felt sick, and not entirely because of the alcohol in his blood. It was because of the truth of the stranger’s words.

Tears streamed down his face as he raised a shaky hand toward his forehead.

“I’m sorry,” he said to his son between sobs. “I’m so sorry.”

Without a second thought, he pulled the trigger.


© Copyright 2017 Anna Grettle. All rights reserved.

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