The Assassin Copyright © 2011 by Terry Wright
All rights reserved. No part of this story (eBook) may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or book reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidences are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published by TWB Press Edited by Terry Wright Cover Art by Terry Wright ISBN 978-1-936991-14-3 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
by Terry Wright
Deckers Memorial Hospital
With anger gnawing at his insides, Billy Denton hunkered down in the supply room and took inventory of the rounds in the Colt he’d stolen from Deputy Pender just before he died in the world’s greatest jailbreak. Six bullets in the clip, one in the chamber. He slipped the gun under his belt next to his sheathed hunting knife, and closed the gray doctor’s smock he wore over both weapons. He was on a mission, one final strike against Justin Graves. The nameplate on the smock read: Ruskin. He hoped Ruskin wasn’t a black man. One last detail: Billy removed his earrings and the ring in his eyebrow and stashed them into his jeans pocket. Satisfied he’d blend in with the hospital personnel, he commandeered an empty cart, threw a towel over it as if covering his pill dispersals for the night’s rounds, and pulled open the supply room door. Memorial Hospital wasn’t a big facility: four floors and two wings. This
time of night, after visiting hours, he encountered only a janitor while wheeling the noisy cart down the hallway. The reception lobby sat on the main floor between the wings. There he held back, made sure no one was around, then casually pushed the cart to the counter. Sneaking behind it, he flipped through the admissions log, scanned a list of patients, and found the name he was looking for: Room W214, upstairs, west wing. Suppressing a grin, he headed for the elevator, the cart wheels rattling with speed. *** Slowly, Captain Holland became aware of his breathing and noises around him, the whir of a fan, tennis shoes squeaking on floor tiles, and the rhythmic beep of a heart monitor. His chest felt like it had been hit with a pickaxe. Opening his eyes to a dimly lit room, he fought off a wave of panic, knowing where he was but not how he’d gotten here. “He’s coming around, Dr. Payne,” an angelic voice said. Holland turned his head toward the voice, saw radiant red hair and a halo, all fuzzy around the edges. He blinked. She stepped back. A tall man in a white smock bent over him. “Can you tell me what day it is?” What day? Tuesday…or maybe...Friday? He couldn’t be sure. “I don’t know.” The sound that came from his throat gave him a fright. “What happened?” “Do you know your name?” My name? Yes. “Justice. I mean...Justin Graves.” “He’s doing it again,” the angelic voice said. “He kept shouting that name, over and over, when they brought him in.”
“He’s still groggy,” Dr. Payne said. “Captain Holland… Harold Holland. Does that name sound familiar?” “But I saw him. I saw Justice.” “You were in shock, delirious.” “Justice!” Holland shouted. He couldn’t have been wrong about what he’d seen. “Where are you?” Dr. Payne patted Holland’s shoulder. “Calm down now.” “Justice!” “He’s dead,” Payne said. “I’m the one who pronounced him dead. At the old warehouse.” “No. He’s back. I saw him.” “The surgery went well,” Payne slipped in, as if he could change the subject. “We removed the slug from your chest.” Billy Denton shot me. It had happened so fast. “The bullet was lodged under your collarbone.” “Did they get him? Did they get Billy?” “You’ll be out of here in a few days.” Groaning, Holland thought the pickaxe had turned into a bulldozer parked on his chest. “Get some rest,” the angelic voice said. The room went dark. Pain rifled through Holland’s body as if the anesthesia had suddenly worn off, the horror of the jailbreak and the gun battle now returning to his memory in all its bloody terror. He wished he’d never heard the name Billy Denton. A single wedge of light from the hall angled through the doorway, across the floor, and up the wall. Holland struggled to get comfortable, to cope with the damage the bullet had done to his body. He wished he could sleep, but that vision in his mind wouldn’t let him rest. With his own eyes he’d seen Justin Graves. The
image couldn’t have been born of shock or delirium. The wraith was as real as the bullet wound in his chest. Justin didn’t look like any wavy and transparent Hollywood ghost. He wore his long coat and cowboy hat, as always, but they were dirty and dusty, like he’d just crawled out of the ground. His voice was raspy, and his steel-gray eyes were filled with death. But most convincing, the ghoulish homicide detective smelled like rotting flesh, as if his body had been locked in a car trunk for three days under the blistering Texas sun. That was one smell a cop never forgot. Justin Graves was back from the dead. A noise in the hallway caught Holland’s attention. It sounded like one of those rattling hospital carts, probably a nurse coming to wake him up, to check his bandages, poke him and prod him, and otherwise keep him awake, as if he needed any help with that. Maybe now he could ask for a stronger dose of medication. The cart stopped just outside his door. A shadow invaded the wedge of light on the floor. Holland blinked, craned his neck, and tried to focus on the silhouette of a man now standing in the doorway. He seemed uncertain about entering, looked back and forth. The angelic voice asked, “May I help you?” “I’m looking for W214.” The shadow stepped back. For a split second, before it moved from the light of the doorway, the shadow-maker’s face appeared: a red goatee and a barbed wire tattoo on his neck. Holland’s heart about stopped. Billy Denton! His shadow remained cast in the light on the floor. The nurse’s shadow approached his, their shadows now coming together. “I’ve not seen you around here before,” she said. “It’s my first night.” The shadow of his hand pointed to his chest. “Ruskin.
See?” Her shadow stepped back. A gasp.”Ruskin is a woman. What are you trying to pull…?” In a heartbeat, his shadow drew a big knife shadow and thrust it into her belly. He plunged it deep and upward, burying the blade in her heart. Her shadow went limp, buckled over, and his shadow caught hers in his arms. Terror pumped through Holland’s body, making the pain in his chest do double-time. He wanted to call out but stopped short for fear of giving away the fact that he’d witnessed the killing. Billy dragged the dead nurse into the darkness of Holland’s room. Her body hit the floor with a dull thump. Keeping one eye open just a crack, Holland feigned sleep, hoping the rapidly beeping heart monitor wouldn’t alert Billy to the helpless man in the bed. Or perhaps that was the reason Billy was here, to finish him off after he’d survived the shootout at Deckers City Jail. If that was the case, Holland was a dead man. He didn’t have the strength to fend off a knife-wielding assassin. All he could do was wait in silence and hope the monster in the room didn’t see him. Instead of approaching the bed, Billy left and wheeled the noisy cart away. Relief flooded Holland, but his investigative instincts squashed the feeling. If Billy hadn’t come to kill him, why was he here? Who had he come to kill? Christy? Her room was down the hall...at the end of the wing. Holland had to stop him. Somehow. He had to try. He sat up. Pain slugged him in the chest. Hard. He thought he would faint. Justice. Where are you...when I need you? ***
Billy moved down the hall, pushing the rattle-wheeled cart, the towel now covering his right hand, the one that held the knife, the one he’d bloodied killing the nurse. If anyone saw that blood, he’d be busted for sure. They’d sound the alarm. Security would come running. He couldn’t afford to be recaptured. Not now. He was too close to his goal, his target, his final blow to Justin Graves. To Billy’s delight, the hallway was silent as a morgue. He encountered no one. The path was clear to do this thing he’d come to do. He left the cart in the hall and pushed open the door to W214, just a little at a time, cautiously, without the reckless abandon of his jailbreak. His mouth felt dry as he stepped inside the room, the bloody knife clenched in his right fist. Using the Colt would make too much noise. This would be a silent kill, like the nurse, and then he’d slip away into the night. Too easy. In the soft glow of streetlight that beamed in through the window, he could see his victim, comatose, unaware of the rasping ventilator and beeping heart monitor. Every nerve in his body tingled as he approached her bed, quiet like a cat stalking a bird. It would be a quick death. He raised the knife above her chest, began the plunge, but hesitated to stab those beautiful breasts. His mind recounted the times he’d violated Justin’s little whore of a daughter. Christy didn’t look so good right now, with all the wires and tubes sticking out of her. But she’d been a fine bitch, before she chose her father over her boyfriend. He didn’t know how she’d survived the hail of bullets at the old warehouse. Luck he supposed. He’d shot her in the back, twice. Whatever the case, he was about to rectify the situation. This time he placed the knife tip on her left breast, prepared to plunge it home, but a stirring in his loins stopped him. Maybe first he should cop a feel: one
for the road, for old time’s sake. She’d never know. She couldn’t stop him. What the hell could it hurt? Reaching for the bed sheet, Billy felt a rise in his jeans and a rise in his heartbeat. He threw back her covers and took hold of the hem of her hospital gown. Slowly he lifted it, revealing raven-black pubic hairs glistening in the glow of the street-lit window. He licked his lips and pulled her gown higher, exposing the white skin of her belly, then her rounded breasts, slack nipples, and more wires. His heart rate doubled. He began to salivate. This could be better than ever, the final disgrace. He’d violate her one more time before killing her. Justice’s failure as a father would be complete. Billy didn’t waste any time, now that he’d made up his mind. A cackle rose in his throat as he tossed the knife on the bed stand, and the Colt too. He ripped off the orderly’s gown and dropped his jeans to his ankles, his blood-gorged member now throbbing. This wouldn’t take long. He spread Crystal’s legs and touched her, probed her with a finger. She was dry, but he didn’t care if this would hurt her. Slam bam thank you, ma’am. Or better yet: Slam bam screw you, Justice. He put a knee on the bed to climb aboard. A bit of rattling came suddenly, from behind him, the familiar sound of wheels on the cart he’d left in the hallway. As fast as the realization came to him, he spun around. Captain Holland screamed like a Comanche, his face pale, grimacing in pain, and his bandaged chest hunched over the cart handle as he rammed the cart into Billy’s groin, launching him backward into the window, which exploded with a glass-shattering bang. The wind came out of his lungs, and he felt the sensation of nothing around him: falling, falling, falling, and then crashing through spiny bushes that tore at his skin like a million razor blades. Striking the ground flat on his back, he fought for air, paralyzed almost. This sudden turn of events made him want to scream bloody murder. Through clenched teeth, he forced a breath into his
lungs and struggled to his feet. Gasping and staggering about, he pulled up his pants and swore he’d be back to kill Christy...and Captain Holland, as well. *** Holland staggered and tripped and fell against the windowsill. Shards of glass cut into the palms of his hands. Something inside him felt like a hot poker, torn stitches perhaps, or the sudden hemorrhage of a bullet-weakened artery. Below the window, Billy stumbled off into the night. Holland gritted his teeth and collapsed into darkness. *** Opening his eyes, Holland didn’t know how long he’d been out. He was back in his room. The wedge of light on the floor looked familiar; the fan whirred. The heart monitor beeped. The murdered nurse’s body was gone. But something was different; the smell, the god awful smell. Medical examiners must’ve left a dead body on an autopsy table...downstairs...in the morgue...for a month. The stench turned his stomach over. He swallowed bile and wished someone would put him out of his misery. A raspy voice came from the shadows. “Captain.” It was a familiar voice, the one he’d heard in Deckers City Jail. And a grated kind of breathing disturbed the air. Holland’s throat clutched. Slowly, he shifted his eyes to the shadowy corner of his room where a ghostly cowboy began to appear. Justice! Though instinct told Holland to scream, to cry out for help, he held his breath and stifled his fear. “I owe you one,” Justin said in a raspy voice. He stepped from the shadows. Dirt and filth rained down from his long coat but dissolved before hitting the floor. His breath smelled of decay. The brim of his hat hid his eyes. “Justice—is it really you?”
The ghoul’s cowboy hat bobbed. “You saved Christy’s life.” “How…I mean…why are you here?” “I’m trying to save my daughter’s soul.” “She—she’s not safe,” Holland managed to say. “As long as Billy Denton is alive, Christy is in danger.” “I cannot stop him. It’s against the rules.” Holland tried to ignore the ghoul’s foul stench but couldn’t. “She’s in deep shit, Justice. What rules could possibly…?” “The devil’s rules, Captain.” “Jesus!” A jolt of adrenaline attacked Holland’s shoulder like shark teeth. “You made a deal with the devil?” “I must deliver him one hundred souls in exchange for Christy’s life.” “Christ, Justice! What were you thinking?” “She deserves a second chance.” “And if you fail?” Justin lifted his hat brim, revealing lifeless gray eyes sunk in black pools. “Hell is a horrible place for a little girl.” “She’s a grown woman, Justice. She made her choices.” A huff of air came from Justin’s hollow chest. “Because of me…it’s my fault she took the wrong path. I didn’t make her listen. I wasn’t there for her. Parents like me raise children like her. I can’t let her pay the price for that.” Holland tried to sit up, failed. “I said you’d have to fight for her…but I didn’t realize you’d be fighting the devil himself.” “I can’t cross over to everlasting peace and happiness until she is safe, but I need your help.” “Help?” Holland had no idea how he could help a dead detective. The whole affair sat in his guts like a pile of rocks. “What can I do?”
“Put a twenty-four hour guard on Christy. Two men. Maybe four.” “That won’t stop Billy.” Holland coughed. “He’ll find a way to get to her. I’m sure he’ll stop at nothing now.” “Then you’ll have to kill him first.” “Kill him yourself.” Holland regretted saying the words as soon as they came out. He didn’t agree with taking the law into one’s own hands. “If I kill him, it’ll prove I’m no better than him. Christy and I will be condemned to an eternity in hell. So you have to do it for me.” “And condemn myself to hell? No thanks.” “In the line of duty, Captain. He’s an escaped cop killer.” Justin was right. Billy would never be taken alive. “I don’t know where he is. We don’t even know where to look.” “You’ve got to find him. Get Billy...or Christy and I are doomed.” Exhausted, Holland closed his eyes. A puff of wind swirled through the room, and the smell was suddenly gone. *** To purchase the entire story, go to www.twbpress.com/theassassin.html for the links to PDF eBooks, Kindle, Nook, and other online booksellers.
About the Author
There’s nothing mundane in the writing world of Terry Wright. Tension, conflict and suspense propel his readers through the pages as if they were on fire. Published in Science Fiction and Supernatural, his mastery of the action thriller has won him International acclaim as an accomplished screenplay writer. A longtime member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, he runs their annual Colorado Gold Writing Contest. Terry lives near Denver with his wife, Bobette. Terry invites you to visit his Website at www.terrywrightbooks.com where you’ll find more information on his short stories, novels, and screenplays.
Enjoy the other Justin Graves short stories from New Line Press and TWB Press
The Gates of Hell, Justin Graves Series, Book 1 (New Line Press, 2010) A short story by Terry Wright When Justin Graves and his daughter are murdered by her drug dealing boyfriend, Billy Denton, he makes a deal with the devil to save her soul: one hundred bad guys for her pardon from hell.
Night Stalker, Justin Graves Series, Book 2 (New Line Press, 2010) A short story by Terry Wright Justin Graves goes after a man who got away with the murder of a young bride on her wedding night. Fred Regar is walking home from a bar when he spots a sexy silhouette on the shade of a lighted window. Stalking toward the house, he thinks he’s going to peek in on an unsuspecting woman, but in reality, he’s about to relive the night of the murder.
Black Widow, Justin Graves Series, Book 3 (New Line Press, 2010) A short story by Terry Wright Justin Graves seeks out a beautiful woman who kills her lovers. Janet Blaire is every man’s dream date, but don’t disappoint her...or else!
Riches to Rags, Justin Graves Series, Book 4 (TWB Press, 2010) A short story by Terry Wright Justin Graves travels to the Caribbean to roundup a gang of lawyers and accountants who’d killed an old lady for her estate, a multi-million dollar fortune she’d bequeathed to a cat rescue organization.
The Beauty Queen, Justin Graves Series, Book 5 (TWB Press, 2010) A short story by Terry Wright Struggling to get on with her life after the murder of her daughter, Sandy Brandish returns to the glitz and glamour of child beauty queen competition. There she meets an orphaned girl. Adopting her will catapult them to the top of the local pageant registry and spur a repeat performance of the night her daughter died, revealing the murderer and a dark secret in the Brandish mansion.
Judgment Day, Justin Graves Series, Book 6 (TWB Press, 2011) A short story by Terry Wright Justin Graves faces his own violent nature, a human trait he refuses to accept until Billy Denton makes his murderous escape from City Jail. Justinâ€™s attempt to stop the escape is sidetracked when the devil summons him back to hell, not for a social visit, but to change the rules of their agreement. Judgment Day is coming...for both of them.
Enjoy other Fine eBooks and eShort Stories from TWB Press www.twbpress.com
The 13th Power Quest, A Janis Mackey Sci-Fi Thriller, Book 1, (TWB Press, 2011) A novel by Terry Wright American and European scientists have been building bigger and faster particle accelerators to smash atoms into smaller pieces. They are looking for the Higgs boson, the particle that gives matter mass, The God Particle. What if they find it?
The 13th Power Journey, A Janis Mackey Sci-Fi Thriller, Book 2, (TWB Press, 2011) A novel by Terry Wright In the second book of The 13th Power Trilogy, just when Janis Mackey is settled into a peaceful life with Tracy in his new house, the CIA comes calling on him to help them steal the 13th Power. Of course, he refuses, until Tracy is arrested for treason and hauled off to a military stockade until Janis delivers the goods.
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Just Desserts (TWB Press, 2011) A short story by Stephen A. Benjamin In a small Colorado town, a teenager and his school friends investigate a series of bizarre deaths in which desserts and other sweets were used as murder weapons. The kids discover that there is a breach between the underworld and the mortal plane that has allowed a demon to cross over, a demon with a sweet tooth who must be stopped before he destroys the town.
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The Jokers of Sarzuz (TWB Press, 2011) A short story by Paul Sherman Plagued with bad luck, Gabrazini’s Mammoth Circus is on the brink of bankruptcy. Irena, the Golden Swallow of the Trapeze, is wheelchair bound from a fall. Her father and owner of the circus, makes a wish on her mother’s ashes. He would give anything if Irena could walk again. Enter the Jokers of Sarzuz, the greatest troupe of circus acts on the planet. Be careful what you wish for. The price may be too high.
In this Justin Graves Series, Book 7, Justin goes after escaped prisoner and cop killer Billy Denton, who is out to murder Christy as she li...