Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Valkyries… Chapter 5

Chapter 5       Burn

Dan, still in shock, sat down slowly as he followed the instructions of his assailant. Dan thought he recognized the masked man, likely somewhere around Bartow or inside the Valkyries compound itself, but he couldn’t be sure. Not with the mask on. The masked man was considerably younger than Dan, or at least Dan thought so based off the little that he could see that was not covered by the black mask. All Dan could see was his blue eyes, and Dan could see fear in those eyes. Before Dan could process what that fear could possibly mean or before he could figure out what was to come the masked man began to speak.

“Listen, I don’t want to hurt you. I definitely don’t want to hurt your children…. But I will. Do you understand? I will, because if it comes down to you or me, then I will choose myself every single time. No offense.” Dan made a mental note of the masked man’s position in the room as well as the cracks in his voice as he spoke while nodding yes reluctantly in agreement to his threats. This was not the time for “business as usual” Dan thought as the assailant continued to speak. “I have orders to kill you, to kill your family. To burn your house to the ground and make it look like an accident. To end you. I’m not one to equivocate, lie or beat around the bush. That’s why I’m here. That’s why these two are here, to help me. This is going to happen, what happens between now and your death is up to you.”

For the first time during the conversation Dan was scared. Utterly scared. Thoughts ran through his head of his children and what this masked man would do to them once he was gone. Dan thought about who could possibly want harm to come to him and his family, and what he could have possibly done to justify all this. “It had to be the voicemail, it almost had to be” thought Dan in his head as the masked man finally took the knife from Evan’s throat. For a split-second Dan felt relief, maybe the intruder had changed his mind or maybe all of this was just a scare tactic to make Dan forget whatever he had done. Maybe it was a warning not to ever access or even think about the Death Room again. Maybe it was a warning to forget the conversation he had overheard between Light and Nacho. Maybe this was Poke flexing his muscle in a non-discreet way for barging into his office earlier unannounced. As crazy as that sounded Dan knew that anything was possible when it came to Poke, and when it came to Poke proving a point and asserting his dominance over others. Anything and everything, feasible or not, was going through Dan’s head until he saw the masked man put the knife in his waist band and replace what was in his right hand with a handgun. Dan gulped, but he couldn’t swallow, thoughts of death began to re-enter his head.

In one last defiant act Dan looked the masked man directly in his eye, a tear running down his right cheek, and simply said “Do it” as he raised up sitting straight up in the chair. “Don’t worry, Dan. In time.” said the masked man almost with a smile on his face. “I need to extract some information out of you first, and Dan I am going to get this information out of you. I am. Whether it is the hard way, or the easy way, is up to you. Now let’s get started. Tell me what you found in the Death Room, how you found it and who you talked to about what you found… and tell me now.” Dan knew what this was all about now, but the young Valkyrie had a sneaking suspicion that this masked intruder was not going to buy his story, no matter how true it really was. Dan began to tell his story. Dan told the intruder about how he worked for the Valkyries council, how he used their technology to backdoor his way into the Death Room and how he had not seen a thing in the room yet. Dan told the intruder about how there was a breach over the wall, how the entire compound was put on lockdown and how Dan had just gotten home not too long ago before being awoken to someone stealing the laptop that had the sensitive information on it. Dan was 100% honest with the masked man and when he finished his story he took a long gulp and sighed, hoping and praying that his story was sufficient. “Bullshit” said the masked man. Nope, he didn’t buy it. Not at all, which was no surprise to Dan. The masked man didn’t buy his story and that was never any clearer to Dan than when he suddenly found himself on the ground, now the target of a brutal punch to the face by the masked man. Dan collected himself off the ground and without further altercation put himself back in his seat where he was before being struck by the masked man. “Well, beating me and cursing inside my home doesn’t change the fact that what I told you is the truth. Beating me further won’t change that fact either so give me your best shot!” Dan said with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Dan was kind and so caring with everyone he met, but he was also super protective over the ones he loved, and he was also protective over his honor. Dan took his word very seriously and he may have been accused of being a lot of things, a hot head, an asshole and maybe a little cocky for his own good to name a few examples, but a liar he was not, and he did not take too well to being called one either.

“Do I at least get to know the name of the man who is about to not only kick my ass, but kill me as well?” Dan asked. Dan was getting cocky, but he was getting angry as well. The two tended to go hand-in-hand when it came to Dan which usually meant trouble for the young Valkyrie. Dan had been telling the truth, and everything he was being threatened and beaten for was gone when whoever broke into his home stole his laptop. Dan knew that if this was it that he was not going to go down whimpering in the corner, Dan knew he was going to go down with a fight. The masked man looked a bit caught off guard by the question and hesitated before answering. “You know what, sure. What do I care if you know my name, dead men don’t speak, and dead men don’t tell tales. My name is Fox and I work for a man you may know. Ever heard of a guy named Poke?”  Dan’s jaw dropped with the sudden realization that Poke had possibly sent a hitman to end one of the Valkyries Council members. There had been rumors of Poke’s untraditional tactics and there had been all but confirmations that Poke not only ruled with an iron fist, but that he also got his way no matter who or what got destroyed in his path. Dan, keeping his poker face, simply snarled “Liar!” to Fox before lunging at the blue-eyed monster before him. Dan swung at Fox and landed a blow across his chin knocking Fox to the ground before the other two masked men separated the two, holding Dan down at the feet of Poke’s potential mystery hitman.

“Yeah, you’re going to regret that” said Fox, wiping a bit of blood from his lip. Fox then looked to one of his masked associates, pointing at him he said, “You, grab that boy. And you,” pointing to the other masked hitman “grab the other boy.” Dan made a move for Fox again, but he was quickly stopped as Fox raised his gun and pointed it in Dan’s face. “Don’t make me do it, Dan. Because I will. I will, and I think you know I will. Now this goes one of two ways, the way I see it. Option A, you sit down and shut the hell up long enough to tell me the truth and I kill your kids in the other room, then I kill you, and then I burn your house down. You know, doctor’s orders and all…” Dan knew these men were sent by Poke, or at least from someone within the Valkyries with knowledge of the Valkyries leader that were trying to make it look like Poke had sent them. Poke was a very secretive man and as rumor had it the Valkyries leader was a dentist before the uprisings began and before his eventual rise to power. Poke would never confirm or deny this but many around him would call him “Dr. Poke” either jokingly, or because he really was a dentist or doctor. Either way, hearing this immediately gave Dan a feeling of defeat, even if temporary. In Dan’s mind he knew the Valkyries had sold him down the river after giving his entire life to the cause, to the regime and to Poke himself. Fox continued after a long pause, “or you can continue to sit here and lie to me in front of my face and I’ll kill your kids right here in front of your face and make you watch. Then all the other stuff, I feel like I am repeating myself a lot here, but I just want to emphasize how important all this is here. I’m serious. This is happening, and it is happening right now. Make a decision.”

Dan knew Fox was not bluffing. He saw the gun, he saw the knives that Fox and his men held. He saw the gas cans sitting by the front door that he hadn’t noticed until he and Fox wrestled on the ground after Dan swatted him in the face. Dan knew this was it, so he did what he thought was best for him and his children, he told Fox the truth once again. Word for word Dan repeated the same exact story he had told these men earlier, because Dan was not a liar and Dan knew this to be the truth. Even with death looking him in the eyes Dan was not going to leave this world any other way than on his terms. Dan once again sat up straight in his chair and awaited Fox’s ultimate decision after hearing the story of how Dan came to find the Death Room, and just how little information he accessed before having the very information he had worked his life to access and the same information he was about to die for ripped from his lap while he slept. Dan made a mental note to stop sleeping on the job so much, which was ironic facing death since death is sometimes considered to be the ultimate sleep, before looking at Fox for his final decision. Before Fox could bring down his decision Dan remembered something and spoke up. “Oh, and one thing that I forgot to tell you. One thing I remembered. The person that came over the wall today… her name is Light.”

Dan thought that Fox’s eyes were big and blue when he first laid eyes on them behind that black mask but when Dan mentioned the name Light it was like Fox’s eyes doubled in size and got an even deeper shade of blue. Fox knew that name, Dan knew it in his heart by how he had reacted, and he hoped that maybe that information could save him.

“Change of plans” Fox said into a radio that was strapped to his arm. “Bring the truck and load the boys up, we will take care of them off-site. We need to get this moving, it will be sunrise before we know it” Fox continued to God only knows who, Dan thought. Within minutes a truck was outside and three more armed guards were inside his house escorting his two sons, Hayden and Evan, into a truck. Dan fought Fox and his original two militant allies to no avail, Dan was exhausted physically and mentally. Dan hadn’t slept, he hadn’t eaten enough, and he just couldn’t overpower three men. Tears rolled down his face as he watched his sons fight these presumed Valkyries to no avail. Before Dan knew it, his sons were loaded up in the truck screaming and reaching for their helpless father as the truck drove away. Dan was heartbroken and more importantly, Dan felt defeated. “Don’t worry, Dan, they will make it quick and painless because you cooperated. As promised, so will I” said Fox as his two allies began dousing his home in gasoline. Dan didn’t even fight, he knew what was coming and he had accepted it. Dan always prided himself in being a father and how he handled, disciplined, raised and protected his children since the passing of his wife and he knew he had let them down tonight. Dan was a failure in his mind and this was his karma, and his fate. Dan just dropped his head in shame as one of the masked men lit a match and threw it on a bit of gasoline in his kitchen igniting the flame.

“Any last words, Dan?” Fox said as he cocked his pistol, prepared to give Dan that ultimate sleep that he had made a mental note just a few minutes prior to never take. Dan simply shook his head no, tears still streaming down his cheeks. “Fine, let’s do this” said Fox. Short and sweet. Direct. Everything Fox had said and done had been that way in the short time that Dan had known him and finally, in this instance, Dan appreciated that. Dan knew he was going to die and he had accepted that fact, so he was eerily appreciative that this would all be over soon. Fox lifted his gun and pointed it at Dan, this was it. Game over. Dan closed his eyes and accepted his fate, saying a silent prayer right before he heard the sound of a gunshot.


It took Dan a second to realize that he was still coherent when this realization was interrupted by the sound of another gunshot. POW! POW! Dan was still alive, but how was this possible? Had Fox missed? Was Fox messing with him? Dan slowly opened his eyes to see that the two men that entered Dan’s house were laying on his floor in a pool of their own blood. “Had Fox shot them?” Dan thought to himself, almost in a rhetorical fashion as Fox was the only one Dan knew of that had a gun in his home that night. Dan looked around for Fox, his eyes burning by the flames and the smoke that now engulfed his home, and it didn’t take long to realize that Fox was behind him. Dan felt his presence and turned around slowly, raising his hands. ‘F-f-f-ox?” Dan asked, confused as to what was going on. Fox didn’t immediately reply but when he did Dan knew once again that he was serious and that he meant what he said. Fox may have been one scary individual, and he may have been one to always take the most direct route no matter what, but Fox was also genuine. Dan could tell, which is why he did not hesitate to respond when Fox blurted out, “decision time, Dan!”

“What decision was that?” Dan thought to himself, and Fox didn’t keep his mind wondering for long. “You can either die here in your house and be burnt to a crisp alongside these two Valkyries military men you just killed, or we can just make it look like you did, or we can both go over the wall and you can tell me more about what you know about Light.” Without even a warning Fox began to count backwards as he pointed his gun in Dan’s face. “Five, four, three…” Dan interrupted by shouting “Deal!! Deal!” before Fox could get to two. “Good, let’s go dead man” Fox said as he pushed Dan out the back door of his burning home and through his back yard. Dan didn’t even look back at his burning house as he was being ushered down the street and towards the armory. Dan didn’t look back as Fox boosted him over the wall and into the warzone that was the Land of Bartow outside the walls of the Valkyries Compound. Dan didn’t look back as he said goodbye to everything he had ever known and loved. Dan never looked back as his house was burned to the ground within minutes, nor did he look back at the sound of his neighbors noticing the fire by now and screaming into the streets. Dan didn’t look back to see if he could see where the truck that held his kids had gone, although it had been several minutes by now so the chances of that were slim, to none. Dan didn’t look back for anything. Dan never looked back. 

For those that enjoyed my five teaser chapters of my first book, thank you for reading. For those who simply scrolled past the chapters or were bored by the story, well “booooooo” to you. I am obviously joking, thank you to you all for your support regardless. One last time, here is the link to the book if you are interested in checking it out. Thanks again and enjoy what is left of your weekend!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)