by Rodney Fenner

Hello world. This is an excerpt from my third book. I was one hundred sixty one pages into it before I shelved it in favor of the two books I’m writing now. I’m sort of a capricious writer. All feedback is welcome. For me, all criticism is good criticism. Peace.

I was early, so I sat in my car and let my mind wander. It didn’t wander long before it stopped on my purpose for being where I was. Retribution. For the first time ever, I questioned my quest for vengeance. I didn’t question its validity, I questioned whether or not I could really carry it out. That question led to more. The first was how did Antwon know we were going at the right people? If we were, how could he be certain that the person who gave the order to murder my family could be touched? How could he know the person was even alive, considering how long ago everything happened? I only knew what he told me and up until now, I had never questioned what he said. I love Antwon and I trust him, but he wasn’t infallible.
A passing car brought me out of my daze. The dashboard clock read 5:58. By Antwon’s info, Mina Li should be pulling up in exactly two minutes on the other side of the pool. So, I checked my gun and got out to take my position.
After I’d arrived yesterday, I scouted the area of the pool inside and out so I would be familiar with the setting of the last scene in Mina Li’s life. That whole part of the mission was extremely eerie to me because the first thing I noticed was that everything looked exactly the way it did in my dream. That gave me pause, seeing as how I’d never been to this place a day in my life. I actually shivered at the sight once I got inside the fence.
I did a round outside the property to make sure she wasn’t here and then I did one inside. I was walking out of the office/supply room when I felt it. Steel lightly kissed the back of my neck. The circle pressed against my neck was unmistakably the business end of a gun. Shit.
“Don’t move.”
It was a woman’s voice behind me. It was painted with a far east accent, so knowing who it was wasn’t rocket science.
“Mina Li.”
“Yes. And you, my foolish friend are Kage`.”
“What? Kah-geh? Is that what you said? That’s not me. If you move the gun, maybe we can talk.”
“No need. You are Kage`. Shadow.”
I looked down at my holster and my gun was gone. She was good. I hadn’t even felt her lift it off me. I knew she was good when I searched this office/supply room and somehow she still ended up behind me. I prided myself on my stealth and nobody had ever snuck up on me like that.
“With a name like Shadow, I didn’t think I would see you when you came. I didn’t expect you to come in broad daylight either. That was bold. Come to think of it, I didn’t expect a woman at all.” She laughed a little. “I guess my prediction powers have gone to hell. If I was a fortune teller, somebody would’ve sued me for fraud.”
“Look Mina, I’m not here to-”
“Shut the fuck up.” She pressed the gun harder to my neck. “You don’t have permission to talk. Now take a few steps back from the pool. Slowly. I don’t want to get blood and brains in the pool when I shoot you.”
I did as I was told because I knew she didn’t want to shoot me. If she had wanted to shoot me, my thoughts and memories would already be floating in the pool, dissolving in the chlorine. She wanted something from me. Information maybe. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was going to prolong as much as possible. I took slow, measured steps back and the gun never left my neck.
“Stop.” She sighed. “I guess I have to ask the cliche` question that everyone asks when they catch their killer. Who sent you Kage`?”
When I didn’t answer, she smacked me on the back of my head with her gun. The gun had to be big because the blow made me take a step forward and fall to one knee. Blackness flashed across my vision and I blinked furiously trying to regain all of my sight. Her profile said she was 5’4″ and 121pounds, but the newborn knot on my head said she swung a weapon like she was 6’0″ and 220 pounds. “How did you know I was coming?”
“That’s a stupid question.” She pressed the gun to the back of my head. “You think you can kill off members of an organization and no one would notice? Nobody would catch on? I don’t believe you’re that dense.”
Organization? What was she talking about? The only person who was part of an organization was Bulaski. Everybody else were random contracts. Weren’t they? “What? That’s bullshit. My jobs were random contracts.”
“Sure they were. And I’m really a black girl with purple eyes and blond hair. You can play stupid all you want, but the same way I found out you were coming is the same way I’ll find out who sent you. The only difference is they won’t die as quickly as you.”
I heard a click, but nothing happened. She tried to shoot me. My time was up.
Realizing I had nothing to lose, I tried my hand while she was still surprised her gun didn’t fire. I moved my head to the right so if she did shoot, the only thing that would happen is me going deaf in my left ear. At the same time, I spun to my right, raising my right hand. When my wrist made contact with hers, I turned my hand around and grabbed her wrist. I pulled her off balance, using her weight to help me pull myself up.
The gun went off, putting a crater in the cement beside the pool’s edge. I could see the gun now. It was a Smith and Wesson SD 40 VE. A .40 caliber gun that would’ve made sure I found out if there really was a God. I was surprised she was handling something so big. I guess between me and her, the day was full of surprises.
Before she regained her balance, I threw a left hook. It landed on her ear and the gun went off again. I swung my left again and she ducked. She snatched up my left arm, bent her right arm and elbowed me in the stomach. It weakened my grip on her, but I didn’t let go, so she elbowed me harder.

I still didn’t let go, but my grip was weak enough for her to snatch away.
Mina Li released my arm and tried to aim at me. She fired, but I moved. I felt the heat from the bullet part my hair on my left side and I lunged at her. She tried to side step me, but was too slow. She went down, hitting her head on the tiled border of the pool. I could tell her consciousness was wavering, but she still didn’t let go of the gun. In fact, she lifted it again. I caught her arm and pinned it down as the gun fired a third time. With my other hand, I removed the Infedel knife from my boot and stabbed her in her wrist as hard as I could. I was trying to stake her wrist to the cement and her scream told me she understood. Finally, she released the .40.
“My turn to ask questions.” I was nearly out of breath when I straddled her. “Who do you work for?”
Her face was still balled up from the pain and I could see the thorough frustration in her eyes when she spoke. “Why do you ask questions you already know the answers to?”
I drew back and punched her in her solar plexus. Her wide eyes told me I got the desired effect. She was breathless. “Wrong answer.” I waited until her lungs expanded and took in air again. “Let’s try this again. Answer the question Mina Li.”
“Kiss my ass.” Even with a knife poking out of a main vein in her wrist, she tried to reach out to Smith and Wesson on the ground beside her.
I rolled my eyes and delivered another punch. Again, her lungs became a Whoopi cushion, expelling all the air inside. As I watched her struggle to pull a breath, I asked in a contemplative manner, “How long do you think it’ll take for you to suffocate if I keep knocking the wind out of you every time you try to catch your breath?” I looked at her. “Be careful how you use your next breath because if I don’t get the answer to my first question, we’ll both get the answer to my last one.”
Air rushed into her chest as her lungs opened. She heaved a few times, giving me a confused stare before she said, “You really don’t know, do you?” When I said nothing, she said, “You have no idea what you’re doing.”
I drew back my fist.
“The Imperial Dynasty!” Mina Li had squeezed her eyes shut and yelled.
I was frozen. “What?” I clenched my fist tighter. “You lie.”
Her eyes opened. “Do I?” She paused. “Austin Bulaski. Jeremy Niles. Lamont Snowden….me!” She shook her head sympathetically. “Stupid little girl playing assassin. These people will kill you and your whole family.”
I was in a daze before she said that, but now my fuse was lit. My fist felt like Thor’s hammer, colliding with her chest. Lucky for her, this was the last time I’d steal her breath. I stood her on her feet and jumped on her back, locking my arm around her neck and riding her down into the pool. I clamped my legs around her and we sank to the bottom of the twelve foot pool. She struggled as much as her already vacant lungs would allow, but that didn’t last long. I was super glued to her.
I slowly released air from my lungs as I thought about what she said. Had I really been killings members of the Imperial Dynasty? Antwon told me I was being contracted to kill FOR them, not to kill THEM. If she was being truthful, that meant Antwon was lying. it wouldn’t bother me if Antwon had me killing the Imperial Dynasty because that was my goal anyway, but it would mean he was hiding something. What could he be hiding? I pondered the situation while I waited patiently for Mina Li to die.

Rodney Fenner
DOC #1436377

Categories: books, Rodney Fenner

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