Here we are! As I stated last week, my friend and fellow Kindle All-Stars member, Tony Healey, has commandeered my blog for the last three Sundays in December to share with you his short story BEAST. You may find Part 1 by clicking this link. BEAST is for sale on Amazon (at the bargain price of .99) if you'd prefer to read it on your Kindle device or app. Tony is also offering a special deal to my readers which he describes below.
Just a friendly reminder, some of the situations and language in BEAST are not what all of my readers expect of my blog, but I choose not to censor Tony's story. You've been warned.
BEAST is a preview of the forthcoming novel THE STARS MY REDEMPTION due out at the beginning of 2012.
If you like what you read here, then please leave a review on BEAST’s Amazon page here: BEAST
If you leave a review I will gift you the full novel for FREE when it becomes available. So simply leave your review and I will make sure you get it.
The same afternoon, a man sent by Wang had tracked him down as he was making arrangements for the contents and cargo of his starship; he couldn’t keep hold of the lightweight cruiser now he was a man with a price above his head. The best thing was to disappear for a while. He didn’t bear Wang any malice for the way he’d probably reacted; he knew he would have dealt with it the same way.
His understanding for the way Wang was reacting, combined with the knowledge that he had botched a job and was now facing the consequences of his own sloppy work, was what made him want to run. Normally he would have sought Wang out, killing all of his men first, and then making an example of the man for wanting him dead. But this was a different situation.
For the first time in many years he had failed to carry-through with a job. In the process he’d killed a man’s young daughter – an immoral act, even by his standards. And for the first time in twice as long, he was going on the run and hiding. He didn’t want to kill Wang, despite him being an evil crime lord who didn’t exactly deserve to live; he was still a Father mourning a child.
Abe had murdered, raped, robbed and pillaged. He’d double-crossed and back-stabbed and tortured people in the past. But he’d never willingly killed a child. He was a monster by anyone’s standards, but that was one line he’d never crossed.
Abe had gone to where his private starship was stored in a hangar and had begun to rig it with explosives. He would connect a timer so that a few hours after he’d left it would blow and maybe trick everyone for a short while that he was dead. He would be long gone on the Royale before people started asking questions that he wouldn’t be there to answer. As for the starship, it wasn’t the first he’d lost, and it wouldn’t be the last. He would get another one, whether he had to buy one or borrow one. Ships were like taxis to him.
On his hands and knees attaching a charge to the underside of his ship, he’d heard the sound of boots walking toward him on the sandy floor of the hangar. He stood and turned to face his visitor and saw that it was a Klebin male, dressed in light body armour, holding a long-barrel laser rifle. The assassin motioned with the rifle for him to get up and stand to one side, and Abe did so willingly.
“Haaands aaaap,” he said.
Abe grunted in acknowledgement and put his hands behind his head.
“Wang sent yuh?” Abe asked him simply.
He wanted to know if this was someone collecting the hit Wang had undoubtedly put on his head, or whether it was someone with a genuine grudge from his past; they showed up every now and then.
The Klebin smiled, showing all three rows of yellow, sharp teeth. His eyes were pure black, like all Klebins, due to living on a dark world with very little sunlight; their skin was almost always white, with a few exceptions.
“There’s a pretty rewaaard for yaaaaa Laroche. Waaaaaang is paying gooood money, and he don’t mind yaaaaa being in a body bag either,” he said.
“Wang’s got more savvy than to have me dragged-in alive, mate. That’s why he’s sent a half-brained dickhead like you to bring me in dead,” he said, starting to laugh.
“What aaare ya laughing at?”
“Well, you think you can kill me…” Abe said.
His assassin frowned.
“Whadaya mean? Ya think I can’t kill yaaa?” he said, agitated, getting a bit closer to Abe and jabbing the rifle in his direction. “Look at ya, Laroche. I have ya at gunpoint. In a second ya head’s gonna resemble a--“
That moment of anger, that split second of clouded judgment was all Abe needed. He stepped forward and reached for the barrel of the rifle before the Klebin even knew what was happening, twisting to the side as he fired off a few shots reflexively that reverberated in the confined hangar like small atomic explosions. Abe yanked the rifle free of his hands, spun it about and smashed the side of the Klebin’s head.
A few pointy teeth flew from his face as the rifle connected with brute force and a soft oomph sound.
“Wahhh!” the Klebin yelled as he stumbled to the left, reaching for his holster and the extra pistol he had there.
Abe flipped the rifle up, so that he had it by the butt, slipped his finger over the trigger and blew the Klebin away. The alien hit the other side of the hangar with the full force of the blast, shot at close range, and sat slumped against the hangar wall with blue blood bubbling from the giant hole in his midsection. He made a rattling sound from the base of his throat, his hands momentarily grasping for his throat, and then he was still.
Abe tossed the weapon inside his starship, and walked over to the Klebin, dragging him across the hangar. He bundled him inside, and closed the hatch, setting the timer as he had planned to before he was interrupted. Now when the ship blew up, and they sifted through the wreckage, they would find a body too. It wouldn’t take them too long to run a test on the charred remains and see that it wasn’t human but it was extra time he had brought for himself. It wasn’t until after he’d walked away from the hangar that he’d realized he was splattered with blue blood, not that it mattered.
If the crew knew how he had arrived onboard, and of the reputation he had amongst other degenerates and villains such as himself, they wouldn't have taunted him the way that they did. Several days ago they had convinced one of the women, a blonde called Lorna to sleep with Abe so that they could secretly film it for their own amusement. She had come into the engineering room and started talking to him, being unusually friendly.
Gradually she had gotten close and closer to him, running her hand across his wide, muscled back, feeling the scars that swirled like gnarled bark beneath his oily clothing. She'd slowly un-buttoned his shirt, kissed his chest, kissed his neck, sucked his bottom lip.
He'd picked her up, easily, like carrying a child she was so light, and carried her small frame from engineering to his bunk opposite. It was not as luxurious as those the crew slept in, but he had slept in worse. There was a bunk and a wash basin. He needed little else. He’d lowered her gently on to his mattress and had made short work of removing her thin trousers and her uniform top.
She was younger than him, with small breasts that grew erect once he had played with them. Little did he know that the rest of the crew had planted a small recording device there in his quarters and had watched the whole thing, as he had kissed and slobbered over Lorna, taking her twice; first roughly and savagely with her squealing beneath him, and then slowly, holding her in his arms and kissing her gently as he drove himself powerfully in and out of her.
Intimate contact with a woman was a seldom act for him. Usually he would just pay a prostitute when he caught the urge. Every few months he would get that aching in his groin, and the impromptu erections that made him have to pay for relief. The women were of differing quality, at both ends of the scale. Since losing his arm, and his eye adopting that dead white colour, women who weren’t in the business to charge him to stay in their bed for the night hadn’t looked his way. He paid to fuck, but the fact was that you couldn’t pay anyone to be intimate with you.
He understood how his appearance repulsed most women. He’d been stitched up and put back together so many times, he was completely unrecognizable as the same idealistic and handsome young man who had joined the Terran army all those years before. He’d been fresh-faced, zealous... and very, very naïve back then. That had been before Massa E Kym and other battlefields, when the spirit and heart of that young man had been blasted to smithereens by the harsh realities of interstellar war.
For Abe the black gulf of years between who he had been then, to the man he was now, seemed to span centuries. Millennia. Only the stars themselves ever remained the same.
All of the women aboard the Royale were good looking, petite, all the product of fine breeding and good upbringing. He was of different stock, he knew that. But it hadn’t stopped him looking at them as they had passed him, regarding the slight curve of their hips, the gentle motion of their bottoms as they walked about the ship. He had noticed Lorna, too, with her golden hair and her soft features. Obviously the rest of the crew had seen him noticing her too, hence their little joke on his behalf.
For people who acted like they were of a higher breed than the humans from the outer colonies, the rest of the crew had certainly gone lower than he’d have thought them capable of when they’d convinced Lorna to sleep with him for their amusement.
After he’d finished, Abe had got up off of the bed and handed her a towel.
“Use that if yuh like,” he’d said.
She’d smiled at him politely, but had had a strange look on her face. She had seemed so eager to sleep with him, and had certainly been game when he’d brought her to his quarters. He knew when a woman was excited, and he had known that she was genuinely excited, and ready, to sleep with him when he’d stripped her off. Now she looked as though she were ashamed of herself. As he stood dressing himself and watching her clean herself up, it struck Abe that Lorna had the same look that so many of the prostitutes he slept with had when he had finished; sexually satisfied, but left feeling dirty.
He had learned to grow a thick skin against the repulsion he saw on their faces after sleeping with him and in the same manner he dismissed Lorna’s expression as just another example of that repulsion. It was a bit like eating a seafood dinner and then afterwards, remembering that you didn’t like fish.
Standing to dress herself, Lorna had said “I’ve got to get to the Command Centre.”
“Yuh,” he’d said.
A few hours later he had gone to the mess to fix himself something to eat, and he found almost the entire crew in there laughing and joking. They had quieted when he walked in, and when he’d looked at the vid screen he’d seen why. There he was, driving himself in and out of Lorna on his bunk, grunting like an animal. He looked from the vid screen and then at the crew as they started to laugh again.
“Really fucking funny,” Abe said, the vein in the side of his neck pulsating.
They laughed even more. One of the male crewmembers, Cooper, rewound the footage back to when Abe had been pulling his clothes off, a big grin on his face. He laughed as the footage played, and he sounded like a jackal. Abe saw red and lunged for Cooper, grabbing him by the neck with his metal arm and lifting him up till his feet dangled off of the floor. Cooper grabbed for the place around his neck where Abe’s artificial hand was closing, gripping hard.
“Funny now?” Abe asked through gritted teeth.
Lorna had stepped out from amongst the crew, and Abe looked at her, knowing that the planting of the recording device in his quarters had not been orchestrated by the crew alone.
“Stop!” she shouted at him.
Cooper was turning purple. Abe released his grip and he dropped to the floor. The other crew rushed to him, their attitude completely changed from when he’d walked in only moments before. The humour had left the room. On the vid display, Abe was on top of Lorna, his breathing heavy.
He looked across at Lorna. For a split second he thought he saw... what? Guilt?
Any other time, Abe thought, I would have snapped his neck.
He would have smashed the vid screen, too, if he knew he wouldn’t end up spending hours replacing it after.
Without saying a word Abe left the mess room and headed for his quarters. He located the recording device and crushed it in his bare hands, reducing the small box to a crumpled fistful of black scrap. Then he’d returned to the engine room, expecting a visit from Captain Anderson for what he’d done to Cooper, but not receiving one.
Sitting on his bunk that night, replaying the love making, the embarrassment of them all laughing about it and the incident with Cooper, he had contemplated walking down to the crew’s quarters and doing some damage to Cooper to make an example of him. Perhaps maul him. Grab his face and squeeze his head until his eyeballs started to pop from the sockets.
But eventually he’d convinced himself to just lie down and let it go for the day, and he had done just that.
He’d let it go, sure… but he hadn’t forgotten it.
Abe had sat in the engine room, in the dark, listening to the sounds of shouting and screaming on the upper decks. This had gone on for several minutes, and then there had been nothing. The ship was more or less silent, save for the continual grinding of the reactor gears, and the gurgling of the coolant pipes in the engine room. He could hear no more activity.
After perhaps half an hour sitting in the dark, the comm. panel on the wall started beeping. He got up and walked over to it. He had a direct call, from the officer’s mess.
Abe hit the RECIEVE button.
It was Captain Anderson; he was perhaps the oldest person on the ship, and Abe hadn’t seen much of him since coming aboard. Whilst the ship was in transit he preferred to remain in his quarters, doing God-knows-what. He’d heard talk of Anderson building model ships. Grown men playing with toys was an alien concept to Abe and he didn’t understand it. Anderson distanced himself from the crew, and Abe had wondered if he knew what his crew got up to whilst he hid himself away in luxury.
"Frank? You there?" his voice sounded frayed, stressed. “Engineer?” Whatever had happened must have surprised Anderson, too, because he sounded pushed.
"Where have you been? The ship's been overrun. The enemy has taken over the command centre."
By the enemy he meant the Draxx, of course.
"I'm in engineering," Abe said simply.
"Thank God. We're locked in the mess at the moment. They locked us all in here after they breached the airlock. I don't think they had the foresight to disable the internal comm stations. At least they didn’t execute us…" Anderson said.
"You need to come and get us out of here, Frank, on the double."
Abe nodded but didn’t say anything.
"Yuh. Still here."
"Frank we need to get to the lifeboat. It has enough room and supplies for all of us, and it might be our only chance of escaping this ship. Once they've got what they want, they'll blow this ship up with us in it. That’s how they roll. You know that?"
“Yuh,” Abe said. He knew it.
Trouble is, he thought, do you have any idea how I fucking roll?
There were frightened voices he could hear in the background.
Those fuckers, he thought to himself. Quivering in their boots like children. If only I had footage of that!
In the pitch black, with the thought of them frightened half to death, he grinned as if he were the very darkness itself, incarnate.
"Come and get us Frank," Anderson said. “You’re our only hope.”
"Yuh," Abe replied, simply, closing the comm. channel.
The final installment of BEAST will magically appear here on Christmas Day at 8:00 a.m.
Tony Healey hails from the UK. His first novel, The Stars My Redemption, featuring the main character from BEAST (and an engineer named Laurie), will be available on Amazon in early 2012. His short story, "Redd," appears in the anthology, Kindle All-Stars Presents: Resistance Front which is available on Amazon for the amazing low price of 99 cents (about 86p). All proceeds from Resistance Front will be donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.