“If you try putting a woman on a horse when she does not want to go, she may put a knife in your ribs.”
Silence. You can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all on its own. Silence, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most…
Some people can’t stand silence, can’t understand it. Very few people can, and those tend to be people who have grown used to it. Hela was one of those people. Silence had been her friend all her life, never leaving her side, just as it never left her unconscious mind.
A nurse was wrapping a bandage over Nicklaus’ chest, covering up the stitched wound. After she finished, she scurried out of the room. Nicklaus winced as he reached for his black t-shirt lying next to him on the bed. He grabbed a cigarette from the pack, lit it and took a deep drag.
That bitch had stabbed him and nearly killed him. After she ran away, his men had found him bleeding to death. Lucky for him, a doctor had been in the club and had stitched him up. That man didn’t have a choice after all.
“That whore’s gonna pay… she fuckin’ stabbed you, Nico.” Alexander, a young man with dirty blond hair and blue eyes, was pacing furiously in front of Nicklaus, a cigarette clamped between his front teeth, sending back a white riband over his left shoulder like smoke from a locomotive’s stack. His hands were clamped in fists at his sides, tattoos running through his fingers up to his neck, hiding behind his white buttoned shirt.
Alexander was Nicklaus’ best friend since they were children growing up in Russia. Alexander was Nicklaus’ second in command. They were more than brothers.
But what did they command? One of the most important gangs in Russia: the Sons of Satan. This gang dealt with drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking (especially women)... the usual.
The bedroom’s double doors swung open and Roxanne barged in. Blood had dried around her nostrils and on her forehead. “She’s ready,” she rasped with a thick Russian accent, stroking her neck.
She walked to the huge bed and sat next to Nicklaus.
“Did she put up a fight?” Alexander was trying to imagine a cat fight between the two women. He would’ve payed a lot of money to see that.
“She almost choked me to death, that’s what.” Roxanne took a cigarette from the pack and also started smoking.
Alexander chuckled darkly but stopped when Roxanne looked at him menacingly.
“You okay, babe?” Roxanne asked Nicklaus, stroking his hair with her free hand.
“What do you think?” Nicklaus snapped. Roxanne and him had been dating for a while, but their relationship mainly consisted of short conversations and sex. Roxanne had been a prostitute in a Russian club, and her blue hair and tattooed body had caught Nicklaus’ attention. He had bought her so she could be his personal whore, and after a few weeks Roxanne claimed that they were a couple. As Nicklaus didn’t give a fuck, he let the rumour spread.
“Let’s go see that bitch.” Nicklaus couldn’t wait to hear her scream. She would die a slow and painful death, and he would be there watching her all the while.
He clumsily stood up and swallowed some painkillers with some whiskey. All three of them made their way to the basement.
After walking for about 15 minutes around the huge compound, they reached the massive steel doors guarded by two massive men. They acknowledged them by a quick nod of their heads and moved aside.
Nicklaus opened the double doors and entered the basement. The room was dark yet spacious, the only source of light coming from a single lightbulb above the unconscious figure slumped on a chair.
The woman was tied onto a chair, hands behind her back and ankles tied around the chair’s legs. She was still wearing the same skimpy clothes she had worn earlier that night, and that infuriated Nicklaus even more. The guards had taken her jacket, boots and gun off for safety, and for their pleasure as well. Her head was flopped forward in what looked to be an uncomfortable position and her hair fell on her face like a dark curtain.
Nicklaus threw his cigarette on the floor and walked towards her.
He grabbed her chin forcefully and yanked it up so his eyes could roam over her face. He leaned closer so that their noses were almost touching. Her eyes fluttered open and she snapped her head forward with so much force that her forehead collided with his nose and Nicklaus staggered backwards.
Alexander moved forward but Nicklaus waved him away. He touched his nose and noticed it was bleeding, so he grabbed a grey silk tissue from his black trousers and placed it over his nostrils. How dare she do that.
Nicklaus wiped his nose and placed the bloody tissue into his pocket once again. He slowly moved towards the woman, which was grinning devilishly at him.
“Now your face isn’t so pretty anymore, is it?” Hela croaked.
His fist collided with her right cheek, and her head snapped sideways, then with her left cheek. After the beating, Hela spit blood out.
“Still worth it.” Hela smirked at him with a bloody mouth.
“Bring me a chair,” Nicklaus ordered.
Roxanne dragged a chair from the corner of the room, making an ear-splitting screeching sound which reminded Hela of a woman screeching. Roxanne left it next to Nicklaus and squatted down so she could face Hela. She slanted her head to one side. “If you mess with me you mess with Nicklaus, and if-”
Hela spat blood on Roxanne’s face. “Shut up and let the grownups talk.”
Leaning against the wall with his leg propped up on the wall, Alexander chuckled under his breath. She kind of liked Hela, even though she tried to kill his best friend. At least they had something in common, he thought, that they both hated Roxanne.
Roxanne stood up, wiped the blood away from her face and looked at Nicklaus expectantly.
“She’s got a point. You don’t want to see this.” Nicklaus just wanted to get to work.
Hela found it hard to contain her laughter when that nickname reached her ears. Her mouth hurt so she decided it would be a wise option to shut up if she wanted to keep her teeth in place.
“I’ll be waiting for you in your room.” Roxanne wrapped her arms around Nicklaus’ neck kissed him deeply, even though he stood stiff with his arms crossed over his chest.
Once they finished, Roxanne bit Nicklaus’ bottom lip as a farewell and left the basement. Then all eyes were on Hela.
Nicklaus sat in front of Hela.
“Hela Ashworth, aka the Demon, am I right?”
Hela stared at him but said nothing.
“You are a member of the Unseen, a paid assassin. Unfortunately, you were sent to kill the wrong man, Hela. No one has ever come this close to killing me, and I congratulate you for that. But you still have to suffer the consequences.” While saying that, Nicklaus took a silver knife from one of his pockets and caressed the blade over Hela’s jaw.
“If you’re trying to intimidate me it’s not working, bubu.”
Nicklaus clenched his fist around the knife and it seemed that he was going to cut her neck. But instead his fist slammed her right eye, closing it and sending a bolt of incredible agony through her head. This woman was getting on his nerves.
“Next time you call me bubu, I’ll cut out your tongue out and I will force you to eat it. I’d kill you right now but you’re too useful,” he hissed through his teeth.
And indeed she was. Nicklaus wouldn’t throw away her skills. He would use her, like a puppeteer uses a puppet.
“Privesti yego v.” (Bring him in.)
Those words triggered something in Hela’s head, dragging her back to those painful memories. The haze that filled her eyes and head burned, making it difficult to see the figure being dragged by the arms by two guards. Nicklaus stood up and the figure was roughly left on the seat in front of Hela.
The figure was a man, his brown hair stuck in strands on his sweaty forehead. His head rose slowly and their eyes met for a split second. His eyes were full of fear but also determination.
“Now that he’s here, I’ll ask you some questions, Hela,” Nicklaus walked around the man and reached for his gun. “I want you to tell me everything you know about the Unseen. The bar is just a place where assassins go to get their next victims, but nothing else. Where is the compound, safe house, whatever you want to call it?”
Hela knew Dave was going to die with or without answering his questions, so she decided the latter. The mafia called it omertà, the Unseen called it honour.
Nicklaus put his gun at the back of Dave’s head.
The sound of the gunshot rang in Hela’s ears as Dave’s body slumped back into the chair. She wanted to close her eyes, scream, cry, strangle Nicklaus until his face turned black, but her face was carved into an emotionless expression. Drops of blood fell onto the floor and pooled around Hela's bare feet.
Nicklaus moved his face closer to Hela’s.
“You will work for me from now on.”
Nicklaus punched her face once again, which left her in complete and utter darkness.