Steel Instinct

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Chapter 10

It has been three days since Kalama Ijsbrand was put on death row. The woman who had been speaking to her has since been executed. Kalama lies on her stone hard bed. The sound of the woman’s screams continues to echo in her mind.

In just 23 more days, that would be Kalama. She’ll be the one screaming in agony. Everyone else waiting on death row will hear it. The memory will linger in their minds until it is their turn.

The darkness is thick. It chokes out any bit of light that dares enter. The gloom settles heavy over Kalama. She groans in despair.

All at once, the darkness is dispelled. The corridor fills up with a brilliant light that the dark cannot choke. Footsteps sound, growing closer and closer to the cell bars. A familiar voice calls out, ringing pleasantly in Kalama’s ears.

“Heeeeeey, baby!” the voice calls out.

Kalama sits up slightly. She turns and looks at who is calling to her. It is Frederik. With Frederik is Abby.

“Fred! Abby!” cries Kalama.

Tears of joy flow from her eyes. She gets up from the bed. She rushes to the bars. Abby reaches in and touches her sister’s cold cheek.

“I’ve never been happier in my life to see you two!” Kalama cries out.

“We not ‘lone,” Frederik says, “We brough’ help.”

“Huh?” Kalama asks.

Frederik and Abby step aside. Frederik steps to the left. Abby steps to the right. A tall figure walks between the two and stops in front of the jail cell. Kalama gasps in surprise.

“Mr. President!” Kalama exclaims, “Why, what are you doing here?!”

“I don’t know if you are aware, but part of my power as President allows me to pardon certain people,” the president says with a grin.

“You don’t mean... Me?” Kalama asks.

“Hah hah, yes, you. I heard all about you,” the president says.

“Oh, but everyone knows me as a mass murderer...” Kalama says with a groan, “Won’t it tarnish your reputation to pardon me?”

“I don’t even care. Everyone hated me before I even got elected,” the president says with a laugh, “Yeah, pardoning one more worthy person won’t put too much extra hatred on my shoulders.”

“Okay, so... I’m going to be honest with you... I didn’t even vote for you... I voted for the woman...” Kalama says with a wince.

“She hate men,” Frederik says with a chuckle.

“BUT you are my president and I respect you,” Kalama adds in.

The president waves to the jailer. The jailer approaches with jingling keys. The door gets unlocked and Kalama is set free. The jailer also removes the chains that have been binding her.

Kalama’s first action is to hug Abby. She hugs Frederik after the hug with Abby. She stops herself before she accidentally hugs the president. Instead, she shakes hands with him.

“Thank you,” Kalama says.

“Come along. The press will want to take pictures of me with you. So that they can write their slanderous headlines,” the president says with a chuckle.

Kalama follows the president. Abby and Frederik follow after her. The other prisoners screech and bang on the bars, hoping the president will notice them. He ignores them.

“FREE US! FREE US!” a few of the prisoners chant.

“I’m only here for this one woman,” the president calls out.

The president and Kalama step out of the prison. Kalama blinks in the harsh light. It has been a few days since she last seen the light. Mobs of people with cameras begin snapping pictures of the president.

“Hello! Make way!” the president calls out.

The security guards rush forward. They work quickly to push the crowds out of the way. The people who were pushed aside grumble angrily. The president, Kalama, Abby, and Frederik get into a limo that is parked in front of the prison.

“So, Kalama Ijsbrand?” the president asks.

The driver shuts the limo doors. The mobs who were trying to break in get disappointed. Some continue to bang on the doors with their fists. The limo driver gets back in and begins driving away from the crowd.

“Yes, Mr. President?” Kalama asks.

“Why did you vote for my rival?” the president asks with a small laugh.

“Oh, it was merely because she is a woman. I don’t care about her policies or ideas,” Kalama says, returning the small laugh.

“Ah, I see. Do you have any plans now that your life has been spared?” the president asks.

“...honestly, no... I doubt my boss will welcome me back after this mess...” Kalama says.

“Kalama, please, let me come back to live with you...” Abby pleads, “The group home just isn’t the same!”

“Of course you can... Until I get evicted. I still have a huge hospital bill to pay and I doubt my boss will welcome me back with open arms,” Kalama says with a sigh.

“Get new job,” Frederik suggests, “Plenny good jobs.”

“It’s not that easy...” Kalama says.

“Well, if you don’t have a job...” the president begins, “I do have an opening...”

“Oh wow! What kind of job do you have?” Kalama asks.

“Eh, I would tell you now, but it is top secret,” the president says, glancing wearily at the others in the car with him aside from Kalama.

“Y-Yeah... Turns out... I’m n-not good at keeping secrets...” Abby says.

“Secret hard,” Frederik says, shaking his head.

“Right, so I will talk to the older Ms. Ijsbrand in privacy once we get back to the White House,” the president says.

“The White House?!” exclaims Kalama, “Last time I heard that name was when I... Oh, uh... Never mind...”

“I already know. I found out,” the president says with a chuckle.

“Man, it’s a surprise you didn’t kill me then and there!” Kalama says, sweating nervously.

“It’s not my job to kill people who wrong me,” the president says, “My security guards decide that.”

“W-What did you do, Kalama?!” Abby asks with her eyes wide in wonder.

Upon arriving at the White House, Abby and Frederik are asked to take a seat and wait. The president then enters his office with Kalama. The security guards shut the door for them. The president takes a seat in his chair and waves for Kalama to sit in a smaller seat nearby.

“Kalama Ijsbrand. I am well aware of the fact that you have begun hacking again,” the president says.

“Oh... Umm...” says Kalama, “That’s just because it was an emergency...”

“You have shown great bravery, loyalty, and determination,” the president says.

“Thanks...” Kalama says, shifting nervously.

“Such qualities are highly sought after. Which is why I have decided to give you a chance. How would you like to join my top secret team? You’ll be paid well, and we’ll upgrade your equipment,” the president offers.

“You mean, you want me to be a hacker for the government?” Kalama asks, mouth falling open in surprise.

“Yes, indeed,” the president says, “But. It is a high risk job. Your own life will be constantly on the line.”

“After what I’ve been through, I don’t see why not?” Kalama says with a little laugh.

“Welcome to the team, Agent Flaming Ice,” the president says.

“Thank you so much!” Kalama says.

“Say, how did you pick your code name, anyhow? Ice can’t be on fire...” the president says.

“Well, it’s actually just a variation of my own name, but see, most people wouldn’t know that. Kalama means “Flaming Torch” and Ijsbrand means “Ice Sword”,” Kalama explains.

“Ah, I see!” the president says, “Well, I’ll contact you as soon as I have your first mission ready. Also, please, do not hack into the White House security system ever again...”

“Hah hah, I promise! That was just for fun, anyhow,” Kalama says, nodding her head.

“Alright, well, enjoy your life until then!” the president says.

“Thank you!” Kalama says.

Kalama shakes hands with the president one more time. She leaves the office and rejoins Abby and Frederik.

“What he say?” Frederik asks.

“I can’t tell you, but, I got the job,” Kalama says with a smile.

Kalama goes home to her apartment with Abby. Abby is relieved that she doesn’t have to go back to the group home. The two sisters spend some quality time together for the first time in a long time. The next morning, Kalama’s face is on the front page of the newspaper.

“Headline of the day, ‘Even More Reason to Impeach President.’ Hmmm...” Kalama says.

Abby moves her head upwards to look at Kalama from her breakfast. She has chocolate chip cookies. Along with the cookies, she has a glass of chocolate milk. She dips a cookie into the milk, still staring at Kalama.

“‘The president is at it again. Once again, he has been caught pardoning filthy scum from prison. This time, the pardoned is none other than Kalama Ijsbrand. I’m sure all of you remember that Ms. Ijsbrand has admitted to being guilty. The worst of her crimes being the massacre of hundreds of innocent and unarmed citizens at a party. Clearly the president has no taste. He continues obstructing justice and disregarding the law. And for what? Does he really believe this terrible act against our country makes him a good person? Well, one thing is for certain. The president is a terrorist and will kill us all. He’ll drag us all into the ground if nobody steps up to stop him. This is why we must have him impeached. We also should make sure that Kalama Ijsbrand is sent back to prison and executed immediately before she can murder anyone else.’” Kalama reads off the article.

“Well, that’s dumb...” Abby says.

“I know, but they don’t know that it was all a cover up. They are afraid for their lives,” Kalama explains.

“D-doesn’t change the fact that it is...wrong...” Abby says.

“I agree,” Kalama says, “As it turns out, the president is a nice man. Okay, so he’s a bit arrogant and sometimes makes mistakes, but he is, after all, a human.”

“So you’re going to vote for him next year?” Abby asks.

“Maybe,” Kalama says, “I do owe him.”

“And you’ll marry Frederik Uberti?” Abby asks with a giggle.

“Oh, uh... I... I don’t think so. He is a nice man, but... I’m going to be a bit busy soon. And so is he,” Kalama points out.

In all, for the most part, order has been restored. Kalama has a new job and Abby has a secure place to live. Frederik has been given a new scholarship to a medical school paid for by the president. Tacoma still takes Abby out on dates frequently. Ms. Gray...well...she has her two foxes that bring her joy.

Kalama’s new cellphone begins to ring. Quickly, she answers it.

“Hello?” Kalama asks.

“Agent Flaming Ice, I hope now isn’t a bad time...” the voice on the other end of the phone says.

“Uh, no,” says Kalama, “I just finished breakfast...”

“We need your assistance immediately!” the voice says.

“Alright, I’ll be right there,” Kalama says and hangs up, “Abby, I have to go. Do you need me to call someone to look after you?”

“No, Tacoma is coming later today,” Abby says.

“You’re still dating that guy?” Kalama asks, heading towards the door.

“Yeah, I love him,” Abby says.

“Be careful,” Kalama says.

“You too!” calls Abby.

Kalama leaves. She hops into her new car and drives down to the White House. The security guards escort her in. As she enters the office, the president swivels in his chair to look at her. He opens his mouth to speak.

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