The heat is exhausting in this shithole those fuckers have chosen to have their headquarters but I’ve been stalking prey on deserts on the other side of the world under the scorching sun for days at a time. This is a walk in the park. I can be fucking patient and meticulous. Problem is that Rage is anything but.
I lift my eyes from my rifle’s scope and glance at my brother. He too is on his stomach under the sorry as fuck tree we have found but he is itching to spill blood. He growls, he swears, he messes with his hair and mutters shit constantly.
It took a solid hour for us to leave Berkeley as Rage was swinging violently between moods. He didn’t want to leave Iris but when Runner offered to take her to the home he and Magda have, he almost broke his fucking neck. Only when Bjorn and Runner promised to keep a constant eye on Iris did he grab her in a smothering embrace, kissed her, rode his bike and followed the SUV I was riding in.
We’ve come straight in Austin with one stop to get some shut-eye. Truth is neither of us slept. I was up, drenched in agitation and I could hear Rage pacing constantly next door and talk to Iris over the phone every fucking hour.
And then we hunted. Stig did his thing but I did mine. Nothing like boots on the ground and a fucking psycho by your side to have some people talking. We walked together in the shitty parts of town, amongst pimps and though some were reluctant to talk at first, Rage made sure tongues were loosened. Along with limbs.
We followed a bloody, dark trail of rumors of some sick fuckers accommodating the urges of other sick fuckers. And though it was risky, I got the intel I needed faster than Stig. We got here yesterday and staked the place down.
“You good, brother?” I ask Rage for the millionth time since yesterday.
“I want to go in. I want to kill, kill, kill.”
So far, no movement was seen from the compound but I am not risking it. I have watched a place for days at a time back in the war zone before my target surfaced.
“Patience, Rage. For Tamie’s sake,” I say and resume my position.
“Kill, blood, my kills. I’m the Hellhound now,” he mutters. “Iris is not here, Iris is safe. I can be the Hellhound.”
I tense. The man is madly in love with Iris. Emphasis on “madly”. He is in constant fear that the beast inside will surface and hurt his woman. I never does. Iris is his magic spell. But like he said, Iris is not here. And I am trapped with the Hellhound under this maddening heat. Well, fuck.
“Yes, brother. When we see our enemies, their deaths are yours,” I promise.
I shiver at the thought of seeing the Hellhound at work but if those fuckers keep women in there to torture them so some sick fucks can jerk off, they deserve what Rage has in store for them.
And right at this moment, as if the gods of the Underworld heard Rage’s prayer and rejoiced, the one door of the compound opens. I say nothing, just readjust my scope. My blood chills. Three big fuckers walk out. And the two of them carry a body. The body of a woman, small and frail. By the loose limbs and the discarding way they carry it, I know she is dead.
“Fuck!” I watch closely, dreading to see the woman’s face.
Her long hair falls on her face. Long, dark hair. Are we too fucking late? The notion that I am late once more tightens my stomach and I feel like I am going to throw up. Focus, focus!
“Wood?” Rage is shaking with anticipation.
The two fuckers drop the woman on the ground and the last one takes a shovel off the ground and starts digging. Motherfuckers, my finger is caressing the trigger. The men are busy, one is digging, the other is smoking a cigarette and though the last is looking around, I know he can’t see us. I calm my breathing and control my heartbeat, ready to act.
And then I see a movement. The girl is alive! She rolls on her stomach and fights to crawl away. The watcher senses her movement and without even thinking about it, he takes a gun from his jeans and shoots her right in the head.
“Motherfucker!” I hiss and I aim.
I feel Rage seethe next to me but I block him out. The shot is fucking tough but I am good at this shit. This is all I am good at, all that I was trained to be. My heartbeats drop, my body relaxes, my breaths come in calm and steady. When I am ready, I pull the trigger.
Through the scope, I see that fucker drop dead and the others looking around. Run, assholes! A smile blooms on my lips when one makes a run for the door. Not so fast. I ready the rifle once more and I shoot. Dead. The third one takes out a gun and drops on the ground. OK, good move but not good enough. A third bullet flies and he is dead right where he lies.
“We move,” I say and grab my MK. “Eyes open.”
Rage howls and follows me down the hill. We don’t know how many are in there but I know there are three less. They got one camera facing the door so I doubt that for now anyone on the inside got wind of what went down. Those fuckers were supposed to be digging a hole so Rage and I have some time for a surprise attack.
We reach the compound and I hold my gun ready to my eyesight. I move swiftly to the girl’s body and drop on my knees still on alert.
“Watch my back,” I ask Rage hoping he won’t go on full killing mode just yet.
He does as told, his pistol aiming at the door behind me. I glance at the girl and I sigh in relief. She is not Tamie. She is still someone’s girl though and I doubt she deserved what happened to her. I get up breathing through my nostrils. I will motherfucking slaughter those assholes. Rage eyes me barely holding back.
“We go in!” I order. “Kill them all, brother.”
“Fuck yes!” Rage smiles as if I gave him a Christman present.
I go swiftly to the door making sure the camera doesn’t catch us. Luckily, those fuckers left the door open. I turn to Rage and signal him that we go in on my mark. I lift my rifle and shoot the camera.
“Go, go, go!” I say and I go in.
There’s a man sitting on a chair at the end of a narrow corridor. He has a screen before him and he already goes for his gun but he is not fast enough. My bullet gets him between the eyes and the silencer does its job well. I run to the door that fucker was guarding and Rage is across me, pissed off I got the first kill. I signal him I’ll go in first and he reluctantly agrees.
I try the knob and turn it slowly. I hear voices behind the door and I signal Rage to hold still.
“Fuck, she’s gone too. We need new girls,” a man with a rough voice says.
“I paid good money for this,” there’s a wheezing male voice. “I paid good money and I will pay more.”
“20Ks for a new girl.”
I push the door slightly more and look inside and I am glad Rage can’t see. The place is an open area with several sets in each wall. One looks like a dungeon, another like classroom, a third like a gigantic baby room. Sick fucks.
Four men are currently standing in the middle. There’s a fifth man sitting on a wooden chair. He has a latex mask over his face and he is completely naked. His round, fat body is shagged and his fucking prick is erect. He holds a whip that drips blood. A girl is tied on a complex device with cuffs and restraints, dressed in leather underwear. She is not breathing.
“OK,” the pathetic naked fucker agrees.
“Get Tamie,” one of the men orders.
Fuck no, I stop thinking and I enter the room pushing the door with a loud thud.
“Hands up, motherfuckers!” I yell and I feel Rage behind me.
They all turn to me and seem surprised. Behind me, Rage shouts a blood-chilling roar. That girl, hanging, whipped. That’s how he found Iris. Those fuckers will regret every single decision they made that brought them in the Hellhound’s path back to the sorry-ass father fucking their whore of a mother. The initial surprise is over and I see them ready to act.
“Yours, brother,” I release the Hound on them.
Rage is beyond human speech. He snarls and he falls on them. He has put his gun away and fists his favorite killer blades. Guns bring death too easy. There’ll be nothing easy on their deaths. I let the Hellhound do his job and rush to the door on the other side. Tamie is in here somewhere and she is alive, thank fuck.
I find myself in a corridor with seven doors, two open. I stand still and I take the place in. All that reaches me are the yells and screams from the room behind me. Rage wreaks havoc and I hear some pleading for their life. I laugh over my shoulder. None will leave this place alive.
I go carefully to the first door. An empty room with a bed, a mirror and a wardrobe. I check the next five the same way. All empty. I glance at the last doors and kick open the one closest to me.
“Shit!” I hiss.
A girl is in here. She has hanged herself from the naked lightbulb with the silk belt of the robe she is wearing. A chair is pushed on the floor under her legs. Her blonde hair falls on her face and her frail body is still swaying. Late. I was too fucking late. Again. I was late again. I hesitated. I drunk myself stupid for two days before I acted. I could have saved her, I could have freed her from whatever made her kill herself.
“Shit, shit, shit!” I am hyperventilating.
No, no, no. Not now, I struggle to steady my hands that are shaking. I hear the screams from the room down the hall and I hear the screams in my head. The screams of those I let down. I press my eyes together but panic has settled in for good. I drop on my knees under the swaying body and I am close to taking her place and end this torment. And then I hear it.
“Geraldine,” there’s a soft voice through the wall. “Geraldine, be good, be good. Please, be good. Be strong. Be strong for me and we will both get out, I promise you.”
That voice. It’s imploring and firm at the same time. Tamie. I shake my head to get my grip on reality. Tamie is alive and I need to get her out.
“Be strong,” she implores once more.
I know she is talking to the girl but I find comfort in her words. I need to be strong now. Not for me, for her. She needs me. Iris needs her and I will get her out. I calm my irregular breaths and I steady my hand before going out the hall. I stand before the closed door and I swallow hard.
“Tamie, get away from the door.”
“Yes, sir,” her timid reply reaches me.
I kick the door open and I go in, gun ready. I scan the room quickly and I settle on her only when I make sure she is alone in here. She is exactly as the picture I still carry around and then some. She is wearing a tight short dress and high heels. Her long hair is in a strict ponytail and she wears no make-up. Not that her perfect face needs any.
“I am Tamie,” she offers a smile.
A smile? I am wearing tactical gear and I just barged in with a fucking huge gun in her room. And she is smiling to me?
“Come with me,” I bark at her.
“Isn’t Freddie supposed to bring me to you?”
“Freddie one of these fuckers running this?”
She nods. Her face is calm but she rubs her hands on the dress all the time and her right leg is twitching. She is scared alright and I won’t let that fake smile fool me.
“I doubt Freddie has legs anymore. I am here for you. Come with me.”
“I...am supposed to wait here for Freddie, thank you,” her smile trembles and she sits back on the bed.
What do these fuckers do to these girls? Here I am giving her her freedom and she hesitates. And the girl next door chose to kill herself than fight them. I feel the urge to go out and shout to Rage to leave that Freddie motherfucker to me. We got trained in some pretty cool interrogation tactics back in the day.
“Freddie is dead.” I lower my gun. “I am here to set you free.”
I extend my hand to her and she eyes it with suspicion. I can drag her out and explain later but for some reason I can’t bear to treat her like that. Something tells me she has been through a lot of shit. She doesn’t need mine as well.
Her eyes fall on mine and I bite down my jaw. They are a little bluer than Iris’s and though they look a lot alike, Tamie is very different. There’s nothing girly about her, from her full lips to her full body. She is all woman.
“Who are you?”
I haven’t uttered my name ever since I got stuck with Wood. I don’t like the fucker I was before. He is a coward, a disgrace. I am Wood now.
“I am Wood.”
“Tamie, we got no time for this. Come with me.”
I place my gun behind my back and I come closer. She stirs and sits further in her bed but her smile is still on her lips. My heart clenches to see that weird reaction and I am scared to find out what makes her act like that.