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Animal Farm to the Stars

By Daniel Angelo Monaco All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Scifi

Enter the Executioner...

A/N: In case you haven't noticed, this is a rough draft. I liked to edit on the fly as I write so when reviewing please be kind.

The lavishly decorated hallways of Howard, Fine, Besser and Associates were not a quiet place. In fact most of the time the building was buzzing with shouts, muttering, yelling, and loud, angry phone conversation. But all of these things were to be expected inside the Los Angeles branch of a prestigious, multi-million dollar law firm. Money flowed into this building and the crack legal minds within it’s walls did everything in their power to ensure that the money stayed inside that building.

In a place like this, a few loud noises were to be expected.

Chairs flying through glass doors, however, were a little out of the ordinary.

So when Jimmy Bionel stepped off the elevator and saw furniture flying through the air, he knew that his day was about to get a lot more interesting.  Not that he wanted it to get interesting, at six o’clock the Dodgers and the Mets would finish the last of a three game series and Jimmy had finally managed to score two luxurious box seats twenty feet behind home plate. Getting his hands on these passes had cost a fortune and he had no intention of missing even one second of game so Jimmy had planned literally every part of his day around leaving work early, getting across town, and having his ass hit the seat long before the the National Anthem started playing on the stadium loud speaker.

Drama, even interesting drama, was that last thing he needed to deal with today. For a brief moment, Jimmy considered stepping back on the elevator and pretending he had never been in the lobby and had never seen any broken glass or flying chairs. But instead he decided to play the odds. There were 45 employees on staff at Howard, Fine, Besser and Associates and at least 25 of them were lawyers who dealt with high profile cases and short tempered clients. It was possible that whatever was happening had absolutely nothing to do with him.

Hell, after he did the math in his head, he figured that there was only a 2 percent chance that anyone would even notice that he was in the lobby at all. If he walked very quickly and then took the side exit to the parking garage, he might actually get out of this scott free. Then he heard two familiar voices and Jimmy’s hopes were dashed forever.

The first voice was Matt Besser, Jimmy’s fellow partner and the person who did most of the drudgery of running a firm as large and as prestigious as Howard, Fine, Besser, and Associates. “Now ma’am, I would really appreciate it if you just calmed down-”

“Fuck your calm!” screamed the other voice, “Get Jimmy down here right now!” Jimmy recognized the voice instantly: it was Erica Brooks, one of his clients. Well, actually his former client. Jimmy had a strict personal policy of not representing women who he slept with and he had dumped Erica as both a client and a lover nearly six months ago. The thought of seeing her again, even to just calm her down and drop her in Matt Besser’s overstressed lap left a sour feeling at the back of his throat.

As another crash echoed through the lobby, Jimmy knew that his day was ruined no matter what. Erica obviously wanted to talk about her divorce settlement or the restraining order her ex-husband had taken out on her and that was going to take all afternoon. But if he ignored her, she would tear the entire building apart and force Matt to eat his own shoes. He sighed and smoothed out the lapels on his Two Button Saville Row Suit. He had no choice, either he stopped Erica’s rampage or he’d be forced to listen to Matt Besser bitch and whine for the next two weeks. He was damned either way.

With a big fake smile, he strolled confidently into the lobby and surveyed the utter destruction that Erica had left in her wake. As expected, all of the chairs had been tossed across the lobby and through the frosted glass wall that separated the elevators from the general public. But Erica had also picked up the large leather and steel bench that had been bolted to the lobby floor and used it like a baseball bat. It was now lying on the floor amongst the wreckage of the receptionist’s desk. Amy Parsons, Jimmy’s personal assistant and the worst secretary in the whole world was cowering in the corner next to the desk, shivering in terror. Also cowering in the corner was Tom Evans and D’Vante Jackson, the two US Army rangers who worked as the firm’s private security. Tom looked like he was going to cry and D’Vante had a shiner spreading across his left eye.

To his credit, Matt Besser wasn’t actually cowering or crying, but he was shivering as the fearsome shadow of Erica Brooks spread across the lobby. Conflict was not Matt’s strong suit and even though the young lawyer was doing his best not to have a panic attack, Jimmy noticed that the kid was getting a little green around the gills. The moment Matt saw Jimmy enter the lobby he silently mouthed the words “Help me.” Suddenly Jimmy felt like one of those clowns at the rodeo who distract the bull when the rider falls off.

With a loud cough, Jimmy cleared his throat and Erica Brooks spun around to face him. She was two inches shorter than Jimmy but for some reason she always seemed to tower over him. In six months, nothing about Erica had changed: attractive but also athletic, with every inch of her body covered in muscle. Beneath her form fitting workout clothing were huge biceps and muscular thighs that flexed like coiled snakes every time her body moved. Her brown hair was curled tightly in a messy pony tail. Everything was just how he remembered her except the sunglasses, for some reason she had donned a pair of thick, wrap around sunglasses that covered the middle of her face like a ugly black mask.

“Hi, Erica. How have you been?” Jimmy quipped then he leaned to his right and gave Matt a polite smile, “Hey Matt I think they need you upstairs, how about I take this off your hands?” Matt nodded and as the cowardly attorney retreated to the elevator, Jimmy silently mouthed the words “You owe me.” with big exaggerated lip movements.

Some semblance of normalcy returned to the lobby as Amy began calling the building’s janitorial services to come and sweep up the glass. Unfortunately her phone was one of the casualties of Erica’s tirade had been her desk phone. She had to dial the broken touch tones with her pencil tip while holding the smashed handset with two hands.

Meanwhile, Jimmy could tell D’Vante and Tom were getting ready to call the cops and that would’ve been a disaster because the last thing the firm needed was a TMZ headline about one of their movie star clients getting tasered in their own lobby. So he reached into his pocket and handed over his Dodger’s tickets. Erica had officially destroyed his Friday night.

Next he braced himself for the amazon’s inevitable temper tantrum. Things had been tense between them since their break up and Jimmy was not looking forward to their upcoming conversation. “Okay Erica, I’m here. What do you-” Erica rushed across the distance between them and wrapped her big muscular arms around Jimmy’s neck, not violently but softly. She was clutching him for dear life.

That was when the crying started. “Oh Jimmy,” Erica moaned, “You’ve got to help me!”

With a heavy sigh Jimmy led her into the elevator and up to his fifth floor office, she cried literally the entire trip, putting her head on his shoulder as to the top.

He settled her into the red leather chair across from his desk and after five minutes the sobbing finally stopped. At that point came the needy whining and Jimmy was reminded why he had broken up with Erica Brooks in the first place.

Four years ago, Erica “The Executioner” Brooks had been one of the deadliest Mixed Martial Arts competitors in the world, the pride of the Featherweight division with a record of 15 and 0. But her career took a nosedive when Anya “The Assassin” Kurylenko beat her to a bloody pulp in the third round.

That match more or less ended her career as a fighter but the Executioner still had a lot of fans and she was able to quickly shift gears and reinvent herself as a Hollywood actress. Erica the Executioner was now Erica Brooks, queen of the big budget action movie.

Jimmy first met Erica mid way through her Hollywood upswing, back then he was just as fooled as everyone else. He thought she was this strong, confident woman who punched first and asked question later. But about a month into their relationship he discovered the truth: Erica was an emotionally needy nightmare. She cried, sobbed, constantly went fishing for compliments. She suspected him of cheating and constantly regulated his contact with other women out of jealousy.

During their relationship, Jimmy was never entirely sure if Erica’s behavior was the result of getting the shit beaten out of her by a Ukrainian Lesbian in front of twenty million pay-per-view customers or if Erica had always been a headcase. All he knew was that the three months of his life he had given up to Erica Brooks were jokingly referred to by his family and friends as the Dark Times. They were a crippling, painful twelve weeks of manipulative hell.

And now Erica the Executioner was back and ruining his day all over again.

Jimmy watched as she blew her nose for the third time and wiped the tears away from her cheeks,“I’m just..I need someone I can rely on Jimmy. I don’t know who else I can turn to.” He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. This was all textbook Erica, the crying, the moaning, the plaintive sobs. In fact the sunglasses were still the only different thing about her. She refused to take them off even when she was doubled over in tears. “Things are bad, Jimmy.” She whispered, “Things are really bad.”

He decided to table the sunglasses question and instead Jimmy attacked the central question: “Why are you here, Erica?” He asked. He was careful to keep his tone polite but neutral. The last thing he wanted was for Erica to start acting like he was still in love with her.

Erica didn’t respond right away, instead she looked around, as if she was worried that the walls had ears. Jimmy recognized this as Hollywood Survival 101, because in a town that fed on gossip you always had to be careful about who was listening. When she was absolutely certain that it was safe to talk she dropped a bombshell: “They asked me to fight again.”

Jimmy leaned back in surprise, that was big. Now he started looking around for ears, “And what did you say?”

“I said yes.” Erica whispered, “They want me to fight Krissy Lopez in Vegas at MCA 200 next spring.” Jimmy’s throat went dry and he had to swallow just put some feeling back in his esophagus. In the space of six seconds, this conversation had just gone from a tense discussion with a former lover, to top secret negotiation with a potential client. Dollar signs started passing in front of his face.

He nodded then pulled his tongue across his lips. “Okay.” Jimmy whispered, “First we need to take a look at their revenue sharing clause, it’s probably pretty standard but you want to make sure you get a piece of any licensing, maybe dvd sales. After that we’ll-” He was barely mid sentence before Erica started insistently shaking her head.

“What?”

“I did something.”

Jimmy’s eyes narrowed into two brown slits,“What?”

“Krissy Lopez is in her twenties and I haven’t fought professionally in a long time so...so I was worried I couldn’t compete anymore.” Erica was on the verge of crying all over again and Jimmy watched her upper lip start to quiver, “I went to this doctor, he kept promising me that he could make me unbeatable and...! Something must’ve…gone wrong” Her voice just trailed off and with a shaky hand, Erica reached up and pulled her sunglasses off.

If he lived a thousand years, Jimmy would never forget the sight of what was underneath those glasses: two orbs of pale yellow gold with huge round pupils that contracted into tiny black pools of angry darkness. The eyes looked out on the world with a life of their own, with a spirit all their own. They were hard and cold and totally inhuman.

They belonged to an animal. A predator.


There was a mixture of panic and excitement in Eddie Park’s voice as he examined Erica’s X-Rays, “Transgenics.” He said as he held the X-rays in front of one of the overhead lights,“That’s the only logical explanation.”

“Okay,” Jimmy replied, “What the fuck are transgenics and how did they fuck up my ex-girlfriend’s face?” The two men were standing in the hallway of Oakdale Medical Services, a cushy private hospital that discretely catered specifically to the rich and the famous and the highly misanthropic. It wasn’t exactly the best hospital in LA but it was the first place that popped into Jimmy’s head when he saw the nightmare fuel Erica was using for eyes these days.

Eddie used his fingers to trace a path around the x-ray of Erica’s nose and eyes, as if highlighting all of the things wrong with the woman’s insides, “It’s not just her face, her entire bone structure is changing, there’s new muscle growth, her organs are changing shape. This is transgenics, I’m sure of it.” began using a series of incredibly detailed explanations about Recombinant DNA. Jimmy began to feel his mind drift off to dreamland.

Eddie Park’s real name was Park Yee Gun and he was only a part time doctor. When Eddie was 12 years old, he told his humorless Korean mother that he wanted to be a stand up comedian and she swore she would disown him if he didn’t grow up to be a doctor. So Park Yee Gun became Doctor Park Yee Gun, a pediatrician in private practice at Cedar-Sinai.

On the weekdays.

On the weekends he was Eddie Park, rising star in the LA comedy scene and a club headliner at the Chuckle Hut. Eddie considered that to be his real job, despite making two hundred and fifty grand a year as a physician. So he usually flew on autopilot when talking about medical subjects. For years, Eddie had trained himself to regurgitate highly technical medical terms without actually bothering to explain them in layman’s English and it made Eddie an insufferable pain in the ass to work with.

Eventually Jimmy’s mind simply couldn’t process another five syllable words, so he placed his hands on Eddie’s shoulders and literally begged the younger man to stop talking.

“Eddie, I don’t speak Korean.” He shouted.

That might have been a little to harsh because it made the doctor recoil in disgust, “Neither do I you racist asshole.” With sour scoff and a slight pout, Eddie began his explanation again, slowly and with a lot more angry glares:  “Okay David Duke, try to pay a attention this time. Imagine I am an ignorant white boy and I want to have blond hair, how do I go about getting that?”

“You dye it.”

“Yeah but dyes fade and they can damage your hair.” Eddie replied, “What if I wanted to grow my own blond hair?” He removed his prescription pad from his coat and drew three simple circles, in one circle he wrote a b, in the next circle he wrote a bl, and in the third circle he drew two arrows showing the bl removing the b from the circle. “So what I do is I get a DNA sample from someone with blond hair, I put that sample inside a computer and isolate the gene that gives people blond hair. Now I get my hands on a virus and I remove all of the parts of that virus that make it harmful and I insert my blond hair gene inside the empty virus.”

Jimmy’s brow furrowed, “You’re talking about gene therapy.”

Eddie nodded, “Right, except Gene Therapy is something they use to cure genetic illnesses...what if I use it for something else? What if I use my virus…” He pointed to the third circle in the diagram, “...to alter my genetic code just enough to create blond hair.”

“And that’s what they did to Erica? Took somebody else’s DNA and put it inside of her?”

He shook his head and Eddie pulled out another slip of paper from his pad. This time He drew an upside down triangle. On one side of the triangle he drew a stick figure person and on the other side he drew a small cat’s face with whiskers. “They did something a lot more radical, they took DNA from another animal, something that wasn’t human.” He pointed to the picture as he spoke, touching it with his pen to illustrate his point, “and they combined it with her native DNA.” At the bottom of the triangle, he drew a little stick figure with whiskers and a tail. “In genetics, that’s called Chimerism. It’s been done before with mice and goats and plants-”

“And people?” Blurted Jimmy, “They’ve done this before with people so there’s some kind of treatment for this, right?”  He waited to hear a yes or to see his friend nodding in agreement, but Eddie remained silent and the look on his face was almost sad.

“This stuff we’re talking about is...it’s purely theoretical. It’s something out of science fiction.” The tone of Eddie’s voice was suddenly soft but serious, it was the voice he used when he gave a patient bad news, “This morning I didn’t even think this kind of thing was possible, let alone reversible.”

Suddenly a tight knot formed inside the pit of Jimmy’s stomach. He turned to look down the hallway where he could see Erica sitting in a private room wearing a hospital gown. For a moment he didn’t see the annoying baggage or her exasperating insecurities: he saw a scared woman who didn't deserve to die from some weird transgenic face cancer

There had been almost no good times during his relationship with Erica, but there had been a few. Those few good times had tugged at what remained of Jimmy's heart strings and a strange fury formed inside him. “When I find the guy that did this,” He whispered, “I’m gonna sue the shit out him.”

“No.” Eddie shook his head, “Jimmy, I don't think you fully understand: this man performed illegal human experimentation without getting his patient’s full consent...whoever he is he needs to go to jail.”

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