It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another chapter from the original book, The Cassidy Chronicles, Volume One. More specifically, this is still from Book One: Run Like Hell.
Until very recently, you could only get books one and two. That’s what I wrote, back in the day, and published on their own as standalone novellas. It wasn’t until last May that the whole book, as a complete unit, was finished and available.
As always, there will be the audio version of this chapter at the end, done by the incomparable Jane Weatherstone. If you’d like to purchase the book, just click on one of the images and you’ll be taken to Amazon. If you’d rather have the audiobook, the link is after the chapter (way down at the bottom, sorry, it’s a long way).
Now then. Last week, they’d bought their tickets to Vegas and were on the way to the terminal when a hand came down on Cass’s shoulder…
Chapter 7: A Terminal Experience
Cass was roughly spun around.
‘Dr. Cassidy?’ said an urbane voice. The speaker wasn’t attached to the hand; that individual was slightly shorter than Cass but much more muscular. His face was lined and darkened by years of Sonoran sun, topped by black lanky hair, and suspicious eyes. His clothes were worn, clean, but ill-fitting, as if they’d been selected for him. His grip on her shoulder was professional, impersonal.
Her eyes flicked to the voice. It was a much younger-looking man, professionally dressed, hands resting, poised, by his sides. For all his respectable looks, it seemed to Cass that it was a mask he wore, protective coloring. She could feel the menace radiating from him. She looked into his eyes and saw – nothing.
When she didn’t reply, he repeated the question. ‘Dr. Aiyana Cassidy?’ The grip on her shoulder tightened painfully.
‘Yes!’ she spat through gritted teeth.
‘Good.’ He turned to walk off, with his muscle pulling Cass along.
‘Hey!’ she protested. There was nobody else around to hear her; a bend in the corridor prevented any immediate rescue. Derek was simply standing, dumbfounded.
Without a sound, she launched herself at the younger of the two. Her legs came up and wrapped around his torso, pinning his arms, while her arms went around his neck. They tumbled forward, unbalanced, and she wrenched his head sideways. A horrible grinding snap and Cass knew his neck was broken.
She grasped her captor’s shoulders, and kneed him in the groin, even as he released her shoulder to assault Kendra. Instantly in agony, he dropped to his knees, clutching himself. Cass steadied herself, then kicked at his face. Her heel shattered his nose and orbital bones, then drove into his skull another five centimeters. He fell backwards, dead.
‘Quick!’ panted Ken, grabbing her victim. ‘Help Cass drag that guy to the lockers!’ She paused, hauling. When nothing happened she looked up. ‘Derek!’
‘Derek!’ she snapped, louder.
He blinked then came back to life. ‘You killed him.’
‘Damn right I did! Help Cass; her guy’s bigger!’
He looked down at the other body. The unsubtle odors of released sphincters began to rise. ‘Cass?’
Dream-like, she had copied Kendra, tugging at the body. It outweighed her by a good fifty kilos, though, maybe more, and she was having problems. ‘Derek, I need you,’ she pleaded. That got through to him, and he bent down with a grimace.
Still no observers. Kendra propped the younger one in front of a large pair of lockers, used his cooling hand and still-open eye to pay for them. Then she patted him down, removing a wallet, commpad, and ceramic knife.
Cass did the same to her assailant, finding another wallet and an old-fashioned leather sap.
‘Stuff ‘em in,’ ordered Kendra, suiting actions to words. Her body, smaller, folded easily into the confined space, and she closed the door. Derek and Cass struggled with the other while Ken searched the wallets.
‘Huh,’ she said after emptying the first. ‘Four IDs, all different names. Dale Arnold, David Asimov, Dan Andrews, and Douglas Archibald. Not very imaginative.’ She tossed the now-empty billfold into the crowded locker, checked into the other. ‘No ID at all in this one. Well, with any luck, nobody’ll miss them for a while,’ she said, adding that wallet to the other. She pushed the door shut.
‘Come on. We’ve only got about ten minutes until our capsule.’
‘How can you be so calm?’ asked Cass. ‘You – we – killed them!’
‘You think we had any choice?’ rejoined Kendra. ‘You have any doubt that, wherever they were gonna take us, it was gonna be bad?’
‘No, but -’
‘No ‘buts’, sweetie. It was them, or us. I choose us.’
Belatedly they noticed that Derek had lagged behind. They turned to look.
‘No way,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘This is not happening, this isn’t real, it’s just a bad case of nerves. I’m still asleep, still home, it’s the night before the wedding and I’m having a nightmare.’
‘It’s a nightmare, all right, but it’s real enough,’ said Kendra. ‘We’ve got to go.’
He shook her off. ‘It’s not real,’ he insisted, louder. ‘It can’t be. Things like this just don’t happen in real life!’
Faint voices could be heard down the corridor. Cass was suddenly aware of their vulnerable position. ‘Derek, we can talk about this later!’
But nothing was getting through to him. The voices were getting louder. In only moments, they would be discovered, and the two bodies as well. Nothing good could come of that.
‘We’re leaving,’ said Kendra, taking Cass’s hand.
‘We can’t leave Derek!’
‘He’s already gone,’ she said softly. ‘We have to save ourselves.’
Cass allowed herself to be pulled away. The last she saw of Derek, as they rounded the corner, he was still standing by the side of the hall, talking to nobody.