Part 3 - Death Looms Nightly
Kevin Fairchild sped away in Ethan's SUV, but Ethan didn't blink at his brother's actions. He had anticipated them. Another SUV rolled up next to him. The window slowly rolled down revealing the driver - - Michela Forsythe.
"Hey, lover. I hear you might be needing a lift," Michela said. She was wearing a midnight black cat suit that Ethan could greatly appreciate as it hugged every curve on her body.
"What took you so long?" Ethan snapped.
"Got hung up. Julian's on the prowl and he thought I was that bitch Janette again."
Michela was furious. She hated acting the part of someone else. It was one thing to have Janette pretend to be her, but it was quite another to pretend to be Janette, live her life, be in that sick, disgusting way with Julian Black. She merely attempted to hang that part of her life on a hanger in the back of her mind where she could forget it even existed.
Ethan had his moments of compassion and empathy. It wasn't like a man to deal with his emotions, but there were certain people he could open up to, and Michela was one of them.
"You don't have to be her, you know. There are other ways to bring him down."
She sped forward in the SUV following Kevin's trail, but she couldn't put the evilness of Julian out of her mind. Janette may have enjoyed being tortured and mentally abused, but she wasn't the type of person who could handle that abuse for long.
"I can't do it much longer, Ethan. The man is a monster. I'll lose my sanity if I can't extract myself from this mission." Michela's voice was nearing exhaustion. Ethan was surprised she was even lucid enough to drive.
He placed a hand atop hers on the steering wheel. "Pull over, Michela."
"I can't. What about Kevin and the girl?"
"Kevin can wait. I have a tracker on him. They won't be able to get far," Ethan said gently. "Pull the car over. Let me help you."
They were in the middle of nowhere, but Ethan could make anywhere feel like home just by imagining it to be that way. He wanted Michela to experience the same. He pulled her gently from the SUV. She was visibly shaking.
"It will be okay," he told her. "I'll make it okay."
The rain had stopped and the house they had parked in front of was dark. Ethan led her to the door. He quickly picked the flimsy lock and gained entrance into the cabin.
There was a blanket nearby and he used it to cover her shaking body. He could tell her mind was racing with what had transpired with Julian. She was useless in this condition. He had to make her forget.
There was no telling how long I'd been lying face down in the rancid water, but I swear I saw a bright light coming toward me. Of course, that was before I felt the gun nudged in my back bringing me forward into a sputtering reality.
"Get up!" It was a woman's voice. A pissed-off woman.
I tried to stay as still as I could as I regained consciousness. I thought I could use the act of surprise to somehow get the jump on the woman holding the big gun, but she had other ideas. She used the gun to concuss me. In spy terms that meant, she knocked me up-side the head with the butt of the firearm. It didn't feel too nifty. In fact, it hurt like hell.
The shock from the assault caused me to breathe in forcing a mouthful of rancid swamp water down my throat. Don't think I would forget that. Maybe some day I might be able to get her back for that experience. I sputtered a series of hacking coughs that took the surprise out of my attack plan.
And they say the good guys always win. Ha!
"This assignment was easier than I thought." Her accent was a mixture of Russian and British. That was obvious. But what wasn't obvious was her appearance. Since it was dark as pitch, all I could tell for sure was that she was blonde - - which was pretty funny if I thought about it too much. I never had been able to find a good image for Octavia in my mind, and even in this alternate world, she still didn't have complete form in my consciousness.
I let out an uncontrollable laugh. Maybe it was the fear bubbling up inside of me.
"I don't think I've ever been an assignment before," I said. "This is a new experience for me."
"I'm glad you're amused. It makes my job easier."
Through the water dripping in my eyes, I could see the Russian woman level her gun at me. Of course, the gun was clear as day, just my luck. Inside, I went completely still. So this was what it felt like in that moment before death, a silent stillness.
I closed my eyes because I knew I couldn't outrun the bullet or fight off Octavia Kassoff single-handedly. Too bad I never finished those karate lessons. Never even made it past my white belt. Maybe I could back-hand-spring her to death. I was pretty proficient at gymnastics, at least, I was when I was younger. Not that it would help now, in any case.
My head was bleeding and my balance shaky, so strike the gymnastics. If I tried to run, I'd only fall, and she'd kill me anyway.
I wanted to sing a song. It felt like an appropriate moment. Death looming and everything. But I couldn't think of anything fitting.
The gunshot sounded, but I felt nothing. She couldn't have missed. She was standing right in front of me, and I didn't think Octavia Kassoff was that bad of a shot. My eyes fluttered open when something heavy fell on me.
I screamed and jumped back. The blonde lady's unconscious form slipped down my body and landed face down in the rancid water. My eyes searched the dark night for the killer in the shadows. When I heard nothing, I scrambled up the slope to level ground and ran. I didn't care where. I just wanted to get away.
The fire was roaring and soothing music played on the radio. Ethan knew this would help Michela. Everything in the world was mental and he needed her mind back on the job. He sat next to her on the couch drawing his arm around her, making sure not to spook her.
He never imagined he and Michela would become involved again. She had recently recovered her memory, but had been hurt by another man. They had, had their differences in the past, but she was still the only woman who could ever drive him to distraction.
As he petted her hair, Michela leaned into him. She drew the cover around both of them and they sat that way for a long time. Her breathing calmed, telling Ethan she was in a much better state of mind. He shifted to get up, but she held onto him.
"Don't go," she whispered. "Make me forget. Make me forget it all."
I darted through the dark forest zig-zagging between trees. I could hear footfalls behind me. The fear propelled me faster than I thought was possible for me to run. Ahead I could see a light and smoke coming out of the chimney of a cabin. If I could get there, maybe I could save myself.
I was within a few feet of the log structure when the footsteps caught up to me. One hand pressed across my mouth while the other snapped like a vice around my waist dragging me back into the shadowy denseness of the forest.
I tried to scream but I couldn't. Could this be the end for me?