The Cauldron by Charles Goodwin Chapter 8

The Founding of Chiron

Chapter 8

The Devil’s Due

‘I think we should open the door,’ said Monica gingerly. ‘It’s only the police. We haven’t done anything wrong.’

Rebecca remained speechless. She could only manage a sullen nod. The situation was hopeless. There was no escape.

Monica half-heartedly unlocked the door.

‘I am Hans Van der Hyde, Chief of Amsterdam’s Peace Keepers. You are Miss Monica Laatum, are you not?’

‘Yes I am...’

Hans sneered and gruffly pushed Monica to one side, stepped into the room and stared sardonically at Rebecca. ‘And you no doubt would be Miss Rebecca Childs.’ His eyes ogled her up and down, mentally ripping her clothes from her body.

Rebecca wanted to scream and to break into hysteria as she stood before the loathsome Van der Hyde. Instead she somehow managed a brave and determined ‘What exactly is it you want with me?’

‘Ah, now that is the question,’ drawled the neanderthal. ‘Don’t be impatient my pretty one. You will find out all in good time. Right now though, I must ask you both, to accompany me to my office to answer a number of questions on a matter relating to one Mr. Paul Ravenscroft.’

‘Paul...! What have you done with him? Where is he?’

‘You English women, you are so impractical. Why do you worry about Paul Ravenscroft and not yourselves.’ He shrugged sadistically. ‘I escorted Herr Ravenscroft to the airport this morning. He would be in Austria by now - and more than likely fucking your Austrian counterpart. The ways of the rich and powerful are beyond the understanding of the likes of us mere mortals.’

He leaned forward and pinched her cheek between his hairy thumb and forefinger and squeezed lightly. His perspiration ran freely on his forehead. Rebecca shuddered in disgust as she smelt his nauseating rank presence.

‘Such peaches and cream British complexion, so desirable.’

‘Don’t you touch me!’ Rebecca pulled away scornfully. Her eyes emblazoned with hatred for Hans.

‘Spunky little think, aren’t you? Yes well, as I said, all in good time - all in good time.’ He turned sharply. ‘And now to business.’ He snapped his thick fingers to his two aides. ‘Accompany these two ladies to the van and deliver them with their suitcases to my office. I wager I’ll have a busy and entertaining night ahead of me, that is for certain.’

‘For God’s sake wait!’ cried Rebecca in earnest. ‘You don’t need Monica. She can’t possibly tell you anything. She doesn’t even know Paul.’

The two aides halted momentarily and glanced at Hans for his response. They didn’t have long to wait. Hans’ expression hardened and he snapped with venomous intensity. ‘What the fuck are you waiting for? I gave you orders. Carry them out or suffer the consequences!’

Monica stared at Rebecca distraught. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She began to sob, and her sobs sounded like the bleating of a condemned seal cub, slipping on the bloodied artic ice, and waiting for its skull to be smashed in the barbaric name of humane culling.

Rebecca clasped Monica’s trembling hand securely.

‘Come Monica, Wakonda wont desert us. We mustn’t lose faith. What ever happens we mustn’t lose faith!’


‘You look like a satisfied cat that’s trapped a juicy rat!’

Hans didn’t reply.

She persisted. ‘You have that sarcastic smirk on your face again. I’d know that glint anywhere. It’s those two girls that are arriving shortly isn’t it. Who are they? Now don’t go silent on me. Remember you owe me. I helped you to once again clean up that ugly mess you found yourself in - with that Susanna girl and her fiancée. I’ve told you once, if I’ve told you a hundred times, never toy with the employees. You just cant keep your hungry hands off.’

Hans was sprawled back in his office chair deep in thought. He puffed on a large Havana cigar, and yes he was satisfied. More than satisfied in fact. He was aware of Hilda’s presence. Her lips moving under her furry moustache - as usual, lecturing - nagging - complaining.

Empty words that fell on unconcerned ears.

Hilda was a huge and surly ‘draught horse’ of a woman. By no means fat, just big boned, large and muscular. From a studded black leather belt around her waist, hung her truncheon and magnum. Nobody dared question the relationship over the years that these two partners in terror had with each other.

Their loyalty impregnable.

Their damnable secrets immeasurable.

‘Don’t nag me Hilda,’ slobbered Hans. ‘You enjoyed Suzanna in the end more than I did. I read the report on the body. You excelled yourself this time. Especially with the hanging frame up and the drugs angle.’

And then he added approvingly, ‘So neat and efficient, that is for certain.’

Hilda grinned, delighted at finally gaining his attention. ‘Actually her fiancée did hang himself. I made a video of Suzanna. Captured wonderful close ups and every mind splitting scream - I made him watch it. The weak bastard didn’t have the stomach for it. He was kind enough to make it easy for us!’

Hans replied in a morbid state of high stimulation. ‘You sadistic lesbian German bitch. And people call me a monster.’ He belched a guttural laugh. ‘Lets have a drink to toast the new arrivals.’

‘Just as I thought, we’ve had the appetiser and tonight we start the main course. Yes Hans?’

Hans sneered at Hilda before replying. ‘Yes, but remember the Rebecca woman is all mine. This time you are not going to share her! I especially picked up her young flatmate Monica for you to play with. So don’t nag me!’

‘Ah, that is good. You know I prefer the little angels younger anyway. They scream so innocently...’ Hilda let loose a hideous laugh as she spoke. ‘And this time we are only following orders.’

‘I only ever follow orders,’ replied Hans with depraved enthusiasm. ‘It’s just that others don’t understand my efficiency and creative genius, that is for certain.’

Hilda over-filled two glasses of cheap red wine from a two thirds full flagon. ‘A toast to following orders Hans!’

And as the two demonic in-carnate soul mates celebrated the arrival of their latest victims, harrowing laughter echoed through the corridors and into the courtyard and merged into the opaque ethers of the underworld.


Rebecca scanned the depressing grey surroundings.

A high bleak stone wall topped with jagged broken glass and razor wire, bordered the cobbled courtyard. Mist hung in the air as intermittent drizzle fell. A company of the hated Peace Keepers in full riot gear were busy making preparations for yet another one-sided battle.

Rebecca gagged for breath as memories of the tragic demonstration reverberated in her mind.
Wolf whistles and jeers greeted the new arrivals. The soldiers were used to ‘new arrivals’- both male and female. Often the arrivals were young and physically well endowed. And less often the soldiers were rewarded by being allowed to devour the scraps.

Yes, guests arrived often - but rarely left in the same manner!

Rebecca and Monica tried with unsuccessful modesty to lift their legs over the edge of the van’s tray to the slippery stone surface below - and the guards ogled optimistically up their legs - like hungry German Shepherds lusting at raw meat through a butcher shop window.

Rebecca clutched her friend’s arm protectively as they were herded into an ‘interview’ room.
The door immediately slammed and was locked behind them.

Monica was the first to speak. She’d by now assured herself that the predicament they were in was at the most only a temporary setback to their plans.

‘I hope this misunderstanding is sorted out soon. We don’t want to miss the plane.’

Rebecca didn’t answer. She couldn’t answer. She was at that moment bolstering up all her naked courage, just to retain the flimsy hope that somehow, or in someway they may get out alive.

Her chest heaved and shuddered.

She stared blankly around.

With the absence of any heating the all but bare room was bitterly cold. There were no windows. A large square mirror hung on the far wall next to a locked internal door. She winced with shock upon seeing their pitiful reflections. Two despairing strangers, their complexions ghost white with gaunt skin peered out at her. Above the mirror, the round plain clock with Roman numerals had sadistically stopped dead on six minutes past six o’clock.

They huddled together on the wooden bench and each expanded minute that elapsed dragged like eternity.

Their limbs trembled.

And the clock mocked them. It ticked loudly but remained on the Devil’s number.

‘Which one is Monica?’ asked Hilda in a slurred throaty voice as she gaped through the two-way mirror into the interview room.

‘The leggy blonde one. And you’re drunk,’ stabbed her wart-faced partner. ‘You disgust me when you drink too much, that is for certain.’

‘Then why are you stuffing me around with this delay? They’ve been in there for nearly two hours already...’

‘I am not stuffing you around,’ snapped Hans gruffly, ‘Huh - have some bloody patience woman why don’t you. You’ll have your playmate soon enough. The schoolteacher has a hardened spirit and I want to see her nerves more on edge first. Another half hour should do it.’

Hilda staggered and clutched the desk to avoid falling. She cussed and poured the last of the flagon into her glass. ‘I’ll wait 15 minutes and not a second longer.’ Her hand slapped the holster carrying the magnum.

‘German slut!’

‘Dutch pig!’

And in the fetid darkness the two piercing lunatic eyes quivered with rabid anticipation.
For Hans Van der Hyde this was also to be an auspicious day indeed!


At the front desk of the Amstel, the strain now clearly showed on Don’s face despite his deceptive poker expression.

‘Mr. Ormsby, Mr. Ravenscroft left in rather a hurry early this morning. He still has personal belongings in his rooms. We were hoping we might receive instructions from you as to what we should do with them.’

‘Yes, yes - I’ll take care of his belongings. Did he leave alone?’ fired Don, shocked at Paul’s sudden departure.

‘No as a matter of fact he was escorted by three security men.’

‘Security men! Did you get any of their names?’


‘But what?’

‘Well one was a rather large man with mm... well...’

‘I get the picture. Let me make it easy for you. One was a huge malformed yeti with large grotesque warts on his blotched face.’

‘Yes,’ answered the desk clerk slowly, ‘That would unmistakably be a correct and not over exaggerated description of the gentleman.’

‘Van der Hyde..’

‘Who sir?’

‘Never mind. Do you know where they took Paul?’

‘We had the impression that he was returning to Austria. They were taking him to the airport.’

Don thought for a few seconds. ‘Look, if there are any calls for Paul or myself, I’ll be up in his suite. He may have left a note or something.’

‘Yes sir. Speaking of notes sir, a taxi driver left this letter for Mr Ravenscroft late this morning.’

‘I’ll see that he gets it. Thank you. You have been a great help.’

‘Thank you sir.’

Don Ormsby strode quickly to the lifts. He’d had little sleep overnight. Calls made to the headquarters regarding Paul’s proposed extended stay in Amsterdam had been left unanswered.

And his usual precise mind was now a whirling cesspool of anguish. He’d even momentarily considered suicide the previous morning after Paul’s phone call but realised he didn’t have the courage or stupidity to carry it out.

A vanishing act would also be out of the question.

The Syndicate had its own unique way of financially controlling its senior employees. His tax free salary was paid by way of large credit limits on company credit cards and by credits piling up in the company’s loan accounts. The loan account monies were then periodically ‘invested’ in profitable covert projects. Executive’s expenditure patterns were thus strictly monitored. The senior staff were not under any misconceptions. They knew they were profiting from, and accessories too, the more diabolical transactions of the Syndicate.

Don was by now a wealthy man.

But one cannot get far without cash.

Don checked Paul’s suite but the search proved negative.

It just doesn’t add up. What the hell is going on?

He collapsed wearily onto the bed clutching Rebecca’s letter - and the connective vibrations it still contained.

Less than a minute passed...

Like lighting from the ethers, the answer flashed into his mind. He groaned, ‘The double hit! Of course... Don you stupid ass. The answer was there in front of you all the time!’

He clapped his hand onto his forehead, chastising himself, and sat rigidly upright.

‘That treacherous arsehole Van der Hyde is double crossing me. Van der Hyde is the second hitman!’

Don jumped to his feet and paced the floor in deep concentrated thought. As an ex CIA operative, he knew that to ensure a successful result in a ‘priority’ elimination, often two (or more) assassins would be engaged to make the hit. And more often than not, each assassin’s attempt would be carried out without the knowledge of the other’s involvement.

‘Now calm down. Let’s consider the situation in detail.’ His voice was a low murmur and meant only for his own ears.

And his taxed mind now slowly reclaimed its acuteness.

‘First - I was told to get rid of the Childs woman if she became involved with Paul. Secondly - Hans would have been ordered to kill Rebecca if I failed to dispose of her within a certain period.
‘So far so good.’ he sniggered.

Thirdly - I trusted that snake Hans to keep me informed should Paul and Rebecca make contact with each other - and of course the bastard lied through his teeth at me.’

Don angrily punched his fist into his cupped palm. ‘And fourthly - The coup de grace! Hans ensures failure on my part and then carries out his instructions to kill Rebecca. He more than likely intends to kill me also. Once I’m out of the way, he’ll claim the credit and be in for a fat bonus and possible promotion.’

Don knew he was right. Both his logic and his trusty gut feeling told him so.

He sat on the end of the bed to steady his nerves.

Yes it all fits, he thought. And naturally before the killings take place, Paul is ushered back to Austria. Very neat indeed! Ah but now I know. The point is, what evasive action is possible as a counter measure? What avenues are open to me to thwart Hans’ deadly scheme?

Don now felt coldly calm. His CIA training would once again come to the fore. He was used to pressure situations and he knew he’d have to act fast. Fear arises from ignorance - we fear the unknown - but Don now knew the score - and to the extent he knew, the fear had disappeared. From now on he would dictate his own rules during the play.

‘The ultimate challenge,’ he whispered. ‘To kill or be ...’ He paused. ‘No not killed! I don’t intend to fail. But the question remains, who and how many will I need to kill?’

And with his newfound defiance he tore open the four-page letter that Rebecca had written for Paul and began to read...

My dearest Paul,

Darling, I have so much to try to explain, and so little time left.
I pray that our love for each other will eventually bridge the hurdles that are placed in its path.
I will begin by explaining how I was able to call your name when I awoke in your bed just the other morning.

Don was flabbergasted!

His eyes sped through every word as Rebecca in the letter explained to Paul about Wakonda and the visions. How Paul was orphaned and adopted into the Ravenscroft family. The sinister purpose why the hideous murders of his parents were committed and his real destiny in the World’s final conflict.

Rebecca closed the letter by recounting Wakonda’s grave warning - that the lives of Monica and Don, along with her own life, were now in terrible danger and the resultant need for her to escape with Monica to Australia.

‘The woman must be crazy!’ gasped Don. ‘All this damn trouble over an obvious nutcase. I don’t believe it!’

No, his mind couldn’t... and wouldn’t believe it.
Minds cement themselves in the quagmire of the familiar - forever regurgitating the dead residues of past experiences. The truth and purity of new experiences are felt first in the heart. And it was in Don’s heart chakra where a nagging repressed understanding was now stirring.
Events relating to Paul’s upbringing became suddenly crystal clear. The extreme personality difference between Paul and his parents. His mother’s stubborn neglect of Paul. The obsession to keep Paul away from affection - and any chance for a loving relationship.

Even the accurate warning that Don’s own life was in danger.

‘How could Rebecca have known?’ stammered Don bewildered. The answer to so many questions. Yet based on paranormal visions and superstition. A series of coincidences perhaps?’

Coincidence or not, Paul would never get to read the letter.

Don struck a Hotel match.

He held the pages over the waste paper bin and watched until the flames engulfed the paper. He dropped the charred remains when the flames neared his fingers.

‘So mote it be. And God help us,’ said Don out loud.


The heavy internal door was unbolted and flung open.

Monica and Rebecca looked up stunned. The bulky frame of Hans stood unceremoniously in the doorway. A half finished smouldering cigar hung from his thick lips.

Rebecca jumped to her feet. Monica rose only slowly, clutching at Rebecca’s hand.

Hilda staggered into the room behind Hans. The stench of alcohol, combined with cigar smoke quickly wafted up Rebecca’s sinuses. She swallowed hard to stop from vomiting.

‘Miss Laatum, this is my assistant Hilda,’ slurred Hans in a ragged voice and eying Monica lustfully. ‘I want you to go with her. You must do every thing she asks of you. Do you understand?’

‘Yes,’ stuttered Monica. But of course she didn’t understand at all. She stared up at the formidable woman and into the face of evil. Hilda’s dark brutish eyes visually lashed down at her.

Rebecca held Monica’s outstretched trembling hand.

Hilda frowned viciously at Rebecca. ‘Get your hands off her, pommy bitch! She’s mine!’ she roared, and dragged her distressed victim away from Rebecca and across to the door.

‘How dare you talk to Miss Childs like that!’ snarled Hans gruffly, in some macabre show of protectionism.

Hilda’s face hardened like marble. With psychotic defiance, she spun Monica around to face Hans. Her drunken face gloated with sick competitiveness. She felt bitter and revengeful that Hans had kept her waiting - and she was furious at being rebuked in front of a guest.

And her eyes now clearly showed a demonic presence.

Then she exploded. ‘Eat your heart out Dutch pig. This is what you are going to miss out on!’ She haunched down. With her two massive hands she yanked Monica’s tight skirt up to Monica’s waist and her knickers clean down to her ankles.

Hans’ lust filled eyes quivered like a ravenous wolf at the youthful nakedness. He’d learnt to enjoy the wild passion and stimulation of Hilda’s tormenting and teasing games.

And he felt the throb below his belt.

Monica screamed with stark embarrassment. She attempted to cover her privacy with her hands. Hilda snarled and grabbed her from behind in a half nelson. With a drunken heave, she lifted Monica at least 6 inches off the stone floor.

Monica’s panties slipped off one of her feet. She kicked wildly into the air, not realising or understanding that her fuller exposure only added to Hans’ voyeuristic pleasures.

Rebecca leapt to Monica’s aid.

Hilda instinctively turned sideways, still clutching Monica. Then leaned over to her left, smirked dementedly and lifted her boot in a karate stance of gloating readiness. The boot smashed into Rebecca’s groin.

The pain felt like the shock of a stingray, reverberating through her torso. In less than a half second she was sprawled back across the room at Hans’ feet, wheezing for breath in dire, relentless agony.

‘I warned you bitch, keep your hands off her. She’s mine!’ screamed Hilda.

Monica wailed hysterical tears.

‘Get out! You German bitch,’ fumed Hans as he extinguished the but of his corona under the heel of his boot. ‘I warned you not to touch Rebecca.’ His face turned beetroot with ferocious anger and that face alone was enough to force a grisly bear to back off.

And Hilda did back off. She contemptuously released Monica from the half nelson and yanked her by the hair out of the room.

The door slammed shut in protest.

Hans squatted down at Rebecca’s face and panted in short gasps of halitosis. He straightened and adjusted her creased clothing. He stroked her hair gently.

‘Ah, that is good. We are alone. I apologise for Hilda’s behaviour. I didn’t want this unpleasantness, that is for certain. Are you all right my dear?’ he jeered in the most phoney patronising voice.

Rebecca coughed as she staggered to her feet, still in diabolical pain, but anxious to get clear of the beast’s groping hands.

‘Here let me help you.’ He pretended to brush dust of the front of her blouse and skirt. She felt his nervate fingers slide over her nipples and press against her breasts.

‘That’s better. And now Miss Childs, you will kindly accompany me to my guest rooms.’

Rebecca, petrified with fear and her nerves close to snapping, could do little more in response but to obey her abominable captor. Hans held her trembling wrist tightly as he all but dragged her through a long corridor to a flight of musty stone steps.

‘Be extra cautious Rebecca,’ he gravelled in the dark. ‘These steps are steep and the green mould makes them slippery.’

Rather than clutching at Hans for extra support, Rebecca reached out at the slimy stone walls as she descended the 33 steps.

Hans unlocked an iron-vaulted door. ‘As I said we are alone at last my pretty,’ he said hideously as he ushered his captive into his basement and re-locking the door.

‘I affectionately call this room The Blood Bank!’ He grinned mercilessly at her. ‘Sometimes even Dracula’s Blood Bank. I am most proud of this room. I’ve experienced so many wonderful evenings down here with my guests. It’s quite sound proof you know.’

And then he asked with sickening pomposity, ‘What do you think of it, mm?’

My god, she thought, this psychopath actually expects admiration from me. She glanced with icy abomination about her. From the debased energy alone, she realised at once The Blood Bank was a vile torture chamber.

She had an overwhelming urge to scream and to break down hysterically. Yet the scream remained suppressed. Her dry tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. Her teeth were fused tight as if in a brace. Rebecca stood paralysed to the spot, unable to move or utter a solitary word.

Hans shrugged. ‘I can see you are impressed. Some of these pieces are collector’s items. Take for instance that rack over their...’ He pointed to a grotesque antique contraption that looked as if it was a left over from the mid-evil witch-hunts. ‘You will be pleased to know, it still works perfectly.’

Rebecca swallowed and she almost choked on her thickening saliva. The room reminded her of something akin to fully equipped gym and a spotlessly clean operating theatre. However, it was repugnantly apparent that the sinister sterile equipment and tables were not for the healing or building up of bodies but intended for the opposite purpose.

The room was filled with the ghosts of pain and death.

And evil demon spirits hauntingly mocked her anguish.

‘No, no. I’m sure there will not be a need to use any of this equipment on you,’ pouted Hans without shame, enjoying every morsel of Rebecca’s terror.

‘I have other plans for you my pretty.’ Hans put his arm around Rebecca’s waist. ‘Come, I have my own private quarters through here.’

Rebecca was led to a second room. This time the door opening back into Hans’ torture chamber was left half open - with sadistic purpose.

‘There you see. We have soft carpet on the floor. A comfortable double bed, a large bath in which to wash my guests, the very latest TV, video equipment. Everything we need that is for certain.’

Rebecca still remained speechless.

‘Sit down on the couch. Would you like a hot cup of coffee?’

She couldn’t answer.

‘Yes of course you would. Try to relax.’ Hans continued with his phoney concern. He poured two freshly brewed cups of coffee and placed one in between Rebecca’s cold hands. ‘Now drink up. You will feel warmed once that’s inside you.’

Rebecca timidly drank.

‘What do you want with me... I can’t tell you anymore about Paul than you already know.’ She didn’t look up from her coffee cup. She could hear her voice trembling as she spoke.

‘I have been ordered to kill you,’ snorted the sadist.

I have been ordered to kill you... The cruel statement echoed through her brain. She closed her eyes tight. Dizziness began to overcome her and she fought hard to avoid fainting in terror.

Hans found Rebecca’s battle with consciousness, pervertedly sexual. He breathed gapingly and his hideous face turned blotch red. He began to shake and tremble - not with fear but with evil excitement. That fiendish excitement gained when experiencing total life and death control over another.

A nicotine stained, hairy hand inched its way under Rebecca’s skirt and began stroking and pinching at her inner thigh. ‘I didn’t say I would kill you Rebecca. I said, I have been ordered to kill you,’ he monotoned, through clenched stained teeth.

Rebecca attempted to push his hand away. ‘Don’t you dare touch me!’

Hans shrugged his shoulders, shaking his head with exaggerated vigour. ‘Be reasonable Miss Childs. Consent to be my mistress. Stay in this room for a couple of weeks and I’ll try to sort matters out for you.’ His eyes narrowed. ‘I might even be able to arrange a job for you as my assistant in The Blood Bank.’

‘Never! I’d rather die first, stammered Rebecca, her face flushed red with indignation and outrage.

Hans waited a few frigid seconds before replying.

‘Oh I admire your spirit, that is for certain. But I wager you will soon change your mind. There is something I would like you to see first.’

He produced Hilda’s video and slipped it into the recorder.

‘Hilda is a remarkable woman. I can’t help but to admire her courage and imaginative ingenuity. She took an instant liking to Monica you know! We were watching you both through the two way mirror in the interview room.’

He lolled back on the couch next to Rebecca and put his arm around her waist and squeezed tight. He pressed ‘play’ on the remote control.

‘You are about to see the video she made of the final two hours of the last girl she took such a liking to. You may have even read about the unfortunate incident in the papers!’

Rebecca had indeed read of the brutal murder! But nothing would have prepared her for what she was about to see. In morbid shock she gaped horrified - her nerves jangled. The disgusting beast Hilda was naked - other than the belt holding her truncheon and magnum. Blood spattered and ran freely over her grotesque body. She stood alongside and over her victim. She held a scalpel in her right hand.

Suzanna shrieked hysterically. She lay strapped on the stainless steel table, stripped of her clothes and in excruciating pain.

Suzanna was systematically, being tortured and mutilated. She was dying - drowning in a pool of her own blood. Rebecca felt nauseous. The realisation that the vile murder had been committed just one day previous and in Hans’ Blood Bank only metres from where Rebecca was now sitting, had made the act seem even more heinous.

She fought vehemently to escape from Hans’ clutches. He released her. His perverse eyes feasting on her unrestrained revulsions.

‘Turn it off! You monstrous bastard, turn it off! How could you?’ Tears streamed down her flour white face. She began to cough - then choke - then struggled to vomit.

‘Cut the tears!’ Hans jumped to his feet - delivered a piercing stare - then grabbed her vice like with his left hand. His right palm thumped into her colourless cheeks.

‘I said cut it out! If you don’t want your friend to share the same fate, you will do what I tell you. Do you understand?’ Hans roared with mindless fury, shaking his victim with unbounded vigour.
‘Do you understand?’

Rebecca took hold of herself and nodded, her eyes lowered, too petrified to look his gargoylic face. ‘How... how can I possibly trust you. How do I know that Monica would be safe?’ she asked through the sobbing tears.

‘I’m afraid you have no choice. No choice, that is for certain.’

Rebecca knew the situation was hopeless.

She sat deathly still.

‘What...what do you want me to do?’ she asked. Her face portraying a solemn and blood drained look of submission.

‘Now that’s better,’ replied Hans, delighted at Rebecca’s forced capitulation. His voice trembled with crazed excitement. ‘First, I want you to place your arms around me and kiss me...’ He paused and then added thick lipped, ‘I want you to kiss me passionately.’

Rebecca’s spirit was crushed. She bit her lips and clenched her eyes. She forced herself to kiss the beast.

The beast thrust his ulcerated tongue chokingly into her mouth. His breath stank of cheap wine and stale cigars. She felt his slobbery drawling lips, his sand paper course beard - and those hands - those invading maulers - like fleshy octopi tentacles of slithering suction - groping, exploring, pinching. Malignant hands that petrified her spine.

And she felt sick to her stomach.

He slurped devouringly.

He held her at arm’s length as he spoke. ‘Yes...yes. Most pleasant. I’m sure we can improve on that attempt. I am a patient man.’ With a wheezing grunt, he flopped back onto the couch and left Rebecca standing.

‘I want you to undress the way I tell you. Let me see. First the blouse. Take off your blouse.’

Lonely tears rolled down Rebecca’s face as she undid the buttons on her white blouse. The blouse fell to the carpet.

‘Next your skirt,’ he ordered in an ugly slow monotone. ‘And look at me in the eyes as you take it off this time.’

He ogled Rebecca’s body with a sordid sneer as she stepped out of her skirt and stood trembling before him in bras and panties.

‘Now remove your bras.’

Rebecca hesitated.

‘I said take off your bras!’

Rebecca almost ripped of her bras in a rigid show of proud defiance.

‘Ah yes, I thought as much. Your breasts - they are excellent. So white and...,’ he leaned forward, reached out and yanked cruelly at her breast. ‘...and yes, so... plump!’

Rebecca shuddered with disgust.

‘Turn to one side. Shoulders back. Nose in the air. Let’s have a good look at you woman.’ He collapsed back into the couch.

Rebecca obeyed her master and felt his x-ray eyes penetrate into her body.

‘Wonderful. You have such beautiful large nipples. See, you please me so much. We will make a lovely couple, that is for certain.’

Rebecca now heard the beast wheezing, snorting that green phlegm back up into his nostrils.

‘Now my pretty come closer in front of me.’

Hans began to pant breathlessly. Saliva ran profusely from his heavy lips.

‘Turn around and bend over - touch your toes - legs slightly apart.’ He croaked with hoarseness. ‘Do not be concerned; I’m not ready to rape you yet. I only need to look at you and feel you.’

Rebecca gritted her teeth. She closed her eyes, straining to the point of pain and did her captor’s bidding. She turned and bent over. Her blood rushed to her head, throbbing at her temples in humiliation. She felt her panties being stretched to one side. Cold hairy fingers began their painful internal probing.

‘I must think of Paul. This is a sacrifice to our love!’ To survive through the ordeal she forced her mind to reconstruct the ecstasy she had experienced with her beloved.

‘So juicy, no wonder Paul desired you. You are indeed a real woman.’ Hans intimately sniffed as he spoke. ‘Ah wonderful, you smell so exciting. Rebecca. We will have so much fun!’

Rebecca lost track of spatial time. It could have been only a few prolonged minutes. It probably was closer to fifteen.

‘You can turn around now.’ Hans hissed like a demon. ‘Kneel down and bury your pretty face in my lap. I’m sure you know what to do.....’

Rebecca numbed, turned and knelt down as ordered before the hated monster. The demon had exposed himself in readiness.

‘No...!’ she screamed. No...! she wailed!

Rebecca’s emotions crashed once more as she saw that the ugly warts were not only limited to Hans’ face and hands.

‘No, no! I cant. I’ll vomit. Please not now. Please!’ Rebecca sobbed - pleading in vain - grasping even seconds of remission from the ulcerous and nodulous chancres.

‘Oh you will. I am ordering you.’ Hans bellowed with furious intensity. He grabbed her hair with both hands and shook her head with venom. ‘You are now my pleasure slave. And you have one last chance before I feed Monica into the mincer!’

Her brain knocked at the inside of her skull as Hans violently shook her. Dizziness fought for ascendancy over consciousness. Tears of nausea filled her eyes.

And she nodded submissively.

She knew there could be no way out.

Yet perhaps on this occasion her knowing was wrong.

The telephone rang - and the ringing sound, piercing the momentary silence, was the shrillest sound Rebecca had ever heard.

She gulped.

Hans stood up flying into a frustrated rage.

‘What the..... For shit’s sake!’ He grabbed Rebecca by the throat. ‘You wait right here and don’t move. You haven’t avoided anything. Do you hear?’

He released his grip and pushed her backwards, sending her sprawling across the carpet. Her head hit the hard floor with a concussing thud. The room whirled with distortions.

‘Yes Stefan. I thought I told you, I didn’t want to be disturbed,’ spat Hans venomously.

‘Sir I am sorry,’ trembled Stefan the desk clerk. ‘Mr. Ormsby is waiting for you in your office. He brushed straight past me and insisted I’d better ring you...’

Hans slammed the phone down and gaped down at Rebecca’s near naked body.

Her vision blurred as the lustfilled exposed batrachian towered over her.

She blinked with disbelieve. She could see the evil leopard glare of the black master in Hans’ lurid face. And she remembered Marduk’s resounding threat...You will never escape from my power, Rebecca!

She blinked again. She could tell from Hans’ blood shot eyes that he was deciding whether to rape her there and then or leave. She closed her eyes and began to shiver wildly.

‘You have a stay of execution!’ Hans replaced his member and did up his zip. He put his heavy boot on Rebecca’s throat and pressed.

Rebecca wheezed desperate for air.

‘Why rush? There’s plenty of time. I’ll be right back my pretty, that is for certain!’
Hans grudgingly locked Rebecca in his room and cussed and hissed his way up the slippery stairs to his office.

‘Ah. Mr. Ormsby, and for what may I ask, do I owe you this pleasure?’

‘Come on in and wipe that false smile off your face. Shut the door behind you,’ lashed Don, producing his SigSauer pistol as he spoke and aiming it coldly at Hans’ heart. ‘I think we have an important matter to discuss, don’t you?’

‘I don’t understand. What is going on?’ feigned Hans. His voice and manner changing abruptly.

‘Where is Rebecca Childs? You double crossing bastard.’

‘There is no need for any of this unpleasantness. She’s here, safe in my custody waiting for you Don. I have my orders too...’

‘Turn around. Hands up against the wall.’ Don was insistent and impatient. His voice edged like a cutthroat razor.

‘You’ll never get away with this. You are a dead man, that is for certain.’

Don didn’t reply. He quickly frisked Hans’ jacket and trouser pockets and removed Hans’ Browning 13 shot 9mm automatic. Don checked to see if the gun was loaded.

‘Now you fat oaf, you will lead me to Rebecca.’ Don placed his own Swiss pistol into his pocket as he spoke. ‘Remember I will take great delight in blowing your brains out, so I wouldn’t attempt any heroics.’

Hans, with his own persuader in his back trudged back down the steps to the interrogation room.

‘So where is Rebecca?’ snapped Don, eyeing the room with an air of profound distaste.

‘Locked in my apartment over there.’

‘Unlock it and be quick about it.’

Hans shrugged his shoulders and opened the door. Rebecca stared at Don with the pistol in Hans’ back. Her mind raced to understand.

‘Rebecca, I am Don Ormsby, Paul’s secretary. I’ve come to get you out of here.’

Rebecca’s face showed immediate relief, if not disbelief, at the sudden reprieve from her nightmare.

Don almost didn’t have the time to admire Rebecca’s semi nakedness. He pretended to look embarrassed.

Hmm, so that is what Paul found so enticing, he thought. He then said, ‘Quickly now, get dressed!’

Rebecca grabbed her clothes, shyly turned away from Don and dressed in seconds.

‘Don’t listen to him Rebecca,’ thundered Hans in desperation, ‘He’s also been ordered to kill you. He’s just trying to save his own skin. You’re safer with me.....’

‘One more word out of you, you great ape and I’ll....’ Don thrust the heavy Browning at Hans’ temples and pressed the barrel in hard. Beads of sticky sweat ran down Hans’ warted cheeks.

Don’s fingers trembled, not with fear, but morbid excitement. He flashed at Rebecca without hesitation. ‘You have to trust me. I read your note to Paul. If we hurry, you can still make the plane.’

‘Monica! I cant leave without her,’ exclaimed Rebecca adamantly.

‘There is no time. I’ll try to help her later,’ he lied.

‘No.... I just can’t.....’

Rebecca threw herself at the video and shoved it into the recorder and pushed the play button.
‘Look! Look what these psychopaths did to this poor girl before they killed her yesterday! That butcher Hilda has Monica now. How could I live with myself if I left Monica here to die?’

The slow motion frames doted fiendishly. The spine crunching deep screams on the low speed sounded akin to the massed despair of the hells.

‘You disgusting bastards,’ choked Don glaring at the screen, his fury and nausea evident. His ice-cold trigger finger begged for the micro second electro impulse command from his brain to squeeze.

Hans’ complexion drained prehistoric. He didn’t dare move his lips to respond. His words sounded like a pathetic amateur ventriloquist. ‘No! I am not responsible. That is Hilda.’

‘You lying monster!’ screamed Rebecca; wanting Don to blow Hans’ head clean off. ‘You were bragging about the video 15 minutes ago.’

Don fought for a breath to regain composure. He answered her coolly. ‘I’m sorry Rebecca. You can turn it off now. Point graphically understood!’

His computer like mind flashed vehemently as he considered the next move. ‘There appears only one option.’

He now stared coldly at Hans - his voice tense but firm as he spat out the orders. ‘Listen carefully and no fowl ups. I’ll only tell you once! Get on the phone. Tell that beast Hilda to bring Monica in here forthwith!’

‘And secondly, you will order Rebecca and Monica’s release documents placing them into my custody, and their suit cases, brought down to this room immediately!’

Hans sneered at Don with derision, ‘You’ll live, or should I say die to regret this day...’

‘Start phoning or you’ll die right now,’ countered Don.

Hans gaped toad-faced at Don and reluctantly lifted the phone.

Rebecca agonised.

The following harrowing nine minutes seemed like eternity. She couldn’t bring herself to think the worst of what could have happened to poor Monica. Her heart pounded as her lips whispered a silent prayer for the safe return of her friend.

Three resounding knocks on the door broke the stony silence.

‘Open it,’ ordered Don, the gun still at the ready.

‘You can put them just here inside the door,’ mumbled Hans as two overladen guards clumsily brought the trolley load of suitcases, handbags and release forms into the room.

Don held the pistol out of the range of vision from the nervous guards.

The guards made their exit. Rebecca hastily checked to see if the passports and tickets were still in her handbag. She nodded to Don with a forced smile of relief.

‘Do you want me to pass you these documents?’ she asked, picking up the release forms.

‘No, give them to Hans. I’m sure he will agree to sign them.’

Hans stared with threatening disgust at Rebecca as he snatched the papers from her trembling hands.

‘Can you still feel my three fingers up your vagina?’ he snarled cruelly. ‘I knew you were enjoying it. You were so juicy, that is for certain.’

The might of Rebecca’s hand landed across his face before she realised she had slapped him. Her nails dug deep into his flesh as she clawed them down his cheek. She spat in his face. Hatred seethed from her spirit.

‘Crawl back to hell - you fucking hemotode!’

Hans smiled and his pestilential smile had the etheric odour of the sewers of the hells. ‘That’s my girl,’ he mocked odiously. ‘I’ll see you there.’

‘That’s enough Rebecca!’ shouted Don. ‘All in good time.’

Rebecca backed away, staggered at her own fiendish ferocity.

‘Sign the release documents!’ blasted Don.

Hans muttered curses and obscenities under his breath as he scrawled his signature on the pages.

‘Hans, open up. Open the door! What’s the meaning of this?’

Hilda’s cavernous voice thundered as she pounded on the door.

‘How dare you interrupt me,’ she raged, pushing Monica across the room as she entered. ‘What the.....’

‘Shut the door and stand over there by the wall! Hands in the air,’ answered Don stiffly. ‘Get her gun Rebecca.’

Hilda’s face, flushed with indignation and fury, glared detestably at Don and Rebecca.

Rebecca with astute caution lifted Hilda’s magnum from her belt. She aimed threateningly, holding the gun in both hands, at Hans as she tip toed backwards and knelt down by Monica.

‘Are you all right Monica?’ Rebecca whispered.

Monica did not look up. Her voice was just audible. ‘Oh Rebecca.... She said, if I didn’t do what she asked, they would kill you...’

‘Did Hilda hurt you? Please tell me Monica. I’ve been worried sick,’ urged Rebecca with ragged breath.

‘She. . . ,'

‘She what... Tell me please’

‘She was forcing me to make love to her.’ Tears filled Monica’s eyes as she answered. ‘I feel so dirty and ashamed. Oh Rebecca...I was forced to...’

Rebecca had heard enough. She put her arms around Monica and held her tight. ‘I understand, don’t try to speak now. We have to get out of here. We can still make the plane.’

Rebecca looked at Don to see what his next move would be.

‘Will Monica be all right?’ he asked.

‘Yes I think so.... No thanks to that lesbian murderer.’

‘Hans, get up against the wall with your girlfriend,’ said Don fiercely. ‘Rebecca pass me Hilda’s gun. Then take Monica and stand over by the door.’

Rebecca hesitated. Don already had a pistol. Why did he also want Hilda’s?

‘Trust me Rebecca. I know what I’m doing,’ Don persisted, ‘I want you to take my gun out of my pocket keep them covered. But first give me Hilda’s.’

Rebecca realised she had to trust Don. There was no alternative. Without taking their eyes off of Hans and Hilda they carefully made the exchange.

Don smiled sardonically. His eyebrow quivered with adrenalin. He glared into Hans’ demonic eyes. ‘Now it’s my turn to play a little sadistic game!’ Don exchanged Hilda’s magnum to his right hand and the Browning to his left, before adding. ‘A little score to settle before we leave.’

He stepped back one pace without blinking. Again he spoke to Hans. ‘First, I want you to punch Hilda. Punch her twice - as hard as you can in the face - or you will die now.’

Hans snorted and attempted to force a smile. ‘You must be kidding, that is for certain...’

‘Call me... I’ll count to three. One... two...’ Don took dramatic aim.

At the two count, Hans turned to Hilda, shrugged his ox like shoulders and obeyed.

The powerhouse punches landed with a sickening, fat wallop. The first slammed into Hilder’s left eye, snapping her nose like a chicken bone. The blood and fluid at first oozed, then streamed down her swollen face. The second right hook crashed into her cheekbone.

Like a brain impaired prize bullfighter, Hilda was only momentarily stunned. She staggered punch-drunk and shook her face spraying blood and tissue about her. But she somehow stayed on her feet.

Rebecca and Monica gasped with feared revulsion.

Hans, his wrist and knuckles bloodied and sore, turned and gaped with frustration at Don as if to say, ‘I tried my best but she wouldn’t fall down.’

‘Now rip open her tunic and blouse....’

‘But why Don. . . ’

‘Do it!’

Hilda face was now bloated and blue. She sniggered as Hans tore open her army issue blouse.

‘Now it’s your turn Hilda,’ said Don scornfully. ‘Go for him. Scratch his eyes out!’

Hilda didn’t need encouragement. She leapt at Hans with demented venom, revengefully punching and kicking and scratching at his eyes.

Hans lost balance and collapsed to the floor. Hilda’s right boot thumped into his unprotected face and throat without mercy.

‘Get her off me,’ choked Hans tersely trying to protect himself with his arms. Hilda’s boot landed into his testicles. Hans screamed with excruciating pain.

Don stole the luxury of gleaming satisfyingly at Rebecca. He nodded and winked as he quipped, ‘You have your revenge.’

Rebecca frowned. Her indecision arose from not knowing if she wanted the punishment to stop or to continue. Hans’ face was now as bloodied as Hilda’s.

‘That’s enough Hilda. Release him,’ yelled Don.

But Don was not yet finished.

His manner became frigid. He lifted the magnum, took careful aim and fired. The Super Velex high impact bullet slammed into Hilda’s shoulder.

Monica screamed hysterically, her nerves shattered.

Hilda staggered, then groaned clutching her shoulder. She stared in shock at Don with crazed bewilderment. Hans now scrambled to his feet.

Don pointed the gun at Hans and aimed.....

For that split second Hans knew his life was over.

He screamed out a prolonged, satanic ‘no!’

Don’s impatient trigger finger received the impulse.

He fired.

Blood and brain tissue spattered from Hans’ forehead from the single gaping bullet hole. Hans’ petrified, dead eyes locked in on Rebecca’s. She watched in nightmare horror. His body seemed to freeze momentarily, then waver, then crumple into a heap on the floor.

Hilda shrieked a blood-curdling roar. She charged ferociously at Don like a stampeding bull elephant. He fired once - twice, at point blank range into her chest. The bullets came from Hans’ 9mm Browning in Don’s left hand. Don jumped aside as Hilda, like a dozen bags of oats, lumped to the floor precisely where he had been standing only a split second before.

Rebecca still holding Don’s pistol stood mummified to the spot. She stared at Don blankly. His actions had taken her utterly by surprise.

‘If you don’t intend to shoot me Rebecca could you come over here and help me drag these ‘garbage bags’ into the correct position.’

‘How could you...? You’ve ... you just executed them!’ Rebecca’s nerves were at the point of total collapse.

‘I had no other choice. It was kill or be killed.’ Don shrugged nonplussed as if it were all in a day’s employment. ‘Did you have a better idea, by any chance? You didn’t show a lot of fondness for them yourself a few minutes ago.’

Rebecca ignored the question and the ghoulish jest. ‘It... It all happened so fast. I had no idea that you intended to.. well kill them. I guess we owe you our lives...’

Rebecca’s riveted mind suddenly jumped back into gear. The realisation that they weren’t out of danger hammered home.

‘What do you want me to do?’
‘Right then.’ Don’s mind spun once more, ‘Now let’s see. It will have to look like they fought each other. In the wild scuffle ‘delicate’ Hilda pulled her gun on Hans but managed in the process to get herself shot in the shoulder.

Hans then drew his gun and plugged Hilda twice in the chest. Hilda as she fell, neatly shot Hans in the head.’

Rebecca didn’t understand a word of what Don had just said. Zombie like, she assisted Don as he pulled Hilda’s huge carcass closer to where Hans lay. Don carefully wiped the guns of any prints before placing them into the hands of their dead owners.

‘Last of all, we’ll toss a few articles around the room. ‘It has to look like they had one mean argument.’ Don spoke confidently without apprehension.

Monica remained silent still in a state of supreme shock. She failed to understand how anyone could so coldly kill another, even if it was in self-defence.

‘Come ladies. We’ll lock the door behind us. I want them to have a restful night together before they are discovered, ‘that is for certain.’ Don mockingly mimicked Hans’ accent, sending shivers down Rebecca’s spine, as she heard for the last time the monster’s grisly saying echoing through her brain.

‘These papers appear to be in order, Mr Ormsby but I think I’ll check with Mr. Van der Hyde before I allow these ladies to leave. It is rather irregular you know.’

‘That’s fine. I have plenty of time,’ Don with a slight confident smirk replied to Stefan, the desk clerk. ‘But I wouldn’t if I were you.’ Don allowed his face to show a concerned expression.

‘Oh, and why not?’

‘Hilda and Hans are having one hell of an argument down there. I’ve never before seen them in such an ugly mood. They were quite literarily at each other’s throats when we left.’

Stefan gulped. ‘Oh, I see,’ was all he could say.

‘Hans insisted that he didn’t want to be disturbed. It would take a brave man indeed to interfere in one of their domestic tantrums. Especially by someone disputing his signature.’ Don paused to give weight to his words.

The desk clerk swallowed once again.

‘You may even come to an unfortunate end upon one of his tables tonight,’ added Don, with a fiendish glint in his eye and aiming directly at Stefan’s jugular.

‘Yes, I feel you may be right Mr Ormsby,’ replied Stefan finally and clearing his throat. He knew only too well the vile moods Hilda and Hans could descend to. Besides he’d already interrupted Hans once that evening when Don had arrived. ‘There is no point asking for trouble. Thank you for the warning. I am most grateful.’

‘A pleasure I assure you. And if I were you, I wouldn’t disturb them at all overnight. Unless that is, they specifically call you first. Mind you I hope for your sake they don’t,’ said Don in a soft convincing voice.

‘No... No, I hope they don’t either... I’ll get someone to help you with your bags to the car.’

‘Thank you Stefan.’

‘Thank you Mr. Ormsby.’

It was dark, as the Volvo with Don attentively at the wheel, sped out of the compound in the direction of the airport.

The rain was now pouring down making vision exceptionally difficult.

Rebecca felt drained emotionally and physically. She sat tight-lipped in the front with Monica in the middle. Their suitcases stashed upon the back seat and in the boot. Her mind attempted to offer some compartmentalised sanity or balance to the events of the preceding three days.
Time itself had purposefully slowed down, thought Rebecca wearily. So much has happened in such a brief period.

She realised she’d become a recipient in the terrifying struggle between good and evil. However, her fatigued mind fought desperately to rationalise her vivid experiences. Experiences both astral and physical that had now merged in her consciousness to render an equal dream like false reality. Inter-dimensional experiences that were somewhere beyond the mind - beyond time - beyond even permanent vulnerability.

‘Phew! That was a close one ladies. I wouldn’t like to bluff my way through an episode like that too often,’ understated Don as he stretched and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Neither Rebecca nor Monica attempted to reply.

Monica still numb with shock stared blankly, hypnotically, at the rain drops illuminated by the car lights, dancing upon the road ahead as if in a morbid celebratory state of farewell. The windscreen wipers posing as a metronome providing the rhythm.

Rebecca hugged her maternally for a few minutes until she broke her fixed gaze. ‘We’ll be on the plane soon. It’s all behind us now,’ she soothed sensitively.

Monica nodded and managed a light smile and replied in a forced whisper. ‘I’ll be all right in a few minutes. Stop worrying about me. I feel so tired - so terribly exhausted, but I am more than grateful we have escaped.’

‘That’s the spirit Monica,’ said Don, ‘You are a brave little trooper.’

‘Yes she certainly is,’ agreed Rebecca and then spoke again to Monica. ‘I am so sorry you became so innocently involved. I’ll explain the whole story in detail once we’re safe on the plane.’

‘I know it wasn’t your fault,’ said Monica.

After some minutes Rebecca finally decided it was time to ask Don the question that had been nagging at her heartstrings.

‘Don. . . . ?’

‘Yes Rebecca,’ he replied without taking his eyes off the road.

‘You mentioned that you read my note to Paul...’

‘I had no choice but to read the letter,’ he interrupted abruptly. ‘But I can’t say I believed any of it.... Well you know the parts I mean.’

‘You do intend forwarding the letter to Paul for me?’

‘No that’s not possible. I destroyed your letter!’

‘But why?’ Rebecca sounded surprised even affronted. ‘Whether you believe me or not, Paul surely has a right to know. Besides, I have to explain the reasons behind my sudden departure....’

‘Listen Rebecca,’ asserted Don, the serious side of his nature now fully functional. ‘Listen please... These people, as you’ve clearly seen, play for keeps. Hans was wrong when he said I’d been ordered to kill you. I am not an assassin.’

He stopped at the traffic light and glanced at Rebecca to ensure her attention.

‘Go on. I’m listening.’

‘I was however, instructed to get rid of you. That is, buy or scare you off - send you packing! The trip to Australia is perfect. In my report to head office, I’ll state that by feeding me misinformation, Hans deliberately betrayed the Syndicate for his own personal gain. And that you left for Australia on your own accord without any prompting from me. More importantly you left with the intention of never seeing Paul again.’

‘But that’s untrue. I love Paul!’ exclaimed Rebecca crisply.

‘Let me continue please Rebecca,’ rebuked Don. ‘Let’s suppose that mumbo jumbo you wrote in your letter does happen to have some basis of fact. How long do you think Paul and you - and myself for that matter - would last? He paused without expecting to receive an answer. ‘The minute they learn that we know of Paul’s adopted past we are all as good as dead. Rebecca believe me, these people would coldly blow a jumbo out of the skies if it suited their cause!’

Don took his eyes of the road and glared at Rebecca to give weight to his words. Her eyes portrayed acceptance.

‘If you tell Paul,’ he continued, ‘Paul would rush headlong into checking the story out. Even if to prove you wrong. I know Paul. I wouldn’t be able to stop him. The second an inquiry is made the alarm would be triggered. It would be an instant death sentence for both of us. And God only knows what they might do to Paul.’

Don now allowed time for Rebecca to grasp the full implication of his words.

She replied solemnly, concealing her extreme disappointment. ‘What you are telling me, is that because of my love for Paul, I can never see or talk to him again.’

Don allowed a measure of compassion into his stony heart and felt sorrow for both Paul and Rebecca. His mind flashed back to Sandra. The woman he’d once totally loved. The blissful marriage - the two children - and the eventual spiteful divorce. He remembered the pain he’d felt on that fateful afternoon. The kids were at school and he’d arrived home early. The argument culminating in Sandra finally breaking down and admitting that she had fallen in love with someone else. She said that the long hours he’d devoted to the CIA had forced her into the arms of another.

And he remembered hitting her...

There was an offering of hope in his voice as he spoke. ‘Look, give me time to sort this mess out. Obviously I needed to rescue you first. I haven’t had time to consider the next move. And Paul is bound to have many questions. I only hope I will be able to come up with the correct answers!’

‘What if your superiors hunt you down before you get a chance to speak to Paul? How will I know? Will they swallow the story that Hans and Hilda killed each other?’

Don was deliberate in his guarded reply.

‘My company backs winners. I managed against the odds to come out on top. Hans gambled and lost. Hans and Hilda’s staged demise was primarily to grant us valuable hours. With Hans out of the way, there is bound to be a power struggle in Amsterdam’s security section. The forensic evidence will show that each other’s blood and skin cells were discovered upon their respective bodies - pointing, I hope, to a violent exchange which resulted in their deaths. On the balance of probabilities, I will be promoted rather than permanently demoted to a grave.’

‘That’s one hell of a gamble,’ responded Rebecca.

Don shrugged. ‘The ultimate gamble. But nevertheless a calculated risk I will have to take.’
He spoke in a convincing manner. He was well pleased both with himself and the outcome. The odds had now swung in his favour. The future with a little manipulation could indeed, he thought, be most rewarding. Rebecca was the ideal safety link with Paul.

‘I must admit,’ said Rebecca grimly, noticing Don’s slight grin. ‘I thought you were playing some sadistic game when you had Hans and Hilda attack each other. So you planned to kill Hans from the start?’

‘Yes. He double-crossed me! I don’t think we would have got this far if he was still alive. Do you?’ Without waiting for a reply Don continued, ‘But I only formulated the final plan when I looked at the video. To exchange Hilda’s life for Monica’s was justifiable in the circumstances.’ He paused and glanced at Rebecca knowingly. ‘You see Rebecca, the means does sometimes justify the end!’

The words forged in at Rebecca’s heart. Even though she’d argued the opposite with Paul, she could hardly now disagree. ‘I can’t help feeling scared of you Don. I am more than grateful, but at least with Hans I could easily read him to be the monster he was. With you, I just don’t know what to think.’

Don laughed. ‘Don’t worry. Unlike Hans I have a conscience. I can distinguish between right and wrong.’

‘Yes, I can accept that to a degree. But you are also capable of playing God with people’s lives.’

‘And tonight I gave the Devil back two of its own.’

Rebecca cringed and then pleaded. ‘I hope you take care of Paul. He’s going to need a friend so badly.’

‘I’ll try my best. I promise you. Trust me.’

And she knew she had no choice.

‘What’s the time?’ asked Monica. ‘Will we make the plane on time.’

‘We’ll be at Schiphol in a few minutes. I hold a special pass, which will speed us through airport security. I’ll be able to see you right to the plane.’

‘Thank you Don for everything you’ve done for Rebecca and I,’ whispered Monica. ‘I realise Rebecca has been shielding me, and I don’t understand half of what you’ve both been talking about. But I’m so thankful that you were there when we needed you. You are more of a caring a person than you try to pretend.’ Monica clenched at Don’s arm and kissed him affectionately on the cheek. ‘If you are ever in Australia be sure to visit us.’

Don smiled, and even in the dark they could see him blushing.

For the first time that day he found himself lost for words.

Copyright 2004 – 2006 © Charles Goodwin. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, copied or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, storage in a retrieval system or otherwise, without the prior express written permission of Charles Goodwin.

All characters - other than obvious historical figures - in this book 666 The Cauldron are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Prospective publishers with expressions of interest are invited to contact Charles Goodwin at

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