Authors: Bill Carson
Bill Carson Books
Copyright ©Bill Carson Books 2013
Bill Carson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author or publisher.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
Edgar Allen Poe.
district of Afghanistan's Helmand province
A small sandstorm of filthy brown dust came hurtling in out of nowhere. It swept up a myriad of plastic carrier bags, old newspapers and a host of other pieces of detritus, and deposited them all over the small, dirty, desolate war-torn town. It had been a particularly hot and oppressive morning. The mornings here were much the same weather-wise and the temperature was steadily rising. By the afternoon it’d be up somewhere around a hundred degrees, which would make the inescapable rancid stink of the place even worse.
Inside the bedroom of the three-storey abandoned building, the sniper had tacked some tattered, soiled, blood-spattered bed sheets to the walls and ceiling which sagged like the ragged sails of some ancient ship-wrecked vessel. The bed sheets were designed to conceal movement and to deflect the searing sunlight away from the two men hiding in the top floor flat of the crumbling apartment. The bipod of the AS50 anti-material sniper rifle rested on top of a small chest of drawers. The barrel of the formidable weapon poked out of a hole in the sheet and was pointing directly at the hole in the wall which had been made by a 40mm
explosive projectile during a fierce fire fight the previous day.
Suddenly, from beneath his desert camouflage netting, the sniper spotter noted a movement and it was the black-garbed mortar fire director who was the target they had been hunting for the past three days. He was moving back and forth behind a brick wall at fifteen hundred yards out and dead ahead.
This particular mortar team had been responsible for a bombardment of incredibly accurate and destructive ordnance on the forward operating base of the British forces. However, the elusive leader of the mortar team was now at just over three quarters of a mile away and had finally made the mistake they had been waiting for. He had moved the mortar tube to another location which was a little closer to the base. At this distance, he and his team had no reason to suspect that it would be an unsafe spot to operate their deadly Russian 82mm mortar from. They were wrong. From their observation post the British forces could see that part of the wall that they were hiding behind had a large chunk missing out of the top which had created a crescent shaped dip, and that’s where the shot had to be taken.
Andy Ryan steadied the bipod on the rifle and carefully slotted in the magazine, and then slowly pulled back the bolt which loaded a massive .50 calibre round into the breach.
He readjusted the optics and concentrated the scope on the middle of the crescent-shaped breach in the wall. The black turbaned head of the target filled the scope, and Ryan’s right eye immediately zeroed in.
“The next time you do that you’ll be history, my old son,” he whispered.
He took a slow deliberate breath and settled his heart rate, offset the shot a fraction allowing for the breeze, and by using the chevrons on the optics he calculated the amount of bullet drop compensation. The waiting was torture.
What if he’s fucked off for a kip or something? We might never get another crack at this bastard,
The deliberation had barely left his mind when the huge black-tipped projectile exited the barrel in a flash of a moment and was travelling toward its target at three thousand feet per second. Just over a second later the unfortunate recipient’s existence ended in an abrupt manner.
“Sayonara,” Ryan whispered.
The extraordinarily long-range kill was confirmed later that day by a Ghurkha patrol, who had found a black-clad body behind the wall minus its head.
Porn king Tony Costa had been dead for a while now, murdered on that fateful night by his nemesis, the deranged John Kane, but Tony didn’t run the family business alone and above him was his infamous older brother Jimmy. Even though Tony (God rest his soul) used to be a real hard man in his day and had personally put quite a few people in the ground, Jimmy made Tony look like Mary Poppins in comparison as he was the real psycho of the family. Abandoned by their Italian father at a young age, they were brought up by their domineering, aggressive and sometimes violent mother, and Jimmy and Tony had decided early on that no one was going to look after them and so they would have to take what they could get on the streets and look after themselves.
Armed with this self-seeking survivalist mentality, they became a law unto themselves. Jimmy was thirteen when he committed his first murder. He did it by taking a screwdriver from the tool box in his garden shed. The next day he took it to school, and while the ten-year-old Tony held his victim down, Jimmy pushed the long, thin steel shaft of the screwdriver through the throat of the school bully. Jimmy and Tony were both sent to the notorious Borstal prison in Rochester, where they spent the next three years being groomed and indoctrinated into the fine art of the violent criminal, and this was where they began to learn the profession of sadism which Jimmy seemed to excel in.
After their release, Jimmy had progressed from hand tools and for his next murder his name would become legendary. At the age of nineteen he captured a local drug dealer who thought that he could operate independently on his manor. Jimmy decided to send out a message to all other would-be transgressors to dissuade anyone with similar thoughts. Jimmy had taken the drug dealer back to his lock up garage, tied him to a chair and proceeded to slice the man in two from head to groin with a chainsaw.
His name and reputation grew steadily with his penchant for this type of extreme violence, and he was soon becoming a much feared and respected individual. By the age of twenty-five the very mention of his name, or that of his brother, would send a shiver down the spine of even the most callous of the gangster fraternity.
Jimmy had quickly moved on from getting his hands dirty on the murky little sordid vice-ridden streets of North London, and left the sleazy side of the business to his brother, who seemed to revel in it. Jimmy’s strategy, like all good strategies, was simple and he just simply tortured and murdered anyone who got in his way. However, the trademark murders were of a particularly nasty and unpleasant nature and involved the use of industrial tools. He had of late acquired a particular fondness for the use of power drills. With the implementation of such tactics, the message soon got around and he was quickly crowned the youngest king to ascend the throne of Britain’s underworld.
And so over the years Jimmy Costa had been busy, and had managed to merge all factions of the underworld unto him. Now he had a vast international multi-faceted drug distribution empire in operation, interwoven with a net of fear that was cast far and wide. But, for the first time in his reign as king of the underworld, doubt had been cast upon him.
He was very much concerned by the attack at the Vamps night club and the subsequent murder of his younger brother. The thing that bothered him most was the rumour of it being a possible take-over bid by a rival gang. The part of it that was puzzling was the fact that he was sure he would have heard a whisper about anyone having such designs on his realm, given the countless numbers of eyes and ears he had out there on the streets. But there was nothing, not before the murder or after, and for the moment there was no indication of who the perpetrators were. There was no clue and so the whole thing was a complete and utter mystery. However, after twenty-five years of rule there was one thing that he was sure of, and that was that someone somewhere knew something. He knew that if he did enough asking/interrogating, it wouldn’t be long before a few arses started twitching and a few tongues would start to wag, and someone would eventually be spilling their guts.
To him it was all about saving face, and in this precarious game you couldn’t be seen to be taking a backward step; you could only go forward. Jimmy now felt in the strongest terms possible that he had to regain the respect he considered he’d lost with the attack on his brother’s domain. In the culture of the gangster, respect was the most important element and it simply had to be upheld, and he was prepared to do almost anything to uphold it.
There were some very serious repercussions brewing from the destruction of brother Tony’s domain; the loss of the influence that he held over all of those judges, MPs and high ranking police officers was now gone, due to their exposure in the newspapers. His most prized possession, ‘reputation’, was now on the line and it was clearly getting to him. Paranoia, that dreaded dark slayer of rational thought, had crept inside Jimmy’s head. Paranoia is the worst thing that can happen to men who hold absolute power, and when they start to feel as if they’re losing their grip, all the other advantages that got them to the top start to slide as well.
Over the past six months he had become utterly obsessed with what had happened to his brother. He lived in fear of the thought that it may well happen to him, and that these unknown executioners of his own flesh and blood could be now secretly calculating his downfall as well
. Who are they? Can they be some of my very own people? Who can I really trust?
he kept saying to himself. To compound the issue, he’d heard on good authority that his name had been mentioned across the water. Whether it was true or not it didn’t matter; it’s like that with paranoia, everything gets blown out of proportion and an innocuous off-the-cuff remark can sometimes develop into a gigantic conspiracy.
Jimmy had decided to summon all of his captains for an important meeting, and had prepared a magnificent four-course dinner at his superlative headquarters, a private hotel in the wilds of the Essex countryside. This ten-bedroom hotel was set within a beautiful, stunning location, with one long straight road in and one long straight road out. The solid rectangular sandstone building stood alone amidst green fields and rolling hills, the spectacular views occasionally interrupted by groves of colossal oak trees. Amongst their unyielding branches were the ever-present mobs of bickering crows. Aside from their peculiar disjointed haunting cries, it was always unnervingly quiet out there and the place was almost church-like in its construction and aura, and that’s why he liked it.
Jimmy had once stayed at the hotel many years ago and had liked the place so much that he immediately made the owner an offer. Even though it wasn’t up for sale, he was sure he could persuade the owner to come around to his way of thinking. Basically, the message was, either lose your hotel or lose your life, and he got it across by nailing the poor chap’s feet to the floor, where he was left to contemplate the issue. He decided on the lesser of the two evils. The place became the hub of Jimmy’s operations as it was here that he felt safe, and so it was the perfect venue for this unpleasant gathering.
The guest list read like the cast of a horror film, and first to enter the ominous gloomy banqueting hall was the Glasgow pyromaniac, Rubber Legs Jim, and his associate, Robert the Juice, so named for his expertise with the use of electricity when torturing. The hunched-over skulking figure of the north-eastern assassin, One-Eyed Jack the Crippler, slipped in next. The vile
Axe-man strolled in a moment later, and looked very much at home within the medieval surroundings of the hall. He was followed by Ahmed Ali, the Butcher of Bradford, who actually was a real butcher, amongst other things. He and the Axe-man never saw eye to eye, and so Jimmy had to have them at opposite ends of the table to avoid an unscheduled bloodbath.
Last to enter the smoke-filled, alcohol-fumed hall were the scourges of the south: Derek the Devil, Billy ‘Potty’ Brooks of Brentford, and Johnnie the Ice-Man Carter, so called because of his fondness for freezing his victims prior to their disposal, and his pal Pete the Pill. These four were Jimmy’s drug distribution and extortion racket specialists.
The handles that these gentlemen had acquired may sound a little quirky to some, or they may even seem to evoke a kind of roguish old world charm. You may even find that their monikers have a slightly amusing air to them. There was absolutely nothing remotely quaint or amusing about these people, they were the most sadistic band of killers to have been assembled under one roof since Hitler’s henchmen were put on trial in Nuremburg. They were just as scary and as ruthless as their aforementioned counterparts, and collectively were responsible for the murder, torture and blackmail of thousands of innocent law-abiding, hard-working citizens.
After the main course had been devoured, Jimmy rose slowly from his chair. He removed his black dinner jacket and hung it on the back of his chair; he then unpinned his diamond studded cufflinks, and rolled up the sleeves of his silk shirt which revealed his powerhouse forearms. He was a big, good looking man with the kind of face that would turn a women’s head whenever he walked past. Sadly, for them, he’d never been interested in the female form.
Jimmy always kept himself in good shape and trained every day in his purpose-built gymnasium in the basement of his hotel. Jimmy was wide shouldered and slim-
, and his tailored white silk dress shirt accentuated his robust upper body musculature. With his slicked-back black hair and olive skin and lantern jaw, he looked like something out of a 1940s gangster movie, which was exactly how he saw himself. He stood still for a moment with his hands on his hips, and glanced around the table at each of his guests. Then he lightly tapped the side of his crystal champagne flute with the blade of his knife. The din dissipated to a soft murmur as he began to speak.
“OK, lads, I’m going to start by asking you all to join me in a toast,” he said, and as he raised his glass out in front of him they all stood up. “Here’s to old friends and to friends and family who are sadly no longer with us.” He paused as he surveyed the faces around the table. “I’d like to make another toast, here’s to loyalty.”
He then took a small sip of champagne and peeked over the rim of his glass, his black eyes swivelling from side to side as he scrutinised each of their faces as they all followed suit.
“Now, I suppose you’re all wondering why I’ve called this unprecedented little gathering.” He paused once more and studied them again for a moment before continuing. “OK, I’ll now put you out of your misery. This meeting was called in order to establish a few things. It’s cards on the fucking table time, lads, and I’m
ask you all a very important question which I want you to seriously think about. What I want to know is, are you all happy with your present situations?”
The question completely flummoxed them, and the room became deathly quiet. Jimmy gave them a few seconds for the gravity of the question to sink in and then spoke up once more.
“OK, so no one seems to have an answer, so from that I can assume then that you are all happy in your work and no one has any delusions of grandeur or ambition, then?”
He then began to swagger around the table, pausing here and there, but all the time continuing with his speech. He started to talk about his brother’s murder and then dropped the bombshell that he thought that there may be a traitor amongst the ranks. He deliberately timed the proclamation to coincide with his arrival behind Pete the Pill’s chair and, as he stopped there, the temperature in the room seemed to plummet. His olive-skinned face suddenly turned pale and twisted into a grotesque mask beset with two small black diamonds for eyes as he produced a club hammer from behind his back.
The hammer was swiftly brought down onto the top of Pete’s skull with a powerful, sickening crack that echoed around the room. The skull was virtually split in two from the blow, and part of Pete’s brain was now made clearly visible to all. Jimmy quickly and aggressively wedged Pete’s limp body against the edge of the table with the chair, and then began to smash the lifeless head into an unrecognisable, stomach-turning, oozing mush. With the last blow, Pete’s jaw shattered and a number of his teeth shot out in all directions. One flew up and plopped straight into Rubber Legs Jim’s whiskey. He calmly fished the offending article out and downed the scotch without another thought. By the time Jimmy had finished, Pete’s head had become flatter than the dinner plate he’d been eating from a few minutes beforehand.
After brutally battering Pete, Jimmy calmly turned and walked back to his chair, hammer in hand, and resumed his place at the head of the table. His white silk dress shirt was covered with blood splats and small blobs of red and white jelly from Pete’s brain. Despite his sickeningly cruel desecration of a human being, there was absolutely no traceable emotion on his face.
“Right then, anyone got anything they
fucking tell me? What about you, Bill? Pete was one of your crew, you got something you need to get off your chest?” he said, as all eyes in the room now suddenly focused on Billy.
“No, guvnor, not me,” Billy said nervously, and gazed at Pete’s sagging pathetic body as his blood and cerebral fluid trickled from the table top like extra thick treacle. Billy nervously turned and glanced over his shoulder at Johnnie Carter, his eyes boring into him, pleading for some form of assistance.