Longest night, p.1
Longest Night, p.1Darryl S Ellrott
A Short Story
Darryl S. Ellrott and Brent Mitchell Wood
Copyright 2011 by Darryl S. Ellrott and Brent Mitchell Wood
Published by Big Rock Publishing
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Neither the author nor the publisher make any guarantees, written or implied, that techniques described herein will make insure the success of any program. However, the author has used these techniques over a long and storied career as a middle school coach, and believes that these practices can be part of a successful program.
“Wake up, Mr. Mitchell.” said the voice.
At first, Brian didn’t want to go to the voice. The drugs were pulling him back down into the warm safety of sleep, but an unbearable sharpness in his nostrils jerked him awake.
Brian Henderson opened his eyes to see who had popped an amcap under his nose. It was then that he felt the steel handcuffs encircling both his wrists. That didn’t bother him nearly as much as the use of his full name.
“Why did you call me Mitchell?” he mumbled, feigning grogginess. “My name is Brian Henderson, and I’m a deputy sheriff –“
“ – Employed by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, Texas, U.S.A. for the past nine years. But you served during the war under the name you were born with: Brian Henry Mitchell of the United States Army. I congratulate you sir. You covered your tracks well.”
Dressed in an impeccable Saville Row suit, the barrister with the cultured voice continued on with relentless civility. “My name is Takahashi. An alias, you can be sure.”
“What’s this all about?” Brian demanded. Both men sat in the passenger cabin of an expensive private jet.
“My employer wishes to meet with you, Mr. Mitchell. I was tasked with making it happen.”
“He could have asked nicely. I take it I’m a prisoner?” Brian rattled his handcuffs.
“Let us say my employer doubted your inclinations. I arranged for the two young men posing as Mormon missionaries to tranquilize you.”
“It worked. Now, why am I here?”
“My employer wishes to settle his accounts with you, Mr. Mitchell.”
“I wasn’t aware I was overdue. Who am I settling with?”
“I work for Vasily Petrov.”
“I’ve heard of him. He’s the richest man in Russia. The only problem is we’ve never met.”
“Oh, you know each other, Mr. Mitchell, just not under your present names. Both of you have a shared past you wish to conceal. I speak, of course, of Kazakhstan.”
The color drained from Brian’s face.
Takahashi unfolded the portable computer screen on his lap so it was facing his guest.
“He felt, as do I, that you might do something rash. Hence the restraints. Pay close attention, Mr. Mitchell. Someone else wishes to speak to you.”
He caught his breath as the screen revealed his wife Jennifer’s tear-streaked face. She whimpered involuntarily as the barrel of a silencer was pressed against her right temple. Brian moaned as the camera pulled back to reveal his daughter Haley sitting in Jennifer’s lap, equally upset. Takahashi paused the picture.
“You can see by the time signature this was made only a few hours ago. They will not be harmed as long as you cooperate.”
Brian’s defiance was drained away. “Please,” he said, “I’ll do anything he wants. Just don’t hurt my family.”
Takahashi continued, businesslike. “Within the hour we will set down at a remote location in eastern Europe. From there, if you follow the rules, you will have the opportunity to settle with my employer and save the lives of your wife and daughter.”
“The sun will be going down by the time we arrive at Novotny Castle. Today, as I’m sure you realize, is December twenty first, the winter solstice.”
“It’s the longest night of the year, Mr. Mitchell. Somewhere inside the castle are five men, four of them professional assassins. If you are still alive when the sun comes up, your family goes free.”
“You said five. Who’s the fifth?”
“Why, the fifth man will be my employer, of course.”
“I should have killed him back in Kostanai.”
“But you didn’t kill Colonel Yevgeny Zukhov that day, did you?” asked the barrister. “That day, you murdered his family.”
Novotny Castle wasn’t what Brian expected. Instead of the graceful, crenellated towers with a moat and drawbridge that Hollywood favored, the ancient structure looked like five white cracker boxes pushed against the side of a sheer granite face. The castle was composed of five white stone towers topped by four-sided roofs. It’s irregular shape gave the appearance that each of the towers had been shoved against the others.
“The original Novotny castle was Gothic,” explained Takahashi, who was sitting in the front seat of the Mercedes sedan that sped the party towards its destination. “It was destroyed in the 1300’s, but rebuilt in the 1600’s in the Renaissance style. What’s special about Novotny is what they didn’t have to rebuild. It’s one of the last castles in the world with an extensive natural cavern system connected to it.” Indeed, Brian could see that Novotny’s box shaped towers appeared to be built into the side of a forbidding granite face that rose hundreds of feet from the valley floor below. “My employer purchased the castle five years ago from the Slovakian tourist bureau and spent a great deal of money on renovations. As you will soon see.”
In the gathering gloom, Brian could see the blood red half-disk of the setting sun as it dropped below the horizon. They crossed a drawbridge, which spanned the sheer drop off above the river below, and pulled up to a well-maintained modern driveway. It was dusted with snow, as were the pointed roofs of the castle towers. The icy chill bit right through his shirt as two goons hustled him through the arched entryway. Apparently his captors hadn’t thought he needed an overcoat.
He had little chance to get the layout of the place as he was manhandled up one stone staircase after another. Whenever he tried to stop and look around, the point of a gun always prodded his back. His destination, it appeared, was the very top of the tallest tower. He was finally shoved through a wooden door into a sparsely furnished room that included a chair, a four poster bed, and a small writing desk.
“Make yourself comfortable, Mr. Mitchell,” said Takahashi, indicating the chair.
“I’ll stand, thanks.” Brian eyed the two goons flanking the barrister and rubbed his biceps.
“As you wish. My employer has instructed me to tell you this: there is no way out. All the doorways have been bricked up. All the windows have been covered in iron bars.”
“All this just for me?” asked Brian.
“Oh, no, most assuredly not!” Takahashi closed his eyes and shook his head in what might have been for him the approximation of mirth. It was like watching a lizard try to laugh. “The bricks will be removed at the conclusion of our affair. The point is, Mr. Mitchell, that my employer wishes you to know that the only way out is down. There is a gateway at the very bottom of the mountain caverns that opens to an underground stream. To get to the exit, you must evade the pursuit of four very determined professionals. If you should pull off this miracle, my employer will be waiting for the final reckoning.”
“What happens if I get there and settle your boss instead?”
“Your opponents will begi
“No bullshit, Mr. Mitchell. My employer wishes you to know that there is still honor among soldiers. He has even offered to pay your daughter’s college education should you not survive the encounter.”
“When you see Zukhov, could you tell him something for me?”
Brian moved too suddenly for the hulking goons to react, driving his fist squarely into the barrister’s teeth. He was satisfied to feel one loosen. The next second, his arms were pinned behind him. Takahashi spun around, furious, wiping the blood from his mouth. For a moment Brian could see behind the courteous mask and looked into eyes that blazed. The barrister’s fingers trembled as he drew a fourteen inch survival knife and laid it against the lawman’s throat.
“I haven’t killed a man myself since 1989,” he said, lips twitching. “However, if I were to violate my orders at this moment, your meaningless blow would be ludicrous compared to what would be done to me.” Rather than slashing Brian’s throat, Takahashi drove the point of the knife into the wood of the desk, where it stood upright. Then he smiled an evil smile. “Save your strength, Mr. Mitchell. You’re going to need it. Bruno?”
For the next several minutes, the only sounds were of fists being driven repeatedly into flesh, like the pounding of a heavy bag during peak training hours. Takahashi himself finished the beat down with a brutal kick to the testicles. Brian sank to the floor, retching. A moment later, the door slammed and he was alone.
He gasped for air and tried to crawl across the floor to the bed, but his legs didn’t want to work. It was all Brian could do not to puke. He hadn’t noticed the second door in the room, the one to the adjoining suite, but another sound made him look up. To his amazement, a girl stood peering at him angrily from the doorway.
“Who the hell is making all this noise? I’m trying to get some beauty sleep!”
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About the Authors
Darryl S. Ellrott spent nearly twenty years teaching English and coaching wrestling before becoming an author, culminating in his 2009 induction into the Georgia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He has also published The New Southern Grappler newsletter and 30 Secrets to Recruiting Middle School Wrestlers.
Brent Mitchell Wood was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1984-1991, and served in Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait. When not plotting his next novella or devouring the latest in military SF, Brent can be found laboring in his shop as one of the top furniture makers in the southeast.
Long Night is their second foray into fiction. Their first fiction collaboration is the military science fiction thriller Rear Echelon, available on the Amazon Kindle Store.
Darryl and Brent blog about their writing at https://dsellrott.com and at https://bigrockpubs.com
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Longest Night by Darryl S Ellrott / Thrillers & Crime have rating 3.5 out of 5 / Based on38 votes