Do Not Approach

by Jarmo Karonen

My phone rang. It always starts with a phone call. So I answered. The guy at the other end was my trusted fixer Noodles.

"What's up chum?" I asked.

"I've got a simple assingment for you," Noodles stated.

"Shall we meet at The Safe Haven as usual?"

"Let us do that."

I was making my way down a silent street towards The Safe Haven when suddenly all hell broke loose. An Eurocar Westwind 2000 sprinted out from the alleyway as I was passing by. I easily jumped out of the harm's way thanks to my wired reflexes, but then the shots were fired. I took a few hits, but it was nothing my dermal armor couldn't handle. Then my Predator was in my hand, and I let it sing its deadly tune. Someone in the car got hit by a bullet, and blood was spilled all over. Luckily the driver held the car in his control and steered away.

I was left alone with my thoughts. This incident was nothing new in my line of work. Still I didn't know who the attackers were, and what motivated them. Maybe I'll find out when I get to the The Safe Haven, I thought.

Everything was not okay. Lone Star had parked in front of The Safe Haven. Docwagon was also present. Someone was pulled out of The Safe Haven on a strecher. When I got closer, I noticed that it was Noodles. I broke through the Docwagon employees and landed beside Noodles. He had been shot badly.

"Noodles..." I whispered.

He noticed and turned his face at me. "Jack... You have to leave immediately. You have to get away before they get you..."

"Who will get me?" I asked.

"The assingment I was talking about..."


"Johnson wanted to be safe from you this evening. That was the job for me: to keep you out of his way. Now by contacting you, I have blown it."

"Why did you contact me then?" I asked.

"I thought that if I would tell you about this assingment, you would stay clear from Johnson. Apparently he thinks that I have betrayed him, and that's why he hit against me," Noodles explaned hastily.

"Do me a favor. Get out of the town!" Noodles yelled when he was taken into the ambulance.

I thought it would be best to split before Lone Star would turn its ugly eye on me.

As I was hiking back to my place, it all started to make sense. The attack on me was done by men who worked for Noodles' Johnson. They tried to kill me. They had tried to kill Noodles. I would take my rightful retribution. I would trouble Johnson. Now I just had to find them. It would be hard because I had so little to work with. I didn't know who the Johnson or his goons were.

When I got in front of the house I was currently inhabiting, I noticed something interesting. Familiar car had been parked some distance away. There's a lot of Eurocars in Seattle but not many like this: it had visible bullet holes on its side and blood spilled on its windows. Johnson's chums were waiting for me.

I took the firestairs up and crashed through my apartement windows into my living room unloading my Predator at the same time. First two goons were easy targets. Little, skinny goon had taken a seat in my living room and was reading TV guide. I nailed him. The other one jumped out of the kitchen door, but I splattered his face before he could fire his Roomsweeper. Where was the third one?

Just then I noticed it. The sound that was backing my gunfire had gone. It was the awfully loud sound that could only come from my toalet. If there was somebody in the bathroom, he couldn't possibly have heard me firing with all that racket from the toalet. Quickly I took a stand in front of the bathroom and unloaded my Predator through the bathroom door. Something thumped the door open: it was the dead corpse of a third goon. The silence fell to my apartement.

I put my Predator away and started to inspect the belongings of the goons. They had absolutely nothing on them except their gunholsters. But as I took their clothes off, I noticed a strange mark on each one's right arm. It was a little smiley face. It didn't say anything to me, and I was sure that it wasn't much to investigate on; surely nobody had gotten to see their arms. Only I knew of this dark mark on them. It meant that there was a mastermind behind all of this. A Nemesis whose minions I would surely meet again. Until then there was nothing I could do. I couldn't find the mastermind, but the mastermind would surely find me.

I reloaded my Predator, sat down and started to wait.

©1999, Jarmo Karonen - used with permission