The Hades Connection
by Gabriel S. Timar
part 2 of 2
“Don’t let them,” Casper snapped. “They may have a paralyzing gun in the back as well. If you cannot prevent them from overtaking, tell Pike to get on the green line quick.”
“Roger,” Cleo replied.
She floored the accelerator and we shot forward. She reached under the dashboard and I heard a click.
“This is the high-rate turbo supercharger. We’ll show ’em,” she said defiantly. “I don’t want to wait for your second set of glands to warm up.”
The Caddy seemed to take off, and the brown sedan with the sinister license plate fell way behind. It seems that the unexpected swift reaction of little Cleo caught Hercules flatfooted. She hit the controls on the computer console.
“Mr. Casper,” she intoned calmly, “my inboard computer suggests that no matter what I do, Hercules will overhaul us at kilometer thirty-eight at the latest. That is half a klick this side of the Morningside entrance.”
“No good, Cleo,” came Casper’s voice. “The inspector is waiting for you at Morningside. You’ve gotta stay ahead.”
“Negative,” Cleo replied while her fingers played sonnets on the computer keyboard. “If I use the hydro injection unit, I may stay ahead as far as kilometer thirty-eight point four.”
“Negative,” said Casper, “that is still a couple of hundred meters short.”
“I guess this is it,” she said. “When they draw level, I’ll tell George to get on the green line.”
“Okay,” said Casper. “Whatever happens, I guarantee the inspector will be there. It would be very nice, if you could pull off a miracle.”
“I’ll try, but don’t get your hopes too high.” Without turning her head she continued: “You heard the man, George.”
“Yeah,” I managed a groan, “when do you want me to do it?”
“As soon as they draw level with us.”
“Okay, my dear, don’t worry, just do your best and drive like hell,” I replied. “I’ll see you afterwards.”
“You bet,” she said. I am sure she smiled.
I took a quick look at the brown sedan. It was about fifty meters behind us, still gaining. I said to Cleo: “How much time do you think I have?”
Her finger stabbed at the keyboard.
“Three minutes and twenty seconds including the one minute I can gain with the hydro injection. That will burn the motor out completely,” she replied.
My mind shifted into high gear when kilometer thirty-two flashed by.
“All right, Cleo,” I said, “start your hydro injection when I say ‘now’, not a second sooner.”
“Okay,” she replied.
“What’s going on, Pike? What are you trying to pull?” Casper shouted. “Are you afraid or something?”
I glanced at my Rolex; I had plenty of time when kilometer thirty-three flashed by.
“One more word out of you, Casper,” I snorted, “and I throw the gun out on the window. Just shut up and make sure the inspector is ready to intercept our foe.”
“Shut up,” I growled. “It’s my skin, my body, my soul. I’m handling it the best way I see fit. Capisce?”
“Affirmative”, said Casper in a resigned tone.
“Are you ready, Cleo?” I asked.
She just nodded. I rolled the window down, switched off the safety on the Walther, and laid it in my lap. The brown sedan was only a few meters behind us. I looked at it. There were two guys in the front seat and two more in the back facing to the rear and feverishly working on a bulky piece of equipment.
“Cleo,” I snapped, “fix the picture of that car on your screen if you can.”
“Done,” came the instant reply.
“Don’t let anybody remove that picture no matter what. It’s evidence,” I said.
I checked my Rolex again as the front wheel of the brown sedan drew level with my window. I raised the little popgun and fired off two shots at the front wheel and three more at the windshield.
“Cleo, start the hydro injection now,” I shouted.
Although my bullets bounced harmlessly off the armored windshield and were absorbed by the thick latex coating of the bulletproof tire, the brown sedan slowed and fell behind. Apparently, we lost them. We were practically flying; kilometer thirty-eight flashed by.
“I think we made it,” Cleo remarked as a small green vehicle edged in between the brown sedan and us. They slowed considerably and eventually stopped.
We were also beginning to lose speed rapidly; it seemed the danger was over. I let out a great sigh of relief because my great, new body was safe for the time being.
“We made it,” Cleo announced. “How did you do that?”
“Elementary, my dear Cleo, elementary,” I replied. “I shot at them.”
“That’s no good,” she said. “The Walther is strictly an antipersonnel weapon, and their car is armored; you could not possibly have harmed them. I know it, Casper knows it, and I’m sure Hercules knew it.”
“You forgot me, honey,” I replied, “I knew it too.”
“Then, why did you fire?”
“I just put myself into his place, doll,” I replied. “I assumed he was a competent professional, and he knew that I was also good. Otherwise, there would be no need for him to come after me. He knew we were on to him. I was supposed to shoot myself to assure that he failed in whatever he was trying to do. We had an easy way out.”
“If that was really the easy way out,” Cleo asked, “why didn’t you take it?”
“It would have been inconvenient.” I shrugged. “Besides, I knew exactly what I was doing. If you do not know, I’m considered an expert when it comes to human nature, therefore I was sure my ploy would work.” My mind was working overtime to come up with a properly contrived but believable tale.
Cleo looked at me with undisguised admiration in her eyes.
“Let me explain it to you,” I continued, “just accept the fact that Hercules knew that my weapon could not hurt him. Then he had to ask himself why I was shooting at him. As an intelligent enforcer, he had to assume that I had done something to my popgun, like adding special adhesive charges to the little bullets. He had to think that explosives had already fastened onto the tire of his car and were ready to blow any time.
“The shots at the windshield were only a reminder. As he was the hunter and not the prey, he could afford to play it safe. He simply gave up the chase, because his safety appeared to be in jeopardy. In his place, I would have done the same thing.”
“I don’t think there is anybody who would have figured it that way,” Cleo said, “You are so clever.” She gave me another admiring smile, which made my blood pressure rise.
By this time, the engine of our car was smoking and coughing badly. It was finished.
“This is Luce, George,” came a familiar voice over the intercom. “Congratulations, you certainly know the criminal mind. Why did you go to all the trouble? Would it not have been easier just to get on the green line?”
I smiled. It was the same feeling I had when I got a guilty client acquitted on a technicality. Everyone accepted my explanation as a well thought out, reasonable plan. I knew I had made up the explanation spontaneously, motivated by fear alone. It was a magnificent cock-and-bull story, and everybody had swallowed it, including Hercules. I was not sure I could have shot myself.
I realized I was in a unique position to build a favorable image, the image of an irrepressible, swashbuckling hero, something like a James Bond-Perry Mason combination. I switched to French, hoping Cleo would not understand what I was saying.
“Okay, Luce,” I explained carefully modulating my voice to create the impression of being utterly confident, “apart from despising the trip on the green line or the goddamned public transport, I have designs on a certain young lady who is an excellent driver and doesn’t believe in wearing panties. Your secretary told me that a new body needs a few hours warm-up prior to bedroom acrobatics.”
“I understand, George,” Luce chuckled. He continued in French: “You just won me a big bet. This will cost Casper a bucket of Singapore Sling. I was betting that you’d get out of this mess without a trip on the green line.”
“Have one for me,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“D’accord, George,” Luce said and switched to English: “Cleo, my dear, please take Mr. Pike to his apartment in Elizabeth Towers. It is secure. Park your car in the visitor’s slot and leave the keys in it. Mr. Rolls will pick it up and get it fixed up in a hurry. He will leave you another car, a Lincoln this time, in the same visitors’ spot. I don’t think it is such a good idea to go out now. Just tell Mr. Pike everything he needs to know about Mammon City.”
“With pleasure, Mr. Lucifer,” Cleo replied reverently. “If he is hungry, we could order a meal from the Scottish Tavern. It’s just around the corner. Don’t worry about him, I’ll make sure he’ll be safe. After all, I’m a professional.”
“That you are, Cleo,” Luce replied, “I can vouch for that! Lucifer out.”
As I was still alive and kicking, I was sure that Cleo did not speak or understand French...
During the remainder of the day, I got a thumbnail sketch of Mammon City and a short lecture on the major do’s and don’ts. Both were mercifully short.
As for the practical part of the indoctrination, I got a chance to examine the most intricate details of the luscious anatomy of Miss Cleo. My brand new body functioned well despite the relatively short warm-up period allotted to my glands.
I am sure this warm-up period is also a myth, just like the need for lengthy warm-up before a tennis match. The active lips and fingers of Cleo could stimulate not only live glands; I am sure many male bronze statues would come alive at the touch of her hands.
Copyright © 2004 by Gabriel S. Timar