Nobody can escape their past. It will always be there, returning to haunt you in the darkest times of your life.Mike Swanson knows this – his past torments him daily, and he sets himself upon a path of death and misery. He justifies his dark deeds by enacting them upon those he perceives as evil, not knowing that the real evil lies within himself.Killing the scum of society, Mike becomes one of them and draws the attention of a group who require people with his skills. Unwillingly enlisted into the notorious ‘Blacklisted Brotherhood’, Mike must first survive horrendous training in order to hunt down a madman whose deeds will see the world plunged into anarchy if he succeeds.
Two cops slammed Mike roughly onto a chair, snapping him back to the present.
“Undo his cuffs,” ordered the man across the desk.
The cops hesitantly released his handcuffs, their postures defensive, obviously expecting him to attack at any moment. Maybe they figured he was crazy, a madman who would try to chew off their faces. From the looks of it they’d have no hesitation in shooting him if he even blinked suspiciously.
Mike wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction. He stared coldly at the detective badge adorning the chest of the guy sitting opposite him. The two uniformed cops backed slowly out of the interrogation room. He forgot them before they were even gone.
Mike had known what he’d been doing would eventually catch up with him, and he’d vowed to stop a hundred times. But every time he switched on the TV, he saw another criminal freed on some sort of technicality.
The system no longer worked, and something deep inside forced Mike to continue dispensing justice. The compulsion for revenge, to act when the law failed, was just too strong.
Mike scrubbed at his knuckles for the hundredth time.
Damn this! He didn’t want to be here! Yet he felt a huge, driving need to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. Forged during his years as a bouncer, an instinct to punish those who killed, who raped, who stole…who might murder a boy’s father, leaving him alone in a world saturated with hatred. The only way he knew to remove such a taint was to kill them.
What else could he do? Become a cop? Another uniformed bureaucrat with more paperwork than power? He was eliminating problems, not just brushing them under the rug. Surely that was the answer, wasn’t it?
At least he could afford a good lawyer; that might count for something. There was always a chance the police hadn’t done their job thoroughly enough – just like all those times before, leaving him to clean up the mess.
Anger rose up inside Mike, warming him from within and pushing away his depression. Cops cared more about strutting around, talking down to people and shining their own egos than they did about doing their damn job. If they’d found the evidence they were supposed to, they might stand a chance of catching these criminals and putting them away for good. He wouldn’t have had to resort to his methods; there would have been no need.
“Michael T. Swanson.” The detective leafed through a thick file. Mike sat silently, trying to appear bored while still glimpsing photos of some of his victims. The paperwork in between the images was meaningless at this point; they knew who he’d killed. “Seems you’ve been a very busy man. How do you find the time to go around playing vigilante when you’ve got that fancy club of yours to run? I guess everyone needs a hobby, right?”
Mike stared at him blankly.
“I suppose you’ll be able to use your jail sentence to your benefit. You can get even bigger if all you have to do each day is eat and lift weights. Until they kill you, of course.”
The detective stared at him coldly. “It annoys the hell out of me that a piece of shit like you could get three meals a day paid for by taxed citizens like myself, just to have them kill you anyway. Your way seems much simpler and far more economically viable. You mind telling us where your guns are, so we don’t even have to pay for a bullet? No? Ah well, at least they won’t have trouble finding a vein in those massive arms to stick the needle into for the lethal injection.”
Mike ignored him. He’d ask for gas anyway, he hated needles.
The cop slammed his palm down on the desk. “Why are you looking so smug, you asshole? They’re going to kill you. If you confess now, maybe they’ll go easy and just give you life. With parole, you might even be out in fifteen. You’ll barely be forty years old, plenty of time to live out the rest of your life. Death is final, Mike, make no mistake about it. There ain’t no coming back.”
Mike yawned. This guy was so full of shit; they’d never let him go after the things he’d done.
The detective swore, pacing away, and then returning, leaning heavily on the desk. “Now, I know you’ve got that fancy lawyer and all, but he isn’t gonna save you from this.” He grinned maliciously. “We found your DNA at three crime scenes, and we’re building a case that’s gonna be rock solid.”
That got Mike’s attention. It was possible they might have found something at one of the scenes, but how –?
“How did you get my DNA?” asked Mike, unable to help himself. He hadn’t done anything since arriving at the station – and he certainly hadn’t agreed to a DNA swab.
The detective grinned. “It’s amazing what technology can get for you these days, Mike. Remember your old drug tests back when you were boxing? Did you know they recorded your DNA when they screened you for drugs? They label it as something completely different to keep the whining ninnies ignorant, but when we found a hair on the body of that pedophile you killed – um, what’s his name?”
Mike’s expression was like stone. “It’s your story, you tell me.”
“Anyway, once we got that hair and ran it through the system, your name popped up. Along with similar evidence at two more scenes, it was enough to get us a warrant, and with all the crap we found at your house we’re gonna bury you. We’ll substitute the DNA from your toothbrush for the blood test results and say we got it out of your trash. It’s completely underhanded, but if it helps keep a psycho like you off the street, it’s worth it.”
Mike shook his head, grimacing. These dickheads were almost as bad as the ones he’d been killing.
The door to the interrogation room suddenly slammed open, and four black-clad soldiers, their features hidden behind combat masks, strode in, followed by a man wearing a crisp Armani suit. Mike glanced at the detective, but he seemed just as stunned as Mike.
“Who the hell are you?”
The man in the suit ignored the detective, looking Mike up and down before nodding slightly and indicating to the soldiers. All four moved to where Mike sat and lifted him to his feet. A set of manacles was produced by one, and they secured Mike’s hands and ankles.
The detective made to grab the man in the suit, but in a move of amazing alacrity the suit spun away from him, sweeping the detective’s hands aside in the process. His right hand shot forward, grabbing the detective by the throat. His left arm wrapped around and trapped the cop’s right arm under his pit. Clamping his index finger and thumb around the cop’s windpipe, he pushed up and closed the carotid arteries. The cop offered a weak cough, his eyes rolling back into his head. He spasmed momentarily, and then collapsed to the floor.
The man in the suit gently smoothed the ruffles from his jacket, standing completely at ease. A few inches shorter than Mike and a good deal lighter, the stranger returned his stare evenly, and Mike felt a chill growing deep within. This was not someone to be trifled with.
Around thirty-five years of age, the strange man had a fair complexion and sandy-colored hair, parted evenly to the left and lightly oiled. It gave the impression of someone scholarly, but even without the display Mike had just witnessed, he would never have taken this man lightly. Behind those brown eyes flecked with black, laid a deep intelligence, bordering on what seemed like insanity…or fanaticism.
“Who are you?” Mike’s voice quavered slightly. He’d been so certain of things after getting caught by the police; he was caught and they were going to kill him for his crimes. Simple. And in that simplicity had resided a relief: it was all finally over. But this, getting busted out of jail by a bunch of guys who beat up cops and dressed like commandos, this was something he was totally unprepared for, and dread began rising within him. It was a strange sensation, coming so soon after being convinced he was going to die. He stared at the man in charge, waiting for some kind of explanation, but none came. The man pointedly ignored Mike and motioned for the soldiers to take him out of the room.
As they marched through the police station, other soldiers fell in behind them. Cops were lying all over the place, some with tranquilizer darts sticking out of them.
What the hell was going on?
Mike’s heart began to race. His palms, for once free of blood, grew clammy with sweat.
The soldiers wore no markings of rank or country and moved through the place with a coordinated efficiency which impressed the former bouncer. Impressed him as well as unnerved him; something on this scale was almost beyond belief. They slid through rooms with a precision which spoke of years of training, their black boots barely making a sound as they glided swiftly from place to place, completely securing the station. No emotion emanated from the eyes within the combat masks, and Mike felt his trepidation mount once more.
These guys were definitely not amateurs.
Exiting from the rear of the station, into a parking lot, Mike saw several unmarked, military-looking Humvees, painted uniformly black with dark-tinted windows. Bustled into the back seat of one, two soldiers sat, one on either side of him, pinning him in. Both had their Beretta M9s drawn and held them ready on their laps. The safety mechanisms were clicked off, the little red dot staring up at him like a promise of blood if he decided to resist.
The front passenger door opened, and the man in the suit entered the vehicle. Flipping open his phone, Mike heard him say, “Implement sweep and cleanup of the entire station. Use G-67 formula on all subjects and create a cover story of a gas leak resulting in temporary amnesia, accompanied by loss of consciousness. That is all.”
As the vehicle moved away from the police station, Mike couldn’t help but wonder yet again who these men were and what agenda they had.
Mike’s bladder felt uncomfortably full, yet his mouth seemed completely dry. He shouldn’t feel like this; he was the killer, the one to be feared, but his heart raced in terror. Not at the thought of death, merely panic at the unknown. Why the hell was this happening?
Copyright© Luke Romyn. All rights reserved.