The office door slammed against the wall with a bang, and papers swirled restlessly across the desks of the darkened room. He looked up from his bottle of gin, bleary eyes just registering the figure outlined in the doorway. It was tall, and from the cast of the hips and tucked in-waist silhouetted in the black trench, it was a woman. She stood on black stilettos, and a black snood concealed her hair from view as surely as the netted veil did her face.
"Who is that?" he asked nervously, squinting his eyes. There was a pause, and then the figure moved forward, legs, hips rolling smoothly in an unmistakable way. He paled; rearing back in the chair so that it almost fell. He righted it with a clatter, fingers shaking.
"A ghost?" he breathed, suddenly terrified. Was the moonshine bad? Giving him the jake- was he hallucinating? The black ensemble of the woman suddenly seemed more foreboding than chic. "You...I thought you were dead!"
She moved forward, just inches away from him in the dim lamplight. Slowly, black satin-clad hands lifted up, grasped the edge of the veil, and pulled it back. Her glossy red lips shone in a vulpine smirk in the light.
"I never die. Nine lives, you know." Molly Maltese breathed in her sotto voice. "I've been to the end of the world, my dear, and I've brought back the case to end all cases for you."
Marc woke up on the third day of the trip. The previous night was a blur. Staying drunk was all he could do to keep himself from throwing up from the sea sickness. He stared at the ceiling of the small room. Something wasn't right.
He felt something move in the med next to him and he jumped at the sight of a young blonde still asleep. "Dear God," he whispered to himself. At that moment a sharp pain filled his head. He was hungover, which didn't happen often. He found his pocket watch on the night stand and checked the time.
It was still early and he hoped that no one knew what happened with him last night. He quietly got dressed and left. He made his way to his room to brush his teeth.
Marc didn't make it to the bar before he vomited in the nearest trash can from the motion sickness. The ship hit a small air pocket and crashed into the water. An elderly couple held their noses up in disgust as they walked past him.
"Yeah, yeah," keep walking he said loud enough for them to hear. He made his way to the bar just as he had the previous night. As he walked in the young girl whom he had spent the night with was their. Marc immediately turned and left, nearly running into Riza.
"You're up early," she said.
"So are you," Marc added quickly.
Riza noticed the girl and smiled hinting that she had seen Marc leave with her.
"My head feels like its about to split open." Marc said running his fingers through his hair.
"Well, that's what happens when you don't control your drinking," she said. Marc laughed and they left to the top deck. London was just a day away.
"Just want you to know," Bernie stated as he handed Zeo the stash, "that this is the last Cadillac until Mr. Billings give me the green light..."
"He can't do that!" Zeo protested. His blood shot eyes grew hot. Zeo reached out to grab Bernie's shirt and lifted the fat bartender up.
"Don't blow your wig now pally!" A voice called out from behind Zeo. Both man turned to see a dark fellow with an ugly scar that ran from his left eye brow to his lower cheek. Zeo paused, wondering where he had seen the man.
"You really don't remember me!" The burly man barked a laugh, "Seriously this stuff is turning your brain into Jello." He then seated himself by the bar and order a gin and tonic.
"What do you want?" Zeo asked briskly.
"It's what Mr. Billings wants, Zeo. Sleuthetania is docking tomorrow at six in the evening, and you know who are on board that ship." The dark man paused, waiting for a reply, but Zeo remained silent. "Come on pally! It's not the first time that we worked together, we had an incredible time in Egypt!" The man tried to put his arm on Zeo's shoulder but he shook it away.
"Not this time, Leo..."
"It's Theo." The man sighed. "Look, i know they used to be your friends. If you don't want to show your face, that's fine with me. Not that they'd recognize this skull of yours anyhow." Theo sniggered. "You know these people, what weapons they use, how they react to situations, where they'd go if we're to give a chase. Information. That's all, you don't even have a shoot. We have enough goons for that. There'll be a 'party' waiting for them when they dock."
Theo downed his drink and left a tip, "See you at six pally."
As Vulkie was looking out towards the ocean outside on the deck, she was smoking a cigarette and before that, she had a small talk with the captain of the Sleuthania, while one day remained until they would arrive at London. "Yes Miss Nouson, I'm aware that the clams weren't fresh, we'll do our best next time..." the captain said, in an apologizing way. Vulkie gave the captain a small nod, and responded: "I don't mind it Captain, but I could've gotten seriously sick, and I can't afford that at this moment".
The Captain then strolled off towards the kitchen, probably to give the cook a furious commentary of all sorts of "sea captain language" and all sorts of swear words, for almost poisoning guests. When Vulkie had smoked up her cigarette, she launched the cigarette butt into the ocean. All of a sudden, Molly came strolling towards Vulkie and looked at her with piercing eyes. Molly always did that, to have some sort of advantage over people, but Vulkie got used to it.
"Molly, I don't like this one bit. You know Jack isn't gonna let us get into London easily... Don't we have some sort of a plan, instead of blasting our way through the docks?" Vulkie asked. Molly, in the meanwhile, stared at the ocean which Vulkie had stared at seconds before.
"What Jack did... He... he killed my friend, Thomas. Point blank, right in front of me. Thomas did what Jack asked of him, and his "reward"? A bullet to the head.." Molly said, while shedding a small unnoticable tear. Molly wasn't the girl that cared much about emotions, but when people got close to her or her friends, she could have the occassional moment of emotions.
"Molly, I swear, we'll make Jack pay, one way or the other. But now, we need a plan! We need to get off this ship, my gut says that Jack'll have spies on this ship and he knows when we're gonna arrive. We need to think of something!" Vulkie said, with an encouraging look towards Molly.
"Well.. we could always use a lifeboat, but we'll have to disembark when it's dark.." Molly said, while pointing towards a lifeboat. "Get the rest Molly, we'll need to discuss this plan in private and work it out into details" Vulkie replied, while strolling off...
Molly watched Vulkie go with a sigh.
"Heavens, do we ever disembark these things normally?" she grumbled, then picked her way across the deck towards the hallway containing the staterooms.
"Marc!" she knocked on his door, and presently her friend answered. "We've got to fetch Riza. Vulkie thinks there's spies on board, and she proposes we escape by lifeboat."
"These things never happen normally, do they?" Marc grumbled, and Molly shrugged as they went to round up Riza. They found the woman in her stateroom, looking unusually pensive.
"Riza dear, gather your things. We're going to have to make a hasty departure. Vulkie has it on good information that there's spies on board, and Jack will know precisely when we land."
Just as these words left Molly's mouth, the lights flickered off. There was a tense moment of hair-raising silence, and then Molly shouted, "get down!"
Her hand tangled itself in Rizas hair as she pushed her friend to the floor of the suite, just as the shooting started. The wooden door exploded inwards in a spray of splinters, gouging the floor, the ceiling, and worst of all Mollys new pillbox hat.
Presently the shooting stopped and Marc leaped up to start down the hallway in hot pursuit of the culprits, to no avail. Curious heads were starting to poke out of the neighboring staterooms, and Molly gestured to Rizas suitcases.
"Darling, grab what you need, we're not long for this boat." Saying so, she dashed off to her own room to throw a few things together, and met her friends on the deck where the lifeboats were.
"Simple enough." Vulkie said, gesturing all of them inside the boat, then hitting the lever, scrambling inside as the lifeboat plummeted away from the side of the ship. It hit the icy water below with a resounding splash, and they began to row away towards shore, undetected. It was then Molly decided to voice her fear..
"A connection told me...that there is a man among The Hellfire Clubs ranks now..."she began..and filled them in.
At twenty minutes past six o'clock Zeo lazily strolled toward Theo where they set their ambush by the dock.
"You're late pally!" Theo hissed.
"It wouldn't make a difference. They're long gone." Zeo laid down on a crate and massaged his eyes with his palms.
"Impossible! We've been here before the ship dock, and we have people on board watching them. They have a radio telegram and would have sent us a message if that is so."
"Yes they would, if they can send messages from their graves." Just then, medics carrying several corpses on stretchers came down from the boat. "The place will be swamping with flatfoots in no time. I suggest that you wrap this circus up." Zeo swung his arms around, indicating the ambush that Theo set up. He didn't bother to get up or open his eyes.
Theo pulled Zeo up by his collar until their noses were 2 inches from each other. "And you didn't say a thing until now?" Veins were popping out through Theo's temples. Even his old scar was turning crimson.
"You told me to come at six... sorry i was 20 minutes late?" Zeo replied sarcastically.
Theo pulled out a knife and laid it on Zeo's neck.
Zeo closed his eyes.
Beads of blood were seeping through.
Suddenly Theo loosen his grip.
"I'm not dumb enough to be your suicide weapon, Zeo." Theo spat, "You're just so weak you can't even kill yourself! And you can't even make up your mind whether to betray your old friends or not! You are pathetic!!"
Zeo remained stone silent.
"Well you don't have a choice, pally." Theo took out a pack of Cannabis from his jacket and shoved it Zeo's. "Take us to them. You know well enough where they'll be hiding."
Zeo clenched his jaws. He stood in silent in eternity, then he slight tipped his head to the South. He walked to his car. Theo and rest of the Hellfires followed.
They left their cars half a mile from Molly's safe house to prevent detection. The Hellfire members surrounded the tiny stone building in all directions. It looked uninhibited from the outside, but Zeo knew better. From the tinted dark windows Zeo could detect faint movements from within. They were probably regrouping and plotting their next steps after the quick getaway from the ship.
Just then, Marc came out of the house and headed toward their car. He was probably planning to get some supplies for the group. He opened the front door and was about to get in.
Zeo suddenly fired a shot. It broke the front door car window.
The days passed in a blur. Riza couldn't focus on anything she was doing, and did not even know how she ended up on the ship. Her mind was continuously preoccupied. She remembered running into Marc, looking embarrassed. She remembered laughing. But mostly she spent her time locked up in her room, just staring into nothingness. She wondered, would they notice she was just going through the motions?
When Molly burst into her room, saying something about needing to leave, Riza was barely listening. It wasn't until the sound of gunfire ripped through the air that Riza was jolted to full alertness. As Molly pushed her down toward the ground, Riza instinctively reached for her lower abdomen instead of covering her head. When the shooting stopped, Molly went off to pack her things, leaving Riza alone.
Riza stood up slowly, shaking, and stood amidst the ruins. She remained silent for a moment, her fingernails digging into the palms of her hands. Then suddenly she gave a scream and furiously swept the entire contents of her nightstand off of her nightstand, watching the glass breaking into a thousand pieces and the pills bursting out of their container to go rolling all over the floor.
The frigid night air enveloped the group of detectives as they huddled together inside the lifeboat, crammed into the tiny space with all of their belongings, bobbing up and down in a sea of darkness. Molly broke the silence by saying, "A connection told me...that there is a man among The Hellfire Club ranks now."
As Riza listened to Molly's tale, her anxiety grew. It...it couldn't be, could it?
"Are you okay?" Marc whispered into Riza's ear, "Your face looks a little white."
Riza turned and vomited over the side of the boat.
Molly gave Riza a curious look, several details suddenly wending their way together in her mind that individually would have been looked over.
"Hm." she said simply, staring at her friend. Deciding it was a conversation for later, she turned her attention to rowing again with renewed vigor until they reached the docks.
"We'll hail a cab to the safehouse."Molly said, assisting her friends out of the boat. "There should still be a vehicle for our use once we get there."
As they piled into a passing cab, Molly stared out at the foggy streets of London, her mind whirring. If it were true about Zeo, would their safe house be safe? She refused to believe their old friend would betray them to this degree. She wouldn't worry the others needlessly, she was sure that for the moment they were safe. She kept right on believing this as they entered the dark house, and saw her friends settled on the couch.
"Marc, I'll dispatch you to fetch us supplies." she handed him a few bank notes and the keys from the cubby. "Use the car in the garage. Food and water, the basic necessities. And...some seltzer for Miss Hawkeye." She said, casting her friend another curious look.
As the detectives reached the safehouse by a taxi, Molly quickly opened the front door and guided the other detectives inside. Anxiety was visible on their faces, they knew they were in enemy territory at the moment and wouldn't be safe, wherever they would be hiding. As Marc, Riza and Vulkie settled on the couch and the seat that was in the living room, Molly spoke: "Marc, I'll dispatch you to fetch us supplies", while she gave Marc the car keys for the car in the garage. "We need at least food and water, and some basic necessities. Also, bring some seltzer for Miss Hawkeye."
As Marc left the building, Riza, Vulkie and Molly began a small talk, only to be interrupted by the sound of a gun being fired and shattering glass.
"Marc!" Vulkie said, while pulling her gun out of her jacket and running towards the front door, only to be stopped by Molly. "Don't! If you go outside, you'll also risk being shot at." Molly said. "This ain't the time to argue Molly. Marc's outside, all alone, against who knows how many people and I won't let him be a distraction so that we can escape through the back door!" Vulkie yelled. Molly was furiously thinking of another plan, but by the time she tried to open her mouth, Vulkie ran outside and took cover near the side of the car, while a bullet whistled past her head. "Marc, you alright?" Vulkie whispered, and Marc whispered "yes".
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