The house was empty. Katie had the feeling that someone had been here recently, the whole place had a strange, ‘lived in feel’. She walked through the ground floor without checking upstairs and what she found on the back porch supported her logic; a large grill and twelve canisters of propane. There was also a metal barrel in the overgrown back yard that smelled of smoke. Someone had been living here and burning their trash in the barrel out back.
This was not a coastal house, that didn’t seem to be a trend for this area. I t looked like most of the coast line was protected by a green belt which probably cut down on the damage from tropical storms. Still, the place was nice and even if you couldn’t see the ocean from the bay window overlooking the back year, there was a path leading to the beach a quarter of a mile away. Katie had pulled the jeep up into the tree line, tucking the keys inside the visor in case she needed to make a quick getaway. Surveying the back yard she noted that the low fence didn’t abut the neighbor’s yard. Between each of the houses was untamed woods, or so it seemed at first glance. Katie had walked to the houses on path that led between the houses and ended on a lone cul-de-sac, she chose this house on the left for no better reason than she liked the red tile roof.
The place looked expensive, the driveway was three cars wide and the garage was placed towards the street side with a spacious sidewalk leading to the front door. The door had been locked, but it had taken Katie less than ten seconds to force her way in. She was carrying the shotgun and had the .30-06 slung over her shoulder. She had enough ammo in her vest pockets to give her time to assess the situation, if she needed more, she could run back to the jeep. Her other rifle was still stashed in the gym bag, which she had left inside the woods a short distance from the jeep wedged under a fallen palm tree.
“You are not supposed to be here.” The voice was sultry, accented in a way Katie had only heard before in movies and came from the patio door. If she had to guess she would place the accent as Cuban, but Katie was no expert.
Twirling she raised her gun to the threat and barely stopped herself from blasting the middle aged Hispanic woman in the doorway.
“Who are you?” asked Katie.
“Who are you?” the woman countered.
“I’m the woman with the gun, so you answer me first.”
“You won’t shoot me. He said you wouldn’t.”
“What? He who?”
“The doctor, he said I was safe, as long as I take care of his house. You need to leave.”
“Lady, I have no idea what you are talking about. Tell me who you are. Now.” Katie brought the shotgun up to her shoulder and aimed it at the woman.
The woman eyed the gun warily, then slumped and said, “Beatriz. Beatriz Bustillo.”
“Now that wasn’t so bad was it? Turn around, into the house.” Katie motioned for the woman to go back inside. Katie followed Beatriz in and locked the door behind her.
“So, Beatriz...tell me what you are doing here.” Katie ordered.
“I…I work for the doctor. I don’t do much anymore. He never comes home, he just stays at the clinic.”
“The doctor? What doctor?”
“Doctor Sentry. At the clinic. He is…he is a good man. I know it.”
When the name poured off of Beatriz’s lips Katie felt the ground fall out from beneath her. She knew that name, but she couldn’t, for the life of her, know how she knew it. She hated him. A man she never met before and she had to kill him.
“Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it?” came Randy’s voice as he sauntered into the kitchen area.
“You again.” Katie snorted.
“What?” asked Beatriz.
“Nothing.” Katie said.
“Nothing? I suppose you are right.” Randy commented, “I think we are at a crossroad here, which way will we go?”
“What do you mean?” asked Katie.
“What?” asked Beatriz, slowly backing towards the living room.
“Not you! I’m not talking to you! And stay where you fucking are if you want to live! As for you, do we really need to do this now? And what do you mean about the crossroad?”
Beatriz bolted for the living room, Katie fired and the shotgun pellets caught the woman in the side of her lower back.
“Oh, you’re in for it now!” said Randy.
Katie ignored him and ran after the woman, who had kept running despite the wound. ‘Did I miss? It was close and she twisted around that wall pretty fast.’
Turning the corner with the gun held at waist level, Katie was surprised to see the woman was already at the top of the stairs. The bottom of the woman’s shirt was soaked red and a dark stain had spread from there onto her gray track pants.
“Freeze!” Katie yelled. Beatriz, stumbled forward to the ground and continued crawling.
The angle was bad but Katie took a shot anyway as she rushed up the stairs two at a time.
Beatriz had crawled into a bedroom and was fumbling at a night stand when Katie came through the doorway.
“Damn it! Stop!” Katie yelled.
Beatriz pulled her hand back, in it was clutched a revolver with a long barrel, as she lifted it out and tried to aim it back over her shoulder at Katie the shotgun went off. The revolver spun end over end and struck the wall, leaving a dent before rebounding onto the bed. Beatriz’s hand had ceased to exist, leaving only bloody stump with the bones of her hand sticking up from the end of her wrist. The woman screamed and clutched the bloody mess to her body.
Katie stood over her with the shotgun, waiting for the screaming to subside. It didn’t. Finally Katie reached down and grabbed Beatriz by the ankle and pulled her to the open area at the foot of the bed. With a twist she flipped the woman onto her back.
“What the hell were you thinking? I had you at gun point!” Katie said.
“You’re not supposed to be here. I’m going to get the injection. I’m going to live forever! He promised!” Beatriz whimpered.
“You’re going to bleed out in about five minutes and I don’t think I can stop it.” Katie said.
“And why would you want to? Our business isn’t about putting people back together, it’s about taking them apart.” Randy said from the doorway. Katie cast a quick glance his way and turned back to the woman dying on the floor.
“What are you talking about?”
“He said it was safe here. No one would come. Maybe tomorrow he would take me to the clinic. He has a new medicine to test and he wants to try it on me. There is no danger.”
“Lady, I have no idea what you are yammering about.”
“I…” Beatriz began, then stopped. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she shuddered violently.
“She’s leaving.” Randy said.
“Maybe she’ll haunt me like you?”
He shook his head, “I hope not, I don’t think there is enough room in your head for more than the two of us.”
It didn’t take long for Beatriz to die. Katie looked around the house and found a generator wired into the building in the garage. It required her to push a button and when she did the power came on inside the house. Once she shut the door to the garage she could hardly hear the noise. Katie looked down at her clothing and was surprised to see it was covered in blood.
“Damn it. This is why I was a sniper; there was less laundry to do after killing someone.”
“Very politically correct Katie.” Randy said with disapproval, “How’d you get so much blood on you?”
“Splatter, I guess. I hope this dump has a washing machine.”
“That’s my girl, kill someone in their own house and do your laundry while their body cools.”
“It’s not like I have to worry about the cops busting me.”
“I suppose not. Why are you here, Katie?”
Katie’s brow furrowed in thought. “I’m going to kill this Sentry guy. He sounds like a dick. I suppose waiting for him in his own home is a pretty good ambush technique.”
Randy laughed, “Sure, but why here and why him? You don’t even know the guy.”
“Shower first, I’m getting this blood off of me.”
“The water will be cold, the generator just came on. The water heater needs a couple hours to do its job.”
“I am not sitting around with all this blood on me for a couple of hours. A cold shower will get it off as good as a hot one.” Katie marched upstairs past the now closed door of the room Beatriz lay in and continued on to the master suit.
“Nice.” Katie said, pushing inside. The room had cream colored walls with dark, mahogany trim. The floor looked like it was made of compressed bamboo and there was a large throw rug on top of it, upon which sat a king sized bed. The bed looked like it hadn’t been slept on in weeks. There were two large windows, one overlooking the street below and the other looking out the back yard. Along the far wall were two doors and a doorway. The doorway led to a bathroom that was the size of a bedroom in a normal house. It was tiled with a shower, a Jacuzzi tub, and the usual sanitary facilities. Katie stripped off her clothing and dumped it in the tub before stepping into the shower.
Randy didn’t disappear; he followed her to the shower stall where he watched as Katie rinsed the blood off of her body.
“Care to join me?” Katie teased, giving a roll of her hips.
He shook his head, “I never liked cold showers.”
“You’re dead, you won’t feel it.”
“It wouldn’t be the same.”
“You swam with me.” Katie protested.
“Yeah, the ocean is large and filled with the souls of the dead. The shower is not.”
“I’m done anyway.” Katie said, rinsing the last of the shampoo out of her hair. She stepped to the side of the shower and grabbed a teak colored towel. Katie dried herself off, wrapped her hair into one towel and her body into another. She turned the water on in the tub and rinsed her clothing well, then wrung it out and rolled it up into a third towel she took from the linen closet.
“Do you just bet the laundry room is downstairs?”
“A good bet. There won’t be a basement this close to the ocean; the water table is too high.”
Katie found the wash room tucked away at the back corner of the house and tossed her wet clothing into the dryer.
“Forty minutes and I will be good to go.”
“You didn’t even wash it, you just rinsed it.”
“So sue me. I got the blood out and I am not sure when Sentry is coming home.”
“I’m glad you brought that up Katie. What are we doing here again?”
“I just…feel I need to be here.”
“Well, what else am I going to do?”
“Find an island somewhere, boat out there and ride this thing out?” suggested Randy.
“How about I kill this bastard first and then do that?”
“You are good. You can’t tell me why you are here and refuse to think about it.”
“A woman’s prerogative.”
“I better check my guns. Make sure everything is ready for the good doctor when he arrives home.”
“This is bullshit.”
“Go away Randy. I’ll talk to you after.”
Randy faded away like the fog he was, leaving Katie struggling not to think about what he had said.