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The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (28th Installment)

June 03, 2019 06:50AM
A shortish chapter, but an important one.


The coachman dropped the book and reached into the pocket of his coat, from which he pulled out a pistol.

O’Brian coolly put a bullet into his forehead.

“Guess he won’t be pronouncing anyone ‘man and wife’ tonight,” said O’Brian.

“You’re supposed to be dead!” said Clifford, or, anyway, the man who had been using his name for about a decade. “My other outrider had instructions to kill you.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to get reliable help, isn’t it?” said O’Brian. “Was he a time-traveler, too? You’re pretty damned careless with anachronisms, Hammerstein, so I really don’t see why you insist on arming your stooges with single-shot flintlocks, but if you’re going to insist that they use ‘em, you should at least remind them that they’re not double-action. He stood there pulling the trigger without anything happening, before it dawned on him that he’d forgotten to cock it. By the time he got his thumb on the hammer, I’d already done for him. That was the shot you probably heard.”

“Hammerstein?” said the faux baronet.

“Well, we both know you’re not Sir Basil Clifford, but no one back in the 21st Century knows what your real name is. I know the media calls you ‘The Lyricist’ on account of your leaving copies of famous song lyrics alongside your victims as a calling card. But I can hardly address you as ‘Mr. Lyricist.’ And since Oscar Hammerstein was one of the most famous lyricists who ever lived, and since you plagiarized his work often enough, you might as well appropriate his name, too.”

“How did you know?” the Lyricist asked.

“Oh, come on, Ham! Stephen Foster won’t even be born for another decade or so, and he won’t write ‘Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair’ until 1854. Like I say, you’ve got to watch those anachronisms. And you should be careful where you leave wine glasses.”

“Wine glasses?”

“Thing is, even though they never identified the Lyricist, he left buckets of DNA behind at his crime scenes. Of course, it didn’t do the law any good without a suspect to compare it to. But when saliva from the wine glass at our reception matched the DNA evidence the Mounties already had, that was all they needed to get an arrest warrant issued for ‘the person purporting to be Sir Basil Clifford, Bart., and having the DNA profile listed below.’ The RCMP has appointed me a special constable, so I’m authorized to serve it. Just to make it official, you’re under arrest. Now take your grubby molesting hands off my wife, you psychopathic pervert!”

“You’re still outnumbered, O’Brian,” said the man known as Clifford.

And, with that, Mrs. MacGregor who had moved out of O’Brian’s line of sight while his attention was focused on his beautiful, naked, and helpless wife (a sight that, under the circumstances, he can be excused for finding a major distraction), pulled a large carving knife out of a pocket on her apron and, gripping it tightly, started toward the him with a murderous look in her eyes.

Jane, seeing the housekeeper’s intent, tried to warn her husband through her gag, and inclined her head in the general direction the attack was coming from.

O’Brian turned in time to see the housekeeper raising the knife as she came toward him, and killed her with a head shot. He turned back in time to see the outrider, the last of Clifford’s henchman, reach into a pocket, and pull out his own flintlock pistol. Another head shot put him down.

“That takes care of my being outnumbered, Hammerstein,” he said. “Now it’s down to just you and me. Back in 21st Century Canada, you’re charged with twenty-seven murders across four different provinces and the Yukon Territory. That Pickton guy claimed forty-nine, but they only connected him to twenty-six murders, and only convicted him of six. So right now, you hold the official record for Canadian serial killers. But fortunately for you Canada has neither a death penalty, nor even a ‘life without parole’ option, so it’s really in your own self-interest to give up and waive extradition. You’ve done enough here in Regency-era Britain to get you hung several times over. And, if you resist, even a little, I’ve still got two shots left that I’ll be more’n happy to use on you. Make the sensible choice. Where there’s life, there’s hope.”


“Clifford” his left arm still holding Jane fast against him, despite her efforts to wriggle out of his clutches, his left hand fondling her right breast, reached toward the small of his back with his other hand and pulled out an enormous dagger, single-edged, but with a sort of semi-circular notch at the end of the upper side, making it double-edged for the last two inches or so. It was similar to the one Michael often carried.

“Oh. Hammerstein,” said Michael. “Another anachronism. The Bowie brothers won’t design that knife ‘til 1830. And yet, with all this carelessness about period detail, you insist on those one-shot flintlocks. Course, I suppose that was the one you used to cut the throats of all your victims back in Canada. Too treasured a possession to leave behind, I imagine.”

“I’m going to use it to cut your wife’s throat if you don’t let me pass,” he replied.

“Think so? You listen close ‘cause I’m only going to say this once. At this range, if I have to shoot, I won’t miss. I’m going to give you to the count of ten. If you so much as nick her before I get to ten, I’ll kill you. If I get to ten and you’re still threatening her with that blade, I’ll kill you. The only way you get out of this alive is dropping the knife and surrendering. You understand that?”

“Clifford” continued to wave the knife threateningly near Jane’s throat.

Michael cocked his pistol, took careful aim, and asked again, “I said, you understand that?”

“Yes,” hissed Jane’s captor.

Michael nodded, and said, “Good,” and paused for a second before saying, “Ten!”

Almost as soon as the word was out of his mouth, his finger tightened on the trigger. The bullet entered through “Clifford’s” nose killing him instantly. He collapsed to the floor, the unused Bowie knife still clutched tightly in his hand.

Michael took out a small pocket knife from his coat pocket and cut Jane loose from the ropes that were binding her. When she was free, he pulled her toward him in an urgent embrace.

“Thank God you’re OK!” he said. Then, perhaps in an effort to relieve the tension they both still felt, added, “I hope you’re not going to be making a habit out of getting abducted by violent criminals with an insatiable yen for you.”

“Henceforth,” she said, with as much aplomb as she could summon in the circumstances, “I shall make every effort to avoid it.”

Michael looked down at the body of the man who had usurped the name and title of Basil Clifford, then turned to Jane, and said, “You think it was unfair not to mention that I was planning on counting by tens?”


The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (28th Installment)

Jim D.June 03, 2019 06:50AM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (28th Installment)

Shannon KJune 03, 2019 02:53PM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (28th Installment)

Jim D.June 03, 2019 06:14PM


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