This is Issue #73 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Hell to Pay. This is the first issue in Volume 13.
Issue 73 - Hell to PayEdit
FIVE DAYS AGO
After being beckoned by Marsh, Hector makes the trek from his room to what was previously Alexander’s office. He pushes the door open without knocking, and sees Marsh sitting at the familiar large desk, his feet lying on the surface, his hands behind his head as he bobs his head to the music flowing from his headphones.
He sits up straight when the door opens and slides the headphones from his ears. “Hector! Hello,” Marsh says. “Sit, please.”
“What is this about?” Hector says a bit nervously as he adjusts his body in the chair opposite Marsh. He feels an anxiety akin to being called to the principal’s office: he knows he did nothing wrong, but he can’t help but worry.
“I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?” Marsh asks.
“No, no, not really. But what is it?”
“I’ve just...” Marsh leans back in his chair once more. “I’ve just been doing some thinking, as I sometimes do, these past few days, and y’know...I like you Hector.”
“Eh...I like you, too?”
“Good. Glad you said that. Because I need a favor from you.” Hector doesn’t respond, instead expecting further information. “This is going to be a pretty weird question but--have you ever killed someone? Not the infected, but an actual living person?”
Hector gulps audibly and licks his lips. Marsh smiles, the other man's reaction making the answer to his question obvious. “I have. Yes.”
“Thought so. Gossip spreads around here faster than you’d think. Would you mind me asking what were the circumstances that led to to actually killing someone? And I don’t judge you for this. I’ve done it myself. This is all going somewhere; trust me.”
“I....it was before Adrienne and I arrived here. I was not happy doing it. I wasn’t. But these men, they tried to...approach my sister in a way...you know. Not in a nice way. I had to do something about it, to protect her, so I was forced to kill them. It is not really something I am proud of, but it had to be done.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not doubting you. Not at all,” Marsh assures. “But the fact that you’d do something like that to save her....very commendable. You wouldn’t object to keeping her out of harm’s way again, would you?”
“Why? Has something happened to her? She is okay, yes?”
“Oh, she’s fine, she’s fine.” Marsh’s jaw sets, and his tone darkens. “I don’t know for how long, though.”
Hector leans forward in his chair. “What are you talking about?”
“Let me get straight to the point here, Hec. Adrienne is a gorgeous girl. Absolute French beauty. And one of my...colleagues--she has a group a few miles away from the hotel--she’s observed a few of her men are getting a bit fed up without many lady companions. She so kindly offered to lower the demand she has for food from us if we provide her camp with a few women. Simple exchange.”
Rage and instinct overcome Hector, and he quickly reaches over the desk to, somehow, harm Marsh. But Marsh is quicker and is able to get ahold of Hector’s wrist. He twists it, and Hector releases a small cry of pain. “Sit the fuck down,” Marsh orders, “or you will regret it.”
Hector slowly sinks back into his seat, and clenches his fists together, forcing himself to control his anger. It works, but the more Marsh speaks, the more his self control withers.
“I’ve got a deal for you, Hector. Adrienne will be safe and sound, if you just do something for me. And you’re a murderer, so it should be no problem--”
“I’m not a murderer--” Hector protests.
“I respectfully disagree. So you’re going to do this for me. Billie Starr, you know her.”
Hector nods, and feels a dreadful pang in his gut.
“You know where this is going,” Marsh says. “I can already tell. Not only her, but a few of her friends, too. Especially that fucking Lienne chick. They probably...know things they shouldn’t. And I can’t take any chances. Not at all. You’ll go on a run with them, you’ll take them out. Easy. You’ve done it before.”
“You cannot make me do that. No,” Hector says, his voice petering to a whimper near the end of his statement.
“I can. Unless you want Adrienne to be in the possession of some psychopaths. Who knows what’ll happen to her, right?” He smiles as a few tears fall from Hector’s eyes. “So, is that a deal?”
“Please, Marsh, you can’t d--”
“Deal? Pretty fair trade to me.”
Hector attempts to plead with him again, but is cut off once more. “Kill them,” Marsh instructs. “Do it fast, don’t think about it. You’ll be rewarded for this. Your sister will be safe. And if you tell anyone, or I even think you told anyone, you and your sister are both dead.”
Cole and Billie snap their heads to the sounds of the gunshot, immediately pulling their guns and sprinting to the sounds of a yell and another shot.
“Was that Adam?” Billie shouts to Cole.
“I think so. Hurry,” Cole orders, and they pick up speed.
Hector stands over Adam’s body, a thin line of smoke spewing from his gun. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Hector mutters. He realizes his time is running out--he can already hear everyone else shouting and approaching--so he aims the barrel at Adam’s head.
Before he can fire, Wrigley quickly turns the corner and lunges at him. On instinct, Hector fires twice, and one bullet goes clean through Wrigley’s body, the other through his neck. The dog whimpers and hits the ground, unable to move.
He can’t do it. He’s fucked. How the hell do you murder six people in cold blood? You do it for a loved one. That’s how.
So when Duke rushes into the aisle, he fires; but his hands shake so violently it only barely grazes Duke’s side. Duke doesn’t flinch at all and tackles Hector to the ground. Hector’s head slams against the tile, and the gun skitters away.
“What the fuck did you do?!” Duke demands. Hector tries to respond, but with Duke’s hand squeezing his throat, he can’t.
Adam whimpers something to Duke’s left, bits of blood leaking from his mouth and nose. “Shit...” Duke mutters. “Yo!”
At that moment, Cole and Billie reach the aisle and see Adam lying on his back, two bullet holes having penetrated his jacket, and Wrigley writhing on the ground a few feet away from him. Duke pulls out his pistol and shoves it in Hector’s mouth, his body visibly shaking with rage. “What the fuck did you do?” he repeats.
Before Duke can do anything drastic, Cole grabs Duke by the shoulders and pulls him away. Duke lands on his back and stares up at Cole in confusion. “We don’t have time for this interrogating shit,” Cole says, and he kneels down near Adam’s body. “Help me carry him! Get him to the car.” He nods toward Hector, who lies in a pathetic fetal position, sobbing.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Hector repeats. Billie grabs him by the shirt collar and forces him into a sitting position.
“Stand. Up,” she orders, and she and Lienne work to bring him to the truck, Cole and Duke already far ahead carrying Adam’s body. Alec bends over Wrigley's body and swallows hard, watching as the life seemingly drains from the dog's face, and he knows there's no time to save him. Rather than leaving him there to die painfully, Alec puts a bullet in Wrigley's skull.
After the few seemingly infinite minutes of journeying back to the truck, Duke and Cole, as gently as possible, place Adam in the truck, the white shirt under his jacket steadily turning a darker shade of crimson. “It’s gonna be alright, man,” Cole says, but his voice breaks near the end of his sentence, and he has to compose himself quickly before speaking again. He slides in next to Adam, Duke to his left, who slams the door shut. “You’re good, it’s nothing.” He reaches around to gain full access to his pack, retrieving the meager medical supplies of white rags and rubbing alcohol.
Bille shoves Hector into the middle row of seats, and Alec slips in next to her; Lienne takes over the driving, and slams her foot onto the gas.
“Stop fucking crying and talk!” Alec orders to Hector.
“Adri--I had t-to...” Hector spits out. Billie reaches to her side and retrieves her knife, pressing the blade hard against the flesh on Hector’s neck.
“Quit your fucking crying. Calm down. And talk,” she says quietly.
“I c-cannot tell you--he will...I cannot...”
“Who?” Alec asks. “Someone put a Goddamn hit out on Adam? What is this shit, man?”
“It was Marsh! He...he and Adrienne--I had--”
"Should've let me shoot the fucking guy!" Duke yells as he assists Cole is slowing Adam's bleeding, but their efforts don't seem to be working.
"We didn't need to kill anyone!" Lienne counters.
"The hell you mean? He killed Wrigley, and Adam's fucking dying right now! Are you kidding me?"
"No, I'm not! If we killed him, we wouldn't even know it was Marsh that probably coaxed him into this."
"He shot at me too. What the hell did you expect me to do?"
They go back and forth like this, with Alec and Billie interjecting to voice their own opinions, until Cole gets so fed up he can't take it anymore. "How about all of you shut the fuck up?!" he shouts, and the truck goes silent. "Adam's the focus right now. Do you realize he's been shot, twice? That he's bleeding to death? Jesus fucking Christ." He looks toward Adam and wipes the blood from his mouth. "We're almost there. Almost."
Lienne disregards the men beginning construction on the Hyatt's gates; she speeds past them and they hop out of the way in the nick of time. The truck screeches to a stop, and Cole and Duke once again lift Adam's body and lead him through the hotel, making their way to Griffin.
"Out of the way, people!" Alec shouts to a few people blocking the escalator. Lienne and Billie have Hector by the shoulders, and he's thrown to the carpeted floor harshly, his face still wet with tears.
"What the f-f-fuck is going on?" Jake says as he runs towards them, his mother Aubrey only a few feet behind. His curse earns him a whack on the head from his mother, but he mutters an apology and looks to Billie and Lienne for answers.
"Hector is apparently a fucking assassin now!" Lienne shouts, and this garners a few concerned looks from those around her.
"An assassin?" Aubrey asks.
"I think--he's saying Marsh forced him to kill us--all of us--but he ended up only getting Wrigley and Adam. I don't know what the hell is going on."
"They're dead? Oh my gosh..."
"...Wrigley is. Adam, he was hit twice. We don't know about him yet."
"Speak of the fucking Devil..." Billie mutters when she spots Marsh enter the lobby, his eyes filled with what she knows is feigned concern.
"What's going on?" Marsh asked. "Someone was shot, that's what I'm hearing."
"Yeah, it was a big fucking surprise to you, right?" Lienne says, taking a step forward. She stabs a finger into his chest. "You slimey, psychopathic asshole!"
"W--what are you...? Someone please, just calmly explain to me what’s going on!”
Looking at him now, Lienne actually wonders how Marsh never got any work as an actor before the world collapsed. He’s playing the clueless-card pretty well; so well, that she actually believes him for a moment. But she knows it’s all just a performance.
“Marsh!” Aubrey says. “What’s going on?”
“I’d suggest you and your boy get out of here. Now.” His eyes convey the utmost seriousness, so Aubrey doesn’t hesitate to grab Jake by the arm and lead him away.
“I’m done with this,” Billie says, and she draws her gun on Marsh. He jumps backward a few feet, his hands in the air defensively. “You are sick, you are crazy, and you’ve hurt too many people.”
“Don’t do anything you’re gonna regret now,” Marsh says quietly. He nods slowly, his anxiety settling down as he sees three men, Jimmy, Kris, and Archie, approaching from behind Billie, Lienne, and Alec. Before Billie can make a decision to let the bullet fly, Jimmy forces her arms behind her back, the pistol hitting the carpet. Kris and Archie follow the same procedure, with Kris grabbing Lienne’s arms and twisting them behind her back, and Archie subduing Alec.
“Ah--Let me go!” Lienne orders, attempting to get in a good kick, but Kris is far too strong.
“Take them somewhere they can calm down,” Marsh orders, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “Thanks. And Hector?” He looks to Hector, who still sobs on the carpet. “Come with me.”
Hector lifts his head and scans the crowd of wary people observing the scene. “N-no. Please.”
“We’re gonna get you cleaned up. Come on.” Marsh grins warmly and offers Hector his hand. Hector takes it, and lets Marsh help him up. “Come with me. Everyone else, get outta here! To your rooms, or whatever the hell it is you do. Let’s go.”
“He got shot? Twice?” Griffin says as Adam is set onto the bed of one of the medical rooms. One of his nurses, Deborah, rips away Adam’s shirt.
“Hector,” Cole explains concisely, his hands and clothing stained with blood. “He fired two shots at him.”
“Are you kidding me? Anyone else hurt?”
“He got Wrigley in the side, and the neck,” Duke says. “Didn’t make it out.”
“Okay, okay. We’re gonna need this space.” Griffin ushers them out, and the last thing he hears is Deborah confirming that Adam’s pulse is slowly dropping.
“What the fuck, what the fuck,” Cole mutters to himself as he paces outside the operating room.
“Just chill. He’ll be okay,” Duke reassures.
“I’m not losing him. I’m not. He’s been there with me since the beginning. He killed a guy, just to save my life. He risked his life for--for someone I loved when he didn’t even have to. He’s the most selfless fucking person--and now he’s in there with no pulse. Jesus.” He places his palms against the wall, leaning his forehead against it as well, and tries to take a few deep breaths, but his anxiety won’t diminish; instead, he finds himself getting more nervous, expecting the worst and bracing himself for it.
“Can you just make sure Billie, Lienne, and Alec are alright?”
“Y-yeah. But...this gonna sound kinda crazy--”
“What is it?”
“Marsh ain’t any good for this place. Too many people died already. I’m not a serial killer or some shit, but if he really did put Hector up to this, this motherfucker...he’s done.”
Cole sighs, and wipes his bloody palms on his pants. “He’s not getting away with this shit anymore. He won’t.”
Billie, Lienne, and Alec sit side by side in black folding chairs in Marsh’s office under the watchful eyes of Jimmy and Archie.
“Please, I need to know how Adam’s doing,” Billie pleads, but Jimmy just crosses his arms and shakes his head.
“No can do,” Jimmy says. “When we get the order from Marsh, I’ll let you out.”
It takes a few minutes for Marsh to finally return to his office, and Billie, Lienne, and Alec have to resist the urge to spew out profanities. “They're being good?” Marsh asks.
“Just the best,” Archie says with a grin. Marsh waves them both out, left alone with the three.
“Let me just tell you right out, this was all a big misunderstanding,” he begins. “Please, let me explain before you freak out. Again.” He takes a seat on his best and turns his body so the revolver holstered to his waist is clearly visible.
“There was no hitman-esque shit to be going on. I just told Hector to do what was necessary for you to get the message, a warning perhaps, since it seemed I wasn’t being clear enough. But he took it to far, and he’ll be punished, of course. I don’t want word getting out about whatever you think really happened at Lucy’s party. That leads to unnecessary problems and rumors, and I don’t want unnecessary problems and rumors. So how about we just...shake hands, let the past be the past and...we move on. Because I like you three. Cool?”
“Okay,” Billie says. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to get hurt.” Alec raises his eyebrows at her response.
“Are you fucking kidding--” Lienne starts.
“I’d suggest listening to your friend, Lienne. She’s smart.”
“Seriously. It was all some kind of misunderstanding. I mean, come on. Why would he kill all of those people? It doesn’t make any sense...And really, sorry for pulling the gun out on you...I was just all shaken up because of Adam--” Her voice falls, but she quickly starts again. "It was a mistake. Sorry."
“Someone with sense! Think you can talk some of that sense into these two?”
“I’ll try. But I need to see Adam.” She adds a bit of hopelessness to her voice, and he takes the bait.
“Go ahead. I send my best wishes.”
“Come on,” Billie says, and Lienne and Alec follow her out the door.
“You--you were kidding, right?” Lienne asks.
“Pretty good actress, right?” she responds, her voice shaking slightly, worrying she’ll receive the worst possible news.