This is the fourth chapter in an ongoing fiction series. You can find the first three chapters by clicking on the author's name. We highly recommend you do so! -Ed. Tasks performed in Mr. Bohr's service: After carrying out a hit for Pirello Corporation's Mr. Klingman, a Pirello representative suddenly appears at K and Lydia's hideout. Luckily for the two assassins, Lydia's father Mr. Bohr visits them with a simple job offer: kill Mr. Klingman.
“We dere soon.”
A yellow taxi took a left onto Las Vegas Boulevard and began to crawl sluggishly down towards the famous Strip. Lydia stared at the palm trees and neon signs gliding by the window with a wide smile on her lips, mesmerized by the dance of colorful lights and dark shadows between them. Next to her on the taxi’s back seat, K leaned on his hand with his glasses barely balanced on the tip of his nose. He was sulking. Not only was he tired and hungry, he had just remembered how much he hated this damned den of degenerates called Vegas. The cab’s speakers were set at an infernal volume, the driver had no concept of customer service, a stewardess had spilled orange juice on his suit on the plane and Lydia’s squeals of excitement made his headache throb.
“It’s SO BIG,” Lydia shrieked as they drove past the Stratosphere Casino’s tower. She had rolled down the window and was now leaning out of it. K grabbed her should and pulled her back in.
“You’ve seen the Eiffel Tower,” he snarled at her. “It’s bigger, it’s in better taste, and best of all it’s not built in a giant, tacky amusement park for rubes and inbred blithering idiots like Klingman!”
Lydia stared at K round-eyed, not quite sure how to react to K’s sudden outburst. Noticing the girl leaning away from him, K snapped out of his hate-induced trance. He let go of Lydia, wiped spittle from his mouth, and straightened his glasses. Running his hand through his hair, he turned away from Lydia and quietly muttered an apology.
“I’m sorry. It’s just…” K rubbed his eyes. “I’m tired. Sorry.”
He felt a small hand on his shoulder. K turned around to find Lydia smiling at him with light tears in her eyes.
“It’s okay. We’ll get to work soon.”
K squeezed Lydia’s hand and smiled back at her. The cab driver looked over his shoulder at them.
He pointed at the two towers rising up before them casting their shadows on Lake Bellagio to their right. On top of the taller, fantastic 65-story block of concrete shone the name “Caligula” in golden cursive letters.
The taxi pulled to a stop in front of the hotel. The two assassins climbed out of the taxi and lifted their luggage out of the trunk. As he paid, K went out of his way to count the smallest possible tip to give the driver. Grumbling, he picked up his and Lydia’s suitcase. At the door K quickly stepped behind Lydia as the doorman attempted to help him with his bags.
A long red carpet stretched from the door to a large, gleaming off-white marble reception desk. Similarly colored ionic columns and small potted palm trees alternated with each other to the sides of the carpet.
On the left side K noted three elevators with nearly mirror-finished metal doors and two staircases leading up to the rooms. On the right, a gigantic glass vivarium built into the wall caught Lydia’s attention with its collection of exotic plants, frogs, and reptiles. Above them, large chandeliers hung from the roof.
“Good evening, sir, and welcome to Caligula!” An overtly cheerful receptionist greeted them as K set down his burden with Lydia hanging onto his sleeve, still looking over to the glass tank. In one smooth dark gray blur, a gray handkerchief wiped K’s forehead and disappeared back into his breast pocket from whence it came. K ran his hand through his hair and turned smiling to the young lady manning the reception desk.
“And good evening to you too. I have a room reservation.” “Very good, sir! If you could tell me your name, I’ll have your key out in no time.” “Karloff, B.”
K leant onto the counter with Lydia slowly inching her way towards the reptile tank. The receptionist tapped on her keyboard, her smile dropping with each tap of the keys.
“I’m sorry, sir, but there seems to be no reservation under ‘Car-loaf.’”
K smile turned into a frown just as quickly as the receptionist’s.
“What? This is a mistake, there must be. No, I’m certain there is a reservation. This is the Caligula, isn’t it? How did you spell it? No, show me. Show me. No. No, you spell it with… With a K-A-R… Look, just let me…”
Lydia glanced over her shoulder. K was trying to reach for the receptionist’s keyboard, who attempted equally hard to keep him away. When K finally reached into his suit for his passport, Lydia decided that he would be a while and headed for the vivarium.
A bright blue anole clung to a branch, Lydia’s face reflected on the glass before it. She could’ve pressed her hands and face to the glass and screamed out of joy at seeing all the oh-so exotic and colorful animals in their glass cage, but restrained herself like a proper lady. Observe from afar and touch nothing, as K had so often taught her. Don’t get physical unless absolutely necessary.
Lydia startled. She quickly turned to face the voice, dropping her center of balance lower with her legs apart. In front of her was crouched a woman. Lydia quickly assessed the situation. Neither of them was immediately armed. The woman’s defensive stance was wide open. Easily incapacitated with a blow to any of the five, seven, eight revealed vulnerable points. Smart black skirt suit. Pretty. Note of interest, bright red hair.
“Hello,” Lydia replied. The woman smiled warmly at her, running her eyes across her body. “Good stance,” she said, standing up. “Who taught you that? Wouldn’t happen to be that dashing gentleman over at the reception?”
Lydia’s eyes opened wide and her body tightened like wound spring. Who was this woman?
The red-haired lady noticed Lydia sinking to an even lower position, ready to pounce. She shook her head, still smiling. “Oh honey, you don’t need to worry about me,” she said in a matronly tone, crouching down again to face Lydia.
Lydia wasn’t so easily fooled.
“Who are you?” Lydia whispered and took a quick step backwards to secure her balance and maintain distance. The woman just smiled.
K slid the key card into his wallet accompanied by the receptionist’s seemingly never-ending apologies and promises of complimentary welcome baskets to make up for the confusion. K lifted his suitcases off the floor – telling a porter he’d carry his own bags – before turning around and rolling his eyes. It was only now that he realized Lydia had disappeared. He called out to her, scanning the lobby until he noticed a familiarly curly tuft of dark brown in front of the vivarium, partly obscured behind a particularly ill-looking potted palm. K dragged himself and the bags over to the glass tank. He found Lydia looking ready to tear out the jugulars of a strange red-haired woman.
“Lydia! What are you doing? Are you bothering this lady?” K slammed the suitcases to the floor and pushed his glasses back up his nose. “Very ill-mannered. And I’ve told you, don’t wander around without telling me where you’re going.”
K ignored Lydia’s attempted protests. He turned to the woman, offering his hand to help her up.
“I am terribly sorry, madam. I don’t know what she-“ “Oh will you stop,” the woman said, taking K’s hand and standing up. “Do you ever relax?”
First K recognized the voice. Only then did he notice the long legs, the red bob-cut hair, the brown eyes, the perfectly formed nose.
“P?” “Good evening, K.”
Lydia watched, confused, as a wide smile spread to K’s face and he moved in to hug the woman, who warmly returned the gesture.
“What are you doing here?” K asked, holding the woman’s shoulders. “I wasn’t informed there would be anyone here.”
“And there shouldn’t be. One agent, one city, yada yada,” the woman answered, rolling her eyes. “You know the book better than I do. I was supposed to clear before you arrived but my flight got delayed.”
K nodded. He opened his mouth to ask something, but the question died in his throat as he felt someone tug on his suit. Lydia was staring up at him with the most confused look K had ever seen.
“K, what’s going on?” K chuckled. He slapped himself on the forehead and kneeled down, throwing his arm around Lydia. “I’m sorry, partner. This enchanting woman is Ms. P, she-“ “Her name is Pee?” Lydia asked, stifling a giggle. K and the woman fell silent, K out of horror, she trying
not to laugh at K’s face. “No dear,” she said. “P as in the letter. You know, like K.”
Lydia’s eyes widened once more. “Is she…” She turned to K. “Yes, she is an Alphabet. We were at the academy together.” Lydia turned to P with her eyes shining. “I’m training to be one too!”
P laughed and pet Lydia’s head. “Are you now? K, who is this lovely little protégé?” Suddenly, she turned to K with a grimace of terror on her face. “She’s not yours is she?”
K shook his head. “She’s the Bohr girl.” “Really?” P said with a quiet gasp. “I heard she wasn’t going to…” P’s face turned grave. “What are you planning?” K smiled awkwardly. “It’s a long story.” “Tell. I have-“ “Ms. Page?”
The three assassins turned around. A man in a dark blue uniform stood behind them, with his cap in his hand.
“I’m here to drive you to the airport.”
P put her fingers to her forehead, sighed and turned back to K. “Well, apparently I have no time. But listen, you need to tell me all about her.” She quickly produced a small notebook and pen from her pocket and scribbled something on a page before ripping it off and slipped it into K’s hand. “You can’t call, but write me.” She kissed K on the cheek, hugged him, and disappeared with the driver.
K stared after her for a second before stuffing the note into his pocket. “Let’s go,” he said as he stepped over to pick up the suitcases again. As they began to walk, Lydia started bombarding K with questions. “Who is she? How’d you meet? Do you love her? Is she your girlfriend?” “She’s P. At the academy. She’s a good friend. No, she’s not.” As K tried to shake Lydia off of him, three figures stepped out to block their way to the elevator.
“Oh what fresh hell is this?” K asked as he and Lydia looked up. Lydia took a step back and K almost bit his tongue. In front of him he saw the coldest, widest smile he had ever witnessed.
“Good evening, Mr. Karloff,” said the pony-tailed man in a navy blue suit. He gestured to the two giant men standing behind him, who stepped forward. “My colleagues will take your luggage to your suite.” Before K could protest, the two giants tore the suitcases from his hands. As they lumbered into an
elevator, the smiling man put his hand on K’s shoulder. “Mr. Klingman would like to invite you to dinner.”