Chapter 1:

Bad dreams aren't only dreams.

Double Barrel

It’s raining outside savagely, lightning fills the sky. It’s nighttime and a man known as Zachariah Smith, lies drunk and unconscious in a shabby hotel room bed.Bookmark here

A half empty cup of alcohol sits next to an empty bottle of Jack on top of a nightstand covering several newspaper clippings. Thunder claps and lightning momentarily fills the room with light, revealing countless pictures of gruesome crime scenes scattered all over the floor; slowly, we fade into Zach's nightmare... of a tragedy long ago.

As the fog of sleep sets into Zacharias head he dreams of a man called Damiano hearing a woman scream in agony. Even though the scream was half muffled by the crack of thunder, it was a voice familiar to him. The terrified shrill of her voice echoes throughout the abandoned pier.

The terrified shrill of her voice echoes as Damiano approaches.
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“This can’t be happening, there’s no time for the element of surprise.” He thinks to himself.Bookmark here

His line of thought ends as he pulls out his twin chromed 44’s while bursting in through the front doors. The scene laid out before him makes his heart drop to his stomach.
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A young beautiful girl is stretched on the floor, tied up by ropes tearing into her delicate soft skin. Her clothes are ripped to shreds exposing parts of her naked body. Her eyes are full of tears and her lips bloody from the gag around her mouth preventing her from screaming full blast into the night.

“Ah Finally, I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up, you traitorous sack of shit.” Says a callous looking man with a rough raspy arrogant voice.Bookmark here

As the man steps out of the shadows and into the light with a smug look on his snake like face.
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“Vinnie you bastard!” Damiano can hardly contain his anger.
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The woman on the floor tries to screams,Bookmark here

“Run Damiano, it’s a trap!”
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A grotesque looking man is having his way with her on floor while cackling at the horrified look on Damiano’s face.Bookmark here

“Let go of her, you freak of nature or I’ll blow your brains out!” Damiano yells out at the ugly man with sheer indignation, pulling out his gun and taking dead aim at the freak.Bookmark here

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“Enough! Vinnie growls.”
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If anyone is gonna do any blowin’ of the brains it’s gonna be me.”Bookmark here

Vinnie’s facial expressions does not match his voice, but rather, his look is that of a mad man; a psychopath. The more he speaks the less you can tell what he is actually feeling.Bookmark here

“Did you seriously think you could just up and leave without as much as a simple goodbye? My feelins are hurt.”Bookmark here

Vinnie inches closer to Damiano, every step making him more dangerous than the last, like a vicious predator about to strike.
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“Didn’t I provide a home for you? Didn’t I give you freedom to do as you will?”Bookmark here

“Run Damiano, please” —the girl says again, her voice barely intelligible—
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“Shut up you whore!”
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Vinnie yells at the girl, turning and kicking her in her ribs relentlessly cracking a few of them and, knocking the air out of her, and scaring the ugly man out from on top of her.

“Don’t ever interrupt me when I’m talkin’. I oughtta pump your pretty face fulla lead.”Bookmark here

Vinnie screams right into to the woman's face as he squeezes her cheeks in with his fingers.
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You know the rules!”Bookmark here

He now says pointing a gun at Damiano.Bookmark here

“No one leaves the family. I don’t make this up, it’s the only way to keep the family strong, and you understand dontcha? My belated father, may he rest in peace, taught you everything a young Italian man should know on how to survive out here in no man’s land, and he had big plans for you, didn’t he?
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And this is how you repay his memory!? Huh?!"Bookmark here

Vinnie’s face is now full of blood lust.
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“Some sort of payment is gonna have to be rendered for your treachery.”

Suddenly, out of the shadows emerge six other figures surrounding Damiano. He can clearly see that there’s no way out now. Vinnie now turn to the girl on the floor and says,
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“Farewell sweetie, this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you. Give my regards to daddy dearest, when you reach them pearly gates will ya?”Bookmark here

Vinnie crouching down to kiss the girl’s lips and giving her breast a last good squeeze.Bookmark here

“Waste her” he says to one of the figures surrounding Damiano.Bookmark here

The assassin pulls out a gun and without a second of hesitation, he shoots her in the head.
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Zachariah lets out a blood curdling scream!Bookmark here


He startles himself awake from his nightmare when suddenly the front door of his room bursts open.
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He instinctively flies off the bed and onto the floor; his left prosthetic arm facing palm forward and pulsating revealing the tip of a double barrel shotgun. Every square inch of his mechanical arm is a work of art.
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Right down from the pulsating artificial veins to the bulky musculature on his arm. The aperture from which the double barrels are produced are releasing electrical discharges illuminating the dark room and making chirping sounds like that of a bird.Bookmark here

The unimpressed gunslinger woman darts towards Zachariah with murderous intent; she shouts!Bookmark here

“Freeze, asshole!”
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As she runs into the room, unloading her gun in the dark. The momentary flashes of light from the bullets lets her —for a split second— catch a glimpse of the shadowy figure of a man, who can only point his weapon at her while dodging bullets.Bookmark here

As the flash of lights flicker in and out, Zachariah shifts behind the woman, grabbing her in a choke hold with the speed of a cobra’s strike.

“Ariel, stop! It’s me”. He grunts out.

Instantly, as if almost by instinct, Ariel takes a step back, grabs his arm and flips him over her, slamming him hard on the floor.Bookmark here

—“Stop, you crazy bitch!”— Zach yells out again.Bookmark here

This time reaching upwards with his legs, intertwining her arm and slamming her down on top of himself, putting her on a stranglehold. Now recognizing him, she yells in her native language,Bookmark here

—“Filho Da Puta!!! , I almost killed you.”—
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“I know”, says Zach, “Didn’t you hear me tell you it was me when I grabbed you the first time?”

“I thought there was someone else there in here doing something to you, I heard you scream in pain you fool!” Ariel retorts.
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“So what do you do?” Says Zach, “You come bursting in, shooting first asking questions later?”
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“Yeah I do, I should’ve capped your candy-ass. Now let go of me.” Ariel gets up and turns on the lights.Bookmark here

“You’re the one who doesn’t know how to use a doorbell.” Says Zach, mockingly as he dusts himself off.Bookmark here

“Why the hell are you here anyways?” He asksBookmark here

“Put some clothes on and I’ll tell you, or don't, either way I don't mind the view.” She say as she heads out the door into the rainy night.

Moments later they’re both in the car and driving towards another crime scene investigation, while Ariel fills Zach in on all the details.
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“It seems that someone murdered a young girl from a very prominent family and in the most gruesome way.” She says, explaining later in detail.
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Detested by the facts, Zach looks out the window contemplating the dark, rainy atmosphere. Much has changed in so little time, he thinks to himself as he remembers walking down those same streets as a child; before his shady past.Bookmark here

Long before the crime families had to step in and prevent the massive upheaval that occurred and the authorities were powerless to prevent.Now look at it, crime everywhere you look, no one really enforcing law or order.Bookmark here

The world seems like such a dismal place... Ariel pushes the brakes while making a sharp turn, skidding to a halt in the torrential rain —Bookmark here

“We're here.” — She says.
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Yellow tape surrounds the crime scene, and the almost blinding blue and red flashes from the squad cars are the only plainly visible things. Zachariah, way ahead of Ariel, crosses over the tape uncaring of how drenched he’s getting, and flashes his badge at the policeman blocking the crime scene.Bookmark here

“Damn umbrella” says Ariel, as she struggles out of her car.Bookmark here

“Zach, wait up” she yells out, but her voice is lost in a sudden fierce gust of wind.Bookmark here

-FROOMP-Bookmark here

 Her umbrella turns inside out.Bookmark here

“¡Mierda!”Bookmark here

Back at the crime scene Zach pulls back the sheet covering the body to reveal a young girl age between 23 and 28.Stabbed to death.Bookmark here

In his mind’s eye an instant flash of memory from that nightmare he was just having moments ago enters his mind as he shudders at the thought of this girl suffering a similar fate.
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“What a shame” says the chief of police, “Such a young kid.”Bookmark here

Zach can bear no more and covers the corpse back and stands up trying to light up a cig. The chief continues to say,Bookmark here

“Who would have the guts to do such a horrible thing to such a young beautiful girl.”Bookmark here

“Couldn’t you have waited for me?” Ariel Interrupts suddenly appearing in between the crowd;
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Pushing the chief and Zach aside.Bookmark here

“Alright let’s see what we have here”, she says crouching down to uncover the body for a closer look.
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She pulls back the sheet, once again exposing the cold pale corpse of the lifeless girl; suddenly the rain slows down to a halt and starts going upwards as if raining in reverse.Bookmark here

An icy cold chill crystallizes the air all around Ariel, the police lights freeze in time and all movement stops abruptly. Ariel suddenly jerks her head backwards, eyes open wide and facing the sky.
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Everything turns black and white and as tears run down Ariel’s face as she is forced to see in her mind’s eye a partial glimpse into the dead girl’s final moment before her tragic death.Bookmark here

Ariel hears the girl scream and a psychotic laughter ensues. Cold steel pierces the girl’s skin. She falls and hits the floor hard scraping her face on the wet concrete.
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She turns around in pain, her tormentor is nowhere in sight but there hidden in the shadows of the dim light appears her soon to be killer.Bookmark here

Ariel begins trembling, a cold chill runs down her back and as the knife bears down on the victim, Ariel is jerked back into reality.Bookmark here

This rarely happens to her but it’s a gift of clairvoyance passed on from her late mother. She opens her eyes realizing that the whole time she’s been in a trance she has been just there staring blindly and trembling.Bookmark here

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Ariel looks up to see if Zach noticed what happened, and to her dismay, He is just standing there looking at her from the corner of his eyes and puffing on his cigarette.Bookmark here

” Ahem” The chief clears his throat. “As appealing as cold and wet might be, can we hurry up and get the hell outta this rain?” He asks, breaking the awkward tension.Bookmark here

“Yes sir were done” says Ariel, getting up to her feet.Bookmark here

“I’ll drive us back this time” says Zach.
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“Yes you will, drive yourself back. “Retorts Ariel, tossing her keys to Zach. “I’m going back with the chief; I wanna help with the autopsy of the body.”Bookmark here

“Whatever” says Zach, turning his back on her and walks away. As he revs the engine and drives he catches a last glimpse of Ariel in his rear view mirror staring at something in the distance.Bookmark here

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” What a strange woman he thinks to himself.”Bookmark here

Deep in thought he drives off trying to piece things together in his head. Death by strangulation, multiple stab wounds, body laid out as if displayed for all to see, possible sexual assault; he shudders, still thinking of his nightmare and the freakish resemblance of the crime scene and it.Bookmark here

“Mio Dio!”Bookmark here

He screams suddenly slamming his brakes making his car hydroplane out of control; he turns the steering wheel sharply making his car go into a 360 spin just barely missing an old man crossing the street by just a few feet.
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“God Damn it” he says getting out of the car.”Bookmark here

Are you outta your friggin’ mind you old timer? I could have freakin ran you over and busted your guts like a piñata, what the hell is your problem, dontcha look both ways before crossing the street in the middle of the friggin’ rain”Bookmark here

“Oh Just go ahead and put me out of my misery already”, the old man bursts into tears.,Bookmark here

“Just run me over and get it over with, what‘s the use of living anymore”.
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Zach stares at the old man slack jawed and dumbfounded at his reply.Bookmark here

“Don’t Screw with me old timer” Zach yells back at the old man grabbing him by his collar and shaking him like a rag doll.” Nothing in life is worth walking out in front of a car and getting ran over for. ”Bookmark here

Zach fires back at the old man’s comment.Bookmark here

“What does it matter to die if all your loved ones are gone” replies the old man, sobbing. “What is life without my little Naoko?”
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As hard as Zach may be he still can’t help feeling compassion for the old man, releasing him, he puts a hand on the old man’s shoulder and says,Bookmark here

” Let’s go old timer, I know a place where we can warm you up before you catch a cold.” He helps the old man into the car and drives off.Bookmark here

A.A. James
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