Sneak Peek - Beautiful Chaos
Copyright © 2020 Keta Kendric
This book contains graphic violence and strong sexual content and is intended for adults. If you are easily offended, squeamish about harsh or demeaning language, murder, and violence, this is not be the book for you.
Sneak Peek - Read at the risk of being left hanging.
The panoramic view of the Rockies serenaded my vision as I perched on a ledge twenty stories high. There was only one thing more beautiful than the sun cresting over those mountains, and she didn’t even know I existed.
The shrill yelling of the man dangling at my feet, though irritating, wasn’t enough to disturb my connection to the view. The sight was a gift after thirty hours of hunting on no sleep and enduring the final seventy-mile chase that had ended here in Denver.
Although my house sat miles away, atop the substantial rise of one of the mountaintops, I never missed an opportunity to enjoy the view.
“You don’t have to do this shit!” The straining voice of the man cast over the soft whispers of the wind and fell flat before invading my ears. This one was noisy, an enraged screamer. How long was it going to take for him to figure out I didn’t care about his protest?
I had seen them piss and shit themselves, beg, plead, and pass out. I had witnessed every imaginable stunt when one came face to face with death—me.
At four-thirty in the morning, the sun peaked with indecision, still pondering the level of light it wanted to grace the day with. Most of the city was asleep, but it didn’t stop me from taking precautions to prevent an unwanted audience. They had done their jobs uninterrupted, so I had to make sure I was allowed the same simple courtesy while doing mine.
Death was my job, and I took care in how I executed my duties. I performed them in a timely manner, had over twenty years of experience, and the ability to work at multiple levels of danger: tracking, trapping, and torture. My résumé was top-notch, one I had taken pride in building.
Born Khane Vallin, I was sometimes called “The Animal” but christened “The Kannibal” because of my visceral need to dispense death. My brother claimed I ate people, but not in the literal sense. He said I could eat away a person’s soul and make their body disappear as swiftly and precisely as death itself.
I didn’t see myself as the slayer of lives or the soul-snatching beast that killed with no mercy. I was doing my job, one I had started training for before I even had hair on my balls.
My gaze reluctantly fell from the view and dropped twenty stories to the top of the concrete slab of the parking structure below.
“Khane, please! I’ll give you whatever you want.” The man’s gravelly voice was being picked apart by fear that had the whites of his eyes shining brighter. The desperation in his tone was thicker than normal sound waves, not traveling smoothly, but pushing its way through space.
The crisp, fresh air breezed against my skin, carrying a low, calming song, a prelude to the chaos on the horizon.
“Don’t kill me! Please. Don’t kill me,” rushed out of the man, disturbing the wind’s pretty little lullaby. He was becoming hysterical, his movements primal as desperate jerks and harsh twitches gave him a false sense of survival.
The wind tickled my ears and ruffled my low-cut, dark brown hair as I waited for fear to seep into the man’s soul. I dropped my head and peered at the man who was hanging on for dear life a few feet to the right of my dangling legs.
His searing cries ripped through his throat, but I managed to tune them out as I had given the gentle view the respect I wouldn’t bother to give him.
“Who ordered the hit?” My easy tone didn’t match the deadly intent I knew was reflected on my face, as death was the only foreseeable outcome in this situation. The man teetered left to right, his body scaling the side of the building.
The thick rope circling his chest had been secured at his back and was all that was between him and a twenty-story drop. The other end of his tether was stretched taut across the ledge and attached to a thick metal pipe embedded in the cement floor of the roof about ten feet behind us.
He faced forward. I wasn’t a total ass. I was allowing him to enjoy the mountainous view, as well as take in the sight of the slab of dusty cement waiting for him below. His squirming caused the rope to grate against the ledge that bit at the threads, snacking on its strings.
Thread by thread, the man was getting closer to finding out what it would feel like to fly. He continued to beg and plead, offering money, and saying everything except what I wanted to hear.
For the next few minutes, he would live a lifetime in fear and regret. His greatest and worst moments would seep to the surface of his mind and feed on the intoxicating levels of adrenaline flooding his system.
Having been on the receiving end of death multiple times, I knew the process. I knew how it felt to be filled with so much adrenaline that your mind and body fought each other. However, I had discovered a long time ago, if your heart was as iced over as mine, you embraced death and prepared yourself to stand face to face with what came next.
Four years ago, I had taken a slug to the chest. While spitting blood and fighting off the chill of my demise, I had been arrogant enough to ask Death for a job. He didn’t want me, likely fearing I would take his position.
“Who ordered the hit on my brother, Francisco?” I didn’t bother raising my voice above his yelling. When you were as in tune with death as he currently was, the sound of hope whispered, even in my uncaring voice. The fact that I knew his name put a deep wrinkle in the middle of his forehead.
Francisco Cortez wasn’t a member of any of the crime families or cartels. He was a contract killer who had made the deadly mistake of making an attempt on my brother’s life. The idiot had taken a shot at my brother Arjen and missed. To make matters worse, he had allowed me to catch him.
Men like Cortez didn’t usually miss. However, when faced with monsters like my brother and me, your chances of success were slim because we ate, breathed, and slept on ways to take down our enemy.
“I don’t know who ordered the hit!” he yelled. “You know how this world works. Everything was done on a secure network, money is transferred, and people remain nameless and faceless. I don’t fucking know!” he cried out in anger.
He was right. I knew how this world worked. I also knew that a good assassin would always find out who hired them. My head shook, but not in pity. It was for the effect of failing to understand why people who were afraid to die, suddenly got it into their head to take on this type of occupation in the first place.
My brother and I became suspicious if we got too long a break from someone gunning for us since we were at the top of the food chain when it came to arms dealing. One of our greatest strengths was investing in the information trade, killing the right people, and lining the pockets of the rest.
“Please. If you let me go, I’ll complete three kills for you.”
His words made me chuckle. Instead of money, he was attempting to bargain with lives, which was proof that our world was built on a foundation of chaos.
I bent at the waist, leaning over the ledge I sat on to ensure that my words would reach the struggling man’s ears. “Little secret. I do all of my own killing. Now, tell me who sent you.”
He stilled at my words, his eyes blinking against the flowing breeze. Him revealing any information meant his death, but he was failing to accept the inevitable truth. He was already dead; I just hadn’t released his soul from his body yet.
“There has to be something you want. Everyone has a price. You don’t have to do this shit.”
“Bargaining with me is useless. It has never worked for anyone in your situation. Now, if I can interest you in a fresh batch of death, I’ll take suggestions.”
“You evil, black-hearted bastard!” His compliment cut through the wind and highlighted the depth of his anger.
“Jacob gave you up by the way,” I taunted. His eyes grew wider, knowing who I was talking about. Jacob was another contract killer, one of the best, but he was also one of our spies.
My gaze panned the scenic view as my fingers teased the tip of my hunting knife, anxious to unsheathe it. The man’s neck stretched to see what I was doing. The distress he carried caused his body to sag, adding weight to his situation of hopelessness.
He noticed my raised pant leg and the long blade I had appropriately named, S. Ripper, sliding from the sheath attached to my calf. His cries intensified at the sight, mingling with the harmonic sound of the wind. The “S” stood for soul. If you were blessed enough to have my knife slice through your body, your soul was being primed for departure by the best blade in the business.
“Come on, man. Let’s negotiate. You know it’s never personal in this business.”
A shiny glint caught the light and danced up the blade, giving life to the well-crafted metal. With his flailing left arm, the man attempted to knock my knife away. A trained killer, it pleased me to see that he was at least willing to fight until the end.
It would have been easier to cut the rope stretched at his back, but I went for the part digging into his chest area so he would see his lifeline being cut away. His arms whipped in my direction like a pair of frantic broken wings.
Fear flowed from him in ripples along his pale skin, while riding the haunted expression of knowing that his life would end this day. I found interest in his determination to fight despite his odds, and the will to keep his secrets even at the end. Death was instrumental in creating one of the most authentic forms of art, allowing the canvas to breathe before it expelled its final creation.
A couple of stabs and a chop severed two of his fingers and slowed his desperate efforts to save his own life. His damaged fingers flapped in the wind, clinging to his hand by a few threads of skin as blood poured from the area. His eyes had grown wide and hopeless, his mouth gaping after he swallowed a scream.
I slipped my knife between the tether at his chest, the gleaming metal licking at the tight threads. My deliberate maneuvering of the blade unraveled the rope and shifted his weight to speed up the process.
His voice was a squealing-whine, a spine-tingling harmony that tickled along your skin and hinted at the end. He made an half-handed attempt to beg, but there was nothing he could do or say that would make me stop. He had attempted to take the life of the only person that ever gave a damn about me, and I had killed men for much less.
“I want to see what you look like splattered on the cement below.” I shared my demented interest with him in a calm, easy tone.
“You are pure fucking evil. I’ll see you in hell, Khane!”
“I’m sure you will. I’ll be the one sitting next to the devil drinking ice water. Now, die with some fucking dignity.”
When my knife ate through the last threads of rope, a time-freezing silence filled the space. The wind calmed its whispers to give attention to the moment.
The rope snapped apart, sending my hand and the knife shooting out and the man plummeting down. In a desperate last attempt, he caught and gripped a piece of the broken rope, clinging to it with his good hand.
How long would it take him to accept that nothing he did would stop his demise? He hung on for a full minute before his grip started to slip down the rope, ripping skin from his palm as his feet kicked, searching for traction against any surface.
Gravity drank him in, a monster we weren’t equipped to fight. His lungs remained strong as his cries and curses continued to harmonize with the wind, singing a broken song of the damned.
I reached down and sheathed my knife, my gaze on the man the whole time. The moment he realized death was at the last slip of his hand down the rope, his eyes widened, and he glanced skyward. Hope had stopped talking to him, and gravity had no problem sucking him down, kicking and yelling.
A sudden change of the wind current, along with his flailing arms, had shifted his flying body. Instead of landing flat on the pavement, the fleshy impact of his body struck the raised cement barrier dividing a small section of the parking structure, nearly splitting him in two.
The gory scene left a statement on my brain. Blood had exploded from the impact of his back hitting the concrete with enough force that it had snapped his bones like twigs. His midsection had been blown wide open, sending an explosion of matter and pulverized internal organs flying into the air.
The splattering against the concrete pierced the distance and called up to me after the initial crack had sailed through the air. Only pieces of skin and the few internal organs that remained attached kept him hanging over the raised slab of concrete. His top half lay hanging on the opposite side of the barrier as his legs. Surprisingly, his legs continued to twitch like they intended to step away from his destroyed body.
Death was a poetic beast, and I had given the man a glorious one filled with excitement and vigor.
He had been set free to descend from this living hell and start anew. Maybe his soul would be washed and purged of the sins of this world or maybe it would be bathed in fire until his flesh melted from the bones, and pain became his blessing. Maybe he had been cast away into nothing but blackness—a world with no sense of being. Most people feared not knowing what waited beyond, while I believed it was the best part.
I stood atop the perch, peering down, committing another completed task to memory. His eyes, though dead of life and bulging from their sockets, pierced the distance to curse me. His remains would be cleaned away and gone before the early birds arrived to start their workday.
This was one of the reasons they called me ‘The Kannibal.’ I consumed the act, the sight, and the smell of death like one would a gourmet meal. Francisco was now a part of my art collection, a portrait that would never be duplicated by another.
My task for now had been completed. However, I believed finding the answers I sought would require more analytical work than physical, and I was set to do my job with a level of seriousness and pride that many others would forego.
One last peek at the portrait I had painted, and all I could think was, who’s next?
***End of Sneak Peek***