Red Light (Story Intro)
Luke was going mad. He couldn’t understand why he was feeling so unnerved. He had been to Guantanamo Bay prison and Helmand Province. He’d infiltrated drug cartels in Mexico and Third World regimes to uncover the truth for the story and had three Pulitzer prizes to his name. Investigative Journalism was in his blood and he had gone to Hell and back multiple times in pursuit of the facts. His nerves were made from stronger stuff than most so why was he feeling like a lost child tonight?
His surroundings were not helping the anxiety. The grimy alleyway echoed with every sound Luke or some other animal made. Leaking gutters dripped stagnant water into over-flowing drains, the small splashes just part of the orchestra. Rats scurried back and forth, the sounds of their paws mingling with that of the falling rain pounding every flat surface it could reach. Occasionally, a trash can would make a symbol crash as it slammed against the side of a dumpster or alley wall. Each time, it would make Luke jump and regret ever picking up on this story.
When people think of Paris, they immediately think of a romantic scene between two lovers with the Eiffel Tower in the background. As Luke had found out, there was a far more sinister underbelly to this beautiful city. He had been investigating the activities of a Neo-Nazi group who were running a prostitution ring. Stealing young girls and boys off of the streets, setting them to work in France or selling them off across Europe and over to South East Asia. He had infiltrated the group under the Pseudonym of Samuel Frere and had become quite close to the second-in-command; Raphael Laffite. He was a Swiss-born, self-confessed “French Patriot” who was as ruthless and determined in equal measure. As Luke had found out over the last two months, Laffite and his army of Nazi nutjobs had their hands in almost every unsavoury business there was; drug-dealing, racketeering, murder, black market weapons and were even making deals with Front National, the right-wing nationalist party in French politics. This is where they made it all happen; in the disused warehouses on the outskirts of Paris.
Right now, Luke was about to give up waiting. Laffite had asked him to wait here for him but it had been an hour since the time they agreed to and Laffite still hadn’t shown. Going home seemed like a very good option but Luke knew better. If this was some sort of test then going home would mean he would fail. If it was a proper meeting then leaving would be a bad idea as that would be showing disrespect and Luke had already seen how they dealt with that. A friend he had made in the first week, Mathieu, had disrespected Laffite by being late with a delivery of Cocaine. Luke had been made to watch with countless others while Laffite tortured Mathieu with a cattle prod before slitting his throat. That was a warning to them all never to disrespect their commander Laffite had said afterwards. Luke could still hear Mathieu’s screams echoing in the back of his mind. The sound of footsteps approaching amid the racket of the alleyway and the relentless rain drew Luke out of his thoughts.
Laffite had turned up after all. He hadn’t come alone and nor had Luke expected him to. In the short time he had now Laffite, the man always travelled with an entourage. It didn’t even surprise Luke that Laffite had one of his lackeys holding an umbrella up for him. People with power in minority groups like this could pretty much do as they please. The one thing Luke didn’t like was the look in Laffite’s eyes. Even in the dusky light of evening, they shone with malice. Mathieu’s screams started running clear in his head. This was not good.
“You came then” Laffite stated rather than asked. He seemed to have a habit of stating things rather than asking them as questions.
“Yes, sir” Luke replied. Keep it short. Speak only when spoken to. Those were the rules.
“Good. It is nice to see some semblance of… loyalty.”
Luke swallowed hard. The way Laffite lingered on that word had sent alarm bells ringing in Luke’s head, telling him to get out now but he had sneaking suspicion that it was already too late. That if he was going to die, it would a very painful and drawn out process for the next couple of hours and that was fast becoming an inevitability.
“When were you going to tell me, Samuel?” Laffite said. Luke was slightly confused by the question though it didn’t take long to work out where this conversation was going. It was possible that Laffite didn’t know who Samuel Frere really was. Luke decided to try and lie is way out of it. There would be pain involved he was successful or not.
“I’m not sure I follow, sir.”
“I think you follow well enough.”
“I’m a little confused, sir.”
“How many times have I ever spoken your filthy language, Mr Cahill?”
That’s when Luke realised he was dead. He should have realised something was up when Laffite had addressed him in English. Hearing his actual name was almost a blessing in disguise after two months as Samuel Frere. There was no point making any further denials now, it would just result in a longer and excruciating death.
“Luke Cahill, investigative reporter for the Global Herald. What gave me away?”
“When I sent some of my people round to Mathieu’s apartment, I found that you two had been getting very close. Closer than any normal, rational and moral son of Adam should get to another.” Laffite spat on the ground when he finished his sentence. Luke really was in a world of trouble. It was bad enough that Laffite had blown his cover but now it had become apparent Laffite had known about Mathieu being Luke’s lover.
“According to the government, we were perfectly within our rights” Luke replied coldly.
“I do not recognise the authority of the corrupt vermin that all the sheep call our government! They have been brainwashed by the Jews! By the Zionists! They don’t have the drive or the courage to do what needs to be done! They are race traitors! Every single one of them!” Laffite raged.
With a flick of his hand, three of Laffite’s entourage stepped forward towards Luke. All of them were wearing white vests despite the cold and rain. One had a swastika tattooed across his neck. The others had the same symbol stained into their muscled arms. The one with the swastika on his neck left a revolver at Luke’s head.
“Is that really necessary?” he asked calmly. He’d had much bigger guns pointed in his direction so a little revolver wasn’t much for him to worry over. The three lackeys turned to Laffite. He nodded.
The next thing Luke knew he was on the floor bleeding. Fists and feet pummelled him as he lay there, writhing in pain.
“Fini!” Laffite called. The three backed off, leaving Luke bloodied and bruised on the ground. He groaned as he tried to pull himself to his feet. Laffite pulled a knife with a thin, curved blade from the sheath at his hip. Just as Luke had managed to get back to standing, he was kicked back to the floor and felt a searing pain as the knife was sliced across his right leg. The muscle made a sickening twang as it was severed. Luke howled and clasped his wounded limb. Laffite kicked him again and sliced through the left leg. Another twang of muscle. Another howl of pain. Laffite laughed as he watched Luke try and crawl through the waste-littered alley in a vain attempt to escape.
Taking the gun from his lackey, Laffite casually strolled up to Luke, kicking his arm out as he strolled pass. Luke looked up at Laffite seeing the barrel of a .44 Magnum and the cold, dark eyes trained down the sight.
“End it” Luke stated. He’d rather die from a bullet than bleed out.
Laffite cocked back the hammer and allowed himself an evil smile before pulling the trigger. The gunshot echoed in the alleyway. Soon after, nothing was left of Laffite or his crew. Just Luke’s battered corpse. Over the road, in an equally dark alleyway, a man sat in a BMW. He had been using a long lens camera to take pictures. The camera was now in the passenger seat and the man was on his phone. He waited two rings before there was an answer.
“Get me McBride.”
A short while later, a groggy Irish tone announced itself.
“For fuck’s sake it’s three in the morning.”
“Stop bitching. I have a job for you. Be in Paris by this evening. I’m giving you a partner for this. Ex-Interpol officer. You two should get along fine. “
“What’s the job?”
“Neo-Nazi group. You are putting them out of business.”
“Fine. Next you call me this early, White, the hell am I picking up.”
“Yes you will.”
“Because I own you.”
Mr White hung up before McBride could respond. He didn’t like McBride’s attitude but damn if there was a better operative out there, White had never seen them. McBride was expert at what he did. This group needed to be put out of commission and there was no one better to do the job. White fired up his BMW. He was going back to the centre of the city. He had things to set up and deals to make. These lunatics would be dealt with soon enough and may God have mercy on their soul when McBride gets wind of what exactly they have been doing.