• Hit-List: Descent Into Depravity
    #2: The Addict

    “s**t” Jake swore softly as he drove home. It was the second day after he'd sent his boss careening to his demise and Jake was trying (and succeeding quite well) to forget that the entire episode had ever happened. He had spent his time of late driving around the city putting in applications and interviewing for the occasional job, though none of them held a candle to his previous position. So far he had wasted yet another sunny spring afternoon with no new prospects. Needless to say things were not going well.
    The tires crunched on the gravel driveway as he pulled up to the apartment. It was a large concrete building though it didn't have the industrial feel that a lot of the apartment buildings in the city did. It just looked like a large home with a parking lot and a large lawn that stretched to a thick tree line. Jake took a deep breath of the clear air and relaxed slightly. He always enjoyed the clean air he got around the apartment after a day in the city.
    Jake walked up the stairs to the apartment entrance feeling better already in the waning sunlight and was getting the entry key picked out on his key chain when the door suddenly opened in front of him. “Jake! Where have you been hiding yourself? And where's your rent?” It was his land lady, Ms. Jenkins. She was a fairly pleasant old lady, small with a head of puffy white hair, but she could become downright ornery when the rent was late.
    “Uh...about that...” he said slowly, scratching his head and unable to meet her eye. “I uh...got fired. I've been looking for a new job though! Things are looking good. I should have the money for you in no time.” He didn't like lying to her, she really was a decent person if a slight inconvenience at the moment, but he doubted she even believed him anyway.
    “Well see that you do! Forty five days late and you're out. You know the rules Jake” she said with a sigh and shake of the head. She walked past him, leaving the door open, and disappeared around the corner as she made the brief walk to the parking area.
    Jake sighed as he entered the apartment building and made his dreary way down the stairs to his lair. “Great...just what I needed. More stress” he grumbled. He didn't even notice anyone else in the building, his attention totally wrapped up in trying to find a way out of his current sticky predicament. It wasn't until he heard a voice from behind him followed shortly by the sound of a closing door that he returned his attention to his surroundings.
    “Hey Jake. The UPS guy brought a couple packages by and left them at the door. Had your name on 'em so I put 'em by your door. Said they were from your old boss. Didn't you just get fired?” asked his neighbor Al.
    “Yeah...i did...” Jake replied thoughtfully as he approached the large package cautiously. Why would Mr. Herman send him anything? How could he, the man was dead!
    “Well, looks like ya got lucky then bud” Al said with a shrug as he walked to the stairs.
    Jake shrugged as well and then returned his attention to the mysterious packages. There were in fact two, though he'd understandably only noticed the one. It was a large box, one that barely fit through the doorway, and stood above hip height. Jake was no small man at 6'2” and he had a good deal of difficulty moving the box. Jake looked at the tile floor beneath his feet and saw wheel marks on the tile that indicated that someone had used a hand-truck to move the beast. Jake tore off part of the brown wrapping paper on the top in curiosity and raised his eyebrows as he saw what could easily be called an extremely expensive and powerful server on the box. His curiosity thoroughly peaked, he opened the smaller package. It was just an envelope and he ripped the top off, dumping the sparse contents out onto the top of the larger package. “Hm...” he muttered, picking up the pair of items that fell out of the envelope. The first was something he'd actually been wanting for a while but never gotten the money for: an iPhone. The other was more mysterious until he turned it over and read the article. The headline read “Local business leader killed in fatal car accident, grieving widow sues GPS provider”. The rest of the article described how a malfunction in the GPS feed had given false navigational data to the receiver unit which lead to the death of the late Mr. Herman. It also described a heavy lawsuit by his wife Veronica that was in the process of being settled.
    Jake smiled in grim satisfaction as he read about his handiwork. It really was a nice bit of scheming when he thought about it. Feeling a bit better once more he returned his attention to the iPhone in his hand. He powered it up and noticed that there seemed to be a video stored on the phone's memory that was marked for immediate viewing. Jake looked around and, although no one was around, decided it would likely be a better idea to view the video in private. Instead, he walked into his room and grabbed his own hand-truck to move the heavy package inside his door. Jake noted with surprise that the tires on the moving device squatted considerably. Much more than they should have for a server. In fact, he should have been able to move a mere server around with his foot. His curiosity was peaked further but he pushed it aside as he set it down and closed the door. Between the usual clutter of computer stations and furniture scattered haphazardly about the single-room apartment the new addition took up most of the free space. Jake sat down at his computer terminal and examined the iPhone again, searching it over for tampering. He couldn't see anything wrong with it so he plugged a pair of headphones into it and clicked the playback icon on the screen.
    “Hello Jake” came Veronica's seductive voice. Her image filled the small screen giving him a full body view of the stunning middle-aged woman in a short cut, silky, midnight black dress that hugged her curves almost like a second skin. “I'm SOOO glad you were able to accommodate me. Your solution was brilliant. I've even included a bonus for your excellent service. Oh, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop down some time to get MY systems up and running again. Don't worry, I wont let you get bored” With a suggestive smile the camera winked out leaving Jake staring at a blank screen. “She...was serious...” he muttered, stunned. He removed the headphones from his ears and deleted the video (just to be safe) before checking the contact list. As suspected there was a single number programmed in. Deciding to worry about his latest problem another time he moved over to examine the package further. “Bonus she said?” he muttered, his curiosity rising quickly and pushing concern aside like an old toy. With enthusiasm usually only found in children Christmas morning he shredded the brown paper enshrouding the package and sliced the box open with a small flathead screwdriver plucked from his desk. What lay within made his eyes nearly pop out of his head.
    When he pulled the top off of the reinforced base beneath Jake was greeted by a sight that most people can only dream of: stack upon stack of twenty dollar bills! “Oh my god..” he muttered in astonishment, falling back into the computer chair which was luckily still sitting behind him. “She really was serious!” Jake suddenly felt like he could explode in excitement. He now had sitting before him more money than he'd ever dreamed of, let alone thought to obtain. Ideas raced through his mind of the things he could do with that money, the first of which being pay his rent, and his eyes unerringly sought out the list that he'd tacked up to the wall with a single name crossed off. Suddenly his mind went wild on a completely different track. With that much money...he could accomplish the things that had crossed his mind the night before. With that much money there wasn't a whole lot he COULDN'T do... Slowly an evil smile crept across his face. Justice. After all these years he could finally get sweet sweet justice!

    * * *
    It took a week to find him, but finally he had the location of the next man on his list! Jake had put the money now hidden throughout various corners of his room (he was far too paranoid to risk putting it in a bank account) to good use. He now had his land lady convinced that he had a job working from his room and that they had given him a sizable sign on bonus. His rent was paid up, his car was paid off, and his student loans were all just memories of a less pleasant era. Perhaps the most important thing he'd done with his money, however, was hire a private detective to hunt down the location of the second name on his list: his own father.
    Jake did not have fond memories of his father. In fact, he had quite the opposite. His father was a violent drug abuser who favored chemically induced hallucinations to the grim reality that was set before him. Unfotunately, he also became quite hostile and violent when his mind was in another realm leaving him naught but the barest grip on reality. Jake's mother bore several scars at the end of their marriage and Jake would never forget the time he had been hospitalized during one of his fathers violent episodes. Full beer bottles, it turned out, could do EXTENSIVE damage to the skull of a five year old child. Jake had been told all his life that he was incredibly lucky to not have suffered fatal brain damage from the incident. The fact he was able to still function normally was nothing short of miraculous. Though the man had spent the last sixteen years in jail for his actions Jake never forgave him, and the steel plate embedded in his head was a constant reminder of his hatred. But now his father was out of prison, free for the last 8 months. Now he could have his revenge. Now, he had a target.
    The flight from Jake's California home to his father's current den of squalor and crime in Florida was a long and boring affair, but jake found himself unable to think of anything other than the job yet to come. He decided to go with an accident again and, if the reports from his detectives was accurate, it would be another easy fix.
    Jake looked out of the window of his rental car dubiously. “Wow...pathetic even by his standards” he muttered, slightly disgusted by the dilapidated building that assaulted his eyes. He stepped from the car and looked around the area cautiously, glad that he'd opted for the inexpensive and well-used vehicle. Even still he set the alarm and kept his eyes out as he opened the door to the run down looking apartment complex. The inside of the building was, if possible, worse than the exterior. He passed the other inhabitants of the sad little dwelling, various looks of alertness and despair greeted his intrusive presence. Occasionally a small group of small children ran past, the only real signs of life the building exhibited. Jake wasted no time pushing his way up the stairs to the apartment numbered 406. He glanced down at the slip of paper in his hand that contained the address provided by the detective and then looked back up at the door again. He knocked gingerly against the worn wooden surface, careful not to get splinters embedded in his knuckles from the rough surface, and waited for a response. When none cave after several seconds, Jake turned the knob on the door and pushed.
    The interior of the room seemed to continue the trend the building was already setting as far as cleanliness and condition. It looked like something out of a war movie. A quick scan of the apartment showed a man barely recognizable as his father collapsed against a wall with a needle barely clutched in his hand. The man looked as if he hadn’t seen food, sunlight, or a bath in the entire six month interval since his release. His arms showed the telltale red marks associated with his addiction. The man didn’t even stir as Jake approached. Quickly he took the surgical gloves from his pocket as well as the injection kit he’d brought along specifically for the occasion. Jake looked around for something in the room that might be labeled toxic and several things jumped out at him but none of them were liquids. Then his gaze set upon a bottle of Drain-O. “Perfect” he muttered, preparing the injection.
    Once Jake had the needle ready he plunged the tip into the bottom of the grimy bottle and drew out a vial of the deadly looking blue liquid. Grimly he turned back to his father who, as if he knew what was coming, finally stirred. “Who…who are you?” he muttered softly.
    “Just a friend who’s come to give you the best high imaginable” he said with a smirk, a Dennis Leary quote coming to mind. You’ll be dead! The ULTIMATE high! His father just smiled and nodded weakly, offering his arm for the injection before going limp again. Jake frowned and straightened the arm, plunging the needle deep into the man’s vein. He winced slightly, he wasn’t a particularly big fan of needles himself, but plunged the vicious liquid into his father’s veins. He dropped the needle into the man’s palm and curled his fingers around it before jumping back as the man began thrashing about. After a few seconds the thrashing stopped. Jake checked the man’s pulse and found none.
    Jake all but ran down to the rental car again, his heart pounding in his chest. He had to work to keep from speeding back to the airport and it was difficult to keep casual while he returned the car. It wasn’t until he was on the first flight to California that he relaxed. Two down he thought as a smile slowly spread across his face. As he closed his eyes and sank into the comfortable first class seat a list appeared before his eyes and another name was crossed off.