Kill The Rich

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Stories

The mansion was unmistakable.  Floodlights poured up into the sky, splashing on the undersides of the clouds and dripping light back down to earth.  The unearthly glow sucked the last remnants of light from the surrounding darkness.  They had stumbled along the ditch, trying hard not look straight ahead at their destination, night-blind in the inky gloom. They had evaded checkpoints and patrols so far.  They did not fear sensors, because the seclusion of the mansion encouraged foraging wildlife leading to false alarms.  The party tonight would be packed with drunken revellers, plastered on £500 bottles of champagne, wandering through the ornamental grounds in search of sex, smoking or merely solitude.

The ornamental lake was the easiest point of entry.  The wall went all around, eight feet in height and capped with broken glass.  The bright lights did not extend this far on the wall’s inside as the pool of darkness created an illusion of vast size for the lake.  The broken glass was weathered and worn with wind and rain, and unlikely to be sharp enough to tear the ripstop nylon of the jumpsuits they wore.

First over the wall was Dave.  He was smallest and quickest.  He knelt for a few moments in the boggy grass, scanning the distant slopes with a practiced eye.  The bright light would make him invisible to silhouetted observers lingering outside the mansion, but it was patrolling guards he was more concerned about.  After a few minutes, he was content that there were no stationary observers between them and their target location.  All the guards were probably outside the perimeter, spread thinly around the main roads, and they had managed to bypass them using ditches and culverts. Dave whistled, a low sound, and slipped the rifle onto his back before sliding onto his stomach.  He heard Pete’s boots squelch softly into the earth behind him, as he crawled towards the light.  Leopard crawl, they had called it in the Army, but that had been a long time ago.

Pete crouched and watched as Dave crawled along the side of the lake.  The dark waters stretched nearly to the walls, but not quite, and flies buzzed in the nearby reed-bed.  He raised his rifle to his shoulder, scanning across the top of the metal sight, finger along the trigger-guard and thumb resting gently on the safety-catch.  They had cocked their weapons earlier, a brass-jacketed round in each chamber and twenty-nine nestling below in each spring-fed magazine.  Once Dave was close to the wall, Pete advanced in a crouch, cradling the rifle like the baby he had held in his arms so long ago.  It had been as cold as the gunmetal in his hand.  He heard the wet thump of Sarah as she hit the ground, the last in the trio of assassins.

Sarah watched Pete and Dave in the distance, their black forms making steady progress towards the bright lights. She didn’t have a rifle, but there was a pistol belted to her waist and a satchel-bag containing six grenades.  It had been a long journey, on the exhaust coughing bus from dismal city to desolate country town.  It was the first time she had left the city since the death of their baby, who hadn’t lived long enough to enjoy a name.  The hospital had been short-staffed, short of drugs, dirty and filthy, but it had fed the pockets of the shareholders and executives who claimed to have run the trust, and the banks that owned everything.  Pete hadn’t even been sure he could have fathered a child, after the cocktail of drugs they had forced into his arm in the desert war so long ago. After a year of trying, they had succeeded, just as the country slid into chaos and the billionaires had fled overseas and behind high walls.  Nine months of anticipation, a flash of elation and then heartbreaking emptiness. She didn’t even feel anguish any more, just hate.

Dave glanced over his shoulder and saw the two black forms behind him.  He smiled and gratitude swelled in his chest.  He was doubly grateful, as they had taken him in off the street despite the baby that had been due, and because he now had this opportunity to repay them.  Pete had recognized him one day, slumped in drunken oblivion and nearly hypothermic under sleet-soaked cardboard.  Hang on a minute, Sarah, that’s Dave, from the Army.  His strength had slowly returned, a mirror of the life growing Sarah’s swelling womb, and he had slept in the floored attic of their one-bedroom flat, the three of them against the world, making the most of the food parcels doled out by a disinterested government.  The couple had been far more help than the useless stress counsellor, who had gone simply through the motions to collect the government consultancy fee for the health trust and their bosses. And then there had been the unspeakable tragedy, the hollow emptiness that followed, and the rage that had slowly filled the void.  His thoughts snapped shut.  He was past the lake and at the slope, close to bursting the bubble of light around the mansion. He checked the pouch strapped to his side. It was jam-packed with a dozen rifle magazines, neck downwards, three hundred and sixty rounds of ammunition.  They were so tightly packed that they did not rattle and the only sound was the swishing of the powder-grains in the cartridge cases.  He crouched down and raised the rifle to his shoulder.

Pete watched as Dave halted.  He raised his own rifle and looked down the sight. He had always been a better shot than Dave, so his role was to fire single shots as his friend unleashed automatic mayhem.   He scanned the ground in the distance, nearly three hundred yards away.  Classical music drifted across the warm night air and black-suited men mingled on a parade-square terrace with brightly gowned women, some resembling elegant flowers and others looking like garish whores. Some of the faces in the bright goldfish-bowl were instantly recognisable from the newspaper: the former prime minister and his overdressed wife, bloated and rich on the proceeds of office, oil-smooth politicians gliding around the terrace leaving a sheen in their wake, banking magnates who had been disgraced by their greed and rehabilitated by the taxpayer, the media tycoons who ran a swathe of glossy and pornographic titles, the dour-faced captains of industry and the overtanned and whitetoothed celebrities. A younger crowd cavorted on the fringes of the group, guzzling champagne as young women spilled out of tight dresses. They gorged on caviar and cocktails, bloated on money soaked in the blood and sweat of others, feeding on the glow of fame and power radiated as brightly and noisily as the floodlights and music cutting through the night. The rifle sight rose and fell with his breathing, and he aimed at a bulky figure loitering at one end of the patio who looked suspiciously like a bodyguard. He would be the first to fall, followed by the two others lounging womanless in front of a French window with only their eyes moving.

Sarah slid past Pete’s poised figure, rummaging in her satchel for the first grenade. The smooth and cold eggshape contained dozens of steel fragments embedded in explosive and would kill up to twenty yards from the detonation point. She checked her watch, grenade clenched in her right hand.  Two minutes to midnight.  Two minutes to go. She ran through the procedure for throwing the grenade.  Pull pin using two hands, throw and take cover. Pull pin using two hands…

 The guests froze night erupted in noise and flame and the bodyguards jerked towards the noise. Then everyone relaxed. It was only fireworks. They burst into multicoloured shapes, roaring as they sprayed colour through the air, cracking, fizzing and popping. Only one dinner-suited man moved, and he turned towards a servant with a puzzled frown.  He had not ordered fireworks. Then, they froze again as the second wave of fireworks burst through the drifting smoke.

Pete’s rifle bucked and the first bodyguard fell. He aimed again, and again, and two more shapes fell, the arrow on his optical sight rising and falling each time.   The air-breaking cracks of his shots were lost in the roar of automatic gunfire from nearby.

Dave was not subtle.  He knelt and fired, three round bursts each time, metal scything though expensive fabric and perfumed flesh, ripping through alcohol-soaked organs and foie gras fed stomachs.  He was close enough to smell the warm blood as it sprayed from ragged wounds in the vortex-wake of tumbling bullets.  The survivors of the massacre fled screaming towards the double-doors, into the building in search of sanctuary, forming a bottleneck as figures fought to get through. He changed his first magazine just as Sarah ran past him.

Sarah held her grenade tightly, ring-pull around one finger and metal ball in the opposite hand.  It was warm from her flesh by now. She pulled her hands apart, and the pin popped free.  She threw the grenade over-arm, ducking as the lever pinged free.  It fell amongst the milling crowd, who didn’t even notice it until it exploded with a dull crump.  By that time, Sarah had the second grenade in her hand.

Pete scanned either side of the mansion.  Gravel crunched on the right as dark figures ran towards the slaughter, silhouettes clasping handguns.  Two of them fell in quick succession, bloodspray briefly haloing their heads.  Pete’s third shot missed.

Dave rammed the second magazine home just as the first clattered emptily as it hit the ground. He released the bolt and looked up and over his iron-sight, grinning at the carnage in front of him.  Two dozen bodies lay still or twitching, blood flowing across the flagstoned terrace, trickling onto the steps towards the grassy slope and the lake.  The night air stank of gunsmoke, bloodmeat, shit and terror.  About half of the crowd had forced their way inside, and many of these lay torn apart by shrapnel and shattered glass. Dave raised his rifle and began firing once again, longer bursts into the frantic cluster of fleeing figures.

Sarah threw the second grenade, this time managing to get it inside the house.  It burst loudly, the bang echoing in the drawing-room, followed by the tinkling of more broken glass.  She could imagine a chandelier shattering into deadly fragments and it made her smile.

Pete switched the fire selector lever to automatic.  There were more dark figures running around the side of the building, too many to pick off with single shots.  There was a burst of light and flame and something whizzed past his head.  They were now firing back.  Pete fired short bursts towards them and one figure fell, but more bullets zipped by his own head.  He squeezed the trigger and a long burst ripped into the night air. That was supposed to be the signal for retreat, but Dave appeared lost in his own world, muzzle-flashes illuminating a feral grin on his face.  Sarah threw a third grenade and retreated as gunfire reached towards them. She turned in puzzlement towards Pete, and he beckoned her, jerking his head to one side in a gesture to retreat.

Dave jerked as a pistol-bullet tore through his upper right arm and into his chest.  His vision darkened as blood threatened to burst his brain.  Bastard dumdum, he thought through the haze of pain. They had modified their ammunition to spread on impact and cause maximum damage. He collapsed onto his stomach and rolled back onto his side, fixing a fourth magazine and ignoring the agony flaring from his shredded flesh.  This time he fired on full automatic into the group of bodyguards and protection officers.  Some of them had submachine guns as well, and the rounds tore into his body as the rifle bolt clicked open on an empty chamber. Wish I had a fucking bayonet, he thought, as he fell forward and died.

There was a flash and a crump as Sarah threw her fourth grenade. Tears pricked her eyes as she watched Dave’s body jerk with the impact of the explosion, which also tore into their pursuers. He won’t feel anything anyway, she thought, as she turned and ran, darting past the kneeling Pete and scrambling up the wall, ditching her satchel on the way.

Pete fired single shots again, seeking to put down individuals. There was a siren-wail from nearby and it wouldn’t be long before helicopters were airborne, to carry away the injured but also to seek down their killers with infra-red and night-vision equipment.  They didn’t have long. The bolt jerked open on an empty chamber and he through down the rifle, scrambling up the wall and jumping over the other side after the waiting Sarah, who knelt by the fireworks she had set up earlier. She was so beautiful, he thought, her eyes burning with bloodlust and passion. He kissed her, tongue probing, tasting blood on her lips, his own arousal stirring as adrenaline surged through his body. They couldn’t linger.  Sorrow dampened his soul as he remembered how Dave had fallen, but somehow he thought that was exactly what he had wanted.

They jogged back the way they had came, ducking into slime-filled culverts and ditches. They had a small window of opportunity to get away, as the authorities regrouped at the mansion, secured the perimeter and dealt with the injured and dying. They wanted to live, but only to do this again, to kill the rich until they died in the attempt and to encourage others to follow their example.  The roar of helicopter rotors tore through the night sky above, and they froze for a moment, clinging to each other. But they had each other, and also Sarah’s pistol.

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