Of Blackmail and Bribery
rating: +10+x

The door swung open, casting light into the dark room. In the entryway stood an old man. His face was creased with age, blushed red, and wet with tears. His head was bare, whiskers coated his chin, and his stomach sagged. He was a pitiful wreck.

The room was cluttered with a thousand rarities. Life-sized portraits hung on the walls, depicting admirals, generals, kings and the old man himself. An exquisite king-sized bed, sheets of silk and frame of mahogany, was in the rear end of the room. On the nightstand beside it stood a rare Chinese vase. And in the centre of the room a rope dangled down, heavy and thick, from the rafters. It intertwined at the end, forming a sturdy noose. Below it sat a small plastic milkcrate.

The old man sighed heavily. He stepped up, and stood on the crate. Damnit, damnit, damnit all to hell, he thought. He had no retreat, no recourse, no second option. He had no other choice. He would not endure public disgrace, nor would he further the agenda of terrorists. He started reciting a final prayer, though he knew his sins were unforgivable.

'Holy Father… Your spirit is eternally forgiving… I repent,' he began, slipping the noose around his neck. He positioned so that his neck would snap instantly. He did not want to die painfully from asphyxiation. He had heard of criminals lingering for hours, dying slowly. He shuddered at the thought.

He began choking up again, fresh tears rolling down his face. It had been perhaps three and a half decades ago, when he had been a young man. It had been a cool night, softened by the glow of street lamps and the moon. He had parted with his friends for the evening when he had spied her from afar.

She had been beautiful. Her lips had pouted, her dark locks had tumbled down her shoulders. Her nose had curved regally, her legs were smooth and slender. And he desired her so. But what had he done to that beauty? What had he done!

He had taken her aside, and had offered her a drink. Her acerbic tongue had fascinated him. But he had learned she had had another, one whom she had loved beyond measure, one with whom he could not compete. But just to be with her had been blissful. They had agreed to meet again.

And they did. He had felt himself falling deeper and deeper, head over heels. She had aroused, fascinated, provoked conflicting emotions which rose within him, and had surged outward. He had raged that he could not have her. And he had decided he would do anything, anything at all, to have that beauty.

A little something in her wine (only the finest for her, after all), and she did love him. He had taken her back to his apartment and had her love, if but for a single, brief moment. But he had panicked. He would have been thrown behind bars, his future prospects ruined, his name infamous. What did he do? He had taken her while she was still unconscious, stuffed her in a bag, padlocked the zip, and dumped her in the ocean. She had sunk deep. He could not have borne to cut her. She wouldn't have suffered, anyway - she had still been unconscious.

He had thought nobody would know. And nobody did. He had attended a prestigious American university. He had attained degrees in both law and politics. He had been voted in as a small-town mayor. And he had ascended, becoming a prominent politician. He had married and had children. His wife could not compare to her, of course, but he loved her, for she was quick of wit and intellect. He doted on her in his decades-long grief. Many wanted him as the President of Peru. They cheered, chanted his name, and waved at him in the streets.

But some had dug deep. They had came to his house in the dead at night, driving fearsome black vans. They had worn terrible ski-masks, and had threatened him at gunpoint. They had told him they knew, and had taunted him. 'You raped and killed that poor girl, you sick fuck,' one had said, waving a Glock in his face. 'I should kill you now, but we need you. Do as we say and nothing will happen.

'In a few days a courier will come to your office. He will ask you about your children, and you will reply 'they are happily playing under the sun.' He will give you a letter. Do not open it. It will say what we want you to do. Open it when you're alone, then burn it.'

'Who are you?' he had asked, quivering and shaking.

'You don't need to know my name. But, we call ourselves the Hijos del Sol, the Children of the Sun,' the terrorist had said, smiling a devilish grin, 'and you're gonna see a whole lot more of us.'

He kicked out the plastic crate.


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