Marvel Universe Transformed Presents: The Punisher
By Brian Kilby.
War Journal. February the second, later that afternoon.
Things get stranger. The Police swept Eller's apartment. They found a body...or, at least, they found the majority of one. They found a little of it on the walls, the floor and ceiling. They assume that this was the bomber, I'm not convinced. No recoverable fingerprints, no recoverable dental work; nothing but little chunks of meat, there's no way to make the i.d.
Other than the 'body,' the apartment was empty; A little furniture, a few appliances and that's it. For a wealthy man, Eller's home was surprisingly barren. He was tipped off; given time to clean out. He knew about the hit in advance. No doubt about it. The question is why? And why was he at the apartment at the time of the bombing? Coincidence?
The strangest item of all: Eller isn't in hiding: He's staying at the Royal Grand Plaza Hotel, in the busiest part of town. To top it off, he's demanded that the Roast go on, as planned. The only explanation is that he feels some measure of safety in public; something that he can't afford in private.
Questions. Questions. Questions.
But I have a way of getting answers.
This is going to get real messy, real fast.
War Journal. February the second. Night, outside of an abandoned warehouse: Temporary HQ.
I can smell the trouble brewing in the air, its familiar aroma fills my nostrils, calling me.
I must answer.
The time spent fasting is over. The time for indulgance looms forth.
I have to load my gear, I've a job to do.
Knives: One hunting, three daggers, one utility.
Bullets: Never enough.
Bandages: Six feet.
Chip: On shoulder.
Ready. Time to go.
War Journal. February the second. Late night. A filthy pool hall, usual hang out of local hoods and small time mobsters. A rock band that plays the hall for Heroin is performing a CCR song...poorly. The room is thick with smoke and the putrid odor of wasted humanity. The hall is full of noise. Loud with cursing, boasts of past scores and cheap music.
I've got something louder.
From my side, I withdraw the nameless Russian beast. One shot to the ceiling; fire, a shower of concrete with tile and an ungodly roar brings the crowd to silence. Their eyes are fixated on me, right were they need to be. An old familiar feeling comes back and I'm on top of the world.
"Now that I've got your attention." I glance across the crowd, noting movements. "Who is out to kill Richard Eller?"
"Who ain’t?" smirks a large man with a shaved head and a pot-belly. He lurches over the pool table in a drunken stupor.
A roar of laughter ensues...they're not afraid of me. They should be.
I'm not gonna let piggy here, get away with that. I'm not in the mood. "Who is trying to kill Richard Eller!?" I scream.
He laughs at me, he's not afraid. He's not afraid. He's too stupid be afraid. He breaks a bottle over the pool table. He starts his move toward me.
I let him get close.
"Who are you, little man?" he asks.
Little man? Yes. Next to him. He's big, seven feet tall, easily. He weighs four hundred pounds if he's an ounce and he's coming at me with a broken bottle. But he's slow and fat and I let him come.
He's almost within striking distance. I let him come. Closer fat man, closer.
"Who wants to know, little man? Who wants to know?"
He's close enough.
He swings his fist and the bottle flies towards my face but he's slow. Too slow. I duck. One swift kick to the knee cap does the trick; compound fracture. He falls to the good knee and the butt of the Russian beast tears into his face. He's helpless, wonderfully and beautifully helpless.
I spit in his helpless face. "The Punisher wants to know! Now tell me, who wants to kill Richard Eller?"
"..." He manages to make a pathetic sobbing sound but he provides me with nothing. He doesn't know. This is only partially gratifying.
A man taps me on the shoulder. He holds a pool cue and he swears at me in Vietnamese...too bad, I speak Vietnamese. He swings the cue at me...I catch and return it...to the back of his skull. He falls to the ground.
One of his buddies draws his .45, thank God. I thought it would never get to this. The Russian screams with fire and gunpowder. The man loses his arm and the most of his head and chest. Scorched blood splatters the wall.
It's been a while.
Suddenly, the dozen or so men in the room draw their weapons, except for a man sitting at a table smoking a cigar. He sits in the corner and counts his money; he doesn't even acknowledge my existence. He knows something, I'm certain.
The next four minutes are pure bliss. A symphony of gunfire and blood....
A man comes from behind and tries to slit my throat. I duck and he grazes my forehead.
That'll cost him his lower jaw and his life. From my ducking position, I reach to his throat. The muscle under the chin is thick, but not so much that a man can't tear through it with enough determination. His last coherent word is 'mercy.'
"Sorry, not today."
One guy comes at me a sawed-off 12-guage. I duck behind the bar. He gets in a couple of shots. A few pellets tear into my arm. A flesh wound. He thinks he's aced me. I don't tell him any differently.
He walks over and peers over the bar. Stupid, stupid maneuver. I teach him better. I lunge up and put the fear of God in him. The rest is easy. I Snap four of his vertebrae, he'll remember this for a good, long time.
Three guys rush me. Two from behind and one ahead. The guy ahead is fast, he tags me with a .38 in the shoulder. I've had worse, I ignore it. One guy behind me has a chair, the other, a broken bottle. The guy with the chair swings but I dodge, he nails the guy with the .38, taking him out.
Lucky I wore my brass knucks, I rupture the chair-man's nose under my fist but he's juicing on some major drugs and he doesn't even notice. He jumps me and we fall to the ground, tearing at each other like rabid dogs. I reach my knife and fillet his exposed tricep. That gets a reaction. He screams for his mother but he's still on top of me, whimpering like a baby. The guy with the broken bottle is smarter. He lets me wrestle with the bloody, chair-wielding dunder-snot. He cuts across my injured shoulder with the bottle. The left-over bourbon cuts worse than the razor-sharp glass. I put my hunting knife in the belly of the oaf on top of me and push him off. I roll over and grab the Russian. The look on the guy's face is alone worth the price of the shoulder. One shot to the belly and a horrible brown fluid flows forth--it stinks to high Heaven...I think it's his lunch.
The other guys see the mess on the floor and they lose their lunches too. They don't hesitate in making their exit.
The man who apparently likes his cigars still sits at his table, counting his money. He acts as if he's the only one in the world. I walk up to him and tap on his shoulder. "Who is trying to kill Richard Eller?"
He ignores me. I tap him on the shoulder again and ask nicely. "Tell me! Who is out to kill Richard Eller!?"
He looks up and turns his head as if I'm talking to someone else. He then looks at me and smiles, "I am."
I recognize the face immediately.
Next: Things get even messier. If you can believe it.