47 comments

Adventure Thriller Suspense

I hate car chases, thought the balaclava-clad man sitting behind the wheel of a rented BMW as he careened through the streets of Istanbul. The ancient city, bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun, passed by in a blur. 


Enzo Ricci white-knuckled the steering wheel as he darted between cars, vans, and trucks, occasionally swerving into oncoming traffic to keep pace with his target: a black Mercedes just a few cars ahead. He did not care what he had to do; the man driving that Mercedes would be dead before the sun had set. 


It had been quite a long time since he had been involved in a car chase or any kind of chase for that matter. Enzo Ricci had once been one of the most feared contract killers in the world. Now, he consistently found himself being overlooked. Not because of anything he had done. But because of what he couldn't do: defeat Father Time. He was getting old, and everyone knew it. 


Suddenly, the roar of a motorcycle engine caused Ricci to glance at his rearview mirror. A Turkish police officer had pulled up behind him, lights flashing. Ricci reached down and put a hand on his SIG P230 with suppressor attached—the exact firearm he had used during his time in the Sicilian mafia—preparing to reach back and blow out the back window. Then he had a better idea.


Ricci let the BMW drift to the left, the driver-side tires crossing the median into oncoming traffic. Then he slammed on the brakes. The cop swerved to avoid rear-ending Ricci and came alongside him. Before he could react, Ricci yanked the steering wheel to the right and smashed into the motorcycle. Ricci watched through his rearview mirror as the police officer flew through the air, hit the pavement, and slid at least fifteen feet. He didn't move. 


Ricci definitely still had it. He was old and supposed to be living a life of luxury on some private island. But he couldn't seem to give this up. He couldn't seem to stop killing. He had fulfilled contracts on every continent except Antarctica, killing politicians, generals, drug lords, and more. He had had his fill of excitement, violence, alcohol, and women. He had done almost everything he had ever wanted to. Almost.

The man in the Mercedes ahead was supposed to be his final kill. He was the one that always somehow got away. He was Ricci's perpetual thorn in the flesh. 


Ricci, rid of the police, for now, gunned the engine again and took off down the street. He was having trouble catching the Mercedes, which seemed to be just as quick as the BMW. Then fate struck. 


A box truck, oblivious to the two sports cars racing in his direction, slowly pulled out of a hidden alleyway into the street. The driver of the Mercedes pulled his e-brake and tried to swerve around the truck but his effort was futile. There was a deafening crash as the Mercedes plowed into the truck. With little time to react, Ricci hit the brakes but still smashed into the back of the Mercedes. Every window was blown out in a hail of glass and the airbags deployed.


Ricci instantly began feeling for injuries. His skin was burning from the deployment of the airbags, and his left shoulder was killing him, but he was alive and didn't feel anything serious. Gripping his pistol, he kicked open his door and dove behind the engine block of the BMW. He had his eyes on the driver's door of the Mercedes, but it didn't open. Cautiously, Ricci moved in a crouch toward the Mercedes. Maybe the collision had knocked his man unconscious—or killed him.


All around, people were screaming, and alarms were blaring, but Ricci had tunnel vision. He was focused on that front seat. He froze. It was empty. Suddenly, gunfire erupted to his right. Ricci tried to dive to the ground, but two of the rounds found their marks, ripping through his right bicep and left thigh. He dropped his pistol as he fell and rolled to take cover behind the Mercedes. 


And then he appeared. Walking slowly around the back of the BMW, holstering his pistol as he drew closer.


"Enzo Ricci, I presume," the man said as he walked up and reached down to remove Ricci's balaclava. 


"Don't touch me," Ricci spat. He hated this man with a passion. Stefan Koch was what Ricci had once been. Slick, polished, and good-looking. And young. At only twenty-nine, he had already established himself as one of the best contract killers in the business. And therein lay the problem. It was jealousy, brought on by insecurity, that drove Ricci's hatred of this man—this boy—who thought he could usurp his throne. Ricci refused to give up his kingdom, no matter how old he was.


"I wondered when we would meet again." Koch stroked his stubbled chin, then ran a hand through his hair that somehow looked simultaneously unkempt and styled. He wore a tailored dark green sport coat with navy khakis and brown loafers. A slight bulge underneath his jacket signaled where his gun was holstered. "Where did we last meet? Karachi? Or was it Manila? No, no, it was London. Yes, you tried to stab me outside of a cafe, if I remember correctly. It looks like your arm healed up. Well…was healed up." 


Ricci said nothing. The pain in his right arm and left leg was excruciating. Like a dozen red-hot pokers being driven underneath his skin. He was losing a lot of blood and could feel darkness pulling at the edges of his consciousness. 


"Maybe, I should finish you now," Koch said, pulling a butterfly knife seemingly out of thin air. He twirled it absentmindedly; the setting sun glinted off the unbelievably sharp blade. "Natural selection and all. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes." Koch crouched down and the smell of his cologne instantly made Ricci nauseous. "Everything is changing, old man. What did I tell you last time?"


Ricci didn't respond. He was fading fast.


"Well?" Koch said, his relaxed demeanor quickly replaced by a fury that frightened Ricci. And not much frightened Enzo Ricci. Not much at all. 


Koch placed the tip of his knife against Ricci's throat, drawing a single drop of blood. 


"'To mess with me is to play a stupid game.'" Ricci said, repeating what Koch had, indeed, said the last time they had met.


"A very stupid game," Koch corrected. He leaned in closer so that his mouth was mere inches from Ricci's ear. "I'm done with this game. I've made my money. I have more important things to attend to. You are nothing to me. You're a has-been, Ricci. A has-been. Everything is changing, old man."


Koch suddenly stood. A police car was pulling up. "Give up this stupid game. Or else."


And just like that, Koch was gone. And then everything went black.



—————


One year later.


Enzo Ricci was alone. He strolled slowly down one of St. Andrew's gorgeous beaches, the soft white sand under his bare feet and a chilly breeze on his face. Home to pristine beaches that faded into crystal-clear azure water, St. Andrew's was a place as close to paradise as Ricci had ever visited.


It was night. A full moon hung in the dark sky, its soft glow lighting Ricci's path. It had been a year since Ricci's attempted kill of Stefan Koch had gone horribly wrong, and he had been left bleeding out on the street in Istanbul. An ambulance had picked him up and taken him to a nearby hospital where the doctors nearly lost him twice. Maybe it would have been better that way, Ricci thought. 


After his release from the hospital following an extensive and lengthy recovery, Turkish authorities finally charged him with attempted vehicular homicide and sundry other crimes. He had promptly sneaked out of the country, adrift and unsure what to do with himself. For a few months, he crisscrossed the globe, getting drunk at bars and clubs the world over. Multiple times he had considered suicide, and he once even put a gun to his head. But he couldn't do it. He had always thought of suicide as the coward's way out. 


But one thing was finally clear. He was old. He was a "has-been." His glory days were over. After leaving Turkey, Ricci destroyed every phone and laptop he owned, erasing all of his contacts and leaving his current and potential clients with no way to contact him. His days as a contract killer were over. 


Ricci kicked some sand as he continued to make his way north on the beach. He was lost in thoughts of the good old days. Born to a lower-class family on the island of Sicily, Ricci had found himself entangled in the criminal underworld at a young age. He began as merely a gopher for a moderately powerful Sicilian crime boss. However, his talents quickly set him apart. Soon, he was second-in-command to the most powerful mafioso in Sicily.


However, his life all came crashing down when his boss was killed in a shootout with the polizia. Ricci, himself, barely escaped being captured and, with nothing left for him on the island, joined the French Foreign Legion. He quickly established himself there as well and began to rise through the ranks. Ultimately disgruntled with his superiors, Ricci left to start his own "business" as a paid assassin. 


He had thrived until Father Time caught up with him. He was the real killer.


Ricci turned off the beach and began climbing a steep hill covered in beachgrass and other foliage. A small, darkened beach house came into view. Still barefoot, Ricci reached the top of the hill and walked toward the wooden deck of the house. Climbing the two steps to the backdoor, Ricci stopped and turned around, taking in the sight of the Atlantic Ocean. In the darkness, it was hard to discern where the horizon stopped and the sky began. Just as it is hard to discern when youth ends and old age begins. Ricci thought, then rolled his eyes at himself. No need to get poetic.


Slipping his hand into the right pocket of his shorts, Ricci removed a single key and inserted it into the lock. The door, greased with some WD-40, swung noiselessly open. Ricci pulled a penlight from the chest pocket of his polo and began to shine it around. He didn't have a plan at this point. He just knew Stefan Koch had to die. He could only be free if Koch was dead.


Ricci moved noiselessly through the kitchen and into a hallway lined with photographs of Koch and a pretty blonde woman. The same woman Ricci had stolen the key from. The two of them at the beach. The two of them in Dubai. The two of them getting married. Before, the pictures might have infuriated Ricci. He had never had a woman to call his own and here was Koch in a seemingly happy marriage. But it seemed as if Ricci had lost all ability to be angry. He couldn't really feel anything anymore. 


Ricci arrived at the end of the hallway and the door he knew led to the master bedroom. He reached down and pulled his SIG P230 from the waistband of his shorts. He wasn't sure what to do next. Should he go in and just start shooting? If Koch was asleep, should he wake him up so that he went into the afterlife knowing precisely who killed him? This was so unlike Ricci; he always had everything planned to the minute. Not this time.


Suddenly, he heard a click and a line of soft, yellow light appeared at the bottom of the door. He heard some rustling like someone getting out of bed and then another sound he couldn't quite place. 


Now or never. Ricci flung open the bedroom door and burst into the room, his pistol trained on the far wall where the bed was situated. He froze. Koch was sitting up, dressed in only a t-shirt and boxers. Next to him, sound asleep, was the woman, her blonde hair splayed all over the pillows. And Koch was holding something. Something that was making an awful lot of noise. 


It was a baby.


For a split second, Ricci saw fear and then surprise flash across Koch's face. Then his face took on another emotion. Was that relief? "Ricci? What a surprise." 


The smug answer nearly did it. Ricci's finger twitched, but something about the scene kept him from pulling the trigger. Maybe it was the woman. Maybe it was the baby. But he couldn't do it. Finally, after all these years, he had the man unarmed and in his sights. A single pull of the trigger and a bullet would rip through the young man's skull, ending this chase once and for all.


The woman stirred and began to sit up. When she noticed Ricci, she let out a sharp scream that sent the baby into another crying fit. "Who is that?" She yelled. 


"Shh," Koch said, giving his wife a soft peck on the forehead. "It's okay, babe." He then began rocking the baby. After about thirty seconds, he looked up and the two killers locked eyes. "Well, Ricci. Do what you came to do. You found me. You win." 


Ricci was still holding the pistol up. He could kill every one of them in a matter of seconds if he wanted to. But he didn't want to anymore. He had lost all of his will to kill. 


Koch had what Ricci had dreamed of. A beautiful wife. A baby. A place to settle down. A life. That's what Ricci had been chasing. Life. By taking it from others, he had thought he could give it to himself. But he was wrong. So wrong.


Ricci slowly dropped his arms and holstered the gun. Without a word, he turned and began to walk towards the door. Suddenly, two gunshots rang out. The wife was screaming. The baby was crying. The smell of gunpowder was thick in the small room.


Koch carefully put the baby back into the crib and walked over to Ricci's body. The two bullets had entered the back of his head and blown out the front of his face. 


Koch stood over his defeated stalker, the man who had put fear into the hearts of so many around the world. And he sighed. "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”


November 29, 2022 07:10

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

47 comments

Kendall Defoe
01:58 Dec 01, 2022

Well, that was just... Should I even feel sorry for a contract killer? The movie in my head and the words on the page are telling me two very different stories. And your details about his weapon and the vehicles was very intriguing. Thank you for this one.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
05:39 Dec 01, 2022

Thanks. In the end you can kind of see his humanity showing through but then again he chose that path.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tommy Goround
09:44 Nov 30, 2022

Hello Antonio. Some very immersive genre writing here. The chase scene was as good as a movie. (maybe better because I don't typically love chase scenes). I actually believed he could escape Turkey though you gave no details. Here's a funny line: " Ricci refused to give up his kingdom, no matter how old he was." From the first half, I thought this line was abnormally 'clunky'. Then on the second half, I found this to be the theme. Ricci is about ego. He broke one of the "man movie" rules by going after the guy that bested him. You...

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
20:48 Nov 30, 2022

Thanks for the comment! Yes, I wanted Ricci to be driven by jealousy brought upon by insecurity and his ego. Maybe I should move a lot of that background info to the second half?

Reply

Tommy Goround
04:49 Dec 01, 2022

why? (You hit what you wanted). I don't see an advantage in moving anything. You have 48 hours to edit. Send me the first draft if you are nervous. I don't know what you cut out. To Repeat: -the story is immersive -excellent (best?) chase scene in a long while. -Scott and I are calling it "action porn" lol. It's just fun to read. Is it important? no. Is it changing the world? No. It's just fun to read and I would read it again. so what backstory are you missing? I don't see it. Except for the Turkey/escape and I didn't need details....

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Colin Devonshire
03:00 Nov 30, 2022

Yeah, my kind of story. Loved it.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
04:41 Nov 30, 2022

Thanks, Colin!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Delbert Griffith
01:09 Nov 30, 2022

Very nice. A great MC and a worthy bad man. What more could one want, right? Very nice story, and one where the MC could be a book in itself.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
01:21 Nov 30, 2022

Thanks! People really like the MC. Do you think removing some of the background info at the beginning would weaken the character? Trying to balance what to keep and what to cut.

Reply

Delbert Griffith
08:14 Nov 30, 2022

You might need to show more and tell less. Maybe remove some background but replace it with showing characterization.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
04:48 Dec 02, 2022

Made some changes. What do you think?

Reply

Delbert Griffith
10:48 Dec 02, 2022

I'll go back and read it.

Reply

Delbert Griffith
10:53 Dec 02, 2022

Yep. Reads better. I gotta say, I like that Koch guy.

Reply

Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Antonio Jimenez
07:18 Nov 29, 2022

This is my first story in a while so please leave lots of feedback. I think it turned out okay but I feel the first part definitely needs some work. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Corey Melin
02:00 Dec 09, 2022

Superb read. To keep a readers attention in anticipation of what is coming next is a job well done. I could picture the entire story. Almost feel sympathy for Ricci but living a lifestyle like his he already had one foot in the grave

Reply

Show 0 replies
Rebecca Miles
06:43 Dec 08, 2022

As promised earlier I will add my tuppence worth as we'd say in Blighty. For me this does what it says on the packet; it has the hallmarks of a Bond, which is the best analogy I can reach for as this isn't a genre I read or watch generally. That means, for me, it has the exciting car chase, well-written; visual descriptions help me to see the scene well. The critique?- I don't particularly care for Ricci and that is why I think the excitement falls flat a bit. Again, I am probably a harsh critic as I need to care for characters to really li...

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
23:05 Dec 08, 2022

Thanks for your awesome comment. I really like what you said about putting in a line about his receding hairline. I’m really trying to work on “showing not telling.” Thanks again!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tommy Goround
07:09 Dec 06, 2022

Congrats on recommended list

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
07:19 Dec 08, 2022

Ahhh, thanks!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
21:50 Dec 05, 2022

Some jobs you just can't retire from :) There's good action in the first bit, and decent introspection in the second. Here's a guy who, despite being old, never actually grew up. Maybe it's because he entered a life of crime at an early age, but once he did he settled there. It was comfortable, it was familiar. Ironically, it was safe. And so he maintained that teenaged illusion of being immortal long into his old age, where reality finally caught up with him. And with it, a tide of jealousy, and perhaps regrets. Almost to the very end, ...

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
02:54 Dec 06, 2022

Glad to hear you liked the first sentence. I honestly struggled over the opening and still wanted to change it when I published, but ultimately just left it. Yeah, 3k words is rough for this story. Before editing, I was at like 2950 and could have kept going lol. Interesting what you say about Koch. I actually was trying to push readers to think he had gotten out of the game. He says "I'm done with this game. I've made my money. I have more important things to attend to" in the Istanbul scene, and then he's with a wife and kid in the sec...

Reply

Michał Przywara
04:47 Dec 06, 2022

Yeah, the word count definitely creeps up on us. That's a good question, how to make it more clear. There's a couple things that get in the way of it: 1) the similarity between the two men, superficially at least, and 2) Koch was ambushed in his own house (and, smartly, he kept a gun around, which probably led to an interesting conversation with the wife). So, even if he wanted to leave the business behind, the business doesn't necessarily want to leave him behind. But maybe he could expand on the car crash conversation with Ricci. If Koch...

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
05:41 Dec 06, 2022

Yeah, i like the fear of “becoming like Ricci” idea. That would have been good. Thanks for the awesome feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Story Time
18:40 Dec 05, 2022

I think the ending line is great. There's a cinematic quality to it that reminds me of screenplay writing. I like the restraint you show in not worrying about sympathy for the protagonist. Good job.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
02:55 Dec 06, 2022

Thanks for the feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Roxanne Ward
06:26 Dec 05, 2022

Well written. You can wield a rich and colorful tale. Though the characters were not at all endearing, I don’t think that was your intent. I mean they murder people. Yet they were well rounded, and they demonstrated some dynamic qualities albeit unstable. “Father Time caught up with him. He was the real killer.” But Ricci should have looked in the mirror. With every life he took his lost meaning. Seeing his enemy’s family undid him. He lost his purpose. Did Koch kill him to protect his family, or is he still for hire? Best line: “Play stupi...

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
02:58 Dec 06, 2022

I'm glad you asked this question: "Did Koch kill him to protect his family, or is he still for hire?" I actually was trying to show readers Koch had gotten out of the game. In the first scene he says: "I'm done with this game. I've made my money. I have more important things to attend to" and then in the second scene he is with his wife and kid. Any tips on how to make that a bit more apparent or do you think it was good? Thanks for the feedback, I'll check out your story!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jacob Brown
02:07 Dec 05, 2022

I really enjoyed this story! I'll repeat what many of the other commenters said, I'd love to see this as a movie and/or a longer piece. Your direct characterization of the main character is done very well, but I also like the indirect characterization you put in there. Ricci's tenderness is revealed right at the very end when he chooses not to kill Koch after seeing his family, but this tenderness is mixed with his ego and jealousy, making Ricci feel hollow and defeated. Ultimately, this mixture of ego and tenderness leads to his death, hi...

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
02:49 Dec 06, 2022

Thanks, I wanted people to hate the main character until the very end when they start to feel a little sympathy for him...and then he is killed. Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
John K Adams
15:43 Dec 02, 2022

Much tighter. Ricci is cold.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
16:15 Dec 02, 2022

Awesome. What I was looking for.

Reply

John K Adams
17:05 Dec 02, 2022

me too

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Aeris Walker
01:04 Dec 02, 2022

So cinematic! This felt like a leaked script for the next James Bond movie. I won’t be redundant with critique, but I agree with some of the other comments about a bit too much telling/exposition in the beginning. But your story is so grand and wide-spanning, i can see how it might be hard to “catch the reader up” less directly. Great action, great characters and motives, and a solid ending. That felt like a believable reaction from Ricci—how you you not feel moved to compassion by that scene? Well done ☺️

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
01:14 Dec 02, 2022

Thanks, will probably try to move some of the background info to the second half before the deadline. Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Susan Catucci
20:08 Dec 01, 2022

Okay, okay, I surrender. This was awesome! How do I know that? I had chills at the end of it, serious chills. "Play stupid games . . ." What a line! I hope it's in the hands of the copyright registry under your name. Instant classic. Yes, I enjoyed this - a lot.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
20:13 Dec 01, 2022

Thanks so much for your comments! I’m glad you enjoyed it. May have to look into that…

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kelly Jackson
14:50 Dec 01, 2022

Wow, action packed first half Antonio, I agree with others who commented on it being like a movie scene. That isn't easy to do. You also included some decent descriptive language, which helped to paint a picture for the reader. Well done. Especially for your first story. (Typo: careened rather than careered first para.)

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
15:41 Dec 01, 2022

Thanks Kelly, glad you enjoyed it. I actually did mean “careened” as in moving quickly and slightly out of control. Thanks for your feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
John K Adams
18:43 Nov 30, 2022

This is the kind of story my imagination has no idea how to begin, or tell. You did an excellent job. The beginning felt like a summary of a novel. Necessary to make the ending make sense, but a bit of a stretch, musing over a life when in the midst of a furious chase through Istanbul streets. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Glad you're back.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
19:33 Nov 30, 2022

That's what a lot of people are saying. Will probably try to rewrite some of the beginning to show more and tell less. Thanks!

Reply

John K Adams
21:10 Nov 30, 2022

Thanks for urging me to read it. Your ability to describe complex action clearly is superior.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Amanda Lieser
18:19 Nov 29, 2022

Hi Antonio! I’m glad you’re back to writing! This story was lovely, it had such an incredible theme and made me glad for all characters involved. I loved the way you wrote this story because it truly felt like something out of Hollywood. I could imagine this thrilling film, ending with that beautiful final scene. Nice job!

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
19:57 Nov 29, 2022

Thanks for your feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
15:03 Nov 29, 2022

Hi Antonio -- you have a great character here and a dynamic situation, though I think a lot of the exposition is "tell, not show." The first scene could almost be an outline for a longer work, and seems "heavy" for a short story. The dialogue really brings the character to life -- and I would try for more of that. The opening few words are great. I would pop that out and not weigh it down. In italics, the reader should know its internal dialogue.

Reply

Antonio Jimenez
19:55 Nov 29, 2022

So basically trim a lot of the background and make that part a bit more introspective? And when you say “first scene” do you mean the entire first half or the first 3-5 paragraphs or so? At around 2800 words it was definitely the longest short story I’ve ever written and I feel like I could have kept going lol

Reply

20:41 Nov 29, 2022

I think you found your main character for a novel... That's the cool thing about Reedsy. When you write and write and write -- the ONE shows up -- a character that you could write 80,000-100,000 words for. I totally credit Reedsy for helping me discover mine. As for editing, short stories are usually less expansive, and this MC has quite a story to tell. The big chunk before the dialogue started was fascinating, but I felt like I was running through a museum and just glancing at the art, not savoring it. So much is good here -- take it a...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply