Gold or Die!

“For some riches are everything. To be denied them sets the curse of gold lust upon them. When they become crazed nothing it to much a price to pay for the riches they desire. Always remember what’s most important in your life!”

I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango — Intimate
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Blanket
Mindlover’s Menagerie, Tale Weaver — Basket Case
Your Daily Prompt— Distracted

Gold or Die!

Anders spent his days as an analyst in the British Army. After a difficult oftentimes distracted day at work, he liked nothing more than returning home for an intimate evening with his girlfriend Loren. The two had been together a while now and Anders had never been happier.

Arriving home, Anders parked up in front of the garage and let himself in the front door. “Hey, Sexy. I’m home.” The sight of rose petals on the floor left him tingling with excitement. He took off his coat and unbuttoned his shirt while entering the lounge.

“I’m coming to—” he swallowed cold fear. The rose petals weren’t Loren having fun. Her favourite vase of roses was smashed on the floor. “Loren, where are you!”

Anders ran through the house, checking every room. Loren was nowhere to be found. The only clue— a single blank birthday card on the blanket upstairs. With bears dressed as soldiers on the front, Loren must have bought it for him. His birthday was next Monday, which meant she’d left this card out today for a reason. A sniff of the inside revealed a clue – lemon scent.

“Clever girl.” Anders smiled as he raced into the kitchen. He pulled out his old army medical kit and retrieved a bottle of iodine solution. Applied with a cotton swab it activated the acid in the lemon juice revealing the words ‘Kale, bunker’

“Judas Kale. You bastard! You’ll pay for this!” Anders dashed from the house and jumped in his car. Breaking several speed limits, he drove beyond the city limits. Reaching a wooded area, he drove into the trees and parked his car out of sight. He was in time to see a fox sinking about in search of a meal. Anders enjoyed the wildlife but this was no time to get distracted.

Darkness would fall soon; all the better for a sneak attack. Anders had done tours in Afghanistan. A bullet wound to the leg had forced him to take the analytics’ role. He hadn’t forgotten his training though.

Coming upon the hidden bunker, he watched two men patrolling the entrance and a small clearing between the oak and elm trees. A single light burned over the steps. Both men were dressed in military fatigues and brandishing Enfield L85 assault rifles. These two were British Army trained and no doubt from Kale’s unit. “Game on the scumbags!”

The two guards met at the entrance to the bunker. They stood conversing for a few moments. A hollow bang echoing through the woods drew their attention.

“Go see what that was, Wilks.”

“You do it, Larkin. It’s dark and dangerous out there!”

“We’re in Norfolk, not Afghanistan you, pillock. It was probably a fox or something. Go check it out.” Larkin stabbed Wilks in the back with his gun barrel forcing him forward.

“Alright, no need to get pushy about it.” Wilks left the safety of the light while covering himself with his gun. Moving between the rhododendrons to reach the source of the sound, he came upon a broken stick. “L—”

Strong arm snapped around his neck and mouth. Anders brought him down with kicks to the knees and squeezed until he was unconscious. He swiftly took the Man’s ammo and knife. Then pulling his legs around the tree, he tied his laces together, ensuring he’d be no more trouble.

 “Hey, Wilks. Stop pissing about and get back here!” Larkin yelled.

Anders grinned while creeping around the other side of the rhododendron.

“Wilks, for Christ sake! You better not be playing games. I’ll kick your arse!” Larkin stepped out of the light straight into a punch in the mouth. Before he could react, Anders introduced him to a tree, the trunk knocking him unconscious.

With the second man disarmed, Anders tossed the ammunition and headed for the bunker. Even though Kale deserved a bullet in the head for abducting Loren. Anders entered the bunker without a weapon.

Built in World War II, the defensive bunker had the steel-plate shielded gunner’s emplacement window at the bottom of the steps. The shield was a jar allowing Anders to peer inside. He knew the layout well having used this place for assault practice during his years as a frontline soldier. Light from the lantern lit the space allowing him to see a discarded dress on the floor. He knew it belonged to Loren leaving his emotions rising beyond anger straight to volcanic.

“I expected Anders to be here sooner. I know you left him a message,” said a slick voice echoing in the underground rooms. It was followed by a sharp slap and a groan of pain.

“Argh! Why are you doing this? Come on you evil scumbag what’s this about?” Loren yelled defiantly.

“Your cowardly boyfriend was a member of my regiment on his second tour of Afghanistan. During that tour, he refused to carry out my orders and cost me a fortune. I gave him plenty of chances to pay and he never did. Now, I’m taking what he owes out of you.”

Anders had crept into the bunker proper now. A blank stare on his face hid his rage. Old ammo crates, squatter’s litter, discarded oil drums used as firing bins and other trash filled the space. He stepped into what used to be the bunkroom. There was Kale, sickeningly standing over Loren. Wearing only her undergarments, she’d been tied to the water pipes.

Kale raised a hand to strike her again.

“Judas Kale, you always were an insidious basket case.” Anders opened his stance with maximum aggression. “Hit her one more time and I’ll forget my oath never to kill!”

“Anders Dean, you always were a coward. You have—” Kale turned to face him with a sneer.

“Shut your damn mouth, Kale! You know nothing. Choosing to spare lives is not about cowardice. It’s about having empathy, remorse and a heart for those caught in a conflict they never wish for. Abducting and assaulting another man’s lady, instead of fighting him, however. Now, that’s cowardice!” Anders locked eyes with Loren; motioning her to stay calm.

“You’re wrong, Anders. This is brains. This is intelligence. This is—”

“Bullshit bravado,” Anders finished for him. “You see, Loren. Whilst clearing Kabul of IEDs, we came upon a family with a safe full of gold. This basket case was overcome by gold lust. The rest of our squad had moved on to the next building, leaving him and me with the family. Kale ordered me to shoot them so he could take the gold. He was too much of a coward to shoot himself. We argued about the war crime and lost valuable time. Our squad was overrun by insurgents forcing his hand. It was during our escape I got shot in the leg. He left bitter about never getting his gold. He —”

“Damn you, Anders. We could both have been rich on that find. You cost us everything!”

“No! That wasn’t a find. It wasn’t our blasted gold to take. You know that, Kale. Now, let Loren go!”

“Request denied. You still have a price to pay.” Kale’s face contorted with fury.

“Oh, you’re right I do have a payment to make. I have a good half-dozen punches in the mouth to deposit into the bank of Kale the Scumbag!” Anders clenched his fists and took a step forward, his foot now resting against a petrol can.

“Ahahaha! You always were a witty prick!” Kale drew a combat knife. “You don’t want to do this. You know you can’t fight, your injury makes you too slow.”  

Anders beckoned him with a rude hand gesture, “Try me!”

“Alright, let’s do this the hard way.” Kale lunged with a flex of his sweat-glistened muscles.

Anders slammed his foot through the petrol can and rolled aside.

The can thundered off Kale’s skull. He glanced off the stack of sandbags and hurled himself on Anders.

Anders blocked the knife and felt his knuckles crackle as they bent Kale’s nose. Dropping to a knee he landed two hard, fast blows to the stomach and dumped him in a pile of beer cans. “Enough of this! Go home, Judas,” Anders demanded as he took a step toward Loren.

Kale was wounded and bleeding. Spinning on his backside, he kicked Anders legs out from beneath him and vaulted to his feet. He seized an old oil drum and swung it down on his prey.

Anders blocked with both feet and rolled back against the blow. Springing forward with every inch of power he could muster, he blasted the drum back into Kale’s body. Drum and man crashed through the door into a storeroom.

“Anders, darling. He’s insane!” Loren screamed, “He’ll kill us!”

“It’s going to be alight, Loren. I promise, sweetheart.” Anders picked up the combat knife and sawed through Loren’s binds.

“She’s right. Now, we’ll all die!” Yelled Kale in a maniacal voice.

Ander’s faced him and swore. Drenched in blood and panting like a madman, Kale was stood in the doorway holding a fragmentary grenade, minus its safety clip. “I knew, ‘basket case’ was too soft for you. You crazy, bastard!”

“I want the million you cost me, or we’ll go boom!” Kale flexed his fingers allowing the grenade’s striker lever to move in his grip. “Decide quickly. I can’t hold this forever!”

Anders was sweating now, he knew the grenade would kill all three of them in an instant. “Go for the door!” he whispered as he pushed Loren behind him.

“Nobody, M—”

Kale never finished his sentence. Anders leapt off his feet rolling over an ammo crate. As his feet came back beneath him, he sent the wooden box arcing toward the madman. Not waiting to see the results, he sprinted into Loren and carried her with his momentum.

A scream and a heavy thud echoed within the ground.

Ander’s leapt out the bunker’s entrance as a wall of dust exploded from below. He landed over Loren and protected her until the explosion died away. “Loren, are you okay?”

“Thanks to you, I’m just fine.” She reached and smoothed his hair while giving him a grateful kiss. “There is one problem. That crazy idiot blew-up my dress!”

Anders burst into laughter, “No problem. We won’t be needing our clothes, once I get you back home anyway!”

The End

Thanks for reading, my friends, I really do appreciate it.

Don’t forget there’s always plenty more stories for you in the Short Stories and Short Stories 2 tabs.

Have a great day!

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