AN UNEDITED EXCERPT FROM PARADISE (all " and ' have been removed by program)
The drive took much longer than expected. She was thankful for her Range Rovers GPS system, even though it didnt
seem to include half of the back roads she had been traveling on.
There should be an unpaved road somewhere on the left..Good, there it is, Malak thought.
She turned the wheel sharply and drove down the dusty farm-road for her meeting.
Ill have to wash this thing before I get home tonight, she thought. Otherwise that Idiot Jeffrey will pester
me about where all of the dust came from.
She caught sight of the former Virginia plantation home in the distance. It was unpainted, and run-down and looked as if one strong wind-storm
could turn it into a pile of rubble. Obviously the current owners didnt care much for aesthetics. Malak did not relish this
part of the task, but it had to be done. She pulled up to the front door and got out of her vehicle. A large filthy dog bounded
towards her, and proceeded to lick her hand.
Get out of here, she hissed, and the dog quickly turned and ran off, its tail hanging low between its legs.
She walked up the stairs towards the front door, and was startled by the voice that called out to her from a
dark corner of the wooden deck.
What do you want? It sounded like an old woman.
Its Marie, Im here to see Rodney, she replied irritated at having been startled.
Oh, Im sorry honey. Let me get the door for you.
The old lady got up from her rocking chair, and shuffled over towards Malak. The old woman reeked of tobacco
and cheap whiskey. Malak followed her into the house, and wasnt surprised to see the interior in as much disrepair as the
Rodney, shes here, the woman shouted.
Moments later Rodney came bolting down the stairs. They had met twice before, so Malak felt comfortable enough
being here, however she wanted to get this over with and be on her way as soon as possible.
Follow me, he said without bothering to offer any kind of greeting
He unlocked the door to the cellar, pulled on a light switch and stepped inside.
Well cmon, dont just stand there. I aint got all night, he said irritably.
Malak looked towards the old woman once more, and then stepped into the stairwell.
She followed him down into the cellar, her fists nervously clenching and unclenching by her side.
Once at the bottom, she was surprised by the ordinariness of it all. A work-bench with a few tools lay about,
and old mattress was crammed into the corner. A large Confederate battle flag was draped on the wall over the mattress. A
dusty book-rack filled with old volumes on car repair stood against the opposite wall. This was definitely not what she had
The money had already been deposited in his account weeks ago, so this redneck had better deliver as promised,
Rodney reached into the pocket of his overalls, pulled out a clicker of the type used to set most car alarms.
He pushed the small button, and the filthy book-case pulled away from the wall with a whoosh, revealing a darkened
room beyond. Rodney pushed another button, and suddenly the room was brightly
lit. Malak peeked inside, and caught a glimpse of polished stainless steel furniture, several powerful microscopes and two
large freezers against the main wall. It reminded her of a science lab at the University.
Wait right here, no one enters the lab but me, Rodney said gruffly.
He closed the door behind him, leaving Malak to wait in the dusty confines of the cellar.
Ten minutes later he appeared again, a big grin now having formed on his face.
He handed her a brightly decorated thermos; the kind a small child might have in his lunch box at school. Malak
imagined that her neighbor boys probably carried one just like it each day.
Rodney pressed down on the lid once, and it swung away revealing a plastic enclosed opening below.
He pointed to an indention in the top of the clear covering. Push on this no sooner than two hours before you
plan on using the device. Beneath the plastic top lay what appeared to be an ordinary tampon. Once youve opened the canister
and inserted the tampon, you will have exactly two hours to do what you need to with it. In two hours time, the shell will
break apart causing the gas to leak. Trust me honey, you dont want to be wearing it when that happens, he said with a laugh.
He replaced the lid, and handed the thermos to Malak, who immediately turned and walked towards the stairs.
Pleasure doing business with you maam, he called after her.
Oh I almost forgot something, Malak said, then turned around to face Rodney. She pointed the silenced gun at
his head, and pulled the trigger twice in quick succession.
She walked up the stairs, switching off the light once she got to the top step, then down the musty hallway,
and out of the front door.
Did you get what you came here for honey, the old lady asked, now sitting back in her rocking chair.
I most certainly did, Malak replied.
She pulled out her gun, aimed it at the old ladys head and again pulled the silenced trigger twice.
The old dog gave her a wide berth as Malak walked past him towards her car.
She glanced at the kids thermos. The exterior featured the incredible Hulk in all his green glory, smashing
Malak unzipped her black leather bag, and carefully placed the thermos inside beneath her work out clothes.
I definitely have to remember to go to the car-wash, she said to no one in particular, as she pulled out of
the dusty back road, back onto the main street.