Wow, I tried to write as much as I could yesterday, but as you can tell, I just couldn't finish it up. I also spent a good part of the day visiting Brad, and typed in the waiting room or in the corner of his room. He's going to be fine, fortunately. We explained it as a hunting accident, although how he got two bullets was a little hard to describe.
We're back at the cabin now, and Brad is resting comfortably upstairs. His wounds were clean without any complications or difficult surgery. Ellie's tablets may have saved his life.
So there's a little bit more to tell you about what happened Thursday. Ellie is surveying her prisoners, all gathered in front of the cabin. A small army of trucks and Chinese men is winding its way up to our house. The first few tackle the small fires here and there, and rounding up the corpses. I know now that there were twenty three dead, three wounded, and six captured. Ellie has her men gather up her gory kills and throws them in front of the prisoners.
"I want you to tell me everything," she pronounces, her visage still caked with blood. "Do you see these men? Take a good look. A similar fate awaits you if you don't cooperate. I'll have you know that we are not American citizens, and we're not subject to the rules of this country. You dared to attack a foreign agent and her friends, and now you will pay the price for your insolence. We can make you disappear, so that your friends and families will never see or hear from you again. I want to know who's behind this and I want to know now."
I could see that the men didn't look very happy. One of them started talking. "Listen, we didn't want any of this. This was supposed to be clean, get in, get out, you know?" It's the man who punched me in the kitchen.
Ellie smiled at him. "So you're one of the leaders, I take it? Good. What are you, a Guardsman or something? Do you have any real experience?"
"I was recon over in Iraq."
"You people are pathetic," she yells at them. "If you are the product of the American military, then I don't think my country has much to fear from you." She strips some wires and a headset off the man. "Is this how you contact your commander? What's your call sign?"
The man hesitates. A couple of Ellie's men push their guns up against his neck but she waves them off. "Please," she says to him.
He mumbles, "Foxtrot Delta. My contact is Charlie Papa."
Ellie dons the headset. "Come in, Charlie. I know you're listening. This is Elena Galistina here. I really appreciate sending your friends to the Ross's Thanksgiving dinner. We've welcomed them with open arms. I'm so sorry that many of them chose to be unruly and act inappropriately. I'm afraid that I've had to excuse them from the table. Are you still listening, Charlie?"
She smiles at the men.
"Well, Charlie, I'm sorry you won't respond. Well, no matter. A couple of your friends have decided to stay. They're telling me all about you. Foxtrot Delta has been extremely helpful. I think you need to know that you've just made yourself a really terrible enemy. I'm not the kind of person to acknowledge niceties, or the rules of war, or even rules of common decency. I think a demonstration is in order."
She puts the headphone back on Foxtrot's head.
"Tell them everything. Now choose one. Choose one of your men."
"No." Her men start in on him, but she waves them off. "Foxtrot. It's either you or one of them. You remember what I did in the house, don't you? Do you really want to go that way, choking on your own blood?"
He points to one of the men who starts struggling.
"Good. Bring him over there." Her men drag the struggling man behind a hummer. She walks over. I watch in horror and fascination.
"Don't," I tell her, but she winks at me.
Foxtrot is talking into the headset. "She's taking him behind the truck. He's screaming. I see blood gushing everywhere. Oh my god, she's a monster. Please, send us some help! She's coming back, covered with blood. I think I'm going to be sick. God help us all."
I slide back over and look behind the truck. I see that the man is unconscious, but unharmed. There's blood everywhere, but I also see a can and a turkey baster. The same baster we were going to use for the turkey.
I walk back over, holding my stomach. "God, Ellie, not again. Please, no more. I can't stand it."
Ellie grabs the headset back. "Now Charlie, I'd hate to do that to the rest of your men, but once I start, it's hard to stop. I'll give you a piece of advice. Get the hell out of town. I will track you down, and I will kill you in the most brutal fashion that our culture has ever produced. I will create a river of blood so thick that you'll drown in it. If I even feel a breath of yours, I will stifle it so quickly that you'll be watching you body fall away while I hold your severed head. Now I need to go and finish off these men. Have a nice day."
She pulled off the rest of the unit and stomped on it, smashing it to bits.
"Let's go for a walk," she says nicely to Foxtrot. "Nice and slow. If you tell me what I want, we'll turn back. If you don't we'll eventually wind up behind the truck. You don't want to go behind the truck. I kill with my bare hands. I can make it slow or fast."
They start walking towards the truck. Ellie doesn't say anything. About half way there, Foxtrot becomes agitated. "What? What do you want to know? Say something. Say something!" She keeps walking, but her blood-soaked face is watching his. "Stop staring at me! What the hell is wrong with you!" They finally reach the truck, and she cocks her head and puts on hand on the truck, waiting for him to talk.
"Okay! Stop! We got our instructions online. The entire transaction, plans, names, maps, everything. Except for today, no one even ever talked to them. And their voice was scrambled, sounding like a frog or something."
Ellie just stood there, staring at him.
"What? I've told you everything. Say something!"
Ellie points around to the back of the truck.
"No! What do you want? Will you fucking say something?? Shit! Listen, please, we just get paid. We're nobodies. I can show you anything. Our website, our IP logs, our servers, the logs for the headsets, everything you need to track them down. Just don't make me go back there, please."
Ellie glances at me, then waves at some of her men. "Get everything you can from him. Take the rest into holding. I don't want them touched until I get there."
As they load up the prisoners, a convoy of construction trucks pulls up. The yard becomes flooded with men, unloading drywall and siding and lumber and glass. I watch with fascination as the ant-like contingent streams into the house and begins tearing down the bullet-riddled walls. Ellie walks over to me.
"Now you're going to see what the most industrious people in the world can do. We can do in an hour what it takes Extreme Home Makeover to do in a week."
Before my eyes, the cabin is first stripped down to the studs, and then rebuilt with fresh materials. A crew sweeps the yard for casings and also cuts down trees damaged by the fury of the Gatling gun. The bodies are carted away and the damaged vehicles towed on flatbeds.
"How much is this going to cost," I ask Ellie.
"Don't worry about it. We do this kind of thing all the time. You hungry? I hear there's a turkey around here somewhere. Let's wash up and watch them work while we eat."
We wind our way through the disaster zone, up to my room. Ellie heads to the bathroom to try to wash away the blood that's caked all over her face and hands. The shower is damaged so she has to use the sink.
"The blood! The blood! I can't get it out! Help!"
I rush in, but she's laughing, and pointing at me.
"Very funny," I say.
"Seriously, help me with my hair." She sits in a chair with her back to the sink, and I gently wash all the thick ruddy liquid out. It's amazing how much blood is absorbed by hair. I must use half a bottle of shampoo on it. It's finally done, and I wash my own face and hands. Finally we both look somewhat human again. Ellie throws off her black coveralls and is just wearing a flak jacket, panties, and a couple of knives strapped to her thighs. I spot numerous black bruises on her arms and legs. She takes off the jacket, and is only wearing a spots bra underneath. She puts on a a clean black coverall, and pulls her wet hair back into a ponytail. "Ready for dinner?"
The turkey actually fared well. No bullets penetrated the oven, and the power never failed. We clean the dust and dirt off the counter, and pull out the turkey. It's perfect! We carve it and begin serving it to the workers along with the stuffing, potatoes, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and whatever else survived the barrage. My dad caught a ride down to the hospital, so only Ellie and I remained at the cabin.
By the time the turkey ran out, they workers had replaced all the walls and were now working on the floors, removing the blood stains and refinishing the wood. Fortunately the cabin had all wood floors and throw rugs. Ellie's people replaced them with absolutely gorgeous Oriental rugs, some of them bordering on the priceless.
"They're from my personal collection," she says. "Yes, Alex. I have a warehouse filled with this kind of stuff. I'll show you someday."
We go around and thank each worker personally. They finish up quickly, after transforming my father's cabin into an Oriental paradise. I hope he doesn't freak out too badly.
We go out front to thank the guards who are watching the workers and for signs of interference. Suddenly I recognize one of them. "Hey, Ellie, isn't that guy General Tan?"
Ellie nods. "Oh yeah. He's my best man."
"Wait, he works for you? I thought it was the other way around."
"No, everyone here works for me."
I look around the yard. All this, controlled by Ellie. "I thought you were just an agent. You're in charge? You're responsible for the whole thing?"
Ellie sighs. "Yes. I run the entire Northern California operation of Chinese Intelligence. Nothing happens in this part of the state without me knowing it."
"Wait. Wait. That means you...you knew about my interrogation. It means...you ordered my interrogation. Ellie! You said you were some agent on leave, that you were trying to escape your life. You aren't trying to escape it at all! You relish it! You've been lying to me the whole time, and you're still lying to me! I don't get it. Why me? You don't need a cover. Why me?"
Ellie looks askance, not denying anything. "Alex, I--"
I'm feeling pretty livid. "I can't believe this! Why did you have me interrogated? Did you think I was involved? You could have just asked me. I would have told you everything. How can I trust you anymore? How do I know that all this fighting today wasn't just some kind of show? Jesus Fucking Christ. How can I be so stupid?"
"No! I'm tired of listening. I can't believe anything you say anymore. I don't want to hear any of your explanations anymore. You've twisted my mind enough. I've had it with all of you. Get all of your men and get the hell out of here."
Ellie looks at me with tears in her eyes. She motions for her men to start packing up. "I'm sorry. Alex, I never meant to hurt you. You need to understand that. My life...I just can't afford to trust anyone."
"Just go, Ellie. I can't take this anymore. I don't care anymore. You've said you want to change, but you don't. You just want to do it on a bigger scale. I saw how you looked today. You love this stuff. Well I don't. I've seen more blood and death today to last the rest of my life. Just go. Thank your men for helping out, but I never want to see them or you again."
I turn and head back to the cabin. Ellie collects her gear and her men, and they head out. I'm finally all alone in the refurbished cabin.
I'm seriously thinking about leaving California. I need a fresh start. All of these people and plots are ruining my life again. I know the Seattle tech market is hot.
BTW my family loves the new decor. Ellie really has style. I think we're going to return most of it though. I don't want anything that might have been gained through bloodshed.