“Gentlemen, it’s time for lunch and making nice with the press for a few minutes.” The seven men took their time rising and making it to the door of the ornate conference room on the thirty-first floor of the Silverman-Wolf building on Williams Street in the heart of Wall Street. Several of the men checked their cell phones. A few important calls were returned.
Bill Knudson looked at Marc Henry as they entered the private elevator. “We’re going to have to watch every word on this. The press will look for even the slightest variation in our story.”
“I wouldn’t worry. We’ve had a very refined monologue going since ’07.”
“True. However, with all the brouhaha caused by all the documentary films, the books, the investigative shows, and the brain dead from Occupy Wall Street, the media is a bit less compliant.”
* * *
The three women walked briskly towards the front doors of the Silverman-Wolf tower. They stopped a few yards from the entrance and waited. The woman with the gray wig spoke softly to her compatriots, “We’ll have ten seconds at most. The security people have to be taken out of play first. It’s either the knees or the heads. Try for the kneecaps if—”
“We know. We’ve practiced this at least a hundred times. Don’t worry, it’ll be the knees.”
The women waited in silence for a few more minutes. Then the one with the gray wig held up her hand while she listened to her earpiece. “e-O says they’re on the way. We wait until Banshee tells us the elevator lights start descending.” They waited five more minutes before opening the doors and entering. They separated as they entered.
* * *
Henry was about to tell Knudson that they were less compliant only until their corporate headquarters reminded them of the financial reality of their relationship when the elevator doors opened. As the group exited the elevator, a security detail of five very intimidating men immediately fell in on either side. As they turned towards the main doors and the press waiting for them outside, there was a scream—a woman’s scream. A blonde woman came running around from the side of the bank of elevators screaming and holding the side of her face. There was blood all over her gloved hand and sleeve. “He’s going to kill me. Help me!”
Everyone in the lobby turned towards her and, for the briefest of instants, her screams were the only thing registering on anyone’s brain. Then, without warning, there was the unmistakable roar of large caliber pistols and the five men in the security detail screamed, almost in unison, grabbed at their knees, and went down. The crowd didn’t know what to react to, or what it meant that five very tough-looking men were on the floor with blood gushing from their trousers. Had they been shot by whoever was chasing the screaming woman—the woman who seemed to have disappeared in all the turmoil?
Then, one by one, seven of the richest, most powerful, and influential men in the American financial and political universe started to fall. There were no more explosions. In fact, no noise could be heard above the terrified screams in the crowded lobby. Each of the seven heads snapped back just a little as their brains were destroyed by a bullet; a bullet that expanded to triple its size as it entered their skulls. All were dead by the time they hit the polished marble floor. Everything had happened in just under nine seconds.
Now, everyone in the lobby realized what was happening even though there were no more gunshot sounds. Some ran for the elevators, some for the front doors. Others dove for the floor and tried to cover themselves with briefcases and purses. It took the press massed outside almost eleven seconds to realize what was going on inside and to train their cameras on the carnage. But the tsunami of bodies flooding out the doors not only prevented them from entering but also sent the more aggressive camera people crashing to the pavement, with their cameras.
It took almost ninety seconds for the lobby to empty of all but the dead, the wounded, and those too terrified to get up off the floor
* * *
Detective Lieutenant Joshua Ableman arrived about twelve minutes after the last shot was fired. “So, whadda we got here, Ira?”
“Well, it ain’t good, Lou. I talked with one of the security detail before the bus took ’em. He says their charges step off the elevator and, just as they’re turning toward the front door, some woman with blood all over her face and arm—he says it was her left side—comes running from around the elevator bank screaming, ‘Someone,” Sergeant Ira Glasser glanced down at his notepad, “no, quote, ‘He’s going to kill me. Help me,’ end quote. Everyone turns toward the screamer and the next thing he knows, his left knee is blown away and he’s headed for the floor. He said the impact was so powerful it literally knocked his legs out from under him.”
Abelman took in a deep breath as he shook his head. “Go on.”
“Well, next thing anybody knows, the seven honchos they were guarding are going down like bowling pins, but no more gun shots are heard. They’re all dead before they hit the floor.”
“Shit. I know there’s more. Go on.”
“Yeah, and it ain’t any good either. Once the people inside got themselves outside, the press descended on the scene inside like a swarm of vultures. Goddamn it, they moved evidence all over the place before I got here.”
“Fuck. Go on.”
“Okay. Officers Gaines, Moore, and me hit the front doors about eight minutes ago. We got the press out and sealed off the scene. I got building security to kill the elevators, so no one else is leaving the building until you say so. Three more patrol officers show up about a minute later and start trying to keep people from leaving—you know—potential witnesses, and try to keep those damn protestors out.”
“Alright, come on inside … You can see where the security guys went down. Blood all over the place. The seven bodies are exactly where they fell. We picked up six guns. Six.”
“You picked ’em up? What the hell are you thinking, Ira?”
“Josh, the press people had already picked ’em up—to get detailed video, they said—and threw ’em back down on the floor. They swear ‘exactly where they were originally.’”
“Holy fucking Christ. Please tell me they had gloves on.”
“It’s pretty damn cold out, so I’m bettin’ they did, but no way to know for sure until Forensics gets ’em. Anyway, they got ’em on tape handling ’em so we’ll know who to print if we see any hands without gloves.”
“Yep. Three customized thirty-twos with silencers. Revolvers, and not a single live cartridge left in the cylinders.”
“Nothing. These people were so confident they had only one rounds for each target?”
“That’s it. The other three are S&W 357 mags—also revolvers. No unused cartridges left in them either.”
“Jesus, Ira. You’re telling me six people—”
“No, Lou, three, we think. They did the security boys to take them off the table and then, calm as can be, executed those guys.” Glasser nodded towards the bodies on the floor. “From what the detail guy told me, it sounded almost like two shots and then nothing.”
“So, the three shooters fired in unison once, then two fired again with the 357s? Ira, it’s almost impossible to believe they could be that precise: five shots that sound like two? That would mean that number three already had a 32 out while one and two got off their second round.” Lieutenant Joshua Ableman brought his gloved hand up, put his forehead in it, closed his eyes, and exhaled deeply. Then he looked back up at Sergeant Glasser. “So, we’ve got three perps who think they’re Jason Bourne.”
“Don’t think so, Lou. Try Evelyn Salt or Lara Croft.”
“Yep. We’ll need the security video to confirm it, but the guy I questioned swears it was three women who took the vics down.”
“Oh, fuck! Now we’re got a group of female assassins roaming the streets of New York. I can see the headlines: ‘Ladies Bridge Club Turns Lethal.’”
The two men stood there for a few seconds considering the implications—a group of women capable and cold enough to do this, in broad daylight, in the middle of the financial capital of the world.
“Alright. Do we know who the vics are yet?”
“We don’t have positive IDs yet, Lou, but you really ain’t gonna like this. We think they are,” Glasser opened his notepad again, “the chief financial advisor to the President, the Chairman of the Fed, the Secretary of the Treasury, plus the CEO, CFO, head of trading, and the chief economist of Silverman-Wolf.”
Ableman was sure he had to have misunderstood what Glasser just said.
“Sorry, Lou, you heard it right. As I said, no positive yet. But I recognize the faces of the government people, even with the messed-up heads. The head of security ID’d the Silverman-Wolf guys.”
“Has anybody called the FBI? The Secret Service?”
“Yes, sir. I had the head of security here make the calls once I got an initial ID from him and looked at the vics myself.”
“Shit. This is going to get real ugly real soon. They’re going to want to take over, and there’s gonna be a fucking thermonuclear turf war. You call the Chief?”
“Can an ethical government exist when the special interests it’s charged with policing use their vast wealth to buy politicians, elections, public policy, and impunity from prosecution for their rampant massive criminality? Joe Lane’s Aftershock answers with a resounding no in a fanciful yet ferocious look at the bloody retribution righteously exacted by a fistful of pissed-off but highly proficient femmes who hope to improve the future by violently disrupting the cynical, corrupt status quo.”Rick Rosenthal
“Joe Lane’s Aftershock is an action-packed and provoking novel that illustrates what happens when people are pushed too far by corrupt politicians and bankers. This country’s financial apartheid and widening chasms of wealth are caused by epidemic levels of fraud in mortgage banking. Real and ordinary people are hurt by predatory lending, foreclosures, and investments.”Sheri Lutz
“Joe Lane is so successful in making truth and fiction ambiguous that it’s difficult to believe the assassins of Aftershock aren’t already amongst us. The planning and execution of the Wa women is so unbelievably plausible that one can imagine the NSA scrambling to beef up its counter-terrorism intelligence-gathering efforts after reading this book. By interweaving elements and consequences of the 2008 financial crisis into the plot, Lane’s produced a story that will keep your imagination engaged and goosebumps on your skin until the very last sentence.”Dr. Kwan Skinner