Rule 22

Joey Payne


Shoot Them In The Head



“I'm telling you it's not just for zombies.” Maksim Nikitin said as he screwed the silencer into the .38 pistol. “Shooting them in the head should be a universal rule” he said with a last twist. They were driving down a two-way street deep into some national park or other. Maksim always forgot the strange names Americans give things. But he always remembered a good place to bury a body.

The gentleman driving was one Igor Sokolov who was known among the Bratva as Uchenyy Myasnik or The Scholar Butcher. Not because of his education or wit but because he liked killing educated people. He thought since they were smarter it was always more fair since they could outsmart him, but up until this point none had. “What about ghosts?” Igor asked, his question sounding more like a demand. A thumping sound from the trunk made him glance back for a second. “I have it on very good authority that head shots do not work against ghosts”. Maksim laughed a deep Russian laugh “And where did this very good authority get his information and who is he?” Igor looked over at him with a serious expression on his face “It's me. The ghosts of the people I killed come to haunt me sometimes, so I have to shoot them and scream their name to drive them off. Out of all the times I have shot at them I have never noticed a head shot doing any more or less damage. Hell, most of them do not have heads because I sawed them off.” Igor slapped Maksim's shoulder while laughing as if Maksim was in on some shared joke.


Maksim gave a nervous laugh to make sure he did not offend Igor even though he did not care for the joke. Maksim was a Derzhatel Obshchaka, a businessman, who occasionally had to kill some people to ensure the pipeline of money did not get clogged. He did not enjoy it and always tried to find a profitable way to avoid it or pay someone to do it. For him it was business, but for Igor, for Igor it was enjoyable and something he sought out in every situation. A muffled scream and more thumping from the trunk brought Maksim out of his thoughts and back to reality. “Shut up back there!” he yelled at the back of the car. “What about a majik bullet?” he asked of the driver as they turned onto a dirt road. The thick trees on either side of the road dissected the rays of the full moon like a black and white stained-glass window. What moonlight slipped through the pines created shadows the looked like claws sliding down the hood of the car. Igor contemplated the question “You mean like blessed by a priest”. When Maksim shrugged and mumbled “I guess” Igor stopped talking for a moment. He did not want Maksim to know that the question had stumped him. He also thought about how much a priest would charge him to bless some bullets. “So, who is this asshole we are killing?” Igor asked. He really did not care as it made no difference to him, but he wanted to distract from the fact that he did not have an answer to the blessed bullet question. Maksim always sounded so smug when he knew he had outwitted Igor and Igor knew killing Maksim would be fun but really not worth the trouble it would bring. It was disappointing to Igor but Maksim outranked him so that was that.


“Some asshole.” Maksim replied “He was dating the Pakhan's daughter. Things got rough and he bit her and left a mark and now the Pakhan wants him dead.” Maksim said this with no emotion attached to it. While he did not like the violence the Pakhan had asked him to handle this one personally and that meant it was going to be done no matter his preference to violence. Everything in the Bratva was a test of loyalty that you only ever failed once. “He would have done it himself as the Vory v Zakone dictates but he has too much heat on him right now with the feds watching him. So, he sent us.”.


Maksim motioned to pull off on the side of the road and Igor backed in with the trunk facing the woods. The creaking of the car door sounded alien among the insect and bird sounds of the forest. A hush fell for a moment as they slammed the doors closed. “Bozhe moi” Igor grumbled. “I cannot stand someone who would hurt a woman”. Maksim was taken aback by the statement. “I find that surprising with the number of people you have killed”. Igor chuckled “Don't get me wrong. I am a great lover of violence, but I abhor sexual violence. There is no reason for that shit!” Maksim nodded in agreement as he opened the trunk. “What about demons and devils” Igor asked “They have those big horns, so it does no good shooting them in the head. Plus, they are supernatural so normal weapons won't work. Maksim was looking down at the body in the trunk, He was a thin young man of pale disposition. One of those goths that get college age girls excited. “Getting through the horn would just be a matter of caliber” Maksim stated factually “But supernatural all goes back to the majik bullet. If you have a majik bullet, then a head shot will work.”


Pulling the young man out of the trunk Igor let the body hit the ground with a wet thud and a muffled curse. Thin as he was the little prick had put up a viscous fight. He had left Maksim with a black eye and Igor was pretty sure his ribs were badly bruised if not cracked. It took both grown men to get him down and get the cuffs on him and the bag over his head. After the bag went on, he just stopped fighting for some reason and seemed to let the 2 men put him in the trunk with no more struggle. They had a distance to walk and neither felt like carrying him, so Maksim made the command decision to take the hood off and let the kid walk the rest of the way. 


In the melee before Maksim had not noticed how young the kid was. Probably no more than 20 with white, blond hair and ice blue eyes. Unlike most of their abductees the kid showed no signs of having been crying or wetting himself. He was not looking around fearfully and when Maksim suddenly decided to take the tape off his mouth, he found a wicked smile waiting behind it. He looked from one man to the other with what Maksim would call amusement, but Igor knew when someone was sizing him up. “Silver” the kid said with a voice that sounded like the songs of the nigh and the weight of time.


“What?” Maksim asked as he pulled the kid to his feet and started moving him forward with one hand, the pistol held in the other. Giving Maksim a polite nod the kid started walking forward “The answer to your quandary about the ghosts and demons being killed by shooting them in the head. The bullet must be made with silver to begin with and then treated in different ways. Such as a demon’s bullet must be pure silver that has been dipped in an oil made from the circumcision of an unbaptized male child. Ghost killers must be dipped in holy water and blessed by a priest over 80 years old.” The kid stated these things with all the confidence of a scholar talking about his entire life's study.  


Maksim looked over at Igor who shrugged in response. “How do you know such things” Maksim asked with some amusement in his voice. “Oh, you know, you pick some things up as you travel around” the kid said matter of factually, his voice calm with just a slight hint of excitement. Igor was about to ask how someone so young had traveled anywhere but his mother’s house but decided he didn't care enough to find out. Beside the fact they had crested the hill where they had dug the kid's grave, so further conversation was unnecessary.

“Oh” said the kid. “Is this not one of those dig your own grave scenarios?” Maksim smiled a smile that could almost be called friendly. “It is a courtesy we extend to our clientele. All we ask is when you get to heaven you let them know that you had polite executioners. Also, the last time we tried that the crying annoyed Igor and he whined about it for a week”. Igor made a noise of disgust “Help me, don’t kill me, not in the face. My eyes” Igor waved his hand as if dismissing the story. The kid gave a chuckle that sounded like dried leaves blowing through an autumn night. “My thanks for the kindness. I always found the practice overly cruel and barbaric. I shall try to return the favor”. 


There was an audible clink of metal breaking as the chains of the handcuffs broke away and the kid spun around. His ice blue eyes shown in the moonlight like a wolf’s. Two large fangs descended from the roof of his mouth and a hiss that sounded like steam escaping from hell came from the kid's mouth. Before he could strike with jagged claws there was the thump of a silenced pistol and a hole suddenly appeared in the kid’s forehead. The kid staggered for a second before stammering “Head shots...not work…vampires” before falling over. “Unless it is silver poured with ground garlic and cured in holy water” Maksim said with smoke coming out of the barrel of the gun. “It is 2022, do you not think everyone knows what a vampire bite looks like?” He knew the Pakhan would be pleased and the duo had proven their loyalty to the Bratva.


Looking at Igor Maksim said triumphantly “I told you, head shots work on everything!” With little fanfare Igor walked over and rolled the kid into the hole. Going to the truck he pulled the gas can out of the back and poured it into the hole. “You know what else works against everything?” Maksim asked Igor who was lighting a cigarette “Fire?” Igor asked throwing the match into the hole igniting it. “Fire” Maksim said nodding. “Except ghosts” Igor said, “Bozhe moi” Maksim exclaimed “You and your ghosts. You need to kill less people.” The argument lasted next to the warmth of burning undead until the dawn turned it into dust. 






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