“Put away that gun and get the hell out of my meeting!”

“I’m sorry, Mr. VanHollings, but you need to come with us please.”

“What? Can’t you see that I am in the middle of something here? Why are you…”

“You need to come with us sir. Now!”

The head of security took the papers from VanHolling’s hand as two other men grasped VanHolling’s shoulders.

“Now look. I’m not going anywhere until someone…”

Berend VanHollings felt his feet leave the floor as the four of them moved toward the door.

Four more men were waiting in the hallway. VanHollings noticed that each of the men held a weapon.

“Would someone tell me what the hell this is about?” VanHollins said.

“I will explain when we get you to safety. Please just keep moving sir.”

VanHollings was quiet as he was moved down the hallway to the elevator, down to the basement and the vehicle waiting at the alley entrance. He was placed in the rear seat between two large men with guns drawn, radios in their ears, and looks on their faces that told him enough to just go along and let them do their jobs. He noticed a second car in front of them and a third trailing behind, each filled with armed and serious looking men. No one spoke until they arrived at VanHolling’s home and led VanHollings to the windowless library that had been designated as a safe room. Moments later another group of guards escorted Mrs. VanHollings into the room.

“Berend, what is this all about?” Mrs. VanHollings said.

“I have no idea,” VanHollings said as he turned to look at Raul Weith, his Chief of Security and the man who had interrupted his meeting at the office.

Weith nodded to his security team and each of them left the room to take their positions to fully secure the VanHollings home.

“You will be safe here sir,” Raul said. “I am sorry for the inconvenience.”

“What is going on?” VanHollings said.

“We are still assessing that sir,” Weith said. “All we know at this time is that Levi Herzig was found in his office, apparently shot.”

“Oh, my God!” Mrs. VanHollings said.

“Shot? When? By whom?”

“We don’t know that, sir. But it looks professional. That is why we had to take the steps we have taken here sir.”

“The others?” VanHollings said. “What about Ghaazi, Shuren, and the rest?”

“We don’t have intel on them yet, sir. We will stay locked-down until we do have that and understand just what is actually going on, if this is just an isolated incident or something more. In the meantime, you and Mrs. VanHollings will be secure here.”

“Thank you Raul,” Mrs VanHollings said.

“Yes,” VanHollings nodded, “thank you Raul. I am sorry if I caused you any trouble. You were just doing the job I pay you to do.”

“No problem sir,” Weith said. “I need to go and do more of that job now. I will come back when I have more information. In the meantime, make yourselves as comfortable as you can.”

“Thank you, Raul,” VanHollings said as he sat on a cushioned sofa near the fireplace.


“I think I need a drink,” Mrs. VanHollings said. “How about you, dear?”

“Yes, something strong.”

She handed him a glass and sat next to him on the sofa. They both drank.

“What the hell is going on?” VanHollings said. “Who is behind this?”

They watched the fire in the fireplace. Mrs. VanHollings tucked her feet, curling up on the couch like a ball.

“There’s no reason to be concerned,” VanHollings said. “Raul is the best there is.”

“Oh, I’m not concerned,” Mrs. VanHollings said.

He looked at her as they sipped from their drinks.

“You have always been the brave one, haven’t you?” VanHollings said. “Even when…even when times have been…have been diffi…difficult…”


“I don’t…” VanHollings said. “I don’t under…something is…”

“Dear?” Mrs. VanHollings said. “Are you alright?”

VanHollings looked at his wife, though she was growing blurry. Through the haze he saw what looked like a smile on her face. Her very calm, smiling face.

“What’s wrong, Berend dear?”

“What did you…did you…you?” VanHollings said looking at her, and then at the empty glass in his hand

“Yes, Berend dear. Me. With some help, of course.”

“But…but…why?” He tried to sit up but could not.

“Why?” She leaned close to look into his eyes and laughed. “Why? Because, Berend my dear, you have made a mess of things. I mean, really. We used to be strong and had control of our lives. But then you did that stupid thing with the computers and had to make the deal because of that FBI woman. And now we can’t do anything without asking for permission.”

He could hear her, with a bit of an echo, but the room had gotten too dark to see her face.

“I mean, honestly Berend. How long did you expect me to put up with that kind of life?”

Mrs. VanHollings sipped from her glass and put it on the table.

“What’s the matter dear, having a hard time seeing me now? Don’t worry, it won’t take much longer.”

He tried to speak. He tried to reach out to grab her. Nothing happened.

“So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and reorganize things a bit. Some of the group agreed with me, while the others, well, Raul already told you about the others didn’t he?”

He could not see her. He could not hear her. Everything was silent.

“Berend?” Mrs. VanHollings said.

“Berend, dear?” she said.

She got up from the sofa and straighted her dress. She took one more look to see that her husband’s breathing had stopped, and then she screamed.

The door crashed open as the three guards rushed in followed by Raul Weith. He saw Berend VanHollings on the sofa and reached for a pulse.

“It must have been his heart,” Mrs. VanHollings said. “The stress was just too much.”

Weith shouted at the guards.

“Get the doctor! Seal the room. No one in or out until I say so. GO!”

The room emptied leaving Weith, Mrs. VanHollings, and the late Berend VanHollings.

Mrs. VanHollings reached down to take the glass from her husband’s hand and handed it to Weith.

“That went well,” She said.

Weith placed the empty glass in his pocket as Mrs. VanHollings placed a new glass in her husband’s hand.

“Yes, ma’am,” Weith said.

“And the rest is going according to schedule?”

“Yes Mrs. VanHollings, the meeting with the others is in one hour.”

Mrs. VanHollings moved toward the door. She paused and turned to look at her husband.

“Pity,” She said as she walked out the door.

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