ROOM SERVICE FROM HELL
ROOM SERVICE FROM HELL
8:41 PM; July 4th, 2018
The Royal Palace Hotel; New York City
I sat in my car, looking out at the entrance to the Royal Palace hotel. "Dave, I'm gonna need you to get me the guest list for the Royal Palace."
"Wait, what? What the hell happened to waiting until tomorrow?"
"Change of plans."
I heard him sigh through the other end of the line. "... Fuck it, fine. Want me to send the list to your phone?"
"Just look through it, see if you can find any people that are linked to organized crime. Preferably, see if you can find Nicky Francesco." My grip on the phone tightened as I said the name.
"Fine." I heard the telltale sound of a keyboard clicking as Dave typed away. After a moment, he said "Hey, y'know, since you're gonna start going by a cool name and shit, I should probably get one too, right?"
I sighed. I was just kidding about the name thing, really, but what the hell? Might as well humor him. "Alright, fine, you're Hacker."
"What? That's fucking lame. How about... How about Microchip? You can call me Micro for short."
"That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
"Screw you, Frank, I like it."
There really was no winning with him. "Fine, to hell with it, you're Microchip. Now, Micro, you find anything?"
"Well, as-yet-unnamed-vigilante-man, I did. We've got seven guys linked to Manfredi staying in the hotel. One of them is Francesco. Rooms are 211, 219, 305, 308, 607, 612, and 701. Francesco's in 219."
"Got it," I moved to hang up the phone, but was stopped by Dave telling me to wait. "What is it?"
"It's not gonna be easy. I think Manfredi's anticipating your arrival. I dug up the guard postings, and there's guards all over the place in there."
"Thanks for the heads up. That all?"
"Yeah, that's all. Be careful, Frank."
"Since when was I ever careful?" Before he has a chance to reply, I hang up. I get out of the car and head to the trunk, popping it open and pulling out my Glocks and four additional clips. Sticking the pistols into my shoulder holsters hidden beneath my jacket, I slam the trunk closed and head into the lobby.
Manfredi must be a fan of the classics, because as I enter the hotel I hear the sounds of some oldies song echoing through speakers set up near the ceiling on either side of the room. The receptionist gives me a bored look, simply watching me as I walk through the lobby and head into the elevator. I hit the button for the second floor, intent on paying my old 'friend' Nicky a visit.
The elevator door opens, revealing a long hallway leading down to another elevator. A cart, presumably for room service, sits at the other end of the hall, near Francesco's room. Eight guards, all in suits and carrying revolvers openly, stand throughout the room. Looks like Dave wasn't kidding. Without making eye contact, I continue on through down the hall, stopping at 219. Taking in a breath, I knock on the door.
"Who is it?" It's him on the other end of the door, obviously. He sounds out of breath, and a bit annoyed. I don't want to know what he was doing on the other side.
"The hell? I didn't order any room service."
"Compliments of Mr. Manfredi."
"Look, could you come back later? Kinda in the middle of something."
This was pissing me off. I should just kick in the door and shoot him until he doesn't even resemble a human being anymore. Just keep your cool, Frank. The guards could gun you down before you had a second to react if you did anything stupid.
"I insist, sir. I'll be in and out before you know it."
He sighs in defeat. Good. "... Fine, gimme a second." I hear him walk away, and as he approaches the door again hear the sound of a belt being buckled. He opens the door slightly to get a look at me, and freezes when he sees my face. Not wasting another second, I kick the door, sending him on his ass. I pull one of my Glocks out of my holsters, pull back the slide, and level it at his head...
As the sound of the gunshot fades I hear music, yet another oldie (do all these mobster types like doo-wop music?) and the screams of a woman, looking down at the corpse of her lover while frantically covering herself up with a blanket. I turn and walk out of the room while pulling my other pistol out of its holster, prepared to meet the guards head-on.
They all seem dumbfounded as they see me exiting the room, Francesco's blood on my face and two pistols in my hands. They recover quickly, pulling out their guns and firing, but I duck to the side and crouch behind the room service cart. They continue firing at me, and I fire over the cover at them. I do hear one of them shout in pain, but I don't hear any of them drop. That's when a stupid idea hits me...
Why don't I ride the cart?
Without thinking twice about it, I push the cart and hop onto it, firing at anything that moves. It's such a ridiculous, action movie kind of move that the guards are almost too dumbfounded to fire back... Almost. I take a hit to the shoulder, making me drop one of my Glocks, but I keep firing with the other one until there's nothing left to fire at.
As the dust settles, I get off the cart and walk back to pick up my other Glock, wincing as I roll my shoulder. Shit, wasn't a clean penetration. I'd have to hope Dave's basic medical knowledge extended to removing bullets. Reloading the empty pistol in my left hand, I head to the other room with one of Manfredi's mobsters, kicking in the door and finding the guy with earbuds in his ear, having been oblivious to the sounds of people getting murdered outside his room.
I tap his shoulder, and he turns around, looking confused. I raise the Glock and shoot him in the face, sending his brains all over the wall. Two down, five to go. I head out of the room and back to the elevator. I check the clip of the Glock I didn't reload; 9 shots, coupled with the seventeen in the full one. There will be anywhere from eight to ten guards on the next floor, and little to no cover.
I look up at the grate that opens up to the roof of the elevator. I push it off, hit the button to the third floor, then climb up onto the top of the elevator. Not a moment too soon, because as soon as the doors open, gunfire explodes and bullets strike the elevator wall. For once in my life, I made a smart move; how out of character of me.
I hear a few guards enter the elevator, guns at the ready. I aim the half empty Glock into the elevator and fire until the clip is empty. Peeking into it, I see that I managed to kill the four that had entered. Reloading the pistol, I drop down, guns at the ready.
Five more guards are in the hallway, firing at me as I duck and roll to narrowly avoid their shots. I come to halt on my knees, firing at them with detached, routine precision. I was getting used to this; I wasn't exactly a cowboy cop throughout my time on the force, in fact I had only had to use my gun three or four times in the eight years I had spent on it, but the surge of adrenaline one felt as they slaughtered their enemies without taking a scratch ('Well, most of the time,' I thought as I felt the throbbing from the bullet in my shoulder) was... Empowering.
Clearing out the other floors went the same as the last two; get in, shoot everyone who gets in my way, kick in a door and kill a mobster, move onto the next floor. This wasn't about revenge anymore. It wasn't about bringing them to justice. It was about punishment.
As I walked through the hallway of the seventh floor past the bloodstained corpses I had left in my wake, having executed the last poor bastard on my list, I heard a strained coughing sound of a wounded man to my left. I looked and saw a heavily injured guard, holding a hand against a wound in his shoulder. "W-who..." he began to choke out, "... Who are you?"
Dave had said I needed a kickass codename. So I gave the man one.
"You can call me..."
Without another word, I left the hotel, walking out to my car as the frightened receptionist (having no doubt heard the gunshots ringing throughout the building) watched on in terror, ducked behind her desk.
10:23 PM; July 4th, 2018
David Lieberman's House; New York City
David Lieberman's House; New York City
The TV played a news report covering my antics at the Royal Palace. "This is Ben Urich reporting for ABC7, live from the Royal Palace hotel in downtown Manhattan where a gunfight broke out between a lone man and the hotel's security guards. The receptionist states that an Asian man in his late twenties entered the hotel and went into the elevator. Not long after, she heard gunshots. The firefight lasted for approximately fifteen minutes, and resulted in a bodycount of 41, counting multiple guests that were executed as well.
"All the guests killed were connected or rumored to be connected to the criminal underworld of New York City. The sole survivor of the security guards, who wishes to go unnamed, said that the perpetrator called himself 'the Punisher'. This points towards vigilantism as the perpetrator's motive, but the police have said they are not ruling out that it may have been a criminal hit.
"The NYPD urges anyone who may have information on 'the Punisher's' whereabouts to come forward. This has been Ben Urich speaking for ABC7. Back to you in the studio, Jim." With that, Dave picked up the remote and turned the TV off, before focusing on cleaning my wound.
"Looks like you're famous. Let's hope to Christ the police can't come up with a decent composite sketch from the witnesses."
"They won't," I reply, hissing a bit as he cleans the wound with rubbing alcohol.
"Don't be a pussy..." he pauses. "... Punisher."
I was waiting for him to mention that. "You got your wish. I'm a bonafide superhero now." I chuckle slightly.
"Punisher though? That sounds really edgy."
"Fuck off. You're the one who named yourself after your dick, Micro."
"Oh, I'm sorry, did you just insult the man who's patching you up? Maybe you'd be fine with going to a hospital, where they ask questions."
"Fine, fine, I take it back."
"Well, at least you went with something that 'strikes fear into the hearts of criminals' or whatever it was."
"You got that right."
After that, things fell silent, Dave focusing on bandaging the wound. "Alright, you're in the clear Mr. Castle. Want a lollipop for being such a brave boy?"
"Oh, yes please Mr. Doctor sir." I sit up and throw on my shirt. The two of us laugh, Dave moving to get us a couple of beers from the kitchen.
When he comes back, he tosses one to me, plopping down in his recliner and popping his open. Taking a drink from it, he sighs. "Pretty fucking crazy though. Killed 41 dudes and you only took a bullet to the shoulder in the process. Death incarnate, you are."
"Something like that," I say, taking a drink from my own beer. "41 more for the guy downstairs."
He gives a snort of laughter. "Right, right, doing the devil's work for him and all that shit."
"I'm not gonna get preachy about it."
"Hey, maybe you should take the 'righteous warrior of god' approach. Spout off something about being the ultimate good striking down the wicked, that kinda shit."
"As if. I'm just gonna keep showing up and shooting the bad guys without saying anything. No need to be all bombastic about it."
"Yeah, yeah." He finishes his beer, sitting up and letting out a yawn. "I'm gonna hit the sack. Feel free to crash on the couch if you want."
I nod. "Will do, thanks." He heads off to his bedroom, shutting the lights off along the way, and I sprawl out across the couch. After a moment of tossing and turning to get comfortable, I close my eyes, and fall into a dreamless sleep.