Shields up, whiskey bottles ready.
Heller starts to jog home, but stops when he notices Miss Simmons entering a subway station. Almost immediately he hears her yelling at someone to get away - a drunk demanding a dollar. The wino runs off at the sight of Heller, who gallantly offers to escort Miss Simmons home. It's 3 pm on a Sunday afternoon, after all, so New York City is pretty much deserted, and it's not safe for a lone female to be out and about. Simmons, of course, refuses, insisting that she spends too much time cooped up on campus. She gets on the train, and Heller discretely hops aboard a different car.
It goes without saying that Gris is wondering how Heller plans to murder her.
Train ride, station, transfer to another line. Heller scares off a drunken troublemaker by putting on his engineer gloves in what Gris describes as an "effective gesture," leaving it up to us to imagine how donning a glove can be so scary (aside from latex gloves in a doctor's exam room, of course). A volunteer guard warns Miss Simmons to ride on the subway's middle cars where there are more people, due to increased muggings and gang activity. She, again, scoffs at this, leading the guard to bitterly comment to a passing Heller that there's "Rapes by the trainful and they never learn."
Eventually the ride comes to an end and Simmons and her shadow emerge aboveground, where the weather is taking a turn for the worse. But despite the fleeing picnickers, Miss Simmon marches boldly into Van Cortlandt Park, determined to get her hike in. She makes it into a dip in the trail before being jumped by six men.
Ambush rapists, patiently waiting in a park for hours in the chance a lone victim wanders into reach. As an afternoon thunderstorm threatens. Because the plot requires it.
Heller rushes to assist, but is stopped short by a pair of men toting a shotgun and revolver, while the rest of the mob grabs Miss Simmons. They ask if he has any drug money, Heller accuses them of being "the raving insane," but they counter that of course they're not insane, all of them got A's in Psychology, which is why they're rapists in the first case.
Our hero is all torn up about this, but hasn't acted just yet.
"Killing a bunch of hoodlums isn't part of my job!" Heller said. Then he shouted, "Please quit this and get away while you still can!"
Just off the top of my head, Heller's killed ten IRS agents by blowing up a damn apartment building, smashed the head of an enemy driver during vehicular combat, killed three rival mobsters with a bloody baseball, killed three other rival mobsters with a handgun, and blown up three cars' worth of men with that bomb he rigged in the garage. This is in addition to any kills made over the course of his military career, and with the exception of the IRS guys, who he spent maybe a sentence tut-tutting over, Heller has shown no remorse or regrets about his kill-count. But here he is, reluctant to fight off these drug-addled gang-rapists.
Well, the gang continues to whoop and snatch articles of clothing from poor Miss Simmons, who has yet to actually call for help or anything. Well, she finally cries "My ankle!" when someone tears her shoe off, breaking her foot, and then demands that her attackers get off of her, but for some reason they don't stop. The guy with the shotgun shouts orders over how to position her and who gets first dibs, but then it's time for a good two pages of a Hubbard Action Sequence.
Heller launches himself forward in a roll, dodging hasty shotgun and pistol fire as he gets behind a tree for cover. Like an idiot, Shotgun Dude decides to rush him and negate all the advantages of having a ranged weapon, allowing Heller to snatch the gun from his grasp, breaking his hand in the process. Heller quickly turns the gun around to bring down Revolver Guy with a blast to the torso, then smashes The Person Formally Known As Shotgun Dude with the butt of his own weapon hard enough to shatter the gun's stock and reduce his face to shredded meat and bone shards.
Or, as Hubbard puts it,
Bark leaped from the tree! The racket of a revolver shot!
The buck of the shotgun!
The revolver man's chest spurted red and he flew backwards.
The shotgun man was trying to get up!
The swinging blur of the stock. The crack as the stock shattered. The shotgun man didn't have a face! Just red flesh and bone splinters!
Doesn't one of the Mass Effect alien races talk like that? The habit of short sentences. The beginning with a definite article.
So that's two guys down, leaving the six would-be rapists. They size up Heller for a moment before deciding that he's just one man, a man who nevertheless happened to wipe out a quarter of their number in a few violent heartbeats. Well, they are on drugs.
What follows is a gory variant of Capoeira as Heller, his shotgun now spent, is forced to use his only weapon left - his cleats.
A man seen between two others. He had a gun.
Heller's foot extended like a battering ram! The man's gun arm crumpled!
A whirl. Another knife! A foot up against the hand. The knife flew into the air!
Heller spun on one foot, the other extended like a scythe. The flat of the foot tore the man's whole face off!
Gods! Spikes! This was why Heller was wearing spikes!
Yes, the humble baseball shoe, a more deadly weapon than any switchblade. Heller tears a guy's chest open with a downward kick, leaves another man's leg to a bloody ruin with a raking slash, tears a third man's throat out, and rips the side from a Hispanic man's head. At this point there's just one man left standing, who quite reasonably decides to run like hell.
A man's heels. He was running, trying to get away.
A rush. A horizontal thrust of two spiked feet. They hit the man in the back. He went down in a skid of leaves. Heller landed upright. Man's head two feet below the spikes. Down came Heller. The soles were held in a V. They stripped the skin, ears, and two huge slabs of skull off the head.
That was an awful paragraph, and I'm not talking about the graphic violence. Also, Heller just brutally killed a fleeing opponent, yet is supposed to be upset about having to fight these guys.
There's one temporary survivor, his chest torn open to expose his pulsing arteries and veins, but he comes to just in time to scream and die. So yeah, eight for eight, good show Heller. You savagely tore apart your enemies with your impossibly powerful footwork and razor-sharp booties.
Miss Simmons is staring wide-eyed with shock at the carnage and mutilated bodies and blood-soaked ground, and when Heller checks on her he jostles her broken ankle, making her scream and pass out. It's a bad fracture too, bone protruding through the skin and everything, but Heller makes a splint, gets the woman into her coat, and finds her purse. He notices a lot of spiky tracks in the gory dirt, and that his cleats have incriminating scraps of flesh and bone stuck to them, so he trades shoes with one of the dead guys. And then he begins to carry Miss Simmons away from the mess, but not before waxing philosophical (but not psychological):
"I wish you'd listened," he said. "I'm not here to punish anybody." He looked down at Miss Simmons' face. She was out cold. Then he looked up at the scudding sky and in Voltarian said, "Is this planet inhabited by a Godsless people? Has some strange idea poisoned them to make them think that they have no souls? That there is no hereafter?"
How the hell did he go from "these people are insane" to "these people think they have no souls and don't believe in an afterlife?" Nobody mentioned an afterlife. None of the gangbangers said "this is okay because I don't have a soul."
Also, add atheism to the list of causes of rape.
Heller staggers to a subway and takes a ride to the nearest hospital, with the security guard not sparing a second glance at the bloody, unconscious, barely-dressed woman in the seat beside him. Heller stays with Miss Simmons as she's looked over, and makes sure that the nurse isn't going to shoot her up with heroin. But before she can get her morphine the professor comes to and starts thrashing about and screaming, raving that Heller's a sadist who she saw "murder eight men in cold blood!"
As a doctor sends Miss Simmons away to a psychiatric ward, the professor vows that "I knew it! I knew it all the time! You're a savage killer! When I get well and out of here, I'm going to devote my life to making certain that you FAIL!"
So there you have it, a once-sympathetic character reduced to someone who accuses her rescuer of murder because she's apparently forgotten that she was about to be raped. Such are the lengths the author will go to in order to keep us from siding with her.
Gris is relieved that his ally is alive and well, and calculates that even though Miss Simmons will miss the fall semester due to her injury, she'll be back next year to flunk Heller good.
Bless her crazy, crooked and ungrateful heart!
How wonderful it was to feel I had a real friend!
And even if they put her under psychiatric care, that would change nothing. It never does.
And that's how suddenly and unceremoniously the book ends.
Does Simmons succeed in
ending Heller's mission?
THE ENEMY WITHIN
I think I might have burst out laughing the first time I read that. Seriously, "does the mean teacher succeed in flunking our hero?" That's the sequel hook that's supposed to send us running to the bookstores for the next entry in this exciting series?
In this book, Heller has become quite wealthy, with the promise of more wealth to come in a way that his enemies can't defend against. He's gotten in good with the mob, whose boss seems committed to making sure his life goes smoothly. He's been trained by the FBI and is set to be trained by the Army Intelligence. Every attempt to kill him has been defeated with ease, he overcomes obstacles almost as fast as they're put in front of him. The most his supposed nemesis, Soltan Gris, has done to thwart him was send a strongly-worded memo.
And we're supposed to worry that a college professor is going to stop him? A professor whose previous efforts to hinder him have already been defeated?
This book is dumb, and what's more, it thinks we're as dumb as it is.
Back to Part Nineteen, Chapter Five