Read Game Changer Online

Authors: Douglas E. Richards

Game Changer (3 page)

With this said, Matthew Davinroy, leader of the free world,
pointed his stun gun one last time at Kevin Quinn’s chest and pulled the




For almost five weeks Davinroy’s plan had worked exactly as
he had suggested it would.

But two days earlier flashes of memory had begun returning
to Kevin Quinn.

At first Quinn thought his mind was playing tricks on him. That
his grief had caused him to imagine things, or perhaps these were images and
thoughts from recent nightmares, stubbornly persistent attempts by his mind to
find a villain behind what had happened.

But why the President of the United States? Even for a
nightmare, casting Matthew Davinroy as some impossibly evil caricature of a
psychopath was beyond preposterous.

But soon the memories crystallized further. And while his
recollections were still spotty, and remembered images were hazy and unrefined,
Davinroy had spoken while
Quinn had been tied to a chair came back to him with great clarity. And when he
finally recalled Davinroy’s discussion of the memory erasure drug he was about
to be given, which explained the fuzziness and the gaps in his recollections, he
had no doubt that the fragmentary images coming back to him were
representations of reality rather than dreamscapes.

It was impossible that Davinroy could have been so
calculating, so

It was also undeniably true.

But the president had made a mistake. The memory erasure drug
wasn’t as foolproof as he had been led to believe. Or perhaps there was
something unique in Quinn’s genetics, after all, something that allowed him to
fight off sedatives
agents. He investigated this possibility online, and sure enough, there were
tiny genetic differences known to cause a small percentage of the population to
metabolize drugs at different speeds, and sometimes in different ways, than the
broader population.

As Quinn’s memory returned, his mind burned once again with
hatred, and he was consumed with but one mission in life: revenge. Justice
would be served. He would carry out his threat or die trying.

It had required heroic effort on his part to keep the
loathing he felt for the president from his face as he worked near the man the
past few days. And an even greater effort to not go off half-cocked, to hold
off on his attempt until he had the best chance of success.

But this fundraiser in Princeton was perfect. He would drug
Davinroy the way he had been drugged.

The way
been drugged.

Davinroy’s scheme should have worked. Even now, much of what
happened was lost to Quinn forever, or hazy and unformed, like the fleeting
images of Davinroy striking his wife with a poker, and of her limp and lifeless
body. But perhaps this was a mercy. Perhaps this loss of clarity wasn’t due to
the memory drugs at all, but instead was his psyche’s way of sparing him
further agony.

But the fact that he now remembered much of the incident
quite well was nothing short of a miracle.

And the part he remembered most vividly of all was that he
had sworn not to rest, not even in his grave, until he had personally escorted
Matthew Davinroy into the bowels of hell.

And this was a promise he was now seconds away from keeping.




Quinn had considered going to the press, telling them what
had happened, but had decided against it.

Davinroy was just too smooth, and too careful.

Ironically, politicians could be taken down by just the hint
of a politically incorrect statement, but otherwise could get away with murder,
literally, and a president, sitting atop the food chain, was the ultimate
example of this. A president had too many connections, too many powerful friends,
with too much to lose if he were taken down. The reputation of the United
States itself would take too big a hit. The entire country would close ranks to
protect him.

Any evidence found would be hidden from view or erased. Even
if it wasn’t, it would only be circumstantial. It would be Quinn’s word against
the president’s. He was making the same calculations Nicole had made before

And Quinn’s accusations
seem absurd. A grieving husband, losing his wife and child at the president’s
retreat in mysterious circumstances, accusing the president, so charismatic and
charming, of the inconceivable atrocity of torturing and killing a trusted

And even if Quinn were able to prove it, which he thought
highly unlikely, he had promised Davinroy
and no lesser sentence would do. Davinroy had taken
from him.

Quinn watched Dan Oakland making his way back to the group
the president was in with mounting anticipation. Oakland handed each guest
their cocktail of choice, including Davinroy. When the president was holding
his drink and Oakland was receding into the crowd once again, Quinn allowed
himself to feel a single moment of elation.

Nothing would ever bring Nicole back, true, but no one had
ever needed to be erased from existence more than Matthew Davinroy.

“This is the new sensation I was telling you about, Anne,”
said Davinroy, nodding at his wife, his every word continuing to come through
Quinn’s earpiece with great clarity.

Davinroy elevated his right hand, drink included, until it
was level with the First Lady’s eyes. Others in the group looked on with great interest.
“What would you call that color?” asked the president. “Electric neon blue?”

“Wow. That’s a tough one,” said the First Lady. “I can’t even
decide if the color is appealing,” she added with a charming smile, “or just freaky.”

The president grinned. “It is unusual, no denying that,” he
said. “But that’s one of the things I like about it. But, of course, you don’t
choose a cocktail based on its color. It happens to also be incredibly tasty,
but in a way that is so unique I can’t describe it.”

“I’ve had these myself, Mr. President,” said Jessica
Pospisil, president of Sony Pictures. “And I couldn’t agree more.” She shook
her head. “Although I wish they would have chosen a more grown-up name for it
than Portuguese Nectar Vector,” she added in amusement.

“I can’t argue with that,” said the president with a warm
smile. He turned to his wife once again. “Give this a try,” he said. “If you
like it as much as I think you will, it’s yours. I can get another.”

Quinn’s stomach clenched as he listened to this exchange and
he suddenly felt light-headed.


How could this be? No one’s luck could be

But even as he thought this he knew he was wrong. Adolf Hitler
had survived some fourteen assassination attempts over eleven years, as lucky
as he was evil.

Perhaps the most evil men in the world truly had made a pact
with the Devil. How else to explain it?

Quinn rushed closer to his target and maneuvered until he
found a gap in the human fence surrounding the president, giving him a narrow
but clear line of sight to both Davinroy and his wife. Everything seemed to
move in slow motion now as a dozen thoughts and calculations rushed across his
mind at once.

The First Lady was innocent. He couldn’t just let her die.
And if she did, the Secret Service would seal up the house, and he would be the
chief suspect. Even if he was not found responsible he would never be fully trusted
again, ensuring he would never get a second chance. Davinroy would remain

Quinn drew his weapon even before he knew he had come to a
definitive decision, now only ten feet away from the first couple and their
sycophants, and shot the drink from Anne Davinroy’s hand just as she was
raising it to her lips.

Quinn’s shot was
The sound of the gun being fired, of shattered glass, and of several screams
seemed to all occur at the same instant. A shard of glass drove into the First
Lady’s hand, causing bright red fingers of blood to emerge, but Quinn didn’t
pause long enough to see it. The instant the glass shattered he changed his aim
and fired once more, this time at the president, but after the first shot the
president had jerked backwards, and the round barely grazed his arm.

Secret Service agents materialized from out of nowhere and
tackled Davinroy like he was an NFL running back just inches from the end zone,
covering him with their bodies. The First Lady received the same treatment
beside him.

Quinn cursed loudly, knowing that a second shot would be
useless. Moving like a predatory cat he snatched a woman nearby. In one smooth
motion he spun her in front of him so she became a human shield and held his gun
to her head.

The room burst into total bedlam.

Quinn backed up hurriedly into a nearby wall so he could
only be approached from one direction, dragging his newfound friend with him. He
had spent many years thinking on his feet, becoming expert at the tactical evaluation
of rooms, people, and situations after a single glance, instantly assessing threats,
weaknesses, and opportunities.

“Stop or she dies!” shouted Quinn at the top of his lungs, reacting
from pure instinct, only aware of what he had said after hearing these words
and discovering, to his surprise, that they had come from his own mouth.

Suddenly everyone in the room seemed to freeze, as though
they had all stopped screaming, or calling out, or even breathing, and all eyes
turned to him. Several of his fellow special agents had their weapons drawn and
pointed at him, and had it not been for the helpless woman he now held hostage
he would be dead already.

“I have no interest in harming this woman,” yelled Quinn.
“Or anyone else.”

Still holding the gun with his right hand, he removed a cell
phone from his pocket with his left, and held it out so it was easily seen.
“I’m going to release this woman now,” he said. “But know that I’m not wearing
my bulletproof vest. Instead, I’m wearing a vest made of shaped C4. Enough to
vaporize this house twice over. This phone triggers it to blow, and I’ve set up
a dead man’s switch,” he explained, displaying improvisational skills that were
surpassing even his own high expectations of himself. “This phone contains
motion sensors. If it falls from my hand, the sensors will know it, and the
explosives will be triggered automatically.”

The Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential
Division, Cris Coffey, had
been one of the agents who had tackled Davinroy, and now stood facing Quinn,
with the president still on the ground and shielded by other agents behind him.

Coffey hesitated, and Quinn could tell he was trying to
decide if the bomb was a bluff. Quinn guessed that the fact he had released the
woman after making his threat, pushing her away from him, would be the deciding
factor. Coffey would calculate that Quinn would never give up his hostage, his
only hope of survival, unless his threat was real.

Other agents in the room glanced back and forth between
Quinn and their boss, alert for whatever might happen next.

“Try to move Davinroy out of here and I’ll trigger the C4!” barked
Quinn with a snarl, and the way he uttered the president’s name, the hatred and
disdain and zealotry in his voice and in his expression, left no doubt that he
meant it. “Don’t test me, Cris!”

Coffey looked deeply into Quinn’s eyes one last time and
came to a decision. “Okay, we won’t move him,” he said quickly, striving to
keep his voice as calm and soothing as he could. “But come on, Kevin. Let’s not
do anything rash. Let’s talk this out.”

“I need David Garza,” said Quinn, nodding at a tall,
youthful man to his left, looking dapper in a black tux and red cummerbund.

Garza, a billionaire technology entrepreneur who owned the
mansion they were in, took a step backwards, and the aura of command and
authority he typically projected was shattered, replaced by one of primal fear.

Coffey held up his palm to Garza, indicating he should remain
silent, and then turned to Quinn. “Why do you need him?” he asked.

“To lead me to his garage and give me the keys to one of his
cars. I’ll get the hell out of here and he’ll remain unharmed. You have my

“You know I can’t authorize that.”

Quinn held out his phone toward Coffey and waved it menacingly.
“What I
is that if this doesn’t
happen within thirty seconds, I’m going to blow the C4. He either does what I
say, or everyone dies,

Quinn glared at the man who had been his boss until just
seconds earlier. A man he couldn’t have liked or respected more. “To be honest,”
he continued, “I almost hope Garza
cooperate. I’ll regret the collateral damage. But at least I’ll die knowing I’m
taking Davinroy down with me!” he added savagely, the words spit from his mouth
like a poison. “I have nothing left to lose.”

Quinn had considered surrendering and doing his best to
convince others of the truth, but had decided against this course almost
immediately. He knew that escape would offer him a better chance to see justice
done. Although, when it came to effecting an escape, and staying at large once
he did, he hadn’t done himself any favors.

His single-mindedness of purpose had left a glaring blind
spot in his preparations. He didn’t care if he lived or died after he took out
Davinroy, so he hadn’t planned on running. If he was ultimately caught, so be

But he should have planned out what he would do if his
one-man operation went sideways, like it had. His rage had poisoned him to such
an extent that it never occurred to him he might
, an oversight that was criminally negligent.
Of course
he might fail. There were too
many variables, too many moving parts, and too many eyes on the president to be
certain his plan would work.

Now all he had were his wits, a gun, two hundred dollars in
cash, and a small electronic device, technically illegal, that some agents
carried like a rabbit’s foot to help them break into cars if this ever proved
necessary. This last would be most helpful of all, but its presence was just
dumb luck rather than foresight, carried from force of habit alone.

He had also been lucky to have thought of the C4 bluff so
quickly. He refused to hurt innocent parties, and this bluff seemed the best
way to accomplish this end, as well as the best way to ensure he left the
mansion with the same number of holes in his body that he had upon entering.

Now that he would be hunted and no longer with the Secret
Service, killing the president would be all but impossible, but where there was
life, there was hope. And if he retained his freedom, maybe he could find
enough evidence, after all, for the world to know what this man really was. As
long as he had breath in his body he would use it to try to bring this
psychopath down.

“What’s going on Kevin?” said Coffey. “Why are you doing

“Because Matthew Davinroy needs to die!” he hissed. “Because
five weeks ago, he tortured and killed my wife! Leaving my unborn child to die
horribly within her!
That’s why!
” he
screamed, foaming at the mouth. “Davinroy, you sick abomination, your drug
failed, and I remember. You won’t get away with what you did to Nicole. I’ll
make sure the world knows what you’ve done—who you are.”

Quinn turned back to Coffey. “No more explaining! I need David
Garza and a pair of car keys.
he thundered.

Davinroy and his wife were still on the ground behind Coffey
and a wall of other agents, but the president spoke for the first time,
whispering so that only Coffey could hear, having no idea that Quinn had
arranged for his earpiece to receive the president’s every word. “For God’s
sake, Cris, let him leave. He’s dangerous and unstable. And utterly

“And then some,” Coffey whispered back.

Quinn’s boss quickly turned to face David Garza. “Mr. Garza,
I’m afraid I need to ask you to do what he says. We don’t have any other

“Damn right you don’t!” shouted Quinn.

Garza took a deep breath, looking distinctly ill. He nodded
at Quinn. “Follow me,” he managed to croak out, motioning in the opposite
direction. “The garage is this way.”

“Everyone needs to clear a path!” shouted Quinn. “Anyone
gets within ten feet of me and I detonate! Anyone follows us to the garage, I
detonate! Understood?”

In answer, any number of guests who were between Quinn and
Garza, and between Garza and the route to his garage, moved rapidly to either
side, a human reenactment of Moses’s parting of the Red Sea.

Quinn turned to his former boss one last time. “Cris, I
don’t want anyone hurt,” he said almost pleadingly. “So don’t let anyone follow
me when I leave this place. I contingency-planned the shit out of this,” he added,
knowing that only his incompetence had prevented this bluff from being true. “I
have an escape route ready to go, and it’s heavily booby trapped.”

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