Pay It Forward

Excerpt – Fundamental Error

The Katla Kill Files

The Katla KillFile short stories chronologically precede the novels in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Each KillFile features Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, executing one of her contracts. While not mandatory reading, each KillFile provides insight both in Katla’s work methods and skill, and additional background information in her character and personal history. The KillFiles can be read out of order, as the contracts are random samples from Katla’s past.



Fundamental Error

The Fundamental Error KillFile (9,800 words) follows Katla Sieltjes, freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter, on her most dangerous assignment yet. When Peter Brandt watches his brother Roel convert to Islam and turn into a domestic terrorist, Katla needs to enter into the mind of a fanatic suicide bomber in order to thwart a mass-murder attack in the shopping mecca of Amsterdam.


      Standing on the slowly ascending escalator, Fahd was terrified. The plastic poodle was heavier than he thought it would be, but he couldn’t put it down. His hands were slimy with sweat and he was constantly afraid the slick plastic toy would slip from his grasp. Although the pressure switch was attached to the wheels of the poodle, he was worried a mere shock would detonate the bomb before he reached the balcony. 
      Someone muttered in protest and he glanced over his shoulder just in time to see a burly man charging up the escalator past the elderly woman directly behind him. 
      For a moment Fahd thought he was going to be stopped by some undercover cop, but the man looked past him and pushed him aside. Fahd managed to lift the wheels of the poodle clear as he was wedged against the side of the escalator. Sweat popped out of his skin all over his body and his mouth was too dry to curse.
      “Are you all right?” The elderly woman behind him on the escalator studied him. “You’re awfully pale.”
      “Something I ate,” Fahd muttered, remembering the lavish meal the brotherhood had prepared for him two days ago, right before the fasting and cleansing ritual Muhammad had put him through. “I’m okay.”
      “Where’s your little one?” the woman said. “I have two granddaughters myself, but they’ve outgrown those stride-to-ride horses.”
      “I—I just sent her home with her brother,” Fahd lied, glad the escalator had reached the end. “Enjoy your day.”
Although he had studied the floor plans of Magna Plaza several times, Fahd still needed to turn around to locate the balcony on the other side of the building, next to the descending escalator. 
      Looking at the waist-high banister, he saw a way out of his predicament. If he dropped the poodle over the parapet, the bomb would detonate when it hit the marble of the ground floor. If he threw himself backward at the same time, the floor of the balcony would be between him and the shrapnel. He could just say that he reached too far and dropped the bomb over the edge, instead of setting it down firmly on the banister. 
      For the first time since the bright pink bomb had been pressed into his arms the sense of doom lifted and Fahd smiled. Not too confident, because he still had to cross the busy arcade with the lethal poodle package, but he would manage.
      He had to.
      On shaky legs, Fahd started the long walk down the arcade to the balcony.


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