Levels of Heaven: Depths of Hell part1
Monday, December 12, 2011

Post BDM. Let’s explore souls…..BPZ


Levels of Heaven: Depths of Hell Part - 1

Rovell Gammon looked at the mirror across the barroom countertop. He was sure that he didn’t like what he saw in the reflection. There was a man who’d age extensively over the passed several months looking back at him. He brought the liquor glass in his hand to his lips and emptied it’s remaining contents down his gullet. He looked over at the barkeep down at the other end of the counter and held up his empty glass indicating that he needed a refill.

Jed Sturgis, the bartender and owner of the Purple Garter, stopped working on the clean, clear glass he’d been polishing for the past fifteen minutes and reached down to pick up a fresh bottle of New Melbourne vodka #7. He walked back over to where Rovell sat sulking. Jed noticed something red dripping down his patron’s right temple.

“Fight with the Mrs. and now you’re in here wishing you hadn’t gambled that last ten coppers away so she wouldn’t have hit you with that glass vase and walked out on you.” It wasn’t a question, rather a curious sort of probing the bartender used to find out the purpose for this fellow being here.

The barkeep pointed to his own right temple in indication that there was something flowing down the side of Rovell’s face.

Gammon put his hand to his head and brought it before his eyes to see what the man had curiously been consulting him about. He noticed a smear of red across his fingertips.


Rovell had been aware that there had been a pool of liquid gathering at his temple and was now running down the side of his face, but he had assumed that it had only been sweat, not blood. He became aware now that, along with the bruise that was swelling across his right temple, there was also a cut exposing the injury from the altercation he’d been involved in thirty minutes prior.

“Damn you Malcolm Reynolds,” he thought, “ damn you and all those aboard your vessel,” he had to place blame on someone, why shouldn’t it be put on the best adversary he’d ever had? He looked back over to the barkeep who, after pouring Gammon another drink, seemed to be waiting for an explanation.

“Cut myself shaving,” he said.

The man cracked a little smile then leaned in close to where the visitor to the “Purple Garter” saloon was sitting.

“Maybe next time you should bring the shaving razor a little closer to your face,” he said in a low tone, indicating that he knew it really was none of his business what his clients did, but that had never stopped him from giving advise.

Rovell said nothing, only viewed the man. Then brought his refilled drink to his lips. Jed again walked the six paces back to the other end of the bar, and resumed polishing his glass. Rovell Gammon began to think back on what had befallen him this night,….. so short a time ago.

He had been walking the streets of Gutter Alley looking for a place to quench his thrust, and yes, drown his misery. He found the Purple Garter still open, which was a pleasurable surprise. Most drinking establishments were closed by this hour. Even the one’s that operated in this part of Persephone.

Gutter Alley was a dark, seedy place. One where the planning and scheming of illicit activities often times began, or concluded. These sort of places existed in every town, in every city, in every corner of the verse. They were labeled “Black-Out Zones” and for many unsuspecting individual, they could come under the scrutiny of the Authority just by being seen entering or leaving these kinds of areas.

Gutter Alley on Persephone was, in particular, one that was managed by three rival crime bosses. Massey Deeks to the northwest, Rifkin LaVoit, the northeast, and Badger, no known first name, to the south. The crime lords were in steady competition with each another, and always looking to outsmart the others.

Gammon didn’t care about all that. He worked alone and was in more trouble with the Feds then all three of these crime bosses combined.

He remembered a half an hour ago he was on his way here, to the Purple Garter, when he’d gotten a familiar feeling that he was being stalked,……hunted. Ironic that at one time he was the hunter himself. Now he was witness to what it felt like becoming the prey.

He had chosen a dark, back avenue to make his way to the Purple Garter, when he’d become aware of small, seemingly insignificant noises coming from the shadows behind him. He knew these sounds weren’t being made by cats or gutter mice. There was someone following him. He knew because his training told him so. He made a quick turn to the left once he came to a cross street, then slipped back around a small storage building to sneak behind the stalker’s flank.

Gammon had been fast, and so quick that the individual, standing at the entrance to the cross street, hadn’t realized that the tables had been turned and that now HE was being followed. Rovell stood twenty steps behind the man.

“Looking for me?” He spoke to the gentleman‘s surprise. The man turned with a jump to face him.

The night was dark,….. even with it’s full moon faces couldn’t be made out that well. Still, Rovell knew this was a bounty hunter. His opponent’s mindset was on retrieving the reward placed upon Gammon’s head. These guys were getting better, Rovell was thinking. It was, most of the time, two months before one could usually track him down. This time it had only taken three weeks.

“No, I’m not looking for you……,” the man said, “ I’ve found you,” with that the fellow made a mad rush towards Rovell. At first he looked to be sloppy with his attack, but that was a deception. The man actually gained control of his momentum before he met up with his prey and swung a wide roundhouse punch that would have been devastating had it connected.

Rovell ducked this aggressive move and countered with a quick jab with his right fist to the fellow’s kidney. The man toppled a bit but never lost his footing. He countered Rovell’s action with a spin-kick of his right leg. His boot caught Gammon on the side of the face. It was but a glancing blow,…. Rovell was able to avoid the main impact of the kick, but it still grazed him enough to tell Rovell that this guy was schooled in the art of close quarter combat, and could take punches that earlier adversaries hadn’t been able to withstand.

Rovell fell to the ground and in a twirling move used his feet to knock the man’s legs out from beneath him. The fellow fell to the ground, and in a flash Gammon was on him. His hands griping and tightening around the bounty hunter’s throat like a rusty, iron prison collar.

By reflex the hunter grabbed Rovell’s arms around the wrist and tried to forcibly remove his hands from chocking him. He couldn’t call out, he wouldn’t call out….it wasn’t just a matter of gaining the reward money posted for Rovell Gammon by the UAP. This fellow figured that he was better’n Gammon. That he, at some point could gain the upper hand, and that HIS hands would be around Rovell’s throat within the next few moments.

The bounty hunter’s plans for now, weren’t about of killing Gammon, he wanted the fugitive alive. The reward paid more if he were delivered breathing. Still, it wasn’t only a matter of delivering Gammon back to the authorities undead, it was a matter of pride. Taking down the man who’d let the Tams, so easy a prey, slip through his tentacles, would gain him vast respect of those in higher places.

The government paid appreciatively for the return of a failed assassin. There was no room in their universe for folk who couldn’t deliver on their job duties. The bounty hunter meant not only to gain the reward, but also gain prestige. It would be high honor if he could bring in an ex-operative single-handedly……… that is, if he could get out of the chokehold he found around his neck at this time?

Rovell closed his fingers tighter around the man’s throat. He could feel the fellow’s windpipe beginning to be crushed. It never bothered him killing someone. It didn’t affect him in the least. This fellow would be dead in less than two minutes and the concern he had over the man’s life affected him as much as if he’d taken in a scrumptious bite out of an “Ice Planet”.

Rovell Gammon?

At the moment he thought humorously about his alias. Funny what came to mind when someone was strangling the life out of another human being.

Rovell Gammon wasn’t his real name. Fact was he didn’t even remember his real name. He was taken from his home and his family at a very young age. Taught human philosophy and the art of surviving. He had been assigned an ID number and achieve the title of “ Assassin/Operative” at the age of seventeen. Since that time her had killed many people in the name of the government without question. It never mattered to him. Mostly he had worked alone, just as now. He had remained hiden, with most people unaware of his true identity. But some few months ago he had been given full resources to track down and deliver River Tam.

In that mission he had failed, and with that failure he had experienced something he’d never been conscious of before. HUMANITY!

He had been unable to defeat Malcolm Reynolds, not because the Captain of Serenity was better at combat than he was, but because Malcolm had been able to establish a trustworthy team (something shown by Inara at the Companion guild) Something that the Operative had never considered as being an effective option.

Malcolm had put his trust in folk, in the people aboard his small ship. Something which had never been proven as an asset in all the Operative’s philosophies once it came to individual survival.

This had disturbed Rovell, had caused him to reconsider his contemplation of the reality of truth. Was he really the ultimate Operative, or was he just a pawn being used by a higher authority?

He would ponder this more at a later time. Right now there was a more pressing issue at hand. He was about to kill a man in less than a minute. He looked deeply into the fellow’s eyes as they began to glass over.

“Better pray to whatever gods you believe in this night,” he spoke almost silently, “because you’re about to meet with them face to face!”

Gammon watched as the last scant of air emptied from the bounty hunter’s lungs. He watched as his eyes began to crystallize and stare up at some fixed star in the night’s dark heavens.

The bounty hunter was dead now. His soul moved on to another dimension. Rovell relaxed his grip. Did it effect him, the taking of a human life? At one time he’d done it for the survival of the Universal Gods, now it was for his own survival. That was something entirely different…..he looked over to where he could see the neon sign of the Purple Garter flashing….

Now, It was time for that drink he’d been craving all this very evening.

End Part 1


Tuesday, December 13, 2011 4:23 AM


GOOD start here, BPZ. It's interesting to see this from the Operative's perspective. I like the details you've brought in to fill out the Operative's background, and the tie ins to familiar characters like Badger and the crew that you've dropped into the text without making a fuss over it. Nice introduction with a good balance of exposition and action, scene setting, tension building, and forward motion. I'm interested to see what happens next.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:17 AM


Howdy eb,

I’m glad that you like the first installment of LOH:DOH. I did get a bit more graphic with the “hands-on” gratuitous violence in this one…..but as you know, the universe isn’t all sunflowers and buttercups. Well, maybe Blue-Sun flowers…….

Persephone may be getting a little “Hot” for the Operative to stay there much longer. LOH:DOH #2 might find him on another planet, or out in space, and possibly with a new identity. I can tell ya that the Authority is becoming pretty tired of bounty hunters failing to bring him in. Maybe they’ll start sending government assassin next…..what’d ya think?

Thanks for the feedback, BPZ


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