'Go, Go Now!' his subconscious argued while his intuition was busy stabbing at the back of his neck telling him it wasn’t safe. Logically, he knew he had no choice. It wouldn’t be long before his neighbor came outside to walk the dog and finding him here, hiding between the hedges, his bones shivering in the cold of the morning dew through the tattered clothes he was wearing would be a little difficult to explain. His whole body was shaking and he briskly rubbed his arms to get the feeling to come back.
He took a deep breath and shook violently to get rid of the chills harassing his spine, then put his head in his hands and tried to look past all that had brought him here to this point. Escaping from the lab wasn’t going to be easy, he knew that, but crawling through the caverns was more of a near death experience than he had expected. But the automated surveillance drones of the special agents chasing him across the New Mexico desert, hell bent on killing him where he stood, had shaken his resolve.
He was tired. He was hungry. But he was resigned to the fact that his life would probably not last much longer. ‘What more could they do to me?’ He wondered.
The thought jerked his mind back to the ordeal of crawling through the subterranean abyss during his escape. Rivers of bat guano covered in millions of cockroaches living off the feces made his skin shiver. Once again he could see the vast sea of undulating pests seething and withering in an orchestrated dance from an unseen intelligence, working to devour his flesh. His body lurched forward into a dry heave as he pulled at his hair trying to get the memory to stop tormenting him.
He rubbed his face hard. “You don’t have time for this,” he reminded himself.
Concentrating again on the moment at hand, he reached up and touched the edge of his sunglasses. Gradually sliding his finger along the edge allowed the glasses to enter the infrared spectrum. He scanned across the back of his yard and house. Special symbols and designs appeared on the glasses providing an augmented reality view of what possible danger might still lurk at his residence. Nothing.
His frown showed he was not convinced. “They would not let me just waltz in here like this.” He discussed with himself quietly.
But time was of the essence and he had no more to afford, so he quietly took the first careful steps into his backyard, peered intently into the darkness to see if something he had missed was about to ruin his day. He made the edge of his house and stopped once again. His heart was pounding through his chest and he listened one more time for anything that might be tracking him. Silence.
His eyes closed and he let out an audible sign then clinched his teeth and reached down to grab his leg. It was throbbing to the point where he felt his heart beat in his fingertips. Each pulse shot splinters of pain through his body. The large cut was getting worse and without treatment soon, he was sure it would be the cause of his undoing. The cavern had been unforgiving and a well-polished stone had cut him like a knife when he slid down a crevasse.
He hobbled around to the side of the house where he found the bathroom window; a window he had modified for just a situation like this. He was sure the other doors, windows and entrances would be triggered. The bathroom window was different. The frame had been electrically isolated from the house and set on springs so that when he pushed the hidden button below the siding, the entire window and casing sprang open like a hatchway door.
Once through the window, he quietly edged along the hallway waiting expectantly for an agent to jump out from around the corner. Luck seemed to still be with him. Making the living room, he did a quick inspection and saw that others had been there. His heart jumped.
“If they...” he started as he ran to the computer sitting on the table near the back of the room.
It looked in tact but he quickly dumped the contents of his backpack onto the table looking for the blue light pen and flashed it on the keys. It was clear; someone else had been looking at it. His hand began to shake as he swallowed hard. He was almost too nervous to find out what his mind told him would be the end of everything he had striven to do. The computer started up and he hoped.
“If they found it... Oh God... Please.”
He pressed a series of keystrokes in a particular combination until the screen blanked out and returned with a different interface. He placed his thumb on the reader next to the computer then hastily typed in an overly long password.
The computer responded positively and he had access to the files he was looking for. He stopped for just a moment and allowed the reassurance of the files’ safety comfort his nerves before continuing to move them to a folder. Pressing SEND, he watched as they downloaded to the protection of the Internet.
He checked his watch. The agents had to know he was in the house and they couldn't be that far away. It had only been 3 minutes but that seemed 2 minutes too long. Another set of keystrokes responded with a high pitch wail from the computer. He quickly hit the ENTER key, stood up, straightened his ragged clothes and for once in a long time had a calm feeling wash over him. It was over. The plan was in motion. He confidently walked towards the front door as he thought to himself, “Well, if this is it, at least it was worth it.”
** ** ** ** ** **
Raul, the Senior Agent in charge, was ready, poised and rather smug about his situation. He struck a match against the box and lifted the glowing flame to the menthol 100 hanging precariously from his mouth. It illuminated the wrinkled lines and disfiguring scars - some from age, others from the point of a knife – which detracted from the once suave, chiseled looks that use to make women swoon in his earlier life.
He had lived a troubled existence on the back streets of San Paulo, moving from gang to gang until he himself became one of the warlords he had once feared. It wasn’t his plan to be the ruthless, sadistic killer he was but then again he didn’t plan on having the Marque de Sade for a father.
He closed his eyes and took a long draw on the cigarette, the nicotine fix calming his nerves. ‘It’s almost over.’ He reassured himself.
Two weeks he had been at this. Never had it taken this long to finish a job and he had begun to question himself. This poor excuse for an adversary had severely tested his patience. Raul’s superiors were not too pleased as well, having expressed their displeasure with his accomplishments so far, but that was about to change.
The crackle of the radio handset brought him back to the moment. He reached down and pushed the switch.
“Airborne surveillance contact. Suspect is in the pipeline, heading your way.”
“Did we get the computer trace?” Raul asked expectantly.
“Yes sir. It’s being processed now and as soon as we have it decrypted I will let you know.”
Raul returned the radio to its holder and finally allowing a smile to actually take root. The suspect was right where he wanted him; trapped in the rat hole he had planned out. All the avenues of escape had been removed; friends, family, even a couple of acquaintances. His prey was cornered and there was no way out this time. He was confident he had his position set, carefully parked along the street, sheltered by the tall hedges that covered his vantage point. Now all he had to do was wait.
It didn’t take long as he saw his quarry rounding the corner of the street. The man shuffling his feet alone the sidewalk, hampered by what appeared to be a cut along his left leg. Long, disheveled hair that had not seen a shower or bath in a week, except for the possible trudge through a stream or creek, was too matted to be bothered by the light breeze. His shoulders were pinched up close to his ears, hiding his neck. His hands were thrust deep in his coat pockets, arms close to his side, as if being held there by a restraint.
Raul lowered the window a couple inches as wafting smoke rose through the opening. His opportunity had arrived. He flicked the remaining butt of his cigarette through the window, which crashed to the street in a burst of exploding embers. The suspect stopped suddenly, noticing the litter and the point from which it came. He could see the fear run through his target as he had seen so many times in the past. The quarry rocked back and forth, obviously undecided about running or facing the inevitable.
Raul’s silencer rested neatly in the windowsill. A quick gauge of the distance; a pull of the trigger and a spiraling hollow point sliced through the air towards its target. The suspect dropped his jaw as if to say something but the bullet found his forehead before he could speak. His head rolled back and his body went limp as his knees gave way and he slumped to the sidewalk. A slight smile crossed his lips before he fell over into the yard; blood encircling the shattered exit wound. Raul cocked his head to the side contemplating the target's smile as he returned the gun to its holster and he casually drove the car from the scene.
‘It must have meant something.’ he thought, but his job was done and he didn't really care.
Looking back in the rear view mirror, he could see a startled woman from one of the houses running across the street to see what had happened. She reacted much like anyone seeing a killing; flailing her arms around and screaming wildly trying to get the attention of her neighbors. Raul cracked another wirily smirk as he flipped open his cell phone.
“Yes?” a straight monotone, emotionless voice queried.
“It’s done,” he said before ending the call just as quickly as it had begun.
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