When in Doubt, Kill
By Chance Nix
Emilio Cain, a bustling playboy, had but three loves: one for the drink, another for the women, and the biggest for hacking major companies for ransom. Lying out by the pool of his penthouse apartment, he wore only a red house robe and a pair of boxers, and in between his legs bobbed the head of a lovely brunette, who he didn’t concern himself with. His facial features were illuminated by a computer screen, on which his eyes roamed back and forth. His hands sped across the keyboard.
Emilio slammed his index finger down on the enter key and moved the small bedside table away. He ran his hands through the woman’s long silky hair. Her eyes rose to meet him, and she smiled, never ceasing in her activity. He fisted a handful of hair at the back of her head and forced her skull down into his lap at the moment of finishing. She gasped for a moment, but then relaxed, allowing him to finish.
The brunette stood up, wiping her mouth as he tucked himself into his boxers. His lips mouthed something inaudible, then he blew her a kiss. Smiling, she started toward the balcony door. He slapped her bare ass with the back of his hand, making her jump. A laugh escaped her, and she rubbed at her bottom, screened only by a pair of pink bikini thongs. Giggling, she disappeared into the apartment, where several others had gathered for drinks and drugs at the expense of their host who had returned to his laptop.
Time went still and he felt his surroundings whirl around him. For a moment he thought he saw a small flash of light on top of a building far away, but he heard nothing. Reaching for his throat, he desperately hoped to find a hand there he could remove. Only then did a sharp, burning pain reverberate through him. A small hole pumped a warm flow of blood over his hands and down his chest.
God this hurts, why can’t I breathe? He asked himself. A cold feeling started at his feet and worked its way up his body. The night air was hot; he knew he shouldn’t be feeling this cold. He wanted to wrap himself in his house robe, but he couldn’t remove his hands from his neck. Sitting straight up, his knee rattled the small bedside table. Eyes wide with panic, the people in his home were so wrapped up in their partying, they didn’t notice he was in trouble.
Emilio tried to stand, but there was no feeling in his legs. He collapsed backward into the poolside recliner. Blood gushed out between his fingers. His mouth opened and closed, mimicking the motion of a dying fish on dry land.
Nine hundred meters away, Sean released the trigger of his Winchester .308, and lifted his eye from the optic scope. He didn’t wait to see if Emilio would die. He knew he would. This was not personal, so he didn’t need to watch the man suffer. Emilio Cane wasn’t an enemy or someone who had brought him harm or pain. Emilio was a number; thirty-five thousand.
It was the amount Sean could expect to find in his bank account in the morning. The hit was worth seventy thousand dollars, but half the money went to the company who kept Sean’s men, The Good Guys, in business. Sean checked his watch. It would take him thirty seconds to leave the rooftop. In that time, Emilio would be dead.
He promptly unscrewed the nut holding the twenty-inch barrel to the sniper rifle, throwing it first over the edge of the building, before pulling the barrel free from the receiver. He dropped it, along with the silencer, over the side. Sean couldn’t hear the splash from this high up but knew all three pieces would sink below the river’s surface.
He shoved the buttstock down a ventilation shoot. Someone might hear a bang from within the building, but no one would investigate. He then slid free the bipod, dumping it in a trash can on the tenth floor. Once he reached the third floor, he ditched the scope. He pulled the bolt from the rifle and chunked the lower receiver into a dumpster in the alley, walking out clean as he adjusted his suit.
At last, he kicked the bolt down a sewage drain, before climbing behind the wheel of his Aqua Blue 1967 SS Camaro. This car came with many features, but the one he liked the most was the tall blonde sitting patiently in the passenger seat. Domino Demetri smiled at him, and he returned it.
“You kept me waiting,” she said with a touch of Scandinavian to her accent.
“Sorry love, but the view would take anyone’s breath away.” Sean scanned himself in the mirror. His heart rate was at the optimal level; his pupils were the perfect diameter. He fixed his red tie and straightened his collar.
“I’m sure it will,” she said. Her eyes glanced down as he adjusted his wrist watch. “You are the only man I know who still wears a watch. Why not just use a phone like everyone else?”
“I like the watch. I had it made especially for me. Shall we go?” he asked, casting an eye over her attire. He approved whole-heartily and wanted nothing more than to remove her blue dress.
Sean sped away from the resort, stopping only for a moment to allow several police cars to pass with their lights flashing and their sirens screaming. A small grin came to the corner of his mouth. Domino watched the cars going by like a child watching a parade.
“I wonder what happened,” she said.
“Who knows? Hope it’s not too bad.” But Sean knew where they were heading, and he knew how bad it was. The only thing was he didn’t care. Sean was thirty-five thousand dollars richer and ready for a good night. The dead didn’t trouble him. He had given up those demons a long time ago, on a far-off battlefield in Iraq, and his only concern was Domino.
They pulled up to a large luxurious hotel, Count Dantes. The walls were covered in bright lights, causing the night to fade into a faux day. Sean parked the Camaro in the parking lot across the street from the hotel and walked around to let Domino out. He took her hand as she stepped out of the car, fearing the high heels would buckle under her weight.
“Why not use valet?” She asked.
“Because the parking lot is right here. We don’t have to walk far,” Sean said. He closed the passenger door behind her, and the two started through the parking lot filling with cars. The party was in the main ball, and all the richest men and women in the hotel would be there. Sean hoped it would impress the six-foot-tall Domino. He paused before stepping out into the street.
“What’s wrong?” she asked with real concern on her face. Standing next to the Hotel Dantes, with windows boarded up and pieces of walls crumbling down, lingered a dark, retired building. Sean wondered why someone hadn’t destroyed the building. He felt a tugging at his side and looked down to find a well-manicured hand in his. He smiled at Domino, and the two hurried across the street toward the funneling crowd of people heading toward the same party.
Sean and Domino stepped out of the elevator on the twelfth floor. Beaming with beautiful decorations and glamorous people, the ballroom stretched across from the elevator, and Sean stopped before going in. The last time he had been in such a magnificent place was in Iraq when he visited Saddam Hussain’s palace. Men strolled about the ballroom with beautiful women clinging to their arms, and Sean and Domino snickered, wondering who had brought their wives, who brought their girlfriend, and which one brought a hooker. He ordered a glass of Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey for himself with three ice cubes and champagne for Domino.
Domino took the tall glass from the waiter and eyed the party. Sean sipped from his whiskey and watched only Domino. He didn’t care about all the businessmen and politicians. He cared only about her. Her beauty was stunning, overshadowing all the other women, and the hours seemed to fly by when she was at his side. Sean followed Domino out onto the balcony, where they were alone. It was how he preferred it.
Domino leaned against the cement railing, and Sean moved up behind her, wrapping himself around her bare arms. Domino leaned back and kissed him. Sean was happy.
“What do we do after this?” she asked.
“We can go back to the hotel.” She rolled her eyes at his seductive smile.
“No, now that your job is finished, where do we go from here?”
“Wherever we want. I have already informed my employer that tonight was to be the last job assignment for me. I am retired. So, we can go wherever we want, as long as you go with me, I don’t care,” Sean said. Domino turned around and hugged him, planting a large kiss upon his lips. His hands glided over her shoulders and down her arms, warm and welcoming. She leaned in and kissed him hard; her tongue danced past his lips, entangling with his own.
“Maybe we can go somewhere cold? Somewhere where they have skiing. I miss skiing.” Domino said.
“Then we’ll go skiing.” He returned to her lips. There was a clearing of a throat that spoiled their kiss, and they looked back to the door leading into the party. A waiter in a white coat stood with a silver tray, and upon the tray was a small piece of paper.
“For the Gentleman,” said the waiter. Domino looked at Sean who mimicked her look of confusion. Domino retrieved the piece of paper off the tray, and the waiter disappeared. She read it and handed it over to Sean. Sean glanced over the writing before crumbling the paper.
“Who is that from?” Domino asked.
“I guess I will find out. Someone wants to meet me at the bar.”
“Well, while you do that, I think I will go find the little girl’s room,” Domino said. The two shared one more embrace, then walked back into the party hand in hand. Sean didn’t want to release her. She was too beautiful, and he feared if she walked away from him, someone else might steal her away. At last, he freed his hand from hers, and the two parted.
Sean cut through the dance floor, side stepping couples, and stood at the counter of the bar. He ordered another Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey with three ice cubes. The bartender mistakenly placed a fourth ice cube in the glass. Sean didn’t wait for him to turn around before retrieving the extra cube of ice and tossing it into the sink behind the bar. Too many ice cubes watered down the whiskey, not enough caused it not to chill properly, and so for Sean, three ice cubes wasn’t only the perfect amount, it was the only amount.
There came a clicking which ticked at his ears, and he turned to find a man sitting at the bar, tapping a small silver ring against a glass half full of bourbon. The man was looking at Sean, but Sean didn’t recognize the man.
“Can I help you fella?” Sean asked.
“No, no.” The man shook his head and sipped from his glass. “I don’t have no business with you, Sean Bloch.”
The man was now smiling. Sean was not. He wanted to punch the man, but there were too many people in the party, and he didn’t like to draw attention to himself.
“How do you know my name?” Sean asked. The man drank his bourbon and asked for a second one. Sean looked for Domino, expecting to see her emerge from around the corner. Two women appeared, but neither were Domino.
“Come, have a conversation with me,” said the short, round man. Two more men stepped up to the bar. Each wore the same identical ring.
“Nice rings. Glad they recognize your marriage in this country,” Sean said and downed his whiskey in one hard gulp. The liquor burned going down, but the hate inside him overpowered the urge to grimace. One of the large men smirked. Sean looked back at the restroom hallway and was glad not to see Domino. “Let’s do this somewhere else.”
Sean followed one of the large men through a door leading into a stairway as the other two trailed behind. He knew what was going to happen; the three men were here to kill him, plain and simple. Sean had been in the business of death since he was eighteen years old and could sense when it was going to happen. He was ready to die. He had been for all his adult life, but this didn’t mean he was going to die easily.
If these men wanted to kill Sean Bloch, they would have to work for it, and he was sure to make them work for it. Sean kicked the brute of a man in front of him who tumbled down the stairs. Before the others could react, he punched the short man in the nose, who stumbled back into the large man. Sean bound down the stairs.
A quick kick to the ribs dropped the blond hair giant to the bottom of the stairs. Sean vaulted over him, turned the railing, and quickly shuffled down more steps. He knew the men wouldn’t risk firing their guns if they had any.
“Sean.” Her voice echoed, followed by a scream, stopping him. He had the chance to get out, but they would hurt her, and he couldn’t allow that. Sean had made it a rule never to have anything that could make him vulnerable. Now he was breaking his rules for her, but he would break all the rules for her. She had seen him leave with the three men. Sean kicked himself, now she was in danger.
The three men gathered at the top of the stairway. The little man had Domino by the hair and held a knife to her throat. She was crying, wincing in pain each time he pulled at her hair. Sean held his wrists out to be bound, and the two larger men descended the steps. The Brute with the bruised ribs flashed a grin of yellow teeth moments before knocking the sense out of Sean with a pistol. Her screams faded along with his consciousness.
Time and worry seemed adrift until a punch snapped his head back and returned him to reality. His vision was blurry, and a lump developed rapidly on his chin. Sean Bloch pulled at the restraints tying him securely to a chair. Another blow brought blood from his lip, trickling down his chin, but Sean only smiled. The hulking brute cracked his knuckles and circled the bounded man.
“How’s the ribs?” Sean asked. The brute laughed and punched him again. “That good?”
The back of the man’s hand raked across Sean’s face, whipping his head to the side. A small laceration opened at the corner of Sean’s eye.
“If you are going to kill me, get on with it. Your smell is more assaulting than your punches,” Sean said. There was a touch of laughter behind his words and the brute slugged him again. Sean rotated his stiffening jaw as he noticed the name tag on the brute’s mechanic shirt. “Your name’s Bruce?”
The towering man nodded his head.
“Great, I’m getting punched by a guy named Bruce. You gotta be kidding me.”
Sean struggled against the ropes binding him, and Bruce laughed at these failed attempts. A distant scream brought forth only by the throat of a female put an end to Sean’s humor, causing him to fervently study the dank room.
The scream had come from the door in front of him. Bruce was amused as if he was on the inside of a joke. Sean gritted his teeth and struggled, but Bruce dropped his fist into Sean’s chest, making him choke for air. His eyes burned with repulsion for the man standing between him that door. The screams from the other room reached a deafening pitch. Sean feared it was Domino’s screams.
She was stunning, and any harm to her would be a crime against nature. Sean could imagine what was happening and he didn’t like the pictures racing through his mind. The next punch didn’t faze him. The woman’s scream went as loud as it could and then tapered off. Bruce’s smile didn’t fade; it only widened from ear to ear as her screams turned to silence.
“Not laughing now, Misfit,” Bruce spoke with a deep Russian accent, confirming Sean’s suspicions of the man.
“How do you know my call name?”
“Big bad mercenary. You don’t know shit,” the Russian spat on him. “I thought you American Marines were tougher than this.”
“Just wait.” Bruce hit Sean in the stomach, buckling him over into the fetal position. Sean cleared his throat and relaxed his breathing. “You know me but who are you?”
“The man who will kill you.” Bruce snarled, pulling a straight razor which glimmered in the dull light above. Sean eased back in his chair as the razor inched toward his neck. A trickle of sweat rolled down his cheek, caressing over his eye, and stopping at an upturned grin. Bruce, startled and surprised, had no time to react. The dangerous man, who was bound to a chair and at his mercy, now was free and coming at him.
There was a snippet of pain. Bruce stumbled as Sean shook the ropes from his wrists. A small, one-inch blade concealed in his wristwatch freed the ropes from around his legs. Something warm touched Bruce’s chest; the small inch blade opened a deep laceration across his throat. Sean eased from the chair. Bruce swallowed like a sea creature, but no air entered, and a kick to the knee forced him to the ground. A stabbing to the temple ended his life.
Sean stepped over him and pressed a button on his wristwatch. The small blade zipped back inside. Using much grit, he pushed open the battleship-like door. A wave of heat washed over him, forcing him to turn away. Allowing the heat to subside, Sean entered the identical room where a man dressed in black rushed at him from the shadows with a double-edged knife. Sean pivoted, caught the man’s outstretched arm, and tossed him to the floor. He knocked the knife away and yanked at the man’s throat, keeping a tight grip.
The darkly dressed man clawed unsuccessfully at the tight hold around his neck. With a sweeping leg, Sean knocked him off his feet and bashed his head against the hard floor until he fell unconscious. Shadows concealed the abandoned room, and he forced his eyes to adjust until he saw her there. The fight left him.
Domino’s smoldering flesh unhinged him. Gray ashy chains bound her hands to the ceiling, and her head draped forward. Someone had cut off her clothes, leaving small lacerations at various spots on her body. He sank to his knees in front of the woman he loved. Tears swelled in his eyes, blurring his vision, and he couldn’t catch his breath.
The flesh around her wrists and ankles were charred black. In several sections, her skin peeled away or turned the reddish color of the muscle. Sean touched her and retracted his hand as if something snapped at his finger. She was hot to the touch and at her feet rested a blow torch.
He unleashed a terrifying war cry, snatched the man’s head with hatred pulsating through his hands, and slammed it against the floor. The man’s eyes opened. He was groggy but knew who towered over him. He tried to pull at the hands which clinched his hair, but Sean slammed his head back into the concrete once more.
Sean’s hot breath stung at his eyes as a roar assaulted his face. There came a blinding light; the last thing he saw as the blow torch took his sight. The man screamed while his face melted. He continued to scream until a quick pushing of one hand and a pulling of the other snapped his neck. The room sat in silence aside from Sean’s breathing.
He didn’t know where to go or what to do until a buzzing from within the man’s pocket showed him the way. Sean fished out a cell phone. A red alarm flashed on the touch screen, reading, ‘Time is up, get out.’
Below this was a countdown clock with three minutes left. Sean wanted to free Domino, take her body with him, but there was no time. He felt sorry for her, wishing she had never met him. He wanted to be with her, was ready to give up his lifestyle for her, and now she was dead because of him, because of his lifestyle.
Two minutes and thirty seconds left. Sean wanted to kiss her, but her lips were seared away. He ran for a door on the opposite side of the room. The killing of the two men was pleasant to Sean, but he was now blood drunk and wanted more. The door was metal and at first, wouldn’t budge. With extra force from his shoulder, the door moaned, then slid open, scratching at the floor beneath.
The cold night air was refreshing, and the waves crashing against the rocks below echoed up the side of the ten story building. His head spun looking over the side at the startling height. Sean pushed away from the ledge, running to the other side of the roof to find only the street below. The nearby lights from the Hotel Dantes allowed Sean to see the men running out into the street. Most of the men were unrecognizable to him, but the short man from the bar was among them, as well as the other large brute from the stairwell. The sight of these two enraged him, but it was a third man who sank his heart with betrayal.
Sean had recruited him into The Good Guys, helped train him in the ways of being a mercenary, and even risked his life for the man he nicknamed Pyro. A former Navy Seal demolitionist, the man was deadly with explosions and fire. Sean couldn’t understand why a man he had freed from the trappings of civilian life would betray him. Why did he kill Domino, she wasn’t a part of their world? Sean wanted a rifle to snipe off each man as they headed for their cars.
The men ran across the street toward the parking lot. The first-floor windows exploded outwards, shaking the building beneath. The destruction plastered an air of enthusiasm among the thugs. The second level blew out as the clock ticked down. There was no time to forge a plan, and with each passing second, Pyro was slipping from his clutches.
A cliff on one side of the building and the street on the other.
Ten seconds, nine seconds, eight seconds.
Sean ran across the roof. He had only one chance to survive.
Seven seconds, six seconds, five seconds.
Sean leaped through the air. His hatred of heights did little to stop his self-survival instinct. The entire building erupted with a shockwave as he reached for the fire escape of the Hotel Dantes. The heat nipped at his back and for a moment, he feared he wouldn’t reach the railing.
Sean cleared it, slamming against the brick wall as pieces of the dark rubble peppered him from behind. He tried to shield himself from the debris, and as the heat intensified, he hurried down the first few steps of the metal fire escape. The structure moaned, and a secondary explosion shook the framework.
The escaping men climbed into different colored Mustangs as the building burned. Sean cleared the ninth, eighth, and seventh-floor stairs. The structure groaned, and the bolts tore from the mortar. A flame leaped out at Sean, and he dove to the side to avoid it. There was a jolt, a pitch forward, and a momentary feeling of weightlessness before the force of gravity pulled at him. He clenched the metal railing, slightly hot from the heat, as the sixth and seventh-floor fire escape broke free from the wall, swinging outwards over the vast space between the buildings.
Sean’s eyes widened as the ground sucked away from him. Fear froze his arms, and he clung to the railing as tight as he could. He didn’t want to move. The seventh-floor portion of the fire escape released into the burning building, but it wouldn’t hold for long. Sean glanced at the parking lot. Pyro was riding in the passenger seat of a red Mustang. His blond hair flapped in the wind. Small rhythmic flames danced in waves, reflecting off the center of his irises.
He was smiling at the destruction of the building, at the artwork done by his hands. The cars slowly pulled away from the scene of the crime as the fire escape pulled free from the wall. Sean swung himself over to the fifth landing. The structure above him roared as it came off the wall and crashed into itself.
The fire escape shook and cried, chasing after him. With each flight of stairs he threw himself down, the fire escape followed. The heat from above intensified and before the third floor could crumble, Sean leapt over the second-floor railing. His stomach crawled into his throat as he sank helplessly for a single story until his hands smacked the warm metal of the first-floor railing.
Sean released his hold and dropped to the ground below. His years of training was as natural to him as breathing, and as his feet hit the hard concrete below, his knees buckled. He dropped down and touched the ground in order not to break his legs from the impact.
Sean emerged out of the alley as the fire escape smashed behind him. People from the Hotel Dantes ran out to see the old abandon building burning to the ground. The fire department had arrived and were spraying water on the flames. Sean walked through the commotion of the gathering crowd and into the parking lot.
He located his custom-built Camaro SS and slid behind the wheel. Under the dashboard, he pulled out a Colt 1911 .45 caliber pistol from a built-in holster and ensured there was a round in the chamber. The Camaro thundered as he spun out, heading in the direction of the Mustangs. Once he was beyond the firefighters, the crowd, and most importantly the cops, he pressed firmly on the gas, digging the tires into the street, and propelling down the road.
He revved up behind the first Mustang, an off green color, only recognizing one of the three men inside. Sean eased up next to the driver’s side door and spotted the tiny man from the bar behind the wheel. The tiny man unwittingly nodded at Sean, then shook when two shots rang out from within Sean’s Camaro. The pistol’s flash blinded the tiny driver before the bullet struck him in the head. His body slumped, leaving his two passengers helpless as the car soared over a cliff to a watery grave below.
At the sound of gunfire, Pyro glimpsed the green car plummeting over the side and laughed.
“Step on it,” he said to the driver of the red Mustang. They pulled away, leaving behind their comrades in the blue Mustang. As Sean tried to pass it, the blue Mustang swerved into his car, scratching the paint and tearing into its body. Sean’s car weaved onto the shoulder, but he managed to hold tight to the wheel. The passenger in the backseat readied an Israeli submachine gun Uzi. The Camaro had bulletproof windows, but his passenger window was down, so thinking fast, Sean hit the brakes before the Uzi came to life.
Bullets struck the front of the Camaro, and Sean eased back behind the blue Mustang. The driver shouted and screamed as the back passenger shot through their rear window. Glass and bullets raced at Sean, but not even the .45 caliber bullets could penetrate the windshield of the Camaro.
Sean pressed a button on the control panel under his radio and a panel on the hood separated as a mini-gun rose from within. He flipped the top of the gear shift to reveal a red button and lined up the front of his car with the rear of the blue mustang. There was no sight post for Sean to aim with, but he didn’t need it at this close of range. He pressed the red button with his thumb, and the mini-gun roared into action. The men in the blue car mouthed their regrets before their car crumbled and ripped apart by 7.62 x 51 caliber rounds. Unexpectedly, the blue Mustang exploded, and he swerved hard to avoid the wreckage.
Pieces of metal bounced off his hood, but once the smoke cleared, Sean saw the Red Mustang had gained a sizeable lead. He dropped the hammer, and the Camaro thundered down the road. Other cars hurried to get out of his way. The red Mustang turned off on a side road trying to lose him, but Sean spun the wheel, making the turn in time. Gravel kicked up as he skid across the shoulder of the road and tried to remain focused. A troubling thought invaded his mind, What if Pyro calls ahead and tells whoever he’s working for that he’s still alive?
No, a small voice registered with him. Pyro is too prideful to make that call. He would want to circle back around and finish the job himself.
The red Mustang turned right, and Sean followed a hundred yards behind. The Mustang headed for town, cutting up alleys, and speeding past pedestrians. Sean came within ten yards before pressing down on the red button again.
The mini-gun flinched but failed to fire. A piece of the blue Mustang jammed into the mini-gun, causing it to malfunction. Sean flipped the switch on the control panel, and the mini-gun returned to its hiding place. He stuck his .45 out the window and fired at the Mustang. Rounds bounced off the rear, and Pyro extended his middle finger out the passenger side.
The driver brought the Mustang up on the sidewalk, not caring to avoid the people sitting out at restaurants or walking from store to store. They dove out of the way, but the side mirror of the Mustang caught one man in the arm, spinning him around, and slamming him to the ground. Sean followed the car down an alley and narrowly missed a couple trying to run across the street. They came out onto the freeway and Sean managed to strike the Mustang’s bumper twice.
Sean edged up, but the Mustang’s driver kept veering over, preventing him from pulling past. Sean shot at the car again, but the bullets couldn’t penetrate. Pyro nervously flicked the lid of a zippo lighter, open then close, open then close, as he tapped his shoes on the floorboard.
“Go faster,” He screamed at the driver.
“I’m trying, I’m trying,” The man replied. Pyro snarled at the man in disgust and then shot him in the side of the head. The sound was earsplitting, but Pyro didn’t bother himself with the noise. He pushed the man out the door and slid behind the steering wheel. Sean didn’t avoid the tumbling man. As the Camaro hit the man like a speed bump, the accumulation of guts and blood caused the tires to spin out.
He cranked the wheel, saving the car from the edge of the cliff. Dust blinded him and the Mustang disappeared. Sean wrenched the steering wheel back the other way and kept the car under his control. He hurdled down the freeway, trying to catch up, and as he came over a hill, he spotted the Mustang turning down a road leading into the forest. Pyro eyed the reflection in his rearview mirror and sighed heavily at the presence of Sean.
The impact was jolting, the Mustang skirted across the side of the road, trying to correct itself. It launched into the air, toppled over and rolled several yards before gliding head first into a tree. The Camaro screeched to a stop, and Sean ejected the used clip from his 1911 pistol and inserted a fresh one. He scrambled out around the car, keeping an eye on the upside-down Mustang.
A bullet whizzed by his ear. Sean couldn’t see Pyro, but the muzzle flash came from the backside of the Mustang. The bulletproof windows had been busted out from the accident, and the strong repugnant odor of gasoline wafted in the air. Sean returned fire but knew he wasn’t aiming at Pyro, only the vicinity of his old comrade.
An object flew at Sean, and at once he knew it was Pyro’s gun. He had run out of bullets. Footsteps trampled across broken twinges and leaves, heading deeper into the woods. A light appeared in the distance and Sean fired at it. With one bullet, there came a loud wail, and more twigs breaking.
Sean dodged through trees, rushing along, coming across a broken cellphone, and realized Pyro was getting desperate. A branch came out of nowhere, striking Sean in the chest, and he fell hard. His pistol flew off into the darkness, and Pyro ran past, heading back to the road. Sean climbed to his feet and checked for his gun. He couldn’t see it and had no time to look for it.
Pyro headed for the Camaro with Sean tight on his tail. Click… click… click. Pyro’s lighter opened and closed nervously as he made his way through the dark woods. He was rounding the wreckage as Sean tackled him, and the two men slammed into the overturned mustang. Pyro wheeled around with an elbow, catching Sean in the shoulder.
The two exchange punches until Pyro returned with an up-thrust of his knee into Sean’s mid-section, dropping him to the ground.
“Damn, you just don’t die, do you?” Pyro said, kicking Sean in the head. Despite the world spinning around him, Sean could still make out the annoying high pitch rodent like squeal of Pyro’s laughter. “Oh, didn’t see that coming, did you?”
Sean rolled over; he hurt bad but knew he wasn’t out of the fight. His hand settled painfully on shards of glass, which allowed the sting of gasoline to penetrate the tiny slices. Another kick came to his midsection, and he doubled over. Pyro danced around him, kicking him at will, until Sean blocked a kick to the face and jerked Pyro off his feet.
Pyro’s lighter, his security blanket, flew from his hand and in that moment, Sean ceased to matter. He folded to the ground hard, patting insistently through the glass to find his lighter. Sean bounced to his feet as Pyro scurried across the pavement. Sean brought his heel down onto the ankle of Pyro, there was a snap, followed by a cry of pain.
Pyro kicked at Sean, but Sean jumped away from the outstretched leg. Pyro desperately reached for his lighter but was stopped by Sean stepping on his wrist. His face twisted around as Sean’s knee pressed hard into the side of his neck. The lacerations on his skin burned and there was nothing he could do to avoid sucking in gas fumes.
“Why did you do this?” Sean demanded, speckles of spit flinging down on Pyro’s face.
“Orders man, orders.”
“Whose orders?” Sean pressed firmer into Pyro’s neck.
“Jekyll’s.” The word harsly escaped over blood-stained teeth, sending Sean into a rage as he drove his fist into Pyro’s cheek.
“Bullshit.” Sean couldn’t allow himself to hear the name. “Who gave the order?”
“It was Jekyll, man. He gave the order. He needed you snuffed out.”
“Lawrence is my best friend. We served in Fallujah together. He would never do this.”
“It was a debt to settle for the organization.”
“What organization? What are you talking about?”
“Your too stupid, you don’t see things right in front of you.” Pyro held up his hand where a small silver ring decorated his pinky finger, and in the center, was a tiny blue skull with ruby eyes. “What organization?”
Sean brought up Pyro’s arm and slammed it down on his knee, breaking it in half. Pyro didn’t scream out. He flinched, but this was the only reaction Sean would get out of him. Sean released Pyro, and climbed to his feet.
“We will kill you, Misfit.”
“The name is Sean Bloch. And don’t worry, old friend. Where you are going, you won’t be lonely for long.” Sean walked away from Pyro allowing him to reach for his lighter, only to find it gone. The scratching of the flint wheel which sparked the wick was a familiar sound to Pyro’s ears, like that of a baby’s cry to its mother. “Do you smell gas?”
Sean tossed the lighter behind him. Pyro moaned as the flames engulfed him, but when the heat sucked the oxygen from his lungs, he made no sound at all. The fire, his old trusted friend, the tool of his occupation, the thing he once believed to be the master of, licked at his flesh until he was no more.
Sean brushed himself off before climbing into the Camaro and sped down the freeway, returning to his old life, gunning for his old friends.