Trigger

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2

The click of a lock had Dylan on edge in an instant. He didn’t move, strained his ears to hear the next sound. Footsteps. Gentle, creeping ones. Boots. No, trainers. Something light. He opened his eyes and grabbed the gun he kept between his mattress and the floor.

The footsteps hit a creaky floorboard and Dylan held his breath, didn’t make a sound. Not until the intruder did, bursting through the bedroom door with his gun outstretched like a shield. Dylan ducked and rushed for him, wrapping his arms around his waist and slamming him into the wall. They scrabbled against each other in a disorganized mess of limbs until Dylan disarmed him, the gun loudly falling to the floor. He kicked it out of reach.

The intruder didn’t cave. He set his knee into Dylan’s side, slammed an elbow to his jaw just hard enough to disorientate him and get him to drop his own gun. He stumbled back, recoiling at the pain. A kick came to his gut and it knocked the breath out of him. He folded in on himself and just barely blocked another blow. Alcohol still ran through his blood and it made him sluggish, slow to react. The intruder got another shot to his jaw before Dylan got his shit together.

With all the force he could muster, he threw a punch, feeling the man’s face crack under his fist, skin splitting along his cheekbone in a bright cherry red. He aimed for his nose next, broken. The intruder could no doubt taste his own blood now, licking it off his lips when Dylan landed another hit. The man’s back hit the wall with a dull thud.

Dylan picked up his gun, had it up against the man’s temple in the blink of an eye. They were both breathing heavily, both struggling through the pain, flying high from the adrenaline.

“Better luck next time,” he said just before pulling the trigger.

The body fell limp, all its strings cut.

Dylan threw his gun on the bed, ran shaky fingers through his hair and down over his face. Fuck. Fuck. As he did with any other body at his feet, he knelt down to search the man’s pockets and came up with nothing but a mostly empty wallet. It was clear it used to hold more cards, more money, maybe even some pictures but now it had a single ID card.

Dylan knew the man, recognized his sharp nose and thick eyebrows now that he got a good look at his face. Even under the blood and swelling, he was familiar. He was like him, a hitman. Gun for hire. They ran in the same underbelly and made their money with the same kind of bloodshed.

The name was wrong though. It had to be wrong.

A chill rushed down Dylan’s spine, the hairs on the back of his neck standing at full attention as he went over the letters, made sure he was fitting them together in the right order. Angus Mette.

It was impossible.

Angus Mette was dead. Dylan killed him 11 months ago.

He slumped down onto the floor, still clutching the ID card. He stared at the dead man across from him. He wasn’t Mette. But someone had gone through the effort to make it look like he was.

And now he was dead. In Dylan’s apartment.

He took a deep breath and tried to calm the shakiness of his hands now that the adrenaline was fading. He remembered the job. He’d sat on a roof for hours in the cold, snow trickling down and sticking to his gloves and scarf. There was a clear shot eventually, straight in the open window, and Dylan took it.

He never missed a shot.

And if he did, he wouldn’t get paid, and the guy who hired him for the job definitely paid him. That hit had sustained him for months.

He turned the ID card over in his hands, tested the flexibility of it, scratched at the name. He needed to move, to get up and out of this apartment in case someone else was coming for him. It wouldn’t take too long for someone to realize the hit did not go as planned.

Dylan did not want to be here when the second person showed up.

He didn’t know where to go. He knew a few other guys in the business who might have let him crash in their own shithole apartments but he had no idea who’d already been paid off. And no one in this business had allegiances to anyone but themselves and the person who paid them. Dylan would be walking into a death wish.

No, he had to get out of town entirely. Slip into the shadows. Keep his head down for a while.

So he got dressed and threw a few changes of clothes into a bag, as many as he could fit. He packed his toiletries and the extra ammunition he kept under the sink, broke down his rifles and fit them into their case. He didn’t have much of sentimental value laying around, didn’t bother with any books or knickknacks he’d acquired over the past few months. Things could be replaced.

He stashed his passports somewhere after his last trip and ripped open all of his dresser and desk drawers until he found them. There was a mess of papers in the same drawer and he scattered them on the desk, making sure none of them were incriminating, nothing with his name on it.

A plain white business card stopped his flurry. The ink on it was glossy black, simple and elegant. A set of initials and a UK phone number.

It was the only contact he had with the man who’d hired him eleven months ago. In general, when he took a job, he never asked why they wanted someone killed. He didn’t care why they thought it was personal enough to spend money on a swift and painless death. He only wanted to know what bad thing the person did.

This man knew, in exact detail, what Angus Mette had done.

But then again, the whole world knew what he did. It was all over the news. The rubble of the train station still smoking. There was a manhunt for him, Interpol and MI6, probably the CIA, too. An all hands on deck situation across the world.

It was a dangerous proposition but Dylan took the job anyway.

He had an ego to stroke and Angus Mette was the biggest target he’d ever had.

He brushed his thumb over the corner of the card, flicked it, and then climbed over his bed to grab his phone off the side table. He dialed the number on the card before he second-guessed himself. He didn’t know what made Mette personal for the man, but he should know Dylan had made a mistake, that maybe Mette was still alive.

The number was disconnected.

“Damn it,” he hissed.

A quick search of the number online gave him nothing but a city. London. Bit broad.

It was unlikely the man was still there, but it seemed like a logical place to start. Dylan had connections in London who might be able to help him. No one was completely invisible.

He grabbed his bags and stepped over the dead body to get to the living room. He slipped his holster into place and checked the handgun was loaded. Thick socks and his boots were next, still unpleasantly wet from his walk home. He wrapped his scarf around his neck and shrugged his leather jacket back on.

He needed to get to the train station, sort everything out from there. The $1,500 from his last hit should get him comfortably to London. It’d give him plenty of time to come up with a real plan. Something more than just hunt and kill.

His feet echoed loudly on the stairs down to street level. He stopped by his landlord’s door and slid the key to his apartment under it and enough cash to cover the next months’ rent, knowing he wouldn’t be back. He should have tossed in a few extra koruna for the body removal service he’d have to hire but it was hardly a rare thing in this part of town.

The street was still quiet, most people having just fallen asleep or nearly ready to wake up. Dylan checked all of the doorways and windows with a clear sightline before stepping onto the sidewalk, looking for movement or the dangerous barrel of a gun. The next gunman could be anywhere. It made Dylan’s heart race.

It was bitterly cold and still damp as death but some of the clouds from yesterday had started to move out. The sun might be able to peek through later to warm the ground a bit.

Dylan shrugged his bag higher onto his shoulder, his guns masquerading as a briefcase held firmly in his other hand. The luggage made him weak to attack, he’d be slow to reach for the holster under his jacket. Someone talented could probably get a shot off quick enough to kill him.

He hailed a taxi from the corner, loading all his shit into the backseat. “Prague Main Station, please.”

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