The sound of my ticking watch seems to echo through the dimly lit cabin as I wait in the shadows for my prey. He’s late, his lackey told me he would be here by five and it’s almost seven-thirty. My impatience waiting for his arrival is beginning to turn to suspicion at whether I missed the prisoner I have tip Viktor off in some way. Or perhaps he was just further away than I thought and it’s taking him a while to get here.
My heartbeat is matching my watch tick for tick, the world surrounding my small cabin—usually alive with creatures and the elements—is deathly silent. My heart stops with a sudden chill as I hear another beat, footsteps on the front porch. Wait a minute, either there’s an echo or he’s not alone. I have less than a minute to recalculate my attack as I realize there are at least half a dozen men making their way to different entry points of the cabin.
The sound of the front and back door being simultaneously broken down followed by the smashing of glass windows sound like a symphony to my ears. The adrenalin electrifies my entire body as I wait for my moment. The initial charge into the house has died as they more cautiously make their way through to search for their target.
The first to walk past my hiding place unawares and I step out behind him lightning fast and I reach around and slit his throat silently before anyone else sees me. Another rounds the corner and I see him raise his weapon. I grab the body of the man whose throat I just slit and use him as a shield as the firefight begins. These men are professionals, they don’t need to communicate, they all know their objective—my death.
The silencers on the guns do nothing to supress the sounds of shots being fired in this place and his team are soon charging towards our location as I return fire. The second goes down and I turn around quickly ducking in the same action as I fire at two men coming up behind me. Still holding up my shield to my back I watch the two men in front of me drop to the floor.
I feel the familiar burn of steel being shot through my body as my injured arm drops my corpse shield behind me. I drop as low to the floor as I can and return fire and he drops to his knees but keeps firing. I duck closer behind the body on the floor and fire over the top of it a few times before the sounds of gun fire stops. I’m out, shit. I start scrambling over to the other two bodies to relieve them of their weapons.
I know there is at least one more in the cabin somewhere, not to mention however many are on lookout duty outside. My pulse pounding behind my ear makes it hard to distinguish where that thud just came from. I concentrate and slow me breathing as I make my way silently through the cabin searching for the stray. The eerie silence in the cabin now reminds me of being in the eye of a storm.
I reach the small hall and in the dim light I can see the closet door—where my prisoner is being held—is slightly ajar. I cautiously make my way towards the closet to ascertain if I now have two I need to hunt down in my house. My senses are completely attuned to everything around me as I peer into the closet, empty. I continue my way through the house and I stop before I round the corner into the kitchen after I hear the slightest movement.
I wait with my back against the wall as I slowly slide down the wall to enter the kitchen from a low angle firing. I hear a sharp breath then a heavy thud as I launch into the kitchen with my gun raised to see my prisoner standing over the sixth man holding a knife. I react quickly as I jump up and take the knife from him and kick the body on the floor to make sure he’s dead.
I raise my gun to my prisoner’s head,
“What are you playing at? He helped you escape.” I hiss quietly. He looks at me incredulously.
“Look around you, Viktor knew this was a trap and sent these men to kill you. I know because he wants to kill the girl himself. If he thought she was here he would be as well. As for helping me escape, it would only be so that Viktor could kill me himself.” He whispers hoarsely.
“Is this your team?” I ask urgently. He nods in response. “How many are outside?”
“There will be three, one out by the road close to their vehicle, and the other two will be by each entrance.” He informs me quietly.
“Know that you’re a dead man if you’re lying to me.” I hiss threateningly.
“I’ll take the one out back.” He offers picking up the knife and I nod as we part ways. I make my way to the bedroom to make my way out the window to get the jump on my target. I try to spot him from the window out in the relative darkness. The few streams of light pouring out of cabin aren’t helping.
Then I see it, the movement of a different shadow in the shadow of the tree about twenty feet from the front porch. I slide out of the window careful not to make a sound on the broken glass. I roll off the porch onto the ground and I keep low as make my way towards my target. He seems to be favouring the right side of the large tree keeping his line of sight on the driveway and the front door, I’ll sneak up on the left.
‘Crack’. Shit, I duck low and quiet at his reaction to me stepping on a twig. Normally the sound would go unnoticed it was that quiet, but not in this current atmosphere. His gun is raised towards my direction and I change my course towards the right side of the tree. His gun is still trained on the direction of the sound as I reach the tree. He finally shrugs off the cracking twig and turns around to face his original direction.
The look on his face as he turns flush into the barrel of one of his comrade’s guns, seems to resemble something akin to being impressed as I pull the trigger and he drops. I duck low as the sound reverberates through the surrounding trees, but the sound doesn’t travel as it did inside the cabin. I quickly start my approach towards the road to take out the last man. That’s if my prisoner has any thoughts of self-preservation.
I can see him clearly as I approach the driveway entrance, on the opposite side of the street. Moonlight makes a strong silhouette of his crouching figure as it watches each direction down the street and straight ahead to the driveway entrance. I can’t sneak up on him, he’ll see me dart across the road. He has the perfect vantage point. I keep low and take aim, I support my firing hand with my left arm and the blood from the bullet wound trickles back down the length of my arm.
The stream of blood seems to be the colour of deep burgundy in the moonlight against my skin. I know I have the shot, I just want a clearer shot of his head so I don’t get involved in an exchange of bullets across the street. I hear the sound of gravel being kicked on the driveway and I see my target sit up straighter reacting to the sound and I squeeze the trigger. The silhouette drops into the bushes.
I turn my head back down towards the driveway to see my prisoner staggering up towards me. I stand up cautiously as he approaches.
“Are there anymore?” I demand.
“No, but Viktor is here in town. I got it out of the guy at the front door. He’s got his own team and he’s going after the girl.” He breaths out heavily, wary of my reaction.
“What?” I boom deafeningly. I look back to the cowering man before me. “Get rid of these bodies, and their car.” I instruct him.
“Then what?” He trembles.
“Do you have any doubt that I will find you if you cross me?” I demand and he shakes his head vigorously. “Then, if I ever see your face again I will kill you.” I permit. He looks dazed and confused and I shoot him a dark glare and he turns and skitters across the road and I see him haul the body out of the bushes and carry it back to the car they parked a little ways down the street.
I see the park lights of the vehicle as he reverses it into my driveway. I’m half way down the block towards were I hid my truck and I jump in at a flying speed as I hit the road at full throttle towards the diner. I check my weapons situation and there is half a clip left in the gun I took off one of the men in my house. I try to reach under the seat to grab the glock taped underneath but my arm is starting to loose feeling.
I tuck my left hand under my left shoulder, trying to apply pressure and supress the bleeding. I continue at flying speed trying to drive with one hand as I almost loose traction going around a corner. I can see the light from the diner just ahead of me on the highway, I kill my lights and roll up the highway to a stop about a hundred yards away from the diner driveway.
I slide out of my truck and I rip off my shirt and tear a sleeve off it to make a tourniquet for my arm. I pull out the glock from under the seat and I tuck it under my shirt and I keep a hold of the other gun low at my side. I approach the diner at a silent run and I scan the windows desperately. It’s just after nine so the evening lull has begun. There is a couple of men sitting in a booth and one other at the counter with his back to the door.
The two men look out of place, not the usual type of customer for this diner, they could be the agents that Greenberg sent here. Then again they may be Viktor’s other team. I let out a deep breath when I see Ruby behind the counter, she’s talking to the customer sitting there. I need to get closer, but I need to find Viktor’s men as well.
I circle around the back of the diner and I find my first target, having a cigarette with his semi-automatic weapon held in a haphazard way. I aim the pistol with the silencer and he drops. I quickly run towards him to move the body before anyone else sees him. I lift him up and quietly place him into the dumpster behind the diner. So if Viktor is here, he must be laying low until his men signal they’ve secured the scene.
I don’t know why he would hesitate, two FBI agents wouldn’t pose much of a threat to him. I circle back around the front of the diner and I can see the car park. The typical black sedan must be the agent’s car. I can see one other car besides Ruby’s and Leon’s. Wait Leon, I didn’t see him through the window. I dart over towards the FBI car to take cover and get a better look into the diner.
If there is only one other car here, then I only have three other men to deal with. I like my odds with the other two agents already inside the diner. I rest my injured arm against the agent’s car while I try to get a better view of inside the diner. I still can’t see Leon, he must be in the kitchen. My observations are interrupted as I slip a little against the side of the agent’s car. I look down at my arm and see the blood staining the outside of my shirt tourniquet. I must not have tied it off tight enough, but I look at the blood again then I look at the wet stream on the side of the car.
I run my fingers over the door and I see the crimson stain on my fingertips. My heart securely fastens itself in my throat as I rise up a little to peer into the car. The head rests are both painted with the blood of a couple of successful head shots to two unsuspecting occupants. Where are the bodies? I crouch back down beside the car as I crawl around towards Ruby’s car. I peer up into the diner again and I take in the scene for what it really is, a stage.
I see a man coming out of the bathroom zipping up his pants while his semi-automatic hangs slung around his back. I look over towards Ruby and I can now see her face more clearly and it’s filled with fear. I look towards the booth I thought the two agents were occupying and I notice they aren’t moving. The fog through the windows makes it difficult but I’m sure I can see a couple of bullet holes in the heads of one of them.
The man returning from the bathroom jumps down into the booth with the two men, he’s laughing and he knocks the one he sits next to and the body falls limply against the window. I’m almost sick as the man with the gun pulls the head off the window, leaving a blood smear. He props the body back up in the booth and his head snaps towards the direction of the man at the counter.
I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. The closely shaven head of the man at the counter, his very body structure is still the same. Viktor. I can’t see it, but he must have a gun trained on Ruby. If he came with his team then there can only be two more of them. One I can see mocking the dead agents as the sit propped up like dummies in the booth, the other must be in the kitchen. I drop low and dart back around to the back of the diner to the kitchen entrance.
I make myself flush against the back wall in the shadow. I throw a stray aluminium can towards the garbage area and I hear the response I was hoping for. The heavy footsteps approach the closed back door.
“Alexi?” The voice calls through the door. I remain silent as I hear the latch of the door unbolt. The door opens and light floods the ground in front of the door. I see the semi-automatic first as it pushes out through the door frame. I grab a hold of the wrists holding the weapon with a locking grip like a vice as I pull the man out of the back door. I jam the silencer pistol up under his jaw and squeeze the trigger.
I cart him carefully over to the dumpster as well and I dash back into the kitchen and close the door gently behind me. The exhaust fan in the kitchen ensures my assault goes unnoticed. I wipe the man’s blood from my face as I secure my weapons. I look around from the dishwashing area into the front of the kitchen. I can see Leon laying limply on the floor of the kitchen and the rage inside me feels like a volcano waiting to erupt.
The amount of blood spilled, because of Viktor Nolikov’s inability to just let go. I hear a new song start on the radio and I army crawl over to Leon’s body. I feel for a pulse as I check for bleeding wounds and I’m physically relieved to find his pulse and no blood. He must just be knocked out.
“Mikael, kill that fucking noisy fan.” I hear a dark voice call from the front of the diner as I scurry back to the dishwashing area. I reach up and flick off the switch to the exhaust fan. I hear Viktor talk again, “Now my precious Ruby, turn off that insidious music before I shoot the radio, you know I despise country music.” The threatening voice hisses.
I crawl back around to the front of the kitchen so I can see the window pass clearly. I hear Ruby sobbing as she approaches the pass,
“Please, I already told you I don’t know who you are and my name isn’t Ruby, its Sarah.” Her plea breaks my heart. She reaches the radio on the pass window and her eyes find mine as she turns the dial. I hold my finger to my lips indicating for her to be quiet.
Ruby turns away from the counter as Viktor laughs.
“I know you think your name is Sarah, but it is actually Ruby. You’re my wife, and soon you’ll be the mother of my child.” I want to jump up and kill him right there and then for spouting such lies.
“Boss, do you really think she doesn’t remember you?” I hear the other man in the diner ask Viktor in Russian.
“Oh she remembers,” he answers in Russian as well, “She’s far more afraid of me than she would be of a stranger.” He laughs a dark maniacal laugh.
“Please just let me go,” Ruby begs and I can hear the fear in her voice.
“Now, now Ruby. It’s not nice to disrespect your husband in such a way.” Viktor tusks and I can hear her start to cry. “Come here to me, I think we’ve given your hero enough time to save you.” He commands. “Mikael, we’re leaving.” He commands loudly. This is it. I kick through the kitchen door and without hesitation I shoot the man behind Viktor with a quick double tap. I train my weapon on Viktor in less than a second, but he has the perfect shield, again.
I look into the tear filled eyes of the woman I love as I aim a gun at the man using her as a human shield against me. I will not let him walk out of here. My glare is the darkest and most threatening I can ever remember as I catch a glimpse of myself in a stainless steel surface. Viktor’s snarl is just as I remember, a feral animal backed into a corner. Ruby sees my face and I can see the fear in hers turn even graver.
I never wanted her to see this side of me, the assassin. The killer. I’ve called on all of my skills to keep her alive and I refuse to let the fact that I may scare her prevent me from saving her life. Her eyes find the ground as she starts to cry.
“Let her go Viktor,” I demand coldly.
“So you took out both of my men?” He hisses. I shake my head at him.
“No, I took out all three of them.”
“If I recall Mr Carson, the last time we were in this situation, poor Ruby here didn’t fair too well.” He snarls as he spits the words close to Ruby’s ear. I can’t risk taking the shot, she’s everything to me. The blood I’ve lost from my wound is making me weak. My eyes betray my weakness and Viktor laughs sinisterly as he takes in my full appearance.
“Looks like my boys weren’t completely ineffective, in fact I would say you’re close to passing out from the blood loss.” He smiles confidently as he grips Ruby tighter. My stomach clenches in knots and I lower my head and pretend to look away from him as I lower my arm. I see the blood dripping onto the floor beside me and my eyelids feel heavy.
I try to refocus on Viktor, hoping he’s buying the possum act. I let my eyelids droop visibly while facing him.
“You thought you could take her from me? I want you to stay awake Mr Carson, the last thing I want you to see before I end your life is watching as I cut your baby from this whore.” Viktor commands me and Ruby starts to struggle and squirm as I drop to my knees in defeat. I just need him to make one mistake, I have enough strength for that. I can hear him laughing over Ruby’s desperate cries as he puts his gun down on the stool beside them. He picks up a large knife and reaches around in front of Ruby.
“Mason,” she screams and I see the angle as I fall to my side and whip my weapon up too quickly for him to react as I squeeze the trigger. He is leaning far enough around the front of Ruby ready to cut her that the bullet slices through his jugular and he drops to the ground taking Ruby with him.
He lets go of her and grips his throat in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Ruby is trapped beneath him as his bleeds and I get to my feet using all of my reserve strength. I take the few strides towards them closing the gap quickly as I line up my boot and deliver a swift kick to him sending him flying off of her. I stand looking down at the creature squirming in his own blood on the floor. I aim my weapon as he smiles a snarling smile through the blood and I fire two bullets in his chest and one in his head.