A LONG TIME COMING
One of them was my target, the whole reason I was standing in the pissing rain in the middle of the night, but the other was an unknown, either a driver or bodyguard.
My target went by the name of Peter Ferris, a big-time cocaine dealer and self-styled crime boss. Apparently he thought this also gave him license to do whatever he wanted, including touching little girls, but tonight he was going to find out just how wrong he was.
My right hand drifted under my jacket and touched the comforting weight of the Glock 17 holstered beneath my armpit. Inside it were seventeen reasons that Ferris would never touch anyone again, and I shivered with a mixture of fear and anticipation as I crossed the deserted road and vaulted over the high wall.
Landing lightly on the far side, I froze as my eyes swept the sculpted gardens for any sign of guards or devices that might warn Ferris that I was coming.
Seeing nothing, I eventually moved on, creeping through the topiary like the vengeful spirit I felt myself to be.
Normally, I keep my business professional, down to earth and as impersonal as possible, but tonight things were different. The moment I’d found out who the target was I realised that nothing would stop me from bringing him to justice.
Even if I hadn’t been asked I would have done this. I’ve spent the last five years of my life hunting down scum like Ferris and dealing out the justice that the courts refuse to give, and I’ve never said no to a job, not once.
But it’s never been personal before.
Slipping the pistol out of its holster I screwed on the silencer and half crouched, half ran across the lawn towards the stand of trees that hid the house from view.
I paused at the edge of the woods, my ears straining to catch any hint of noise but all I could hear was the hissing of the rain as it soaked me to the skin.
As I moved through the woods, one slow step at a time, I could smell the fresh scent of the trees and it felt strangely at odds with my mission.
A snatch of conversation reached my ears and I froze, tilting my head to one side to pinpoint where it came from. It came again, a man’s laugh followed by the low murmur of conversation from somewhere in front of me, and I slowed my pace even more, creeping through the trees with the pistol held loosely in a two-handed grip.
Moments later, light began to filter through the branches and I saw the outline of the building, a renovated Georgian mansion that Ferris called home.
The conversation was coming from two of his guards, both middle-aged and going to fat, dressed in the dark gangster style suits that their boss liked them to wear.
One of them was carrying an MP5K, a nasty little SMG that could tear me in half in a few seconds, while the other carried a pump-action Remington slung casually over one shoulder. They were less than thirty feet away, but the rain and the darkness made me all but invisible in the trees.
The one with the Remington had his back to me, a plume of smoke from his cigarette battling valiantly against the rain while his colleague leaned against the car I’d seen a few minutes before.
I’d done my homework, and I knew that all of Ferris’s guards were either ex-cons with a capacity for violence, or dishonourable discharges from the armed forces.
No one would miss them, and by taking them out I’d be doing society a favour.
Turning thoughts into actions, I dropped to one knee and took careful aim, pulling the trigger twice and switching to the second target before the first one fell.
Another double-tap, and the second man was sprawling back against the car, one half of his face covered in blood as the rounds struck him in the forehead.
The soft noise of the silenced pistol was lost in the pouring rain, and the sound of my harsh breathing was louder by far as I waited to see if anyone else was nearby to raise the alarm.
When no cries came, I left my cover and sprinted for the car, dropping to my knees to check that both men were dead.
A few seconds later I moved on, ignoring the glassy-eyed stares that seemed to follow me as I passed above them.
Looking at the house, I saw that about half the lights were on, and those mostly on the top floor.
Having watched the house for almost a week, I knew that Ferris wouldn’t be entertaining tonight, instead doing whatever it was he did when he was alone.
Slipping up the steps to the front door, I turned the handle and found it was unlocked. Typical of Ferris, he was relying on the efficiency of his guards instead of on physical security, and tonight it would prove to be his undoing.
Moving inside, I found myself in a long hallway that was tastefully decorated with oil paintings and gold-plated candelabras. Tasteful, that is, if you’re a coke-fuelled drug dealer with delusions of grandeur.
A sweeping staircase led up one side of the hall, with three doors leading off the far side and one at the back.
Guessing that my target was upstairs, I sacrificed thoroughness for speed and chose the stairs, taking them two at a time.
No one challenged me as I ascended, and I wondered for a moment where all his guards were. I’d counted five in total, and with two lying in their own blood outside that left three more to contend with.
At the top of the stairs I paused, looking right and left to make sure that the corridor was deserted. Nothing moved, but from somewhere on the right I heard the sound of a television blaring, so I drifted down the corridor in that direction, stopping at the first door and pressing my ear to the wood.
No sound came from inside so I moved to the next one, this time rewarded with the sound of theme music coming from the other side.
Taking a deep breath, I turned the handle and moved quickly into the room, seeing two of the guards sitting on a sofa watching JedWard butchering a love song.
As the door opened the nearest one looked up expectantly, then his face dropped and his expression turned to one of horror as he saw the pistol pointed at him.
He opened his mouth to shout a warning, but I put two bullets through the opening before he could utter a word, slamming him back into his seat as the rounds pierced his brain and shut him up forever.
To give him credit, the second man was fast. He leapt to his feet, grabbing the pistol that he’d left on a nearby table. He’d almost brought it up into a firing position when I fired, two shots hitting him high in the chest and turning his white shirt crimson as he toppled lifeless to the floor.
Ejecting the magazine, I slapped in a full one and turned to leave, intent on finding my target and getting out of there as fast as possible.
Had I not turned, I would never have seen the last guard, pistol raised and aimed at my head.
I ducked just as he fired, the round flashing past my face so close that I could feel the hot wind of its passing. The noise almost deafened me and I cursed as I realised that the element of surprise was lost.
Too close to fire back, I dropped my gun and grabbed his wrist with both hands, forcing the pistol upwards and curling my finger over his to fire the rest of the rounds into the vaulted ceiling as we struggled in our grisly dance.
Aside from the shots that thundered through the night, we fought in silence, our laboured breathing the only sounds we made as we fought for control of the weapon.
Finally, the last shot fired and the slide locked back, so I dropped one hand from his wrist and slammed it into his stomach.
It was like hitting a brick.
I looked up in surprise and my opponent grinned, showing a row of uneven teeth as he twisted his wrist out of my other hand and jabbed his stiffened fingers into my throat.
Gasping, I fell back, my hands flying to my throat as I struggled for breath, but my opponent followed, his hands lashing out and striking at my ribs, my face, anywhere he could reach. He kept grinning as he came on, clearly enjoying his work, and I fought desperately to block his blows as they rained down on me.
Realising that I was outclassed and outmatched, I dropped to the ground and lashed out with both feet, kicking him in the groin as hard as I could.
His face went white and he dropped to the floor with a high-pitched keening sound, both hands cupping his damaged goods.
Climbing shakily to my feet I retrieved my pistol and pushed it against the back of his head, pulling the trigger twice.
Hot blood spattered my face as he fell twitching to the floor, and without another thought I turned and staggered from the room, desperate now to get this done with.
Out in the corridor I moved towards the only door left unopened, approaching warily in case Ferris was expecting me. After all the noise, there was no way he couldn’t be, and I slowed as I reached the door, stepping to one side and trying to slow my breathing so that I could listen.
It took me almost half a minute to calm myself down, adrenaline still flooding my system and making me want to move, but eventually I forced it aside and concentrated on the door in front of me.
It was the same construction as the others, plain wood with a carved centre panel, and I pressed my ear to the wood carefully.
Nothing moved on the other side, or if it did I couldn’t hear it, so with a silent prayer I flicked the handle down and swung the door open, ducking back just in time to avoid the hail of pellets as the roar of a shotgun blast split the air, making my ears ring.
“Come and get me you fucking bastards! Think you’re tough, huh? There’d better be a few of you!” A voice called, and I immediately recognised it as Ferris despite the drugs that slurred the words.
“Give it up Ferris, put the gun down and come out slowly, or we’ll have to come in and get you”, I called back, pulling a police-issue flash grenade from the back of my belt.
“Fuck you!” He shouted, firing again and taking chunks out of the wall and door frame, “just fuck you!”
Crouching down, I pulled the pin on the grenade and counted to three before throwing it inside the room and covering my ears.
The first bang went off accompanied by a flash of light, then another, then a third and as silence descended I rolled around the door frame and into the room to see Ferris sprawled on the floor at the end of a four-poster bed wearing only a shirt and a pair of Y-fronts. His hands were over his ears and his eyes were screwed shut as he rocked back and forth with the effects of the grenade, a shotgun discarded at his feet.
Forcing my battered body into action, I ran over to him and kicked the shotgun away before placing my pistol to his forehead.
As the cold metal of the silencer pressed against his forehead he went very still, opening watering eyes that stared at me with shock and disbelief.
“Y… You!” He managed to gasp as his brain tried to cope with the shock.
“Yes, me. Hello Dad, I think we’ve got a few things to discuss”.