More pairs of feet ran towards us.
“We need to go now,” came a young woman’s voice. She sounded like she was panicking – less experienced than the others. Probably the woman from the couple I passed.
“Shut up,” the guy hauling me towards the van growled. “What was that shot I heard?”
“Didn’t come from any of us,” one guy replied. “I haven’t seen…”
“Don’t even think of saying it,” my guy cut him off.
We came to an abrupt halt.
“He has thirty seconds or he gets left behind.”
Silence. I could tell no one dared argue with him. You could feel the tension in the air.
Maybe there was hope for me yet – arguing and a gun shot none of them could account for. I waited hoping Six would spring from somewhere.
But then two pairs of hands shoved me in the van.
I didn’t even dare glance over my shoulder until I knew my terraced cottage was in reach. My walking pace had already quickened and I was marching up the hill. I looked back quickly and caught sight of the edge of a dark figure almost hidden by the curve of the road. My glance was too quick to take in anything about them – just that they were trying not to be seen.
By the time I reached the front door, I was almost running. My fingers fumbled for the key, which rattled in the lock before the door opened. I locked it behind me and drew in a deep breath.
A gun loaded somewhere close. I jumped. A handgun barrel and Six’s face peered out from behind the sofa. I turned the light off and we both ducked down behind the furniture. We waited.
The silhouette of a hooded figure crept up to the window and peered through the glass, then moved on.
I woke up with a start. I jumped.
ShadowAspect stood over me, still just a tangible black shadow. He pointed to my desk. The lamp was on, shining on what looked like a dense pile of paper.
I sat down, my heart pounding, my stomach turning with nerves. On top of the pile was another note.
“You work for me now.”
Underneath were two manuscripts. Under them was a set of instructions.
I didn’t bother going back to bed. I made myself some coffee and got started.
I went to bed certain the intruder would return, my hand strapped to a torch so I was ready. I lay awake for hours, jumping at the slightest noise from outside. When I did sleep, I dreamed of him appearing in my flat and I jerked away, flashing my torch around the room like an automatic reflex.
I don’t know how, but I knew he was there, standing at the foot of my bed. I reacted in an instant and aimed the torch beam to identify him at last.
But even in the light, all I could see was a dark figure, a shadow. I stared him, waiting for identifying features to become clear, but none did. Then he stepped back into the shadows and vanished.