Authors: Jeremy Bates
In the employee
area two black men clicked away at their computers, while a white woman was
wading through a sheaf of papers with a fluorescent yellow highlighter. The
woman saw Fitzgerald, smiled, and approached the counter. She was dressed in
maroon slacks and a cream blouse. A colorful silk scarf was knotted around her neck.
It was just like the one around his own neck, only his was mud brown, and he
didn’t think she was wearing hers to conceal a six-inch-long scar.
“Can I help you?”
she asked him in the same South African voice he’d heard over the phone.
He took off his
sunglasses and hooked them on the V-neck of his black T-shirt. “I called
earlier,” he said, the words coming out raspy, like a man who smoked three
packs of cigarettes a day. He’d been speaking like that for the better part of
thirty years, ever since he’d been garroted and left for dead in the hills of
Northern Ireland. “I asked for Salvador Brazza’s itinerary.”
faltered. “I told you. We cannot give out that information.”
“Yes, you can.”
“No, we can’t.”
withdrew the Glock 17 from the holster beneath his jacket. The barrel was
outfitted with a Gemtech threaded suppressor. He pointed the pistol at her
face. “Yes, you can,” he repeated.
She froze. The
two men at the computers jumped to their feet.
Fitzgerald warned them without taking his eyes off the woman. She was young,
early twenties, just a girl really, somewhat pretty. Her eyes were wide, her
cheeks flushed, her heart probably racing. The funny thing about fear was that
it produced the exact same symptoms as excitement, the only difference being the
addition of willingness to the latter. “I would like Salvador Brazza’s
She didn’t move.
He nodded to her
computer. “Go on, lass. Go print it off.”
He slapped the
counter. “Go on!”
That broke her
paralysis. She hurried to her desk and fiddled with the mouse. Her hand shook
The older of the
two men said, “You don’t need a gun, man. Put away the gun. We’ll give you
whatever you want. Just take it easy, hey?”
There was always
a hero. Fitzgerald pointed the Glock at the hero and squeezed the trigger. The
term “silencer” was a misnomer because you could never truly silence the report
of a gunshot. But you could suppress it. Now the suppressed shot made only a
soft pop. A purple dot appeared in the man’s forehead, leaking a line of blood.
He toppled backward.
The second man
bolted for the back door. Fitzgerald fired three rounds into his back. The
impact threw him forward onto his chest.
“Shut up,” he said
to the girl.
screaming, though her mouth was quivering, as if she was keeping it closed by
force of will alone.
“Did you print
She hunkered down
over the keyboard and hit a few keys. She made a frustrated noise, like she’d
screwed something up. Her hands were shaking worse than ever. Then the
freestanding laser printer in the corner clicked and hummed and spat out a
sheet of paper into the tray.
“Go get it,” he
She went to the
printer, retrieved the single piece of paper, and brought it back. The flush
had drained from her cheeks, leaving her face an alabaster white. Her mouth was
still quivering, and she was making small, pathetic noises. She was no longer
snatched the paper from her hand and gave it a quick scan. It was what he
wanted. “If you had given me this information over the phone,” he told her,
“none of this would have happened.”
“Why didn’t you
give me the fecking information over the phone?”
“Was it because
Scarlett Cox is a celebrity? Is that the reason?”
“Is that why you
wouldn’t give me the itinerary?”
“No. I don’t
He shot her twice
in the chest. She collapsed to the floor, dead.
It was her own bloody fault.
Fitzgerald slid across the counter and searched the men for
their wallets, collecting a combined grand total of twenty-five thousand
shillings—or about ten quid. The girl had what looked like a real half-carat
diamond on her engagement finger, which he took. He didn’t see her handbag, but
he didn’t bother searching for it. He cleared out the register to complete the
robbery-gone-wrong scenario, then left through the back door, where he
discovered a gray-painted stairwell. He holstered the Glock beneath his jacket,
slipped on his sunglasses, and skipped down the stairs to street level,
whistling an old Irish tune as he went.
Bates is the #1 bestselling and award-winning author of several novels and
short stories. He writes suspense and horror fiction. The novels ihairn his
“World’s Scariest Places” series are set in real locations, and so far include
Suicide Forest in Japan, The Catacombs in Paris, Helltown in Ohio, and Island
of the Dolls in Mexico. You can check out any of these places on the web, or
visit his website at: JEREMYBATESBOOKS.COM