11 August 2008

Unholy Crusade, part six


The heavy metal door to the roof stood open at the end of a short corridor with bare, grey walls and a dull brown carpet. Outside the early morning sunlight was beginning to creep over the horizon. The rain battered the flat, gravel-coated rooftop and pattered on the ceiling.

Seth glanced around, saw no sign of the woman, and hurried out onto the roof with Cartwright behind him, out of breath from running up the short flight of stairs.

'Gimme...a minute,' Cartwright puffed. He leaned against the wall at the top of the stairs. 'I need to catch my breath.'

Seth went on without him. He stepped out into the rain and looked around. The woman was nowhere to be seen.

'Shit,' he muttered.

From the corner of his eye he saw a shadow move. He turned around. There was nothing there.

Behind him, he heard the crunch of wet gravel.

He spun around, ready to catch the woman this time. Something struck him in the chest. He staggered backward, away from the door.

The woman stepped forward, grabbed the door with one hand and slammed it shut. Inside, Cartwright hammered on the metal but the door did not budge.

'Now we can talk,' said the woman. 'But make it quick.'

Seth straightened his tie, a ploy to buy some time while he got his bearings and assessed the situation in his mind. He was on the top of a three-storey building with one clear exit route, currently blocked by a woman who was clearly fast, strong and in need of a hot bath. His companion was trapped inside, and his other companion was dead in a car. Had she killed him? Now was the time to find out.

'Why did you kill Thomas?' he asked.

The woman looked at him blankly. 'Thomas who?'

'George Henry Thomas,' said Seth, pointing down at the street. 'The man in car down there.'

'That's nothing to do with me. I haven't a clue who you're talking about.'

Cartwright hammered on the door. It did not budge.

'You want me to believe there's a man dead outside the building we know you've been living in, and it's has nothing to do with you being here? That beggars belief.'

'I'm not the only person living here. Now do you have any better questions? I have other things to do, you know.'

'Fine. We'll get the CCTV and find out what happened ourselves.'

'You do that.'

The woman turned to leave.

Seth sighed. 'Greta, wait.'

The woman stopped, looked around at him. 'What now?'

'Why are you here?'

She looked at him, appraising him, judging his worth.

'Who are you?' she asked.

'I'm with the Ministry--'

'No,' she said, sharply. 'Who are you? Not who are you with.'

'I'm Seth Baron. The man trying to break through the door is Stephen Cartwright.'

'Baron...' Greta mused. She chewed her lip as she thought. Seth noticed one of her teeth was pointed, like it was chipped or had lost a cap. She looked up at him suddenly. 'Any relation to David Baron?'

'My son,' said Seth.

'I'm sorry for your loss.'

'I'm sure you are,' Seth sneered. 'Thanks to you his killer will never see justice.'

Greta shook her head slowly. 'It wasn't justice you were looking for.'

'And how the hell would you know? You don't know me.'

'Because I'm looking for the same thing.'

The woman walked forward. The rain coursing over her was doing nothing to rid her of the stench that clung to her like a second skin. She looked him in the eye like she could see into his soul.

'The man who killed your son is still alive. Mark First was not the one who called the hit, he just pulled the trigger. I can help you find the man responsible for your loss.'

'Why would you do that?'

'Because he's also the man who killed me and my family.'

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