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An overwhelming sense of foreboding spread through every cell in Michael’s body. He didn’t look around to see where the bullet had come from or where it had hit because Bill’s reaction froze him in terror. Michael felt no pain or impact. As he craned his neck toward his torso, his partners reached him, but didn’t stop.
The killers sprinted past Michael with their weapons drawn. Every gun pumped slugs into the tortured mercenary on the ground. Michael snapped out of his stupor, spinning around in confusion. The dead bloody mercenary dropped his right arm to the ground. His fingers opened while his final breath left his body, revealing a small old pistol.
“What the fuck just happened?” Michael demanded an explanation as he saw the fresh body that was riddled with bullet holes. Blood oozed and spurted from the wounds.
“He fucking shot himself!” Matt responded, the harsh rays of the sun soaking into his fiery red hair, and glinting off of his pale skin. Surprise and outrage played through his voice.
“How the fuck did we not take that gun from him?!” Michael asked.
Sarah answered. “We didn’t frisk him after we pulled him out of his Jeep. He was barely conscious. And we sure as fuck didn’t expect him to pull a gun after you beat the shit out of him.”
“We’re all really fucking lucky that he shot himself instead of one of us, then,” Michael said authoritatively, glancing around at the other killers.
“Damn right,” Brian coldly agreed, his crossed arms adding to the dominance of his booming voice.
Michael’s cell phone loudly rang, interrupting the decreasing tension. He answered it in irritation without looking at the screen to see who was calling.
Haley’s soft tone came from his phone, pleasantly surprising him. “Hi honey. Are you making any progress?”
Michael smiled at the sound of his wife’s voice. She always had a calming effect on him. He could feel her soothing intentions relaxing him, drowning his fury. Rejuvenation spread through his body, and he became serene. She affected him like butter on toast. Cool, silky creaminess melted as it slid across warm, toasted bread. It soaked into the delicious food, softening it by seeping into every grain. The snack was calm and inviting.
“Hey, babe,” Michael’s voice was filled with nonchalant control. “Yeah, we’re making a little progress, but there’re a lot of obstacles.” He walked to the edge of the road for more privacy.
“How close are you to f-“ She was brusquely cut off.
“Hello?” he quizzically questioned. The phone emitted no sound. “Haley? Hello?”
A puzzled expression formed on his face as he brought his phone away from his ear to look at the screen. The call was still connected. So he listened for a second, and was about to speak. When he opened his mouth, he heard ruffling and indistinct voices. It sounded like a scuffle. Haley’s muffled tone emerged, her words obscured by something. She sounded frantic and terrified. Panic surreptitiously leaked into every fibre of Michael’s being.
“Michael?” a business-like male voice spoke into his wife’s cell phone.
“Who the fuck are you?!” Michael overpowered the overwhelming horror that he was feeling, injecting his fury into his words. “Wha-“
He was interrupted. “You fucked up,” the unidentified man told him without emotion. The call ended.