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They say that when a person is facing death their life flashes before them. That’s true. It does. It comes in short little snippets, flashes really, of things that you hold dear or things that you wished you did differently. I had many of both. Mostly though, I regretted not having enough time with Sacha. I could have loved him long and true, even though he had withheld so much from me, my heart would have been his forever. Sadly now, we would never know the magic of growing old together for my life would end here, now. I would shoot this bastard dead. And he would probably shoot me. Such a waste. Sacha and I had been so good, so white hot together.
The doorknob stopped moving. I worked on my breathing, calming it, straining to keep my wits about me and my hand steady. Aiming would be difficult with trembling hands. My days in the woods with Pascal returned to me in a jumble. Being told to breathe through the nose, keep the sights on the target, and only fire when you were sure of a shot. God how I missed Pascal. I might never see my family again. I may never hold my beautiful nephew on my shoulder again nor rock him to sleep. I may never hold my own child if I did not do what I needed to do. What I knew I had to do. Kill or be killed.
I half expected whoever it was to kick down the door. But that never came. I slid up the wall slowly, keeping the gun trained on the door. When the front window shattered inward, I whipped the gun at the form tangled in the draperies and I touched the trigger lightly. The sound and the flash of the muzzle seemed incredibly loud and bright. The man lurched forward, ripping the curtain rods from the wall. A bullet whizzed by my head, slamming into the wall not eight inches from my face. Dirt flew into my eyes. I fell to the ground and fired again, this time catching the man sent to kill me in the kneecap. He howled and dropped to the floor, the ugly green drapes still dangling off his shoulders. He lifted his gun, a sleek black one with a silencer. I ran into the kitchen, dodging two shots. Hiding behind the wall, lungs working hard, the smell of burnt gunpowder and the solvent used to clean the gun filled my nose.
The drapery man cursed in Russian. I said nothing as I waited for him to make his next move. He did a moment later, dragging over a chair to where he lay, the legs on the old wooden flooring scraping loudly. Even with my heart pounding and my blood rushing through my ears I could make out the sound.
He said something. It was a taunt. I could tell just by how it was spoken. Full of derision. What he had said I had no way of knowing but if I had to guess it was something about me being a cocksucker who liked a dick up my ass. As if a slur could stir me into leaping out so he could pop off a round. I was not stupid. I was seriously not prepared for dealing with a hired assassin though. When he lunged through the door, landing on his side with a grunt, I leaped in fear. He pulled the trigger of his gun and his shot exploded into the old stove. I went to one knee and fired several times. Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow until he stopped moving. My knee went out and I fell forward, hands to the flooring, eyes filled with smoke and death. I could taste it on the air, that bitter metallic tint of blood. I threw up violently, eyes watering, as the puddle of blood he lay in crept closer and closer. I grabbed the gun, drug the back of my hand over my lips, and pulled myself up using the kitchen table. It tumbled to its side after I levered myself up to my feet. I tried not to look at the dead man lying a foot away, eyes open yet unseeing, but I couldn’t stop staring at him. At the blood draining from him…
I stumbled to the front door, the reek of death and the yoke of guilt making me gag and choke. Throwing the deadbolt open I ran out into the cold and snow, gasping for breath, my cheeks wet from tears, I nearly went to my face as I fell out the door. It was dark. And then it was light, brilliantly light. Bile churned in my stomach and I hacked and coughed. One hand shielding my gaze from the headlights, I took a step forward, relief filling my breast for Sasha had come back to me. All would be forgiven him if only he would hold me and absolve me of the great sin I had just committed.
“Sacha!” I shouted but the winter wind carried it away.
“Please to lay down your gun,” a man called, his voice deep as the sea. It was not Sacha. I threw up a hand to block the headlights to see and dread settled into my chest, my gun coming up to rest on the dark silhouettes. Sacha was indeed here, but he was on his knees in the snow, two men standing on each side of him with silenced guns resting on either side of his brow. “Again, you are to lay down your gun or his brains will decorate the lawn.”
“Alfie, do it. Lay down the gun,” Sacha said, his voice calm and sure as always. Even now as he faced death he was in control. I loved him so…
“Non! Ils vont te teur!”I shouted but my voice was weak. If I dropped my gun they would shoot him and then me.
“Lay down the gun or he dies now,” the biggest one called and I knew no matter what course of action I took, Sacha and I would be dead before sunrise.
“Je t’aimerai toujours, Sacha.”
“Je t’amierai toujours, Alfie. Tirez sur celui de gauche.”
He wanted me to shoot the man on his left. I did as Sacha told me for I was a good sub. I pulled the trigger and prayed my shot would hit its intended mark.
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