Hunting Darkness by Ian Bristow is out today!
Brandon Murphy flagged down a taxi, his movements frantic. Despite the cold that infiltrated the air that November afternoon, he was sweating profusely. Fear like he had never known clutched him, and there was nothing he could do to fix the situation. Why had he involved himself in the first place? If he was honest with himself, it was because he had truly thought he was doing the right thing. But it was clear now that he’d been deceived. None of his original ambitions seemed to be of consequence, and what was worse, none of the promises that had been made to him were being kept.
In fact, it appeared he had become nothing more than a pawn in a much more elaborate game, which was becoming increasingly dark. Breaking and entering was not what he had signed up for, and if it absolutely had to be done, a confrontation definitely wasn’t on his agenda. He’d made that clear and had been assured that no one would be home, so who was that man that showed up? He’d actually fired a shot at the man. What was happening to his life?
His taxi pulled up to the curb. He got in and said, “Brantford Road, N17. I’m in a hurry.”
The cabbie nodded, put the car in gear and stepped on it.
Murphy checked the time on his phone persistently as they made their way across North London. He had been instructed to arrive at their meeting place no later than 4:00 p.m. Apparently, his employer had some important event to attend that evening at the British Academy building, and it was imperative that they left in time to be there for 5:00 p.m.
“Step on it, mate!” Murphy demanded as he watched the time switch over from 3:50 to 3:51. “I would have to get stuck with the slowest bloody cabbie in London!”
“Oi! I’m already over the bleedin’ speed limit. Bloody ‘ell! I reckon yer a bleedin’ fare dodger an’ all!”
“Excuse me?” Murphy snapped. “I always pay me way, mate! Just get us round to Brantford Road as quickly as possible, alright?” He wiped the sweat from his brow and checked the time again.
His heart started to pound. He wasn’t going to make it in time. He’d been explicitly warned about being punctual. It wasn’t just his life at stake if he failed to be there, it was his family’s as well.
“Here you are, mate,” said the cabbie as he came to a screeching halt. “Brantford Road, N17. That’ll be thirty-five quid.”
Murphy pulled an uncounted wad of cash out of his pocket and threw it in the cabbie’s lap before jumping out of the car and sprinting toward a warehouse building several yards from the road. He reached the entrance within moments and let himself in. The space inside was nearly pitch-black. He pulled out his phone, lit the screen and began navigating through the maze of pallets that occupied a vast majority of the area.
“Hello?” he called out, making his way toward the opposite side of the warehouse. “Is there anybody here? I made it on time,” he said glancing at his phone to confirm that his statement was accurate. The time read 3:59.
He turned a corner and fear stole over him. Glowing yellow eyes met his own. A beast was upon him before he could react. He felt long claws sliding easily through his stomach. Once. Twice. Three times.
Horrified, he put his hands over as many of the lacerations as he could, but it was a pointless move. His vision started to blur as fatal amounts of blood drained from his body. He fell to the ground, still clutching hopelessly at his wounds. He could almost make out his attacker in the light cast by the phone that had fallen from his hand, but his vision was fading fast.