To Catch a TrainMature

Prague, 2014

The man walked with a limp, though fairly quickly. Despite the fact that he didn’t use a cane to aid his step, the limp was subtle, and he managed to shuffle over the new fallen snow with relative ease. If not for this, and the fact that he walked the promenade alone that cold winter morning, he would have blended with his surroundings perfectly. With the black overcoat and gloves, and the nondescript shoes, the man, the spy, could have avoided detection.

He looked over his shoulder suddenly, and at last, his pursuer reared her beautiful head, fresh from the earlier gunfight. She advanced with some haste, turning the corner. It was early, but he saw her red peacoat, her angry breath, even the pistol still smoking at her side. As soon as the man was in her sights, she took a stance and aimed at him.

Two shots went past his head, and landed in the snow to his right. He jumped into the street to avoid being killed, and rolled out of danger as the woman fired five more times. They were so close, he though at least one bullet made contact. He touched the side of his head, and found he was indeed bleeding. Grazed.

The injured party panted, and the shooter smiled.

In perfect English, the French woman hollered, “Close shave?” having also noticed his bloody cheek. “Give me the file, Michael. Maybe I’ll stop shooting!”

“No chance in hell, fräulein!”

She made an unattractive grimace, and immediately the spies went to work. He rose, and ran for cover, while she reloaded. Sirens cried in the distance, but it was too hard to tell how far they were.

Merde! Damn Americans.” she cursed, as Michael descended into the metro before she could get another shot away. With a snarl, she bolted. Intent on catching up to Michael, and killing him. Before she went underground she clearly saw the flashing lights of the police crossing the Vltava. Hopefully, she’d be done before they arrived.

Riding the escalator down, she heard nothing. The trains would not be in use for a few minutes. She held her gun at the ready, fit for a blitz; a hail of gunfire from Michael, but there was nothing. Perhaps he had run out of ammunition.

More than a hundred feet down, she looked around, and saw no one. No witnesses. But the lights were dim, the walls were grey, and the station, so quiet, her softest footsteps would echo.

There was trepidation in the air, and the smell of fear. But it wasn’t just the woman’s prey who was sweating. She too was anxious. In their line of work, it was kill or be killed.

With poise, she moved silent, quietly forward, but always looking behind her. Every few feet, she jolted to her side, expecting Michael to be hiding behind any pillar in the station.

Michael had hushed his breathing, and he listened to the tap of the woman’s shoes as she came ever closer. And as he waited, he prepared himself for a faceful of lead.

At last, the woman had come to the right pillar, and she swerved on her heel to kill the man. Michael moved likewise, and flailed his arm, successfully knocking the weapon from her hands, and it skidded to the edge of the platform. They then lashed out in conflict for the advantage.

Wild fists here, there, to the face, and a kick to the groin, and then she sustained punches to the chest and then the kidney. Michael grabbed the woman by the shoulder and threw her to the ground, where he proceeded to kick her in the stomach. By the third blow, she was more than winded, but she managed to grab the man by the boot, and yanked hard, twisting it in the wrong direction, effectively shattering his ankle. He fell on the ground awkwardly, but she still was out of breath to get up in a hurry, or get far by slinking away, so the man reached out, and dug his fingers into her ribs, one of which she now believed to be broken, to bring her back down. He inched closer, dirtying his attire, and brought his other fist upon her ribs, and she cried out in pain.

Then the sounds of footfalls were within range, clanging on the escalators. She managed to kick the man’s damaged ankle, forcing him to let go.

“Give me the file!” the woman screamed over the sound of an incoming train.

Michael growled and leapt at the woman, and began choking her, and held her down with his weight. She strained to breath, and beat him with her arms, until she caught sight of the gun, but couldn’t reach.

Losing air, losing consciousness, she headbutted the man, probably cracking both of their skulls, but she fought through the pain, and kicked him off.

A little disoriented, Michael eventually refocused, and saw the gun lying on the floor, as he got to his feet. Michael lunged, but the woman stretched for the gun and touched it first, before wheeling on her pelvis, and firing.

She hadn’t aimed but, the bullet went straight through his forehead. Michael stumbled back, as his body fell in front of the train. A powerful breeze blew her hair and Michael’s blood in her face.

Merde!” the woman swore again. Michael was dead… but the file was destroyed.

Suddenly, orders to freeze were shouted at her in Czech, “Stůj! Dejte ruce nahoru!” while the train screeched to a halt.

Slowly she turned around on her knees, and saw the police pointing their own weapons. There was no hesitation as she fired again at the officers’ feet, and they dodged them to avoid being killed. The woman jumped up and ran for the the other exit as the police returned fire.

The woman was covert enough to virtually disappear. She came to street level, broke a nearby boutique window and changed her clothes. Then, when all of the violence was behind her, she pulled out her phone.

Oui. C’est moi, Élodie. C’est fini.”

“Did you recover the files?” the voice at the other end asked.

Non. But they’ve been destroyed. Your administration doesn’t have to worry about Byzantine anymore. In a few months… no one will.” Élodie answered.

“Good.”

The End

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