Jesus Christ, what the hell was that?!
What's the time? I can't see the clock. It's dark outside, dark everywhere. My eyes are blurry, still full of the early night I was supposed to be having. But sleepy as I am, I've got enough common sense not to go blundering about my room. Last time I did that, I stubbed a toe. And that goddamn hurts.
I'm sitting upright in bed, straining for the sound that woke me up.
It was a large sort of crash. Must've been that crate of junk I cleared out from the spare room and left in the hallway because the bins come on Tuesdays.
Stop it, Charlie. Stop freaking out. It's nothing. Maybe just that goddamn paperweight Aunt Georgia left you in her will falling off the table again. Or that mangy streetcat Zanzibar from next door getting in the kitchen window, like last time.
Yeah, that must be it. Complete false alarm. Absolutely nothing.
Except Zanzibar was run over last week.
The crate. In the hall. Someone must've tripped over it.
There's someone in my house.
Someone in my goddamn house!
Jesus. It's them. Those guys my bro warned me about. The guys who're after a Broker.
Jesus Christ. Oh my God. This is bad. I've got to get out. I've got to do something. But what the hell do I do now?
Footsteps. The creak of the third stair.
Oh shit shit shit shit.
I have to get out of this house- get out and run as far as I goddamn can- oh Jesus what the hell- this is bad- they're gonna goddamn kill me-
Thank God my bedroom window opens onto the roof of next door's garage.
I've got no time to grab anything, not even my phone. The window creaks slightly as it opens. Damn. Carefully now... I don't know how many there are... They could be watching the house...
Of course they're watching the house, Charlie! What do you think this is, a social call?!
I drop down from the window and immediately fall as flat as I can. And I'm in my goddamn pyjamas, aren't I?! Hardly the best for creeping around in the dark. Thank God they're navy blue, and not florescent yellow like the last pair.
I find a foothole on the windowsill of the garage, but just as I put my weight onto it, it breaks away. Shit! I freeze, my arms starting to shake from holding me up on their own.
No one heard. Jesus.
In a moment, I'm down. My house backs onto the road, so I try to walk as confidently as I can. Obviously I'm used to walking around in the middle of the night in my goddamn pyjamas. I do it all the time.
But what do I do now? I can't go home, no way. I can't even drive anywhere safe - my car keys are still in the pocket of my jacket, hanging on the back of my door. Dammit. This is just not my night.
Mendrick. He'll know what to do. He's working the night shift tonight - he said in the car on the way back. In our strange, awkward half-conversation.
He'll sort everything out. He's... He...
Shuddup. It's purely professional. And all that.
I find a telephone box (not that anyone uses them these days) and perform a dodge my bro taught me for getting them to phone without putting money in (don't you dare tell anyone. This is a matter of life and death. And I'm a cop. So technically it's not against the law... much).
I've memorised his goddamn number. So it's easy putting it in. When his voice comes up on the other end, all husky and tired, I feel myself cracking like some stupid idiot in a goddamn romcom or something. He'll sort all this out. He's Mendrick. He's...
My knight in goddamn shining armour?! Get a grip, Charlie!
Jesus. How puke-worthy.
'It's Charlie.' I try to steady my voice, but it doesn't work. He's not fooled. I'm talking too loudly. Jesus. I didn't know I was that freaked.
'What the hell's going on?'
'I don't know.'