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At the edge of the trees we stopped, and squinted into the darkness at the jagged metal mountains crossing the landscape. The place was more of an auto wrecker, covered in rusting corpses. “Wire cutters?” Nick whispered as he examined the fence. I laughed softly and handed him the wire cutters from the bag we still needed to hide. We edges along for a good spot to scale the fence. Clipping the barbed wire at the top was a noise we couldn’t avoid, so we chose a part where low hanging branches of an old tree would hide us as we climbed over. I chucked the toll bag behind the tree and took the wire clippers back off Nick. “Think you can manage it?” “I’m sure I can.” I don’t know why he bothered to ask, he knew I could do it, and he’d seen me do similar things plenty of times before. I clipped the cutters onto my belt and walked up to the fence. I latched my fingers through the chain links and pulled myself up, climbing silently until I was almost waist height with the barbed wire. I unclipped the wire cutters and places them around the wire. I squeezed down, wincing at the loud click that cut across the night. I twisted back the pointed metal and dropped the cutters down to Nick, who threw them in the general direction of the tree. I quickly dropped over the other side and landed silently, moving back to give Nick space to get over. I moved off to the left without l a backwards glance. We didn’t have long. I dodged behind the first tower of rusted cars and peered around. I needed to get alongside the house, which from the blueprints Jack gave us was somewhere in the middle. Crouching low, I dashed along, keeping close to the fence. Each time I passed behind a junk pile everything was plunged into darkness and I was forced to travel by the light of my penlight. A little noise was better than a loud clatter. A fair was down the path I was running something caught my eye to my right. I could see the house. To be honest, calling it a house was being too kind. It was a tiny building, more like an office. Surely too small to be a house. I crouched down where I was, and waited. It would have been a hell of a lot easier if I’d known what the goddamned signal was. For all Nick knew I could see a flash of light or hear a sudden noise and take that to be the signal. I wasn’t a mind reader, Nick of all people should know that. I edged further forward to get a better look out. How long would it even take Nick to get around the other side? It didn’t take me long to get here, but Nick needed to get right the way around the other side, at least three times my journey. I waited. And I waited… And I waited… And I waited some more…. Damn it! Were the hell was Nick? He should have been around there ages ago. It did not take that long. I growled in frustration. I looked at my watch. It was almost twenty to twelve. I’d been waiting here for nearly an hour, though it didn’t feel like that long. Damn Nick. I couldn’t just wait here much longer. I pulled my gun out of my waist band and flicked off the safety catch. I crept back as quietly as I could. I was no longer excited, feelings of trepidation were overrunning my senses. I had a bad feeling about all of this. I hadn’t heard anything, but maybe he’d tripped or… I shone my penlight on the ground as I ran. The metal mountains seemed to be in circles around the house, so Nick had to be somewhere around the edged. He wouldn’t have been fool enough to cut across the middle. I would have seen him anyway. I ran right the way around till I was back where I started at. There had been no signs of Nick. I returned my gun and pulled out my phone and called Jack. He picked up on the third ring. “Where the hell are you? You were supposed to back here by now.” I looked at my watch. It was only just gone 12. “We’ve got a problem.” I paused, thinking about how to word it. “Nick’s… gone.” Probably not the best way to put it. “What do you mean ‘gone’?” He sounded tense, and more than a little pissed off. “What I mean, is Nick and me went in different directions when we got in here, and he never made it to where he was supposed to get to. I’ve been around the whole plot Jack. He’s gone.” Silence greeted my words. For several minutes Jack said nothing, just sat mulling over my words. The feeling of wrongness increased. “Shi t… call his cell, see if he answers. If not, get yourself back here ASAP. In the mean time I’m going to try get in touch with Charlie and Haydn.” My heart leapt to my throat. “They’re not back yet?” They should have been back long before us, and Charlie as always on time. Something was wrong. “Yeah. I’ve now got three men gone MIA. I don’t want to make that a fourth. Get back here soon. I need you back here for some planning.” Jack hung up and I simply stood there. Nick was gone. Haydn was gone. Charlie was gone. There wasn’t many more of us who could ‘go’. Jack was still at home and from what he’d said he had no reason to be worried about Logan or Kieran. No doubt they were back already. I rang Nick, but all I got was the voice mail tone telling me his phone was off. Very un-Nick-like. After a final glance around the junk yard I ran back to the fence and clambered over. There was no reason to check the house now. Surely anyone inside would have heard me, but the place had remained deathly silent. I hoped that wasn’t a hint. I dug out the bag and wire clippers and headed back t the car. Trying to be quiet now would be a pointless waist of time. Back at the car I clambered in the front and flung the car into reverse. The sooner I was home the better. *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

The End

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