Pike touched Swift’s shoulder. The shirt had the texture of rough stone.
Pike, a man who spent his life in perpetual motion, was stumped. This was beyond anything in his experience.
Seconds earlier, Swift had been alive and providing useful information. What happened in the brief time Pike was out of the room?
Drake stepped through the open doorway, adjusting the sling on his wounded arm.
“What’s the hell is this?”
Pike turned to face him. “Where were you? I told you to watch him?”
“Just a minute. You told me not to let him leave. I had to take a leak, so I cuffed him to the table.”
Pike ran a hand over his short, black hair. He heard commotion from another part of the house. Footsteps were headed his way.
Drake moved closer to the thing that had once been Swift. He leaned forward and studied the texture of the remains. “Looks like stone.”
“Thanks,” Pike said. “Big help. Really.”
Drake ignored him. “What could do this to a man?”
That was the question that gnawed at Pike. “You didn’t run into a woman with snakes for hair?”
Someone had done this to Jimmy Swift. Someone in this house. But how had it been done? Was it a disease? Another futuristic weapon?
“I am tired of this damn Brotherhood,” Pike said.
Two men stepped into the room. Once was a bodyguard Pike had never seen. He was nearly seven feet tall. The other was Jiminez.
“What have you done?” Jiminez said.
“I didn’t do that,” Pike said, poiting a thumb in the direction of Swift’s granite-like corpse.
When he saw the shock of Jiminez’s face, Pike realized Nugget had not been talking about Swift.
“Madre de Dios.”
“I saw who did it.”
They all turned to the voice in the hallway. Elizabeth Crassberg stepped forward. Her skin was pale and her eyes were wide with fear. She pointed a trembling finger at Drake.
“He did it.”
Drake’s left eyebrow raised a quarter inch, but he otherwise did not react.
“He did what?” Pike said.
“He killed him. The man who saved me.” A sob broke from Elizabeth’s throat, and she covered her face with her hands.
Pike stared at Drake. “Well?”
“She’s wrong. She’s making it up or she mistook someone else for me.”
“You’ve always been a dick,” Pike said, “but a traitor...”
Drake made a noise that might have been a chuckle. It sounded like a rusted hasp on a ancient door. “If you’re worried that someone here works for the Brotherhood, then why not take a look at the gal that, you know, actually works for the Brotherhood?”
Jiminez cleared his throat. “This is very heart-warming, amigos, but I have a bigger problem.”
Pike heard the unmistakable thump of rotors. Choppers. At least two, maybe more.
“Who is that?”
“You tell me,” Jiminez said. “Your friend uses my phone and we have incoming. Is it your people? DEA? My competition?”
“He’s not my friend,” Pike said.
The choppers moved fast. The vibration from the rotors could be felt in Pike’s chest.
Outside the window of the football room he saw a flash like the lighting of a very bright flare. He instantly knew it was far more dangerous than simple illumination.
“Move!” he shouted.
The window and surrounding wall collapsed with a thunderous roar.
To Be Continued
© Mark Justice 2011