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A shot rang off in the darkness. A flash of light dispelled all mystery around the two figures. The first man stumbled backwards, clutching for hope, for anything. He fell to the ground, his hand trying to hold the blood in. This had not been the first shot fired, and it would not be the last. As the second man hunched over the first's body another shot was fired. The first man grimaced, not allowing the pleasure of a scream.
"It seems you have a dilemma to deal with," the first man coughed. Blood came out with every word. He looked over his assailant’s shoulder, eyes wavering almost expectedly. "This will be your problem soon."
The second man's face contorted, although barely visible in the dark room. "I do not see how it is my problem. I am not the dead one, you are."
The body mustered up a small laugh between the grunts of pain. A short pause and he replied.
"Yes… but..." He paused once more, his eyes searching the darkness outside the windows. "I am not the one holding the gun."
Outside, the wind grew louder and louder. The second man turned slowly, hearing the strain of the wind pushing against the walls and windows. The glass broke, crashed, spreading throughout the room like razors. A figure barely tangible flowed through the windows. An outline of a wraith could be seen, darker than night. Its head turned quickly to the two figures in the corner of the room, eyeing the man with the gun. It moved forward slowly but forcefully. The men were not going anywhere, and retribution was required.
The room was bright, lit by a row of lights and by the sun's rays passing through the open blinds. Even so, the lone figure in the room was shrouded in subtle darkness. Mr. A sat at his desk nervously tapping his fingers on the polished wood. He had received the news of the previous night's situation and was nervously awaiting a call. He tried to act calm; repeatedly telling himself there was nothing to fear. He shuffled and reshuffled the numerous papers on his desk, eyes flicking between the door and his phone rapidly.
Two men are dead, he thought. Nothing strange. Not here. Not now. Nothing to fear.
Even in his mind he felt as if he were lying.
The phone rang. Mr. A jumped back slightly. He had expected the phone call, but one could never prepare himself to speak to the man who was calling, even if they had been considered equals.
He reached his hand over slowly to pick up the phone. He picked it up, placed it to the ear and a gruff, low voice began to speak.
"I know what you did last night," the caller said.
"I did...what had to be done," Mr. A responded, trying to sound calm. His voice gave him away.
"There's nothing to be nervous about A..."
"Today, and for as long as it suits me, you will refer to me as Mr. A. These phones are not secure enough to be speaking our real names out loud. I don't know why you didn't contact me the usual way."
"Fine fine, Mr. A," the man answered pointedly. "Then I shall be Mr. Stone for the duration of this crisis."
"There would be no crisis if you would just give up on this trite little game of yours." By this time, any nervousness Mr. A had been feeling was slowly being replaced with anger.
A few days early, one of Mr. A's men had been approached with an offer he felt he could not refuse. Although treachery would not be tolerated, the man thought nothing of it. He had immediately begun working for the now called Mr. Stone. And in this business, treachery had but one solution.
Mr. A called on one of his "problem solvers" to fix the little flaw in the system quickly. It took him only two days to find the traitor and everything had gone to plan until last night.
"Mr. A, there is no reason to anger. We offered, your man accepted. Now, I would like to think of you as my equal and of us as but two competitors in a tight business world, but in light of current events I will ask for a truce."
"For now, perhaps." Mr. A paused. He thought about the offer. It seemed best considering the last night's entrance of a third party. "But after we get this little mishap cleared up it is business as usual. And I will be watching you, truce or not."
"Good good, nothing unexpected. But, to let you know, this is only the beginning." The line went dead and Mr. A was left alone in his brightly lit office, shrouded in darkness.
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