She needed to find him. In five minutes, the killer would strike. In five minutes, this New Years’ Party would turn into a war-zone. In five minutes, everyone could be dead.

No one knew of Jay Lawson’s plan, apart from those who had read and been informed of the contents of a sinister note found on the desk of the receptionist at HQ. It would have been carnage to tell the public, but to inform them may well save lives. In five minutes, she would find out whether she had made the biggest mistake of her life.

It had been her call. To not tell people. She had said the hustle and bustle of a New Years’ Eve Party would enable them to swiftly take care of the lone attacker without incident. After all, with all the glamourous outfits on display this evening it would be very difficult to conceal a dangerous weapon. It should have been easy. Should have. But the more and more people that arrived, the harder and harder it became to recognise faces, voices, surroundings. It was hard to stay grounded.

She kept her eyes sharp as she looked past the stunning people partying, singing, celebrating. She wished she could be one of them. Ignorance is bliss, so they say. She stalked along the edges of the room, the figures dancing becoming distorted through the champagne glasses piled high in the shape of a pyramid, with a suavely dressed waiter pouring a very expensive bottle of champagne into them all from the highest point. He was booth seven of at least twelve, all flowing with alcohol, food, and anything and everything the heart could desire.

There were a few…strange individuals, but no one suspicious. Not yet.

Men’s bathrooms checked. All clear. Target not sighted.

Same for women’s bathrooms.

Reception area clear.

Currently sweeping kitchens and staff-room. Nothing so far.

Moving on to the cloakroom now.

If he wasn’t in the kitchens, or the cloakroom, or the staff-room, then he had to be here. At the party. It was up to her to stop him.

She recalled the letter that he had left as the clock reached three minutes to midnight. Lawson had threatened to strike at midnight at the biggest New Years’ Party in the city, at Concert Hall. It was renowned throughout the country. Full of big stars, powerful people, and those hopeful for stardom. But this New Years’ Eve Party was also a charity event that celebrated all the good that those in the country had done – full of amazing people who had changed people’s lives for the better. That is precisely why she couldn’t shut down the event, it was too important and brought so much hope to people. But it was also precisely why it was the perfect target for some sick, twisted, individual looking to make maximum impact.

That’s when she saw him. She could recognise that face anywhere. Those piercing, soulless eyes. That curved scar rising like a flame from his cheekbone to his eyebrow. That crooked nose, the nose she had broken, still misshapen from that incident back in ’09. She breathed a sigh of relief, until she fully registered where he was stood. Completely surrounded by partygoers, blissfully unaware of the chaos that would ensue in less than three minutes. As their eyes met, Lawson smirked at her glower. He raised an eyebrow, almost an invite, to try and take him out. In front of everyone. Then and there. What he didn’t realise she had changed since that day ten years ago. She was ready for him this time, and this time it would be his life that would be taken.

“Target spotted. Centre of the main hall, in plain sight.”

Her breath was shaking, but strong. Determined. This was it. She wouldn’t fail. Not again. The gun in her shoulder holster felt like the earth, and she was Atlas bearing the weight of that burden. She knew her fellow operatives were moving into position. She acknowledged their replies through the intercom but didn’t grace them with her response. It was time to strike.

“Did someone say free champagne at booth seven?” she boomed. She knew that would get all those who heard dashing to the other side of the room. She pushed past the bodies, warm to the touch from hours of dancing, drinking and fun, who were making their way over to a rather bemused waiter and his pyramid of glass.

Lawson raised an eyebrow again. He was no longer packed next to people like sardines, but still within reach of at least thirty. Maybe fifty. Collateral damage would be minimised, if he got his chance to strike. There was still one minute left to end this.

He put his hands in his pockets casually. She readied her hands to reach for her gun, concealed by her wine-coloured trench coat. The black of the leather of her holster melded in with the black of her leather dress, seamlessly looking like a design feature rather than a defence mechanism. More operatives were starting to surround him, swiftly but silently moving innocents out of the way.

He was practically circled now. He knew his time was nearly up. That’s why he did it. That’s why he pulled a switchbox connected to a long, black wire out of his trouser pocket.

That’s when she noted the bulkiness of his waistcoat. And those weren’t loose threads from his jacket…they were more wires. He smirked as realisation pasted across her now gaunt face. It was now or never.

The device around his torso would be triggered by that switch at midnight. Yes, a button that when released would cause the device to explode would be far more effective, but that wasn’t Lawson’s style. It wasn’t dramatic enough. There wasn’t enough tension. There had to be a chance that he would lose. That’s what made him keep trying, again and again, to bring misery to innocent people across the country. The adrenaline. The drama. The risk. He was sick.

The countdown to midnight had begun. The bang of fireworks would signify midnight, and the end of the countdown. It was tradition, to yell ‘bang’ along with them, coined by some famous celebrity that said everyone should enter the new year with a bang. All the partygoers were chanting, singing, dancing, celebrating. Looking forwards to the new year and all the hope and prosperity that would come with it. If they survived.


She began to move her hand to her concealed handgun.


She wrapped her fingers around it, gripping it tightly. People’s lives depended on it.


Her grip tightened further, and she began to draw her gun from her holster.


She continued drawing her gun. Lawson began to raise the switch box higher, so it was in plain sight of all around him.


The two locked eyes with each other. This would be their last standoff. This would be the last time they would face each other like this. Hopefully, the next time she saw him would be identifying his body in the morgue.


Her gun was fully visible outside her coat. His fingers were cocked, ready to flick the switch.


She took the safety off the gun and placed her finger on the trigger. Steady. Poised. Ready.

She readied the gun, aimed for Lawson’s head. In between those beady little eyes. When she pulled the trigger, she would aim to do so just as the clock struck midnight. Just when the countdown finished, and everyone yelled ‘bang!’ to enter the New Year with style. The noise should conceal the gunshot. She was ready…but his smirk…it made her falter. Should she aim for his head, or the switch?

She began to sweat. She needed to choose. His head, or the switch. Would killing him prevent the device from going off? Would knocking the switch out of his hands prevent him from triggering the device? She didn’t know. He was so sick and twisted, that maybe neither option would stop the device...but she needed to make a choice.

Three, two, one, BANG!

December 27, 2019 22:53

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