He’d gotten in way over his head.
The weird lights, the sounds, the glimpses of movement - his client had thought it was a bunch of kids fooling around the warehouse facilities at night. At worst, Evanol had thought it might’ve been a minor gang trying to move in and either claim a little territory or do a little theft. Either way, he’d do a little poking around to get the lay of the land, as it were, and then either scare the hooligans off or take whatever he found to the police as an anonymous tip.
Instead, he’d found the goddamn mob.
And then they’d found him.
He blinked blearily in the dim yellow light, trying to condense his vision into sharper lines and focus. It only made his headache worse, so he gave up and shut his eyes, listening to the muffled thuds of moving crates and dull voices outside the storage closet they’d stuffed him in. The headache rang slightly in his ears, so he couldn’t pick up on many details, but a few key words stood out to him. These were words like ‘shoot, body, river, mugging,’ and ‘frame.’ It sounded more like a debate than a plan at this point, but he didn’t like what he was hearing on either side of the argument, as they both seemed to agree on one thing: he was a dead man.
He thought he should probably feel something more about that, but everything outside of his throbbing skull was numb, and everything inside felt like molasses - squishy, sticky, and slow.
‘Mugging’ was getting thrown around a lot more on the other side of the door. Seemed they were going with the version of his death where he, some poor random joe, had an alleyway encounter gone wrong. That was probably sensible of them. Mysterious bodies floating down the river tended to attract attention, then investigation. He’d heard of the incident last year with the guy who snapped and went on exactly that sort of killing spree only to finally get run down by someone in a truck. The court had ruled that one self-defense, he recalled.
He dimly wished he had a truck right now. In fact, he’d settle for a trick. Unfortunately, he was fresh out of both.
“It’s settled then,” said a louder voice outside. “Mart, get our sneak out of here, get rid of anything on him that looks like foul play, then cart him to an alley downtown and open him up. Use your pocketknife, make it convincing, and don’t get seen. The rest of you, get moving. This stuff won’t shift itself and we need to get out of here by morning. Already wasted enough time on this.”
Foosteps approached the door. Evanol contemplated death, as much as he could contemplate anything in his state, and found that he really wasn’t looking forward to it.
A bang pierced the fuzziness in his head and made him jump. There were shouts, and smaller bangs and crashes, and over it all a clear voice calling out the most welcome words Evanol had heard all night: This is the police! Stand down!
He heard a gunshot as one of the bruisers outside decided not to take this advice, followed by more shots, bangs, crashes and yells. He wished he could see. He had no idea who was winning.
Then the door was wrenched open, and he blinked up against the harsher glare of a standing work light, pouring around the silhouette of exactly the sort of man you picked out of a crowd when you wanted a great deal of muscle and, probably, very little brain power. One hand, approximately the size and shape of a shovel, reached for him. The other brandished a gun as he turned to look over his shoulder.
BANG - the gun flew from his hand, crashed into the wall, and clattered to the floor with a hole through the side of the barrel. BANG - he dropped to one knee, squealed, and clutched his leg.
Evanol realized that the sounds were beginning to settle, and he saw why when a pair of policemen in Kevlar vests and helmets rushed up to grab and cuff the injured brute in the doorway. One of them did a double take when he saw Evanol.
“Chief, they had a hostage in here!” he shouted, then moved out of the way, dragging the mobster with him. For a moment, all Evanol could see was light. Then came a new shadow: tall and narrow, vested like the others. It half turned for a moment to give an order, and Evanol recognized the voice that had rung so clearly earlier. Then she stepped out of the harsh white glare and into the dim shadows of his space, kneeling to his level and reaching out to make sure he was alive. He saw, even through his increasingly fuzzy vision, a calm, serious face drawn in sharp lines, framed by light, and a pair of intense golden-brown eyes.
He smiled, or tried to, and had one last coherent thought before he passed out:
I've been saved by an angel.