The smoking ruin of the black Crown Victoria lay on the side of the road, its wheels slowly turning in the air, a massive tree trunk piercing the windshield. The tree had blasted through the safety glass and through the driver's seat, knocking the steering wheel off its column, through the headrest, and into the back seat. A clearly unsurvivable accident.
Except for the young man in the grey duster sitting on top of the transmission hump, smoking a cigarette. Clearly a dangerous activity given the heavy scent of leaking gasoline in the air.
The glare of halogen-bright headlights coming down the curve interrupted his reverie, so he hopped down from the mangled wreck, tossing his still-glowing cigarette butt into the passenger-side seat. He climbed up the embankment and stepped into the middle of the road, waving a battered Yankees baseball cap over his head. The Mitsubishi pulled up beside the wreck, and he walked over to the driver's side window, where an obese, balding man with a furrowed brow glared up at him angrily.
"You're late," the young man said, showing him the time on a Mickey Mouse watch. "You said you'd be here twenty minutes ago."
"You said you could take this guy in. What happened?"
"I'm guessing a little girl happened," the young man said.
"How the fuck do you figure?"
"Well, I don't know. You think maybe the little girl whom you told me could mess around with electronics might have had something to do with the inexplicable failure of my car's transmission system? I thought you told me she could only affect computers."
"Shut up. You're supposed to be the best. My bosses paid a lot of money for you. So far you've given us shit. Get in the car."
The young man walked to the passenger's side without another word, tossed his grey duster in the back seat and climbed in. "Little girls," he muttered. "It's always little girls. Make a note, if you have a chance to fight a seven-story monster or a kindergartener, take the monster, you'll live longer." Behind him, the gas fumes had finally started to ignite, and blue-yellow flames were licking the upholstery of the wrecked Crown Vic. "I'm going to need a new car, and a six-man support team," the young man said. "In addition…"
"You're getting jack shit." The young man felt cold steel against his temple. He glanced up into the rear view mirror. Walther PPK. 9x17mm. Silver finish. Ivory grips. Stylish gun, must have cost a small fortune. "This experiment is over. We're switching back to our usual MO, and you're going to hell."
"I really wouldn't do that if I were you," the young man said. His voice was low, and flat, deliberately cool, like a snake in the rushes. "Not with only a gun. I'd recommend a stake and some holy water."
The fat man laughed. "Shut up. Aren't you a fucking lousy liar."
"You shut up. You won't kill me. You paid a lot of money for me, and your bosses won't like it if you waste resources."
"My bosses don't know about you. This is an independent operation. Perfect deniability. You were dead the moment that you took the contract. Or did you really think that the Foundation would even bother with some loser who got kicked out of the GOC?" A fireball ignited the night sky as the gas tank of the Crown Vic finally caught and lit. In the lurid scarlet light, the fat man's features appeared harsh, cruel… yes, even demonic.
The young man smiled, a wide, mirthless smile showing lots of crooked white teeth. "No support. No resources. No replacement car. I guess that makes sense." The young man leaned his head back and sighed, staring up at the roof of the car. "My mistake. I guess I've gotten soft. But one thing that I haven't forgotten…"
There was a gunshot, and a brief flurry of movement, and then the small Mitsubishi leaped forward like a pouncing cat. The tiny car swerved off the side of the road and over the edge of the embankment, where it tumbled end over end down the rocky ravine and crashed, inverted, into a small creek bed at the bottom of the hill. Two more gunshots, then silence.
The young man pulled himself out of the passenger's side window, grimacing as he nursed a gunshot wound in the ear. Blood was streaming down his face from a cut on the forehead, and his left ankle was twisted strangely as he rolled over onto his back, gasping for breath. Broken ribs. Definitely broken ribs.
He grinned up at the starry night sky as he tossed the silver-plated Walther into the creek. "As I was gonna say… I never forgot to set the car into Park when doing a roadside execution," he wheezed.
He reached into his coat pocket for a pack of cigarettes that wasn't there, realizing only then that his coat was still in the back seat of the car. He considered his options. Given the situation, passing out seemed like the best course of action.
So he did.