I'm awake and out of the flat early. I walk outside into the inky dawn to find the world smothered by a blanket of fog, squeezing and choking the life out of the Earth for its sins.
I walk across and out of town. I got lucky last night, I heard the Eigonvectors are hiding out in Stanmer House, and they have a hostage. It can only be Baltam's cousin. I try to focus, center and calm myself on the hour long walk. The air is thick and heavy, cool on my face. It hides the corners and edges of the world from me. Secretly, I thank it.
The estate stands grand and square in Stanmer Park. Grey light fills the world, fog seems to swirl around the building. Last I heard, it was recently restored a usable state. I wonder that no-one has forced the gang out. How high does their influence spread?
I sneak in the back, through a kitchen door, Faith resting loosely in my hand. This time of day, none of the bastards will be awake. Inside the house is all stone floors, grand ceilings and dust sheets hiding furniture. I sneak around, poking my head through doors. In the entrance hall a set of stairs leads upwards. I follow it. Chinese gangsters lie in some of the rooms, most collapsed in a heap of empty bottles.
The Baltam kid is chained to a radiator in on of the bedrooms. A guard starts up when I sneak inside, drunk and confused. I tell him to sit down. I insist. He doesn't get back up. I cut the teenagers handcuffs, and lead him back out onto the corridor.
My luck runs out when I reach the entrance hall again, standing on the landing. Someone heard something, and the Chinese are waiting for me. Shots ring out as I round the corner. I fire back meekly, staggering behind some cover. I call to the Baltam kid to hide behind me. He lies on the floor, unmoving, blood seeping underneath him like he was a leaking bag.
That sick feeling rises in my stomach, stretching icy tendrils through my gut and up into my throat. For a moment, it threatens to consume me, to drag me under, to pin me down and hold my breath. But I force it down. The kid was dead. After everything. I draw Providence from inside my jacket.
By this point, I can't even feel angry any more.
I rise up in a daze, swing out onto the balcony, and open fire. Everything seems to move slowly. For a time, I can't hear anything above the rush of blood in my ears. Then a wave of something dark passes over me and everything goes red.
The Twins roar their shame and fury with all the bloodshot zeal of a tumor-crazed preacher. Shots echo around the room, kicking up dust and plaster and blood.
Then, after a second, a minute, and eternity of moments, a nothingth of forever, a heartbeat and a lifetime, it's all over. The Twins run out of lessons to preach. I stand and catch my breath in the silence, straining to listen. My throat is red raw, my breaths ragged, and some noise dully echoes through the room, clinging low and rough to the corners. But I don't remember screaming out.
Everything is quiet now. I carefully raise the corpse of the missing Baltam. The kid can't be more than seventeen. I walk out through the front door.
Walking back down Stanmer park, the air begins to clear. To one side of me, rich blues seep through the air, getting stronger and brighter by the minute as the air comes to life. To the other side, the thick fog boils and rolls, burning away before my eyes at the pure touch of the Sun. I stop and watch, straining to watch the movement of grey air which vanishes moments after I look at it. It is an eerily beautiful moment, the sky torn smoothly between pure white and brilliant blue.
I shift the Baltam kid on my shoulder, and keep walking.