SMS balanced the weight of Pavelec’s pistol in his hand and looked at Olivia, who was shaking with terror. She was biting her lip, her thin cheeks pale and wisps of hair falling over her face. Something about the fear in her eyes melted away the aging she had undergone, so she looked more like the young girl in the family photo than the wispy specter sitting on the couch in the middle of an abandoned warehouse, being used as a pawn in the mad game between Pavelec and Innis.
“Go ahead, SMS,” said Innis. “Shoot her.”
As he held the gun SMS wasn’t sure what terrified him more, the idea of taking the life of this pitiful, helpless young woman, of killing another human being—another special, someone like him—in cold blood, or the fact that he was actually considering doing it.
But no, he wasn’t that kind of person. Sure, he’d done some bad things over the years, in the name of winning Innis’s trust, but he’d never killed anyone. Innis hadn’t corrupted him that far. He couldn’t do it. He would never shoot her.
It was clearly a test. If SMS was still loyal to Innis, he would shoot Olivia and prove it. And if he didn’t shoot her, then what? Would he take a bullet beside her? What would be the gain in that?
Revenge was what SMS was after. All he’d wanted for years was to take Innis down, to get his hands on that notebook and prove that Innis was the one behind his mother’s death, to see him rotting in prison for the rest of his life. But was he prepared to kill to achieve that goal? Could he really shoot Olivia just to put himself back in Innis’s good books?
He raised the gun and pointed it at Olivia’s heart. It was either her, or both of them. If he didn’t shoot her, someone else would. At least he could make it painless… The rationalizations flowed more easily than he anticipated, and he felt his finger tightening on the trigger.
Then he stopped, lowered the gun, and handed it to Innis. He couldn’t excuse murder in the name of justice. He couldn’t excuse murder under any circumstances. “I can’t,” he said. “She doesn’t deserve this. There has to be another way.”
Olivia’s head dropped to her chest, and tears of relief burst from her eyes.
“What a shame,” said Innis. He took Pavelec’s gun, raised it, and without a moment of hesitation shot Olivia twice in the stomach. She crumpled, her screams mixing with Pavelec’s as the RCMP agent dove to her knees beside Olivia.
“No no no no no…” said Pavelec, cradling the woman’s head and grasping one of her hands. “Stay with me.” Olivia retched up a mouthful of blood. Pavelec smoothed the hair away from Olivia’s forehead. “This can’t be happening. Don’t go, Olivia. Fight it. Hang on. Stay with me!”
As Olivia choked back her final breaths she reached feebly up towards Pavelec’s face with one hand and touched Pavelec on the forehead. Pavelec’s breathing quickened, and she blinked several times, hard. Then Olivia heaved one last gasp, rolled her head to the side, and was gone.
Pavelec drew the woman’s pale eyelids down over her vacant eyes and stood. Her back straightened with apparent new resolve, and she stared at Innis with unblinking hatred.
Innis shrugged off her gaze. “I’m disappointed in you, Shawn,” he said to SMS. “Honestly, I thought you’d given up on your little mission against me a couple of years ago, but apparently you still have some funny ideas bouncing around in your head. I can’t afford to humour your subversive games anymore, but luckily Cyber’s not a bad replacement.” Innis clapped Cyber on the shoulder with a wicked grin. Cyber flashed back his trademark cocky leer, but as he met SMS’s stare his eyes were tinged with sympathy.
“What a day this has turned out to be, eh?” continued Innis. “Sorry to go over your head with some of this, Cyber, but that’s the business we’re in. Here.” He handed Pavelec’s gun to Cyber. “Make it quick for Mr. Scott, I think. He’s earned that much, at least, over the last few years. Then bring Ms. Pavelec out to the car. She’s got a lot to tell us about the rest of her hidden friends, I think. Like where they are, for example. And be extra careful with her: she’ll probably try to make a run for it. She’s hardly blinked at all in the last couple of minutes.” He winked at Pavelec, slipped his little black notebook out of his pocket, and turned to leave, flipping through the notebook as he walked.
As Innis headed for the exit, Cyber trained the gun on SMS. There was sadness in his eyes, or was it just resignation? SMS tried to read him: was he actually going to do it? He wondered if Cyber was going through the same process that he himself had gone through only moments ago with Olivia. Would he arrive at the same conclusion?
Cyber reached one hand into his pocket, and SMS felt a text message arrive. It said, “I’m so sorry, Shawn. It’s either this or he kills us both. I’ll carry on for you. I’ll get my hands on that book, I’ll put Innis behind bars, and I’ll make sure everyone knows that you were working against him all along. I promise.”
So this is it, thought SMS. All this work, all these years, and he had failed. At least he could meet the bullet like a man. He stared into Cyber’s eyes and waited for the pull of the trigger…