I seem to have settled on showing a peek to every other chapter. This book is getting that first draft walk-the-dog feeling (get the leash, make dog sit, put on leash, open door, exit get it). But I suppose pacing will have to be settled later. Right now I'm still in discovery mode. Like the enemy has a way of tracking Trinidad...who knew?

“It’s just right down here, sir.” The two turned to lead him. He followed, keeping back some distance. They walked in silence, occasionally glancing back at him nervously, as if he might not come, or as if he might attack them.

Empty cans and bottles rolled, making a dull clang against the broken asphalt. The wind pushed food wrappers, woodchips, and bits of paper deeper into corners. The back of the other buildings were gone; chunks of mortar littered the alley. The air carried a faint spoilage. Rats, maybe, he thought, if someone had been poisoning them lately.

A box, about a foot tall, lay pushed up against the rusted metal back door of the army surplus store. The two led him to it and paused to look back at him. The box looked new. Cardboard. A rarity.

“Well?” he asked.

“It’s for you. We aren’t supposed to touch it.”

What devilry was this? A bomb? He listened and heard nothing. The other two waited. He considered that whatever the "messengers" were, they didn't seem suicidal. He pushed between them and walked forward, lifted the lid.

Dead eyes stared back at him, mouth frozen in agony. Ashen skin, ripped away under the chin. Blood pooled in the clear plastic bag that held the severed head.

He recoiled, his body forgetting to breathe or scream with the instant urge to get away. He backed into one of the men, who grabbed his arms and yanked them behind his back by the elbows. The other man drove his fist into Trinidad’s stomach, punctuating each word: “They will pay for what you’ve done.”

The man holding him thrust him to the ground and kicked him in the kidneys to make sure he’d stay down. Trinidad scrambled for his pistol, but another kick rang through his head.

The man, the one with the bangs who’d held his arms, squatted close behind Trinidad. “Next time it will be someone you love.”

Each of them satisfied themselves with another kick to his ribs and fled. He shoved his pistol in their direction, knowing he couldn’t get off a decent shot at them; pain weakened his aim. And he didn’t really want to kill them. If they were dead, he couldn’t find out more about them. But as soon as their footsteps faded away, regret and self-loathing flooded in.

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