The story written by Suzanne and me continues. Moira and Amber are hiding in the dark alley, whilst George waits at one end.
Day of the Badger (Part 2)
Amber would just have to leave the flash-drive in its precarious position and hope George didn’t spot it.
‘We need to get out of here,’ Amber whispered. ‘Don’t suppose you have a car nearby?’
The woman shook her head.
Duh. She wouldn’t be walking through a dark alley if she had a car.
‘Amber, I’m not leaving without it,’ George was still waving the knife, the light from his phone not quite strong enough to reach Amber and the woman. ‘I know you’re there. You can either give it to me now or wait until C Team get here. There’s no way you’re going to get away.’
Why didn’t he just try to get it off her if he was so sure she was still in the alley? It suddenly dawned on her. George was scared. He could give it all the big man talk but she hadn’t seen him on an active mission in months. Not since Rome. C Team, on the other hand, were another matter. A right bunch of nasty bastards.
‘Right, I’m going to count to three then we’re going to run as fast as we can,’ Amber whispered. ‘Stick close to me. We need to keep out of sight, find some cover until I can get another car. Christ, what a fuck-up.’
‘Sorry. I shouldn’t be here. My god. I feel sick.’ The woman took a deep breath through her nose. ‘Oh, I just thought. My work is literally around the corner. Is that any good?’
‘Lead the way.’ Amber heard the sound of at least two cars speeding down the road towards the end of the alley where George was, and shoved the woman in the opposite direction. ‘Now!’
Moira ran. She sprinted through the blackness and didn’t look back. She could hear the woman’s footsteps close behind and prayed she didn’t trip. Her whole body throbbed with fear; she’d seen the knife in that crazy man’s hand.
They broke through the alley into the lesser darkness of the street.
‘Which way?’ The woman she assumed was Amber asked as they huddled against the closed shop fronts and caught their breath.
Moira pointed to the tall office building at the end of the street. It was in darkness; Alfie had finally gone home.
Checking up and down the empty high street, they made a run for it. She fumbled in her pocket for the keys as they approached and unlocked the deadbolts.
Amber shut the door and locked it from the inside while Moira ran to the flashing alarm panel and punched in the numbers. Crouching low, she led the way across the deserted foyer to the receptionist bay at the back. At the same time she heard the rumble of several cars driving slowly down the street before Amber pulled her down out if sight.
‘What do you do here?’ Amber whispered at her ear. How could her voice sound so calm?
‘It’s an accountancy firm, all very boring,’ she managed to stutter out as she slid to the floor and hugged her knees to her chest.
She hated the offices at night, especially with a strange woman who was being chased by a mad knifeman and C team, whoever the hell they were.
Why the hell had she taken the alley? Just for a pint of bloody milk!
‘Are you alright?’ Amber asked, sitting down next to her with her back against the desk.
Moira sucked in a breath. ‘What… yes,’ she said eventually and then searched in her bag for her phone. ‘We should call the police.’
‘No!’ Amber kicked the bag away before she could grab her phone.
‘But that man. He had a knife. He’s dangerous!’ Moira’s voice wobbled, close to tears.
‘George? Nah, he’s a bit of a wanker but he’s not dangerous. What’s your name?’
‘It’s Moira. My dad named me after some newsreader, so he said. I don’t really watch the news, does anyone now? Just look at the BBC news site if I need to know anything. I mean, my dad does but he’s old. Well, not that old but probably your age. If you know what I mean.’
Amber waited for her to stop rambling. ‘Right, Moira, I don’t think there’s any way they could have seen us come in here so we should have a bit of time.’ She looked around the office in the dim light provided by the street lamps outside. ‘Is that a kettle back there? A cup of tea would be good. You should have one too.’
‘Shall I make some tea then? You don’t seem like the type of person to be ‘Mother’.’
‘Yeah. Couple of biscuits if you’ve got any. Keep away from the window. I’m going to think for minute.’
Amber closed her eyes, looking as relaxed as Moira’s dad having his Sunday afternoon nap. Moira, on the other hand, was still shaking as she made her way over to the tea station, crouching awkwardly as she tried to keep below the level of the window. She flicked on the kettle and put a couple of teabags in two cups. The familiar actions of tea making – sniffing the milk for freshness, rummaging in the biscuit tin for the chocolate hobnobs which always made their way to the bottom – began to disperse the adrenaline in Moira’s body and her breath slowed and the pounding in her chest faded away.
Amber watched Moira through slitted eyes. The tea wasn’t really necessary but she could see that Moira had been heading towards hysteria and doing something, didn’t matter what, was always good for nerves. She considered her options. Not that she had many. Not if George had C Team in his pocket. The trouble was, when your whole life was based on lies and deception, it was hard to know who you could actually trust when the chips were down. She tried to think who owed her the most, who would at least help her to get away before double-crossing her – as they undoubtedly would. As, to be honest, she probably would in their shoes.
She went round and round her contacts but kept coming back to the same name. Roman Braff. You’d struggle to find a meaner son of a bitch in the Northern Hemisphere but he had a strange sense of loyalty. And, hopefully, a strong memory. It was a long time since she’d last dealt with him but he’d promised he’d repay her when she needed him.
Part 3 to follow…