Jim looked again. They didn’t look like killer’s eyes. Brown surrounded by bloodshot white. Pale eyelids that flickered. Shifty, nervous as hell. Yeah, they were hiding something; something dark. But they weren’t killer’s eyes.
He turned from the mirror. The bedside clock still read six fifty-five a.m. It hadn’t changed since his last look. He briefly wondered if it was broke, but digital clocks didn’t freeze or go slow. When they break, the display just blanks.
Moving, he sat on the hotel bed. Bouncy. Springs long gone from illicit overuse and age. He knew he shouldn’t be feeling like this. It was the first day of his new job for fucks sake. He should be happy. It definitely shouldn’t have made him throw up. After all, it was the chance to meet new people. The start of a new adventure.
He wondered if that was the problem with contract killing. The only new people you met, you killed. The display changed. Six fifty-six. Waiting was the problem. No one had mentioned that. It was all glamour, high risk and money. He’d spent last night checking and double checking everything. In hindsight that had been a mistake. There was nothing left to do but wait. Just clock-watching, daydreaming and waiting.
His stomach gurgled. That wasn’t helping either. God knows what muscle it was, but it had perfected twisting and spinning. He looked back at the clock. No change. Should he leave now? Despite all the planning, maybe something had been missed.
There was the other reason too. It kept filling his head. The room was too small. Walls everywhere; you couldn’t walk without being next to one. It reminded him of the cell. Occasionally the walls would creep in and pin him to the bed. First his hands, then his face would feel hot. He’d need to stand. Opening a window didn’t help. He had to get out.
Standing, he shook his head. He had to get a grip. Walking the four steps to the bathroom, he took the top off the toilet cistern. Fishing out the floating polythene zip-bag, he dried it with a towel. His gloved hands fumbled with the seal before it opened. He breathed out while looking at its contents. A pistol wrapped in another waterproof layer. This was it; no turning back.
His hands hacked at the sellotaped seam. The gloves were useless; fingers and thumbs worked against each other trying to rip it. The seam wasn’t giving. All that planning and he couldn’t unwrap the gun. The walls moved in again. The heat came back with a vengeance to his neck. His armpits felt wet. So much for the earlier shower. The hotel room was just like the cell. Even the windows had bars. It was too much. That was where this had started. That cell.