Soft grey clouds hung in the air as the sun slowly set in the distance, the sky ablaze with a pink and orange hue. A soft wind blew across the field rustling the stalks of corn off in the distance and causing the wind chime to whisper it’s tune. I held my face to the sun, feeling it’s warmth cover me, taking a deep breath as I tried to compose myself. The smell of ozone and burnt flesh caught in my nostrils. I breathed out, dropping my shoulders and looked down.
His lifeless eyes stared back at me. He was a middle aged man, his face grizzled and worn, just like the clothing he wore. His body was sprawled on the ground, a rifle still clutched in his hands and his legs bent under him. Dropped right where he stood. From the pallor of his skin, I suspected he had been like this for over an hour, but I still reached out just to see if he had a pulse. I knew it was useless, but some habits are hard to break. If nothing else, the three burn holes through his chest were enough to tell me he was gone.
“Well, this sucks.” I breathed out as I put my pistol back into the holster. I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my pad. Using my thumb, I hit the power button. The soft glow of the screen was harsh in the dying light. “I better hurry, going to lose the light soon.” I thought to myself.
I reached down and took hold of his hand, freeing the rifle from his grasp. Rigor had already started to set in, making my task even that more difficult. I held the device to his thumb and waited for the beep to confirm his identity. Looking back at it, I hung my head and breathed out again. A long silent moment passed before I looked at the screen again, just to confirm that it really was him.
The screen showed a photo of my dead guy with a name underneath it. Thomas Nelson. Yeah, this was my guy alright, and with him lying in the dirt, there went any chance of my questioning him on my case. Someone didn’t want me talking to this guy. Why? What secret did he hold that someone would come all the way out to the Zone to kill him?
I stood up, thumbed my phone to call back to headquarters and listened as the phone made a connection to the network. As the call went through, all I could think was “Had to happen as the end of the day.”