Powder Burn Flash # 137 - Sean Monaghan

Left to Chance
by Sean Monaghan

Garry tried the lightswitch again, then stepped into the room, squinting through the dim distant streetlamp glow.  Why hadn't he brought a flashlight?  It had been there in the glove compartment in the car.  Too late to go down and grab it now.

'Meg,' he called.  'Meg, honey, what's up with the lights?'  He put the gun under his belt, against the small of his back and stretched his foot out slowly, feeling his way in.  The coffee table was here somewhere, with the money taped underneath  Two packs of $1000 bills, fifty in each.  Sammy didn't know about it, didn't even know that Meg was involved.  Well, he wasn't supposed to know, but Meg's door had been ajar, and that made Garry worried.  There weren't many people living in the building now, of the forty apartments only a few were occupied.  Demolition started next week, but even so she wouldn't be that casual.

His foot bumped into something.  The sofa.  He worked his way around, along the sofa's arm and reached out in front, touching the edge of the low table.  He lifted and tipped it on its side beginning to feel his way around the underside.  He turned as someone beside him moved.

******

Meg hear the sound of someone trying the lights.  She could feel her vision coming back slowly, stars and speckles in the periphery, but it was still dark.  After a moment she realised that it was after sunset already.  That meant that she'd been passed out on the sofa for at least a half hour.

She bent forwards, wincing at the pain.  Reaching down she could feel a stickiness across her blouse.  She'd heard the shot earlier, immediately after the lights went out.  She was bleeding.  It must have gone across her abdomen.  Not lodged in there, not a, what did the crime shows call it, a "through and through"?  Just a graze.  She winced again.

Someone was nearby, feeling around the table.  Meg reached down the other side, looking for her purse and cell phone.  She found it and flipped it open, the glow from the screen illuminating her face.  The crash of another gunshot and the phone exploded in her hand.

******

Sammy crouched in the corner, his eyes used to the dark now.  From under the window he'd watched it all.  Someone had shot him in the ankle and he was stuck here.  He had bound the ankle, but sat on the edges of consciousness while the sun fell.  That same  person had then shot Meg, when she came in, then had continued searching for the money.  What they didn't know was that Sammy already had it, tucked into his waistband.

Then Garry had come in and tried the lights, but the power in the whole building was crap, so it stayed dark.  Whoever it was had been ransacking Meg's bedroom, but stopped when they heard Garry come in.  Then someone had shot Meg's cellphone as she'd opened it.  Sammy smiled to himself.  The other person was a lousy shot, Sammy's ankle, and just a flesh wound on Meg, couldn’t do a kill shot, so it must have been Garry who'd shot the phone.  Yes, looking for the money, whirling around surprised that Meg was right behind him on the sofa.

The sound of the shot was still ringing in Sammy’s ears when the lights came on.

Garry was on his feet in an instant, gun held out in both hands, sweeping the room.  Sammy whipped his gun out too, blinking.  He ignored Garry and kept the gun levelled at the doorway to Meg's room.

'Garry,' Meg said.  'What are you doing?'

'I came for the money.'

'It's gone already,' she said.  ‘Did you shoot my phone?’

Sammy stayed as still as he could, so they wouldn't notice him as they argued.  Hopefully whoever was in the room would come out and shoot Garry, then Sammy could return fire.

Someone stepped into the doorway.  Sammy recognised him.  Justin, Garry's brother.

'So where is it?' Justin said.  Garry turned, lowering his gun.

'Where is what?'

Sammy noticed something from the corner of his eye.  A demolition explosives pack, with charges and wires.  Right in the corner of the room, where the floor met the outside wall.  Why would a room be rigged while it was still occupied?

'The money,' Justin said.

Garry glanced at the table.  'It’s gone.'

Justin, Sammy thought.  Justin had planned to take the money, then blow the apartment, make it look like it was an accident, blame the demolition company.  Then it would all be clean.  Everyone else would think that the money was gone, destroyed in the blast.

'Smart trick, Justin,' Sammy said.  All eyes turned to him, and Sammy shot Justin.

'No, no!' Garry screamed as Justin fell.  He spun on Sammy.  But Sammy kept his aim even and killed Garry before he could get a shot off.

'Thank you,' Meg said as Garry collapsed to the floor.  'Now let's get out of here.'

Sammy got to his good foot and hobbled over to the sofa.  Meg's wound was pretty bad, he was surprised she hadn't bled out yet.  She was pale and drawn.

She saw the look on his face.  'Not just a graze, is it?'.

'If we could get you to an ambulance ...' he trailed off, looked down at his shattered ankle.  'I'll use your phone to call Alex.  He can come and pick us up.'

'My phone is wrecked,' she said.

Sammy heard a click and looked over again, at the explosive pack, this time seeing the timer.  Oh Justin, he thought, never leaving anything to chance.

BIO: Sean Monaghan is a New Zealand writer who also tutors in creative writing, makes music and art and works in a busy public library. Sean’s affair with short stories is long, his first published story came out way back in 1987, with recent flash fiction stories on http://www.antisf.com/ and http://www.microhorror.com/. More info about Sean and his writing is at his website http://www.venusvulture.com/.

Copyright 2009 by Sean Monaghan