Book Excerpt: Those Who Walk In Darkness
Jacks crouched down in the dark street and pointed to the faint trace of light coming through the downstairs windows of the bank building. Upstairs, the windows blazed with light. Several figures passed across them.
“I count six,” Jacks said softly. “Five men and one woman. You?”
Davey Hume nodded. “Six. I saw the woman. What’s she doing out here?”
“Probably married or shacking up with one of the men.”
“No place for a woman,” Davey said with a frown.
“Yeah, well, watch her anyway. They can be worse than the men,” Jacks warned. “There’s bound to be a door in the back of the building. You go around there and wait for the signal.”
“What’s the signal?” Hume asked in excitement, loving this part of the job.
“You’ll know. When you hear it, keep your gun up and your head down. Watch your back and your sides as you come into the building. Worse mistake you can make is letting someone sneak up on you.”
“I’m ready.” Davey nodded and took out his gun.
Jacks doubted it but didn’t say so. “Wait for the signal.”
Hume scurried along the shadowed edges of the street, making his way to the back of the building. There was music and laughter coming from upstairs. He looked up at the back of the bank. There were actually two doors. One was straight in front of him, but the other was up a set of rickety looking stairs. They didn’t look strong enough to hold anyone, but heeding Jacks’ words, he didn’t rule out the possibility either.
He waited patiently, wondering what the signal would be and how he would know for sure that it was the signal. He admired and respected Jacks’ calm composure and sureness. No wonder Jacks had been a top agent for so long.
Davey wanted to be just like him. Except maybe a little friendlier.
He thought about the woman inside the building and wondered if he could actually shoot a woman if it came down to it. He wouldn’t have admitted it, but he’d never shot a man in his life. Allan Pinkerton knew it right away. He hadn’t held it against him, though. That was when he paired him with Jacks. Maybe Jacks would help him make his first kill, Davey considered. He just hoped it wasn’t a woman. Women were…different.
The outlaws in the abandoned bank were having a pretty good time, he thought as the noise level rose from inside. And not a bit worried about being caught. He checked his gun again and eased the cramp that had come from gripping it so tightly. Where was the signal?
He heard a popping sound, followed by a dull thud in the lower bank floor. Was that it? he wondered nervously, positioning himself outside the lower back door, ready to kick it in as he entered.
Before he could move, an explosion rocked the quiet night around him. The sound was so loud and startling that it knocked him off his feet. The back door flew off its hinges and almost slapped him in the face as it came by him. Smoke poured from the windows and the cracks in the building. The beginning of a fire crackled in the front foyer of the building.
Getting back on his feet, Hume caught the first man out the back door and knocked him down on the ground. The man lay still, and Hume left him there, convinced that he wouldn’t get up until he came back for him. He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and wrapped it across his face. Two other men came out of the building and fell at his feet, coughing and gagging from the smoke. Hume tied them up quickly, anxious to get inside and really do the job.
The smell of sulfur was strong in his nose as he finally entered the building. It was difficult to see in all the smoke. The fire was beginning to pick up force. It wouldn’t take long to burn the dry tinder down to the ground. It could even take the rest of the old buildings down with it.
He looked to the sides and didn’t see anyone.
“Jacks?” he called out as he began to go through what was left of the downstairs floor. The stairs going to the next floor were still intact. A gunshot rang out from up there, and he ran for the stairs.
He didn’t see the woman in the pink silk dress until it was too late. He heard the sound of the gun firing then looked down at the gun in her hand. There was a lot of blood coming from his chest, but he couldn’t feel anything. He looked at her again, and she smiled at him. Then he crumpled to the floor.