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Surveillance – Ch. 5

Where the hell was he? Finch pulled his glasses off again, rubbed his eyes, and then slipped them back on. They had come up empty on the footage and Reese had rushed over to Mr. Allen’s apartment. It was a risk – without the GPS, they had no way of knowing if he was home or not – but they were running out of options.

How could a man with no training or military experience evade him so completely? Not even Reese had been able to elude him. It didn’t make any sense. Finch brought up the information on Mr. Allen – he had a bank account, but no credit cards, no magazine subscriptions, no gym membership. He had to be the most unimportant man on the planet. If he died, would anyone even miss him?

Finch tapped his fingertips against his lower lip. Something about this was all wrong. No one could be that invisible unless they tried, and tried damn hard. This was someone who knew what they were doing, who lived quietly, who moved in the shadows –

“Reese?”

“I just got to the apartment,” Reese said. “It looks like nobody’s home.”

“Be careful,” Finch said.

“Aw, Finch, I didn’t know you cared.” Finch opened his mouth to respond with like sarcasm, but the quiet click of a gun being cocked froze the words in his throat. “What was that?” Reese asked. Finch slowly swiveled his chair, a cold stillness settling over him as his gaze fell upon the mysterious Mr. Allen, a sleek black pistol held easily in one hand. “Finch?”

“I found him,” Finch said, his voice hollow in his own ears.

“Where?” Reese asked.

Finch hesitated, but Mr. Allen made no move to stop him. He just stood there, pointing the gun. “Here.” Mr. Allen began to walk toward him and Finch felt his heart jump up into his throat. He scrambled for something to say, but all that came out was, “Good-bye, John.”

“Finch? Finch!”

Finch closed his eyes as Mr. Allen stopped in front of him, the gun level with his head. He flinched as the man took the earpiece from his ear, Reese’s voice growing small and tinny as he continued to shout Finch’s name. Finch heard the earpiece hit the floor, then the crunch of plastic.

“You can open your eyes,” Mr. Allen said, his voice smooth and even. “I’m not going to shoot you.”

After a moment, Finch swallowed hard and looked up at him. “What do you want?”

“I want to know why your friend has been following me. Who do you work for? Where did you get your intel? What do you know?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Finch said. Mr. Allen regarded him for a moment, his dark eyes hard, and then he backhanded Finch, hard enough to turn his chair back facing the table. Pain throbbed through the side of his face, the coppery taste of blood in his mouth, and his vision swam as he raised his head, his gaze falling upon his array of monitors, each one filled with information. He quickly calculated the cost of action versus inaction, and though the outlook for both was high, the consequence of doing nothing carried the greatest risk.

He reached out, fingers dancing over the keys, and the cold barrel of the pistol dug into the back of his neck. He hesitated only a moment before hitting the enter key and triggering the emergency shutdown. All the monitors flickered and went black, the constant hum of electronics falling silent. Finch sat, staring at his own reflection in the dark monitors, taking slow, even breaths as he waited.

After a moment, Mr. Allen pulled the gun back. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “There are other ways of getting what I want from you.”

Finch didn’t resist as Mr. Allen tied him to the chair, using a roll of black electrical tape that Finch had bought to fix the wiring in the old library. That wasn’t the only thing the man found. Finch watched, a tightness in his chest, as Mr. Allen picked up the electric drill, a wry smile lifting the corner of his mouth.

“Some people insist on taking their own tools with them,” he said, poking around in a cardboard box full of wires, pliers, and drill bits, “but I prefer to travel light. It’s not usually so hard to find what you need just laying around. Oh, this will do nicely.” He loosened the chuck, took out the bit, and replaced it with a circular wire brush that Finch had used to take the corrosion off the pipes in the basement. Finch jumped as he squeezed the trigger, the tips of the stiff bristles glinting in the overhead lights as the brush head spun.

“What are you going to do?” Finch asked, his voice strained.

“That depends,” Mr. Allen replied, walking toward him. “Are you going to tell me what I want to know?”

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