Because he's the...click...the best.
He looks toward but not at the crowd, waiting their turn to step onto the down escalator, which will take them to hell. He doesn't look at the couples or the men with telephones or women with hair from Supercuts, which is where Pamela went. He doesn't look at the families. He clutches the shopping bag to his chest, the way anybody would if it were full of holiday treats. One hand on the grip of whatever kind of gun it is, his other hand curled -- outside the bag -- around what somebody might think is a loaf of Fresh Fields bread that would go very nicely with soup but is in fact a heavy sound suppressor, packed with mineral cotton and rubber baffles.
His watch beeps.
He pulls the trigger.
There is a hissing sound as the stream of bullets begins working its way down the passengers on the escalator and they pitch forward under the fire. The hush hush hush of the gun is suddenly obscured by the screams.
"Oh God look out Jesus Jesus what's happening I'm hurt I'm falling." And things like that.
Hush hush hush.
And all the terrible clangs of the misses -- the bullets striking the metal and the tile. That sound is very loud. The sounds of the hits are much softer.
Everyone looks around, not knowing what's going on.
The Digger looks around too. Everyone frowns. He frowns.
Nobody thinks that they are being shot. They believe that someone has fallen and started a chain reaction of people tumbling down the escalator. Clangs and snaps as phones and briefcases and sports bags fall from the hands of the victims.
The hundred rounds are gone in seconds.
No one notices the Digger as he looks around, like everyone else.
"Call an ambulance the police the police my God this girl needs help she needs help somebody he's dead oh Jesus my Lord her leg look at her leg my baby my baby..."
The Digger lowers the shopping bag, which has one small hole in the bottom where the bullets left. The bag holds all the hot, brass shells.
"Shut it off shut off the escalator A Jesus look somebody stop it stop the escalator they're being crushed..."
Things like that.
The Digger looks. Because everybody's looking.
But it's hard to see into hell. Below is just a mass of bodies piling up, growing higher, writhing...Some are alive, some dead, some struggling to get out from underneath the crush that's piling up at the base of the escalator.
The Digger is easing backward into the crowd. And then he's gone.
He's very good at disappearing. "When you leave you should act like a chameleon," said the man who tells him things. "Do you know what that is?"
"That changes color. I saw it on TV."
The Digger is moving along the sidewalks, filled with people. Running this way and that way. Funny.
Nobody notices the Digger.
Who looks like you and looks like me and looks like the woodwork. Whose face is white as a morning sky. Or dark as the entrance to hell.
As he walks -- slowly, slowly -- he thinks about his motel. Where he'll reload his gun and repack his silencer with bristly mineral cotton and sit in his comfy chair with a bottle of water and a bowl of soup beside him. He'll sit and relax until this afternoon and then -- if the man who tells him things doesn't leave a message to tell him not to -- he'll put on his long black or blue coat once more and go outside.
And do this all over again.
It's New Year's Eve. And the Digger's in town.
Copyright © 1999 by Jeffery Deaver
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