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Outlying Neighborhood of Belgrade
Hands rattled Alec Pierce’s apartment door.
MUP agents had finally located him. He was an American loose in Serbia, and now agents of the Yugoslav Interior Ministry (MUP) had discovered his flat in a high-rise building in a satellite development outside of Belgrade.
Naked, he rolled out of bed and scrambled in the half-light of dawn to his kitchen. He quickly tied an apron around his waist and grabbed a carving knife.
They were doing their job, and he was doing his. The MUP had an American assassin to exterminate, and he had one last Serb to kill. The big one. The Yugoslav leader himself.
A foot bashed his front door open, followed by the rustle of a leather jacket. The agent was alone.
Alec drew himself up against the kitchen wall, his back to the intruder, the knife turning in his hand.
He had killed so many people in the past two and a half years that his murderous instincts no longer surprised him. He had killed to survive and to make a name for himself, establishing his credentials with the high-living underworld crowd.
If he worked his way high enough in the tiers of underworld dons, he would eventually meet the big one, the Butcher of the Balkans, who had brought the Bosnian War down on the Yugoslav people, and on his beloved Anka in Srebrenica thirty short, vivid months before.
The agent crept into the kitchen, a revolver drawn.
Alec kicked the gun out of the gloved hand, grabbed the forearm, and twisted him to the ground.
A strange squeak escaped the agent’s lips.
Alec pulled off the black ski mask. It was a woman.
That didn’t stop him. Standing astride her shoulders, he yanked up on her sweaty black mop of hair, reached below with his knife, and slit upward under the woman’s throat.
The mute body’s wobbly flesh turned electric and rigid.
The serrated edge dragged through muscles and nerves, rupturing the jugular vein, and scraped against cartilage. He found the right spot, and the knife plunged through the windpipe and severed the carotid artery.
A gurgling sound gave way to a final gush of air, and the body fell limp beneath him.
The deed was done. Another MUP agent was dead.
He nudged aside the open leather jacket with his foot. She wore a cupped bra, open in the front. She had worn Yugoslav lingerie to tempt him. Their intelligence on him was becoming more sophisticated.
As the sun broke over the neighboring apartment complex, a faint image of the kitchen window fell on his tall, athletic form. He tore off his apron and wiped his bloodied hand.
Then he returned to his bedroom to shove his legs into blue jeans and toss a ribbed, black sweater over his head. A final glance around the room revealed a blond lump of hair on his bedside table. He grabbed it and stuffed it into his pocket. He would apply his false moustache later, when he had more time.
Another morning, and another quick exit. This time he would leave through a neighbor’s entrance and out her back door. She had even given him her key.
He was momentarily free once more. Free to move about in the shadows, resurfacing with the right underworld leaders at the right time.
He stopped beside the bent corpse on the floor. The thick pool of blood had already turned black, and the stench of her final bowel movements was intensifying.
Would he ever be free from the burden of the Bosnian War?