Authors: John Connolly
Tags: #Mystery & Detective - General, #Irish Novel And Short Story, #Assassins, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Espionage, #General, #Suspense, #Murderers, #Thrillers, #Suspense fiction, #Fiction, #thriller
The dosing system had been altered during the maintenance check, making the water slightly acidic, and sodium cyanide had been added to the chlorine dosing system. When the door lock was activated, and the internal lights came on, the cyanide solution was released rapidly into the acidified water, resulting in the release of hydrogen cyanide.
Hoyle’s pool area had just become a gas chamber.
Hoyle was already feeling dizzy by the end of the second lap, and his sense of direction seemed to have deserted him because he had finished his lap against the side of the pool, not the end. He was having trouble breathing and, despite his exertions, his heartbeat was slowing. His eyes began to itch and burn. There was a pungent taste in his mouth, and he vomited into the water. His lips were hurting, too, and then the pain was all over his body. He started to kick for the ladder, but he could barely lift his feet. He tried to shout for help, but the water had entered his mouth, and now his tongue and throat were burning, too.
Hoyle panicked. He could no longer move sufficiently to keep himself afloat. He sank below the surface and thought he could hear shouting, but he could see nothing because he was already blind. His mouth opened and he started to drown, the water seeming to scald his insides. Within minutes, he was dead.
By the time Simeon realized what was happening, it was too late for him to save his employer. He managed to override the security system, but the instant that he smelled the air in the pool he was forced to seal it off once again. As an additional precaution, he evacuated the penthouse until the area had vented, then went back in alone. He stared at Hoyle’s body, suspended in the water.
Simeon’s cellphone rang. The caller display told him that the call was coming from a private number.
“Simeon,” said a man’s voice.
“Who is this?”
“I think you know who it is.” Simeon recognized Louis’s deep tones.
“Was this your doing?”
“Yes. I didn’t notice you leaping in to save him.”
Simeon instinctively looked around, staring at the tall buildings that surrounded the pool, their windows gazing back at him, impassive and unblinking.
“He was my employer. I was hired to protect him.”
“But not to die for him. You did your best. You can’t protect a man from himself.”
“I could come after you. I have my reputation to consider.”
“You’re a bodyguard, not a virgin. I think your reputation will recover. If you come after me, your health won’t. I suggest you walk away from this. I don’t believe that you knew everything of what passed between Hoyle and Leehagen. You don’t strike me as the kind of man who would comfortably set up another. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’d like to contradict me.”
Simeon didn’t speak for a time.
“Okay,” he said. “I walk.”
“Good. Don’t stay in the city. Don’t even stay in the country. I’m sure a gentleman of your abilities won’t find it hard to pick up work somewhere else, far away from here. A good soldier can always find a convenient war.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then our paths might cross again. Someone once told me to avoid leaving witnesses. I wouldn’t want to start thinking of you in that way.”
Simeon ended the call. He put the cellphone and his security pass by the side of the pool and left Hoyle’s penthouse. He traveled down to the lobby and walked quickly but casually from the building, facing the great skyscrapers that dominated the skyline, their windows reflecting the late fall sun and the white clouds that scudded across the sky. He did not doubt for one minute that he was fortunate to be alive. He felt only a slight twinge of shame at the fact that he was running away. Still, it was enough to make him pause in an effort to reassert his dignity. He stopped and looked up at the buildings around him, his eyes moving from window to window, frame to frame. After a time, he nodded, both to himself and at the man who he knew was following his progress:
Louis, the killer, the burning man.
Louis, the last of the Reapers.