Roland sat up in bed, not sure what had awakened him. Had it been a noise or just a sense that something was wrong? He tried chiding himself, but his heart continued to pound, and his dog whimpered in her sleep. It was quiet enough in his bedroom to hear the whirring of his laptop on the desk across from his bed. But the quiet didn’t reassure him; it actually made him more skittish. Swearing to himself, Roland left the bed and went to his closet to retrieve the 9mm.
His mouth went dry when he discovered the empty box; it was missing. The gun was missing – not his issued weapon. That one was locked in its case beside his bed. This was the unregistered gun he had confiscated from a crime scene years before. He thought he might need it someday. And now it was gone.
She had to be in the house somewhere. The IP address of her last email had been one of his neighbors’. That was what had sent him riding home on two wheels two days before with sirens blaring until he reached his own block. He could feel his ear drums reverberating in time to the thudding of his heart. The hair on his arms raised as a bead of sweat rolled from him armpit to his elbow. She hadn’t appeared, however, so Roland had finally allowed himself to sleep.
“Tsk, tsk officer. Doesn’t this gun belong in an evidence locker somewhere?”
He turned, and though he had seen her picture numerous times, she was unrecognizable. The laughing brown eyes that had stared from snapshots were now icy steel. Her hair was dark instead of the strawberry blond he was used to seeing. And she was thinner, much thinner. He watched her hands around the gun for some hint of shaking; shaking would indicate uncertainty. Her hands were as steady as his had been trained to be.
“I thought it might come in handy one day,” he replied, unmoving.
“And so it has. Did you bend the rules and beat the drug addict or rapist you confiscated this from?”
Roland nodded quietly. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Why not?” she asked, tilting her head slightly. “He did do something wrong. That means it was okay for you to do something wrong, correct?”
“Shut up. Nobody wants to hear you moralize. Turn around.”
He didn’t move except to move his gaze from her hands to her face.
“Turn around, officer, and put your hands behind your head.” She cocked the gun. “Or don’t.”
Roland shakily turned and did as she asked, bile burning his tongue.
“Good boy. Don’t worry. I know you were blinded by your own hurt, so I’ll be quicker. And you don’t claim to believe in God, so I cannot hold you accountable for breaking the very morals you claim to believe. Besides, you are not very smart. You probably didn’t have a choice.”
Roland flinched at that last part. He heard her footsteps, and then the end of the barrel pressed coldly against the base of his neck, where his brain stem felt as if it was pulsing. “Please…..” He heard himself whisper.
“I’m not sorry,” she whispered back.
A loud, smoky explosion filled the room. Then it was silent.