‘Krackzy Station; alight here for stations on the east line and Antollia International Rail Station. Stand back from the doors and mind the gap.’
Yasha lifted his head from the pole he’d been leaning against as the automated voice filtered through the speakers and the train slowed to a halt. The nine stop ride had drained him, his prison born claustrophobia rising up with a vengeance to make the journey completely miserable. A woman in a hideous green overcoat had stepped on his foot in heels, he’d been brushed and jostled all over and the guy in the seat next to where he was standing stank of stale pipe smoke, staler sweat and cheap potcheen. Somewhere further up the carriage a baby squealed and squawked, its wails driving through his brain like a pneumatic drill.
To top it all, Ludo hadn’t stopped going on and on about the woman seated across the aisle. A blonde with a head of tousled curls and a body straight out of a heroic fantasy or a pornography magazine, Yasha would have appreciated the view more had he not been troubled by a weird sense that there was something familiar about the woman, who flipped disinterestedly through a fashion magazine, ostensibly ignoring the other commuters. She’d embarked at the same station he and Ludo had and not moved since. Nothing unusual about that, the central line was a popular route, but Yasha couldn’t shake the feeling there was something off about her.
‘I’m telling you man,’ Ludo said excitedly as they disembarked. ‘She was checking me out. We made eye contact. Serious, sustained eye contact.’
‘Really? You and some woman trapped less than three feet from each other in the same enclosed space made eye contact?’ Yasha scoffed. ‘Yep, must be love. There’s just no other viable explanation.’
‘Forget love, mate,’ Ludo laughed. ‘I’d settle for a quickie in a rent-by-the-hour hotel room. Did you see what she was wearing? Those leather trousers were poured on. And them boots,’ he whistled. ‘Killer.’
Something pinged in Yasha’s brain, a loose connection forging a complete circuit as suspicion crystallised. ‘Enid,’ he hissed turning sharply to look over his shoulder.
Sure enough the blonde had followed them off the train. She stopped and smiled when she saw Yasha, a slow spread of red lips and no visible teeth, making the width of the smirk all the more alarming. Their eyes met and she nodded, once, a slow lift and tilt of her chin. Yes, the look said, I’ve come for you.
Yasha grabbed Ludo’s arm, propelling them both toward the stairs. Luod struggled against his grip. ‘Hey, what’re you—‘
‘She’s one of Matriev’s people,’ Yasha spoke fast and low. ‘The enforcer, Enid. Vee told me.’ He turned to look back down the stairs, searching out a curly blonde head. Throngs of commuters streamed around him, blocking his view. He couldn’t see Enid but he knew she was there. Just like the mouse knows the cat is near.
‘You’re kidding,’ Ludo craned his neck to gawp. ‘Oh crap, there she is.’
Enid climbed the stairs at a slow and measured pace, head up and gaze trained on the two men. She wasn’t smiling but something about the cast of her broad, strong features seemed to imply a sly amusement at all times. The other commuters gave her a wide berth, pressing up against the far walls of the stairway as if to avoid touching or jostling her.
‘Run,’ Yasha said and took off, knocking into commuters as he legged it down the long, sloped tunnel toward the escalators and the exit.
He skidded to a halt abruptly, looking down and then up. A metal gutter cut horizontally across the floor and above him he could see the casement for a gate. To the right was a small alcove and a maintanence room door. He dragged Ludo into the alcove.
‘Oi, what’re you doing?’
Poking his head around the wall Yasha spotted Enid approaching from the end of the tunnel. She wasn&rs...