Peace is a beautiful concept - appealing in every way. But once reality obscures your path, normality is lost in an ocean of grey.
The intruder remained unseen, unknown and unheard - nothing more than a shadow. Moving with easy grace, taking calculated steps; the epitome of perfection. The importance of this job was a heavy burden to carry, and knowing that one wrong step could expose him was his greatest fear.
His presence was an omen - a bad one.
When a soft voice called out, he was startled and stumbled clumsily. A moment of weakness. The noise seemed to ring in his ears. He almost didn’t notice a flashlight wavering and shining in his direction as he threw himself aside, chastising his rash behaviour and pitching up against the wall. Minutes passed and the flashlight edged back, warily.
Undiscovered, he composed himself and paused to adjust his hood. Each clouded breath was just visible in front of him, trembling imperceptibly. He wondered faintly, if he’d imagined the voice. A stillness had settled in the air and his skin tingled, unnaturally. Listening, he strained his ears for the familiar sound of soft footsteps.
Dread effectively paralysing his body. Abruptly motionless. Unease and insecurity drowned him, his breathing was ragged and loud. His knuckles clenched white and he pressed himself closer to the wall, forcing himself to go on.
Time was of the essence; he could not afford distraction.
Peering out into the distance, he could look upon his safety from an entirely different perspective: flickering lights awakening in each little house, trees dwarfing the secluded settlement and in turn, being dwarfed themselves by the vast mountain range iced with a silver topping of sugar white snow. Beyond that, stretched a world unknown to most - his home.
He was distracted, so when a hand clamped down on his shoulder it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Was there time to run? Could he make it?
“Don’t.” Someone warned him, as if reading his mind. It was a male voice, collected and calm. Strangely familiar.
Pivoting on the balls of his feet, he turned to face his captor to determine his chances and stopped.
Both men hesitated, the intruder sucked in a sharp breath as recognition made him nauseous. The hand went limp on his shoulder but he couldn’t think to run. It took him a dumb minute before he could form any rational thought at all.
He was a dead man, and the hostage was gone.