Durham waited an hour to hear from Nixon before he began to breakdown the site. Which he knew was 40 more minutes than he should have.
So while the knock at the door was a surprise, the jolt of alarm that went through him at the unexpected noise wasn’t. Years of operational experience allowed him to keep the cold dread that clenched at him from turning into panic. He set down the convergence goggles he had been packing away and turned to the monitor that should have been displaying the output from the cameras he had placed outside the door. But the monitor was blank, showing nothing but the color of a Shanghai sky. Had he unplugged it cleaning out the room? He didn’t remember doing that.
Durham reached for the FN pistol Nixon had left with him. The 5.7mm ultra-velocity rounds it was chambered in could punch through just about anything, including multiple bystanders, so he knew he had to be careful with it. He took the safety off anyway and walked to the hotel room door.
The door, of course, had a peephole. He wouldn’t have agreed to stay in the hotel room that didn’t. The old tricks were often the best tricks.
Another knock nearly made him jump, so he placed the muzzle of the gun against the door in what would statistically, on a normal human being, be a kill shot. Then he leaned forward to look through the peephole.
There was only a moment between Durham recognizing the Butcher and him sending the electrical impulse down his arm, commanding it to pull the trigger. But in that moment a carbon metal hand punched through the door and grabbed Durham by the front of his shirt. Durham then encountered the door in a new and interesting way when the wooden portal jumped at him, again and again, smashing into him. The force of the impact wasn’t quite enough for him to lose consciousness, but it did drop him to the floor when the hand released him. From that vantage he saw the door swing open and a pair of black scuffed boots walk in. There was a pinch on his neck, then lights out.
A voice, sounding like a quietly pleased diesel engine, penetrated Durham’s darkness. “Manoloff has already started wire transfers from jail.” If nothing else, this let him know some time had passed since he lost consciousness.
“That was quick.” Durham had never, in his experience, heard the Butcher sound gratified, so he didn’t recognize it immediately. Realizing he was alive and in the same room as his erstwhile comrade, he kept his eyes closed.
“He knows I have friends with the police, so it was easy to get the word out,” the diesel engine continued.
“How do you have friends with the police?” In another first for Durham, he heard the Butcher mix disbelief with a restrained admiration.
“Remember Murphy? He does consulting with their MOUT outfit.” After a moment, the tone changed slightly and it asked, “How did you know the explosion wouldn’t kill Manoloff?”
“I had a thermal scan going on his house. I waited until one of his bodyguards was between him and the charge. This isn’t amateur hour, old man.” The tone of the reply almost sounded lackadaisical, jacketed in an unwillingness to take the question seriously.
“He still could have been killed.”
Durham heard air in the room displace with the Butcher’s shrug.
“Looks like your friend is awake, anyway.”
Despite the increasing frequency of irregularity in his heartbeat, this last sentence still caused his heart to jump. Opening his eyes, his entire scope was occupied by the Butcher, close, looking directly at him.