They were still following. He thought he’d lost them in the housing estate but clearly, they were better trained than he’d given them credit for. Three men were left. He stayed completely still as not to make a noise on the stones, watching their next movements. A small smile played across his lips: they’d split up. The skinniest of the three was heading for the row parallel to him. Despite his scrawny stature, he moved with a confident swagger. Callum rolled silently under the train and paused beneath the middle. From his position he could still see the feet of his opponent coming closer. None of the men called out to each other; they thought they were being sneaky.
Callum took a deep breath and held it, studying the pattern of the man’s steps. He was moving quickly, clearly confident Callum had gone off ahead. As soon as he passed Callum’s hiding place, Callum rolled out and was on his feet in an instant. He had the kind of fluidity that a cat would have been jealous of. His arms wrapped around the man’s head and neck and he was on the floor in seconds. Not dead, just incapacitated. His bosses would not look kindly on a body count. Tightening the straps on his backpack, Callum nimbly hopped into the next carriage, keeping low. The information wasn’t in the bag, it was all in his head and he needed to get it back to his handlers before the deadline. A quick check of his watch told him that he had forty-five minutes. Plenty.
If his memory was correct, his next assailant was two rows over. He crossed across the train carriages, moving closer to the next target. Carefully he peered out of a door and spotted the man up ahead. Gently, he pushed down on the door handle before bringing the door shut again with a slam, letting it bounce out of the hole again. The crunch of the gravel told him that his prey had taken the bait. It was only seconds before the man launched into the carriage and straight into the path of Callum’s fist. The bearded attacker recoiled but did not go down. Snarling, he lunged towards Callum, his arms flailing wildly. He had a good few inches on Callum and it was clear that the man relied heavily on brute force rather than any skill or finesse. Callum side-stepped easily and wrenched the man’s arm backwards, applying pressure to the elbow. His foot connected with the back of his knee, bringing him to the floor. Callum finished his movement, rounding in the man and forcing his head forward into the edge of the melamine table top with a resounding crack.
He held him upright for a second to check he was out cold before dumping him to the floor of the train. The last man was to his left, which gave him a clear run to the station. Hopping out of the train, Callum made his way as quickly and quietly as he could towards the looming building ahead. Noise was already starting to build. Removing his backpack, he shoved the cap and hoodie into it and pulled out the suit jacket to go over the shirt and tie that was hidden underneath. A quick look over his shoulder told him the third man was still nowhere in sight. The backpack flew into a bush as he passed it, burying itself underneath the thorns. Smiling, he moved up to the end of the platform. His hands gripped the edge and he pulled himself up in one fluid movement. A quick dust off and he was moving freely amongst the rest of the day’s travellers. To his left a young woman was struggling with her handbag and case.
“Can I help you with that?” he pointed to the case, flashing one of his most disarming smiles at her. She opened her mouth, the face etched into a frown as she was about to protest but on seeing him her resolve melted.
“Thanks,” she pushed her hair back behind her ear. He reached for the case handle and fell in step beside her. Together they exited the station, chatting away. She was visiting family in Cambridge. He fed her a story about a business meeting for his investment firm. No-one ever asked much about those.
“You want to share a taxi?” nodded towards the taxi rank, using the opportunity to have a quick glance round. He spotted at least two men who were scouring the crowd. Callum calmly led the girl between them, heading for the taxi rank. He never broke his steady stride and they never gave him a second look. As they got into the taxi, he glanced at his watch: thirty-five minutes. He sank into the seat of the car and allowed the girl to give the driver instructions. He smirked out of the window at the bright autumn sunshine, staring at the backs of the waiting men. The girl settled in opposite him, smiling. Some days, Callum really loved his job.