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A figure rose out of the mist. Its edges were blurred; it seemed more like a hazy blob than a person. The mist suddenly cleared a bit and his face could be seen. It was long and pale, with dark eyes that stared straight ahead, not focused on anything. A long black jacket swished as his knobby, stick-thin legs moved forward. He walked with an air of one who was on a mission. His ink-black hair was slicked back, and the clothes that he wore were the same color. What he wore was the uniform of one who didn’t want to be seen. He blended in with the dreary landscape behind him; hiding was one of his best talents.
His square jaw was fixed. There was an air of aloofness that oozed from his guarded expression. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Perhaps he was just a lone wanderer. But he was pulling something from his pocket. He studied it closely; he turned it from side to side, squinted his eyes slightly and craned his long neck. Seeming satisfied, he pocketed it. Was it…no, why would he have a gun? One might have detected a slight smirk on his shadowed face.
The man was now completely out of the mist, throwing his features into sharper clarity. A long shadow stretched out behind him, mimicking his six-foot frame. A long pink scar started under his right eye and ran down his face until it stopped parallel to his mouth, which was pale and thin. Tiny scratches covered his slender hands. His eyes, before dimmed by the heavy mist, looked like pits of sorrow and anger. The entire image screamed dangerous.
The man peered to his left, trying to find his bearings. A quick smile flitted across his face then was gone. “You have it.” It was not a question, but a statement.
A woman appeared in the fog, bemused that the he had known she was there. She gave a curt nod and handed over a peculiar curved metal object, almost like a grappling hook. “You are still trailing him?”
“Closely,” the man answered.
“How far?” Instead of replying, the first man pointed at a small figure in the distance. “I’ll leave you to it, then. Don’t want to lose him.”
“You think it’s possible for me to lose a trail?” the man said coldly. “I think I know what I am doing.” The woman nodded quickly, knowing from experience about short-tempered people.
“My apologies. Good luck.” The two men parted ways, the first man alone again. He set off at a brisk pace and watched a grey metal building slowly come into view. The man kept walking until he was a couple feet away from a pile of large crates sitting next to the building. He blended in perfectly with the dull tones. A flash of black, and the man was gone. If one would look very, very closely, though, they might have just seen the edge of a black jacket whipping around the corner of a crate.

The man was lying in a crate, pressed against its floor as flat as possible. He felt a jerk as his crate was lifted.
“Heavy,” a voice grunted. “What’s in these things, you know?” The man in the crate lifted the coat over his face and closed his eyes. If anyone looked inside, all they would see was black fabric coating the bottom, not knowing a man was hiding, camouflaged.
The man was jerked around again; he sneaked a peek above him and saw that his crate was now in a growling, rumbling truck. He permitted himself a brief, satisfied smile as the back door closed and the vehicle chugged away. A churn of a crank, the sound of metal scraping metal, and the man was inside the garage of the building. He jerked forward as the truck came to a halt. Low voices sounded from outside of the truck. He had to act, now!
He leaped out of the crate, a swish of a black coat, and landed neatly on the floor of the truck. He crept to the front of the truck, where the seats were. A driver was settled there, oblivious to the stealthy man behind him. The man lay down once more and concealed himself with his coat. He heard the truck door open as the owners to the voices he’d heard previously hoisted up the crates, including the one that had been occupied just seconds ago.
“What’s that black thing down there?” he heard. The man froze, preparing to attack if necessary.
“Probably just some extra packing supplies,” another voice said dismissively. The man exhaled; he hadn’t realized it, but he’d been holding his breath. Loud footsteps began to fade away. The man slowly rose in time to see three men carting the crates away. He crept out of the truck, raced down its ramp and darted out of sight. Seconds later, a loud clank noise sounded from the ceiling, then the grating noise of metal scratching metal. There was an ear-splitting clang, and a soft whirring sound. It was almost as if a grappling hook had brought down one of the air vents, then used to propel someone upwards into the heating ducts…But that would be silly. Why on earth would someone do that?

In the heating ducts was the man, crouching. He used the grapple to lift the vent cover, slowly and carefully. There would be no evidence that he was every there. He racked his brains…come on…remember…Abruptly, the blueprint of the building sprang into his mind as suddenly as a light would turn on when its switch was flicked. He scurried along the vent on all fours, every now and then turning a corner. A low rumble of voices sounded from up ahead. Coming closer to the voices, the man found another vent that he could peer through without being seen. Five men in black suits sat at along, glossy table. The room was very bland, with stark white walls, a concrete floor and no other furniture besides the table and twelve chairs. He had found whom he was looking for. The man allowed himself to memorize every single minute detail in the tiny room. The five men were talking urgently, but quietly. The man could only catch snatches of the conversation.

“Let out our secret…very bad…that man getting in the way…” The man smiled grimly and thought to himself, Getting in the way, am I? Just you wait.

“Mr. Truman!” A large man came dashing into the room. “Mr. Truman!”

“What?” one of the men snapped, turning to face the burly newcomer. “I’m in the middle of something important!”

“Heard—noise,” the other panted, wiping sweat from his brow. “Checked—security cameras—saw—him—“

The men sprang up from their chairs. “What?” Mr. Truman said, this time sounding alarmed. He had gone very pale, and his large hands shook. The man up in the heating duct swore under his breath; how could he forget to disable the security cameras? Then he heard something that made his heart stop for a second.

“Where is he now?” Mr. Truman said in a forced calm voice.

“From what it looked like on the cameras…directly above us.” As the man scampered backwards, the six men below him slowly turned their gazes up to the heating vent…and saw the edge of a black coat, whipping out of view.

Sirens blared as the man frantically crawled through the heating duct. He turned left, right, right, right, left, following his memory. Straight ahead was one more vent on the metal wall. The man knew that it led outside, that it led to safety. He might have failed his mission, but at least he would survive.

“Stop. Right. Where. You. Are.” The man turned slowly and found himself face-to-face with Mr. Truman—and a gun. “You thought you could try to stop me, did ‘ya?” An insane grin lit up the maniac’s face. “You thought you could just sneak right in, grab the bomb and leave? Well, listen up, agent.” Mr. Truman leaned in even closer as the man tried to back away, the gun tip nearly touching the tip of his nose. “I’m the boss of this place, and when I want to make things happen, they happen.” Mr. Truman was almost frothing at the mouth, his eyes frenzied.

“Finally!” he yelled, voice ringing throughout the heat duct. “Finally, I can end your pitiful life, I’ve been waiting years to do it!” His voice lowered to a menacing whisper. “One move of the finger. One pull of the trigger.” And without warning, he began to laugh, and the laugh shook the man to his core. He was truly going to die, at the hands of his worst enemy.

The man shook his head. Mr. Truman was still cackling, holding the gun to his face. The madman didn’t even see it coming—a hand reached out and swatted the gun away. It went skidding down the vent, several feet away from where the two men crouched. Mr. Truman stopped laughing immediately and lunged for the little gun. When he turned around, the only thing at the end of the duct was the vent cover, lying on its side, exposing his enemy’s escape route. And the tiny remote in his pocket that started the countdown for the bomb was gone. He let out a bellow of fury and jumped.

The man was running, getting away. Mr. Truman wouldn’t let this happen, not again. He lifted the gun and shot. Bang. He missed. He pulled the trigger once more. Bang. The man fell. Mr. Truman slowed down, eyes gleaming. He walked over to the fallen figure. He cocked his head, unsure of what he was seeing. He lifted the black fabric up. No man lay beneath it. He was gone. All that was left was a long black coat, punctured by one tiny, jagged hole. Once again, the best spy in the world had eluded his hands. The foggy landscape showed no sign of a figure. Mr. Truman sighed and stood up. But if he had not let his rage overcome his vision, if he had looked more closely, he would’ve realized that the coat was not covering his enemy, but it was blowing away in the wind. And the man was right behind him, holding a gun to Mr. Truman’s head.

“You won’t bomb the agent-training schools.” The man shook his head. “No. If that were to happen, then people like me will die. And when that happens, then nobody will be able to stop you.”

“That’s the point!” Mr. Truman was shaking. “I’m the good guy here, not you. Now drop. The gun.”
The man laughed. “Once you’re dead, I can use this on the entire city.” He fired.



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