the smuggler’s bible

Hamlet

There is a piercing light and a weight that strikes Hamlet in the shoulder, carrying him off his feet and spinning him through the air. He lands hard. Already his blood is on the floor.

Should have heard something, he thinks. Too loud, though. Sounds like someone is ringing a bell. Guildenstern appears, mouth moves like he’s speaking, but that goddamn bell.

“Better … deserve,” he says, “… killing … brother.” Then he’s gone. Some sort of interference—hard to follow his movements, to see anything except a blue light that flickers and extends an arm, pointing.

Hamlet lifts his gun and fires.

Hamlet

Two men dead in the elevator. Hamlet shoves one aside and the door closes softly. There’s a messy splatter across the button panel. He picks the top floor. A chime and motion. He reloads, takes a deep breath. He’ll be exposed at the top. Fragile as an eggshell.

The door slides open and a burst of high-powered rifle fire chews into one of the corpses.

“Is that the Dane out there?” someone shouts. The rifle chatters again, then a second voice, much closer, says, “Don’t be sore, old friend. Things change. We’re taking advantage of a world that’s grown honest.”

Hamlet

The first man inside doesn’t realize the trouble he’s in. He lingers in the doorway, backlit, scanning the room. The muzzle flash surprises him. His gasp turns into a choking cough as blood sprays across his mirrored faceplate, a black smear under the strobing emergency lights.

“More are on the way, but there’s a gap,” Horatio says. “Slightly better than even odds if you stay in the seam and move quickly.”

“This uniform—” Hamlet starts. Then: “Those fucking adders.”

“Insufficient query.”

“Forget it.” He reaches for the dead man’s assault rifle. “Tell me where to find Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.”