The canister thrown into the cabin occupied by Countryman’s and Cenine Gilmore was a modified flash-bang grenade. Rather than loudly exploding, the device went off with the sound of a can of spoiled corn imploding, though it emitted an intense burst of white light that permeated the bedroom.
“Dieter!” the younger woman shouted, instantly blinded and groping for physical or psychological mooring. “Dieter, where are you?” she went on, but her lover didn’t answer. He wasn’t going to give his position away.
Countryman had anticipated something like this and had averted his eyes as soon as he’d yelled a warning. The homemade grenade had shattered the glass and framing of the double-hung window. In those milliseconds of its bursting through and the arc it took to the floor, he’d calculated from its size and configuration that it wasn’t an explosive device meant to sever tendons and arteries by dispersing shrapnel. That, and he knew Riggs liked his wet work up close and personal. Just like he did.
A silenced round of automatic fire perforated the west wall of the cabin.
“Oh shit, shit!” Cenine Gilmore exclaimed, hearing the gunfire that sounded like wasps buzzing about her. In her panic she knocked over the nightstand with the bottle of Jameson’s Countryman had been sampling. She blinked rapidly, and her red eyes were teary and puffy as she crawled across the floor through spilled whiskey. “Goddammit, Dieter, you better be lying around her bleeding or knocked out,” she yelled. “That’s the only reason I’ll accept for you not helping me, you big chump!”
Countryman allowed himself a ghost of an appreciative smile as he moved through the darkened hallway in his Woody Woodpecker boxers. Cenine might have momentarily been off her stride, but now, even when she might be about to get her brains blown out, she was talking smack as always. The flash was fading, but it wasn’t like Riggs was going to come though the bedroom. The grenade and the lay-down gunfire were distractions.
Countryman was stooped low, his Sig-Sauer P226 an extension of his hand. Coming into the front room he paused, drawing in on himself as he sorted through the night sounds, seeking any impression of another presence. A solitary pearl of sweat made its way from the middle of his brow down the bridge of his nose as he slowed his breathing to a rhythm that would make a yogi proud.
Wait. Wait for it… then, momentarily, there was a disturbance of the air several feet to his right and he flung himself flat on the rug as more silenced rounds tore through the cabin. But these were coming from inside, he concluded, as he fired off several of his own and went prone. Riggs was crouched behind the couch and sprang up to fire at Countryman, then went flat as Countryman’s 9mm Parabellum bullets sliced through the upholstery. Riggs twisted his body, as he was now sticking out from cover, and pumped off shots again from his Ingram with its suppressor attached.