by Joshua Skurtu“You know what a burner phone is?” He pulled the rifle’s bolt back to check the round inside the chamber.
“I guess.” I sat back, hands cuffed behind me. The sweat on my brow trickled into my right eye as the dry Vegas air rolled in from the open balcony. “A cheap phone.”
“Right. You use it for whatever nefarious activities require its use and then toss it so the phone can’t be traced back to you.”
“Why are you telling me this, again?”
“That’s what I am. I’m a burner.”
“You don’t look like a cell phone. Most cell phones don’t point a rifle at me and take me hostage when I accidentally come into the wrong hotel room. But I could be wrong. You are the guy with the gun.”
“Maybe next time you shouldn’t barge into random hotel rooms. I doubt that will be a problem for you in the future.” He winked. He definitely planned to kill me.
“My manager said this room was unoccupied.”
“That’s beside the point. I’m a burner. I was hired to do a job and be discarded afterward.”
“You plan to die? Why would you do that? No matter how much they pay you, I’m pretty sure you can’t take it with you. Again, I could be wrong. Me, guy without gun. You, guy with gun.”
“No, you’re right." He let out a big sigh. The money doesn’t go to me. It goes to my daughter. I take care of her, and this is the only way I can continue to do so.”
“But you’ll be dead.”
“I’m going to die anyway. Stage four terminal bone cancer. At best, I have a few months left, but my daughter will have income for the rest of her life.”
“What exactly do you plan to shoot at with that gun?”
“My employer requires at least five dead. Do you hear that concert down below?”
My heart dropped. I knew the minute I saw him that he planned to shoot down into the crowd of people, but I kept telling myself that it wasn’t true. “Please don’t do that. Those people have daughters too. They have families.”
“Everyone dies eventually. Five of them below simply have earlier expiration dates.”
“Why kill them?”
He chuckled and looked out the window. “Most are random, but one specific person has to die. The others are just to make it look like a mass shooting.”
“Why does he have to die?”
“He was born. Everything that lives must die, and I don’t ask questions of my employers. Russians hate questions.”
He pulled the rifle close to his shoulder and looked down the scope. “Here he is. Black limo, red shirt.”
I lunged, bringing the chair, and slammed into his body.
“Run! He’s got a gun!” I shouted.
His face turned red as he caught his balance. He turned and fired a single round into my chest.
Screams erupted from below. My consciousness faded as five more shots rang out.