Author's note: I was watching "The Town" yesterday for the second or third time, remembering how it put me on the edge of my seat the first time I watched it, and thought to myself, "I need to write this story." So I am.


Prologue

Doc William Tappert of the fine little town of Woodfield, Arizona (he'd almost forgotten the time he'd been called Radek Zelenko, so long ago) leaned against the table in his basement and addressed his people. There were about twenty of them there, quite enough to control a small town, and not a one of them looked like anything but a normal American of middle-age, for the most part. Doc himself was the epitome of a country doctor, oldish, tallish, heavyish, whiteish hair, with a little salt-and-pepper mustache and a very kind face.

"Now, Jan and Martin will register at the hotel and wait for the subject to come to his room. The importance of this assignment should be obvious to everyone, but I want to emphasize it. The subject must be killed—"

He was interrupted by the sounds of heavy footsteps on the stairs. He tried to continue. "—in order to discourage other defectors. Now, Jan's part is to get into the room—"

But Bob Williams and Sheriff Roy Brown had shoved a man into the room, a tall, good-looking, Nordic-type man in a hunting coat who looked indignant and stared at everything. Everyone stared at him and started whispering amongst themselves. Doc sighed inside. Obviously this stranger had stumbled across something he shouldn't, but did they really need to bring him here? It was so typical of Bob and Roy's shortsighedness. Look at all the maps on the walls and the kill dummy for demonstrations! He sighed again and stepped down from the platform.

"Take over," he told Henry Bates and hurried over to Williams and Brown. Williams gave him an apologetic look.

"We thought it best to bring him to you."

When he heard their story, he decided perhaps it was for the best. The situation needed his subtle hand, not their sledgehammer approach. If the stranger had to be killed, it had to be done in a way that didn't look like murder.