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Ghost In The Shadows

Prologue

Reese lay, flat on his back, on the cold ground, looking up into the midnight blue of night. It was just before new moon, he remembered; the sky was rampant with stars, and no moonlight to dim their fierce glitter. He'd seen stars…all around the world. Used their positions to locate his own, to extricate himself, or find someone else…but he'd never really looked at them, just for the sake of looking. Their pattern was broken by the stark intrusion of tree branches, naked of leaves in late autumn. He could smell the rich odor of earth, decaying leaves and vegetation, hear the brief rustle of a breeze pass his ears. Fall was about death, he thought…how appropriate, because he was lying here, dying. The guy a few feet away was already dead, two bullets through his heart, bullets Reese had put there himself. The weight of the Ruger 9mm, gripped tightly in his right hand, laying across his chest, was oddly comforting, even knowing that he was bleeding out into the chilly earth where it met his back.

A slow death, bleeding out.

His breath plumed away, warmth against the cold air, dissipating into the darkness. With it, he smelled blood, his, tasted it's copper sweetness in his mouth. He lifted his left hand, tapped his cell phone awake, smearing blood across the screen, trying to focus on its' glaring brightness; it still read NO SIGNAL. He let his hand drop back to the ground, his eyes fall shut. After a few moments, he pulled the phone back in front of his blurring gaze. Tapped up Finch's number, entered a brief text, hit 'send'. The phone looked back at him, blankly, mockingly, read 'NO SIGNAL'. He imagined the flashing red light of the street cams, blinking at him, assessing, deciding life and death with each flicker of information they passed to The Machine. Phones and security cameras, listening, babbling, eavesdropping, condoned or condemned, all streaming into the emotionless void of the Machine. Quantified, sorted, evaluated.

There were no cameras or phones, here, no lifelines to the man behind the Machine; Harold Finch. The conscience, the empathy, that the Machine could never have.

Reese clenched his eyes shut, tight, panted out a few sharp breaths of pain. Felt it spike through him, from both the bullet holes, just below his left shoulder blade. It wasn't as bad as before; shock had set in, and before much longer he'd slip into a daze, then death. He had no idea where he was, just that he was well away from the city, far enough that the lights didn't interfere much with the night. What he did know was that no one was going to find him, way out here, dumped down an embankment, not visible from the road. Not even Finch, not without the aid of his Machine.

Not before he was dead. There was no one who could find him, who would even be looking…or, was there?

'Who's your Guardian Angel, Reese? Or, don't you believe you deserve one?' she'd asked, then smiled. "Someone has to look out for you.' The words rang in his head, like alarms. Would she be looking for him? Why would she be? A sudden idea struck him, so terrifyingly simple, he could hardly believe it might work.

'Of course I read Morse Code,' she'd said, 'who doesn't?'

Reese pulled the phone back up to his face, and tapped in to an app, which flashe in Morse code, over and over. He lifted his head as best he could, straining to see where the road was. Pointed the phone's screen that direction, and propped it up against his gun-holding hand, then lay back into the earth's embrace, head reeling from just that small effort. He looked up at the stars, cruel in their coldness, and a smile flickered across his face. Wondered again; was she looking for him? He actually choked out a bitter laugh, at the thought. As his eyes closed, he realized, dizzily,

' In the end, we're all alone, and no one's coming to save us,' gave a deep sigh, and fell into blackness.