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by Peter W. J. Hayes

About the Author: Peter W. J. Hayes is a recovered marketing executive and mystery writer. The first novel of his Pittsburgh Trilogy, The Things That Aren’t There, will be published in July, 2018. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications, including the 2017 and 2018 Malice Domestic anthologies, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly Magazine, Mysterical-E, The Literary Hatchet, Shotgun Honey and Yellow Mama. You can find him at


As the floor-to-ceiling window shattered and the sound of gunshots raced away, Tank realized he was looking at the most beautiful day he had ever seen. He saw all of it, the glow of Hollywood Beach’s white sand and how the ocean glittered and shifted like countless gems of aquamarine; the swoop of gulls, their cries echoing across the cathedral sky, the surf line curling as gently and sure as the way a mother bends to kiss her newborn.

Tank felt his jaw moving and heard the number one spoken, followed a precise second later by the number two. He tasted dust and blinked, his cheek cool against the concrete floor. It was his training, his own voice. As the number three escaped his lips a bald man stopped on the boardwalk, raised a toast-brown arm and pointed across the construction site in his direction. At four a young woman at water’s edge pivoted in his direction, her hand shielding her eyes, her sleek buttock dimpling inward against her thong. And just like that, the sounds of the shots and shattering glass were gone, absorbed by the sea and sky. 


Tank stumbled upright, muscle memory driving him, his SIG pointed ahead, and edged around the sawhorse-legged workbench searching for the shooter. The man was two meters away on his back, his legs like cooked spaghetti underneath him, his machine pistol near his right hand, his chest motionless. Tank looked from the man’s acne-scarred cheeks to his weapon. 


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