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Maps of Hell

The Soul Collector


The Soul Collector's first big hit, in the jungle of Colombia…

After that it was easy. She had to stand in line with the sweating, broken people, her head bent and her steps as unsteady as theirs. The long, black wig she was wearing, along with the dirt she had rubbed on to her face, arms and legs, made her inconspicuous. As she got closer to El Loco, she glanced left and right. Heavily armed men were leaning against the walls of what used to be the village school, their eyes bloodshot and vacant. They saw her, but they didn't see what she was. That meant they'd enjoyed running their hands all over her in a fruitless search for weapons.

Now she was inside - more men with Kalashnikovs and American weapons, the smell of fear and destitution more noisome. The man in front of her launched into a lengthy tribute to his master. After five minutes, Camargo, a tall, bearded man who had run to fat, nodded and the talkative man was hustled away by two GLF men. It was her turn.

She kept her head low as she stepped up to the metal chair that had been placed on the platform. She didn't know much Spanish, but she understood that El Loco was asking what she wanted to say. It was then that she looked up and gave him a smile that suggested everything she might give him. El Loco beckoned to her and she stepped on to the platform, leaned close and, in the split-second it took her to pull the inch-long blade from the wooden cross round her neck, realised that her heart-rate hadn't increased at all. If anything, it had slowed. The training
routines had become second nature.

Camargo was grinning at her, his lips wet. Then his eyelids jerked wide apart as she buried the razor-sharp blade into his neck two centimetres above and to the left of his Adam's apple. As she moved quickly behind the chair, she grabbed the greasy hair behind the wide-peaked officer's cap, pulled his head back and ripped the blade to the right. As she ducked down, she saw a fine spray of crimson fill the air above the next man in the line.

Immediately there was an explosion of weapon fire and a welter of screaming.

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