As his head rang from the blow, Sexton felt something cool and hard slide up his nose. He sneezed involuntarily but was in no position to offer any resistance as he was hit by a second hammer stroke, this time from the front. Blood gushed freely from his nose as he lay on the floor.

The man picked up his phone, casually flipping open a burner of his own. “It’s done,” he said.

Fairburn’s voice was audible on the other end. “Wipe the apparatus for prints as I showed you,” he said “The funds will be transferred in fifteen minutes exactly, and the documents will arrive tomorrow. Do with them what you will. Place this phone, set to speaker, next to Mr. Sexton and then leave the building. Tell no one.”

The man nodded, gingerly set the phone down, and left. Sexton could only weakly bat at his shins, and a moment later an engine turned over and roared out of the parking lot.

“I apologize for the subterfuge, Mr. Sexton, but given the psych profile I’ve assembled for you, it was strictly necessary,” Fairburn said. “You’re not overly motivated by profit, knowledge, threats, or even curiosity. But you will act to save your own life, and that is what my associate has just arranged. He has put an explosive charge in your head, in your nasal cavity. A 1.5 gram silver azide charge, if you’re curious.”

“You ripped that off,” Sexton said weakly. “From the movies. Total Recall.

“That was a tracking device, Mr. Sexton, though the device I’ve introduced into your body does function as one. No, if I’ve ripped anything off, it’s Mission Impossible. But it’s quite real, I assure you. Unless that device receives a signal from me at a set time, it will detonate and drive lethal slivers of your own skull into your brain.”

“It’s…a bluff…”

“Perhaps you should tell that to our mutual friend who just left us,” Fairburn said. “I warned him to tell no one, and you ought to see the wreck of his automobile quite clearly on the way out. Tell me this is a bluff after you see that.”

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