I found myself in a large space piled high with crates and junk, there was no order to it. At least I didn’t walk straight into a group of people.
I had a general idea of the layout of building, the basement at least. And I was looking for what I assumed to be a captive, what better place to start looking than where I was kept? I found a set of stairs and started working my way downwards.
I only came across one obstacle, and it was easily avoided. Some loud conversation warned me of the presence of two men well before they came into view. I tucked into one of the rooms which must have been disused offices.
I listened to their conversation but they didn’t mention anything I could use. I’d hoped it would give me an idea about what was going on around here, was Mike’s dad still in charge? Any indication that something had changed. No such luck. All I learned was one still owed the other some money over a lost bet.
On the lower floor I hit one of the corridors I’d taken leaving the building. I followed the fuzzy memories it triggered to the basement rooms, the cells that I had been contained in. Walking down that corridor wasn’t fun. Flashes of memories came, vivid, to the forefront of my mind.
It was void of guards. That wasn’t good. Or it was. I wasn’t sure which. The cell door was woefully unlocked, it swung open with a nudge from my foot.
There was no sign of Mike.
There was little indication that he’d ever been held here. But then, there was no sign of my short stay either. No splattering of crimson blood from my escape attempt, not even a stain on the concrete. The lights had been repaired. There was a new, lonely chair.
There were three possibilities. Either he was in trouble but somewhere else, I was just being paranoid and he was fine or, worst case, someone put a bullet in his skull between whatever-the-fuck-happened and now.
I hoped I was just being paranoid. Nevertheless, that left me in a tough situation – how long do I keep looking? For all I know he could be tied up in the next room, or I could be wasting my time and he’s sipping champagne in… wherever the sons of the mafia go to sip champagne.
All the time I’m here risking my-
Distant shouting cleared my head of thoughts about Mike. They must have found the guy at the entrance. It would not be long before people started to search the place. They were going to be alert from now on and things are going to get exponentially more difficult.
I’d spent far too long just standing in this room thinking damnit. I should be constantly moving. I should have done my thinking before-hand. I’d just been blindly hoping that he would be here. I’d always known there was a possibility he wouldn’t be. My next move should already have been decided. Why hadn’t I got a list of priorities in advance, plan when to give up?
I ran to the door, I need to get out of here. I can come up with a better idea and try again another time.
In my haste I didn’t check the corridor was clear. I ran, face first into a pair of whatever they were called, grunts.
God I am such an idiot. What was wrong with me?
Thankfully they were as surprised as I was. Neither of us bothered with punching, all hands leaped for weapons.
My baton was simpler. Held on with Velcro and no need to cock it or remove safety catches. The swing from its strap at my thigh caught the first guy on the chin. I followed it up with a blow to the temple as I closed on the second assailant.
He’d had a fraction longer, long enough to raise his gun. But he pushed his arm out straight to aim, not keeping it close to his chest. It brought it just in range for a third swing – the force of the stainless steel tube against his fingers threw it from his grasp before he could get a shot off.
To my surprise the first guy had recovered enough grab the end of my baton, just ending its arc. Tough fellow, I had hoped the blow to the head would taken him out.
He must have expected me to hold on to it, because when I let go he staggered – giving me an opportunity to utilise some of the things Ivan had taught me. I raked my heel down his shin and followed it up with jab at his throat. He fell, choking.
The other guy gave me three rather professional punches in the gut. I hardly noticed through the armour, except for the one that caught my arm as I instinctively tried to block. That stung. Having second thoughts about the effectiveness of his punches, he leaped for the gun, which had skittered down the smooth corridor floor.
I Jumped on top of him and tried to grab his arm or neck, anything. I finally got a hold on one of his elbows after it caught me on chin, filling my mouth with the taste of metal. Must have bitten my tongue.
He reached out with his free hand, but his fingers hadn’t recovered from the blow I’d delivered to them earlier. Still, he got hold of the gun.
I twisted his arm into the same lock I’d used on Beth the day before. Except this time I didn’t stop. I wasn’t gentle. I wrenched it as hard as I could. I felt it go the wrong way. I heard it go the wrong way.
I didn’t have time to feel ill, his scream needed silencing as quickly as possible.
I grasped his hair and slammed his face against the floor, like someone had done to me in this very spot. It did the job.
So much for quick and quiet.
But… this gave me an idea. I needed information more than anything else. These guys would know what the hell was going on around here.
I checked his pulse, and was relieved that he was alive. The second guy was still coughing, choking and flailing around on the floor.
I gave the surrounding area a brief scan. Nope, no sign of anyone.
Right. Part one of I’m-really-fucking-desperate plan B.
I retrieved the gun. After a moment’s inspection, I found the little tab that held the magazine in place and ejected it into my hand. It might be useful and would render the thing useless. I pocketed it and discarded the firearm.
I also knelt down and took still-conscious guy’s pistol, leaving this one loaded with the safety off. I grabbed his ankle and began dragging him, kicking and squirming.
“Stop fucking moving!” I gave him a kick in the side and waved the gun in his face. Threat obvious, he calmed. Though he was still clutching at his throat and gasping for breath.
I pulled him through the doorway into the familiar walls of my old cell. The other guy was bigger and took both hands and all my weight to shift.
Conscious guy seemed to be recovering. I closed the door. I hoped he could still speak.
I was optimistic this room was soundproofed well.
* * *
There is something inherently threatening by a bare, empty room void of all furniture but a single chair.
Maybe it’s just me, but it only seems to mean one thing… At least now I was the one standing.
By the time I’d got him in it and bound his hands and feet to the legs he was beginning to recover.
“What… want?” He croaked.
“Good, you can talk. That means I’m not wasting my time,” I said, keeping my voice level. It was a lot of effort to keep if from shaking. Adrenaline or fear. I’d discovered they were much the same. I walked around the back of him, where he couldn’t twist to see me and moved close to his ear. “You don’t want to waste my time.”
I need to make him think I would really fuck him up if he doesn’t give me what I want. I placed the end of the gun against his cheek. Cold metal. He winced.
“I want information,” I said when he didn’t respond.
“What?” he managed, with only a few coughs.
“Your boss.” I said. I didn’t want to do the talking, I didn’t want to let him know how little I knew about what was going on. Suggest things; let him fill out the details.
“Dead.” He said. No hesitation, it was common knowledge then. Fuck, he’d be wondering why I don’t know that.
“How?” I asked regardless, it would only serve to confuse him trying to work out my motives and I had nothing to lose by knowing more information. More context.
“He fucked up.” Pause for a cough. “Letting that kid of his lord it over us. Letting things go to shit around here. He couldn’t manage it; fucker killed his father to get there and couldn’t hack it.”
I was surprised at how accurate my predictions had been. Mike’s dad really was an idiot. He’d assumed running a criminal enterprise was easy. He thought they’d respect him but they’d only ever respected his father… He signed his own death warrant the moment he took his father out of the picture. Justice, in a way. It didn’t look good for Mike.
“What the fuck do you want?” he said, “What gang are you from?”
I laughed. “I’m sorry; I was under the impression that I was asking the questions.”
“Fuck you! You’re only a goddamn kid, I remember when they brought you in. Some fucking little girl.” He struggled against the bindings. “I don’t know how the fuck you got out but you aren’t going to kill me.”
He threw his weight sideways, trying to break the ties I’d strapped around his wrists or topple the chair. I was worried he would actually manage to get free. There was a small chance. I didn’t like small chances.
I considered hitting him with the pistol… Not serious enough. I needed to convince him. I walked around in front. He came up to my shoulder, even when he was sitting down.
I leaned close.
“You’re right.” I whispered. “I’m not going to kill you. Not on purpose.”
He spat in my face. I didn’t give a fuck.
This guy… he was one of them. He was the person who robbed you. The person who held a knife to your back and took your wallet. The person who broke into your house when you were out and stole every fucking thing you owned. The person who rapes people and laughs about it to his little fucking friends.
I ground the gun into his knee, pointing downwards. He had a curious frown as he looked from me to it as he felt the muzzle press into his skin. Did he think I was bluffing? At what moment would he change his mind, would he realise that I could do something so brutal?
That a ‘little girl’ was pissed off enough to pull the trigger. That my life was pretty fucked up, what did I have to lose?
Honestly, was there one good reason why I shouldn’t?
I squeezed the trigger.
It was messier than on TV. The bullet travelled down the muscle of his leg and splattered blood, bone and flesh onto the concrete floor. I hoped I’d missed the femoral artery. My hand stung for a moment with the vibration from the gun.
His face went from confusion to shock, then from shock to pain.
I stepped back from him and looked at the gun in my hand.
These things are scary as fuck.
It brought home the danger I was in. I’ve got a job to do.
“Tell me where the fuck my friend is!” I shouted over his screams.