The Insider – Part 5

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a serial by Joseph Benedict

It’s clear this way.” Fang gestured with her gun. She spotted her reflection in the polished marble of the far wall and noticed how ridiculous she looked holding a weapon a third of her size. Ignoring the pang of guilt she said, “Let’s move.”

The others followed her around the corner. Fang ignored the two doors other than to check their handles. Both were locked. She was creeping forward again when a man’s shout reached them from around the corner.

“No, wait!  You motherfuckers—” The man’s words ended in a grunt heard just above the sound of a heavy blow.

Fang sprinted.

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a serial by Joseph Benedict

Part 1
Part 2

Part 3
Part 4

 


 

“It’s clear this way.” Fang gestured with her gun. She spotted her reflection in the polished marble of the far wall and noticed how ridiculous she looked holding a weapon a third of her size. Ignoring the pang of guilt she said, “Let’s move.”

The others followed her around the corner. Fang ignored the two doors other than to check their handles. Both were locked. She was creeping forward again when a man’s shout reached them from around the corner.

“No, wait!  You motherfuckers—” The man’s words ended in a grunt heard just above the sound of a heavy blow.

Fang sprinted.

The next turn in the hall exposed a broad, open office space. Potted trees and wide, slick-leafed ferns garnished twenty large workstations. The temporary walls were of a shiny black material placed to create desks lining the walls and in a semicircle bowed away from Fang’s position. The desks faced toward her, so that the paneling hid the workstations behind it.

Security station, Fang thought. This is where they watch the cameras.

The room was silent. Fang strained her ears to hear before stepping into the room, but whatever disturbance they’d heard had subsided. Still, she scanned the shadows behind each piece of furniture as she stalked forward.

“We can find him from here,” she said, heading for the semicircle of desks while Dave and Hawkins fanned out to check the rest of the room.

An entrance to her left showed where the other hall they hadn’t taken from the elevator joined the larger space. Dave peeked around its corner with his gun ready. Just as Fang was about to step around the edge of the semicircle, she heard a soft noise, like shoes scuffing carpet. She dropped to a crouch in an instant and rolled forward, aiming her gun high. But as she came out of the maneuver, sighting down the barrel of the rifle, she spotted a thin Italian man in slacks and a dress shirt, huddled behind a chair beneath one of the desks.

The man swore and hurled the chair out at her.  Fang slapped it aside.  She stood and extended one arm as he crawled out, trying to sprint past her. The inside of her elbow caught his throat and Fang simply closed her arm. She leaned back as the hold jerked him to a halt, then punched him hard in the kidneys to be thorough. He exhaled and sagged a bit against her grip.

“It’s clear.” Hawkins said, coming around the desks. “Who’s this?”

“Security tech,” Fang guessed. “He can tell us where Melbourne is.”

“Shit.” The tech stretched out the word and tried fruitlessly to break away from the hold.

“He’s not going to just tell us,” said Hawkins.

“And I guess you know how to deal with that,” Fang shot back.

“Do you want to find him or not?” Hawkins glared. He slung the gun back and pulled his sleeves up.

 

The room was silent. Fang strained her ears to hear before stepping into the room, but whatever disturbance they’d heard had subsided. Still, she scanned the shadows behind each piece of furniture as she stalked forward.

 

“The other hall is clear too.” Dave rounded the semicircle, only glancing at their prisoner. “We need to find out which one of these shows where he’s going.” Dave stepped past them to look at the computer screens in front of each desk. “I don’t see him.”

Fang turned her attention to the monitors. Each display was broken into several squares, each of which showed a different section of the building. The men and women on most of the screens were still making phone calls and typing reports. In the parking lot, a line of cars was waiting to be let in. She saw that none of their bodies were still on the ground, though the Mustang remained parked in front of the elevator.

“They aren’t calling the police,” she reported. “There haven’t even tripped an alarm to the public half of the building.”

Hawkins stepped close to the technician.

“Doctor Melbourne is your prisoner. He came in today. Where is he?”

The tech didn’t answer in the first few seconds. Hawkins slugged him twice in the stomach, then once under the chin. Fang noticed as his head snapped back that one of his cheeks were already swelling. She glanced at the bank of elevators along the far wall.

“Wait,” she said. She eased her hold on his throat enough for the tech to speak comfortably. “Where is everyone else?”

“Gone.” The tech spat a little blood on the carpet.

“They left you here,” Fang reasoned. “Everyone took the elevators up and there wasn’t enough room. That’s what you were shouting about? They hit you so the doors would close?”

“Cowards,” Dave mumbled behind them.

The tech turned his head to glare at Fang out of the corner of his eye.

“Fine.” Fang clamped her arm across his throat again, tighter this time, constricting the air and blood flow. “Don’t cooperate. My friend is just going to keep hitting you until you talk or he has to find a more creative way of questioning you. We don’t have a lot of time, so that might not take long. We’ll do whatever we have to. Your job is going to be over here no matter what. Seems like it would be a shame to lose very important pieces of yourself protecting a group of people who just punched you out and left you to die.”

Hawkins reached to a nearby desk, lifted an empty coffee mug it, and smashed it against the floor. He reached down to retrieve a wicked-looking shard still attached to the handle.

The tech thrashed in Fang’s hold. She could feel him trying to shout through the part of his throat clamped tightly by her elbow, but she let him wait, let him see Hawkins coming closer and lifting the shard so that the tech could feel what it would be like to know the pain was coming and not be able to say anything to stop it.  So that when he could…

“He was here!” the tech screamed as Fang loosened her hold.

“No!” Dave shouted.

 

Flipping the dark visor of his helmet up to expose a red, shouting face, the guard in question retorted with obvious fury and aimed his weapon at the camera. The feed went black.

 

Fang heard despair in his voice and shoved the tech into Hawkins’ arms so she could turn and look.

The monitor in front of Dave showed Melbourne in an elevator. His hands were cuffed behind his back. His short, spare frame looked tiny inside the knot of armed guards surrounding him.

Fang leaned closer and saw that the doctor’s cheeks weren’t bruised. His aged, lined face was unharmed, though sweat ran down his brow. His mane of sandy blond hair was in disarray. Fang’s chest was too tight to breath a sigh of relief.

“Where are they taking him?” she shouted, turning back to the tech. “Show us.  Now!”

“Look!” Dave jabbed his finger at another screen a few seats to their right.

One camera showed the roof and a sleek, private helicopter easing onto a landing pad. Four more guards stood in a tight group around another individual. Fang caught a glimpse of his face as the armored men around him shifted slightly.

“Hart,” she growled. “He was here. Find out where that elevator is. There should be a way to shut it off from here, like they did to us.”

The tech yelped in Hawkins’ grasp and quickly spoke up.

“The controls unfold from the right of the window there. Click on—yeah. You can force it back down to this level, but they’ll probably override it from inside before it comes all the way back.”

Dave began selected several options with a flurry of clicks. For several seconds, nothing happened.

Fang glanced from Melbourne to the image of the landed helicopter. Then, the guards around the doctor began to move. One of them moved to the panel beside the doors. The rest began to gesture, mostly shoving a guard near the front and gesturing to the camera in the ceiling. Flipping the dark visor of his helmet up to expose a red, shouting face, the guard in question retorted with obvious fury and aimed his weapon at the camera. The feed went black.

“Damn it, no!” Fang slapped the desk with her hands.

“It’s still dropping,” Dave said. He clicked again and a black window appeared.

White lines ran across it in parallel patterns. Fang recognized the map of the building, as sketched out in power usage, and the thick white lines where the bank of elevators would be.

“Tenth floor… ninth floor….” Dave frowned suddenly, glancing past Fang. “What is that?”

Fang followed his line of sight to another monitor, one that had been dark when they came in. It showed a naked man lying face-up on a surgical table. His eyes were closed. Tubes ran from machines at his side into his nose, throat, and veins.

She felt all of her muscles twitch as she recognized the hollow machine near his head. It was shaped like a CT scanner, with a wide port for the patient’s head, but bigger and thicker, with a whole bank of computers attached. She stared at the diagram displayed on one of them, memorizing every detail she could.

“He’s getting closer,” said Fang.

 

To be continued.

 


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