Anchors No More #35: Hello, Fan? Shit on Line Three.Sep 15, 2014
Vanderhoff fired his pistol three times.
Two bullets struck Daniel Hobbes in the chest knocking him back against the Marshall Temporal Device. The third bullet flew past Daniel, missing Gary’s head by a few inches and slamming into the wall.
In the brief humming pause, Gary watched in mute horror as Daniel sunk to his knees, leaning against the machine gasping for breath. And then all hell broke loose. “Get Daniel,” Restrepo yelled at Kate as he whipped his rifle up and fired off four quick shots. One bullet grazed Vanderhoff’s ribs and two narrowly missed his head, shattering the glass window behind him. The fourth bullet hit Rutherford in the shoulder, spinning him back with the impact. Rutherford slammed into Queen who was thrown off balance and the two men tumbled to the floor.
Vanderhoff snarled at the searing wetness of his right ribcage where the bullet ripped a bleeding tear into his flesh, splintering hairline fractures in two of his ribs. “Dick,” Vanderhoff muttered. He raised his pistol and emptied his clip with four quick shots before he dropping to his knees, cursing the fact that there was no cover, nothing to hide behind.
Vanderhoff’s bullets were hastily fired but accurately placed. Kate, who had crawled around the MTD and was reaching out to grab Daniel’s arm, collapsed to the floor, blood spraying from her skull and neck as three of the four shots found her exposed flesh and bone. Restrepo ducked behind the temporal device and gave Gary a quick glance, “Kate’s gone,” he said, looking at Gary just long enough to be sure his meaning was comprehended, then standing up, aiming quickly, shooting twice and ducking down again. Gary pulled the pistol from his waistband and Restrepo gave him an encouraging expression, “We don’t have to kill ‘em,” he said, “we just have to make ‘em not want to fight.” Gary nodded and cocked his firearm, not believing that Vanderhoff would not want to fight as long as there was a heart beating in his chest.
Behind Vanderhoff, Queen pushed Rutherford off of him and covered his head with his arms, not ashamed of cowering when both of Restrepo’s bullets buried in the wall beside his head. Rutherford moaned, grasping his shoulder as blood seeped between his fingers and puddled on the floor beneath him. Vanderhoff finished changing his pistol clip: eight final shots. Glancing back at Rutherford bleeding on the floor, at Queen, laying facedown on his stomach with his hands over his head, Vanderhoff would have given anything for a few good men but at least he knew they were on their way; there was no way this little shootout had gone unnoticed. He just had to keep alive until then.
The agony in Daniel’s chest was blooming, his breast bone pulsed in fiery torment, tightening more with every passing second. While it was better than being dead, which he certainly would have been without the Kevlar vest he wore, it was still too much, more pain than he had ever experienced before. No room in his mind to think, he knew he had to keep moving, crawl a little more, a little more…
Vanderhoff saw his quarry escaping and instinctively roared, “No,” and shot twice. One bullet hit the dolly the Marshall Device sat upon and ricocheted into the floor. The second bullet sank into Daniel’s buttock. He screamed and Vanderhoff smiled: son of a bitch, you ain’t going nowhere.
Vanderhoff lay on the floor and carefully aimed his rifle at Daniel’s head but before he could fire, Gary popped into view and grabbed Daniel’s arm, yanking him around the side of the machine. Vanderhoff fired once in surprise, missing everything but the floor next to Daniel’s sliding knee. “Sebastian Restrepo, Daniel Hobbes, Gary Neff,” Vanderhoff called out, “lay your weapons down and step forward with your hands raised.” He didn’t expect compliance but he did expect some sort of reaction, some visible target: a head coming up a leg or foot moving behind the bulk of the MTD. A rifle cocking above his head dashed his simple hopes.
From the inside of Lab Fourteen, Steven stood pointing a rifle at Vanderhoff’s head through the shattered picture window. “Put your weapon down, Lieutenant,” he said, “I will not hesitate to shot you.”
Vanderhoff believed him. He smiled with the humor of a spider temporarily startled by the fly and tossed his pistol on the floor. “Well,” he slowly said, wanting to stall, drag it out long enough for his backup to arrive, “Aren’t you all pleased with yourselves?”
Steven didn’t answer, he only raised his rifle and tightened his aim on Vanderhoff’s forehead. Without moving the sight from his captive, Steven called out, “Are you guys alright? Talk to me, it’s Steven, I have you covered.”
A few seconds passed before Restrepo peeked his head up, “We’re okay,” there was a pause as he looked down at Daniel laying on the ground grasping his bleeding backside, wincing in pain, “mostly,” Restrepo concluded, “We need to move. Now.”
Steven adjusted his grip on his rifle, made sure Vanderhoff felt the weight of the barrel trained on his head, “Come on, move quick.”
Restrepo turned to Gary, “Okay, let’s go. You help Daniel, I’ll take the machine.”
“What about Kate?” Gary asked looking down at their dead comrade.
“We have to leave her,” Restrepo said, unable to meet the scorn in Gary’s eyes, “I’m sorry, I don’t like it either, but we don’t have time. They’re coming.” To emphasize the point, Restrepo glanced over his shoulder as if expecting the ARLIS soldiers any second.
Gary knew he was right. He nodded and whispered, “Let’s go.”
Gary helped Daniel to his feet as Restrepo shouldered his rifle and quickly pulled Kate’s limp body out of the way. Gary and Daniel walked around the machine and saw Vanderhoff sitting on the floor, venom in his eyes as he stared deeply into Daniel’s eyes. Behind Vanderhoff, laying still now, was Rutherford. Next to Rutherford, Lawrence Queen slowly uncovered his head, looking around in a daze. From the other side of the broken window, Steven pulled out his security card, “Doctor Queen,” he said, handing the card through the window frame, “take this and open the door.”
It took him a moment to process the request but Queen finally climbed to his feet and took the card. Walking past Vanderhoff, he made the mistake of meeting the Lieutenant’s eyes, “I’m disappointed in you, Doctor,” Vanderhoff growled, “another bright future pissed away.” Queen tried to keep his cool, going to the door and swiping the card. The security lock flashed from red to green and he pushed open the door and turned to help Gary get Daniel inside.
Before entering the lab, Daniel turned his head back to Restrepo, “Sebastian,” he said, “let Doctor Queen take the machine, you bring them,” he said, gesturing back to Vanderhoff and Rutherford, “We lock ourselves in the basement and we don’t come out until it’s over.”
Restrepo didn’t like the thought but he knew it didn’t really matter. Regardless of outcome, ‘over’ was already well on its way.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.