Anchors No More # 36: One for the TeamSep 22, 2014
Gary almost cried when he first saw Holly, but fortunately he was too jacked up on adrenaline, nerves and fear to do so. If he would have started crying then she would have started and then they would make a scene in the middle of the most inappropriate circumstances imaginable.
So he simply embraced her, pulling her as close as he was able and burying his face into her neck. She squeezed him tight, “I’m so glad, I… I can’t believe it, I didn’t think…” she didn’t say what she didn’t want to think, she just wanted to look at him. She gazed into his eyes, “We’re here.”
Gary smiled warmly, “We are.”
“I hate to break it up you two, but we don’t have time.” They looked over and saw Restrepo staring at them, “We need to get that machine down the stairs. Now”
Yes, get back to work.
The last few minutes had been crazy.
When Vanderhoff and Rutherford were escorted to the corner where Carla and Mike guarded the bound ARLIS men, the group of captive scientists began talking loudly, voicing protests and questioning the sanity of the armed fugitive group. Steven laid Rutherford on the floor while Restrepo kept his rifle on Vanderhoff as Mike tied the Lieutenant’s hands behind his back.
Gary slowly brought Daniel down the staircase and Holly’s impulse was to dash over to help but she held herself back, keeping her pistol pointed at the excited scientists. James stopped his work and ran over, taking Daniel from Gary and walking him to the side to sit down. Gary rushed to Holly, they embraced, Restrepo chastised them and then there they were.
Right there: Brandon, Restrepo, Gary, and Holly rushing up the stairs to help bring the Marshall Temporal Device down into the basement.
At the top of the stairs they saw Queen, the MTD on the dolly behind him. He measured the width of the doorway, comparing it again with the device. Not smiling, deep in consideration, he glanced at Holly, “It will fit if we take off the vent box and the couplets,” he said pointing to the unwieldy parts of the machine he was referencing, “We have to hurry, they’re on the way.”
Holly muttered a curse under her breath and leapt into action. Pulling the small screwdriver from her pocket, she began to unscrew the ventilation box as Queen went to work on the couplets. In less than two minutes they had the parts off and slowly began moving the machine into the tight-fitting stairwell.
Just through the door, their time ran out.
Vanderhoff’s backup appeared: a dozen heavily armed men who opened fire immediately upon their arrival outside the lab. Restrepo saw them first and managed to duck beside the machine as the first bullets hit. Queen, preoccupied and slow to react, took the brunt of the sudden attack. Two bullets ripped into his body and he was flung back against the device.
With bullets shattering the concrete wall around them only adding to the instantaneous chaos, Gary tripped over his feet and tumbled down the long staircase, cracking the back of his head open on the cold concrete floor below. With Gary’s sudden absence, the device slipped, pushing Holly, Steven and Brandon back. They kept their grip and their balance, listening, trying to discover if Restrepo and Queen were still with them. Their fears were slightly alleviated when Restrepo shouted down, “Do you guys have it? I can’t….” They heard his gun fire: once, twice.
“Were fine,” yelled Holly, repositioning her slipping grip on the machine and giving Steven a wary glance of disbelief concerning her own assessment.
At the top of the stairs, Restrepo surveyed the room. Five guards had crawled through the shattered window into the lab and were creeping around behind the cover of tables and file cabinets. He counted seven or eight more ARLIS men out in the hall, pointing guns into the room and waiting for any movement.
Restrepo looked over at Queen who was on the floor, propped up against the wall, blood pouring from bullet holes in his chest and arm. “Lawrence?” Restrepo called out and Queen looked over at him, breathing erratically as tears trickled down his cheeks.
Cursing, Restrepo pulled off a couple of shots, hitting one guard and causing the others to duck down, “Where are the fire doors?” he yelled out, crouching down in the stairwell as a pair of bullets tore past him. “Queen, the fucking fire doors? The clean room doors? God dammit, where’s the emergency door release?”
Queen understood. His head was swimming but he understood the plan. He pointed to the far wall, at the small box with a large red button in the middle of it. Restrepo saw it, knew it was their one chance to slow the guards down long enough to perhaps complete their mission. He fired his rifle, managing to put a guard down with a bullet to the exposed throat. “Queen,” he yelled out as bullets rained around him, “Do it, drop the fire doors. I can cover you”
A bullet hit Restrepo, the Kevlar vest protected him, but the impact knocked him back. He grunted, raised his rifle and returned fire. Restrepo ducked back down and leaned close to Lawrence Queen, “Listen,” he said, his whisper threatening to become a scream, “You’re hit in the chest, there’s nothing we can… shit, we can’t fix you up in time to… I’m sorry but…” Queen looked up at him, his eyes red and glassy. Restrepo had no time to waste as a hail of five bullets slammed the walls around him. “I need to protect them, Lawrence, this is it, this is why you came. You’re dead already and if you don’t get the fire doors down it’s all over. They’re going to kill her, they’re going to kill all of them.”
Queen didn’t think he could do it, shock setting in, a dizzying warmth, but he climbed to his feet, his eyes never leaving Restrepo’s face. He staggered towards the wall, towards the button that would release the heavy steel doors in case a fire or some contamination should occur. Just a few more steps, a few more… He screamed in agony as a bullet tore into his side.
An ARLIS man leapt in front of him and raised his rifle at Queen’s chest. Before the soldier could pull the trigger, Queen grunted in fury and fear, diving forward knocking the guard to the floor, punching, clawing at the man’s eyes, pounding fists onto his face. Queen made it to his feet again, staggered and fell forward against the wall. Another bullet pierced his back, went through his lung, came out of his chest and buried in the concrete.
With vision blurring, breaths not coming, knees giving way to the weight of his dying body, Lawrence Queen slammed his hand on the emergency button, falling to the floor in perfect unison with the large metal blast doors falling from the ceiling and locking the fugitive group semi-safely inside the laboratory. His last thoughts were of how strange it was that all of this was about time when it seemed his own had just come to an end.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.