26 August 2011
ACT TWO PROBLEMS
By Curtis C. Chen
"You're talking about the Mafia?" Libby asked.
"I'm saying they were definitely organized, if you know what I mean," Grant said. "Anyway, I thought they'd tell me to delete the records and then go deal with the girl themselves, but they just wanted me to modify the file. Make it look like somebody else was the father. I figured the happy couple had worked things out, and anyway, you don't say no to these people."
"Who paid you, Mr. Grant?" Libby asked. "Who was the father?"
Grant stared at her. "You can protect me, right? You're going to protect me?"
Something cracked in the distance, and there was a sound of glass breaking. A small red spot appeared on Grant's chest. He looked down and made a whimpering, gurgling noise.
There was another cracking sound. The window beside the couch shattered and spilled glass onto the floor. Grant fell backward into his chair, leaking blood from his mouth and two holes in the middle of his chest.
"Down!" Jake shouted. "GET DOWN!"
He grabbed Libby's jacket collar and pulled her onto the floor, putting the couch between them and the window. Jake looked around the room for better cover. Libby already had her phone out and was calling for backup.
"We need to get out of here," Jake said.
"Are you wearing a shield?" Libby asked.
Jake had already considered using the department-issued emergency force field generator clipped to his belt. He opened his mouth to answer. There was a loud thwack, and a bullet hole appeared in the far wall.
"That's a high-powered sniper rifle," he said. "Nothing except distance is going to protect us."
He got to his feet and helped Libby up into a crouching position. Then Jake drew his weapon and extended his right arm, pointing the Glock ahead of them. He put his left hand on Libby's shoulder and pushed her to the front door. Another bullet smacked into Grant's lifeless body with a wet crunch.
Jake fumbled the car keys out of his pocket and into Libby's palm. "Stay in front of me. Get in the car, get down on the floor."
"I can drive while you shoot," Libby said.
"This guy could be five hundred yards away. I won't even be able to see him." Jake hefted his Glock. "This is just in case he's got friends waiting out front."
Libby nodded. "On three, two, one, go!"
She yanked the front door open and sprinted through it, faster than Jake had expected. They made it across the empty street in a matter of seconds. Libby opened the car door and tumbled inside. Jake followed, slammed the door shut, and powered up the car.
He kept his head below the top of the dashboard as he pulled into the street. Something shattered the back window. He stomped the accelerator and risked looking over the dash to turn the corner at the end of the block. His heart didn't stop pounding until the car was ten blocks away and inside a parking structure.
Image: Evil rimfire by Mitch Barrie, January, 2007