Lab Rat part 41

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Fiction, Test Subject, Work

I open my hands and my weapons disappear. I creep down the stairs to the door of my apartment. It’s standing wide open, and I can hear voices. “What are we looking for, anyway?”

“I dunno, man. Parish said bank statements and mail and shit.”

“Why’s he want all that for some lowlife?”

“You think he told me? Man, this kid doesn’t have any paper. It’s like he doesn’t get mail.” It’s true; I opted for electronic notification on everything. I never check my mailbox. I don’t even know if I have a key for it. I crouch and keep listening.

“He was at the Pussycat, right?” A third voice. “Maybe we can call ‘im and ask ‘im.”

“When’s the last time you thought it was a good idea to ask the boss a stupid question?” Number one is talking again. “We show him we can’t handle a simple collection and we get terminated.” I bet he’s not just talking about being fired. I guess it counts as loyalty if your employees stick with you so they aren’t killed, right?

“Well, does he have a computer?” Number two. He must be the smart one.

“I don’t see one. Where would he hide it?” I listen to them ramble on and do some math. The night at the convenience store, there were two guys. My little escort was four guys. There’s enough seating in the cars I just crippled for ten. I’m betting there’s a fourth guy somewhere. I check the clock on the injector. I have about three minutes left. I have to make a move.

I peer around the doorframe. Most of my worldly possessions are lying on the floor. My bed is leaning against the wall on one end. “Alright, if this ain’t it, it ain’t here.” A man in black dress pants and a white polo shirt holds up the battered aluminum case I keep my net-book in. He’s right. That’s probably the only thing in my apartment that could lead them to Taryn. I spin around the corner, clenching my fists. The air crackles as twin bolts of lightning reach out of my fists. I lunge at the guy holding the metal case. As I go, I try to count heads. There are only three guys in here, and I have the drop on them. This might actually go in my favor for a change.

Trying to take stock in mid-thrust causes me to come up short in my lunge. The wand of electricity only brushes the aluminum case. The case sparks, and the man holding shudders like he’s been hit with a taser. The case falls to the floor, and he falls forward on it. Both of the other guys are on the other side of the room. Not really a problem. I don’t have a very big place. The one nearest me is a small guy, given that he works for Keegan. He’s only about my height, but broader in the shoulders. He’s got on a white button down shirt and dress pants, and he accessorizes with knuckledusters. I swing an overhand chop at him with my right hand. I carve a burning line through the plaster in my ceiling, and bury the tip of my lightning bolt in the floor. He steps inside the blow, and jabs me in the face with his own right hand. His jewelry makes a ping as metal splits the skin on my forehead. I stagger backward, but I manage to wave my left hand through his midsection. The direct contact burns his shirt in half. He’s thrown against the kitchen cabinet area like he was kicked by a mule.

I recover my balance. There’s a hiss coming from above and behind me. I feel a tug on my left shoulder and my hearing fades to a ringing. I ignore it. I jump at the last man standing. He’s got a gun out now, but I’m already on top of him. My left arm doesn’t do what I tell it to, but my right directs the writhing baton of lightning through the center of his chest. I ride him to the ground. I unclench my fists and the lightning disappears. I stand up. I’m all wet. I look back. I nicked a water line when I hit the ceiling. Water is spraying all over the floor. I roll my eyes. They say when it rains, it pours. I look myself over. I have a wound in my left shoulder, and my hearing is still wrecked. He shot me.

I walk through the increasingly wet mess of my room and scoop up the case with my net-book in it. I awkwardly maneuver the case under my arm without clenching my fists. The case sizzles as the water boils away from my hands. As I head for the door, another well dressed guy walks into the room. “What the hell – ,” the sight of me and the fate of his buddies stops his words, and he drops into a fighting stance. Damn it. I clench my right fist again. At the same instant, I remember that we’re all soaking wet.

I feel like Caboose. I have questions I need to ask, but asking questions gives away information. “Tex, do you know about Church’s secret plan to warn the Reds?” It’s nervous business to begin with, and that just makes it worse. Still, I need to move forward on this. I can feel it.

Meanwhile, the company I work for (but not for much longer) is making crazy changes that look like an intentional attempt to cripple themselves. Available payroll: cut. Hard copy of the floorset: cut. Throwaway marketing and signage: increased. Now there will be less time in which to get the MOUNTAINS OF CRAP done, and they’re making floorsets take longer by ensuring that we’ll be spending extra time walking between the computer and whatever area they’ve decreed that we rearrange. Ridiculous.

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