Tuesday, August 9, 2011
by Travis S. Taylor & Stephanie Osborn
Ray turned the corner and nearly slammed face first into a brick wall, stopping just in time to scratch his right elbow up a little more on the rough brick as he caught himself against the wall. Ow. Really needed THAT. Quickly he scanned around for an exit. There was only one--a primer-coated metal staircase up the side of the building--and the man had a full story and a half head start on him. It was almost as if the man knew the route he was going and had known the staircase would be there.
Shoving his way through the pain and exhaustion, Ray threw himself up the staircase, keeping his pace steady and the man in sight. Twice he saw the man slip on the wet metal steps, and each time Ray made a slight gain on him, his treaded boots proving a better grip on the metal than the man's street shoes. Pushing harder than he thought he could, Ray closed the gap to only half a story behind the man as he went out of sight over the rooftop of the ten story building.
Ray crested the rooftop cautiously and there was the man, sitting on the edge of the rooftop barely a couple of meters away, looking over the edge at the street below and then at his watch–or one of them; for some reason, he was wearing two. Different ones, at that. His pale blond thatch, cut short enough to stand in upright spikes but not short enough to qualify as a buzz cut, wilted a bit in the rain.
"You… you are rather good," the man offered, wiped blood from his aquiline--though now slightly misshapen--nose, gasped for breath, and looked at his watch again with bright blue eyes.
"Listen, I've got backup right behind me. There is no way down and I can keep you busy long enough for 'em to catch you. What d' you say we just sit down, take a breather, and wait on 'em?" Ray panted and smiled at the same time, hoping to stall long enough that he wouldn't have to fight the guy any more before backup arrived.
"I've got a better idea." The man looked at his watch one last time and then leapt over the side of the rooftop, pushing off with his hands as he slipped gracefully from the lip of the ledge. There was a brief flash of white light--Ray assumed it was lightning--that caused him to flinch and cover his eyes for a moment. And the man was gone.
"NO!" Ray rushed to the edge of the building, peered over, and… saw… nothing. "What the hell!?" No blood on the street below, no screaming passersby, no squished and maimed body–nothing.
"Ray! You all right?" a voice from behind him gasped.
Ray stood there, confused--no, flabbergasted--peering over the edge of the building, visually searching every nook, cranny, alley, and pavement all the way down. Nothing. The man had simply vanished like a ghost. No body, no visible escape route, no sign.
The rain continued to wash the red blood from Ray's broken nose and swelling lip down the front of his already stained and ripped shirt and he could still hear the music off in the distance somewhere. He stood in a contemplative calmness, surveying the volume of space off the side of the building, and gasping for air as his heartbeat slowed. How in the. Bloody. Damn. HELL did he get away? This time, is it… nah, can't be.
"Your pistol, Ray." A young man in his late twenties with a blond military haircut and an athlete's build scanned the rooftop as he offered Ray his weapon.
"Huh? Oh, thanks, Jay." Ray took his favorite handgun, checked the magazine and safety, and slipped it in the clip holster on his waistband at his back. When he did, cold water squished from the holster, down his back and into his already soaked underwear, giving him a severe chill. He shivered violently for a second. He was still more than a bit dazed by what had happened moments ago--and the beating he'd taken--oh yeah, and the running.
"Uh, Dr. Brady?"
"What? I know, he got away." Ray panted, still having a hard time talking between breaths.
"Uh, no sir, uh, Ray, you've been shot." Major Sampson pointed to the bloody mess on his left shoulder. The young Army major said it nonchalantly as if he had seen the same situation before.
"Oh, that. It's just a flesh wound," Ray waved his hand in dismissal–right before he collapsed backwards onto the rooftop.
"Man down! Medic!" Sampson called over the radio.
Extraction Point! is available for purchase through Barnes-Noble and Amazon, as well as Twilight Times Books.
See other books by Stephanie Osborn at http://www.stephanie-osborn.com