“Let go,” yelled the stranger.
Bill held tight to the rifle barrel.
The Brit pulled a pistol, grabbed Lori by the hair, and put the gun to her head. “He said, let it go.”
Bill released it without saying a word. The Brit said something, but Bill could not hear him over his heartbeat, pounding in his ears. He cocked his head to the right. The Brit tapped his gun on Lori’s head.
Bill growled, “Let her go.”
“Oh, tough guy, eh? What’s the matter, is she your pigeon?”
The stranger looked down at Lori’s hand and noticed the diamond on her right ring finger. He let go of her hair, twisted her hand, and held it up. She let out a squeal.
Bill snarled, “You’d better not hurt her.”
“Ah, smart bird, this one. I believe you Americans wear your engagement rings on the left.”
He let go of Lori’s hand. She cradled it to her chest.
Bill’s muscles began to coil. He wanted one of the men to make a move, any move. He would kill them all before he was done. “Get out,”
“All in good time, governor.”
The Brit shoved Lori into her chair and tapped his palm with his pistol. “First, we’re going to have a little talk.”
Bill snarled, “What do you want?”
The stranger laughed, and his men joined in.
Bill clenched his fists.
“You need to relax. I have one simple question, where’s Harold?”
The name seemed familiar, and for a moment, his muscles relaxed.
Bill asked, “What’s his last name?”
The rifle barrel whacked him in the head again, and his muscles tightened. He could begin to see the veins in his retinas superimpose on his vision.
“Stop wasting my time,” demanded the stranger. “You know full well who I’m talking about. Harold Brown.”
Bill cocked his head to the left, “Parabolic Defense Systems?”
Bill’s lips twisted, “Why don’t you call Forbes?”
Lori spoke up, “How would he know?”
The Brit turned his attention back to her. “Oh, I forgot about you, bird. I bet you know a lot about your boy’s secrets. Let’s play a little game. You tell me what you know, and I won’t kill you.”
“No,” growled Bill.
“Relax,” said the Brit. “This is a straightforward game. I’ll even give your lovey here a few hints. You see, Harold is your fiancée’s brother. My employer needs to meet with him most urgently. It’s a matter of personal importance.”
Bill spoke up, “I don’t have any family.”
The Brit replied, “I wish I could believe that. I might have believed you a few weeks ago. Joshua is the sort of man to hide such things, but the situation has changed. We know they’re looking for you. We had a bit of a hard time finding you, what with you moving offices and residences, but here we are. I’m quite certain the government has already found you.”
Lori interjected, “We don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know who you are, but you have the wrong man.”
“I don’t think so,” replied the stranger.
Bill gasped as he watched the pistol rise. The world turned red, and he reached for the gun barrel of the man beside him. He jerked the assailant to the ground with one fast move. He put his knee on the man’s neck and yelled, “Stop.”
The Brit’s gun went off and everything slowed down. Bill watched Lori’s head jerk to the side and her eyes become glassy. Bill’s knee drove down into the man beneath him. He felt his spine pop, and a smile spread across Bill’s face. Before he could inhale his next breath, Bill was on his feet, and he pulled the dead conspirator into his office. He shut and locked the door.
Bullets came flying through the drywall, and Bill dropped on top of Carol. He could hear the Brit yelling for them to stop shooting. The room got eerily quiet. He sat up and reached for the rifle. Bill pressed a button behind the trigger, and the magazine dropped on the floor. He picked it up and wrestled it back inside the gun.
Bill could feel his breathing was starting to become more labored. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The rifle was heavy and Bill laid it across his lap.
From the other side of the wall, the Brit hollered, “Look, mate. You lost your dove, but you killed my best man. What do you say we start over?”
Bill focused on controlling his breathing. The room’s colors were starting to penetrate past his red vision, and he could hear his heart beginning to slow.
The Brit hollered again, “You can’t simply hide in there, and I’ll go away. Hmm, who is the next person I see? Oh, how about this nameplate? Lisa. Bill, come out in two minutes or Lisa’s next.”
Bill hollered through the door, “Who’s the coward? You’re targeting the women.”
“What is it you Yanks say? Women and children first.”
Bill’s breath became shorter, lighter. The rifle felt like a feather, and the room turned red.
“Don’t be a bloody fool.” Begged the Brit.
Behind the door, Bill stood silent. Carol moaned and looked up at him. Bill put his finger to his lips. Carol remained still.
He could feel his breath on the back of his hand that held the rifle in front of him. He could hear footsteps coming towards the door and the Brit’s muffled voice giving orders from Lori’s cubicle. The footsteps stopped in front of the door.
A howl escaped from Bill’s throat. The door reverberated, the windows behind him shook. His coffee mug vibrated across his desk. He heard Carol’s voice in the distance as he put his shoulder into the door with all his might. Aluminum, steel, and wood splintered with a crash, a screech, and a crack.
Bill stomped on the man’s throat that lay on the floor in front of him, covered in shrapnel from the door. He quickly raised his rifle and fired before the Brit could get his revolver level. One gut shot sent the man to the ground. Two hot rounds entered Bill’s side and exited out the back. The burning flesh felt good, and he laughed before he could stop himself.
He turned to find the last assailant running for the door. Bill fired, and a bullet exited the man’s head. The momentum brought his lifeless body to the floor face first.
The Brit laid moaning on the floor of Lori’s cube. Bill methodically walked towards the dying killer. He saw the love of his life ashen, her eyes staring into nothing, and pieces of her brain stuck to the metal bookshelf next to her.
The Brit pulled off his mask and winced as he begged, “Please, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. We were told you were peaceful, compliant. It was only a question.”
Bill removed the rifle strap from his body, raised the stock over the Brits head, and brought it down with all his might. The skull cracked, and blood sprayed up against Bill. He hit him again and again. Soon, the face was not recognizable, and Bill started on his body. He could feel the ribs crumble beneath each strike. It felt good, right.
Carol’s pleading, shaking voice could be heard behind him, “Bill, he’s dead. Stop, this isn’t you.”
Bill stopped. Blood dripped from his nose and lips. His office shirt was soaked in the blood of his enemy. He looked around to find everyone staring in horror, except Carol. She slowly walked up, reached out with shaking hands, and took the rifle from him and gently place it on the floor.
Carol’s lips trembled, and her voice was barely audible, “Come with me to your office, and let’s get you cleaned up.”
Bill took a step, but then the room started to move. The floor felt like it was rising first from the right and then the left. His legs felt like lead, and his lungs gasped for air. He collapsed on the ground and leaned against a cubicle wall. He tried to focus on his breathing.
Carol spoke up, “Everyone, get to your cubes and prepare to evacuate. I locked the office down from Bill’s desk. The police and EMTs are on their way. Remain in your cubes until the police have released you.”
Bill could hear the workers meandering to the cubicles, and hushed voices as the sound of laptops closing and laptop bags zipping filled the silence.
Carol came and sat down next to Bill with some paper towels. “Close your eyes. I need to get this blood off your face.” She looked down at his shirt, “Is any of this blood yours?”
Bill shrugged and winced from the white-hot pain that seemed to appear from nowhere in his side.
The damp towel felt cold and refreshing as she cleaned up around his eyes, lips, and nose.
“You are one crazy man,” she said. “You could’ve got yourself killed.”
Bill sucked in a breath and answered, “I don’t care. They killed Lori, and they were going to kill more. I had to do something.”
Carol pointed over her shoulder at his office, “Did you see your door? How did you do that?”
“I don’t know.”
A pounding at the front door caught their attention.
Carol began to stand up, “I’ll let the police in.”
Bill grabbed her wrist. “No, I’m still the boss. I need to do this.”
Carol helped Bill slowly stand up. He leaned against the walls and made his way to the door. Peering through the glass was a policeman in tactical gear. Bill held up one finger and then typed in the combination on the keypad. As soon as the magnetic lock clicked, the police stormed in. They threw Bill against the wall and handcuffed him.
From behind, he could hear Carol yell, “Not him, that’s our boss, he saved us.”
The policeman who handcuffed him asked, “What’s your name?”
Bill stopped speaking and tried not to throw up on the officer. The floor moved again, and the world started to disappear down a pear-shaped tunnel. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
The officer asked, “Can you hear me.”
The tunnel became narrower, he could hear Carol sobbing, and then Bill tumbled into the darkness.