Ten Months Before Impact Day
That night, I pulled out the bag I’d acquired from the storage unit, and locked my door. I was worried it would come across as suspicious, since I didn’t do it often, but I also couldn’t risk anyone walking in on me.
I hadn’t yet had a chance to properly go through the spoils, and I was eager to start thinking about how I could make use of most of the unknown objects I’d thrown into the bag.
Sadie sat on the edge of my bed, watching with a sort of morbid curiosity. She refused to say anything about it, or anything at all, but she obviously didn’t want to just ignore what I was doing, either. Well, that was fine with me.
I unzipped the bag, excited to see what treasures would be revealed. I was not disappointed.
Tear gas grenades, handcuffs, bulletproof vest, batons, pepper spray… all standard crowd control gear. Sadie had no reaction to any of it, until I pulled out what was very obviously a handgun. Then, she actually hissed.
I turned it over in my hand. It was heavier than I’d expected, but surprisingly easy to hold. Maybe not something I had any intention of using, but I felt like if I ever needed to, it would have been possible.
“Do I even want to ask where you got that from?” Sadie asked, hugging her knees to her chest.
“Stole it from a dirty cop, if you must know.”
Ignoring her sour expression, I stripped down to my underwear, sliding on my arm and shin padding, then pulled on a new pair of black pants and tied up my boots. I put on a plain black shirt, then struggled with the bulletproof vest until it was comfortably sitting on top.
The grenades came with a handy belt holster, and the baton clipped to that, handily enough. The handcuffs fit neatly into the baggy pockets of my pants.
I managed to fit black hoodie over the top of it all, covering up anything suspicious-looking. I wrapped up the look with black leather gloves, tucked the ski mask into another pocket, and climbed out the window.
Sadie made a coughing noise, and I looked back at her, but she didn’t say anything. She just stared at me with her big, brown eyes, judging me silently. I ignored her as best I could and crept away from the house.
Next step was figuring out where to go. I couldn’t just keep picking random directions from my house, or someone would be able to figure out my general location, and if someone recognised me…
I went back in the same direction as my first encounter, keeping out of the light as much as I could. I didn’t know what I’d fine, but I was hoping something would come up. It wasn’t like there was a shortage of gang crime in the city. I wondered briefly if Rachel had managed to get her police scanner working.
Inspiration struck, and I realised I did know somewhere I could go. In one of the shadier areas of the next suburb over, there was a bar that had something of a reputation for being a meeting place for one of the smaller gangs. Police had tried raiding the place a few times, but somehow the place was always mysteriously empty when they did.
I jogged most of the way there, then slowed to a walk a couple of blocks away to make sure I didn’t arrive completely worn out. It took me about forty minutes, even weighed down with the extra gear, which wasn’t too bad.
I crept up on the bar from an unlit side of the building, ears perked and listening for any indication that I’d been spotted, pulling the ski mask over my head.
Even from outside, the bar was incredibly noisy, despite the solid concrete walls. From the sound of it, there was some kind of sports game happening, and a lot of drunk people were yelling enthusiastically about it. Given the time of night, it must have been an international game.
There was a window above me, and I jumped up to grab the ledge, pulling myself up just enough that I could see inside, hoping nobody would be staring out the window with a game on the TV. Thankfully, everyone was facing the other direction, and as dark as it was outside, they might not have seen me anyway, unless they were looking for me.
For the most part, the patrons seemed like completely average people. They didn’t have that shadowy aggression that accompanied the gangs of the city, and I was starting to have my doubts about the place. Maybe there really wasn’t anything going on…
My arms were starting to get sore, but I hung on just a little longer, determined to give it my best effort. Just a little later, my patience was rewarded.
A couple of very suspicious-looking men in dark suits emerged from a back room and made their way to the front of the bar, whilst everybody else very deliberately avoided looking at them. For a brief moment I considered following them, but instead decided to take a gamble that there were more of them in the room they’d just left.
I dropped back down to the ground, and followed the wall around to the section of building. There was a wooden door that seemed like it would open right into the room, and another window, just as high up as the first one.
Worth a try. I jumped up to look through the window. As predicted, there was another half-dozen people inside, sitting around a table, talking in hushed voices. I only needed one look to know they were exactly the sort of people I was looking for.
What’s your excuse, police?
One of them glanced up, catching sight of me in the window. There was a look of confusion which quickly spread to the others as they followed the first guy’s gaze, and I swore. Six angry men stood in unison, and began to move towards the door.
No element of surprise for me, then. That was okay, I was in the mood for a good fight. Of course, even the most proficient martial artist knows six against one is bad odds, but hey, what was the worst that could happen? It wasn’t like they could kill me.
The door slammed open, and a large handgun emerged first, already twisting towards me. I throw myself into it, knocking it to the side and taking the person holding it by surprise. They must have expected me to run. I felt the pistol drop behind me, and I surged forward, hooking my leg behind their ankle as I slammed into them with all my body weight. They toppled over backwards, and I kept moving over them, scanning the room.
Five men were still moving towards the door, and every single one of them was holding a gun. Great plan, Charlie. I couldn’t afford to keep still for even a single second. Thankfully, with them all standing so close together, it would be harder for them to get off a good shot.
Unfortunately, against six armed men, I didn’t have a lot of room to play nice. I was going to have to take them down hard; all they needed was once chance to end the fight, and I knew they weren’t going to take it easy on me if they got it. Immortal or not, a shot in the head would put me out for a while.
I kicked backwards, my heel catching the guy I’d knocked over in the face. I could tell from the impact I didn’t have to worry about him getting up any time soon. The sensation of kicking a face hard enough to knock someone out was far from pleasant, but I didn’t have the luxury of being timid, not with five guns in my face.
Still moving forwards, I brought my knee up into the groin of the man directly in front of me. He bucked immediately, and I elbowed the side of his head, slamming his skull into the wall. He dropped like a sack of bricks, but I was already moving past him, unhooking the baton from my belt.
I drove the tip of it right into the next man’s sternum; the impact to his solar plexus was enough to drive the wind out of him. It distracted him long enough for me to shift my grip and slam the side of it into his throat with enough force to send him staggering back, choking and struggling for breath.
Three down. Not fast enough. The back of a pistol collided with the side of my head, stunning me. It was followed up by a brutal punch to the gut, but thankfully the bulletproof vest absorbed the worst of that impact. I grabbed a can of pepper spray as he raised a gun to my face, and sprayed him right in the eyes. He grunted loudly and dropped his gun, stumbling backwards and rubbing his eyes. Good enough.
I managed to duck under another punch, thankful the close quarters meant being hit was more likely than being shot. Baton still in hand, I jabbed a man in a pressure point on the back of his leg, and he dropped to his knee almost immediately. My next blow caught him in the back of the head, right in the soft part at the base of his skull, and he collapsed forward, limp.
With five of the six thugs effectively dispatched, the last guy had a clear shot, and before I could do anything, he took it. The shot was deafening in the small space, and it hit me right in the chest. Two others followed. The force of them knocked me off my feet.
I couldn’t remember ever feeling an impact that powerful before; it felt like it sucked the entire life out of me. I could barely see, my lungs felt completely empty, and my entire torso ached. I had no sense of balance or orientation, and panic washed over me.
The guy got cocky, standing over me with a sneering grin on his face, gun pointed down, right at my face. I didn’t know exactly what would happen if he pulled the trigger, and I didn’t want to find out. Summoning the last of my reserves, I kicked him in the ankle, distracting him long enough for me to grab the gun and wrestle it out of his hands. I tossed it aside, then grabbed his arm, using it to pull myself up. He reacted quickly, punching me in the face, and I staggered back almost before I’d managed to regain my balance.
He lunged towards me, the anger visible on his face, and my body was almost too sore to move. He grabbed my shoulders, forcing me backwards, but instinct kicked in and I twisted sideways, allowing his momentum to carry him past me.
I kicked him in the back of the leg as I shoved his back, and he fell face-first. Before he could get up, I kicked him in the head, then dropped on him, pressing my knee into his back. I pulled out a pair of handcuffs and used them to bind his wrists behind his back.
The guy I’d pepper sprayed was starting to recover, and I grabbed the baton again, slamming it into his throat. He staggered back, and I hit him again, on the side of the head.
The whole skirmish had barely taken a minute, but it felt like an age. I stepped back, suddenly exhausted.
At that point I realised I had absolutely no idea what to do next. Tie them all up and leave them for the cops? There was nothing the police could charge them with. I couldn’t just leave them out cold though, could I?
This is about sending a message, remember?
“Tell your bosses, this city isn’t yours anymore,” I said, trying to sound intimidating. I wanted to follow it up with something badarse, but couldn’t think of anything.
Weary, I trudged back out the door, before any of them recovered enough to start round two. My body was sore all over, but it was still an improvement on the last two times, and I wanted to keep it that way.
I thought about going home, but it wasn’t where I really wanted to be. What I wanted was to talk to Rachel, to tell her what had happened. I wanted her to be excited for me, in a way I knew nobody else would be. I wanted to share my victory with her. Any why not? There was nothing stopping me.
Next Week: It Was My Fault