Chapter 22

Neil put down the phone.

“What’s going on, Neil?” Asked Tom.

“He wants to make a deal, Tom.

“Yeah, sure, every deal he’s made so far has worked out well, hasn’t it?”

“There’s not a lot of good options, Tom. I don’t doubt him for a second. If he wanted to kill you in here, he can. If we ran away, you may die on your own. This way he lets me in and I might get close enough to attack.”

“So you want to walk into a trap? Sounds like bullshit.”

“What would you do if you were me?”

“I don’t have a good answer, Neil, you know you’re walking into a trap, right?”

“Yeah, I know. But this trap seems to be the only option that doesn’t guarantee your death.”

“I don’t like it, Neil.”

“Yeah, me neither, but I gotta go.”

Tom fell silent. Neil left the hospital room. He raced out of the hallway, towards the hospital lobby. He exited the large double doors and saw a group of waiting cabs just across the street. As he sprinted up to the cab, he felt a twinge run down his spine. He stopped and looked back over his shoulder. Everything seemed to look OK.

“Am I making the right decision? Do I do this?” Neil thought to himself. “This has to be a trap.”

“Pardon me?” asked the cabbie through his window.

“Oh sorry, I was talking to myself.” Replied Neil.

“Where can I take you tonight?”

“Um, I’m just thinking it through. If another fare comes along, just take them, I’m deciding.”

Neil took a second to collect his thoughts and figure out a solid play. He thought about the options a few more times. It still seemed like the only viable option. He got into the cab.

“Do you know where AET is?” he asked the cabbie.

“Yeah, sure, industrial, edge of downtown, right?”

Neil nodded, but he felt that twinge in his spine again. He looked back over his shoulder. A group of ominous looking people were heading into the hospital. Maybe he was just being paranoid.

“Hey,” asked Neil. “Just stop. I’m sorry. I forgot something there. Here’s twenty bucks for your trouble. Sorry.”

The cabbie hardly reacted. “No worries buddy, I wish every twenty came this easy.”

Neil got out of the cab and ran back toward the hospital. If anything he would just go check on Tom, maybe say goodbye, just in case. To his surprise, the suspicious characters turned around to face him. One of them reached into their coat and flicked their wrist down, extending a metal police baton.

A sick feeling crept into his stomach. Conrad lied again. Tom might already be dead. He needed to get back to him now. Undeterred by the baton, he ran to face the assailants.

The first creep swung the baton at Neil. Neil grasped at the baton awkwardly in an unsuccessful attempt to catch it. The baton swung past his arm and connected with his collar bone, sending a searing pain through Neil’s body that forced the air out of his lungs. Neil started to see stars, until he realized that it wasn’t stars at all, it was electricity arcing down the metal baton. The electricity coursed down the thug’s hand, sending him to the ground, smoldering. The thug’s charred electrical burns made him remember what he had done to Chuck. He felt conflicted about having taken another life, even to keep Tom safe. He thought of Tom again and snapped out of it.

Shaking his head, he brought himself back to reality. Both of the other goons stood there, jaws agape, fixated on their downed ally. One of them pulled out a gun and shot at Neil, point blank. Neil braced, but he didn’t feel any pain. Either the adrenaline was healing him faster than normal or the thug was a terrible shot. He grabbed the thug’s gun and watched the same arc of electricity take him down.

The last assailant took a swing at Neil. This time Neil was able to catch the incoming attack. As his fist connected with Neil’s hand, the now-familiar arc of electricity flowed into the attacker, leveling him out as well.

Neil looked around and noticed a number of witnesses, some of them speaking frantically into cell phones. Some were even pointing their cell phones at him. “Great,” Neil thought to himself. “an audience. Here’s hoping that all the footage looks bad enough that people will think it’s a hoax.”

Neil ran toward the hospital lobby and back to Tom’s room. There was a doctor inside of the room with him. Relieved, Neil exhaled. He looked at Tom and realized that Tom was trying to mouth something to him. Neil took a second look at the doctor. Spooked, the doctor dropped his clipboard, revealing the pistol he had pointed at Tom. Neil tensed up again.

“Listen,” Neil spoke softly. “Conrad needs me. He’ll want you to keep Tom alive. Get on that phone and call him. If Tom is harmed, I won’t cooperate.”

“That’s pretty much the plan here. Conrad figured you’d get cold feet, so he sent me here for incentive. Though, I’m a little confused. You were supposed to meet him there, he was supposed to call me and I’d make your friend scream to show you all we mean business. I just had my gun on him so he wouldn’t hit the call button.”

Neil nodded. “I forgot something in the room so I came back. I will cooperate, but this complicates things. I’m going to walk up slowly and grab the phone.”

“Easy,” agreed the assailant. “Call Conrad and we’ll sort this out and change the plan as needed.”

Neil raised his hands up, palms outstretched. He walked slowly. The thug trained his gun on Neil.

“Whoa, whoa, Ease up, let me grab the phone. I won’t many any quick moves. Can I grab the phone?”

“As long as you stay back. If you jump at me or do anything heroic, they won’t be able to fix your friend up this time.”

Neil nodded. “Okay, I’m just slowly grabbing the phone.”

Neil grabbed the phone and pretended to dial Conrad’s number. Dial tone still humming, Neil waited for a second and pretended to speak to Conrad. He nodded a bit, spoke some more and then turned to Conrad’s lackey.

“Hey, the plan’s changed. Conrad wants to speak to you.”

Neil outstretched his hand, passing the phone to the mysterious figure. As the gunman grabbed the phone, Neil bit his own tongue. The pain caused him to release electricity right as their hands touched.

The figure shot across the room and slammed against the room door hard. As he hit the door, the gun in his hand hit the latch on the door, breaking it. The force made the gun fire, shattering the window. Neil panicked and let out an electrical discharge that caused every machine in the room to malfunction. The room alarm went off. The ECG machine started flat-lining. Before long, people starting banging on the room door, unable to open it, either because of the broken latch or the dead man propping it closed.

Neil looked at Tom.

“Hey buddy,” Neil asked, “things aren’t looking so well around here. I know it’s risky, but do you think we can move you?”

Tom already seemed pale and spent. The action was too much for him. He shook his head. “I don’t think I can move.”

“Tom, you’re going to have to try. We’re going to need to take the window and get the hell out of here. Things are only going to get worse from here.”

“Neil, I just started breathing on my own. I’m not going to be able to jump out a window and make a run for it.”

“Tom, I'll say it again: you’re going to have to try. You can either die on the run or die in this room. Conrad’s killed everyone else we know. You asked for a better plan, this is it.

Tom pushed himself up and slowly got out of bed. His face grave, he clutched at his stomach. Neil grabbed an intravenous pole and smashed out all the shards of glass stuck in the window frame. Tom passed a blanket over and Neil folded it over and put it over the glass shards on the window sill.

Tom walked toward the window and leaned out of it, falling awkwardly to the ground. Neil jumped out after him and helped him up.

Tom started to walk and made it toward the street before he clutched his stomach in pain. Neil looked down and saw blood soaking through Tom’s hospital gown. Neil looked back up to see Tom looking at him.

“I… I think the stitches opened up. I think I need…” Tom’s voice trailed off as he passed out.

Neil looked around. He saw the cab from earlier. He ran up to it.

“Hey, remember me?” asked Neil, hurriedly, “Want to make a lot more money?”

The cabbie shrugged with a hint of skepticism.

“Me and my friend are in a lot of trouble. If you can bring us to the nearest city, find us a seedy motel and keep your mouth shut, there’s a grand in it for you.”

The cabbie shrugged.

“I know of a place about 3, maybe 4 hours from here. Will that work?”

Neil nodded. “It should work. As long as it’s another big city. We’ll need to be hidden in plain sight. My friend is in rough shape though. Is there a hospital on the way, in case?”

The cabbie looked at Neil confused. “We’re right in front of a hospital. Why not here?”

“I said no questions. Is there a hospital on the way to where we are going in case my friend goes into medical distress?”

“Yeah, a couple. No guarantee that they won’t just stabilize him and rush him back here though.”

“Yeah, that’ll have to work. Can you help me get him in here? He’s just over there. Come on, let’s go.”

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1 comment:

Richard Belzile said...

Chapter 21 seemed to indicate that I was back on track, so I decided to get another chapter up there sooner than later. I'm working on 23-25 in my draft right now. I'm going to aim to post one chapter per week from here on out, pending real life getting in the way.

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I am Sinewave: Spark

Written by Richard Belzile

Updated semi-infrequently

I am not a professional author, this is my novice attempt at creating a novel in an episodic fashion. Comments, critiques and compliments accepted.

Richard Belzile and, 2015-2018.

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