© 2009 Patrick Hester.  All Rights Reserved


If this is the way I’m going out, then bring it on.

That’s what I wanted to say. It’s the renegade in me; the rogue. He’s always saying stupid shit like that, and it never, ever ends well.

Still, when you’re staring death in the face, I suppose there are worse things you could say.


Like that.

I don’t usually cuss. Honest. I say ‘shit’, sure, but that’s not really cussing, right? I admit that, on occasion, a choice phrase or two have been known to slip through and then there’s this f-bomb hanging in the room, kinda like right now, and people are staring at me, and I’m staring at them, and no one is really sure of exactly what to say or how to react. I guess in a situation like this one, the old f-bomb just has a bit more impact because I don’t use it all the time. I suppose, if I were some sort of sailor, I’d probably use it all the time. But, I just find it so crass. It’s sort of like a last resort kinda word, you know what I mean?

“Would someone, please, kill this asshole?”

Now he cusses a lot. You can just tell sometimes, you know? Tall, bald, tons of muscles and no neck, tattoos running up one bare arm and back down the other and this sort of perpetual grimace frozen on his face – yeah, this guy is a cusser. Not that I’m trying to perpetuate any sort of stereotypes or anything. I’m not saying that, just because he has tattoos or muscles or anything, that that precludes him to being this foul-mouthed individual. It’s just, well, he is. You know what? Stereotypes exist for a reason so don’t judge me!

Now, the other four guys – well, three really. I can’t say for sure that the fourth one is a guy or not. I’ve never been able to really tell with the lizard people – it’s the greenish-gray scaley skin that throws me every time. I read somewhere, once – or maybe it was a teacher or something that told me, I don’t recall – anyway, I either read it or heard it, but the gist was, the males had these spikey yellow things on their heads, and the females had these sort of lesser spikey things that were greenish-gold. I know, right? Yellow and gold are so close, you can’t tell either – am I right? And who wants to get close enough to look and tell for sure?

Anyway, the other four – they don’t seem like the cussing type. I can’t know for certain, of course. I doubt they would entertain the idea of a sit down to discuss it. They have other things on their minds right now, and, really – they are henchmen and have to follow orders. Wait – can lizard people be henchmen?

Whooops! Four guns are coming up and are about to be pointed at me and a split second later, they’re going to start shooting. I really don’t want this to be the way I go out, so I’m gonna have to try something a little crazy. Don’t worry – I do this sort of thing all the time. It almost always works out all right. Well, there was that one time with the-but you know what? I prefer to think positively and not dwell on things that my or may not have resulted in certain things becoming liquefied due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control. And a laser.

First, I release the clasp on the harness, which is the only thing keeping me suspended in the air in the first place. Without that, I start falling towards the floor at a pretty alarming rate. The guns are firing now, but they’re pushing those sonic pulses through the air where I was instead of where I am – a key point and one you’d think they would’ve adjusted for by now – not that I’m encouraging them to react quicker or anything.

I hit the ground running. Well, rolling. Not easy, actually. My armor isn’t bulky but nor is it terribly flexible. Rolling? Well, let’s just say that you really have to be desperate to even try it. Which I am. So I roll. The crates stacked two high in this warehouse are the perfect place to roll to. Well, behind. I can hear that they have adjusted their trajectories now, as blast after blast hits the metal crates and starts shaving off slivers and chunks that are not me so I’m fine with it on the whole. I’m safe for a moment. Sure, also pinned down and there really is nowhere to go from here. But I’m not dead, so there’s an upside.

“Should we return fire, sir?” that in my ear.

“Would you?” I asked. Looking up, I could see the hole where the roof had been not quite as supportive as I thought it would be, causing me to fall prematurely into the fray, as it were. Lucky for me we were preparing to crash in anyway, so I had my harness on and a rope attached, otherwise this would’ve been a very different scene what with the splatting and the broken bones and the knees for shoulders…

The rest of my squad were still up there but my second in command? He does things by the book. Even if it means letting me get shot a lot while he waits for the go ahead. What do you expect from a cyborg? Original thoughts?

“This is the police,” his voice boomed through the warehouse. He could do that sort of thing. “We have you surrounded!” Then he started firing, as did the rest of the squad. Thankfully, this meant I was no longer under fire and could breathe again. I peaked around the corner and saw that the bad guys had dispersed, probably taking cover, except for one, who was lying still right where he fell. The bald, tattooed, muscle endowed leader was running out the far door.

“I’m going to do something stupid, follow me when you can,” I said, then started running after him. The cover fire from above became much more vigorous as I ran past hidden bad guys intent on seeing me dead. Actually, I can’t back that up – I have no proof that they actually want me dead, only that they were ordered to kill me. Really, there is a distinction and I need to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The door looks further away than it probably is. I hope. So I’m running. No one shoots me in the back, so my squad is doing their job. I get to the door and plow through onto the stairwell and listen. The bald guy is running down. I can still catch him. Oh. That part about us having the place surrounded? That was a fib. There’s just us, and us is on the roof and in this stairwell and I need to start running now.

This warehouse backs up onto the junkyard, so this side isn’t level with the opposite side; it plunges down about six flights of stairs. He’s two below me and moving fast, so I take the stairs two at a time, then three, then I just sort of hop from one set of stairs to the next, lower set. Which hurts. Just a bit. I can take something for it after.

I have to hand it to baldy, he can move when motivated. Something about having the police chasing them really motivates criminals to sudden and incredible feats of strength, speed and agility normally unseen by the average human being. I suppose it could also be the illegal cyborg upgrades that a lot of them get that factors into it. I don’t judge. Well, I try not to. Mostly. Still, annoying, right? And so unfair.

I manage to close the distance between us, so that when he hits the door and flies outside, I am only one flight of stairs behind him. I blow through the door, ready to go full on sprint, really, really push and use the last of my energy to catch up to this scum-bag, just an all out, full on, classic sort of police on criminal chase. I’ve prepared myself for that, for the exertion and the pain. Bring it on!

So it just blows my mind that he’s only a couple feet away and pointing a gun right at my face. Which sucks. I mean, what kind of criminal turns to fight when they can run, right?

“Fuck.” There it is again. I honestly do apologize. These moments – they simply bring out the worst in me, I suppose. For his part, the bad guy seems to find it amusing because he’s got this smirk on his face. It’s the kind of smirk you just want to slap right off of a face when you see it, just open hand slap so hard their head snaps to the side and their eyes and teeth just sort of rattle around and they have absolutely no idea whatsoever what just happened and then they give you this look of utter disbelief. That’s the kind of slap I wanted to give him.

See, the rub, the crux of this situation is this; the police have been using these non-lethal sonic weapons for decades now, but the criminals? They don’t play by the same rules. They hack their weapons, crank up the sonics beyond lethal and into the stratosphere somewhere between ‘liquify the human brain’ and ‘pop your eyes like soft boiled eggs’. So, with that weapon pointed at my head, I am, without a doubt, a bona fide goner.

Which is the point where the bad guy is suddenly, and violently, replaced by my second in command. Yeah, the cyborg. He just sort of is there. I blink.

“Sorry, sir. Got here as fast as I could.” I stared at him, at the chrome legs and arms, the human chest and head half covered in chrome itself with that one, creepy green eye that just sort of pulsed at me all the time…

“Did you…?” I wasn’t sure exactly how to end that question, so I just let it hang out there.

“Crush the suspect into the soft ground by pile-driving down onto his shoulders from a high altitude?”

I nodded.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, fuck.”