Linda quickly turned and started to run but his hand clamped onto her arm and she was wrenched next to him. She swung her 2x2 and jabbed her rebar into him. Before the arc completed twenty percent, his foot connected with her hand holding the would-be club. Holding onto Linda, he slowly moved toward the nurse. Linda tried to drop the key on her foot to prevent the ringing report; she missed and it landed an inch from her toe.
“Oops. You dropped something: That’s ‘one’. Now pick it up and hand it to me easy like or you are one dead abused woman.” She stooped and handed him the large key. “Fire exits. Cute! Unnecessary but cute: What if there was a fire; what if they were already locked?” “Listen carefully, the fire exit is ‘two’; you won’t hear me say ‘three’, understand?” “Hey Cratchitt, I guess you figured out your ZZ is not the killing machine you thought it was. Although I almost died of surprise when I saw it in your hand. The very same ZZ I gave Susan a million years ago.”
“On Parthos, she told me. Maybe it was different then; maybe you were different.”
He looked at her quizzically.
“Then…there, you were trying to save her life. Now you’re trying to take it. Curious!”
He slapped her hard open handed; the surprise and pain wrenching the clipboard and her keys from her hands which dropped in front of Spider’s feet. She thought later that even if it did hurt like hell, it could—should—have been a lot worse, perhaps that was because she was a relatively harmless—even with rebar and a 2x2--old woman; she quickly dismissed that. Probably did not want to take the trouble of either dragging me off or finishing the job. He brought his hand up to hit her and then slowly lowered it. “I like you nurse—I really do—but I promise you I will either do serious harm to you or simply kill you if you get in my way. This shall probably be my last hint on avoiding that: I suggest you never use the word ‘curious’ around me again. And refrain from speaking of things you have little knowledge of: me, my work, my mother, prostitutes, ex-brother, Andy Anderson, psychiatrists & therapy and my wife. Did I leave anything out? Hmm, no I think that’s it but you are responsible for anything not mentioned.” He looked down at her and almost smiled. He gave her his hand to help her up. “You girls have been naughty; awfully quiet on this floor and especially so in front of my door. What’s up with that? Your keys nurse, were you going to lock me in her room to protect me or the people downstairs? I can see you are not worried about yourselves. I guess you know, our deal is off but try not to dwell on it; I’ll get over it.” He leaned down to pick up her keys.
‘This will surely get me killed.’ She brought her foot up to his shoulder and just pushed enough to topple him over while already turning. She ran the short sprint to the elevator and slapped the down button. ‘Please, please, please be waiting for me.’ The door did not slide wide opening the gates of heaven. She spun her head over her shoulder. Spider was not even on his feet yet. He was hunched own, his butt just millimeters from the polished floor, looking at her, smiling at her. She pounded the button. On the fourth punch, her fist retreated in pain and she held it up against her chest. The spider shook his head and stood up and walked up to her. She would have called it casually if he had not been yanking the hapless Linda along.
“If you were my student nurse, this would be a teaching moment. First thing: The elevator: “Always returns to ground. It won’t be there waiting for you. How many years you work here and not figure that out? What’s the rebar for by the way: You two working in concrete? There’s a thought.”
She was watching the elevator intently, she was aware that he was speaking and probably to her, but her mind was focused on that door swinging wide to disengorge its contents of well-armed sixteen swat security with that brash young man at their head.
Spider smiled. “Waiting for your rescue mission to arrive? And here comes the second thing: I’ll further bet that you know what was shut down just before or after the fire exits…”
“So quit pounding on the ‘down’ or you’ll hurt your hand.” She involuntarily shuttered as he reached down and took her hand and looked at it. You still wear your wedding band; strange how you women do that: even after years.” He looked at her and brought her hand up and kissed it. He returned it from where he had taken it from—escorting it home.
“But even if it had not been shut down, no one was going to come because no one heard our young friend’s urgent request for assistance. He reached across her stopping to brush her hair out of her eyes and then ripping the comdevice from her uniform dropping it to the floor and then bringing his food down upon it. If you get down on your hands and knees you may note that her old cheap piece of crap can only get one channel at a time; she missed the command news if she was cleared for it. Command announced the general search of the complex was complete and they were shutting down all comtraffic, except command. They were too cheap to have a random two-second shuffle on send/receive frequencies…too bad for you and them. Let’s see if our young security agent can tell us why.” “Why?”
Please do not go with the name, rank and number; I shall have to rip your arm out of its shoulder socket otherwise if you persist: One, t…”
“So as not to further communicate with you if you were wired.” She pointed to the smaller, newer, and more powerful device on his arm.
“Yep, you could bet your life on it. Because…They are going to start…what?”
“Going from room to room and tearing it apart.”
“Yes but they won’t actually start tearing it apart literally until the next go around. Figuratively for now with sensing equipment with, what?...... Maybe two or three but with one or two asadt the door; just a little bit more than this round. And of course, they will start where?”
“The basement, I guess.”
“Do you play chess? No? With your mind and patience, you probably would have been good. Sorry if this reference means nothing to you. Here is where there are four question-marks on this move: You either sending this young miss to lock the fire doors or she doing it on her own. Any ideas why?”
“Because she could have done something more worthwhile?”
“Partial credit for getting it on the rebound. That and the doors were already locked. Didn’t you hear them? I could easily from Mrs. Sweeney’s room—loud clang from the fire system. So the cancer does not spread.” “But yes, you’re right: Had you locked my, er—Mrs Sweeney’s—door--Checkmate. See that you do it right…next time. Please hand me your rebar and the lumber. I noted that you did not kick me a minute ago; that’s the only reason you are still breathing. More incentive? If I kill one of you…the other will watch even if have to tape your eyelids open. The subsequent rapes will not be pretty, or the torture, or the blessed death to one that finally gives up. Please give me the rebar, now.”
They looked at each other briefly and dropped the construction debris.
“Good girls,” patting each on the shoulder. Nurse, please show me the elevator they did not shut down. He kicked the rebar and wood to the side.
She looked at him blankly. “What?”
You’ve probably never used it but I suspect you know where it is, even if you don’t know that it is an elevator. Big, crude thing with wooden doors like a portcullis—appropriate in this situation, don’t you think? Probably used a lot when this center was being built; now probably used only for bringing big equipment in or out. Please, think nurse, about the well-being of missy here, when did see them moving something really big like a probulator or such: Something big and crated? What hallway? I’ll find it but I shall be alone and it will only take me a little while longer. The troops downstairs, they don’t know about it yet. Their hospital plans are not that detailed, yet; this is not part of the fire system; it is still unlocked and running. You can go out with me or they will carry you out in body bags from this floor. Thank you, by the way, for locking all of patients in their safe rooms. Works to both our advantages. You have ten minutes and then I shall really have to start watching the clock. Let’s sit down with some sodas; I don’t drink Everclear. You have other drugs if I really wanted something. The lounge? Time is ticking away, girls.”
“Doctors’ Lounge is right around the corner. Even my deceased husband would never let me join him there. It will feel funny to go in.”
“Not as funny if you don’t. Come on, I’ll let you buy me a Dr. Pepper….diet, please: No ice. What sounds good t…Please tell me your name.
“Atta girl! What sounds good to you, Linda?”
………………..”I suppose this is a command performance. Something without caffeine: non-alcoholic rootbeer, water, soda, or tonic.”
“Your wish is our command. Nurse, after you and please, fix us up. One for you, too. We’ll have a toast.” He looked at his watch and then the clock on the wall.
“There! Is this not fine?”
“Fry! Fry! Fry, wake up!”
Leela finally got through into his REM-engaged brain and he opened his eyes which relatively quickly focused on Leela and what she was wearing. “You’re dressed. Already. How did you do…?”
“Fry, you’re dreaming…er, you were dreaming. Something…”
“Oh, yeah! We were making love. Six months ago, I would have killed the person who interrupted that, now…” He was reaching for her. She slapped his hand.
“Fry, stop it. Something’s happened. I haven’t heard any activity for the last hour, no one passing the room, no gurneys rattling, no pages…”
“It’s just Mrs. Sweeney not being there. It just seems quiet.”
Leela paused…’That’s possible…’ “No, it’s more than that; listen.”
Fry put his hand to his ear comically and pretended to strain. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Exactly. Nothing. This is supposed to a busy, noisy floor…even with the door closed.”
Fry paused and pulled the sheets off. He did a double take when he noted he was not naked; it was hard to remove it completely from himself apparently and swung out. He reached for the door.
“Open it quietly and very slowly.” …………….”Not that slowly.”
“I can’t. It’s locked.”
“What?!! Let me see!” …………….”God damn it. I want to know what the fudge is going on!” She started playing with the lock and then looked for something like a wire or better yet, a lockpick or a key.” She hit the call button which registered on an overloaded message board and she got an error message back. She started scrolling back, looking for some sort of an announcement.
“Leela, there’s neither a dial tone nor a cursor…your wristything…call Burkhart on your wristdoodle.”
“Good idea but here it is, ‘Floors are being searched for a dangerous individual. Please stay in your rooms and call on emergency button iimmediately if someone enters your room that is not a physician, nurse, or security detail. Ability to respond to normal calls is limited. If an emergency occurs, please call on emergency button. Treatment, medication, food and snacks and comfort items may be significantly delayed but someone will bring them as soon as is possible. Expect at least a fifteen minute delay. We shall try to resume normal activity as soon as possible. Please do not leave your room. Doing so and responding to non-essential calls will slow the search considerably. You are safe in your rooms and you may lock them if you so wish; they will be kept open otherwise’.”
“There! They got him on the run and they’ll get him this time. Burkhart said he was significantly slowed down. There’s nothing to worry about. You know, we could go back to my dream; it was pretty sweet.”
Leela scrolled back up but only found short variations of the same thing with references to see the complete announcement. There were no ‘all clears’. “Ok, I’m sorry. I overreacted.” She looked at Fry who had already slipped his pants and shirt off and was climbing back into bed. She smiled and grabbing her shirt at the bottom pulled it up over her head.
“Leela, do you really have any idea how beautiful you are? Your face alone could launch far more than a thousand ships. I am so lucky I was the first to sail into your azure bay to claim you before the rest of the horde. But you body thrills me; it’s always like the very first time I saw you but better each time.”
She stood there naked, lost in love. “Oh, Fry, that is so sweet. I do love you so.” And she modeled her body to him from every angle she could think of. She turned and leaned over with her legs wide apart and started slowly moving her butt when it hit her and she froze.
“Leela! Please don’t stop. Or better yet, come here and let me…”
“Fry! The door. It’s not supposed to be locked…we could…but not…” She ran to the door and tried it again; she pounded on it, yelling.
Fry had moved to the window. Eighty feet below he could see a security detail probing the perimeter where tree canopies allowed to. He tried to open it. ‘I could open this yesterday, damn it.’ He removed the orthopedic cushions from a stout steel-alloy chair and swung it against the seventh floor window. There was an explosion of noise but not glass and the chair came flying off the window right back at him. They both ended up in a pile on the floor.
“Fry! That’s security glass. You can’t penetrate that stuff with a hand blaster. You ok?”
“It could have worked, damn it.”
“Could’ve-should’ve-would’ve: But at least you’re still alive. You know, the door being locked could be for our protection. Burkhart or Cratchitt...could…well, they might have…”
“So could have the Spider. We should assume it’s him until we find out differently. We can always laugh it off and make fun of ourselves…or you.”
“I hope it is me and I won’t mind the kidding--not now, anyway. Do you have any thin pieces of metal, old-style paperclip, thin, long knifebade…you know?”
“I never could pick one of the ancient locks—no matter how easy it looked in the movies, er, total experiences. That’s a newish one: That’s gonna be a bitch!” He reached down and picked up his pants on the floor and extracted his old swiss (no Croatia) army knife. “The big blade is going to be too wide but the little blade might work. It’s no big deal if you break it.”
“Fry! This is a valuable artifact. It belongs in some museum. But more important, it’s yours. No way in hell am I going to break it!!”
“Hell, it’s less than fifteen years old. You can get one at any school at the end of the year. You go to the office and say you want your knife back. The old secretary looks at you thinking, ‘yep, this is one we would have confiscated one from’ and hands you a two cubic foot box filled to the top with knives.’ She says, ‘You know which one is yours?’ ‘Oh, yeah. I’ll recognize it.’ And you look for a new one that doesn’t a broken blade like yours did or have a name scratched onto it. Found an old Barlow knife in there once with John Wilkes Booth on it.
“Guy who killed Kennedy at a theater watching Your American Brother.”
“I wish you could have sat next to me in history class at the Orphanareum.”
“You know, we both would have failed. I would never have taken my eyes off or stopped pestering you.”
“Pestering me for what?”
“Half the gum you were chewing.”
“That was like being engaged—no, closer to shacked up--back then. Mmmmm! I cannot believe how romantic you can be. You’re right. I get one pin set and start on another and then I can feel both of them spin back. Check to see if there any vents we could get into.”
“I think that only works in the total-experiences or fanfiction.” “Hmmm, pins…pins…”