Chapter 5

“The Great Escapes”

Twelve hours earlier

Los Angeles County lockup

Stack wiped a watery mixture of blood and water from his forehead and slowly scanned the flooded lockup for signs of danger. The nightshift had been miraculously small the previous night; he counted only five stationed officers in his head—all of which he was now sure were dead.

Alex fired twice as he leapt out from behind a door toward the unlucky clod that had just burst through. Both bullets entered through the top of the gunman’s spinal cord by ramming the Beretta under the back of the helmet. He returned once again to darkness.

“What’s the count?” Stack screamed across the lockup, coming increasingly to the belief that Alex was using him as bait.

“Five down total.” He glanced through a doorway and down onto the street below. “SWAT’s here with what looks like the whole damn force.”

“Why wait to breach,” the detective called back again, already knowing every reason a SWAT team would hesitate to clear a hostile situation. He paused for a moment before answering his own question. “This building’s wired to blow isn’t it?”

Alex smiled. “That’s my guess.” He stopped and noticed something about the man he had just killed. There was a faint mumble about eye color before he crouched down and removed the helmet of the assailant. “Hey Stack!”

Stack was pushing a bed up against the door to the station lobby. “Kinda busy!”

“Drag one of the other bodies over here!”

The bed was firmly in place. He began with an exasperated breath, “Wait, what?” Although it was not the time for dragging corpses around in a foot of water—water that was turning opaque with blood—he did it anyway. “Okay, here you go.”

Alex ripped the helmet off the second lifeless attacker and became too stunned to move.

Having noticed the same thing, Stack stomped through water to a third attacker floating facedown in the murky water. He flipped him over and knocked the helmet off. His body fell back into the water and took a number of deep breaths before bothering to speak. “Yeah. They’re all the same person,” he yelled back only to find that Alex was nowhere in sight.

Stack jumped to his feet and scanned the flooded prison cells for any sign of his friend. Someone shuffled through the water to his rear and he spun around, rifle at the ready.

This new attacker arched his back in agony as two bullets ripped through his esophagus before lifelessly plunging into the water below. As the body fell away, it revealed Alex smiling behind the door once more, “I figured if they’re all the same person then they would all fall for the same thing.”

“You freak me out, Alex.”

Alex flipped the bird. “You’re just mad you didn’t think of it.”

The detective pulled the fresh body out of the doorway and off into a nearby cell as to arouse no suspicion should they use the trick further. He walked over to Alex who was slinking back into the shadows behind the door.

“Get your own spot,” he whispered.

Stack slung the rifle from his shoulder and attempted to hand it over to Alex, who refused.

“I don’t want that.” He motioned to the pistol, “I can slip this right under the helmet.”

“I know. That’s why we’re switching.”

Alex turned back entirely confused.

The detective swallowed and again shoved the rifle toward Alexander. “There are a lot of people in more danger than us. I’ll stay here, but you need to get to Albert and start rounding everyone up.”

“You think they’d go for the kid?”

“I think they’re going for everyone.”

Alex put his ear to the door to make sure no one was coming before relenting. He grabbed the rifle and handed the Beretta back to Stack. “Two to the top of the spine; don’t get fancy.”

They finished switching firearms and Stack grabbed Alex by the shoulder. “There’s a hundred cops out there that think you perpetrated a double murder last night.”

“So don’t shoot them?”

“I was going to say don’t get caught, but I’ll go ahead and amend that to also not shooting them.”

Alex turned to the door and checked the adjacent room before stopping cold. “So does this mean you think I’m innocent?”

Stack slid behind the door and whispered back to Alex. “No one is innocent, but I know you’re not going to shoot that kid.”

“Until next time, then.”

“Until next time,” the detective murmured with a smile before disappearing completely from view.

Alex moved swiftly into the next room raising and lowering the rifle as to not alert any shooter he was about to come around a corner. The water shut off a few minutes earlier, so it was far quieter in the police station. Anyone moving through the shin-deep water would telegraph his or her movement a mile away. He climbed up on one of the desks and began quietly leaping from desk to desk to silence his advance through the second floor of the station.

He heard a series of splashes down a nearby hallway and knew that someone was upstairs trying to flush them out. As quietly as possible, he leaned over and pulled a drawer of office supplies from the desk he was kneeling on and slid silently into the water behind the desk, waiting for the splashes to come around the doorway.

There were four full boxes of staples in the drawer and he carefully unloaded row after row into the barrel of his rifle. He knew that he couldn’t get much distance out of this, so he was going to wait until the assailant drew near.

Alex pushed low into the water so he could see under the desks between them. He pointed the gun straight ahead, and would have to wait until the armored attacker was within four feet of his location.

Screams through a megaphone could be heard on the other side of the window. If Alex did not get out of this building before the SWAT breached, there was no way he was getting out of there alive. Returning his attention to the situation at hand, he held his breath as the target moved within a few feet of the opening under the desk. The first boot sloshed into view. Another boot followed.

Alex fired.

The scream coming from the man with four hundred staples and a 7.62mm round lodged in his legs was enormous. The man fired his gun around wildly before dropping it into the water and falling into a piteous whimper.

Alex leapt over the desk and bolted for a nearby staircase. The man he had wounded was certainly not dead but would provide no threat, as the pain would surely knock him out momentarily. It also stood to reason that the police officers would find use in a suspect to interrogate.

He crashed through the stairwell door and headed up to the roof as fast as his tired legs would carry him up three more flights of stairs.

The roof was surprisingly quiet except for the sound of helicopters approaching in the distance. He turned his gaze to a much taller building with a fire escape facing his roof. With the rifle slung over his shoulder, he took a few paces back. The jump between them must have been fifteen feet and his pants and shoes were soaked.

He begrudgingly tossed the shoes aside and made peace that he was about to jump onto rod-iron, barefoot. Alex lowered to the ground and took off in a sprint, planting one foot on the raised ledge of the roof, and jumped as hard as he could across the expanse.

His stomach collided with the railing, knocking the wind out of him hard enough that he almost forgot to grab the ledge. Alex wrapped both arms around the railing and slowly began to pull himself up and onto the landing.

A bullet struck him in the shoulder and he fell back into the open window of somebody’s kitchen, losing blood onto whatever the family had just fixed for dinner.

The pain was enormous but he managed to sling the rifle from his wounded shoulder and fire a few shots back at the two men on the roof laying fire on his location. He knew he would be no match for two shooters firing from a raised position.

Alex dove through the window and over the dinner he had recently ruined before rolling across the kitchen. He got to his feet and ran into the living room where a family of five had just finished washing up for supper. He did not want to do it, but he had no choice.

“Cell phones, out of your pockets and toss them on the ground by me,” Alex ordered carefully keeping his finger far from the trigger.

The family did as they were told. Five cell phones slid across the ground to where Alex was bleeding on the carpet. He motioned to the smallest boy among them to pick them up. “Grab those and toss them in the garbage disposal. Now!” he ordered.

Tears were falling down the face of the boy but Alex knew there were lives actually at stake. The boy gently slid the phones into the sink one at a time, before turning back to Alex for the next set of instructions.

“Turn it on.”

The noise coming from the sink was deafening—tiny pieces of plastic and silicon flung wildly around the kitchen. Alex turned back to the family and lowered the rifle toward the floor, blood dripping all the way down his hand.

“Alright, I need the strongest alcohol you have and a sewing kit. And somebody find me some clothes.”