Well, thanks to a certain Glendon Perkins, who so graciously provided me with a writing prompt today, I decided to try my hand at a story genre that is different to what I normally write. What follows is, I guess, a mix of the suspense and spy-mystery genres. Whether it is or not, I had a blast writing this and I hope you all enjoy reading it. The prompt was: Burgundy, mycotoxins, manhunt.
Phase one: get the hell out of Section.
Burgundy checked to make sure the guards were out cold before sticking his head out the interrogation room door. Only the sound of the straining air conditioning units echoed through the barren hall. Though he heard no oncoming footsteps, Burgundy knew he wasn’t safe. A dozen cameras dotted the ceiling, each one swinging back and forth and timed to provide maximum coverage. Picturing them in his mind, he closed the door softly behind him and slunk down the darkened corridor, pausing only long enough to turn his body this way and that in order to elude the all-seeing cameras.
Burgundy’s rubber soled boots made almost no sound as he went. They were steel-toed, his favourite. Good for hammering and whacking.
His gun weighed heavy in his right hand.
When he turned the corner, the glowing Exit sign beckoned in the darkness. Freedom awaited him three flights down and past the main guard station.
No, not freedom. At least, not entirely. He’d be free to clear his name, free to pay back the bastards who had pinned all this mycotoxin crap on him. But he’d never be free. No one ever escaped Section.
At the landing, Burgundy crossed the concrete floor and eased open the door. Seeing no one around, he slipped into the hall. Fluorescent lights hummed overhead, and from the guard station a way’s off came the agitated rhythms of rock music.
So far so good, though he didn’t quite understand why the alarms hadn’t yet gone off. It’d been about what, five, maybe eight minutes since he’d broken out? Surely someone must have noticed that Breaker and Road Kill hadn’t checked in, which was a breech of protocol. Didn’t matter. When it happened, he’d deal with it then. He always did.
Burgundy hugged the wall with his back to hide himself as best he could. He held his gun, Big Boy, in a comfortable grip. A few paces later, the wire-meshed guard station came into view. Two agents were seated at a table inside, too busy talking, laughing, and stuffing their faces with chips and soda to notice the cameras in front of them, let alone a fugitive stalking the halls. Burgundy smiled. Easy pickings. A plan of attack formed in his mind and he squatted down at the hallway juncture to await his chance. The last thing he wanted was shoot the gun inside. The noise would be deafening, not to mention attract every agent sequestered behind some of these non-descript closed doors. Besides, though he couldn’t stand the other Section agents, they were just foot soldiers, like him. Burgundy squeezed the grip a little, enjoying its feel in the palm of his hand. Oh, no. Asswipes like them didn’t deserve Big Boy. He was reserved for the Top Dog.
For the Director.
From where he was, he could see the rounded top of the red emergency phone, the one used in situations that required the Director’s intervention. Burgundy squeezed the gun’s grip again, wondering if anyone would be calling the Director tonight.
“Road Kill’s been quiet for a while. You think something’s up?” he heard one of the agents say. The voice sounded like Steve‘s. It figured that idiot would be on tonight. “That guy has no respect for protocol. Always tying up the radio to talk about the most stupid things. Last week, it was to talk about the Cup. Like we need to be talking about hockey when frigging Bald Burgundy’s on the loose!”
“Was on the loose,” the other, an unknown, corrected him. “Road Kill and Breaker are with him now, working him over a little before taking him in for Processing. Heard the guy was a real bitch to take down. Bobby said it took four agents.”
Five, Burgundy corrected, ignoring the reviled addition of Bald to his moniker while flashing a self-satisfied grin. He’d taken them all out too, except that last guy. The bruise on the back of his head from a metal chair was proof of it.
“I believe it. Baldy’s a beast, man. You don’t want to mess with him. 6’5”of nothing but muscle and brawn. Good thing he’s not too smart. That’s what’ll get him in the end.”
“And that gun of his. You ever see anything like it?” The unknown agent’s voice cracked a little with uncertainty.
Steve scoffed. “500 Smith and Wesson Magnum? Hell no, especially not these days when revolvers are practically an extinct breed of gun. Stunners and blasters do the job just fine and make less mess. The man’s old-school. Same age as us but has different ideas about things like weapons tech. I mean, who would want to fire something like that anyway? It‘d blow your bloody ear drums right out!”
“Same guy who decided to call himself Burgundy.” The agent laughed. Burgundy was pleased to notice that Steve did not.
The two had met on the night Burgundy joined the team. As with all the recruits, his memory had been wiped and each one had to choose a code name for himself. The break room was filled with guys smoking Kill-Sticks, taking shots of Jack and trading war-stories until the subject of code names came up. Steve had asked him what he wanted to be called.
“Burgundy,” he said. The other guys just stared at him. A few broke out in tentative laughter.
Steve leaned towards him from across the table. He set his empty shot glass down. “What the hell kind of name is Burgundy?”
“It’s the name I want. What’s it matter to you?”
“Cuz that’s a stupid name. It’s weak.”
“Ain’t a damn thing weak about it.” That’s when he’d laid Big Boy on the table. It hit the wood tabletop with a thud. Shiny steel glinted in the light of the naked bulb hanging from the ceiling.
Suddenly, no one was laughing.
No one, except Steve. “Man, Burgundy, if ever I was sure you were lacking in a certain department, that gun just proved it.”
A second later, Steve lay on his ass, his face contorted and a hand covering a bloody mouth. Burgundy’s bruised knuckles hummed pleasantly with pain. Steve’s lip never did heal right, and to this day, his speech was a little slurred. He’d kept the name ‘Burgundy’ to piss Steve off. Steve had added Bald to piss Burgundy off more.
“Shut up, Akon” Steve practically hissed. “You don’t want that beast on your back. Trust me.”
“You think he did it?”
“What? Contaminate the President’s speech notes with mycotoxins? Please! Like I said, the guy is muscle and brawn, like an ox. Just doesn’t have the brains, the connections or the finesse to pull off that kind of operation.”
“And if he had help?”
“That’s definitely a possibility, which is why Road Kill and Breaker are prepping him for Processing. How long has it been since their last check-in, anyway?”
Burgundy heard the static crackling through the speakers. After a few tries, Steve shoved his chair back. “Something’s wrong. That moron, Road Kill, should have checked in by now, if only to see about ordering supper. Go check it out. I’ll check the cameras.”
Keys jiggled in the lock and the cage door grated on its hinges as it opened. Burgundy waited until Akon turned back to lock it. Then he sprung.
In three strides he crossed the space between them. Burgundy rammed Akon in the back with his shoulder, sending him crashing into the wire mesh. The agent’s breath gushed from his chest in a loud “Ooof!” before he bounced off and slid to the ground. Burgundy bent at the knees, yanked the agent off the floor to punch him the face. Akon’s eyes rolled back in his head and his body went limp. Burgundy released him, letting the man crumple to the floor in a heap.
Steve already had his hands in the air when Burgundy turned to face him. Backed up against the console, there was no where for him to run.
“Open Gate 1.”
“You know I can’t, Burgundy. You’re a fugitive. The second you step out that door, even if you make it to the Main Gate, you know they’ll be a manhunt on for you. Anyway, how are you supposed to make it from here to the Main? You wouldn’t make it ten steps before you were shot down by a sniper.”
True. When they’d caught him, Section had stripped him of his uniform. The gray sweat shirt and pants were a dead giveaway.
Dammit, he should have thought of that! His eyes narrowed as he looked at Steve. No brains, eh? He’d show him.
Steve shook his head. “It won’t work.”
“You’re not that much smaller than I am.”
“And the eye scan at the Main Gate? How do you plan on beating it?”
Double dammit! Another variable he hadn’t thought of. He’d just deal with it when the time came.
Burgundy took a step towards Steve. “Just gimme your damn clothes and gear before I decide to take your head with me to get past that scan!”
The men traded clothing. Burgundy watched the other man’s every movement in case he decided to do something that would justify his head being separated from his body. He didn’t.
“You know, not that it matters to you, but I know you didn’t do it.”
Burgundy buttoned the uniform shirt and then fit Steve’s cap onto his smooth, round head. “I know. I overheard you and the other guy. Thanks.” While tucking the blue shirt into his pants, he thought to ask a question that had been bugging him for ages. “By the way, why’d you choose Steve? Not much of a code name if you ask me.”
Steve nearly gaped at him. “It’s cuz of Steve McQueen. Dude’s a bad-ass, man.”
A slight smile creased Burgundy`s lips. If that guy was Steve McQueen then he was Dirty Harry, on steroids. “So you know a little something about being ‘old school’, huh?”
The room was cold. Burgundy nodded at the other agent, allowing Steve to get a blanket from the supply closet to wrap himself in. When he was done, he said, “You know I’m going to have to report you.”
Burgundy picked Big Boy off the table beside him. He flipped the piece over in his hand so that the handle faced the agent. “You know this is going to hurt like hell, right?”
Steve looked him straight in the eye. “Yeah.”
Burgundy settled Steve’s body in his chair, facing the console. Then he dragged Akon’s body into the cage and set him in the other one. Burgundy took the key from the agent’s hand, locked the door behind him and then dropped it in the nearest garbage can.
Phase 1 was almost complete. He just needed a plan to get past the Main. And then he’d be free.
No, not really free. No one escaped Section. But he’d bee free to begin Phase 2: clear his name.
And unleash hell on those who’d destroyed his life.