Aftermath Episode 28
You can see the full series of this fictional story here.
Jason banged on the door to the community center. His helmet was back on and uniform straightened. A soldier’s face popped into the window and looked out. “Sorry, orders are to keep this door closed!”
“Come on man, Jason shouted, “they’re gonna rip me apart out here!”
“Where’s the rest of you?” he asked, Jason figured he meant the guard detail that was assigned to the tent city.
“They got overrun.”
“By the rebels?”
“No! The people.”
“What about you?”
“I fought’em off, had to shoot four of them, and once these guys find out, we’re going to have a real situation on our hands.”
“We already have a situation, and this door stays locked.”
“Damn it man, hurry before they see me over here!”
Jason had gone to the side door of the gymnasium, around the corner from where everyone else had gathered and was protesting the sealed off center. The chatter of small arms fire continued off in the distance, and Jason was forced to wonder how Delmar and his group were holding up. He didn’t plan on sticking around long enough to find out. As soon as he found Patricia and Cathy, who he hoped was with her, they were high tailing it out of there.
The soldier looked out the small window to the left and right of Jason, but his view was limited. If he could have seen better, he would have seen the rebels from the camp standing flat against the wall on either side of the door, armed and waiting, amongst them Nancy who seemed comfortable enough with the side arm she’d collected.
“Goddamn it,” the soldier inside the door exclaimed, “Hurry Up.”
He unlocked the door, and Jason held his hand out low, to keep the makeshift soldiers steady. The door opened out and Jason stepped in quickly, and the door was shut behind him. Through the door, they could hear the struggle, something thumped hard against the wall, and then the door, and then it was quiet. The door opened again and Jason popped his head out and quietly motioned for the rest of them to get inside. He handed off the newly acquired assault rifle to one of them and then turned to Nancy.
“Where did they take my wife?” he asked. The gym was big and dark and quiet. Only one guard had been posted at the door, but Jason knew there would be patrolling soldiers to check up on each position. They didn’t have long at all.
“My guess would be the interrogation rooms, or maybe his office.” Nancy spoke in quick hushed tones.
“Let’s start with his office,” Jason whispered back, if she’s not there, chances are he will be, and I’ll get what I need out of him.”
“We need to head left out of those doors, go down the staircase and then it’s on the other side of the building, down the corridor where all the classrooms used to be.”
Jason recalled his brief stint in the camp, and the interrogation in the converted classroom.
“Let’s move.” He said.
He lead the team trough the hall. The lights were off on the ground floor, but when they got to the stairwell, he could see the glow from the basement corridor. No doubt there were men posted outside his office, Jason thought. He hated the idea of a direct assault, but under the circumstances, he had no other choice. They got to the door and Jason turned to his group. They were scared. These were ordinary men, who had originally given up, gone to the camp. These weren’t soldiers, these werent’ combatants, but they were rebels, and they had overpowered three other guards. This was different though, now they’d be shooting, displacing, getting shot at. Jason knew what happened to untrained men in this situation. They were often more dangerous to their own team than anyone else.
You guys stay here,” he ordered.
“What?” one of them asked?
“We’re going to need to get out of here in a hurry. I need you to keep our escape route clear,” he lied.
They nodded vehemently, half from relief, and half from thinking it was the tactical thing to do. Either way, Jason felt better that he wouldn’t have to worry about getting accidentally shot in the back. Now the bullets coming from the front, that was a different story.
The uniform had worked so far, no reason to think it wouldn’t continue to do so. Jason stepped out of the door and began walking down the corridor. Two men were posted outside the door at the end of the hallway. That must be it, thought Jason. There number must have been dwindling; he expected more guards, more soldiers, more everything. He was surprised not to find anyone posted in the staircase, and if there were patrolling soldiers, he hadn’t heard or seen them. Maybe the guys they’d been picking off were taking a heavier toll than they realized.
As Jason got closer one of the soldiers posted outside the door called out to him.
“What are you doing down here, is there a problem?”
Jason was hoping to be closer before they exchanged words, he was still 20 yards down the hall. He kept walking while he responded.
“The assault is even bigger than we thought,” Jason lied, I just got in from patrol, before this all kicked off, I’m coming to report to the commander and tell him what I saw out there.”
There was a pause and Jason stopped a few feet from the two soldiers who looked at him questioningly.
“Is he in there?” Jason asked.
“Yea, but he’s with someone.”
“Some bitch, part of the rebel group, been in there since the explosion, not sure what’s going on. Been quiet for a while.” The soldier gave a sort of laugh as he said the last bit.
Jason’s blood boiled, but he fought to keep calm.
“Well, this is important, I can give him the information he needs.”
“So can she,” the other soldier weighed in. He hadn’t stopped eyeing Jason suspiciously.
“Listen, you guys don’t know what we’re up against, I do, I was out there, I saw it, and I’m the only one left alive from it.”
This caused the men to hesitate, and then finally the one who spoke first turned and rapped twice on the door.
“Commander, one from the patrol is here to speak to you.”
Jason’s body tensed, and he let his hands fall to his side and hover around his pistol. Guards first, then into the door, might be more inside, be quick, be decisive, his adrenaline pumped overtime as the door handle turned and clicked.
Jason kicked the door in hard, and pulled his side arm at the same time. He quickly dispatched the guard to his right and swung the pistol to the man on his left and fired. He busted through the door to find a guard on the ground bleeding from where the door busted his head.
The commander was in the back of the room, standing in the light of a single bulb, his right arm wrapped tightly around Patty’s neck, his left arm holding the M9 pistol to her temple.
“Hold it right there,” the commander said slowly with a iciness in his voice, “put down your weapon or the woman dies.”
Jason slowly lowered his gun to his side. He glared at the commander. What is he waiting for? He thought. Why doesn’t he just shoot me?
“Sit,” the commander ordered, and Jason took a seat where his wife had been just minutes before. The light shown on Jason’s face and he noticed a flare of recognition in the commander’s eyes.
“I had a feeling you might be behind all this,” the commander said, he continued to press the pistol against Patty’s head. “I should have sent more men after you when I let you escape the first time.”
Jason said nothing; his eyes fixed on the commander, his pistol, looking desperately for a way to take him out and save his wife. Why doesn’t he just kill me? What is he waiting for? Jason couldn’t shake the question from his mind. Then the commander gave him his answer.