Review this story                                        Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors

Before The

I felt a small spike of adrenalin rush through me as I sprinted into a large, 20 story office building.  Across the top of the building read three letters, CIA.  Along my chest a small 3x5 laminated card flapped around, riding the wind.  The card bore the words: Malcolm R. Stem; Intelligence Agent.  
I burst through the small door, and up a flight of stairs, and turned into a long, empty corridor.  At the very end of the corridor was a single, Victorian-style door.  I straightened my tie and pushed through the door.
The room wasn’t very large and, despite the size of the room, someone had managed to cramp a long, aluminum table and several chairs on either side of the table.  Adding to the small size, a pungent odor engulfed the entire room like a smoke bomb.
I took a seat next to an old, stocky man and a rather plump woman with lips smeared with layers of red lipstick.  Across the table three other people had found their way to a seat.  One, I immediately recognized as the British Prime Minister, what could he possibly be doing here?  The other also carried a considerable amount of popularity....the new Canadian governor: Mr. James White.  
Mr. White had rather long, graying hair that resembled the color of the man’s skin.  His eyes shone a deep crimson and looked as if they could be used as an X-Ray.  Overall, the man’s appearance was very bizarre....almost alien.   
There was a sound of the opening and the closing of a door, then multiple footsteps.  I tore my eyes from White to see an extremely obese man in a dark suit making his was toward a seat in the very front of the room.  The man had three chins, each forming into each other; adding to this effect he also had no neck, invisible behind the wall of excess skin.  He took his seat and pulled out a large folder, filled with thousands upon thousands of photographs and explanatory papers.  
I managed to sneak a glance at the wall clock behind me, 3:15 it was time for the meeting to start.  As if on cue the lights in the room shut off and a plasma screen TV on the wall flickered to life.  A bald, black man of 52 appeared on the once dark screen.  The man was wearing a dark tuxedo and a red and black striped tie.  His face showed no expression as he looked over the faces of the people sitting at the table, his eyes hovered over Governor White for a moment before he traveled on.  He cleared his throat and spoke with a deep, Russian tone that seemed to echo around the small room.
"Thank you all for coming to this meeting on short notice, I hope you all have noticed out special guest Canadian Governor James White,"  Several heads turned in the man’s direction, pretending that they hadn’t noticed yet.  "I have called you all here for--what I am to understand--is a nation-wide crisis.  We believe that an terrorist organization that call themselves Venom have infiltrated the nation’s capital.  We believe that the organization is up to some type of genocide inside the nation."
The man with three chins turned around and gave the man on the screen a puzzled look.
"But couldn’t we just send an agent in to investigate?"
 On the screen, the man’s face remained dead, emotionless but his voice showed annoyance.
"Mr. Zulus don’t you think that would be the first thing that we would have done?"  He cleared his throat again and continued. "Yesterday our agent--James Pepper--was found dead.  He was dumped in the James River, now when the autopsy report came back it showed that a considerable amount of snake venom was running through his veins, causing the man’s death.  
"I hope that you are not considering that we send another agent to take his place Mr. Zulus."  
  Mr. Zulus scrambled, trying to hurry out an apology.  " sir, I would never suggest such a thing!"  He stuttered.  "I did not know that anyone had been killed!"
The woman to my right took this all in for a moment before finally turning to the screen.  "Well Chief, what do you propose that we do?"
The man she called ‘Chief’ turned his gaze from to still stuttering Mr. Zulus over to her.  Then, he said two words, just two.  
"Stop them."
Those two words seemed to end life, taking it with it’s two massive hands and snap it in half.  Because at that moment--without warning or reason--the doors opened and guns fired.  Bullets that screamed at the small bit of people sitting at the table.  Some shattered them, propelling themselves into people causing them to roll over and die.
As if by instinct I roared and threw myself at one of the guns, finally revealing the shadowed figure behind it.  The man was so startled that he dropped his gun, reaching for his combat knife.  But it was too late, I had already pinned him to the ground.  With one fist holding down his arms I used the other as a weapon, thrusting it at him again and again until he let out a final scream and froze--blood dripping from his nose and mouth.
Some at the table had found shelter hiding under the table, but others--who were less lucky--were lying on the ground dead.  But strangely--in all the sudden action--Mr. White sat at the table, as calm as can be.  A smug smile was glued to his face and It did not falter even when a colleague next to him was shot and killed.  I noticed this from the corner of my mind and thought one thing: He’s enjoying himself.
I felt a sharp sting of pain that seemed to wrench me back to reality.  The four other armed men in black suits had forgotten the other targets and circled in on me--the threat.  I grabbed the man nearest me and threw him at the others, distracting them.  In the couple seconds that the other guards (what I now call the generals of White’s army) were distracted I turned on my heel and ran to the door wrenching it open.  But the others had expected this and sure enough, four more guards blocked my path.  There was no way out, I was going to die.
I looked around the room willing a door to safety magically appear.  But, of course it didn’t.  The only way out of the room was the small window and the door that was now blocked.  The room was twenty-six floors up, even if I could manage to squeeze out I would never survive the fall.  The guard closest to me cocked his gun, aimed, and fired.

. . . .

In a military base fifty miles southwest of the CIA building an alarm went off.  Commander Rick Johnston looked up briefly from his newspaper and finally set it down, reaching over his desk to answer the alarm.  He flipped a switch activating his laptop computer.  He looked at the data that was shown on the computer, suppressing a smile.  The CIA building’s silent alarm system went off almost every other month due to bugging in the security system.  But even so, he had to answer the call.  He put on a headset that was lying down on the table and flipped another switch, activating the speaker phone.
"Helicopter units three and four please report to the hanger, units three and four to the hanger."  
On the other side of the door there was a slight scraping sound as the units rushed to the hangar.  Commander Johnston sighed and went to the door, headed for the hangar.  The hangar is a large room, lined with twenty helicopters, two jets, and five bush planes.  There was a great roar and a rush of wind as helicopters three and four jumped to life.
He sighed and stepped up into chopper three, and strapped himself  into the copilot’s seat.  This helicopter was a Black Hawk helicopter, used mainly for military use.  The engine coughed heavily and finally started, lifting the small aircraft off the ground.  Helicopter four hovered there in the hangar for a moment before heading out the now open door, headed for it’s next destination.

. . . .

The guard closest to me cocked his gun, aimed, and fired.  I dove to the side, frantically trying to get out of the bullet’s path.  The bullet slammed into my left arm, shattering my bone.  I landed on the soft, carpeted floor with a poor of blood forming around the gun wound.
I winced knowing that if I had not acted at that exact time then I would now have a bullet hole through my chest.  There was another shot that painfully rung through my eardrums.  I squeezed my eyes shut waiting for it to hit, and as I lay there waiting I knew that the man would not miss again.  There was another shot.
Something dripped onto my cheek.  I managed to open my eyes.  It dripped again and again until there was a steady fall of a sticky liquid engulfing my cheek.  Could it be raining?  No I thought, pulling myself back into reality.  No this building was inside, the liquid was no rain.  I looked up.
The guard was still looming over me, his gun pointed down, but there was something different about him something lifeless.  That’s when I saw it.  The color of the liquid gave it’s identity away immediately.  it held the color of a dark crimson that seemed to reflect the fluorescent light like a mirror.  In the back of my mind I knew that the liquid was blood.
I wiped my hand against my cheek leaving a crimson colored streak on my hand.  The blood couldn’t be mine, I thought to myself, there was no pain.  That’s when I realized it, the blood was dripping from above, from the guard.  I looked back up at the guard but this time more closely.  Finally after a few minutes of looking I found what I was looking for.  Two small bullet holes cut through the man’s chest and neck, which was undoubtfully where the blood had spawned from.  
There was a final shot and the guard let out one last, painful cry that echoed around the room before the man crumpled on the ground, clearly dead.  I studied the room, trying to see who had shot the man.  But no one was here, the only thing that was here however, a still smoldering handgun was lying on the floor.  I snatched the gun up and got to my feet.
There was a great clanging sound as four or five people made their way hastily down the metal staircase, toward the first floor.  Even if I did attempt to tail after the murderers there was nothing I could do when I caught up with them, I needed some form of disguise.  I looked down toward my feet as if I were ashamed and noticed the man still lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
I hoisted the larger man to his feet and propped him up on the wall.  I took the mistake of staring at the gunshot wounds and had to turn away, vomiting over the floor.  I looked back up at the man, wiping small bits of vomit off my face with my face, and started to take off the man’s uniform.  And then I saw his eyes.
They were wide open in a state of pure horror.  Normally this would be very normal for a man who had just been shot four times, but there was something else.  Despite his eyes, his expression was calm, almost disturbing.  I shook the image from my head and continued with disguising myself.  I pulled on a jet black bulletproof vest--that had only managed to stop one of the four bullets that had come into contact with it.  On the right corner of the vest I noticed a small logo stamped onto it.

I stared at the logo, taking a quick mental image before I pulled off a gray ski-mask and started to put it on as I heard a low groan.  I immediately noticed the noise as a helicopter, hopefully from the military.  I picked up the fallen machine gun and headed for the door.  I tore past the door and climbed down the stairwell, taking the steps three at a time.  I turned on the final landing and burst through the front door and into the parking lot and froze.  The parking lot was empty and left no sign that there had ever been a car there--let alone any car that might own to a terrorist organization.  I screamed and punched the ground, letting out all my store up anger.  I took a step forward and landed in a pile of sodden dirt.  Where is the helicopter?  I asked mentally.  Where could it have gone?  Once again I heard the low whine of a helicopter making it’s way toward the building.  I clambered to my feet, stripping the bulletproof vest off and threw it on the ground.  Finally, I looked to the horizon and saw the dark shape hovering in the sky, drawing nearer with every second.  The helicopter landed several hundred feet from the office, blowing the grass nearest the helicopter until they were spread out in a perfect circle around the helicopter.  Before the blades had even stopped turning two men had already jumped out and were making their way toward me, stopping  about twelve feet away.
"Stem!  Jesus Christ what happened?"  Suddenly I was extremely exhausted, so all I could do was point upward and say.
"Conference room....medic."  I sighed and collapsed onto the ground.  One of the men, Commander Rick Johnston, rushed past me and into the building, producing a small handgun as he went.  The pilot rushed up to me and dragged me to my feet.  He placed one arm around me and started to lead me toward the helicopter.  Then, he sat me down in the copilot’s seat and gave me a jug of water.  I drank greedily and wiped my mouth with my sleeve.
"Now, what happened up there?"  I considered the question for a moment and finally shook my head.  "I don’t really know--it went by too fast."
"Do you remember anything at all."
"A logo....on a bulletproof vest."
"Do you have the vest"
"Do you remember what the logo looks like?"
He took out a pen and a pad of paper and handed it over to me.  "Can you sketch it?"
I thought for a moment and opened the pad, redrawing the image on the pad of paper.  Then, I handed the pad to the helicopter pilot.  He looked at it for a moment and burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" I asked.  He threw the pad of paper on the floor of the helicopter and once he finally calmed down he managed to stutter out a sentence.
"Are you kidding Stem?  This is the logo for White Industries, you know the largest electronics business in Canada."  I stared at the man is disbelief.  "Are you saying you don’t believe me?"  Suddenly--as if a switch were thrown--I went from tired to angry.  "Do you think that this whole matter was just an illusion?  All those people murdered...."
"How many people died?"  The guard asked quizzically.
"Lessee....there was Veronica Smith, James DeLouge,  Walter Smith,  Theodore Mead--chief of police--and there was James White...."
"The Canadian governor?"
"No"  I said quickly, "He wasn’t dead--not even hurt.  He was taken elsewhere though."
"You mean he was kidnapped?"
"No, he wasn’t led anywhere....where ever he was going the men in black suits followed him.  He was leading them."

Just then Commander Johnston burst out of the building, running for the helicopter at full speed.  He climbed onto the helicopter and tore the radio from it’s holster.
"This is Black Hawk T-015 we are in need of medical assistance, I repeat medical assistance 30 meters south of Greenwald in the Hampton district."  
He sighed and put the radio in it’s holster again.  Then, he put his hand on my shoulder, causing me to scream out.  Pain shot through my body, stiffening me, making it near impossible to move.  Commander Johnston removed his hand from my shoulder and gasped.  His hand was now a dark red that reflected the light of the mid-afternoon sun.
"Stem!  You’re shot!"
I winced and coughed, causing bits of blood to shoot up with it.
"It was those....those people, the ones who stormed the conference room."
Johnston reached behind the co-pilot’s seat and retrieved a small medical box, finally pulling out a meter worth of bandages and wrapped it around my wound.  
"You’ve got to get to the hospital right away."
I winced and stammered,
"I’m fine."
"No you aren’t."  He coughed momentarily, "You need some rest, Malcolm.  I’ll notify the chief--"      
"No, take me home."
Johnston sighed once more and nodded to the pilot, starting up the motors.

Three hours later, Rockwell Medical Clinic, Eastwood, CA    

The phone rang, its sound piercing the cold night air.  It had been hours since I had finally (and reluctantly) given in to the nagging from Johnston.  Now, I lay in a long hospital gown on a white, uncomfortable mattress.
The cell phone rang again, screaming at me to answer it.  I grunted and sat up, quickly pressing the talk button before it had time to ring again.
"Hello?"  I said, wiping the tiredness from my eyes.
A cold, high pitched voice answered.
"Malcolm Stem?"  The voice asked.
"How do you know my name?"  I returned the question cool-like, although the hairs on the back of my neck prickled at my skin as though to say--Hang up now, forget about the call, it was just a dream.  Yet I couldn’t listen to the voice inside, the person on the other end of the phone was terrifying yet--irresistible.
"That is not important."  The voice screeched.  "I know what happened to you, I was there."
Suddenly my face turned very white and I lost the feeling in my toes.
"I could have killed you, I had the chance and I had the gun--but I let you live--think about that Stem."
Suddenly I became very angry.
Then he did something unexpected--he laughed, A high-pitch laugh that seemed so real that it seemed that the man could be standing right next to me.  Despite the heat in the room I shivered.
"You lie!"  The caller chuckled again.  "The CIA are nowhere near me, and if you do notify the CIA of this little discussion--I will capture you and kill you, very slowly."
There was a beep and the line went dead.  I sighed and threw the cell phone to the ground.  Then I climbed back in bed and almost instantly fell asleep.


    Review this story