The Teddy and the Dragunov - Chapter II
It was about eleven forty-five when I stumbled out of the bar, plastered up to my eyeballs. Kristy had left after an hour or so earlier than me, having left the folder with me along with the words, "Think it over." Turns out she wanted me to assassinate the guy in the pictures ; not my usual area of expertise, but she was offering more money than any man with sense could refuse.
Still, it wasn't the time to think about that. I had a meeting to get to, and no amount of alcohol was going to stop me. The city lay silent in front of me; it was mine and mine alone. Luckily, the warehouse area was close by, and wouldn't take me long to reach. I walked alone through the streets; all around me people lay asleep in their houses. At this hour, only the criminals would be awake.
A few minutes of unsteady walking later and the entrance to the old warehouse lay wide open in front of me ? even though there were dozens of them in the area, everyone always came to do business in the same place. One of those unwritten rules, or an old charter or something. Free from the light that the stars and moon offered, the building appeared ominously dark ; even compared to my office. I kept my rifle out of sight as I proceeded to enter; I wasn?t in the mood for a fire fight.
"Well, well. Look who it is." A voice shot out of the dark like a bullet, echoing through the empty room, piercing my skin and ripping through my soul.
"You were expecting somebody else? You invited me here didn't you?" I called out, with more than a cut of sarcasm in my voice.
The voice rang out again, this time closer, ?Don?t play smart with me, Zaitzev, you ragamuffin. I know your game!?
"What game?! You threw a brick through my window with a message telling me to come here!" I shouted out, this time with more desperation than sarcasm. Whoever this guy was, he obviously wasn't playing with a full deck. My patience was quickly running out. Suddenly, the sound of footsteps began to echo through the room and three men emerged from the shadows. At the centre stood a small guy with glasses wearing one of those lab coats you see in movies but no one ever really wears. It made sense really, everything about him screamed "mad scientist."
To the left and right of him, a pair of tall, well built bodyguards wearing expensive suits and sunglasses were carrying pistols. How they could see anything with those sunglasses on and in this darkness, I didn't know. I stood about twenty metres from them, one hand ready to whip out my rifle at the slightest provocation.
"These guys are Tiddles and Oaksy. They're here to make sure things go smoothly. My name is Dr. Eclipse," the little guy said, pointing to the tough looking guys behind him.
I whipped out a cigarette, realised I didn't have a lighter, and put the cigarette away again, "Cut the small talk. You said you have something I want."
"Yes, we do."
"Other than compensation for smashing my window."
"Something other than compensation, yes."
"Well, what is it?"
The small guy reached into his pocket and pulled out a photo, before throwing it down onto the ground in front of me. I reached forward and took a look, barely able to distinguish the shapes in the darkness. However, as I began to make sense of it, I could feel the terror and anger well up inside of me. It was an image of my favourite teddy, tied to a chair and gagged, with a gun pointed at his head. I threw the picture back onto the floor and pulled out my rifle, pointing it at the small guy, "What the hell is this?!" I snarled.
Tiddles and Oaksy met my actions by aiming their own guns at my head. Eclipse sniggered and stepped forward, "Now now, Zaitzev. No need for violence. Your teddy will be returned to you safely, if you do as we say."
"No way!" I said, pulling the trigger of my gun and shooting Dr. Eclipse in the stomach, -unable to suppress the sheer rage of seeing my innocent bear looking so uncomfortable in all those ropes, an unwitting victim to what looked like the beginning of a refreshingly kinky sex game - before diving quickly toward the nearest box. I immediately regretted shooting him, but it was too late now. The suits began firing their own weapons, missing narrowly. Before they could take another shot at me, I got up and ran for the exit. Behind me I could hear the Eclipse guy groaning in agony.
"Christ! Don't let him escape!"
Bullets flew around me like vultures after a corpse, but I didn't dare look back ? I was almost home free. All of a sudden, the door began to shut down in front of me, taking any light that had managed to reach us with it. One of them had gotten to the automatic lock. I ducked down low, holstered my rifle, and began to crawl against the walls, the only bearings I had in the darkness.
"Open the gate! I can't see a thing?."
"If I do that he?ll escape!"
The two men continued to shoot into the black as they argued, bullets ricocheting against the walls and pipes. I began to follow the voices, knowing that if I got close enough and stayed low I'd be able to take them out one at a time up close. The gunshots started to become more frantic as the two men lost patience; they'd run out of ammo' at this rate.
Suddenly, I felt my head bump against something in front of me; I'd found one of my would-be assassins. Before he could figure out where I was coming from, I grabbed him by the legs and pulled him off his feet.
"Argh, he's got me," The voice called out, moments before his head hit the concrete floor with a sickening crack. Wasn't quite what I'd planned, but it did the job.
"Tiddles! What happened? Tiddles?" Shouted the other voice a few feet away, desperate with panic. I could feel pools of blood ebbing toward me from the nearby corpse; a result of the fatal head wound. Quickly I began to crawl from the body, moving closer toward the remaining suit for fear of getting the crimson stuff on my trench coat ; it's a bugger to get out. Seconds later, the tirade of gunshots ended and I could hear Oaksy frantically trying to reload. I climbed to my feet and rushed straight at him before he had the chance to start firing again, losing my hat in the process.
"Ooof", we cried out together as I crashed headfirst into my target, unable to focus my attack properly in the darkness. As we fell to the floor I could hear the gun skid across the room, leaving Oaksy unarmed. Unlike his counterpart however, Oaksy was able to control his descent; somehow I ended up pinned to the floor with him on top of me.
"This isn't right," I said, with some bemusement. I could feel my rifle just inches away, and knew if I could get hold of it then the fight would be as good as over. Behind me, the mad Dr. Eclipse was still groaning quietly.
"You killed Tiddles, you bastard," cried the angry mercenary, smacking me in the face. "I'm gonna make you wish you'd never been born," he said, hitting me again, vehement in his desire to tenderise my not unhandsome features. I could taste the all-too-familiar tint of blood in my mouth, its copper edge sharpening my senses and dulling my mind. I tried to ignore the taste as I reached for the rifle ; no easy task when a murderous assassin in an expensive suit is pummelling you to bits. "And when I'm done with you, I'll hunt down everyone who ever meant something to you, and do nasty things to them." Finally, I grabbed the rifle by the grip and lifted it above my head.
"No offence," I said, using the butt of the rifle to knock Oaksy unconscious, "But that doesn't sound like too much fun." I dropped the rifle as I felt the suit fall on top of me, and tried to push him off. He was pretty heavy. Another attempt and the pernicious thug was on his belly opposite me. With a heavy sigh I picked myself up off of the floor and felt around for my rifle and hat, trying to ignore the stinging pain his assault had left. I probably looked pretty rough.
Having located the items, my next problem lay in finding the door control. I bent down to search the sleeping figure of Oaksy, quickly finding what felt like a remote control. I stood up again, pressed a few buttons and, sure enough, the doors began to slide open. The cold wind that greeted me was a refreshing change from the stale air of the warehouse complex. Soon, the area was light enough for me to see exactly what remained of my foes. I trundled past the bloody corpse of Tiddles and moved toward the still-moving Eclipse; the wound in his stomach had left his once white coat a lovely shade of claret.
"I'm not telling you anything," he said with a considerable degree of conviction.
I smiled and tilted my fedora back to that oh-so rakish angle, "Oh, so there's something you know, is there?"
The doctor groaned in reply.
"In that case, I suggest you tell me everything, lest you spend the rest of your existence in an uncomfortable yoga position," I said menacingly, pulling out the cigarettes only to realise for the second time that I didn't have a lighter. It was beginning to bug me. I began poking the diminutive figure with my rifle just to make sure the message got home.
"Ouch, ouch. Stop that. Please! No more! I'll tell you everything!" sobbed the bruised scientist. I gave him one final jab just to be safe.
"I work for a man called Ben Powerful. He fronts a club called The Belgian Truffle, but is really a big-time crime lord intent on taking over the world." I had to admit, I was speechless. I listened intently as the scruffy little man continued. "He wanted to get to you so you'd work for him, but everyone knows you're the kind of guy who doesn't take bribes, so he decided to blackmail you by kidnapping someone you cared for. Unfortunately, as we eventually discovered, you're the kind of guy who keeps himself to himself, so we were forced to take drastic measures."
I could see where this was going, and again felt the urge to lay into the guy, "So, that's when you napped my teddy."
"I see. Well, thanks for the information. Just for that, I?m going to let you live," I said, aiming my rifle and shooting him in the ankle. The scientist screamed in pain as I turned away and began to make my way out of the warehouse.
Outside, the night was giving way to the day as the sun slowly began to rise. I barely noticed; all I could think about was getting my bear back. Solo would pay. Oh, yes. Solo would pay.