Operation Stingray                        Part 2 // PG. 2 of 2

 

     I was barely holding onto her fingertips. I looked in her eyes. Wet, red, and frightened. I felt her fingers sliding from mine.

     “Please,” she whispered.

     Then she slipped.

     I watched her eyes the whole way. Her scream cut deep into me until she hit the pavement with a crack that will ring in my ears forever.

     

     People on the sidewalk shouted and ran to her. They circled; one guy knelt down next to her motionless body. He looked at the others. “She's alive,” he yelled. “Call 911.”

     I ran to the front door of the apartment, grabbed my coat to cover her in case of shock, and flew down the stairs. I tripped and landed on my bleeding shoulder on the way down. I groaned and hissed through clenched teeth, but I scrambled to my feet and kept running. I got to the front door of the apartment building and shoved it open.

     She was gone.

     I turned and looked both ways on the sidewalk. There was no Lindsay, no circled crowd, nothing. People were walking up and down the street like nothing had happened.

     I ran my hands through my hair. “What the fuck,” I whispered, “what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck.”

     I looked across the street. A man in a black overcoat and a bowler hat was standing there. We watched each other for a few long seconds. He held something in his hand. It was dark blue and shaped like a smart phone, but thin and translucent like glass. He pressed a single finger onto its surface and I felt something like a drill bit boring between the two halves of my brain. He's doing this, I thought. Somehow he's doing all of this.

     I felt an urge foam up inside me, an urge to run across the street and beat him to a spongy pulp. I could see his bloody face on the sidewalk in my mind, but a piece of paper blowing against my leg snapped me out of it. I picked it up. It was Brian's note from earlier: RUN.

     I turned up the sidewalk, picked up a handful of papers strewn across the concrete, and I ran.

     After a few blocks I stepped into a drugstore. I hid my bloody shoulder under my coat and purchased some first aid supplies. “Is there a bathroom I can use?” I asked the cashier.

     “You're not going to shoot up in there, are you?” she said.

     Following her directions, I walked into the bathroom, then locked the door behind me. I patched my shoulder up the best I could and looked into the mirror. The headache was a rock hammer in my skull, and my eyes were starting to sting. I popped a few ibuprofen, but I doubted it would help.

     I pulled out the papers I had rescued from the street: some brain scans with certain areas circled and highlighted; a satellite image of what looked like a major city, though I couldn't tell which one; a sheet with a list of names, on which I recognized a few of political or media importance; and a handwritten note from Brian that looked like the last page of a letter:

 

out of the city as quickly as possible. Don't pack, don't talk to anyone, just get into your car and head to [nearby town]. Like I said, you have to find LaFarge. You'll know what to do then.

So I guess that's that. If you're reading this, we might not see each other again for a while. Maybe never, in fact. Just...just know that you were always my best friend, even if I never said it to you. There's no one else I can trust to expose these sons of bitches before it's too late. You're going to succeed where I failed. I know it.

Okay, enough of that. Whatever you do, find LaFarge.

Brian

 

     Fingernails scratched my skull like chalkboard and my head felt like it was going to split in half. I flipped the note over:

 

PS: Sorry about the pill man. It keeps them out of your head, but it has some nasty side effects.

 

     I looked in the mirror. An oily black liquid was trickling out of the corner of my eye.

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H. K. Reyes

SCIENCE FICTION & HORROR