Writer's Wednesday - Countdown

This week's prompt was to write something that involves some kind of countdown. Okay, honest moment. I already had this written. It still fits though. It's a scene from Forever Hollow. The crew is stuck inside an apartment complex with several GenReps (cyborg entities) surround the area. Enjoy.

“I don’t believe it,” said Lucian.

“You know something about this?” asked Arcus.

“Not exactly,” said Lucian slowly, “but we may be on to something.”

Arcus sighed. “Let me get my coat.”

Lucian and Genevieve exchanged looks. “What are you talking about, Pops?” Lucian asked.

Arcus had already walked to the door to take his coat off the rack and shrugged into it. “What?” he said, looking at Lucian and Genevieve. “You think I’m going to stay around here and wait for those guys to come take me away? They just heard everything we said. It won’t be long before they come. I’m going with you.”

“Are you sure about this, Pops?”

Arcus scoffed. “No, but I don’t have much of a choice, do I? Come on. Let’s get out of here before they get here.”

When they left the apartment, they found Agent Small staring out of the window at a steady snowfall.

“We have to make one more stop,” said Lucian, holding up the china monkey. “His twin is in my apartment.”

“This is not the time for precious collectibles, Pope,” Small grumbled. He spotted Arcus standing behind Lucian and Genevieve, buttoning up his coat. “What’s with the coat?” he asked, jutting his chin out toward Arcus.

Tucking the monkey statue into a satchel from Arcus’s apartment, Lucian glanced back at his grandfather and rolled his eyes. “He said he wants to come with us. I couldn’t talk him out of it.”

Small pushed Lucian aside as he stepped to Arcus. The old man stood only a few inches shorter than Small, but the old man’s frail frame and the agent’s commanding presence made Arcus seem miniscule. Small’s face puckered as the thick scent of cigarette smoke wafted from Arcus. Arcus stared defiantly at the agent.

“We’re already at a disadvantage with these two, old man,” said Small. “I can’t have you slowing us down more. I will not put my men and my mission in more danger.”

“And what is that mission?” asked Arcus.

“To secure any information that will give us any advantage in the fight against our oppressors.”

“And my wife is a key to unlocking that potential, isn’t that right?”

“It is.”

“Then wouldn’t it make sense to utilize the one person in this world who knows her best to help unlock her secrets?” Arcus scowled. “I may not know computers, but I know my wife.”

Small sat stolid for moments before conceding defeat. “Fine,” he said through gritted teeth. “But keep up. We don’t have time.”

Small walked to the elevator and pressed the call button.

“No,” said Arcus. “We will take the stairs.”

“We don’t have the time, Mr. Bell,” argued Small.

Arcus looked confused. “Huh? The stairs are free. And besides, they stopped using dimes ages ago.”

“Not dime, time.” said Lucian. “We don’t have time, Pops. We have to hurry, and the elevator’s quicker.”

“Fine,” grumbled Arcus. “You take the elevator. I’ll meet you downstairs. I can’t stand using that contraption.”

Small struggled to maintain his composure as they following the old man, who shuffled to the stairwell and eased his way down three flights of stairs. Downstairs in the lobby, Wolf had freed his rifle from its case. He peered through the scope and steadied on an object outside.

“How long has it been there?” asked Small as he walked up to the silent man.

“Couple minutes,” said Wolf without losing sight. “Couple of them walked past after you went up, but this one parked itself there. Hasn’t moved since.”

“They have to know we’re here,” said Small. “Bell, any other ways out of here?”

Arcus thought for a few moments while he stroked his silvery hair. “There’s one exit out the back hallway that leads out into a courtyard. I would imagine that the kitchen of the restaurant has an exit into the back alley.”

Small thought through the scenario. “This is going to be tough. We’re going to have to make a straight shot to the transport. Wolf and I will cover. You three run as fast as you can.”

“What about my apartment?” asked Lucian.

“What about it, Pope?” said Small. “We’re going to be lucky enough to get out of here alive. Your apartment is out of the question. They’ll be swarming that place.”

“Exactly,” shot back Lucian. “That statue could be the one thing we need to turn everything around. If we don’t get it now, we never will. They’ll go in there and take it, and then where will we be?”

Small’s tanned face reddened as his jaw tightened, but he remained silent, the sharp rush of air through his nose the only sound in the lobby. “Be prepared for any situation,” muttered Small under his breath. “Think through all scenarios. They never told me that something like this would pop up. Command soldiers and they obey orders. But civilians? Bunch of disrespectful...” Small continued to mutter to himself as he checked all of his magazines.

“Wolf, how much ammo you have on you?” Small asked.

“Four mags for the EMMA. Two for the Glock. Five grenades.”

“Give me two more grenades. Conserve your ammo. You’re going to need it. I need you three as decoys.”

“What three?” Genevieve asked.

“You, Wolf, and the old man,” said Small.

“You want us to draw the attention of the GenReps?” she asked. “You must be out of your mind.”

“I’m not the one out of my mind,” Small growled. “You want to see out of his mind, talk to your boyfriend over here who wants to wants to go running through a city full of GenReps that are already onto our scent.” Genevieve blushed. “No,” Small continued, “you do as I say, and you have the best chance of survival. You have three more mags, correct, Ms. Valencia?”

Genevieve nodded.

“Good,” said Small. “Now, you three, out through the courtyard. If you can make it back to the parking lot, Gold and Pyro will handle the rest. If you make it back to the parking lot.” Small pressed a button on his belt. “Gold, Pyro, be on guard for engagement in your sector.”

“Roger that,” Pyro’s electronic voice buzzed.

“We may need an evac soon as well,” Small added.


“All right,” said Small. “Soon as you hit that door, you run like your life depended on it. Because it does. And do not stop. GenReps are tough and relentless, but they do have a weakness. They’re bulky machines, so they are not quick and cannot anticipate unexpected human movement. Their aim gets thrown off. Be quick, be spontaneous, and you have a shot at surviving. Think you can do that?”

“Yeah, Gen, think you can be spontaneous and unpredictable?” Lucian said with acid in his voice.

Genevieve shot him a dirty look. “Now’s not the time, Lucian.”

“Pope, we’re going through the alley,” said Small. “You want that statue, you better be dead on with that Glock. These GenReps don’t give up, and they don’t get tired.”

Lucian nodded, remembering his recent encounter with the androids. His forehead beaded with sweat. Genevieve gave Lucian a worried look. He gave her a reassuring smile, but he was still trying to convince himself that everything would work out.

Wolf, Genevieve, and Arcus tiptoed down the back hallway while Small and Lucian went into the restaurant. They passed through the dining room, around old tables with dusty tablecloths and into the kitchen. The stainless steel counters and tables had tarnished from years of disuse. They came to an old aluminum fire door near the walk-in cooler. Small checked his weapon once more before setting his hand on the crash bar.

“Ready?” he asked.

Lucian pulled his Glock out of its holster. He held the gun up by his face, gray eyes all steel. Small pressed on the release lever and inched the door open. Spurts of gunfire echoed through the night. They crept down the quiet alley, and Small peeked around the corner. He jerked his head back and cursed under his breath.

“They’re all over. No way we can sneak around this one.”

Suddenly, several GenReps hurried down the street. A few of them ran by without noticing either of them in the alley.

“That must be Wolf,” whispered Small. “We go in ten. Nine, eight, seven...”

Lucian gripped the pistol tightly. He tried to blink out the sweat from his eye.

“Six, five, four...”

Lucian’s heart beat so rapidly that he thought it might actually break through his ribcage. His breath came in short gasps.

“Three, two...”

God be with us.