Track 12: Boom, Clap

The first thing the Pict did was dig around in my pocket, grab my cPhone, and silence it. “Can’t really deal with that at the moment,” he muttered, tossing it on sink. I winced. Yes, this phone was designed to take a .44 Magnum round or two to the screen and still function, but it was still a valuable piece of equipment.

“You know,” I gasped, worried that my lung had collapsed yet again, “that’s not going to hold them forever.” It was true. That M4 basically would only stop someone trying to kick the door down. If you got a battering ram or some breeching charges, the bathroom door would cease to be a door.

“It doesn’t have to,” the Pict said, pulling out two of the old, bulky flip phones, a more modern one, a Gameboy Color, a metal water bottle with a strange box attached, a few cable splitters, and a bunch of wires. He then began hooking them up on the table.

“That…” I said, “that’s not… You wouldn’t. You’ve put in too much effort.”

The Pict turned around and smiled. “Are you sure?” he asked.

“It’s not a bomb,” I said, as he began sticking the daisy-chained electronics into my vest. “Those… those are…” I took a deep, gasping breath. It burned. “Those are a bunch of obsolete… electronics you found at garage sales… and the last Radioshack on Earth.”

“It’s amazing,” the Pict said, standing back to admire his handy work, “what even people in caves can make explosives look like. Of course, I had some help.”

This wasn’t right. He couldn’t be doing this. He’d come so far trying to take me alive. “Motive…” I began. Shit. This wasn’t as bad as the collapsed lung, but I was still having trouble speaking. Maybe I had some sort of concussion as well.

“Spite.” Despite his goggles and gas mask, I could feel his look of disgust, even as his voice remained highly professional. “My motive is spite.”

“Makes sense,” I said. Before, I had been seventy-five percent positive he had been lying. Now I was only fifty-one percent sure. But the real question wasn’t whether I believed it. It was whether or not the various angry cops would even bother to check before blowing open the door with shaped charges and shooting everything inside.

As I considered this, the Pict  seemed to be checking his inventory. He took out a Sgian, a Glock, a SIG-Sauer, and 1911 of some kind and laid them on the sink counter as well as some spare magazines. Judging by the fact that he threw both the spare magazines and the Sgian in the trash with a noise of disgust, those mags were for the Sgian. He then took out a nightstick and several more shiny black spheres and placed them on the counter in an orderly manner as well.

Then I saw something move under the door. It was something I only used once or twice in CQB courses. They’re called snake cameras and they’re the coolest things ever. Basically, they’re a camera at one end of a skinny hose, with a viewing device on the other end.

The Pict saw it as well. “Like it?” he asked loudly so the people on the other side could hear, patting my shoulder. “It will blow this building to bits and disperse a hallucinogenic gas in a one hundred meter to twenty-kilometer radius, depending on atmospheric conditions. If you follow my directions, it won’t detonate.”

“What do you want?” a voice responded nervously.

“I want you to move your line back to the nearest intersection,” the Pict said, “and I want you to remove the snake cam. I will issue more demands at-” The phone rang. “Excuse me,” he said.

“Is that your boss?” the person on the other end asked. Honestly, seeing as the Picts had a psionic link, the likelihood of his boss calling him on my cellphone was astronomically low. Still the FBI couldn’t know either of those pieces of information, so his guess made sense.

“Leave the hallway,” the Pict said. “Now.” I heard boots quickly back off. The Pict waited a while, then stuck a small object underneath the door. I wondered if it was a booby trap or his own camera. He then went over to my phone and hung up again.

Immediately after he had set it down to check the stalls, it began to ring again. He yelled in frustration and began kicking open doors angrily. When he was done, he walked over to the phone and answered it sweetly with, “Hello, Mr. Jacobs is busy. Can I-” He was instantly cut off. “No, I’m very busy, and so is he. Please… no, I… no I’m not going to let talk to my hos-Mr. Jacobs. Yes, he’s in trouble. Now please…” For about five minutes, he just listened to the person on the other end. Finally, he sighed and said, “It’s for you.”

As he held it up to my ear, I wondered who it was. “Hello,” I said hesitantly.

“Nate.” Ah. It was May Riley, friend and business partner. She made medicine, I made guns. “Where the fuck have you been?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “things got kind of messy in Japan.”

“Yeah,” May said. “FBI messy! Nari, Andy and I are in fucking Australia and an FBI officer just had a talk with us. About you. I didn’t even know they could do law stuff internationally!”

“Yeah,” I said, “they kind of can. Hey, why are you in Australia?”

“We got a bunch of emergency contracts after you left,” May said. “We’ve been setting up medical and weapons contracts all across the Pacific. I’ve been bouncing from Japan to Australia to Vietnam and back for weeks.” She paused, then said accusingly. “You’re distracting me.”

“And myself,” I said. “And I apologize.”

“Get on with it,” May said.

“I’m actually in a bathroom in the Honolulu FBI building-”

“How many people did you kill this time?” May asked in exasperation.

“It’s fair to ask that,” I said, “but I actually haven’t killed anyone in weeks.”

“I shouldn’t be pleasantly surprised,” May said. “Why are you there and not an interrogation room?”

I leaned towards the Pict. “Hey,” I asked, “how much can I tell my friend?”

“Who’s your friend?” he asked. I didn’t answer. There were reasons they might want to go after May, Andy and Nari. Chief among them was that they were all pretty much geniuses with very applicable skills for someone planning an invasion. The Pict, realizing how long it was taking me to respond, took the phone away from my head. “Conversation’s over,” he said.

We then spent several hours with me just kneeling there and the Pict just pacing around. Eventually, I asked him, “Shouldn’t they be asking for demands?”

“Maybe,” he said. “They might be looking into my threat.”

“Is it real?” I asked.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“Honestly,” I said, “I’m not sure. It seems more like you’re delaying. After all, you’re Dragon’s Teeth. For all I know, you could have an invasion force ready to-”

“Quiet,” he said suddenly. “I hear something.”

“Hear what?” I asked. “All I can hear is this ringing sound.”

“I forgot,” he said. “You’re baseline. You don’t have reinforced eardrums.” He picked up one of the pistols, the 1911, and walked over to the wall. “Someone will need hearing aids.”

I craned my neck to see him put his head to the wall. “Look at the door,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Look at the door.”

I rolled my eyes and looked towards the door. “Ok,” I said, “I’m looking towards the door. Can you tell me what you hear?”

“Oh.” The Pict suddenly seemed very resigned. “Well I guess-” Then, for either a brief moment that felt like an eternity or an eternity that felt like a brief moment, the ringing became everything. Well, the ringing and pain.


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