This was written April 15th 2013. This is a dream that I had, and is more or less a first draft. I don’t know if I’ll touch this project again. In the dream I had, I was playing the role of Hunter and Alex Kingston was playing Ms. Sumner.
“Hunter! What’s your ETA?! I need you here NOW!”
My headset crackled to life. Miss Sumner sounded desperate. “2 minutes, at the most,” I replied as calmly as I could. I hoped that keeping my cool in this situation would help her calm her nerves, but in reality, it probably just pissed her off that I wasn’t ‘taking this seriously’. As I rounded a corner in the facility’s main corridor, I saw a great metal door at the end of the long hall. She had to be there, on the other side. My legs instinctively ran faster. The only sound in the hall was the light patting of my thin tactical boots, which I called my Ninja Boots. Not nearly as heavy as your standard issue, and not as bulky either, but made from bulletproof high-density fiber for even better protection. Provides protection up to my calf and the quiet agility I needed.
About thirty-five seconds into running, I heard a door open ahead. I didn’t have time, I’d have to blast through them. I still had the advantage of stealth. I ducked behind a storage block and drew my pistol. In a second, I had the silencer attached. I have no time to mess with these clowns and I can’t have them drawing attention to me. I waited silently behind the cabinet, waiting for them to come into view. It was two men in labcoats, chatting with each other and looking down at their paperwork. They must be seriously invested in whatever work they were doing. As they came into view, my sights were set on the head of the one closest to me, ready to fire at any moment. They were too engaged in their work to notice me. I kept my sights on him as I sneaked around the corner of the cabinet and hid on the other side. They rounded the corner. I quickly un-cocked the gun and threw it back in its holster, running for the bay door while ducking under windows to avoid being seen.
I threw the lever and ducked back to cover behind some piping. The door didn’t make any sound, but it flashed red and white safety lights as the giant metal panels slid open. The door was wide enough to fit a large vehicle through, though I couldn’t imagine what a research facility would need with it. I watched from my cover for anyone who may have noticed the lights, but the corridor was clear. As the door’s gap got larger, I turned to the hole ready to defend myself. Then, just a few feet away hiding behind a metal ridge, was none other than Miss Sumner.
I set the door to close and jumped through the hole before the slow-moving doors closed behind me. I immediately took cover across the bay from Sumner, behind the metal ridge. Between us was a driveway that extended over a bridge towards the mountains. There, atop the steep hill, I saw him. He wore a labcoat that matched his salt and pepper hair and wore a large grin underneath his square glasses.
“He’s out in the open, what’s the problem? Are you out of ammo or something?” I didn’t mean to sound condescending, but I guess it came out that way.
Sumner snapped back with anger, “He’s nothing! There’s another with him!”
I took out my binoculars and started look around. I saw nothing but bushes and trees. “I can’t find anyone else. I’m coming over to you.”
I jumped from my cover across the bridge to the other side of the loading bay.
Not even a foot behind me, a metal object cracked against the bridge leaving a spark. Where did the shot come from? Is it a sniper? I took my cover next to Miss Sumner without hesitation.
“That was retarded, Hunter. You could have been killed. You should have kept your cover.” I did not like that disappointed look in her aging eyes. Miss Sumner is my mentor and colleague. The last thing I’d ever want to do is make her worry for me.
“It’s alright. It was clearly a warning shot. He could have hit me if he wanted to.” I guess it came off as snarky and defiant again, because she just looked me dead in the eye and told me that I may not be so lucky the next time. With that and a worried expression, she turned towards our oppressors. The scientist kept his post with a sense of confidence that he was in no danger whatsoever. I wanted to take him down and destroy that smug look once and for all.
“Is it just the two? Any idea where the other is?” I asked as I adjusted my sights.
“No idea. He never stays in the same place twice. Hunter…”
“Are you really ok doing this?”
“Of course I am. I’ve had plenty of training, and my field work has been exemplary.”
“I mean, are you ok killing someone?”
I wasn’t sure. I guess I’d never thought about that. I just saw them as objects that were in the way and too dangerous to let exist, not as living, breathing, feeling people. “If I must.” I would do anything to protect this woman, even if it meant I was harmed or killed. I know she’d be devastated, but I’d be content in knowing that she’s alive and safe.
With my sights lined up as best I could get them from this distance, I steadied my breath and with a gentle exhale, squeezed the trigger. With a slight kick, the bullet was off.
I missed. The middle-aged man in the labcoat hadn’t moved from his position at all. A thin cloud of brown dirt rose from the edge of the cliff right in front of him. The grin was noticeably gone.
“Damn, it’s hard to adjust for this angle.” I lined up the sights and aimed slightly higher than before to compensate. Miss Sumner joined me this time.
“What idiot told us we couldn’t bring rifles, anyway? ‘Oh, it’s just a lab with civilians, you won’t need anything but pistols!’” Miss Sumner said to me with a slight chuckle.
“Hindsight’s always 20/20. No need to beat yourself up over it.” I felt a little relieved that she’d joke in a position like this. Even when facing death from an unseen enemy, she’s still able to try and cool our nerves. If anything, this was her way of apologizing for putting me in this position. After all, it was her who recommended I be on the team for this mission. My first *real* mission. It was my choice to accept her offer. With a kind smile, I turned and asked her if she was ready.
“Ready. On the count of three.” Both shots were lined up.
“Three. Two. One. Fire!”
There was a flash on my left the moment I fired, but my aim was thrown off. With a small cloud of debris, Miss Sumner’s gun fell to the ravine below in two pieces. I ducked back down.
“Ma’am!! Are you alright?! Where were you hit?!” She was clutching her right hand in pain, but I could see no blood. I pulled my miniature suture kit from my belt pack anyway.
“I’m fine… really, I’m fine. My finger hurts like hell, though. He must have a nice sniper rifle to shoot my pistol like that.” Miss Sumner moved her left hand so I could see the damage. It wasn’t so bad. It may be broken, though. I looked around our immediate area and found a small chunk of metal that seemed the right length. Taking her hand and putting it flat on the ground, Miss Sumner took a deep breath and holding in her scream, flattened her index finger to straighten the distorted bones. I immediately applied the splint. After a few deep breaths, she looked at me and gave me a nod indicating she was alright. I took her spare pistol from the holster on her left side and handed it to her. She placed it in her hand and using her middle finger to test the trigger for a moment, she threw the clip in and cocked it. “This will have to do.”
Just then, the lights of the door began to flash and spin. If it was our teammates, maybe we could get out of this situation. If it wasn’t, we were trapped. I cautiously watched the gap. When the doors opened to create a small square gap in the center, I saw a face. A face I didn’t recognize. “Shit!” I slid over while trying my best to keep cover and kicked the lever to close it again. I guess it was pointless to keep cover. We were like sitting ducks. The cliff was so steep the enemy could see right into the bay. When the door was closed, I shot the control panel next to the lever. I’d rather be killed at a disadvantage than taken hostage or killed surrounded without a fighting chance. I calmly walked back to the metal ridge and sat down behind it.
“What was that about?! I get your thinking about the door, but why leave yourself wide open?” I was surprised she didn’t figure it out.
“Whoever’s got that sniper rifle could kill us at any moment. He could have killed me when I entered the bay, when I came over here, or just now. At that angle, he might even still be able to hit us. He shot your gun to disarm you, but he could have easily gone for your head. That’s not just a coincidence of bad aim. They don’t intend to kill us.” With that, I looked up to the cliff where the mad man stood to find that he’d vanished.
“He’s gone. He’s probably coming here. If we don’t make it… I just want to tell you… thank you. Thank you for giving me a chance, Miss Sumner. Even if we are captured or killed, I don’t regret this life one bit. Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me.” That was a little hard to get out, but I stood there with my eyes to the cliff and far side of the bridge, watching for movement. I was a little startled when Miss Sumner touched me. She had stood up and embraced me.
“I feel the same way. You saved me just as much as I saved you that day. In a lot of ways, I… I see you as my da-”
Just then, with a loud THUNK from an unknown source, a canister landed near us. Without hesitation, Miss Sumner let go and kicked it to the other side of the bay, and we took cover, pulling up cloths to hide our faces. It wasn’t enough. In a moment, the entire bay was filled with a terrible smoke and our masks weren’t good enough. We both tried our best to hold our breaths and wait, but it was taking way too long to dissipate. Hunched over, we made our way to the open bridge. We both knew that it would be falling into their trap, but we had no choice. We were trapped and smoked out like rats.
As the smoke cleared, I could see two silhouettes walking towards us. Slowly the vision became more detailed and I could tell that the one on the right was the professor we were after. The other one was slightly shorter. A boy, no more than my age. He had a sniper rifle slung on his back and was holding a grenade launcher. Somehow, this picture of a boy in a cowboy hat holding a high-powered grenade launcher just didn’t fit. With a motion, he set the launcher down and instead went for a handgun. With its sights set on us, we stopped and stood up.
“Put your hands in the air!” The boy shouted out. At least his accent matched the hat.
“I won’t give you the satisfaction.” I stood my ground, about 40 feet from them. The boy started walking towards us slowly. The man didn’t say a word. He just stood there with a blank expression. Considering our situation, I’m a little surprised he doesn’t have a confident grin of victory. Maybe he’s thinking that with nothing to lose, trapped like rats, we won’t hesitate to attack. He was right.
Catching her breath, Miss Sumner told me to back away slowly. “Take a deep breath… and follow me. Don’t lose eye contact.” I immediately understood what she was saying. Now that we were on the same level ground as the enemy, we stood a chance. There may be more on the cliff above, but this was our best chance. Holding my breath, we backed into the smoke. As soon as I could hardly see the enemy anymore, we dashed behind the cover of the metal ridges; me on the left and her on the right. I could hear the boy’s footsteps on the metal as he chased after us. I also heard the strangely warm voice of the older man.
“Go for the kid first.”
I drew my pistol and waited in the deep smoke for any sign of movement and hoped that it would be the boy in the hat and not Miss Sumner. The sudden silence had me worried. As I waited, holding my breath and checking for any sign of movement or sound, started to hear a familiar raspy sound. A sound that was unforgettable. The sound of a gas mask. The boy walked right past me, completely unable to see me. His hat was gone. As he passed, I carefully walked up behind him. I silently thanked my ninja boots once again. For a moment, he paused. I paused as well. For a tense moment, all I could hear was his raspy breathing and my heart pounding faster and faster. Desperate to get some air and end this, I struck the back of his head with my pistol’s grip. Down he went. Dragging his unconscious body, I yelled out to Sumner as I dragged him out, “Sumner, to the bridge! Now!”
When we met on the open bridge, Miss Sumner realized our advantage. I had the unconscious boy at gunpoint. Miss Sumner called out to the man in the labcoat holding the hat.
“Looks like the tables have turned! This boy’s no soldier. I’m guessing he’s your son?” The man’s stiff face flinched. “Oh, I guessed right! He’s not dead. Yet. Hand over the phial and we’ll let you have him back.”
This man, Professor Ivan Drax, was the head of this compound. The lead researcher. Our intelligence showed that he was developing experimental bio-weaponry and selling it on the black market to the highest bidder. Things like flesh-eating viruses and things that would silently invade the brain and cause the victim’s psyche to alter in dangerous ways. There were even rumors of a stimulant that could be used almost like hypnosis, to influence peoples’ decisions. If that were the case, governments could be overthrown. It was our mission to infiltrate this facility and take him in or take him out. We were also to attain a sample of the rumored stimulant. Charges were set around the base and when the team has pulled out with the two objectives confirmed, the base was to be destroyed if necessary. Our higher-ups didn’t care what happened to the civilian scientists and engineers who worked here, so long as our mission was complete. The charges were a precaution.
The moment we’d found Drax and cornered him, he took what he said was the only vial of the stimulant and managed to get away. Sumner tracked him down to this docking bay and called for backup. I was the only one who responded.
Holding the cowboy hat in front of him, Drax responded with a frown, “I think not.” In a split second, I realized what was happening. I yelled for Sumner to duck and I hid behind the slumped body of the sleeping boy. It was too late. A shot let out from through the hat and hit Miss Sumner in the left shoulder. I put my gun on him and got up from behind my meat-shield, letting it slump down. Without taking my eyes off the old man, I took the boy’s pistol and tossed it over the side of the bridge. I then made my way to Miss Sumner and asked if she was alright.
“I’ll live. The bullet went through.” she told me, clutching the crimson part of her top.
“Get behind cover and fix yourself up.” I went towards Drax. This evil man. How dare he try to kill Miss Sumner. How dare he. I can’t let him live.
I fired a single shot and it went past his left cheek, leaving a red mark from the hot bullet. Damnit. He pulled the gun from behind the hat and we were at a draw. As we’d closed the distance, we both know we can hit without fail. We were both wide open. Both equally deadly. Then, Drax said something I didn’t expect.
“You’re good, but rule number one in combat, child: Never turn your back to the enemy.” With a slight grin, the man’s eyes looked past mine. I realized too late what he meant by that. His gun lowered the very moment the boy slung his rifle over my neck. I put up my arms just in time to catch the stock before he could choke me with it. His gas mask was gone. I struggled to fend off this unbelievably strong boy, my back pressed to his broad chest, but I managed to pull the stock away enough to slip away under it. I quickly got behind him so I could face both he and his father, sure to take that advice into consideration.
“You’re pretty weak, you scrawny runt!” The boy shouted.
“Yet still too much for you to kill.” My cold stare and confident delivery just pissed him off more. He charged at me. With a swing, his toned arm came at me but I was too quick for him. I passed under it and got a good hit in his side. It didn’t feel like I hurt him much, but it was enough for him to back away. I put my gun away and went into a fighting stance Miss Sumner had taught me. The boy ran his hand through his short brown hair and came at me again.
I watched his cumbersome movements as he charged. There’s no style or form to him at all. He’s wide open. When he leaned in to punch me, I ducked down and, kicking off the ground to add momentum, I put my fist straight in his gut. He coughed hard. I tried to push his dazed body off of me, but before I could, he regained himself and sent his right fist straight into my face. The impact struck hard and I danced back to regaining my balance. My eye stung and I could already feel it swelling. I needed to end this fast. As he ran at me again, I decided to use my smaller stature to my advantage. He got close and I once again ducked down, dodging his right fist and sending mine straight into his jaw. Sadly, I didn’t feel it crack. He stopped and rubbed his chin for a moment. I pulled out my gun.
For some reason, I felt really guilty for putting my gun to his head. What was this? I was ready to kill him only a moment ago, but now, I hesitate. Why? Whatever the reason, I took too long. In that moment of hesitation, Drax fired a shot towards me. It must have been a warning shot because it only grazed my left arm, but it was enough for the boy to seize the moment and tackle me down, using the rifle he’d been carrying in his left hand to try and choke me out again.
The stock was less than a centimeter from my neck, my arms trembling under the boy’s immense strength. His face was right on top of mine. Trying with all of my might, I couldn’t push him off. I called out to Miss Sumner, but she was probably tending to her wounds or didn’t hear me. She was nowhere to be found. Again, I felt this strange feeling of guilt, looking into the boy’s eyes. They weren’t evil eyes. He was the sniper from up on the cliff, and could have killed us at any time before now, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to become a murderer. Even now, he was just protecting his father, much like how I was protecting Miss Sumner. He probably had no idea what his father was doing, and wanted nothing more than to protect him. These innocent blue eyes were scared.
“S-stop! Please! You don’t want to do this!” I tried pleading. A civilian like him has no reason to be involved with this. Drax, you horrible man, how dare you put your son’s life in danger to protect your own.
“Why?! You’re trying to kill my father!” Even his voice sounded innocent. He didn’t want to be here, he was just doing what he had to.
“He’s developing bio-terrorist weapons and selling them! We have to stop him before they get into the wrong hands!”
“You’re making that up! My dad’s just a lab technician, there’s no way he’d do something like that.”
“I can prove it! If you let me go, we’ll just take him in for questioning, then I can prove it to you.”
“I don’t believe you!” He pushed down harder. I couldn’t handle this much longer.
“What do you intend to do? Kill me? Can you live with that on your conscience?” The boy faltered for a moment, and I pushed up a bit. Still couldn’t get out.
“I’ll do what I have to to protect my dad! No matter what!” In a moment, his face was up against mine again. There was nothing I could do. For some reason, my vision started to go a little hazy. Was it my eye swelling shut? Was I going to pass out? Why? I was losing strength fast and my head started to get dizzy. What was going on? As my strength left me, the stock of the gun was now touching my neck. Any more and my windpipe would be crushed. I didn’t know what to do from here. I was going to die because my body wouldn’t obey me. If I had just a little more strength, I may be able to get the gun I dropped. Where was it? I had no idea. I didn’t even know where I was. Everything was cloudy and all I knew was that something was pressing against my neck. What was it? I don’t even remember. What is this massive weight on top of me? Who is this? My heart was beating really fast. My vision cleared slightly and I saw these big blue eyes. Why is this happening? I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Who owned those eyes? I called out to them.
“Help me, help me. I can’t breathe. Where am I?” I think I whispered the words because he didn’t seem to hear me. I couldn’t feel my arms anymore. I could feel that they were trying to lift something, but what? And who was this boy? If I wasn’t so scared of being crushed to death, I would have found him attractive. Is he my boyfriend? No… probably not. I’ve never had a boyfriend before, that I can remember. If I am going to die here from whatever is causing me to not be able to breathe, I may as well take my first and last kiss before I go. I tilted my head up and felt his soft lips against mine. This tender feeling I’d only ever imagined. Is it sad that the best moment of my life happened right before my death? Or is this the best way to go out? The only moment that compares to this feeling was the time that I was.. was I found? No, my mother was there… Was she my mother? Who was she? Suddenly, the massive weight was off of me and the next second, something hard struck my gut. It knocked the wind out of me entirely and I thought I was going to throw up. What was that? What’s going on?!
“What was that?!” a voice called out from the fog. I squinted my eyes, trying to see who made the sound, but couldn’t see a thing. I was so dizzy and blind. I tried to stand up, but quickly lost my balance and fell over again. Where am I?
“What was that?!” I whipped my head around towards the direction of the sound. I tried standing up and running towards it, but I immediately stumbled over. Footsteps. Someone was coming towards me. Whoever it was dragged me a little ways, and sat me up.
“Are you alright? What happened?” the person asked. I still couldn’t see, but I think the voice sounded feminine.
“Mother? Is that you? I-I can’t see. I couldn’t breathe. Where am I?”
“’Mother’? I’m not your mother, kid. I don’t think so… am I?” She sounded just as confused as I was. “How did you get here?”
“I-I have no idea… Where is ‘here’?” My head was pounding. I had no idea what was happening to me or around me. I could hear someone else walking up to us.
“Doctor? Are you a doctor? Can you help her? Something’s wrong.” A doctor. Good. Everything will be fine if a doctor’s here.
With a sharp sting to my cheek, I blinked a few times, and suddenly, I was back to normal. I could see again. I was no longer dizzy. Taking in my surroundings, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me where I was. I was sitting against a metal ventilation shaft of some sort. In front of me were a confused woman with curly hair. She had blood on her hands and her shoulder was bleeding profusely. It looked like her finger was broken, too. Had she been in a car accident? Next to her was a man wearing glasses and a labcoat. What a relief.
“Doctor, what happened? I was all dizzy and blind and… my gut really hurts and my eye won’t open. What happened? Please, tell me.” I was trying not to panic. I felt on the verge of tears from frustration. I tried to wipe my eye and when I pulled my hand back, it was covered in blood. “Oh no, I’m bleeding! Am I bleeding a lot?!” I looked down with my good eye and found that blood had dripped from wherever my wound was all the way down my top… what the hell kind of outfit is this? It’s all black and a little thick. I had a belt with many pouches on it and even a gun holster. No gun, though. My black fingerless gloves were all torn and covered in blood as well. Was I going to a costume party or something?
“Just hold still. You’re not badly hurt, but you’ve cut your head. The head bleeds a lot. Here, hold this right… here.” The doctor’s country accent was a bit soothing. He took my bloody gloved hand and put a wadded up rag in it, and then set it on the side of my head. “Now just hold it there and keep up the pressure. I’m going to tend to your mother.” My mother? I guess she was my mother.
The doctor moved over to the wounded woman and ripped her sleeve off her shirt, revealing the bloody hole. “When I found you, there was a chunk of rebar going through your shoulder. I had to pull you off of it.” He took some gauze and wrapping from a pouch and wrapped her up tightly. The bleeding seemed to have stopped. I guess he was splinting her finger up when she found me, but why would he go for the finger first and not the hole in her shoulder? My head started to ache again and I was feeling drowsy so I put it out of my mind.
“Umm… Doctor? What happened to us? Where are we?”
He looked at me with a kind smile and said, “We’re on a bridge quite a ways from the nearest town. I live just down the road there and heard a huge wreck so my son and I came to investigate and found you two all bloody and beaten up and a car on fire down in the ravine. I’m just glad you two somehow managed to escape the car before it went over, or you’d be toast.” Somehow this made sense. My mother and I were pretty badly hurt. There’s even the faint smell of smoke.
“You have a son, then?” Mother asked.
“Yes, his name is Roger.”
“Roger…” I mumbled. I then started to remember a boy’s face. He seemed about my age. I couldn’t picture much, but I vaguely remembered his blue eyes… and kissing him. At this thought, I blushed and hoped Mother and the doctor didn’t see, but then I thought about how much blood was on my face. I let out a small laugh realizing that if anyone looked at me right now, they’d never be able to tell I was blushing. Was the kiss a dream? Just then, a boy about my age with soft brown hair and big blue eyes arrived. He took one long look at me with a surprised expression. My good eye went wide and that sense of embarrassment rose sharply as I realized this was the boy from my dream. I couldn’t look away.
“Y-you’re a girl…” he blurted out.
“You disappointed?” I don’t know why I said that. It was the first thing that popped in my head. He kissed me thinking I was a boy? Or did I kiss him?
“Of course not! I just… don’t take this the wrong way, but I couldn’t tell with how beat up you were.” He looked sheepish. I decided to ask him straight out.
“My head’s really fuzzy and I can’t remember much, but I have to know… d-did you… kiss me?” I struggled to keep eye contact when asking. If he did, that means he was my first kiss. 23 years old and just now getting my first kiss. What a loser. Or was I? I was finding it hard to remember more than a few minutes ago. Am I 23? I think so… Pretty sure…
The boy cleared his throat. “Uh, well, yeah… you… don’t remember?” He looked away, clearly flustered. If anything, this had to have been his first kiss too. I don’t know why, but something about his demeanor made me want to tease him.
“You kissed me without knowing I’m a girl? Glad you didn’t hesitate.” He shot me a nasty look, his face all red. I smirked.
“You weren’t breathing when we found you and he gave you CPR,” his dad said towards me without turning away from Mother. The look she was giving him made me wonder exactly what was going through her mind. I wouldn’t blame her for being interested in a doctor. He didn’t look half bad for a man his age, either. “If you two are able to walk, I think you should rest at my house for a few days until we can get you checked at the hospital. Helena?”
My mother looked at him and said she was fine, and with a nod, I got up. I immediately stumbled and collapsed, but Roger caught me. He took my left arm around his neck and placed his right hand on my waist. The feeling of that hand made my heart pound so hard I was afraid he’d hear it, but then his hand touched a spot that made me wince and my thoughts changed immediately. Right, I’m in pain. Can’t enjoy this. “Th-thank you. I guess I’m still too dizzy to walk.”
“It’s ok, I’ll help you. Like he said, I’m Roger. What’s your name?” What IS my name? I struggled to draw it out. It had an ‘Mmm’ sound in it. Margaret? No, that doesn’t sound right… “It’s ok if you don’t remember right away, your head was hit pretty hard. Don’t exert yourself.” His accent was just as soothing as his father’s.
“No, no! I’ve got it! It’s Mmm..artha. Martha. That’s right.” I was a little surprised it came to me.
“Right, Martha Hunter! I’d forgotten it too,” my mother said. I had a flash of a memory of her screaming that name in terror while running towards me. ‘Hunter! Hunter!!’ In a moment, that memory was gone. Was it from before Roger rescued me? Who knows.
Together, the four of us carefully shambled over the big wooden bridge. I tried looking for our car down the left side of the ravine, but I couldn’t see anything. I guess it’s on the other side. After a mile that felt like it took an hour, we came across the long driveway of a lone ranch. There was a modern enough two-story house, but a huge fenced-in pen with a dozen smaller wooden buildings next to it. A few dogs were running around and a couple of girls were brushing horses near the stable.