Episode 6: Narrow Exit
by Toni Walker and Sabrina Carol
by Toni Walker and Sabrina Carol
Alison Corday smiled. She had been having the most wonderful dream Jared Quinn was kissing her and he knew it was definitely her and not his partner, her sister, Kaye. She reached for him one more time. She wanted to revel in another kiss, this time taking it deeper, but then something distracted her and she found herself falling. She didn't know why she was falling she only knew that she was.
Picking herself up, she realized she had been having a dream.
"Shoot," she whispered to herself in disappointment. Alison could have any man she wanted, and she had many in her lifetime. But it was always the unavailable one that garnered her attention. It had been that way in grade school, and it was still that way with Jared now.
It took a few moments for her to realize she was moving or at least, the van she was in was moving. She looked down to herself and discovered she was wearing a hospital gown. The pale green and her complection did not go well together. What was going on?
She inched forward to get a peek at the driver of the van. The boy's red hair shouted at her, but she didn't recognize him. It was then she saw Jared's body lying on a collapsed gurney near the back of the van.
How in the world had they gotten here, she wondered. What had happened? Why was she in a hospital gown? There were too many questions rolling around in her head.
"Jared. What's going on?" Alison whispered, shaking him to get him to respond. "Wake up, dammit!"
When he finally opened his eyes, she didn't expect him to grab her throat. Which is exactly what he did. His hand clamped around her neck like a vice. In a matter of moments, she began to have trouble breathing.
Jazz Demarco dragged herself to the closest hidey-hole she could find. As soon as she dropped the phone that disconnected her conversation with her sister, Maxie, Jazz revealed her location to someone else who was roaming around the structure she had woken up inside of.
"Damn," she muttered, grabbing the phone from the floor.
The stranger walked into the room standing so close to her she feared even breathing. Jazz realized with a startling intensity that if Maxie hadn't called when she did, she would have been captured and maybe even killed.
Ethan Fairchild felt like hell. His head was throbbing like a son of a bitch. He opened his eyes and was welcomed with very little visual acuity. He was longing for the day when his eyes healed so he could see normally again. As it was, he was still blind as a bat.
Quickly, he did two things, he heard a noise then rolled to the side away from whomever had only seconds earlier walked into the room.
"There is no use hiding," a woman said, her voice harsh and firm. "We know you have little sight left. Come out and show yourself. We can help you..., Ethan." The woman paused when she said his name, as if she were about to call him something else but then recalled what she was supposed to call him.
It took a minute but he finally recognized the voice. Gia Doyle. He had heard the story of how she fell out of favor with the Legacy's High Council. Her alliances with Philip Lancaster had been her ultimate downfall. She was discovered by his father to be a double agent for the Black Council.
She had escaped capture, but Philip hadn't been so lucky. He took the heat for not only his sins, but the sins of Gia Doyle as well. Philip wasn't strong enough to wait for a proper trial. In the end, he took the coward's way out. He committed suicide.
Ethan felt the waistband of his jeans for a weapon. It wasn't there. Couldn't a guy get a break once in awhile? He could hear Gia walking around. Her feet scuffled along the floor, and he could hear her whispering into a microphone, probably to the Council's version of a controller.
Ethan Fairchild could hear someone else stumbling around the room. It was obvious, either the person was a complete amateur or they were scared witless. It wasn't merely the stumbling that had woken him up. It was also because it was freezing cold.
It was then he remembered being in Jazz's nightclub and running into the alley where they were confronted by someone lurking in the shadows. He wasn't exactly working with 20/20 vision these days, so he wasn't sure of the intruder's identity. If he wasn't mistaken, he and Jazz had been shot. He felt along his body for an entry wound, but didn't fine one. It must have been some sort of tranquilizer. And that was why he felt like ten kinds of hell.
Ethan glanced around the room slowly from his position lying on the floor. He noticed a gigantic hole in the ceiling. That was definitely the reason it was cold in the building. But what he hadn't expected to see was the helicopter teetering off the edge of the hole.
Ethan backed closer to a wall. There was no use revealing himself. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his thigh. Ethan grabbed the wrist of the woman and pulled her out of her crouched position. He hauled back his hand to punch her, but a whimper stopped him.
"Ethan, stop. It's me, Jazz." His entire demeanor changed at the sound of Jazz's voice. "I see one of your old friends has decided to pay us a visit." Jazz pulled Ethan down and back into the cubby hole she had been hiding in.
"We have to either get out of this building or get the drop on her. And with my flaky eye sight, it won't be easy." Ethan tried to listen to Gia's fading footsteps.
"Does she have a weakness?" Jazz asked. "One we can take advantage of?"
Ethan laughed unexpectedly. "No, not unless you count lack of a heart as a weakness."
"Is she really as bad as they say?"
Alison felt the breath leave her lungs. The tighter Jared squeezed, the blacker the edges of her vision became. She could see one thing, though. Jared was still wearing his street clothes, unlike her. She had a feeling that clue was important. As she looked into the eyes of her attacker, she realized that Jared had his eyes closed. He was still asleep!
"Jared," she croaked. "Jared, let go!" She said the words as loud as she could without alerting the driver of the van that they were both awake.
Jared was practically sitting up now. The right hand joined the left and both were putting immense pressure on her windpipe. Alison knew she only had a few seconds to live so she did the only thing she could think of - she hammered her fist into Jared's crotch.
The pain shocked him enough that he released her and doubled over in agony.
Alison stumbled backward holding her throat and coughing. He had nearly killed her. She knew she would have a hell of a bruise tomorrow, but that was better than dead any day.
"Stay away from him, Marian. He's a killer." Irish Quinn raised his gun to the stranger who looked strangely like Ethan Fairchild. He grimaced. The crash had fractured his collarbone. "Get away from her."
The helicopter jolted and the gun flew from his hand. Irish tried to catch it and in doing so, lost his balance and tumbled out of the shattered front window. Shards of glass flew everywhere spilling down into the opening of the roof. Irish landed on his back on top of the roof of the cabin, luckily well away from the danger zone. The fall had unexpectedly knocked him unconscious.
Marian Noble screamed as she hang from her fingertips grasping onto the helicopter. She was already afraid of heights so this terrified her more than she could express. Her breath came in short pants. She knew if she didn't get control of her fear, she was going to pass out and then fall to her death.
"Help me," she screamed.
The dark stranger flew into action. He'd already make it onto the roof, now his only problem was getting to her.
"Stay with me," he reassured her with calming tones. "I'm going to get you down from there."
"Fairchild, hurry!" Marian began to lose her grip on the metal casing when it broke away from the body of the metal bird. Her scream increased in decibel. The man raced across the roof and dove toward the opening. Could he save her in time?
Gia Doyle made her way into the room just in time to see Simon Falconer grab a woman from a very certain death. She grumbled under her breath. She didn't have time for this heroic crap. And she told him so in no uncertain terms once he guided the woman back to solid ground.
Simon inched backward once he finally acknowledged Gia was in the room.
"What's wrong with you?" Gia asked him.
"You know me?" The man who was beginning to think of himself as ‘Fairchild' stared at her in amazement.
"Is that a trick question?" Gia put her gun down and returned it to the waistband of her slacks. "Get rid of the woman. We've got more important things to do - like bringing Ethan in."
Marian stirred uncomfortably next to Simon. "Fairchild. What's going on? Who is she?"
Gia ignored Marian and spoke directly to Simon. "Fairchild?" she laughed. "Who is this idiot, Falconer?"
Gia didn't want to be here, but her superiors had insisted. Finding Ethan was her responsibility. They wanted to bring him back into the fold, and they were willing to do anything to make that happen.
A noise coming from behind her caused her to pivot on her heel. Grabbing her weapon and holding it up, she slowly retraced her steps back the way she came. As she entered the next room, she heard a tatter of footsteps and a door opening and closing.
Gia ran toward the slamming door. She thrust it open, waving her gun from side to side. Whomever it was, they were gone now.
"Falconer better pray that wasn't Ethan," she muttered.
Once Gia exited the room, Marian became concerned about the pilot. She ran to where he had tumbled from the helicopter. The dark stranger named Falconer followed her.
The spot where Irish Quinn should have been was empty.
"My God. He's gone."
"We're outta here," Gia said harshly.
Marian stood in front of Simon. "Leave him alone. He's very fragile right now. He doesn't need the stress you are obviously putting him under."
Gia raised her gun and aimed it at the annoying female. "Stress? Honey, you haven't even seen stress yet."
Simon stepped forward. "Wait."
"I am so tired of this," Gia yelled. "I knew I shouldn't have taken Knight up on his job offer." She pulled Simon away from Marian. "Leave the floozie here. I'm sure she can find her own way home."
Marian sniffed indignantly. "Floozie? I beg your pardon."
Simon tore his hand away from Gia's. "I'm not going anywhere with you."
"I don't have time for this. The assassin is getting away, don't you understand that?"
"Why don't you leave him alone? He doesn't even remember his own name." Marian didn't know where her rush of confidence came from, but she was liking it. She liked it a lot.
Gia came up to Marian and got up in her face. "Don't test me. I have a gun and I know how to use it."
Seconds later she left using the same door Ethan had minutes earlier.
The ceiling of the cabin wasn't as strong as it seemed. The high winds from the south sailed across the mountain top and caused the helicopter to plummet off the roof and down the side of the cliff causing the entire ceiling of the cabin to collapse on top of Simon and Marian.
No one screamed. No one had time.
Gia watched horrified from outside. There was no way anyone could have survived and implosion like that. In seconds, she realized that her partner, Simon and the floozie were most likely dead.
Octavia Kassoff's body had not hit the earth upon impact like Irish had expected. Instead her fall had been cushioned by a parachute, one she had only been able to halfway open before she plummeted toward the ground. Amazingly, she had survived not only the explosion, but his deliberate maneuver to knock her out of the helicopter.
Irish was a freelance agent in the best of times, but times being as they were, he had to take any assignment he could get - even if it meant killing a friend like Octavia.
She was lying unconscious across a mound of show, like a siren with her arms extended. She looked very inviting like that. Too bad he had to kill her.
"We have a problem," Irish said into a secured satellite phone. "It's Doyle and Falconer sent down from the KF (Knights Foundation), I'd imagine. They're on to you, sir."
"Not necessarily," Franklin Fairchild told him. "No one around here is going to believe Gia. I've made certain of that. Even Ethan will steer clear of her, if we're lucky. What's happening with your assignment?"
"Octavia fell out of the helicopter as planned. I'm going in search of the body right now." He glanced down at Octavia's form. He wasn't about to tell Franklin that she was still breathing. "I haven't run into Fairchild yet."
"You did as instructed and used the candle as an explosive device?"
"Yes, sir. Worked pretty effectively too. If I can ask - why a candle?"
"It's of no consequence why. Keep checking in every few hours." Franklin signed off.
Irish leveled his gun at Octavia. He'd have preferred it look like an accident, but sometimes these things didn't always work out the way the brass planned. But at least she'd be dead. And that was exactly what Franklin Fairchild wanted.
"Get the hell away from her!" A man appeared behind Irish. His face was almost as disturbing as his gravely voice. He'd seen friendlier faces in mug shot books. The man was bare chested and wielding a baseball bat.
Irish jumped back a step or two. Where the hell had this joker come from? He hadn't seen a cabin anywhere close to where he'd discovered Octavia's body.
"Stay out of this," Irish warned, turning the gun on the stranger.
"Sorry. Can't do that. You made it my business the minute you walked in my front yard."
Octavia hadn't completely regained consciousness, but she knew something was going down. She moved and every muscle in her body cried out in pain. She hadn't realized she'd screamed until the man with the gun turned toward her and aimed. The rough looking man with the baseball bat was faster and laid the assassin out with one swift swing.
The man with the bat ran toward Octavia. He looked to the sky. "Storm's a brewing," he said off handedly. "Gotta get you inside before it hits."
He'd have to take her back to his place for the time being until he could get her to a hospital.
"Can you move?" he asked, more softly than she thought possible.
"I don't know. I'll try." Octavia rolled off the snow cap and onto her hands and knees. The movement assured Steven Webb she didn't have any critical spinal cord injuries. Then he picked her up and carried her a short distance and disappeared with her underground.
Irish remained immobile as the first flakes of the blizzard began to fall.