Behind? Catch up now.
Sennett lit up her wrist pad, casting a tiny circle of light in an otherwise pitch-black room. A moment later Godfrey and Howie did the same. They stood, silent, listening.
There was a crash near the front of the building, and Sennett could hear boots marching towards them.
“I think we’re out of time,” Howie said.
“Come on,” Godfrey whispered, heading for the back door. Sennett followed after, but Howie stayed where he was.
Godfrey froze in the act of opening the door. “Howie, we’ve got to go.”
“I’m not leaving,” Howie said. “If they find me here, maybe I can convince them that I’m the only one responsible.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Sennett said.
“You shouldn’t do that,” Godfrey added. He started back towards Howie, but the older man held his hand up.
“I am not leaving this studio by choice,” Howie said. “If they want to drag me out in front of everyone, let them. Then let them go home tonight and explain to their kids how they treated me.”
“I don’t think they’re going to drag you out in anything less than a body bag,” Godfrey said.
“Young man, I think you misunderstand how things are done around here,” Howie replied. “Go on, now. There’s no reason for all of us to be arrested. They won’t have any reason to be gentle with you.”
“He’s right, come on,” Sennett said. She grabbed Godfrey and pulled him out the back door.
It slammed shut behind them just as the front door to the studio opened. Sennett kept going, down the darkened hallway, but they only got halfway down the hall. A sound, like nothing Sennett had heard before, nearly flattened them. There was a pressure to it, heavy and hot in her ears. When it faded there was nothing. A moment later, the echoing quiet was replaced by a sharp, agonizing ringing.
Sennett struggled to stand, but couldn’t get farther than her knees. Godfrey was laying on his belly, his hands over his ears, tears leaking from his tightly closed eyes. She looked around and spotted a room marked Supplies. Hoping that it would have ear protectors, she tapped Godfrey’s shoulder and then crawled in the direction of the door. She reached it and used the handle to pull herself up before opening it. They both hurried inside and shut the door behind them.
Godfrey rolled onto his back, his face contorted in pain. Sennett started looking frantically for ear protectors. She finally spotted a box of them, tiny black buds, and fished a handful out. She tapped Godfrey again and handed him a few before popping two in her own ears and shoving the rest in her pocket. That done, she started typing a message on her wrist pad to him.
‘I know you’re in pain, but try not to make any sound.’
He looked at his wrist pad, then started typing.
‘What the fuck just happened?’
‘We got hit with a sound bomb through the wall. The effects should wear off soon, it only got us through the wall. But-.’
She stopped typing, blinking away tears. She took a deep breath before continuing. ‘That bomb would be fatal to anyone in the same room without protection.’
He looked up sharply. If that bomb was a killer, then Howie was gone.
‘Can we get out of here?’ he asked.
‘We should wait,’ Sennett said. ‘We’re unarmed and deaf, we’re not taking on anyone right now.’
Godfrey nodded and laid back down on the floor. Sennett looked around the room, hoping that she might find something, anything to use as a weapon. She saw sound equipment, bomb mikes, microphones, and all sorts of things she couldn’t figure out the use of. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could protect them.
Sennett kept an eye on the time. After about twenty minutes, the ringing in her ears faded. She removed one earbud and listened intently. She didn’t hear footsteps. In fact, she didn’t hear anything at all.
She put the earbud back in, sent Godfrey another message.
‘Keep the earbuds in, but I think we can make a break for it.’
‘Why are we keeping these in?’ he asked.
‘Because if we get hit with a sound bomb without them, it’ll kill us.’
Sennett stood, thankful that she could at least do that much. Godfrey did so as well, his face dark. His hands were shaking, but she didn’t think it was still an effect from the bomb.
She opened the door carefully, glancing around before exiting into the hallway. There was no one there. There was, however, something blue and shiny on the floor. She picked it up and realized it was a sound bomb. She slipped it into her pocket before beginning her slow creep down the hall.
Godfrey sent her a message. ‘I’ll walk sort of backward, to watch behind us.’
‘Hold my hand so I can guide you, then,’ she replied.
They walked in that awkward way, she going forward and him going backward, their hands interlaced. The halls appeared empty, and unchanged since the first time they’d walked them. Whoever it was who had come in, they’d left just as quickly without leaving any signs.
Suddenly, Godfrey’s hand was wrenched out of Sennett’s. She turned to see a soldier holding Godfrey, pressing a weapon against his head. The woman was shouting something that Sennett couldn’t hear. Godfrey was standing still as a statue.
Sennett glanced around, looking for anything that she might use as a weapon. There was nothing and no one around. Then, she noticed that the soldier wasn’t wearing an earpiece.
She pulled the sound bomb from her pocket and threw it on the ground. The sound wave came out, knocking all of them to the ground. Godfrey and Sennett scrambled to their feet. But the soldier stayed down, blood seeping from her ears and eyes.
Sennett froze, her eyes glued to the dead woman on the ground. Godfrey grabbed her and pulled her towards the door.
They ran outside, out into the brightness and crowd. Godfrey let go of her, and they both pulled out their earbuds. The sounds of the crowd assaulted their ears after the complete silence.
“Over here,” Godfrey said, running for an ally between two other studios. Once they reached it he slumped to the ground and turned off his partial seeming. Sennett did the same, sinking to the ground on legs that no longer supported her.
“I, I killed her,” she said.
“I don’t think you had a choice,” Godfrey said.
“They killed Howie,” Sennett said. Her whole body was shaking now, and she wrapped her arms around her knees, trying to make herself stop. “They just killed him. And I, I did the same thing.”
“Sennett, you didn’t have a choice,” Godfrey said. “That bitch, she was going to kill me. These people are going to do whatever they have to do to keep this information a secret.”
“But, but I don’t understand. They’re not supposed to do this,” Sennett sobbed. Tears were running down her face, and she felt her nose start to run. “We’re not supposed to do this. We’re supposed to, to be better than this.”
“Well, we’re not,” Godfrey snapped. He stood, running a hand through his hair. “We’re not better, Sennett. We’re stupid, mean, hateful, selfish things, that’s just what we are. And just because you’ve always been sheltered doesn’t mean the whole world works that way.”
Sennett had a lot of responses to that, but she couldn’t get any of them out.
Suddenly, she remembered something that stopped the tears. “The flash drive,” she gasped. “Did you grab it?”
Copyright © 2019 by Nicole C. Luttrell
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.