Project: Phantasma

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XV. Hold Me, Feel Me, Smell Me

Waking up in dirty places were nothing new to Lloyd anymore. He fumbled for his flashlight and oddly found it on his breast pocket. He knew he would never put it there, but that dreadful face with bleeding eyes that flashed on his mind gave him a clue who was responsible. He sighed at the fact that he wasn’t killed, but he thought he must be either dead or “stored for later.”

His slowly faltering flashlight shone on a double doors with peeling blue paint. He gave a forceful push and a pull. It budged on neither. He saw a conveniently-placed Beretta directly below it. As he bent over to reach it, something went whizzing past his exposed buttocks. A bullet impacted against the door. He jumped in surprise to a side and raised his hands. His flashlight was left on in front of him. “Hey! I’m human!”

“Everyone looks human. And talks human, for that matter. Yet they’re still hostile as a rabid chimpanzee with diarrhea,” The unknown guy’s way of silly word-choice seemed familiar as his flashlight’s cone grew larger, aiming along with his Beretta towards Lloyd.

Lloyd cleared his throat. “Gab? Is that you?”

The glare of the familiar glasses made the attacker stop near the end of the corridor and lower his gun. His eyes widened and he felt a sudden gush of relief. Running, he tackled Lloyd and rubbed his hair. “You’re alive!!!”

Lloyd sat down and reached for the Beretta. He was as glad as Gab, who studied him like it was impossible. “I’m as shocked as you are,” Lloyd said. “This creature dragged me all the way to the girl that cried out blood. Next thing I knew I was on some end of a corridor where the butcher starts.”

“I’ve been there too, and they said you were there before I did,” Gab replied.

“I’ve been told... By that Twitch.”

“Onslaught did Twitch’s part for me. We just talked, though. It seemed like that madcap is steering away from me.”

“They seem to know us well. Like there’s a spy.”

Gab frowned at the thought. “Nightmare. I encountered her in the lift that leads here. She said she was spying on us but she didn’t show any hostility. But she sure looked a thousand of it. If I remember correctly someone not referring to Nightmare is also a spy. Maybe that Twitch.”

Gab explained everything to Lloyd, purposely omitting the touch-parts with Kim. He has been disheartened with the fact that those were rather friendly gestures in a time of great need. Lloyd snorted and stood up.

“We got to get going,” Gab said, handing the key over to Lloyd who just finished checking the clip and cocking his gun. Gab handed over an extra clip to him.

Lloyd unlocked the double doors. He pushed the right and Gab pushed the left door. Two beams of light scan the area, revealed to be some sort of barn with haystacks of differing heights. Scattered around the barn were targets that gave them the hint that it was a shooting range. Four light bulbs that barely covered the ground were switched on.

“What the fuck is a shooting range doing here?” Gab wondered.

Lloyd loosened his grip of his Beretta. “Oddly, there aren’t any bullet holes, as if no one ever used it.”

“This place...” Gab said as they walked around, feeling no hostility at the moment. “Looks straight out of a- whoa!” The sound of a stretching rope slapped their eardrums as Gab suspended in the air by his feet, dropping his gun right below him. The double doors slammed shut.

“Gab! Are you hurt?!”

“Nope. Guess I’ll… Be hanging around.” The two snickered, along with a third voice.

“Who are you? Show yourself!” Lloyd echoed.

A manly voice came from above. “Looks like ye fell into me trap. Painfully obvious statement, sorry.”

“Let me down!” Gab shouted.

“Pray yer four-eyed friend here won’t let you down.”

Silence.

“Geddit? Won’t let you-... Screw this,” the man said. “And shut yer trap or a bullet will pass clean ’tween yer eyes.”

Zut. Gab tried his best to behave.

“Lloyd Harley. Since yer the one not stupid enough to fall on ze trap, how about a sparring match? And I’ll drop the shitty cowboy-wannabe accent.”

“What match?” Lloyd asked.

“You didn’t let me finish you rude bastard. Duel gun to gun,” Blindspot said, stepping away from the shadows above and descending down, his trench coat trailing behind him as he held the top of his hat. “Did you see how my coat’s butt-cape billowed as I jumped down? Cool huh?”

“Yeah, neat,” Lloyd said, nodding.

Gab shrugged, still upside down. “Totally.”

“Here’s the catch,” he said, facing Lloyd a couple of meters away, showing the bandages on his eyes. “I’ll only use 6 bullets in my revolver. You’ve got plenty. The last one standing wins.”

“How can you fight if you have bandages around your eyes?”

“I don’t need them. So would you. But you still have your flashlight. Use it to your advantage.”

Lloyd was confused. “What?”

Blindspot shoots the four bulbs in rapid succession, but there was no sound of being shattered into pieces. He groaned and slapped himself. “Drats. Now I have two bullets left. That’s alright. One to cripple and one to kill… By the way, these are Spectre bullets.”

“K.”

Blindspot looked offended. “You’re not gonna ask why?”

Lloyd shook his head but figured that he won’t see it. “Let’s finish this quickly.”

“I’m gonna tell you anyway. You see, they phase through anything but doesn’t do any physical damage. It only inflicts twice the pain and disables the target. So if I were-“A bullets digs through his left shoulder and blood spewed out a little. He fell hard to the ground but grabbed his hat immediately and rolled out of view fast. “Nice one, Harley. I commend you for taking the opportunity for that loophole.”

After a long exchange of taunts between them and missed bullets from Lloyd while they ran all over the place, Gab suddenly shouted. “Hey, cowboy dude. I’m just wondering, is there Braille all over the place? ’Cause you shoo-”

Lloyd hears a shot followed by a suppressed cry of agony and a thud.

“Gab!” Lloyd shouted, still running. He’s got 7 bullets left from his last clip and Blindspot has one more. If I miss 6 more times, I won’t be confident in hitting him… Damn he’s good.

“Don’t rely much in your sight. Relax and feel my presence. Shoot where you feel I am,” the gunner said.

“Why are you giving tips?!”

“I dunno. Makes boss fights cooler and intimidating?”

Lloyd calmed his nerves and seemed to have a clue where Blindspot is going. Haystacks rumbled beside him as the gunner leaped sideways, aiming his revolver to his back. “I can’t miss from this dist-“ Blindspot said, getting thrown to the ground by a bullet through his chest.

Lloyd froze his firing position. He recalled having a quick turn and a gun aimed a little upwards. But it was easy. Too easy. Like he was arranged to win… Like his battle with Twitch. He approached where Gab was and found him on the ground with his foot still tied. The rope he was tied with snapped with a gunshot. While vigorously untying the rope, he heard something move from behind. He rolled to his right out of instinct as a bullet zipped through where he was. He pulled the trigger on Blindspot 7 times, hitting his chest thrice. He aimed the gun on the gunner’s head. “Game over, cowboy.” He gets answered by a click. “What the?”

Blindspot pointed his revolver at Lloyd’s head. “No. You’re game over, Harley.”

“You just fired your last bullet and missed… I’m not scared,” he replied as he laughed. “Stalemate?”

His eyes widened as Blindspot showed him Gab’s Beretta and dropped the clip he used. He smiled. “Whoops. I must have used your friend’s. Checkmate.”

Lloyd froze as a bead of sweat trickled down his forehead.

Bang.

His glasses were knocked away in front of him as he fell to his back, his mind disabled by the Spectre bullet. Blindspot spun his revolver a little and holstered it. He picked his hat up and looked at someone hidden in the haystacks. “You’ve been watching?”

“You cheated, Billy boy,” Onslaught said as he stepped out of the shadows. “This match is invalid. They proceed to Jenny like they won.”

“It was no-holds barred... Ish. Drag ’em down to Jenny, then. I’mma get a drink.” He said as he walked away.

Onslaught laughs as he grabbed Gab and Lloyd’s feet. “Dead men don’t drink.”

Blindspot raised his right index and middle finger and bends his hand a little to the right. “The real me, Bison. I’m talking about the Billy-me. Not the Blindspot-me.”

“Suit yourself. I don’t even get paid for this job.”

“You don’t need money nor life. It’s either you’re that or a programmer.”

Onslaught scratched his head. “So why do they always have to pass out again?”

“The higher-ups need an excuse for loading resources in their brains.”

“Programming must be hard, then.”

“You still don’t have any money or life, though,” Blindspot said as he pushed through the double doors.

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