‘Stay where you are, everything will be OK.’
I stared at the pregnancy test. Then shook it a couple times, checking the screen again before flicking it with one finger. “What the fuck?” Dropping it into the sink, I grabbed the box with the spare test from the cabinet again. There was nothing written on the back about this sort of error. I wasn’t feeling up to snuff, sick and all, and I just wanted to be sure that I wasn’t pregnant. That’s all, I didn’t want to be prey for some dumbass kid’s stupid joke.
Glowering at the used test, I filled a glass up with water while mentally adding pregnancy tests to my shopping list. I hate shopping for the damn things considering all the looks people gave you but better to have them on hand. I was definitely going for a different brand though. Maybe higher up on the shelf so that it had a lower chance of being tampered with.
There was a loud pounding at the door, startling me into spilling some of the water. I frowned at my wet shirt, attempting to dry it off with a towel as I walked towards the front door. The knocking noise came again, and a scowl came to my face. “Yeah! I’m fucking coming! Hold your horses!” I rubbed more at my shirt before finally getting to the door, opening it a crack. “What’s your problem?”
“Kyla Westen?” There was a pair of men standing outside my door, looking as if they couldn’t be more different with a woman between them. One man wore a suit with carefully styled hair, the other looked like a street hoodlum, wearing baggy pants and a hoodie. The woman was somewhere in-between, managing to look casual and professional at the same time. Had something to do with the gun holstered under her jacket.
“Nah. Roommate. What’s up with her?” The woman frowned, lines creasing her face in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible.
“The question was simply a formality, Miss Westen. We need to talk about the pregnancy test you just took.”
“Excuse me?” My mouth gaped at the three people and the one in the business suit put a hand to the Bluetooth he has in one ear.
“Two minutes, Faith.” He looked towards the elevator.
“Miss Westen, you need to come with us.” The woman glanced towards the elevator with a nod to the businessman, a nervous expression appearing for a second on her face. A hand moved back to rest on the butt of her gun, seemingly without conscious thought. “You’re in danger. We need to get you out of the building before the others arrive.”
“Others? What?” I was certain I looked the spitting image of a fish out of water.
“There are people on their way here, right now, that will maim, torture, and eventually kill you. If you come with us, right now, we can protect you.”
“You’re insane.” The words came from me immediately. The businessman touched the Bluetooth again.
“One minute thirty.”
“Kyla, please listen to me. That test showed something very abnormal and it alerted half the government agencies around the country as to your presence.” Faith plead, glancing towards the elevator again. “It tagged your location immediately and sent your information in every direction, plus more due to hackers and moles.”
“I know your name, your address, and the fact that you just pissed on a pregnancy test. How is that being high?” Faith’s voice became sharp and I trembled on the other side of the door. “Just grab your wallet and your bag and let’s go before there’s a firefight in this hallway.” Glancing over the two men, I could see the telltale bump on each of them where they have their own handguns.
“How did you know I don’t carry a purse?”
“If you come with, I’ll answer everything. If you don’t, I can’t be held responsible for what happens to you.” I glanced to my wallet and bag, sitting on the side table, just inside the entrance. “Kyla, please. We have to go now.”
“One minute.” The tone from the businessman was warning now. The hoodlum shifted back and forth, the handgun bulge moving and I heard the distinctive sound of one of the three guns outside my door cocking.
“Kyla. Please trust me. We have to go.” I looked to my wallet and bag before shutting the door. I heard one of them curse loudly.
“God damnit, what the hell are we supposed to do? Drag them out?” I tossed my wallet into my pocket and yanked the bag up onto my shoulder. I could only assume it’s the hoodlum despite it sounding like the businessman. I slipped into a pair of my sneakers, failing to bother tying them properly in my rush.
“She’s not coming Faith, let’s go, before they arrive and shoot us.” A smooth male voice spoke. I pulled the chain back from the door as I grabbed my keys and opened the door again. Faith looked surprised before smiling gently.
“Let’s go.” She took my hand and began to run, forcing me to keep up with her.
An ear-shattering bang rung out and I ducked instinctively. The hoodlum stumbled for a second, red blossoming out into the fabric of his hoodie. My blood turned cold. A glance back confirmed that there are people stepping out of the elevator and immediately firing upon seeing us. Faith yelled something incomprehensible and the hoodlum drew his weapon, firing a couple rounds.
The business man slammed into the fire exit, drawing his weapon and firing back at the other group with a snarl on his face. One of my neighbors’ door opened, the woman that lived there looking out before she pulled a gun out from behind her door, aiming it directly at me. She dropped with another shot as I heard someone scream and I got shoved into the fire exit.
“Stop screaming, let’s hurry!” I closed my mouth tightly at Faith’s order, feeling terror bubbling at the edges and weak noises come from my throat. The realization of the screaming having been coming from me washed over my senses. Feet pounding the metal stairs, following after Faith, I was terrified. My heart pounded in my chest in a matching rhythm to my steps. “Move! Move!” Faith shouted. There was the sound of footsteps behind me, the businessman speaking.
“Tasha is outside. Two cars full of agents, one in the building, the other waiting for us to exit.” Gunshots rang out in the stairwell, a squeal came from my throat. “And these assholes are persistent!” His voice was snarling with the statement, more gunshots ringing out from our end. The voice didn’t match his appearance at all.
“Max, hurry!” The hoodlum called to him, pausing ahead of Faith and I to fire rounds up the stairwell at where he could pick out the group chasing us. “Clear out ahead! We need the exit clear!” Another door opened and a man peeked his head out to look at what’s going on.
“Move it!” Faith slammed into the door, staggering him. “Clear the escape, Max!” The businessman, Max, ran forward and disappeared deeper into the apartment. The hoodlum cleared into the door and shut it behind him, leveling a gun at the apartment’s tenant. I stumbled over and leaned hard against a table placed under a mirror.
“Sir, please head back to your room if you do not wish to be harmed.” The hoodlum smiled, showing brilliant white teeth. Once again, the voice didn’t match the outfit. “This is official business.” He lowered the gun as the man takes off into a side room, shutting the door and hiding. I came close to wanting to join him, but if the people chasing us were any indication, I was sure they would shoot me on sight.
“Troy, you’ve been shot?” Faith looked to him as I attempted to calm my frayed nerves.
“No big deal.” The hoodlum responded, rolling the injured shoulder. “Still moves. Hurts a lot but it can wait to be dealt with. The situation cannot wait.” I watched as Max hurries back, putting a finger to the Bluetooth again.
“Tasha is pulling around to this side. We go down the fire escape and we’re gold.” Max kept a small distance, body in a defensive position.
“Let’s go then.” Faith started after him, holding a hand out and grabbing me around the forearm. “We’ll get you to safety, Kyla.” I stumbled along behind her as we headed for the window, Max in the lead. I could hear Troy’s footsteps behind me.
“Careful, careful!” Max warned as he helped me out of the window and onto the fire escape, Faith following me out. A white van was idling down in the alley, pointed outward, seeming ready to go as the sirens of cop cars wailed in the distance. “Go go!” Faith led the way down the stairs, the clangs echoing loudly up and down the alleyway.
“There!” Someone shouted and I got a glimpse of a man in a suit at the far end of the alley before I was shoved down into the grating. Shots rang out and a groan came from someone, a couple of staggered steps, the bullets whizzing above my head. My hair was grabbed, someone dragging me to my feet and shoving me down more stairs. Chancing a glance, Troy was pushing me along, Faith kneeling down at the landing and returning fire. Max stood beside her, firing rounds every couple of Faith’s.
“Come on sweetheart.” Troy’s voice was smooth as silk as he continued leading me down the stairs. A few more bullets whizzed overhead, one pinged off of the fire escape with a resounding echo. Troy delivered a kick to drop the fire escape ladder, bullet holes immediately appearing in the white of the van. “Faith! Max!”
“God damnit! We’re working on it!” Max shouted down and Troy started to fire down at the agents at the end of the alley. He shoved me down, my hands holding onto the railing as I stayed ducked down, heart continuing to pound in my chest. A bullet pinged off the railing on my other side. The van’s back doors opened with a slam.
“I got those!” A new voice called and there was the sound of rapid gunfire. Troy turned and began firing at the group at the other end of the alley. “Get the fuck down here!”
“Did she set up a fucking minigun?” Max’s voice was close and I was pulled to my feet as more shots rang out, Faith hurrying down the ladder and she opened the side door.
“It’s Tasha. Of course she set up a minigun.” There was a constant stream of bullets flying out the back of the van as I climbed down, a couple bullets flying over my head from the others. I looked up, Max standing there, a troubling look on his face, fingers pressed to the Bluetooth. I returned my attention to climbing down and the second my feet had hit the ground, Faith had my arm and was shoving me into the van.
The racket from the minigun was deafening in the back of the vehicle. A woman with short hair, spiked and styled was firing the gun, barely sparing me a glance. Faith put me in a seat as I tried to think around the din and she disappeared back out the door for only a second before putting Troy in the front seat. Faith hopped into the back, taking over control of the minigun. The woman popped up into the front seat, jamming the vehicle into gear.
“Bus now leaving!” She shouted as the van surged forward. Faith fired a couple more rounds before one of the doors slams closed. She stops shooting to shut the other one. Without the minigun’s sound, I could hear that the sirens were much closer. As the van drives, they’re getting further away.
“We’re going to need a new ride here shortly, Tasha.” Faith stated and Tasha nodded, more focused on driving.
“I’ve got a safe spot to pull a new car from.” The van moved along at a quick clip, dodging in and out of traffic. I put my head on my knees, stomach churning with nerves and motion sickness.
“Good, we need it.” Troy groaned.
“A doctor too apparently.” Tasha stated and I leaned up enough to look at Troy, morbid curiosity taking hold of me. On top of the bullet in his shoulder, there was a new one in his side.
“Shit Troy, seriously?” Faith’s voice was shrill before there was a pause. “Max, contacting the boss?”
“Of course. Contacting the boss.” Max responded before a gunshot deafens me. Faith twitched, blood spilling from the hole in her chest. My eyes were ringing, my throat raw with screams. Another loud shot and the van swerved wildly. Troy swung around with his gun, firing a round into the backseat as I tried to curl up. Max put rounds into Troy and Troy dropped his gun, body sagging. “Not your boss though.” He aimed the gun into the front seat again.
The van swerved wildly again, this time it tipped over, knocking me into the minigun and pinning Max to the wall underneath it. The metal squealed loudly as the van slid across the asphalt on its side. Max fired a couple more shots, the van came to a stop and I shoved up and off, aiming for the back door. The door opened easily, my ears still ringing as I took off running. More gunshots rang out from behind me.
I was halfway down the next alley by the time I heard the telltale rapid fire of the minigun. I kept running. I wasn’t about to chance Max still standing and him killing me or kidnapping me. The buildings passed by in a blur, police sirens coming closer again. I skidded to a drop in front of a door, heading up to it and rapping on the door rapidly.
A woman answered the door, wrapped in a bathrobe. I blurted out that I needed help, that someone was trying to kill me and she let me in. She hid me away into a back room of her small house, her two children staring up at me with big eyes. I was horrified, remembering the indiscriminate nature of the people who were chasing me. So I asked for paper.
This is what happened to me. I’m not sure where I’m going but it’s going to be away. I’m going to go as far as I can, pregnant or not, I never got an answer on that. I don’t know why they’re all chasing me. I want an answer but not at the cost of my life. I’m sorry, I have to go, before they find me here. If this finds its way back to you like I hope it does, be safe. I can’t contact you again to keep you safe. I love you. Goodbye.
“And that’s the entirety of the letter. She’s gone and she’s running.” Tasha limps back around the desk, her cast thumping loudly on the floor. She drops down into the seat, rubbing at the leg with a scowl before looking up again. “That’s where you come in. You’re good at finding people. She wanted to be with us. You find her and you offer her the choice to join us again, Edwin.”
“You don’t want me to drag her back?” Edwin’s eyes skim over the file folder once again.
“No. It needs to be her choice.” Tasha places the leg up onto a pillowed stool. “You force this one, we’ll lose her in the long run.”
“Gotcha.” Edwin looks over the paperwork again. “So who was Maxwell actually working for?”
“Not the agents that ambushed us at the very least. We’re not sure other than they wanted Kyla.” Tasha continues rubbing her leg. “For short terms, it was an outside third-party group.”
“Should I keep an eye out for them?”
“Yes. Please do so.”