The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Forty-Four part one
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
The drive had had taken Gawain Wight far too long; accidents and slow drivers on every street conspired against him as he drew closer to the disturbance. The neighborhoods surrounding the abandoned block of buildings were oddly subdued, their citizens cowed back into their homes by the forces coming into play. Gawain could feel the weight of it pressing down on him, the sensation of being observed by something vast and baleful.
It was a sensation he knew well, he’d last encountered it on a failed operation two years ago but this time he didn’t have a force of agents or John Sig to keep him from getting killed.
He thought again, Tristam, what have you done?
It wasn’t too late to call for backup, he could have a force of Lambs assembled in twenty minutes. It might make more sense to have his revenge that way, then no one would suspect he was ever doing anything more than his duty.
One of the empty buildings was in flames, a half dozen men in dark jackets and gray jumpsuits stood watching the flames. Each of them had a gun in their right hand.
Are those- Gawain slowed his car to a crawl. All six men turned in unison, their weapons raised.
Gawain dove under the dashboard and gunned the engine. Bullets shattered the windshield and sparked off the hood. A dull thud told him he’d run over one of the Monarchs’ agents. He jerked the wheel hard to the left, the car spun in place, a body bounced off the back bumper. Bullets peppered the door.
The car still spinning in place, its wheels screeching, Gawain risked a look up. The Monarchs’ Agents still stood there like bowling pins, firing away. Orange fluids streaked the front of the car. Ducking back down, he straightened the wheel and let the car leap forward, knocking another one of them into the air.
Flames were the only light, they cut every movement into strobe like motions. More bullets sparked off the trunk and rear bumper. Gawain threw the engine into reverse and ran over another one of the Monarchs' Agents.
How many is that? Three? Four?
The car stopped in place with a thick grinding noise. Gawain pressed the pedal to the floor and turned the wheel in the other direction. The grinding noise grew louder. The car shifted slightly but didn’t move. Through the side view mirror he could see a mist of orange ‘blood’ spraying up around one of the rear wheels.
The three remaining agents of the Monarchs reloaded their guns indifferently. The Monarchs Tristam? Gawain drew his own pistol and opened the car door, What did they promise you? Was your mother worth it?
Gawain fired, catching one of them in the shoulder but the barrage of bullets that answered his was too much. It drove him back under the dashboard for cover. The Monarchs’ Agents spread out, closing in from three sides. Gawain knew the first one that got close enough was going to get blown away, but that would leave the other two.
There was a fresh staccato of gunfire. Then it was quiet. Gawain looked up to see a man standing over the Monarchs’ Agents. Gawain got out of the car to find his rescuer was a middle aged black man carrying an UZI; blood loss had left his one arm limp at his side, the leather band holding his graying dreadlocks in place had almost fallen loose. “I owe you a debt.” He looked Gawain over, “They had me trapped in there.”
“Anyone they hate is a friend of mine.” Gawain lowered his weapon and stepped forward, from the corner of his eye he could see that one of Monarchs’ agents had been pulled up into the rear wheel well and crushed. There were other bodies here and there, all of them were still but none of them had spilled a single drop of human blood.
The other man grinned, “And you are?”
“I’m Special Agent Gawain Wight.” He reached for his badge then realized he must have dropped it somewhere in the car. He kicked his way pasy a well-dressed couple lying arm in arm, their chests were splayed open revealing a nightmare anatomy of copper and blue, “You’ve been shot. You need help.”
“Why were they trying to kill you? For that matter why were they trying to kill me?”
“You should get out of here, it’s not safe.”
Smoke was billowing into the sky, the flames must have been visible for miles around but Gawain couldn’t hear a single siren “What’s going on here?”
“This is their beachhead.” He pointed to the abandoned hotel with his UZI, “This is where the Monarchs will enter our world.”
“You mean to tell me the end of the world is going to start here? In Troy?” Gawain stepped closer to the building, and pulled out his cell phone. This called for backup, lots of it.
“That won’t work here.” He leaned on the car, “They’ve left nothing to chance.”
Gawain tried a few more times to get a dial tone and then slipped the phone back into his pocket, “Except us, they didn’t count on us.”
“This is out of our hands now, all you and I can do is wait and watch.”
“Who’s in there? Who’s helping them?”
The other man shrugged, “I wish I could say more...”
“You do?” Gawain took another step towards the hotel, “How are you involved in all this?”
“I don’t know the details, I’m just an assassin working for a third party. They wanted the Monarchs’ forces around here thinned out.” He twitched his bloodied arm, “Things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.”
The fiery office building seemed to groan in protest; cinders and smoke drifted everywhere. Gawain tossed the cellular phone to his rescuer, “Take this, keep trying to reach someone. I’ve got to go in there.”
“You won’t like what you find.”
“I know.” Gawain Wight nodded and kicked his way in through the boarded up door and headed inside.