Monday, July 22, 2013

Walking Shadows

Chapter Three

Maynard turned on the faucet.He pushed the button on the soap dispenser three times and three drops of pink soap fell into his right hand.He moved it under the faucet and cupped warm water.His left hand rubbed against the right until a smooth lather formed.He rinsed until his hands were free of the soap.After, he splashed water on his face and grabbed a couple of paper towels and dried his hands and cheeks and forehead.He balled the towels together and threw them in the trashcan.In the mirror, Maynard stared at himself.Dark circles ran under his eyes.He needed sleep.But first he had to finish this job.Maynard walked to the door, the footfalls of his boots echoing off the checkerboard tiles.He pulled it open and stepped out of the Men's Room into the dull florescent light of the greasy spoon diner.Three customers.Slow.Good.One at the counter, picking at scrambled eggs.Two in a booth, probably a husband and wife.They spoke in quiet tones, maybe planning their day.A waitress filled two mugs with coffee behind the counter.Maynard noticed a cook on the other side of the pass-through window, probably working the griddle.A briefcase sat at the feet of the man at the bar.Maynard breathed deep and exhaled slow.It smelled like pancakes and bacon.He pulled his silenced Beretta from his shoulder holster and held it at his side.No one noticed, all lost in their own little worlds.Worlds he came to destroy.He walked to the man with the briefcase and raised the gun and shot him in the back of the head.The front of his skull exploded on the waitress, blanketing her face and gray uniform with blood and skin and brain and bits of hair.The waitress screamed and dropped the coffee carafe.It shattered.Maynard shot her in the face.Her body disappeared behind the counter.Feet shuffled behind him.Maynard turned and found the couple running for the door.He shot the man first and then the woman, both in the back of the head, dropping them near the entrance in front of the host's table.Their bodies twitched and their life blood turned the white linoleum crimson.Maynard grabbed the briefcase and walked into the kitchen.The cook hid behind a butcher's block, shaking, hugging his knees.He tried to speak, to beg for his life but he stammered so much only gurgles and vowels made it out.Maynard fired one round into the cook's forehead.He left through the service entrance in the kitchen into the alley.He holstered the gun and walked to Hope Street.His car was parked at a meter.Twenty minutes remained.Maynard threw the briefcase on the passenger seat, started the car, and drove away.

"It's done."Maynard said into the phone as he fixed his gaze on a bum passed-out on the sidewalk outside the booth."I have the package.""Any complications?" the voice on the other end said."No.""Witnesses?"Maynard scratched his cheek."Taken care of.""What does that mean?""You know exactly what it means.""How many?""It doesn't matter.""It will if it comes back on me.""It won't.""I just don't understand-""It doesn't matter if you understand or not," Maynard said, his tone flat and even."You hired me to perform a service and I have done that.What matters now is delivery."Mr. Tyler did not respond for a few moments.Maynard scratched his cheek again and tapped his toe, wanting the job over and done with."Very well.We'll meet at the agreed location.""Two hours."Maynard went to hang up when a scream on the other end tore through the phone booth.He lifted it back to his ear and listened to the sound of thrashing in between belts of pain."Mr. Tyler?"The line died.Maynard's eyes lingered on the phone for a second before returning it to its cradle.Something slammed into the booth.The Plexiglas cracked.Maynard lost his balance and hit the opposite side.His hand reached into his jacket and pulled the Beretta from its holster.Pivoting, he lifted the gun but his finger froze on the trigger.Maynard stared.The once passed-out bum now beat the side of the phone booth, face pressed against the cracked Plexiglas.His eyes were wide and the sclera yellow.Split flew from his mouth as he snarled.Lines appeared on his face and neck, as if black worms tunneled zigzag paths under his skin.Abomination, Maynard thought.He opened the booth and stepped out and shot the bum in the side of the head before he could face him.The lifeless body dropped.He stood over it, watching.Screams echoed down the sidewalk on 3rd Street from all directions, overlapping each other as they ricocheted off the surrounding buildings.Maynard backed toward his car and looked up the road toward Figueroa.It was still early in the morning and not many people were out walking.The few who did weren't out strolling and enjoying their morning anymore.Instead, they either chased or fled.Then waves of them spilled out of apartment buildings and businesses, running in panic while others pursued.Primal growls overlapped terror-filled screams.The streets went from nearly empty to gushing with human brutality in mere seconds.For a moment, Maynard considered climbing in the car and speeding away.The masses of people quickly swallowing the roads convinced him otherwise.Other cars on the streets were surrounded by the abominations, the drivers yanked from behind the wheels and passenger seats.Even if Maynard could run a few over, he'd never be able to drive fast enough to avoid the berserking mob.Feet smacked pavement to his right.Maynard shifted, gun ready, and fired a round into the head of a middle-aged Asian woman racing toward him.More abominations were moving from Figueroa onto 3rd.He needed to get off the street now.But where to go?Maynard scanned the buildings around him, sizing up where the best place to hold up might be.Across the street stood a Wells Fargo.A bank would be easier to make a stand in than the streets.He ran to his trunk, popped it, and pulled out a Mossberg 12-gauge pump.Maynard holstered the Beretta and ran to the front door of the bank.He paused outside it, glanced in through the semi-clear glass and counted.A bunch of bodies on the floor and five people moving.Whether they were normal citizens or abominations he didn't know.Didn't care, either.Maynard took a deep breath and braced his shoulder against the frame.He reached out, grabbed the handle, and yanked the door open.Inside the door, a man in a business suit knelt on the chest of a security guard and tore chunks from the guard's throat with his teeth.When Maynard stepped in, the suit turned and looked at him for a split-second before jumping to his feet and charging.From two feet away, the shotgun blast turned his head into pink vapor.The gun shot attracted the attention of two more abominations: a little girl in light blue dress and a black man in jeans and a Polo shirt.They had the same yellow eyes and black zigzags on their face and neck.Maynard took both of them down before they had a chance to run toward him.Person number four, another suit, stood on top of a table holding a lamp like a baseball bat.He didn't have the yellow eyes or zigzags.Just wide eyes.His dark hair dripped sweat.Piss stained his gray pants."Thanks, Mister."Maynard shifted from Mr. Scared to an elderly woman leaning against the far wall, gasping for air like a fish out of water.She had the yellow eyes and zigzags but blood poured from a wound to her stomach.He figured the security guard got off a shot before being overwhelmed.Maynard finished her off with one to the head from the Beretta."Are there anymore?" Maynard said.Mr. Scared still held the lamp like a bat."What was that?"Maynard looked at him.His tone remained calm."Are there anymore?"Mr. Scared's lips trembled as he shook his head."I don't think so.Maybe someone in the back near the vault."Maynard turned and walked to the front door and locked it.Then he twisted the vertical blinds closed."Stay here, I'll check the back."Mr. Scared said no more.Maynard cleared the back of the bank and the bank manager's office and the area near the vault.All he found were chewed-on bodies and a lot of gore.The vault itself was secured.A rear door to the bank was also bolted shut.Maynard went back out front."Nothing back there," Maynard said.Mr. Scared still stood on the table."What do we do now?"

Maynard thought about that for a moment and couldn't come up with a very good answer."We wait."
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