5.3 Listening Skills

by Matt P.

“Shit titties!” Siobhan cursed loudly. Antigone and the others screamed, and Scotty cursed even more loudly and fluently than Siobhan. For a long moment no one moved, until Siobhan saw the note in her hand again, and some sense returned and tamped down on the flooding panic. “GO!” She shouted, grabbing Antigone by the hand and Monica by the shirt. Scotty shoved Lacey forward, and the group started to bolt for the door.

The girls passed through the doorway just fine, but something tickled Siobhan’s recollection as she did so. She gasped and turned, grabbing Scotty by the lapels of his jacket and falling back in a classic judo throw–except she didn’t send Scotty tumbling away, sliding back just enough to pass through the doorway on their momentum.

“What the fu-” Scotty started, as Siobhan pointed her finger up. A thin trip wire ran across the doorway between the store room and the store front, right at neck level on the taller young man.

“Get back here!” Antigone hissed, although any concern for quiet was ruined with the crash of a heavy table hitting the ground. Siobhan and Scotty scrambled unsteadily to their feet and started toward the impromptu barricade.

“Why don’t we just run?” Monica asked, via panicked shouting.

“Letter!” Antigone responded. Siobhan saw her sister pop up, kneeling on the left side of the barricade holding her slender bottle of Pep-Arr Spray brand pepper spray. Her shoulders were shaking slightly and she was deathly pale, but her hands were steady enough on the bottle. Something about her position rattled Siobhan, until she remembered. She grabbed Scotty and jerked him to the left instead of the right, just as a bullet flew from the doorway and hit the desk where they had been going. A huge chip flew off the desk but it only revealed how thick it really was as it embedded deep in the wood.

The man who had fired came around the corner to the doorway, raising a military looking rifle for another shot. He might have gotten it off had it not been for the meddling of (presumably) Gregory Shepherd. The trip wire caught the shooter in the throat and held, sending his legs out from under him. He hit the floor with a thump and a choking gasp, his hands moving to his throat. Above him the second part of the trap, a pair of small gargoyles on a platform that the commotion had disturbed, fell on to his chest with a meaty thunk and the snap of breaking bones. He lay still, breathing but either unconscious or just deciding to stay down. With him down Siobhan and Scotty threw themselves behind the barricade and Siobhan started to fumble in her purse for her own pepper spray.

The first man’s friend came around and stepped over the fallen shooter, raising his own rifle. Antigone depressed the trigger on the pepper spray and a stream lashed out. It wasn’t incredibly easy to aim, but both girls had practiced with their father and she was, at the end of the day, the daughter of a sniper. The man jerked away but the stream still hit his left eye, and he cried out in pain as both eyes slammed shut in real and sympathetic pain. He stumbled back against the wall, one of the boards that caught him snapping with a resounding crack.

Siobhan’s eyes opened wide, and she saw Antigone’s did too. “Everyone out!” Siobhan blurted, making it an order by saying it really loudly instead of with particular force or authority. Scotty was up first, kicking out the front door which had been unlocked with a rattle a bell’s jingle. In various states of stumbling and surefooted-ness, and a universal and continuing sense of panic, they exited.

Right in to yet another man with a rifle, coming around to flank them.