Never trust an unexpected call. That’s Agency 101.
They should’ve added: even if it’s from your doctor’s office, or even if you’re not on a case, or even if you’re only an agent-in-training.
Something hammered against the door. Probably that bull of a nurse.
Elliot hunkered in the storage closet and pulled his Smith & Wesson 686. Everybody made fun of his cowboy gun, but he carried what he wanted on his own time.
The door splintered. Blue scrubs barreled in and Elliot shoved, toppling a supply shelf onto the woman. She scowled but caught the shelf as the cleaning supplies tumbled around her.
“Nurse Ratched, I presume?” Elliot said.
She didn’t laugh, but she did sort of growl. Maybe that counted.
Elliot held his gun low so the woman couldn’t see it. He fired between the shelves, hitting her in the leg. She crumpled, and the shelf collapsed, pinning her down.
Elliot stepped around it. “Nah…you’re built more like Annie Wilkes. That’s what I’ll put in my report.” He took a gun from her pocket and a syringe lying by her hand then patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Annie; someone will come for you. Now what do you people want?”
He prodded her with his foot when she didn’t respond. She glowered. So far, she’d given him a scowl, a growl, and a glower. He was beginning to detect a theme.
Elliot activated his distress beacon. He’d decked the fake doctor and locked him in the exam room, but he’d seen at least two other “nurses.”
He crouched low and glanced into the hallway. A bullet glanced back, shattering the doorframe.
“That’ll wake you up!” He shook wood chips from his hair.
He scanned the closet. Trash bags, ammonia, bleach. Perfect.
He doubled a trash bag and poured a half-gallon of ammonia in.
“I’d hold my breath if I were you, Annie.”
He followed his own advice and added the bleach. He spun the bag to give it a temporary seal, then slung it down the hallway like an All-Star pitcher.
A bullet caught his arm, and he howled a curse before remembering he was supposed to be holding his breath.
When the coughing started, Elliot dashed down the hall. A bullet whizzed by, and he fired back blindly. If they didn’t run from the gas, maybe they’d run from a bullet. They’d be toast unless they got to open air anyway.
He suddenly realized Nurse Wilkes couldn’t get to open air. That could be a problem.
Maybe the gas wouldn’t spread that far, but she was on the floor, which wasn’t in her favor. But there was no going back now.
Elliot rounded a corner, and Fake Doctor rammed a cart into his mid-section. He grunted, heaving an involuntary breath, grateful he must be far enough away from the gas. He dodged a slash from a scalpel, but he was already off-balance, and the move landed him on his backside. He fired a shot, but the man dove out of the way.
Elliot tried to rise, but it didn’t work. The lights seemed to dim then brighten. His gun was suddenly too heavy for his arm. And the room started spinning. And…the syringe.
He should’ve capped that before putting it in his pocket.
He fired one more shot at the blurry fake doctor.
Elliot woke up tied to a chair, throat burning, bullet-wound throbbing, and head pounding.
“Ah, Mr. Walker.”
It took a minute for the room to come into focus.
Elliot squinted at the speaker and was surprised to see Nurse Wilkes, leg bandaged and breathing just fine.
He sluggishly turned toward Fake Doctor.
“Eyes on me, Mr. Walker,” the woman said. “I’m in charge.”
“Shexist of me,” he slurred. “Apologies.”
“It’s actually a useful convention.” She smiled. “I must say, this has been one of my more amusing excursions. You did shoot me, but you also managed to inject yourself with a sedative by falling on the syringe…a thing I would’ve believed impossible.” She laughed. “And you nearly killed the hostages.”
“Hoshtages?” Elliot shook his head, trying to clear it.
“Oh, yes. The real doctor and his staff were in the back room. Your chlorine gas almost suffocated them. First time I’ve saved my own hostages from a federal agent.”
Elliot frowned. “Doc Satterly?” It bothered him that he hadn’t considered hostages; he’d known Doc since he was a kid.
“He’s fine. Murder wasn’t our goal. We just needed you.”
“Why? I’m not even ashent…agent…yet.” He stuttered over the word. “And where are we?” Not Doc Satterly’s building. This felt like a basement—cinder-block walls, musty, and too dark to see the other end of the room.
“Technically, we just needed someone with a distress code. A trainee seemed easiest.”
He perked up.
“Sadly, the beacon you activated earlier did not go through. We blocked it. But this one will. We need to eliminate some rivals.”
“You use your little distress code, your people come here with guns drawn, guns are drawn in response, and well…c' est la vie.”
“Just call in a tip,” Elliot grumbled.
“Oh, no. Then you would come in nice and neat and maybe a few people would end up in jail, but probably not many nor for very long. We want them dead.”
Elliot considered his options. They’d tied his hands behind him, and his torso to the chair, but his feet were free.
They always forgot the feet.
“You’re gonna use the agency as a strike team?”
“Yes, dear…and let’s get a move on.” She tapped her watch. “I have someplace to be.”
She pursed her lips. “I mentioned that murder wasn’t our goal. But if murder accomplishes our goal, well…we won’t hesitate.”
She signaled someone behind her, and a light flickered on farther down the room. Doc Satterly and his nurses sat bound and gagged on the floor, guns trained on them by the fake nurses—one giant bald dude and a younger guy with a babyface.
“Fine.” Elliot clenched his jaw. “I need my hands.”
Fake Doctor went around to untie him. Nurse Wilkes kept talking. “You have one chance, Mr. Walker. We’re taking the hostages with us, and we will kill them if the code doesn’t do what we want.”
She brandished his own gun at him.
Elliot punched a code into his smartwatch.
The woman took it and smashed it underfoot.
Elliot pointed at the gun. “I don’t suppose you’d leave that here.”
She leveled it at his face. “Not a chance.”
“That’s what I figured.”
Elliot shoved backward, slamming Fake Doctor between the chairback and the wall.
Wilkes fired, and a spray of concrete hit Elliot’s cheek. He ducked and bent double, charging her like a bull, using the chair posts as horns. She was pinned between them—no opportunity to get free in his mad rush.
She fired again, and Elliot felt the impact as the bullet hit the chair.
He grinned. The revolver was out. Good thing he’d opted for a six-shooter.
He pulled her gun from her pocket as he pressed forward.
The fake nurses aimed for him, but their boss was in the way.
He fired at the one he could see in his peripheral vision. Babyface dropped. Baldy targeted Eliot’s head, but Doc Satterly kicked the man’s feet out from under him. He toppled, and the shot went wide. Elliot shoved Nurse Wilkes onto the floor, whirled, and slammed the chair into a sitting position on top of Baldy’s chest, hoping to impale the man and free himself in one stroke. It half worked. Now he just had a bloody chair strapped to his back.
Fake Doctor rose.
Elliot shot him in the gut.
Nurse Wilkes was already up the stairs.
Elliot didn’t go after her. He untied the hostages and helped Doc Satterly to his feet.
“Did you have to kill ‘em, Elliot? She was gonna let us go.”
“She wasn’t gonna let anybody go, sir.”
“Oh.” The lines of the old man’s face settled into understanding. “Yes, I see.”
Elliot put his back to the doctor. “Could you take this chair off my back, sir?”
Doc chuckled and started untying. “I’ve done a lot of surgeries, but this is my first chair-ectomy.”
“Hopefully your last, sir.”
Elliot checked the henchmen and used rope from the hostages to restrain the one who was still alive. He didn’t neglect to tie the feet.
Doc Satterly checked on his nurses. “So that woman is just gonna get away?”
“Oh, no, sir.” Elliot grinned. “That code activated two beacons. One for me; one for the bad guy. I put a tracker on her when I had her pinned in your office. She won’t get far.”
“Well now…that’s somethin’, isn’t it?” Doc clapped him on the back.
“Sure is, sir.”
Elliot took a gun from the dead henchman and checked the chamber. “Now, I gotta go call off the cavalry before we have ourselves a shootout.”