Another exciting glimpse of Hybrid, an Origins tale in the Shadowmark universe.
We exited the apartment, this time turning right to the stairwell. I didn’t trust the elevators. Security could shut them down at any time. They could lock the stairwell too, despite fire codes, but it was a better option than getting stuck in a moving box in a four-hundred-fifty-meter-high elevator shaft.
Five flights down, I heard the click of the locks in the heavy fire doors. For the first time in my life, a sick feeling of dread lodged itself in my stomach. I glanced at Toral, whose face had gone white with fear.
The stairwell was now secure—we’d have to bust out of it. I drew my gun. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and checked it. Building security was calling me to let me know what was going on. So, they didn’t know it was me. Not yet.
“They know something’s not right,” I said.
Toral drew her gun as well, from inside the folds of her sari. We jogged down the stairs. I grabbed one of Toral’s bags to share the load.
Ten flights down. One hundred forty-eight to go.
Three minutes over. I pushed faster. Toral followed.
At floor 50, Toral was breathing heavily. I wanted to go faster, to keep my cover. My mission was still within reach, if they didn’t see me with her.
Leave her. She can take care of herself.
Five floors up, someone opened the stairwell door. The only people who could unlock it at this point had security clearance and radio contact with the control room. The person began descending.
Thoughts of abandoning Toral vanished. Still, I ran faster. She kept up. The footsteps dropped behind.
Twenty flights to go. A shout rang down the stairwell. More footsteps echoing down to us. We kept to the wall, out of sight.
Ten more. Toral was gasping for breath.
Five more. She stumbled into me but didn’t fall. I helped right her, then led us down the remaining stairs. At the bottom, the door to the outside was locked, as expected.
Toral gasped against the wall, her hands on her knees. I looked at the emergency door handle. As soon as I pushed it, the alarm would sound, and they’d know exactly where we planned to exit. But it was locked, anyway. Breaking out was going to require a feat of strength I’d never tried before.
The footsteps grew closer. Why hadn’t they sent someone up from the bottom? Probably they had. A man or two was probably waiting on the other side of this door. Another door to the left led out into the lobby. Likely they had more security out that door than the one we were standing by. This door was the one I needed to open.
Toral inhaled deeply and stood, pointing her gun at the approaching footsteps. She took a step out from the wall.
The door would swing outward. I jumped up and kicked the handle with all my strength. The alarm sounded, a wailing siren signaling everyone to come find us. The door had groaned, but not budged. I jumped up and kicked it again with both feet, pushing off the door as hard as I could and landing on my feet two meters away. I rushed the door, jamming my shoulder into it.
The lock groaned. I felt it bend on the inside of the door. I backed up and rushed it again, this time pain ran through my shoulder as I broke my left collarbone.
More shouts from above.
Toral glanced at me as I backed up again to rush the door. “They’re almost here,” she said calmly.
I nodded and rushed the door again, this time hitting it with my right shoulder. The pain almost sent me to the floor, but the door creaked. Almost there.
Again, and again. The siren still wailed. The footsteps pounded the level above us.
Again. I pulled out my gun and kicked the door.
It flew open.
Toral fired at someone above us. The sound reverberated through the stairwell like a sonic boom. Shots fired from outside, bullets ricocheting through the open door.
I grabbed the back of Toral’s sari and pulled her to the side. She continued firing at the stairs. Someone groaned, and I heard a dull thud as a bullet hit its mark and a body fell to the floor on the landing.
What did you think? Tell me in the comments! Look for Hybrid, late 2017.
Want to read Snippet #1? Go here.