Down on one knee, I leaned back against the rusty pipes behind me. They are cold. I can feel their icy indifference through my jacket. The sensation is fleeting, though. I am starting to lose myself in the moment. One second to breathe. My arms feel weak, my legs tired, my confidence naked in a large world, alone. I need to concentrate, but something inside me yearns to savor the cold touch of the pipes. Their solidity is my piton driven into the rock face of desperation I am scaling. My anger can make me fly.
My right eye half-closes, I inhale, and lift my Beretta perpendicular to my face. The clip slides out, and I catch it at attention. Five rounds. An odd number. I reload the clip, ready to make them even.
Inhale. The air powers my overhead view. I scan the last memory I have of the old factory I’m in, the floor I saw from 3 stories as I fell towards the ground. I knew I’d need this, and so review intensely. I am a rat in a maze, moving near the speed of light. Each dead end, I reset my position to the beginning, scanning for the correct way through. Left.
My teeth clench as I hear the inescapable sound of feet pounding the pavement to my side, someone landing from a jump. My feet know the direction, let them handle this, I need to buy them time. I continue to spring forward, my gaze swinging to the left, my hand leading the way. I start pulling the trigger before my shot is even lined up. His glok starts to respond in turn. I am still moving. The bullet exits the chamber. It is halfway there as I turn my gaze back forward, thinking my farewells to #5, dragging my wrist who in turn drags my berreta forward. There is cover ahead, one shot is all I can afford to pay fate for the next turn.
I have little left anyway.
They took everything dear to me… it wasn’t personal I knew. I was merely involved by being alive. The emptiness of happenstance only fueled the black hole of rage that grew within me. I turned right, ordered my feet to stop, my right arm ecstatic he was back in the fray, reared right back around towards my target. I slid into the metal container, shoving off of it with my left arm, changing direction back towards the way I came. I needed to make sure the last goon I shot at was no longer a threat and if he wasn’t, he better make sure I am. They would pay… they would all pay. Compensation in their blood, my gun an invoice for death.
I turned the corner in a full sprint, my arm leading the way, firing two shots. Number 4 and 3 joined #5 in his chest, his arms going slack, he looked at the ground, frustrated that it would catch him, the last to hold him alive. Again, I ordered my feet to stop, skidding into the fallen man’s legs. My right hand covering my back, my left scooped up the man’s gun. Just in time; they were flanking me on the balconies above, trying to seal my exit. The fools had confirmed my destination as the right one. No sooner had I scooped up more for the party, lead sparked on my path, rebounding skyward. The goon on the balcony was pouring his clip towards me, a gourd showering the ground with malice.
I was already drenched. Sitting in a chair, my hands cuffed on the 3rd floor, I had escaped only to have filth from the abandoned factory mixed with my own blood personify my emotional scars. They were taunting me, beating me, demanding answers with no care if I answered them. Apathetic sadists, all of them. I kicked off the table, falling out of the window backwards, managing to take one of them standing behind me along for the descent. We fell onto the side of the overhanging catwalk, my chair breaking violently, shoving a large splinter into my lower back. My solace was my travel mate breaking my fall, knocking him unconscious as we tumbled upon some old, stacked pipes that clanged loudly to the floor, covering us in dirt. I managed to work the gun out of his holster, step my legs through my cuffs, and use #6 to severe their connection.
Gunshots signaled my exit, bullets bit at my heels. I needed cover.
I kept running, a catwalk up ahead my only chance for getting more ground behind me. The goon didn’t care, and continued firing as I ran with all haste under the catwalk, bullets ricocheting loudly, each one causing my body to be infused with more endorphins. I could see the far wall up ahead, and could only hope the door was there, and open. It was.
The daylight harshly surprised at my arrival, did not illuminate an exit strategy. I was in a maze of metal and rock. I ran forwards, knowing more distance between me and my pursuers was my only chance. Not much of a chance really… I was sorely out-manned and somewhat out-gunned. I didn’t care, I’d find a chance.
…but first, I have to get out of Las Vegas.
Actually, I’m not really in a Max Payne situation… I’m in my hotel room at the Venetian, fixin’ to don my Universal Mind uniform, and head down to the welcome party that Adobe is throwing at this years MAX conference. I’m sore from climbing yesterday, and taking a trail ride on horse with the crew… I need to start working out again, haven’t felt this way in awhile, pretty cool to remember.
Saw a lot of friends today and other code-celebrities, and snagged me one of the uber-posters. For the next few days, when I’m not speaking, I’ll be on the 5th floor exhibition hall at the Universal Mind booth, or nearbouts. Come say, “Yo!” and bring leads.