In an alley, blind; and somebody I couldn't see pointing a gun at me..
Typical. That accounting job was looking real good about now.
The flick of light came again, along with a scraping sound..It was a zippo lighter; and it finally caught.
"About time" said the shadowy figure.."I've been trying to light this cigarette for a while."
With the lighters flame still going he set in upright on the ground next to him. In the small corona of brightness it created I could finally see who I was dealing with..
He was a young man in a trenchcoat and slacks..And he was bleeding..And badly; from a wound in his side..
Strangely enough, this seemed to bother him not in the least as he sat against the alley wall..
Maybe it was professional camraderie, but I recognized something familiar. He was a detective too. A detective with a cocky grin and a gun pointed at my head, but still..
I shifted my weight nervously..
A red hot streak shot by my ear close enough that I could fell it's tingle, in passing..
"That was a warning shot" Said the wounded young man "I'm, just letting you know not to do anything foolish. Like trying to get past me and go through that door."
Warning shot? People who had a serious urge to make me dead hadn't come that close..He was good..
Now that he mentioned it; I glanced down the alley and saw what he was talking about..A glowing blue door stood outlining the end of the alley. Why hadn't I seen that before now?
Because I wasn't meant to; came a random thought that made my skin prickle a bit..
"Now" continued the man "Let's have a talk, shall we?"
"I'm BurnSide. You're Rex Falco..Yes, I know who you are. I was told to expect you and keep you out of here. Through that door lies the place you've been looking for; but you can't go there. My job is to keep out trouble-makers, and you look like a world class one to me. So do us all a favor and turn around and go home..And forget you were ever even here.."
"Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Christian Slater?" I said..
..See the witty I was talking about earlier?
I could tell he wanted to laugh. He kept the gun up and covering me though. The hard lines of his face did soften a bit though..
"I'm doing you a kindness, really" He replied "Nobody who goes in there ever comes out the same."
"Maybe, but I've got a job to do too, and I honor my contracts in full, Burnside..I'll bet you understand that."
"I do" he said, with a bit of fellow feeling "But there's no way to get past me for you. I've got the gun..And I know you don't. They wouldn't let you on a plane with a firearm."
He was right..Thank you Anti-Terrorism laws. I'm now so safe in the air that I was going to get killed on the ground because of it..
What I did have though, was a mini-flashlight; and the ghost of an idea..
"Don't be so sure of what you know, my friend" I said; pulling the light from my pocket. I had my hand covering almost all of it and in the dim light of the Zippo I hoped it would vaguely resemble a snub-nosed pistol..
His eyes widened momentarily in surprise, letting me know my idea had worked, but he went back to his usual calmness almost immediately..
"It doesn't matter" he said, nonplussed "As it stands you'll shoot me and I'll shoot you. Then we'll both be out of it. Maybe that would be for the best..But ask yourself something Falco. I've been dying for a long time, can you handle the wound you'll get?"
Any moment now he was going to realize that a coleman flashlight was no immediate danger to his health. Then I'd be stuck.
I could see I wasn't going to outbluff him; and I didn't want to gamble I could outhink him..
In cases like this there's only one thing to do..
Go with the oldest trick in the book.
"Catch" I shouted; and tossed the flashlight in a high arc towards him..
Reflexively, his eyes and hands went up. Just for a second. He snapped back his attention in an instant..
Not quick enough.
Two quick steps brought me to him. I kicked out at his hand and sent the gun skittering down the alley towards the glowing blue door..
I was down to the end and had already picked up the gun and had it trained on him in the time it took him to climb to his feet..
I guess that wound must have hurt him more than he let on..
"Sit back down, son" I told him "You look uncomfortable, and I'm already past you. You can't stop me now."
To my surprise he did just that.."I guess I can't. Maybe I shouldn't have tried anyway. This place needs some shaking up now and then."
The fight seemed to have left him, although I wouldn't want to bet money on that..
"I'm going to give you a final warning though; as a professional courtesy..If you go in through that door you may never come out. It will eat your soul..It did mine" Said Burnside.
" I gave them everything..My time, my talents, my insights and my humor..And they made me a guard. They said it was the best thing for me..They said I deserved it.."
"I feel like they absorbed me."
"They'll eat you too, Falco.."
I wanted to give some serious thought about what he said. I wanted to crack a joke. I wanted to say something profound. I wanted to deny what he said would ever happen to me. But time would be working against me soon.
Instead I said " You should get yourself to a hospital, chief..You need to get that hole in your side looked at. "
I spared one last glance for that powerful but broken detective and tried not to fell a sense of foreboding for myself..
I tipped him a salute; turned; and stepped through the door at the end of the alley..
Into the Unexplained Mysteries Forum...
End of part three..