Last time on Ace Archer: Ace pulled a raybeam pistol on his nurse. Really, what else could you possibly need to know?
“Do I need to call the charge nurse, Mister Brakura?” the unpleasant nurse said, ignoring the raybeam pistol that had just appeared in his hand.
Ace aimed the gun at the television hanging from the wall across the room and puled the trigger. A blue beam of light shot from the concentric circles at the muzzle end of the raygun and seared a centimeter-wide hole in the flatscreen. The gun felt so familiar in Ace’s hand. It felt more familiar than the hand itself did. So did the grin that spread across his loose, wrinkled face.
“Now, lady, take out the das’t IV,” he said.
“We’ve got a code red now!” Vera called over the intercom. “Repeat, code red!”
Toby Proctor was ready for this. The red light that had activated two days ago had refused to go out. According to his liaison with the Urania Group, there was a possibility while the light remained on that “Harold Brakura” would attempt an escape. They also warned him that conventional security might not be enough to deal with him. Whatever “ACTIVE FLUX” meant, it was apparently enough to get the Urania Group up in arms. Five hours later, a package had arrived by courier. Code red meant it was time for Toby to open it.
Pulling a letter opener that looked like an old-style airplane propeller, Toby cut the tape sealing the cardboard box from the Urania Group. Inside was something enveloped in pink bubble wrap. Removing the protective plastic, Toby found himself with a ten year-old cell phone, the kind with an antenna you had to pull out and a one-line LCD screen for typing the phone number into. The plastic antenna had been pulled out, though, and replaced with a foot-long red, black and white braided wire ending at what looked like a tiny copper sextant.
“In case containment fails, maintain 100% surveillance,” read a yellow Post-It affixed to the phone.
Toby slipped the weird phone into his pocket and headed out of his office on the way to the encephalopathy ward. Whatever was going down, he wasn’t going to miss it.
Ace had found a cane to replace the walker he usually used to get around the halls of the encephalopathy ward. Even though he was feeling more energetic than he had in twenty years, he still needed a little support. One handed support, since he had a blue and silver raybeam gun in the other. A few blasts from it had sent most of the nurses running and Ace was preparing himself for the security detail to show up. He had already made it further out than he ever had before.
Realizing that, it reminded him that he didn’t actually have much more of a plan than “take advantage of having a gun.” He was coming up on the monolithic metal doors that separated the ward from the rest of the hospital. If he could get past those, maybe… um…
Ace frowned. Maybe the Tempest will crash through the wall and Professor Prospero will yell in his unidentifiable accent that Ace needed to come right away because danger once again faced the universe.
This was not a good plan, Ace realized.
Just as he was about to switch to plan B, the one where he fired and fired and fired at the doors until they were blasted into atoms, they opened instead. A young man with curly hair and glasses stepped inside looking nervously around.
Ace was about to shoot at him when he realized that he had seen the man before.
“Hey you!” he yelled. “What’s your name…”
The man seemed as surprised to be recognized as Ace was surprised to recognize him. The nebbishy young man pointed at himself with the universal sign for “who, me?”
“I know you,” Ace said. “You were in her phone.”
Toby blinked uncomprehendingly. He had come here to deal with Harold Brakura, and here the man himself was accosting him. How did he know that Toby was the man behind his years of imprisonment? The staff of Project Sagittarius was forbidden from direct interaction with the subject thereof, and Toby had never been on the ward. Is this the sort of random occurrence that Urania had warned him about during “ACTIVE FLUX?”
“You’re… Jeremy!” the old man finally said, and even with that it took several seconds for Toby to realize he was in the clear. “You’re Caryn’s fella. I saw a picture of you on her camera-ma-phone.”
“Y…es,” Toby said. “She said to come, ah, meet her here. There was someone she wanted me to meet,” he lied.
“Well, that’s me, kid,” Harold Brakura (who was really Ace Archer) said to Jeremy Roth (who was really Toby Proctor.) “Now you can help me get out of here.”
“Get… out?” Toby asked.
“You’re a real brass tack, aren’t you? Look, just walk me out of here like you’re my das’t grandson or something and I won’t have to explain to Caryn how I shot you.”
At that moment, two of Toby’s security guards appeared in the open doorway. They aimed nonlethal tasers at the old man but Ace held up the weird looking space gun to Toby’s head.
“Don’t worry, kid,” he whispered. “I’m the good guy.”
Toby gave a surreptitious “go away” signal with his hands to the flanking guards. They stepped back, appearing to be cowed by the threat to the hostage.
“Where… where are we going?” Toby/Jeremy asked as he started walking down the hall back the way he came, raybeam gun nestled in the small of his back. The guards watched as Ace led him out of the ward.
“I’ve got a yen to see an art show,” the old man said.
Toby kept walking. Containment seemed to be failing. It was time for surveillance.
To be continued…
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.