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31

Jagged Glass Ballet

By Brendan Detzner

Tunnels

31

Dragon opened his eyes. The piano was gone. He got up and looked at Toothpick. Toothpick looked back at him, did a double take, and started whispering furiously.

"It's noon! You haven't moved all day! We have to get out of here!"

Dragon looked back and forth, dazed.

"Jesus Christ, it's a miracle the blacksuits haven't found us already! We've got to get going!"

A cluster of red laser sights burst out from the dark. There were many quiet noises, like whispers. Toothpick grabbed Dragon, and the two of them slid into an adjoining tunnel. Dragon felt a pain in three places. He had been shot several times. He felt his blood drip down onto the dusty old aluminum.

Toothpick was bleeding next to Dragon, and seemed to be more used to it. He flicked his wrist, and several small metallic objects came flying out of his hand. He couldn't have had time to reach his belt. Nobody's that fast.

"Come on!" Toothpick scampered down the tunnel. He turned a corner. "Those should keep them in place for a while. Wrap those wounds fast." He waited until Dragon had the bullet wounds covered. "I'm going to head closer to the complex walls. They won't use guns there- even with the silencers, they could shoot through the wall and hurt somebody on the other side. I've been shot in the leg a couple times, so you're going to have to help me move. Go straight ahead until I say stop. Go!"

Dragon dragged Toothpick up the tunnel. He heard the blacksuits struggling around the corner. The sound was getting closer. He felt Toothpick nudge him left. He turned left. One of his bandages got caught on something as he turned the corner. He ripped it off and threw it aside.

After a few more yards, Toothpick began to stir.

"Stop! Pull out your knife, they're right behind us."

Dragon pulled the knife from his shoe and pulled himself up against the side of the tunnel. Toothpick pulled up next to him. In one hand he had several wooden spikes. In the other was a glass pop bottle with some kind of liquid inside of it.

"Remember, they won't shoot if we don't." He paused. "Now!" He tossed the bottle down the tunnel. Just as the blacksuits turned the corner, there was a flash of light. They pulled back, but Toothpick was already there. Two blacksuits were impaled immediately, and a third had his back broken by a weighted boot right afterwards. By the time Dragon reached the fight Toothpick had killed two more. His moves were like a ballet, and his expression was like broken glass. Dragon was entranced- he almost failed to notice the blacksuit diving at him.

Dragon hit the floor, grabbed the blacksuit's shirt and threw him into the wall. The motion was uncomfortable- he didn't have enough room to get any leverage. The blacksuit turned back around and pulled a knife. Dragon pulled his own knife out of his pocket and impaled it in the blacksuit’s chest. Dragon whirled around and caught another blacksuit with a punch to the face. He dived on the soldier and held the knife to his neck.

"Move and die."

The blacksuit was still thinking it over when Toothpick stabbed him in the back. The blacksuit slumped to the floor.

"Let's go. There's more coming, and I can't fight them all off and watch your back at the same time." His voice was coarse and weathered. Dragon grabbed him and began to drag him through the tunnels. Toothpick moved less and less, until Dragon was moving him entirely by himself.

"Toothpick?" Dragon asked. No good- he was unconscious. Dragon set down the tunnels with renewed speed. He could hear the blacksuits around every corner, in every passage, like a pack of wolves. He combed through his memory. Left, or right, maybe. Up? It had to be up. Left then? He went left. A laser dot settled on his forehead. He drew and fired. The blacksuit fell loudly to the ground. Dragon heard several more rushing towards the sound. Instinct. Instinct, instinct, instinct...

Toothpick roused himself and lifted his arm.

"That way. Home..." He fell back asleep. Dragon clutched his own open wound with one hand, grabbed Toothpick with the other, and continued down the passage.

He turned a corner. There was a ray of light up ahead of him. He slapped Toothpick on the face.

"Wake up! It's over there, go!" Toothpick's eyes opened, and he began to crawl towards the light. Dragon shot off away from him and crawled as fast as he could. He didn't bother holding the unbandaged wound- he bled freely. He didn't think about where he had been or where he was going, none of that was present, none of that, anywhere. Instinct, instinct, instinct. Move, move, move...

Before he knew it he was in the tunnel that led to his room. He listened carefully- The blacksuits were pretty far away. If he got into the room now they wouldn't know where he had gone.

He was about to start moving when his hand touched the ground. It was moist. He looked down. It was blood. He had been leaving a blood trail the entire time. It would lead them straight to him.

Dragon thought for a second, then burst into motion. He passed his room and crawled over to the room next to his. He dripped as much blood as he could along the way, leaving a trail that was impossible to miss. Then he covered the wound and doubled back. He was about to dive inside, but he peaked through the grill first, just to be sure.

Inside Scraps, Big Mike, and the others were wandering around. Dragon realized they were probably looking for him.

"Where is he?" Scraps said.

"I don't know. We've looked everywhere." Robert Y. Frost said. "Look, you guys go back outside. I'll check the other rooms. He's probably visiting someone." They left, Robert Y. Frost one way and the rest the other. The second the door closed Dragon ripped off the grate and tumbled into the room. He replaced the grate and hit the deck. He heard someone crawl past his room. They had missed him.

32

Robert Y. Frost opened the door to the room, and closed it behind him.

"Dragon? Are you in here?"

Five little red dots shone through the ventilation duct. Five shots rang out in muffled glory and plowed through their target's skull.

"YOU GOT ONE! YES! GRAB THE BODY AND MOVE, WE NEED TO KNOW WHO HE IS! MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!!!"

33

Dragon looked at himself in the mirror. His shirt was mostly

torn off. Everything was covered in blood. He took one of the scraps of his shirt and wiped off his face.

He examined his wounds. He had been shot once in the leg, but it had only grazed him. There was also a shot in the chest. It felt absolutely horrible. He had no way to tell exactly how much damage it had done, and without medical help it was almost certain to become infected and kill him.

Still, something told him that it could have been a lot worse. Should have been a lot worse. Should be a lot worse, even. He looked at the wound, and suddenly it began to hurt more and more. When his knees buckled under him he almost expected it.

He kept staring at the wound, and as the pain doubled and redoubled, he felt like a fog was lifting, his vision was clearing. He crawled to his sleeping mat and held his hands to the wound, pressing on it as hard as he could. Just as he noticed his pulse was going at least four times too fast, it began to slow. Just as he realized how blurry his vision was, it began to clear. Before too long he was back to normal.

The normal thing to do when you've been shot three times is to die, quickly, expediently, and without any excessive thought on the subject. Dragon wasn't really in a position to do much else. He closed his eyes.

34

Although his near death experience was a good chance to catch up on his sleep, Dragon was still grateful when the pain hit. After the initial muscle spasms he was able to look up into Simon's big brown eyes.

"What the hell is going on?" she said.

Dragon got up and felt his wounds. They were generously coated with a chalky white powder. He noticed that the holes had already scabbed over.

"I found that stuff in a bag in your pocket, with instructions." Simon said. Toothpick must have put it in there, Dragon thought.

"Well, come on! Why the hell are you bleeding, where the hell have you been all day, and what in the fucking living hell happened to Robert Y. Frost?" She spoke with actual emotion. Dragon had almost forgotten what that sounded like.

Dragon looked back and forth a few times. He was still dizzy. There wasn't a whole lot he could say, but a few useless words fell out of his mouth like a spilled drink.

"I got shot."

"Yes, that's absolutely fucking right! You got shot! You got shot!" She began to hyperventilate. She laughed, painfully. "You were shot right? Of course you got shot!" She laughed a little more, then punched Dragon in the stomach.

This was the final, crippling blow to Dragon's equilibrium. He threw up all over the floor. Once he was done, he gathered up his dignity, turned to Simon, and started talking. Instinct reared its ugly head, and his cover story practically told itself.

"Last night I saw a light coming from down the tunnel someplace. I pried open the vent cover and crawled inside to see what was going on. I didn't get a good look at them when they started shooting at me. I've been crawling around the tunnels all day avoiding them. I don't know anything about Robert Y. Frost. What happened to him?"

"I don't know. He went into the room next door looking for you and he never came out."

Dragon was thrown back a couple of inches. "Next door?"

"Yeah, why?"

Dragon sunk back down to the floor. "I gotta rest."

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