by B J Bourg
Jared Broomfield turned the sticky knob and eased the faded, wooden door open. He stood to the side and peered into the shadows. When his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he took a cautious step into the room. Water dripped from a leaky faucet and echoed against the quiet stillness of the night.
Squatting low, he grimaced when his palm made contact with the damp floor tiles and the smell of stale urine rose to greet his nostrils. He started to wipe his hand on his pant leg when the sound of footsteps interrupted him.
Jared jumped to his feet and squeezed into the nearest stall, his heart beating a thunderous tune against the inside of his sternum. He licked his salty lips and wrapped his fingers around the pitted handle of the Cold Steel Tanto that nestled in the leather sheath strapped to his narrow belt. The footsteps echoed increasingly louder. Nearer, nearer.
Jared felt a surge of panic as the footsteps stopped just outside the stall door. Why were they doing this? He had been a loyal soldier. He had obeyed every order to the letter, had never questioned authority. He was willing to...
“Jared? Jared Broomfield? Are you in there?”
Jared dragged the hair-splitting blade from his sheath and held it with a hand that shook. His training as a CIA operative had included a plan of survival for every eventuality — except when the CIA terminated employment and sent an assassin to deliver the pink slip.
The chrome latch rattled and the stall door creaked open. This was it — time to get wet! Letting out a war cry, Jared shoved his shoulder hard against the door and sent the assassin sprawling. Before the assassin could regain his balance, Jared closed the distance between them and plunged the six-inch blade deep into his chest. Jared twisted and shoved on the handle, as the assassin clawed at the knife with weakening hands.
Jared jerked the knife out of the assassin’s chest and was about to give him a second serving, when a violent electrical force gripped his back with the wrath of an angry God and flung him to the ground.
* * *
“Where am I?” Jared heard himself ask. He was lying on some sort of cot and it sounded like he was in a barrel.
“You’re in the BBC,” a gruff voice answered from a distance.
“The Blue Blood Cell.”
Jared leaned up. He winced when the blood shifted inside his head; it caused his brain to pound against his skull like a jackhammer bouncing off cement. All was dark, save for dim light emitting from a small, square opening across the room. The opening was lined with metal bars. “What in hell is the Blue Blood Cell? And why am I here?”
“You screwed up something huge,” the gruff voice said.
Jared stood slowly and walked to the square opening. He peered through, but all was black except for a small, fading light bulb at the center of a long corridor. “Where are you?”
“I’m just down the hall.”
“Who are you?”
“Come on, Jared, it’s me, Poochie.”
Jared scratched his head. Who the hell is Poochie? No matter. “What is this place?”
“What do you think it is, moron. It’s a jail.”
“Why am I here? I did nothing.”
“None of us did.”
“I’m a CIA agent. I was attacked by an assassin and I was forced to defend myself. I did nothing wrong. I demand to be released!”
Laughter echoed from the darkness. “CIA? Dude, you’re Jared the quack janitor from the Silverville gas station. You forgot to take your meds again.”
“Shut up! I’m CIA! I demand to speak to the President!”
“Hey, keep your voice down, man! You killed a cop tonight. If you’re lucky, they’ll let you live till tomorrow.”
“A cop?” Jared glanced down at his clothes. Khaki pants and shirt. An embroidered logo on the left side of his chest read, Jared. And on the right, Silverville Stop and Pump. Not exactly the clothes of choice for a CIA man.
Jared’s internal clock stopped ticking when his eyes caught sight of the stains on the front of his shirt and pants. Even in the dim light there was no mistaking the dark spots of blood.
He sank to the ground, feeling the wet fabric push against his legs. “This has to be a trick!”
“Dude, I heard the jailors talking,” Poochie said. “Seems your boss called the cops because you were acting weird. A cop found you in the bathroom and you ambushed him. They say you carved him like a Thanksgiving turkey.” Poochie’s voice became a mere hiss. “When you kill a cop around these parts, they put you in the Blue Blood Cell — and you never come out alive.”
“I’m an agent! They were terminating my employment! It was self-defense! They can’t do...”
A door squealed open at the end of the corridor and light gushed through like a rushing river and cloaked the cell in brilliance. Something on the ceiling caught Jared’s attention. He stared in awe at a life-size painting of a police officer lying dead on a lonely street. There was a bullet hole in the officer’s chest and he was bleeding. Jared felt something wet splash against his face. He dabbed at the wetness with trembling fingers and looked down — the blood on his hand was blue.
A sharp clanking and the sound of chains rattling outside the cell door jerked Jared’s attention from his hand. The door creaked open and a wall of blue uniforms squeezed through the rectangular opening. There had to be twenty of them, and they all carried long sticks. The jailor at the front of the pack was barrel-chested and square-jawed. He threw something in Jared’s direction. It bounced off the floor and rolled to where he knelt — a pill bottle.
Jared reached out a trembling hand and turned it so he could read the label. The name at the top read, Broomfield, Jared. He skipped down to the bold print at the middle of the label: Risperdal.
“Time to take your medicine, psycho,” Square-Jaw said.
Jared twisted the cap off the pill bottle and looked inside. It was empty. He looked up in time to see Square-Jaw step forward and swing the long stick at his head. There was a sickening thump and the bottle fell to the floor...
Copyright © 2006 by B J Bourg