Short Story – Lash

The light had faded from the sky completely as Lash entered the building. Its crumbling exterior promised a barely habitable interior, and it didn’t disappoint. Drywall littered the floors, holes gaped in walls. Windows were reduced to tiny glass teeth around the edges of their frames.
But this wasn’t a time to be choosy. It was the best he was likely to find this night. On the other hand, it would be a dismal place to die.
He wanted to take the stairs two at a time on his way to the roof, but his damaged leg protested at the first step. He settled for a hurried shuffle, holding the surprisingly intact hand railing. His bag was still slung over his shoulder and across his body, its precious contents a comforting weight.
He was about to start up to the fourth floor when he sensed, and then heard, two people enter below. He quickly weighed his options and decide to continue with his original plan. He grasped the railing and started to climb.
The stair gave way with a twisting squeal, and his foot crashed through it. He instinctively pulled back and felt the edges bite into his ankle. Panicked, Lash pulled harder. Pain lanced through his leg, but the stair held him fast. He breathed deeply to calm himself. The sounds from his pursuers below were becoming louder; he figured they were just a floor away.
He stepped down with his injured foot to release the pressure and used his hands to press the broken stair down as well. He slowly extricated himself and stared: there was blood, his blood, on the ragged edge of a splinter in the tread. He shook himself once and ran upwards.
As he ran he screamed at the pain, both old and new, but it didn’t matter now. He glimpsed his pursuers, a half flight down, as he broke out of the stairwell and onto the roof of the building. A loud crack! sounded and a bullet slashed the inside of his left forearm. Lash felt the blood running from the wound and pouring across his wrist, and he smiled. He cupped the hand and gathered the blood in his palm, then reached into his bag with his other hand. His grip closed around his pistol.
He spun to face his attackers. They were sleek and dangerous, clad entirely in black armour. Their helmets were inky darkness, rendering them faceless in the gloom. Each held a large, matte black pistol pointed at him. These were trained killers, and he was their mark. There was no escape.
Lash whipped his hand up between them, flinging the blood towards them and throwing himself backwards at the same time. One killer got a shot off, but then the assassins recoiled, raising their hands in a vain effort to keep the crimson from reaching their bodies.
The blood spattered across both helmet visors and across arms, torsos, legs and more. There was a sound like crumpling paper, and the victims dropped their weapons and started to strip off their helmets and protective armour. Dense, white smoke rose from the red stripes, and Lash raised his .22.
Pop, pop. Two shots, no more. His pursuers fell heavily to the rooftop, bullet wounds to the head being usually fatal.
Lash gasped as his pain reasserted itself. He sat down, shoved the gun back into the bag, and waited for his ride and his medic, regretting that he had been forced to waste two bullets.

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