Attention has been diverted from us. The Hollywood Starlet dashes about, making herself and her immaculate white dress a moving target. Blue paint erupts all over her body in Rorschach. I’ve heard no human make the sound that comes out of her throat, more high pitched and horrified with a distinct gurgling sound in the bottom of her. Our helpers are masters of stealth, leaving no clues but shadows dashing back and forth from tree to tree, leaving only flying paint balls and fireworks as evidence of that passing.
By now, the lone guard is on his feet and has his own handgun drawn. I’m worried this may be the moment where we need to escalate the violence one step. Before I can get my gun out of its holster, Mephis has his left hand on my right arm.
“Look,” Mephis says in a voice only I can hear over the screams and the pops of paint. “There is no way he’s taking the first shot.”
I watch, and sure enough, his demeanor has me convinced as well that this fat, compliant guard is even more useless than we had initially surmised. He dances and peacocks around the room, grip of his pistol clenched tightly in both hands, struggling abysmally hard to maintain the hard-assed-movie-cop-under-pressure look in his eyes. I can see him internally backing this up with lots of zooms and sweeping pans and guitar-heavy rock behind the action. By the time he has to recall this event, all of his memories will be from the outside looking in, and he will never remember what he actually saw. It will be a cold day in hell when he doesn’t see himself as the star. In truth, he’s retreating slightly slower than the rest.
Nepotism steps between running people. My eyes stay on that guard, and I think our best bet is to shoot him, not only because the fewer formal offenses of public decency, and alleviating the possibilities of problems either through action or procreation.
Nepotism can see what I’m thinking, and he shakes his head disapprovingly. “Let’s get into the lab before we shoot anyone,” he whispers. As people filter out to the parlor on the other side of the wall, the guard takes notice of this. There is no way he can rightly leave them on their own. They need him for comfort. He must stay with the people he protects. He dashes through the west door.
“Go west, young man,” Mephis says, eyes wide, shaking his head slightly.
“Come on,” Nepotism orders, stepping into the lead toward the stairs.
Five people left. Four. Two. And with that, the dining room is empty save for the three of us an a lot of powdery white smoke. Behind us, distant, more screams. What is our only option? Dash into the basement. These are the odds that really make me question my decision to wrap myself up with these people.
Nep reaches the stairs into the laboratory first, and it’s a good five or six steps down before our escort arrives at the windows, casting aside cumbersome cloaks and duffel bags to reveal black fatigues and Uzi 9mm’s. The ALA kids fan into a trident as soon as they burst through the window framing, silently securing the room, making sure we are the only people present.
“Let’s get out of here,” I say. We continues down the stairs into the darkened corridor out of sight.