Your name is Silas Vantas, and as the sound of gunshots rings out around you, all you can think is, This is not how I imagined my morning going.
Now your car is parked in front of an alleyway and you’re cowering behind it, listening to the glass of your windows shattering down around you. Maybe you wouldn’t be in this situation if you’d gotten up on time this morning, or if you hadn’t decided to try taking a shortcut through the inner city. Heck, now you’re wishing you’d never agreed to lecture at the neighboring college at all. It’s no use dwelling on what ifs, though. You’re here now, and you’d better just try to make it through this.
Or that’s what you’re thinking about when a figure in black rolls through the crack between your front bumper and the alley wall. He ends up resting on one knee, hefting an impressive gun in his hands and reloading it, and suddenly your prospects for making it out of here alive are looking bleak.
That is until he looks up at you and meets your eyes. “Unaffiliated, right?” he asks. After a moment, you nod, and his mouth twists a little. “Tough luck. Too bad you got caught up in this.” He sounds like a smoker.
He turns away from you and leans out from behind the car, shooting off a few deafening rounds. You resist the urge to cover your ears. He rests back again, although this time he doesn’t look at you, instead keeping a watchful eye over the street so that you’re seeing his face in profile. The man’s features are pale and sharp, lines around his eyes from squinting. He’s wearing a dark suit that probably looked crisp and tidy when it was bought, but is now rumpled and and dusty from rolling all over the pavement. Somehow he’s managed not to lose his dark hat. “Mind if I stick around here for a minute? Some idiots out there are trying very hard to make me unalive, and I like the chances that my aliveness status won’t change better here behind your,” he glances at your car, “Prius.” That makes him look at you again. “You drive a Prius?” He sounds incredulous.
You’ve had to defend your choice of vehicle before and so you begin to reply almost automatically. “Prii are the best option for-” You’re cut off by more shots from your companion’s gun, and then both of you are ducking while return fire slams noisily into the vehicle in question. When the barrage ends you look at your poor car, which has definitely seen better days. “Nevermind.”
He chuckles, a rough sound. “What kind of man drives a Prius?”
“A Philosophy professor,” you tell him while you watch him reload.
“No kidding?” he remarks while leaning forward again, and then jerking back with a “Shit!” when bullets strike the wall next to him, peppering his face with tiny pieces of brick. Your already overworked heart stutters. “What are those assholes doing,” he mutters under his breath. “We need better cover fire.” He’s grimacing.
We? As in, including you? The idea plants itself in your head that maybe this guy rolled himself behind your car specifically because he was trying to help you out.
He clears his throat raspily. “So, got any family?”
After a moment to marvel at the bizarreness of small talk in this situation, you answer. “Yeah, I’ve got two boys. The older one’s twelve, and the little one’s five.”
You shake your head even though he’s still peering past your car and can’t see you. “She died four years ago. Brain tumor.”
“So you’re raising two kids by yourself?”
Your new gangster friend turns completely towards you, looks you in the eyes, and tips his inky black hat. “That, sir, is fucking admirable.”
And then he starts spouting blood.
Your name is Jack Noir, and as you fall to the ground, cursing and holding a hand over the bullet hole in your arm, all you can think is This is not how I imagined my morning going.
You need to calm down, take some kind of action, but you’re losing a lot of blood and your vision’s going off from pain. You really hope your crew of morons can shape the fuck up and keep the green suits from taking you out while you’re down, or else you are sinking into some deep shit.
The noise of gunfire returns. Of course, the gunfire itself had never actually stopped, your brain just stopped paying attention to trivial things like sound when a foreign object punched through your flesh. A moment later you realize that someone is talking, presumably to you.
Ah, right, it’s random college professor. It looks like he’s rambling at you, but damned if you’re gonna try to figure out what he’s saying right now. Need to get your head into some more order first. It isn’t like you haven’t been shot before, you don’t know what’s wrong with you today.
Through your haze, you see him strip off his jacket, and then his shirt. He begins ripping the latter apart with his teeth, and you watch with approval. Ain’t any shame in enjoying the finer things in life, and random college professor is definitely one of those things. Nobody’d call him beefy, but his muscles are toned and defined in a way that you can definitely get behind.
And then he grabs your arm.
“What the fuck,” you hiss at him, and try to jerk away, which kind of feels like setting off a stick of dynamite underneath your skin.
He says something back, makes a hand gesture that you’re pretty sure is meant to be “stay still”, and then brings a piece of cloth up to your wound. Oh. He’s trying to stop the bloodflow? That sounds like a good idea. You make a valiant attempt at not flinching when he starts pushing down on the bullet hole, and fail spectacularly. He stays there, applying steady pressure, and you decide to focus on breathing for a little while. There is air inside of your lungs. Now there is air outside of your lungs. Fascinating.
“This isn’t working fast enough,” he says, which you know because apparently you can understand English again. Wonderful. He looks from your arm to your face. “Can you sit up? We need to get your jacket off so I can make a tourniquet.”
Sitting up. Hm. Can you do that? You give it a shot, and grimace when your injured limb tries to move. In response, an arm slides around your back and manhandles you up into leaning back against a tire. Your companion makes short work of the buttons on your suit, then slowly, carefully, pulls first your good arm out of it’s sleeve, and then your mangled one. You make the mistake of looking at it, which is a fairly unpleasant experience overall even though it’s still partially covered by the white material of your shirt. He quickly wraps a few strips of fabric around the area and ties one off relatively loosely on top, and then puts another one just underneath your shoulder, about three inches above where the bullet hole is. This one he ties a bit too snugly for your tastes, but you’re not really in a place to complain about it. He examines his work for a short moment, then nods. “It’ll have to do.”
Holy shit he’s picking you up. Why is he doing that. You notice that the door to the back seat of his car is already open only when he puts you through it, laying you down on the floor and shutting it behind you, all while crouching awkwardly so as not to be a visible target. He climbs into the driver’s seat, and you realize that he must be certifiably insane.
You’re planning on telling him this when two things happen. First, you’re hit by a sudden dizzy spell, even though you’re laying down. Fuck, you did lose a lot of blood, you’re going into shock.
Second, the car starts. For a moment, gunplay around you ceases at the sound of the engine. For one small moment, there’s quiet.
Then the car starts tearing out of the alley, and its metal hull is peppered with bullets. You can’t tell how many shots are hitting, or how fast you’re going, or in what direction you’re turning right now. Your head’s spinning, your heart’s beating like crazy, and none of this is helping. The car jolts, like it hit something, but keeps going. You’re breathing too fast.
Everything’s falling out of focus, fracturing, and you close your eyes.