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The Man

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The man in the room has been in there for days now. I know I shouldn’t be concerned, but I can’t help but to be curious. They tell me to concentrate on my own business. Although, my business requires no concentration and perhaps no thought whatsoever.

“Malia?”

I drop the folder I’m holding and glare at the wall. “What do you want?”

“Would you like me to bring you some food?”

I frown. “No. Leave me alone.”

“I’m sorry—”

“I don’t care Dmitri, leave me alone.”

“Oh, well, Reynold wants to speak to you.”

“Fine.” I shoot up from my seat and storm out of the room, pushing Dmitri out of the way. In the living room, Reynold is sitting in his armchair as usual, staring at the crackling fire. “What do you want, Reynold?” I quickly ask, crossing my arms.

He sips from his wine glass, his eyes still gazing at the fire. “How many files—”

“Twenty,” I respond bitterly.

He takes another sip and grins. “Good, very good.”

“What do you want, Reynold?”

“I want to apologize for the things I had said to you earlier.”

“Is that all?”

He finally breaks eye contact with the fire and stares at me. “You are aware that there is a man in the other room, yes?” I nod with curiosity building inside. “He refuses to eat, and I need you to feed him.”

“Why?” I demand.

“I figure that he would respond more kindly to a woman rather than us three burly men.” I scoff. His eyes widen as he stares at me pleadingly. “Please Malia, we need him to be alive.”

“Fine, when do you want me to feed him?”

Reynold sets down his drink and stands up. “Now.” I follow him towards the back of the apartment. He pauses in front of a thick metal door, heavily locked with three sophisticated locks I’ve never seen before. “He is brilliant and dangerous Malia,” he tells me as he unlocks one of the locks with a golden, warped key. “I need you to be careful.”

“Unlike what you called me earlier, I am also brilliant and equally dangerous,” I snap. “Just because I am a woman, it does not mean you can underestimate me.”

He nods, now using a different key on a different lock. “Which is why I wanted to apologize.” About a minute later, he finishes the third lock and opens the door. “Just feed him as quickly as possible and leave.

I nod and step into the dark room for the first time, wanting to gag from the musky scent of feces and sweat. The silhouette of a man crouching at the corner glances up at me with wide, bloodshot, unblinking eyes. “¿Quien eres?” he gasps.

“He speaks Spanish?” I whisper to Reynold.

“Yes, but don’t speak to him.” He hands me a bowl filled with oatmeal.

I nod and step farther inside, carefully examining the man. To my surprise, he is old, around the age of sixty. Large, dark bags hang underneath his eyes and deep, dried cracks spread across his chapped lips. His face is covered with smeared dirt and blood and his body is covered with pink scars and purple bruises. “Socorro!” he yelps.

I shake my head and bend over, balancing the bowl with one hand. I wave the spoon in front of his face and press it against his lips, but he stares at me blankly and refuses to open his mouth. After several attempt of pushing the spoon into his mouth, I sigh and drop the spoon in the bowl. “Señor, necesitas comer,” I whisper.

He crinkles his eyebrows together and asks, “¿Hablas español?”

“Si, come, por favor.”

He finally opens his mouth and I place the spoon in his mouth. Several minutes pass and when I glance at the bowl, it is surprisingly finished. “Gracias,” I mutter.

“No, gracias señorita.”

I stand up and head for the door with all three of them—Reynold, Dmitri, and Logan—gawking at me with pure shock and amazement.

Reynold closes the door and crosses his arms, dropping his shocked expression with an angry scowl. “You are not to be kind to him, Malia.”

I shrug. “That is the only way he will eat. Would you rather have him dead?”

“No, but he is our prisoner. He doesn’t deserve to be treated kindly—”

“—just face it Reynold!” Logan interrupts with a smirk. “She is simply better than you.”

Then there is a sudden KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. at the front door. We all freeze, glancing at each other fearfully.

“Who do you think that is?” Dmitri asks, reaching for the knife hidden in his pocket.

“Could that be the police?” I whisper.

Reynold slams the table and scowls. “Logan, you idiot!” he hisses. “That is probably an officer out there, ready to arrest us all and take him back.”

“What did I do?!” Logan hisses back. “You’re the one yelling at everyone that pisses you off. It’s no wonder the police haven’t come here yet!”

“You are the one constantly fooling around! I am—”

“Shut up!” I blurt out. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. We all freeze again with our muscles tense and straining. I stare at the door and sigh. “I will answer the door.”

Dmitri grabs my hand before I could walk away. “No! You can’t! It’s too dangerous!”

I yank my hand away and frown. “I am highly capable of protecting myself,” I snap. I storm to the front door before the other two could say anything else. I swing the door open, finding a tall, bulky man dressed in a uniform.

“Hello, there.”

I grin. “Yes, how may I help you?”

He flashes a badge in front of me and slips it back in his pocket. With just a glimpse, I know that it is completely fake. “I am Detective Berthold. I have reasons to suspect that there is suspicious activity occurring at this apartment.”

“Oh, but there is none of that,” I reply calmly.

“Miss, I must inspect this apartment, nonetheless.”

I shrug. “Of course, of course.” I move aside and he steps in, already studying the room. “What reasons give you any suspicion?” I ask, closing the door.

We both pause, hearing angry whispers escaping from the kitchen.

“Are there other people living here?” he asks.

“I have to kill him!” Reynold suddenly yells, storming into the room with a pistol firmly gripped in his hands and with Dmitri and Logan rushing behind him. The “detective” gasps and reaches for his own weapon, but before he could blink once more, a loud BANG! echoes across the room and he falls onto the floor.

“Reynold!” I shout, running towards him. “What were you THINKING?!”

“That man is a detective!” he yells. “I had to kill him!”

“He was posing as a detective! Goodness, Reynold! How many times do I have to tell you that I am capable of taking care of myself?!”

“Look at what you did!” Logan yells. “Because of you we’re now caught in a mess bigger than before!”

“I DIDN’T KNOW!” Reynold yells back.

“We need to get out of here!” Dmitri cuts in.

With a quick nod, we all agree and rush around the apartment, grabbing any necessities. About five minutes later, we were all rushing down the stairs of the apartment building, with Logan and Dmitri carrying our ‘prisoner,’ and Reynold and me carrying the weapons. When we reach the bottom, we burst out of the doors and head for the garage, already hearing the sirens wailing in the streets nearby.

We finally reach the car and we throw everything, including the old man into the back seat. I head for the driver’s seat and Reynold grabs my arm with concern shining in his eyes. “You shouldn’t drive.”

I pull my arm back and open the car door. “I am driving. No disputes.” We all jump into the car with Dmitri sitting in the front and Logan and Reynold sitting in the back. After they tie the old man down and pull out the guns, I accelerate the car out of the garage, catching a glimpse of the police cars lining up in front of the apartment.

“They see us!” Dmitri yells.

I swerve the car to right before the rain of bullets could penetrate through the car doors.

“DRIVE FASTER!” Reynold screams.

I slam my foot against the gas pedal, gripping the wheel tightly. The constant noise of BANG! BANG! BANG! rings in my ears as they roll down the windows and shoot at the police behind us. I speed down the street, zooming by the fear-stricken pedestrians and weaving around the vehicles in the way.

“MALIA!” Dmitri gasps. “The road is closed ahead!”

“I KNOW!” I yell back. I stomp on the brakes and yank the wheel to the left, allowing the car to drift across the streets. Once the car returns to nearly eighty miles per hour again, I immediately notice several men standing several blocks ahead with guns and other weapons ahead. “Logan! Hand me a gun! Dmitri! Grab the wheel!”

“What are you doing?!” Reynold yells as Logan hands me a pistol and Dmitri reluctantly grabs the steering wheel.

I ignore his question and roll down the window, shooting at the gas station the men were standing nearby. With a loud BOOM! the gas station explodes into a fiery mess and the cars nearby combust into flames, forcing the men into the air. I set the gun down on my lap and grab the steering wheel, concentrating on the road ahead.

“How much farther?” I yell.

Reynold leans back into the car and reads the map taped on my seat. “Ten more miles!” he answers. “There are two stations and the gate itself will be heavily armed.”

I sigh and tap against the steering wheel, wondering how we could possibly go past the guards without being brutally murdered. Then I hear Logan chuckle.

“What are you laughing at?” Reynold snaps.

“I can use the RPG in the back!”

I roll my eyes, knowing that Logan has always wanted to use the grenade launcher.

“Do you think that it’s strong enough?” Dmitri asks.

“We’ve also got several grenades and machine guns in the back. We’ll be fine.”

Several minute pass, with me constantly swerving and accelerating the car and the other three leaning out of the windows, shooting at any threat. We finally reach the first station and in a matter of seconds, all the guards are shot dead. I break through the toll gate and accelerate down the empty road until we reach the second station. There were much more guards, but they were easily shot dead again.

Then we finally reach the gate. I stop the car several yards away and Logan and Dmitri jump out of the car. I open the door and lean out of the car, shooting at the guards spilling out of their stations. “LOGAN! HURRY UP!” I scream.

“YEAH! YEAH!” He hoists the grenade launcher on his shoulder and carefully aims at the base of the gate. With one hand, I covered my left ear, and with the other, I continue to shoot at the multiplying amount of guards.

There’s a loud whistling in the air and then loud BOOM! as the grenade lands on the gate. To our disappointment, the gate only wavers a bit as the smoke clears. Logan shoots again and a second later, there’s a large dent and a small hole on the gate. I glance around, noticing trucks with larger weapons and machine guns approach us. Logan shoots once more and the gate finally swings partially open.

Dmitri and Logan slam the trunk shut and leap into the car. We close the doors and with one final stomp, the car accelerates towards the gate. As the bumper pushes the gate, it opens just enough to let us through. The moment we were out, a stray bullet shoots the through the window and bores into my left shoulder. “AHHH!” I scream, clutching my shoulder.

“MALIA!” they all shout.

“I’M FINE!” I yell, grabbing the wheel with my right hand. “Just keep shooting!”

Despite the pain throbbing in my shoulder, I grin at the country road ahead, the sensation of freedom buzzing inside, but perhaps it’s the pain. As the loud gunshots blare in my ears, my arm washes over with numbness and my vision begins to blur, due to the loss of blood. A few minutes later, the gunshots die down and a calm silence fills the car.

“Malia . . .” Reynold sighs.

“Yes?”

“You can slow down now.”

I glance at the rearview mirror, only seeing a hazy outline of the city. My leg relaxes and I lean against the chair with a relieved sigh. We all glance at each other with huge grins displayed on our faces.

We are finally free from the wretched, war-torn, greed-stricken country. In the back seat, we have the man that knows all the secrets of the criminals trying to destroy the world. We are free. We are finally free.



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