“Last chance, Jared. Through that gate, there is no turning back.” Johnny said.
“Keep driving. There isn’t any other option.” I responded.
Johnny sighed. He really didn’t want to do this, but he was committed to it. He pulled into the lot slowly, looking for the security check-in. Our plan was to have Johnny try and talk his way in, distracting the guard while I slipped behind the small building. The chances of them letting Johnny in were slim, but I needed him to occupy their attention more than I needed anything else. There would be another smaller check-in, but hopefully the second guard would come help the first guard get rid of Johnny. I told Johnny to be as ignorant and obnoxious as possible.
“All right then. Good luck, Jared. I’ll try and get in, but I doubt I’ll be able to. I’ll meet you right back here. Watch your ass.”
“You too. Thanks again, Johnny.” I said as I opened the door. I strapped on my backpack, filled to the brim with the toys of my trade.
We were out of view from the first security check, about a hundred yards away. I slid around the back of the car and walked to the perimeter of the outer fence. The outer gate led to a smaller, more enclosed lot. The smaller lot was an L-shape, leading in to the L-shaped building beyond the second security check. I gave Johnny a signal to move ahead, and started to shadow him against the silhouette of the fence and the building beyond. Johnny slowly pulled forward, going slow enough that I could keep up but not slow enough to draw much attention. The guard stepped out of the small building as Johnny pulled up. That was my opportunity. As quietly as I could, I started to climb the small fence. Johnny began talking loudly, trying to cover the noise.
“I have this friend and he has the Fever. I need the drugs to give to him so he doesn’t die! Do you want him to die? You selfish bastard! How can you do this? You are a monster. You ass! Let me in! I demand to speak with your boss! Where’s Trystix? I want your name! Then I’ll have your job!” Johnny was yelling. Damn, he was good at being an idiot.
“Sir, please calm down. Sir. Sir. SIR!” The guard said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small radio. “Brenton, I need some backup here.”
Damn it. Now I had to duck back behind the small building until Brenton got there. There was nothing but daylight between the first and second check-in. I heard a golf cart rolling down the asphalt towards myself and the small building and Johnny. As Brenton rolled up, Johnny started talking louder.
“Damn you all! You arrogant self-centered rent-a-cops! You are all the same! I bet your friends have all the Fever pills they want. You are hoarding it all! I just know it!”
“Sir, you need to leave. Please back out and go home. You can get the drugs from the vendors or drug stores like everyone else. I hear they’re lowering the price, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Brenton was saying.
“I will not! I demand to speak with your superiors! I demand it! You make the drugs here, so why can’t I buy them here? I have money! Don‘t you like money?”
I smiled as I sneaked around the corner and past the two guards, who were beginning to get frustrated. I could tell they were agitated, and they would probably start using force if needed. That would be all the time Johnny could give me, so I began to run as soon as I was out of earshot. I passed the second check-in and stole Brenton’s key chain, still hanging in the small office. I slipped over the fence again but managed to cut myself on the way down. A small stream of blood was running down my arm, but I had to keep moving. The building was close now, just another fifty yards away. I could see the cameras rotating this way and that. I timed the two by the front door, and I’d have about a three second window to slip between them and into the doorway. I would have another five seconds to get inside, which meant I’d have to have the key ready. I flipped it between my fingers and counted; one. Two. Three. I ran fast enough to just make it beneath the cameras. The key slid into the lock, and I was inside.
Veritas was a large L-shaped building, as I mentioned before. It had long hallways, deep basements, and absolutely no color. Everything was a sterile white, from the walls to the laminate flooring. It was like walking through a hospital. I could see the entire floor level, which was mostly storage and extra offices. The store rooms were past the bend at the other end of the room, but I wanted to poke around for a bit first. I didn’t see anyone around, but I knew there were about twenty people on shift. I’d rather they didn’t know I was there just yet. I walked slowly, checking each office for any signs of life. My heart began beating faster in anticipation. It hadn’t been long since my last burn, but it felt like it had been a decade since I felt the flames on my cheek.
As I moved slowly through the corridor, I began to hear voices. Not the ones in my head; actual voices. The employees were apparently having a meeting in one of the rooms at the end of this section. The door stood open, letting their voices echo down the empty corridor. As I got closer, I swore I recognized one of the voices. It was deep and harsh, and had an odd cadence to it. The voice would rise and fall with whatever he was saying, though I had trouble understanding every word. Curiosity was starting to get the best of me. I slunk down the hall, careful to stay out of view of the open door. There was a small dark office just to the left of the conference room, so I made my way toward it. I could smell something odd, something like sulfur. The familiar voice was getting louder again, but this time I could make it out.
“How dare you fools work for criminals! You make money off of death! I’ve lost my two best friends and my mother to this damn disease, and you devils make profit on it! Why should I let you live?”
Oh, shit. It was KJ. Not good. I crept into the dark office and listened carefully.
“Please…take the money in the vault. Take all the pills you want. Don’t kill us. You don’t want to be a criminal do you? You don’t have to do it this way.” Someone said.
“I already am a criminal! I am Nemesis!” KJ shouted back.
I was instantly irritated. He wasn’t Nemesis…That’d be me…I’m pretty sure that’s copyright infringement…
“You..? Seriously?” The other voice said. Suddenly, everyone laughed. Somehow, I doubted KJ thought it was funny. I heard a small click, then a gunshot. Then another. Followed by six more, each gunshot preceded by a gasp or scream and a plea to let them live. KJ had no mercy, and didn’t say another word. The silence that followed was deafening. I guess KJ remembered to take the safety off.
I heard footsteps leaving the room next door. I waited a moment, then looked around the corner. KJ was to the bend in the hallway, headed towards the supply rooms. I crept into the small conference room and froze. There was a line of eight people in white coats tied together with zip-ties. There was blood everywhere. Every single person had a bullet hole in their head. I was thunderstruck by the violence and precision with which they were slaughtered. I’m not definitely not the most mentally-stable person, but even I was sickened by the massacre. It didn't have to be done like this...
I peered around the corner, making sure the coast was clear. I moved swiftly down the corridor, trying to gain a little ground. I was going to have to improvise a little, now that I knew KJ was here. I had to accomplish my objective, but I couldn’t let KJ draw attention here too early. If he made too much noise, I’d have Chicago PD to deal with. I got to the bend in the hall but stopped before rounding the corner. I leaned up against the wall, listening. I could hear KJ yelling, but I couldn’t quite figure out where he was. The next room was filled with machines and conveyor belts, counting out pills and sorting them in to bottles. It smelled like a hospital, like the entire room was dropped into a bucket of bleach.
I slowly crept around the corner, ducking down behind machines as I entered so as not to be seen. KJ was far to the right, hidden behind a particularly noisy machine. I saw a few men in white coats lying face down on the floor. They were breathing, which was a good sign. Off to the left was a stairwell leading up to a single office. The single window in the office had the blinds pulled, which I found odd. You’d think the supervisor would want to watch over his query. That gave me an idea.
I moved quickly towards the stairwell and the office. I was sure there would be security cameras and monitors in there, which would show every inch of the facility. That meant I could get a head count as well as figure out what KJ was doing. I didn’t know if anyone was in there, but it would be worth the risk. The trick would be getting up the stairs without being spotted. It was right out in the open, and one lucky glance would ruin the surprise. KJ didn't seem like he was in the mood for a surprise, either. I stopped just before the stairs, listening for any kind of sign I’d been seen. The coast was clear. I hunched down and slunk up the stairs.