Angry yelling echoed over the wall and caught Officer Lyle’s attention. Braxton turned to where he thought he heard the screams, but there was no further noise. Damn. He didn’t focus on his surroundings. Worried about the low quality transmissions coming through the radio, he’d paused in a hallway to see if there was a short in his transceiver. That’s when a shimmer in the fabric wall caught his attention.
Re-clipping his radio to his belt, Braxton edged towards the wall, careful to keep his focus on the glint. Feeling the wall, he found that metal interrupted the fabric texture. When he bent it, the fabric held its form as he felt a thin rod between his fingers. Braxton flipped open his knife and cut a small hole. Putting his knife away, he scanned the hallway for his escort.
“Bestie, are you there?” Braxton asked.
No one replied. Braxton held his breath and listened to the silence. He heard footsteps in the distance, of what sounded like a crowd. Is Ben with them? Should I yell for him? But the reminder that the big man could be anywhere held Braxton back. It wasn’t the first time Braxton went up against The Artist’s lackeys. They would be around him. They never acted alone. The Artist created artwork alone.
Peeling the cut in the fabric apart, Braxton found a thin copper wire against an aluminum sheet. Braxton cursed under his breath. No wonder the transmissions are shit. The aluminum alone would interfere on the radio waves, but adding in the copper wires meant they could block out cell signals too.
“No wonder the others aren’t already in here,” Braxton said.
“Ah, I see I’ve left you alone too long,” the large man said.
The voice didn’t carry any menace, but Braxton felt the pucker factor increase by two. The man held out his hand and gave a “give it here” gesture. Braxton sighed and handed over the knife with reluctance. I can’t fight him yet. When SWAT enters, I’ll take him out. He wondered if he could take the man out. Broad shouldered and dense with muscles, the man stood a few inches taller than Braxton and outweighed him by thirty pounds, easy.
The next moment, a woman screamed a shrill and blood-curdling cry of pain. Braxton’s unconscious mind took over, and he sprinted in the scream’s direction. But in his mind numbed haste, he forgot about his guide. Braxton’s uniform collar stopped his throat in a second, and in the next he could see his feet raise in the air. The collision onto the ground knocked the wind out of Braxton’s lungs. He laid weeping on the floor.
“The Artist says, the time’s not right for action, Brax.”
Braxton swallowed the knot in his throat and reassessed his ability to defeat the large man and The Artist this night.
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