An old story

Here is a story I wrote back in 2004 in a college creative writing class. I am thinking of updating it and sending it out for publication in a short story collection.

Let me know what you think of it and enjoy a very rough cut of my writing.

Trust No One

     Chris takes the nearest seat in the subway car and sinks down. His brown eyes dart from left to right. He clutches a briefcase tightly under his lanky arm, adjusts his glasses, and runs a hand through his short black hair. In the next car, Chris sees three men making their way to where he is sitting. Chris quickly gets up out of his seat and begins to walk forward to the car ahead of him. Chris turns his head back to see the men right behind him.

     “Stop right there!” one of the men says, as Chris feels the barrel of a gun against his back.

“Wait! There are too many people here,” another of the men says.

“Right. Get off at the next stop,” he says, as Chris swings his briefcase behind him, knocking the man, and the gun, to the floor.

Chris then tightly grabs a pole and pulls the overhead emergency brake, sending the other two men stumbling to the floor. He quickly runs to the open door, jumps out of the subway car, and heads out to the street. Running to his destination, the warm day air and sunshine beating on his face, Chris lets nothing stand in his way. Checking all around him for any sign of the three men, Chris stops in an alleyway, goes behind three large dumpsters, pushes away a gray, rusty barrel, and uncovers a small button hidden on the wall behind it. As he pushes the button, a piece of the wall moves back, and Chris enters the underground lair.

     This secret area was once a janitor’s closet and a bank vault, one right next to the other. After renovation, the two areas were sealed off from the main building, which was later converted into a McDonald’s. The bank vault, which was stripped down to the walls, had become the main area of operations, with five high-speed computers and assorted electronic devices. Five monitors were installed on the wall, displaying views of the outside perimeter of the secret lair, which alerted them to any intruders. Maps of the entire city were pinned on the wall. The janitor’s closet, which was connected to the left side of the vault by a small circular tunnel, had been turned into a small sleeping area. This small, over-stuffed hideout is the base of operations for two people. Chris is a 38 year-old former FBI agent. Ever since he voluntarily left the Agency two years ago, he spends his time helping a woman he met on the internet. Her name is Paige. A 36 year-old computer technician, Paige is an expert at all things electronic and able to invent an array of spy devices with scrap metal and a little wiring. Her long blonde hair, small physique, and deep blue eyes throw most people off to her intelligence. After talking with Chris online, she convinced him to leave the FBI and join her in her cause to unveil government conspiracies against the public. She is also on the FBI’s most wanted list for stealing government technology.

      As he enters the lair, Chris smirks at the familiar smell of metal mixed with stale air. Chris looks to his right at the bed and notices Paige waiting for him.

“Did you get it?” Paige asks, sitting up and giving Chris a hug.

“Just barely. They almost got me,” Chris says breathlessly, as he opens the briefcase to reveal a small mechanical device. 

     Paige pushes a strand of hair away from her face, picks up the mechanism and begins to take the paneling off with a screwdriver.

 “Let me know when you’ve found out what it is,” Chris says, as he unpacks the rest of his briefcase.

“I will,” Paige mumbles, concentrating on her work.

Chris crouches down to squeeze into the small tunnel that leads from the bedroom to the computer room. As Chris enters the computer room, the humming echoes of the computers drown out his thoughts. Chris walks up to one of the computers, looks behind him to make sure Paige is not looking, and logs into an ‘agent database’. Just as he is about to click on the ‘update mission status’ button, his work is cut short by the sound of Paige’s voice in the other room.

“Chris! I think I found out what this is,” Paige says.

“Damn,” Chris says quietly to himself as he logs off of the computer, crawls back through the tunnel, and walks up to Paige. “What is it?”

“Take a look at this!” Paige says, as she holds up a piece of the mechanism. “This is some sort of tracking device. The details are hazy, but I think it can pinpoint the location of anyone on the face of the Earth by using a sample of their DNA. All it would need is a piece of hair, a skin cell, or anything from the body.”

“Wow. That is impressive.” Chris says, taking a seat at the table next to Paige. “You never fail to impress me,” Chris says as he playfully throws his arms around Paige.

 “Oh really?” Paige says as she rests her head on his shoulder.

The momentary peace is broken by the sound of the alarm system. Chris rushes from the table, through the tunnel into the computer room, and looks at the monitor, seeing three FBI agents approaching the dumpsters and location of the secret button.

“Right on cue, guys,” Chris says to himself. “Paige, we have trouble!” He says as he pulls the plug on all of the computers, slides through the tunnel, and helps Paige throw the device and other important papers into his briefcase. Chris takes Paige’s hand as they rush out of a hidden back exit and head away from the lair.

     “Let’s go to Chuck’s. It’s safe there,” Paige says.

     “Right. I don’t wanna see you get hurt,” Chris says, as he turns up the street and walks straight back to the alleyway, entering a small, run-down building on the left.

They walk into Chucks’ Coffee Shop, an old 50’s style diner in the forgotten part of town. The walls haven’t been painted since Chuck bought the place 20 years ago, and the tables and booths have fallen into disrepair. The restaurant is fairly dark, punctuated by single lamps over each table, half of which are burned out.

     Chris and Paige enter the empty coffee shop, and then take their usual seat at the counter. The smell of burned toast and rotten eggs permeates the air. Chris puts his briefcase on the table.

“Uh-oh. Trouble with the law again?” Chuck asks, as he comes from the back of the kitchen out to the counter, wiping his hands on his once-white chef’s apron covered with coffee and food stains.

“Hey Chuck. It’s great to see you again too,” Chris says sarcastically. “Are you losing weight?”

“Just a few pounds,” Chuck lies. “Instead of being short and really fat, I’m just short and fat now,” Chuck says, and pats his pot belly appreciatively.

“That’s great, Chuck,” Paige says with a disgusted look on her face.

“Thanks Paige! You know you’re always welcome to hang out here until everything blows over. Just lay low and I’ll keep quiet,” Chuck says, as he places two glasses of water in front of them.

“Thanks Chuck,” Chris says, as he opens his briefcase.

“I wonder how they found us,” Paige says as she sips her water, fiddling with the straw.

“They must’ve followed me,” Chris says, as he turns his head at the sound of the front door opening.

“Wrong. We followed that,” A man says, as he closes the door to the diner and approaches the counter, keeping his eyes on the open briefcase. “You didn’t think we would leave a top secret tool laying around our offices without some kind of protection, did you?” the man inquires, standing over Chris and Paige at the counter. “Tell me, who else knows about this besides the three of you in this coffee shop?” the agent asks.

“No one. Just us,” Chris answers quickly.

“Good. I’ll start with the fat one,” The man faces Chuck, pulls out his gun from his jacket pocket, and fires, hitting Chuck straight through the heart.

“Chuck! No!” Paige screams, as Chuck falls to the floor with a loud thud.

“Who’s next?” The man says, a smile forming across his face.

“Who are you?” Chris asks, as he looks up at the sinister looking face.

“Agent Beyers, FBI. I’m placing the both of you into federal custody,” The agent says, putting his gun away and pulling out two pairs of handcuffs. He signals out the door and another agent walks into the coffee shop and grabs Paige. Chris is lead outside the restaurant, to a waiting car, with Paige next to him. Beyers and the other agent force them inside of the car and they speed away down the street.

After several minutes, the car arrives at a tall

office building. Chris looks out the window in silence. Agent Beyers pulls him out, and slams him against the car. The other agent pulls Paige out of the car, and drags her away. Chris feels a tugging on his handcuffs as Beyers drags him by the arm, as the agents lead the two up a flight of stairs and into a room.

     Chris’ eyes take a few seconds to adjust to the darkness. As soon as his vision becomes clear, Chris notices that none of the lights are on in this room, and the blinds are closed on all of the windows. He chokes on the stale air as Beyers shoves him from behind and into a chair. He looks to his left to see Paige, with a terrified look on her face, in the chair beside him. Beyers places his briefcase on the table, breaks the lock, and takes out the device.

“I’ll handle it from here,” Beyers says to the other agent, who promptly exits. “Well, if it isn’t Paige Matthews. Your picture on the most wanted list doesn’t do you justice. Now tell me what you learned about the device.” 

“We didn’t have any time to study it,” Paige says.

“She’s right. We tried to figure out what it was, but you were on our tail so we had to escape,” Chris says, looking Beyers in the eyes.

“I can’t believe that story. It’s not so much about what you know about it, but the fact that you know that it exists. If knowledge of this device were to be leaked, foreign nations would know we have this technology. I can’t risk that,” Beyers says as he sits in the chair in front of Chris.

“We refuse to negotiate with a government that keeps secrets from its own people!” Paige says.

“I see this is going to take a little more effort,” Beyers says.

Chris watches as Beyers gets up from his chair, grabs the briefcase and Paige by the chain on her handcuffs, and then grabs him by the arm, leading them downstairs. As he walks down the stairs, the lighting becomes progressively darker until he can’t see in front of him. He stops at the bottom of the stairs, bumping into the back of Beyers. The coldness of the dark room sends a shiver down his spine. Chris feels Beyers move away from him, hears his footsteps moving to the right, and the flicking of a light switch.

Only one light bulb illuminates, creating just enough light for Chris to see a set of five chairs lined against a concrete wall. Beyers looks straight at Chris, with a wry smile on the agent’s face.

“Both of you sit in a chair,” Beyers says, as Chris reluctantly sits down in the wooden chair, splinters injecting into his back.

     “Welcome to your new home,” Beyers says in a dark tone, as he sets the briefcase down on the cement, and ties Chris and Paige into the chairs with metal chains.

     “Why are you doing this?” Paige asks, looking around in the semi-darkness, trying to feel out her surroundings.

“I want to get the information out of you. Get comfortable while I take care of something. I’ll be right back,” Beyers says, as he walks back up the stairs and shuts the door to the basement behind him.

 “How are we going to get out of here?” Chris says, straining his eyes to see anything besides the light from the dim bulb above his head.

“You worry too much,” Paige says. “I always come prepared.” Paige moves her handcuffed hands to her belt and pushes a button, causing the soles of her shoes to light up, filling the dark dungeon with a ray of light.

“Wow. When did you put those in your shoes?” Chris asks, squinting at the soles of Paige’s shoes.

“Wait, I’m not done yet,” Paige says, as she pushes another button, creating a laser beam which shoots up from the side of her shoe, cutting the chains around her feet and slicing through the handcuffs.

“Hey. Why don’t I get one of those?” Chris asks, as he looks at Paige, who is now getting up from the chair.

 “Oh stop complaining. Now stay very still while I cut through your chains,” Paige says.

     Chris tucks his head into his chest, tenses his body, and flinches as a laser beam flashes in front of him. Chris feels the burden removed from around his wrists and legs. Paige reaches down to help him up, and he grabs her hand as he gets out of the chair.

     “Thanks Paige,” Chris says, dusting himself off.

     “You’re welcome Chris. You know I will do anything for you,” she says, as she stares into Chris’ eyes. “Now let’s get out of here before Beyers finds us. I can’t wait to get back.” Paige grabs Chris’ hand and starts to lead him to the stairs.

     Chris shakes her hand away and grabs a gun out of his pocket as Paige turns around to face him.

     “Sorry honey,” Chris says, as he points the barrel of the gun at Paige’s head. “I can’t let you take the device.”

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