Summary: The last time we saw Ric and Irving, they had just been shot at by unknown gunman after learning more about the Jessica Rabbit Killer. Now, they are fighting for their lives.
‘Down!’ Ric barked, but he wasn’t quick enough. A rhythmic succession of bullets was screeching through the windows and obliterating every surface. The decanter turned to glittering specs across the table. Wooden walls now splintered and gaping. Papers and books shot to bits and flying around the room like a possessed madman was waving a wand.
Ric could just make out Irving through the whirl of papers. Downed, but moving.
‘At least he’s still alive.’ He thought as he tried to figure out a path to Irving without getting holes blown through his own flesh. Ric took his chance when they paused to reload or switch gunmen – he couldn’t see the shooters to confirm either way – and army-crawled across the floor. He swept books and exploded chairs alike out of his way until he reached the professor. Even in the mere seconds since he had been downed, Irving looked like he was closer to the doors of hell than the land of the living.
Ric prayed to any rotten deity that would listen, and then grabbed Irving’s good arm and dragged him back towards the lift. ‘If I could just summon the lift’, he thought, ‘I’ve got a chance of getting us out alive’. He shuffled backwards, dragging the moaning professor inch after agonising inch. A quick glance up told him there was no apartment left as the bullets still soared through the air. Once he finally reached the doors, Ric blindly shoved his hand in the air and groped for the call button, a rogue shot narrowly missing his elbow. He threw himself back down to the hardwood floors and waited for death. And then hope came in the sound of the lift arriving.
The professor was waning fast, so Ric had to keep dragging himself and Irving inch by bloody inch until all limbs were clear of the lift doors. He pushed himself as far into the corner as his broad shoulders would allow and shuffled up the wall, pushing up from his knees. He scrambled for any floor numbers he could reach and hit the ‘Close Doors’ button. The lift seamlessly drew itself closed and started to smoothly glide down dozens of floors. Ric didn’t have a plan, but as a stray bullet dinged the very top of the door, he knew he needed one – and fast.
Irving’s blood was drenching them both. The lift looked like a murder scene, and at any moment the lift doors might expose them to an unsuspecting room of strangers. Most lift entrances opened directly into the apartments, with very few hitting service floors or exits. Ric had no idea what floor he was sending them to. His prayers were answered when they came out at the Fifth Floor – Janitorial. He dragged the almost unconscious professor out onto the concrete floor and let the lift soar back down to the lobby. By now, the shooters were probably searching every inch of Irving’s apartment. Ric slumped against the wall, bleeding professor in his lap. He looked down to see the whites of Irving’s eyes, glistening in the dank light of Fifth Floor.
‘They think you know.’ Irving creaked, closing his eyes again.
‘Hey old man, come on. Stay with me’ he said, shaking Irving by the shoulders. ‘We need to get you help. Where’s your i-dent card?’ Ric searched through the professor’s pockets until he found his wallet. He didn’t want to involve anyone else, but Irving wouldn’t survive a patch up from some quickie street doctor. He needed real help. Ric pulled the i-dent card out of the front slit and pressed Irving’s bloody index finger onto the bottom right-hand corner of the card. The fingerprint glowed a neon green and started to flash.
‘Irv – help is on the way, okay? You just need to stay with it a little longer and then the medics will be here.’
‘You can’t be here. Upstairs. They’ve got everything-.’ the professor coughed, his skin growing paler.
‘I’ll take care of it, professor. I’ll burn whatever’s left.’
‘No, not the girl. They’ve got your papers.’ Irving kept trying to sit up, but the sound of approaching sirens gave him the OK to lay back down. ‘We need to talk.’
‘OK, I’ll come with you to the hospi-.’ Irving cut him off by gripping his arm.
‘No – it’s too dangerous. Wait for me to contact you.’
Ric looked at the old man, lifeline slipping slowly from view, and wondered if the professor knew he was dying. He wasn’t making any sense. Why would Irving have papers on him?
‘Kid, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve seen more bullets than movies, and one day I’ll tell you all about it. But for now, get out of here.’
The sirens screeched closer and louder, and Ric was out of time. His only hope of evading questions was to hide. He examined the floor for the first time since they arrived, and swore gracefully at the sight of a supply cupboard. He squeezed Irving’s hand, told him not to die, and ran to the cupboard door. He had yanked it open and gently pulled it closed just in time. The medics came rushing out of the lift, stretcher in tow. Ric watched through a crack in the door as his closest friend – who was really only a stranger – was carted off to the Capita Hospital in an ambulance. He prayed once more to his unloving gods that Irving would make it out alive, and once the coast was clear, headed out of his cupboard and down a fire escape staircase.
As daylight hit his face – so did someone’s fist. The last thing he saw was a flash of scarlet before his face met with the ground.