The cop was sloppy. His charge had noticed it almost immediately and prepared to take advantage by being extra docile. It was working.
"Can't believe the Army would go to all the effort to pull jurisdiction for a guy like you," the cop said. "Hell, it was just a drunk and disorderly. And you're neither right now."
"They take this shit seriously," the criminal replied, shrugging and shuffling slightly closer to his captor, "That's the Army for you." The sally port was already open, the cop had been kind enough to cuff his hands in front. It was just a matter of waiting for the right moment.
"I wonder if that's them?" the cop said, focusing on a black car a few blocks down.
It was the moment. The prisoner's hands flashed towards the distracted policeman's holster and came up with his service Glock. "Get down, now," the prisoner commanded.
The cop complied. "Don't shoot me," he pleaded. "I've got a wife. I've got kids."
"I'm not gonna kill you. Give me the keys to these cuffs and I won't do a damn thing to hurt you."
Again the officer complied. It would have been a perfect getaway had it not been for one thing. The black car was actually the one with the MPs who were coming to pick him up. And they had definitely noticed that something was amiss.
The prisoner looked up just as the car began accelerating. He abandoned his attempts to remove the handcuffs and instead took off running. There was an alleyway a block down with dumpsters at the entrance, too narrow for a car. He cut down it.
The black car screeched in to a turn and followed him down a parallel street. He turned in to another alleyway and crossed a busy street, narrowly avoiding getting hit.
He cut right, then left. The black car was always there, always a block away, always turning the corner in time to catch sight of him.
Then it was all over.
He came to the mouth of an alleyway at the exact same moment the black car screeched around a corner, nearly clipping a blue Subaru WRX on the fender.
The doors opened. One of the MPs advanced on him, training an M4 at his head. The other stood out in the street, acting as cover.
"Drop the gun," the cop commanded.
The prisoner complied.
"Get on your knees and put your hands on top of your head.
Again the prisoner complied.
"Now don't try anything funny. I am authorized to put a bullet in your head "
He was completely out of options. There was nowhere left to run, nowhere he could hide. The only chance he had was the last resort of the desperate.
"God," he whispered up to the sky, "I know I don't talk to you, I don't do what you want too often, and, hell, I'm not sure I believe in you. But I can't stand to get locked up. Help me out and I'll change my ways."
And with that the MP in front of him vanished in to thin air.
His uniform suddenly emptied itself of its contents and seemed to waver in the air for just a second before gently collapsing to the ground. The gun clattered to the pavement and the sudden shock worked the mechanism once, firing a round that narrowly missed the confused prisoner's right ear.
Somewhere off in the distance someone shrieked. Tires squealed. There was a crunch of metal.
Silence fell over the scene.
The other MP looked down at the empty uniform, then up at the man crouching in the alley. His jaw worked once, twice. No words came out.
"Wha..." he finally managed to get out. He stepped backwards, eyes locked on the mysterious stranger.
He never noticed that he was stepping in front of a car.
It screamed down the road, empty, driverless, as unaware of the man in the road as the man was of it.
The MP bounced off the front of the car and out of sight. The car swerved to the left and tried to do the same thing to a light post. The car lost.
Silence again reigned. "That...that wasn't quite what I had in mind," the former prisoner said after a long moment. He pulled the handcuff keys out of his pocket and fumbled with them for a moment. Freed, he let them clatter to the pavement and stood up.
A sound from the unoccupied car startled him. He grabbed the Glock and started to swing it in line. The passenger door opened and a young woman fell out. She tried to push herself up, but then collapsed. She pushed herself up one more time, then began puking.
He decided she was no threat and put the pistol in his pocket, then grabbed the M4 and cautiously poked his head out in to the street. No one was there but him and the puking woman.
The Subaru was still sitting exactly where it had been when the black car cut it off. It was idling quietly, driverless.
He walked over and looked in through the windshield. A puddle of clothes sat on the driver's seat, the only indication anyone had ever been in the vehicle.
Not one to overlook a true gift, he opened the door of the car and pulled the clothes out, then switched wallets with the disappeared. "Sorry, man," he told the jeans as he dropped them on the pavement. "Looks like I need your identity more than you do right now."
He dropped his two newly acquired guns in the trunk, then got in the Subaru and pulled around the empty Army car. As he did the woman rolled over and looked at him.
"Help me," she said through her puke stained face, clutching her side, obviously in pain.
He drove past her. It was her problem. Something pricked him in the back of his mind. He'd made a promise. He stopped the car and backed it up, then helped the woman in.
"I don't understand," she said. "One minute he was there, then he wasn't."
"I don't, either."
He took the woman to the closest hospital, but didn't stick around. As soon as an Emergency Room orderly arrived to help, he took off as fast as he possibly could. Something strange had happened and he had to take advantage of it. He tuned in to a news station to see if anyone had noted the disappearance, only to discover that it wasn't an isolated case. People were gone all over the city.
On the outskirts of Phoenix he stopped at a storage locker to get some things he knew he was going to need. Years of practice had taught him exactly how to run.
He filled the Subaru's tank at a nearby gas station and pointed the car in the general direction of New Mexico. As he headed east in to the desert, he pulled out his newly acquired wallet and looked at the driver's license.
"Hey," he said to the rear view mirror, deciding to practice using his new identity. "I'm Robert. What's up. Robert. Nice to meet you."
He decided he really didn't like the sound of Robert.
"Hey," he said to the mirror, "I'm Rob."
The irony of his new name suddenly hit him. He laughed for the first time in days.
The car soon felt lonely, though. Quiet. He plugged a Dead Hot Workshop CD in to the car's CD player. There was nothing better for a long drive through the desert. Well, them or the Peacemakers.
I'm too tired for sleeping
Fast asleep but I'm not dreaming
Look for truth in aberration
Sinned to much to be forgiven.
I walked from Hell to here today
The world is young as it is wild
For every step you plan to take
Plan to walk another mile
Don't confuse yourself
If it don't mean anything
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