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D. T.

H A N N A H

© D. T. Hannah, 1993
Clockwork.
D. T. Hannah.

Date: 20 Feb. 3301 Place: Priscilla`s Cross, Vega.

The black van sped along the busy pass towards the filthy rich suburb known as the
Cross, its signal was carefully masked, no one would know it had passed within kilometers
of where it was now. Inside the van was crammed with sophisticated equipment, hot and
otherwise, against one side hung five state of the art electronic fully automatic C-576 pulse
rifle, one for each of the vans occupants.
There were no windows save the windscreen and no functioning air vent made the
van hot and stuffy inside, Loe felt uncomfortable, one of his feet had fallen asleep. He
peered around at the other four men to see if they showed any discomfort themselves, they
were men who he had never seen, who he had never met, who he did not know and who he
had worked with for six years. The carefully glued on masks they all wore weren`t
expensive enough to betray the facial expression of the wearer underneath, they always
wore masks, to hide their identity from each other and the law.
Loe`s own mask pulled at his face, it had been glued there fifteen minutes ago and
was just beginning to dry. It also itched, Loe scratched at an itch just under the edge of the
mask and it peeled off. He grabbed a hand mirror and applying more glue, he stuck it back
down.
`Two minute warning.` The man in the driver seat called, he operated under the
alias of `Moe` when the group was at work. Loe, also an alias, looked at the stalwart fellow
driving, a man he had never met but he felt as close to him as anybody he did know.
The others, Nurse, Joe and Tech, all false names, began to gather their equipment
for the approaching job, Loe followed suit. First, he picked up all the surveillance busting
gear, a hoop to detect traceables, a laser cutter, a can of aerosol paint and even a pair of
glasses that saw interior alarms through walls and floors. Then he strapped a collapsible
trolley to his back and finally unclipping his gun from the rack and carefully checking it
over. He did this with Moe`s gun too. Moe was too busy driving.
`Here we are.` Moe announced triumphantly as he brought the van to a halt outside
an ornate front door. Loe took a deep breath, the tension he felt before a mission built up a
usual, but why should it? This gang was the most prepared than any other group in this line
of business, they painstakingly monitored the targets movements for months in advance,
their phone calls, their personal journal entry's, their planner, everything. This time, Tech
claimed the parents of the huge mansion had left for a Saturday night at the opera, leaving
their eleven year old daughter in the care of a baby sitter currently attending high school.
Loe had no reason to doubt Tech`s information, he had been right in over a hundred other
missions.
The van doors were opened and the five jumped out with Loe in the lead, they ran
to the securely locked door. First Loe sprayed thick black paint on the lens of the computer
controlled camera situated above the door, now he had thirty seconds before it contacted
the police automatically. This brand of cameras were top of the line, having a setup where
circuits vital to the action of opening a door would be destroyed by cutting the cover open,
one way to avoid this is to drill a tiny hole and using a small claw, disengage these parts
from the danger areas, unfortunately even the best take about half an hour to perform the
operation. Instead, Loe drew the laser cutter and swiftly cut a square hole into the unit,
amid jagged metal and fried electronics lay the CPU of the camera, Loe stepped away to
let Tech in, the expert in camera trashing. Pulling out replacement parts from several
pockets and fitting them in place he allowed the door to open at the touch of a button, it
did, with five seconds to spare.
At eight o`clock and twenty five seconds stage one was complete, Loe breathed a
sigh of relief, it was all going to plan. Clockwork.
Loe dropped the laser cutter and all the other camera busting gear next to the door
as he drew the equipment for the next stage. Spray-can in one hand and gun slung over his
shoulder, he flipped down the glasses and they switched on automatically, the giant
entrance hall was revealed all in green with a few patches of fuzzy white spread around,
this showed electric fields and magnetic fields, thus revealing security devices.
Carefully scrutinizing the entire room, Loe searched for signals resembling
movement detectors, electronic eyes and pressure sensors in the floors, the only patches of
white in this room were the wiring to the lights, and the power to the door camera.
Up the grand stairway, nothing. Down the hall that was the most direct route to the
control room, ( according to the council plans of the mansion, Tech had got,) nothing. At
the end of the hall Loe clearly saw the tell tale fuzzy white grid on the ground in front of
them, he took off the glasses to study the expensive white carpet, it looked just like any
normal part of the floor, but the glasses knew better. Shaking the can of paint vigorously,
Loe sprayed thick black lines around the parameter of the pressure pad to give the others
an accurate idea of where it was. Carefully they side stepped the black box on the carpet
and continued on their way.
The control room was fairly standard for this type of mansion, the phone lines went
through this room just as all the security was controlled by this point. There was one
computer terminal and the rest of the walls were covered with monitors, some double
dimensional, some single. They were all displaying various camera angles and other
sensor status. Tech shrugged off all the gear he was holding and began work on the
terminal, the others watched on expectant silence. Finally he stood up and circled the
bench, removing the cover on the back he surveyed the mess of cables and cords behind,
selecting a few wires he smoothly severed them in a matter of seconds, then stood up.
`The security system for this house is down.` He announced and the other four filed
out leaving him to watch the entrances by camera for any unexpected returns of the
parents.
Moe, Joe and Nurse with Loe in the lead walked down the hall relaxed. They
maintained radio contact with a receiver that fit in ones ear with a small arm to hold a
minuscule microphone in front of the mouth. Loe heard Tech`s voice clearly: `I've cut the
phone lines, we're in the clear for a couple of hours.`
With that in mind the four moved towards a specific target, the games room.
According to the security monitors that was where the babysitter and the girl were
watching a movie.

Beth looked around the games room. The movie was boring and she had begun to
look for other things to do. Polo, the babysitter didn't look real gripped by the movie
either, turning her attention more to the homework spread out on her lap and the couch
around her. On the side table next to Beth`s chair there sat a wooden box that Polo had
brought with her, it was really heavy and inside it was a jumble of pens and pencils and
tapes and books and text disks and all sorts of junk Polo once claimed she needed for high
school. If high school meant you had to drag around a box as heavy as that, Beth knew she
didn't want to go there.
Suddenly the room was full of men carrying huge guns pointing them right at her,
she dropped the box and it hit the floor with a clatter from its contents inside. The men told
her to get up and stand against a wall, she was assured that if she didn't try to escape she
would be alright. The whole operation was so fast, Beth had no time to think she could
only do as the men told her and watch where the guns were pointed. It was a few moments
before Beth`s heart stopped pounding so hard and she realized Polo was standing next to
her, she grabbed Polo`s hand tightly and noticed Polo`s grip was just as fierce.
One of the men said aloud: `Stage two done. It`s all going like clockwork.`
He and two others stood up and left the room without another word, leaving the last
to watch the two prisoners standing by the wall, he wasn't pointing the gun at them but
looked ready for anything. Suddenly Polo spoke.
`What do you want with us?` she stammered tightening her grip on Beth`s hand.
`Oh, nothing with you.` he said, his face didn't quite look real, his eyes were slightly
sunken and as he spoke only his mouth moved, there were no cheek movements, no
eyebrow movement, nothing. `You are only hostages, we are only crooks stealing the stuff
in your house to make a living.`

Moe strolled along the halls of the huge house, this looked as good as any place to
start, he took the collapsible trolley off his back and set it up. Wheeling it into a room he
picked up a portable sound system looking over for engravings then using the hoop he
scanned it for traceables - small beacons that police can home in on when such a device is
reported stolen,- the detector hoop showed nothing. He looked around the room, it seemed
to be the little girls room and the only other piece of electronics visible was a computer
built into the desk, Moe left to look for easier pickings.
The mansion was four leveled and the top floor was very strange, it showed no
signs of being lived in and there was a lot of medical equipment lying around, some of the
stuff looked real expensive.
`Hey Tech, does a doctor live here?` He asked into the radio.
`No, why?`came the puzzled reply. Techs voice was breaking up. Something was
interfering with the radio.
`Well there seems to be a lot of medical stuff lying about, pretty expensive looking
too.`
`Yeah? Great. Just don't get any yet, some of that is real delicate, well all come up
and pack it carefully before we go.`
`Ok. Out.`
`Out.
Further on there was what seemed to be a laboratory with one entire wall a window
to another room...
Suddenly Moe felt a wrenching pain in his back, then out of his chest emerged a
jagged piece of metal pulling with it indescribable pieces of flesh and a river of blood, a
warm sticky liquid came bubbling up from his throat and filled his mouth, the smell and
taste of blood overloaded his senses. He vaguely felt himself being lifted off the ground by
the piece of metal, he tried to twist around to catch a glimpse of who was doing this before
he faded into oblivion...

You wanna sit down?` Polo jerked herself out of the fear induced trance at the
sound of the guards voice. She looked up to see him holding two chairs up questioningly,
his gun was slung over his shoulder and for a fleeting moment she considered rushing him
while he was only half armed. Before she could formulate an attack plan he had placed the
two chairs just in reach and the gun was once again in his hands. The moment had passed.
Slowly, so as not to get the man`s trigger finger itchy, she leaned over and picked
up the light plastic green chairs that normally sat under Beth`s old tea party table in the
corner of the room. The two sank gratefully onto the barely thirty centimeter high chairs,
not realizing until now how tired their legs had grown in the tense preceding minutes.
The adrenalin still pumped through Polo`s veins furiously, never before had she
been so scared, never before had her life been in danger. Of coarse she heard all sorts of
true stories and news reports of people being in danger and dying from bomb blasts and
hostage crisis, but never had she, Polo, had a gun pointed at her with the welder having a
real intent to kill. Then at once all sorts of ideas flooded her mind, what could four armed
men do with a young woman they had taken prisoner? murder? rape? There were
criminals about who would do the same to Beth without batting an eyelid.
Polo knew what she had to do, for herself and Beth, she had to somehow overpower
the man standing guard- or even better knock him unconscious and escape out of the house
before the others returned. He, the guard, had lost interest in guarding and was paying
more attention to the last minutes of the movie that still played. She bent down next to
Beth`s ear and whispered:
`When I say now, scream as loud as you can.` Beth`s barely perceptible nod gave
her all the courage she needed to go through with the plan, did Beth see any good in it or
was she just trusting to the elder`s judgment? Polo eyed the heavy pen box doubtfully.

Joe hated standing to watch the prisoners, it was a long, boring, job. He would much
rather be out collecting the goods, pushing his trolley around the ornate halls as if he was
shopping for groceries, but in reality he was shopping for a career, Black market art dealer
or Jewelry seller, Electrical goods supplier or Bringer of second hand mink and ermine, or
all of the above if you wanted to...
`Hey, Tech,` Loe`s voice came clearly over the radio. `Would it be too much
trouble to jump on that computer of yours and see if this painting, a.....Burl......`Bottomless
pit` currently resides here?`
`Okie-dokie,` Joe heard typing behind Tech`s voice. `Oh yes, what you are looking
at, is an original indeed.`
`Shame, it looked pretty good too, out.`
`Yeah, out.` Tech laughed.
Joe had actually seen Burl`s `Bottomless pit`, well a print actually, it was a shame
that selling stolen original paintings always ended in getting caught, what with modern
police methods these days so originals were always left hanging. As a matter of fact this
group had been dubbed the `Art Haters` by the police investigators because of this
practice. Loe never really figured out a proper name for the group and let it remain as Art
Haters but Joe thought something to do with the aliases would be much better. Joe, Loe
and Moe were named after the Friday night slapstick comedy trio: Bunkum Brothers, but
that was kind of tacky for this gang and Joe often spent a late night trying to figure out a
name with any style.
`Hey Loe,` Nurse.
`Yes Nurse.` Loe replied.
`I`m tired.`
`So?`
`Just thought Id let you know.` Nurse finished.
`We've only been going for thirty minutes.` Joe broke in.
`And how do you know?` Loe demanded.
`Because I only got to see the last half hour of this movie.` Joe looked at the credits
rolling up the screen.
`Oh no, he's watching television again.` Nurse stressed the again.
`So?` Joe inquired.
`Well it would be great to come back and find our prisoners had escaped because
our illustrious guard was watching TV.` Loe answered reasonably,`I mean looking the
other way is fine, so is being asleep outside the door, but watching television is really
pushing the baddie cliche.`
`Hey, I've got everything under control.` Joe assured Loe, glancing at the girls to
make sure they hadn't actually escaped while he was talking, they were still sitting on those
green chairs he gave them, staring at him.
`I don't want to break into your delightful conversation but I still am tired.` Nurse
reminded them.
`And I already told you is too early to be tired.` Joe talked back.
`Hey, I am the medical expert around here.` Nurse asserted, It was true of coarse,
that was why his alias was `Nurse`. It was was also the case with Tech who was the
electronics wizard.
`Hey guys have you heard from Moe recently?` Loe spoke up suddenly.
`No, his signal stopped coming through a while back.` Tech said.
`Probably switched off cause you talk too much.` Nurse laughed.
`No as a matter of fact he went up to the top floor which is fully shielded.` Tech
disagreed. `Nothing can penetrate it, radio, microwave, infrared, ultraviolet, x rays, Im
sure its the same with gamma rays but I don't have a receiver here. Anyway, there is
nothing that I or anybody could use to spy on that area.`
`Why would anybody want to pay so much money to hide the contents of
someplace in your own house?` Loe wondered.
`I don't know, Moe said there was a lot of medical equipment before he broke up,
hell be down soon with all the facts.`
`Yeah well, I have a date with a Very big stereo in the living room.` Loe prepared to
switch off.
`And I have very important things to watch on this wide screen stereo triple
dimension television.` Joe laughed, checking again the prisoners were where they should
be.
`OK guys,` Nurse said. `I`m out.`
`Yeah out.`
`Out.`
`Out.`
Joe switched off the radio and repositioned himself so he could see the TV. better,
but keeping a watchful eye on the ladies against the wall. His gun was relaxed in his hands
but pointed in the general direction of the pair, there was nothing they could do in the tiny
fraction of time it took to raise the weapon and shoot.
The show that came on after the movie was a cartoon but incredibly funny, it started
when a tiny white dog gave a bunch of flowers to a huge blue cat, which of coarse squirted
water into the cats face. The cat then pulled an eight foot mallet out of his top pocket and
hit the dog across the room as if it was cricket, the dog hit the wall with a cymbal sound
and sat there reverberating for a while. As he sat there, the camera angle panned up to
reveal a grand piano hanging on a rope which of coarse frayed and broke. Needless to say,
the dog was underneath.
Joe pulled his attention away from the show to look at the pair, the older froze in the
act of bending down near the little girl, probably comforting her, they both looked too
scared to move.
Meanwhile, the little white dog had got up in the fashion one does when one has
been hit by a piano and is as flat as a leaf. He staggered over to a conveniently nearby gas
tank and began to inflate himself, unfortunately the tank was labeled `Helium` and
immediately the dog began to talk in incredibly high tones just before he floated away...
Suddenly the little girl screamed at a shockingly ear piercing pitch, Joe`s mind was
immediately alert, he gripped the gun and pointed it at her threateningly, but then he saw
the dark shape heading his way from the babysitters direction, It was too late, he squeezed
the trigger.

Beth, at Polo`s signal had clamped her hands over her ears and screamed as loud as
she had ever in her life before and the man pointed the gun in her direction only for a
moment before the man saw the heavy box of pencils thrown by Polo arcing towards him.
The gun shook as a strange throbbing noise came out and the box exploded sending debris
all over the room. Beth looked at Polo who was not moving but terribly pale, she fell to her
knees. In a shocking realization Beth knew the bullets from the gun had blown through the
box and hit Polo standing behind.

Loe heard what sounded like a silenced gun going off, all their guns were silenced.
Suddenly he heard a panicky Joe come on loud:
`Nurse, help, Ive shot one.`
Loe and Nurse arrived at the games room at the same time, Tech was still in the
control room but listened in, Moe was still off the air.
`Help her Nurse.` Joe cried as Nurse bent over the babysitter checking for vital
signs, `She cant die. I...I cant kill someone.` Joe was visibly shaking.
`I`m sorry,` Nurse straightened. `She's dead.`

Beth sat in the corner of the room as far away from the lifeless Polo as possible, she
eyed the blanket that covered what was only minutes ago standing and talking and smiling
and breathing and...
Oh no, Beth wrung her hands and whispered meaningless phrases to herself, she
curled up and buried her face in her hands, she hugged herself in a desperate attempt to
shut out what had only just occurred.
Beth looked up and saw three of the men were talking and arguing, the man who
had stood guard and shot Polo was shaking and crying out to the others:
`Come on we must leave, this has gone all wrong. I cant stay here.` He said.
`I agree,` Said another. `We've got all the good stuff in the entrance lets just load up
and go as soon as possible.`
The third considered thoughtfully. `Ok,` He cocked his head in a way that indicated
he was trying to listen. `Moe? Moe. Turn on the radio, Moe.` He looked at the others. `He's
still off air. Nurse, you just stay here and check for any evidence it was us who robbed the
house, be especially careful.` He indicated the dead body. `Joe, you come with me and
we`ll look for Moe.`

Loe reflected bitterly on the death of the babysitter, everything had gone wrong
after it happened, Nurse obviously abhorred killing and he, in his underspoken solemn
way fumed underneath and pointed invisible fingers of blame with his eyes. That didn't
help Joe who had fallen to pieces since the accident, it was clear Loe would have to keep
those two apart if he wanted to prevent any more mistakes. It was even an option to
consider disbanding the group after this night.
The forth floor was quite strange, not decorated as the rest of the house was, there
was plenty of medical equipment lying around as Tech said earlier. Tech`s and Nurse`s
conversation crackled off as Loe and Joe went further into the laboratory like rooms, Loe
looked around at the strange surroundings, this was definitely out of place on the top floor
of a mansion. Joe had gone on ahead, Loe looked at the machines, a hand held cat scan
device, an upright trolley that looked like it was built to restrain a very small person, a...
`Oh shit...` Joe`s voice from the other room broke off. `I think you better see this
Loe.`
Loe and Joe dragged the dead Moe into the games room leaving a trail of blood in
his wake. Nurse was in the act of scanning the television for traceables, he froze.
`What...what the hell happened?` He finally choked out.
`This weren't no accident.` Loe reported firmly. `He was murdered.`
The little girl gasped when she saw the jagged piece of metal jutting out of the
second body in the room. Moe was covered in his own blood but his eyes were still wide
open. Nurse dragged the body over next to the babysitter and covered both bodies with the
blanket, it wasn't quite large enough and Moe`s hand poked out from underneath showing
a broken and cracked watch spattered with blood.
Loe strode over to the little girl and grabbed her arms so she would face him, her
gaze would not be torn away from the telltale shapes under the blanket.
`What do you know about this?` He demanded. The girl only kept staring at the
body's and murmured to herself. Loe shook her a little to force her to look at him. `What is
on the top floor? what is all that stuff? why is it there?` he asked with a less threatening
voice.
`M..My brother.` she got out.
`What?`
`My brother lives there.` she repeated.
`She lies.` Tech who was listening on the radio stated. `These records show her only
brother died three years ago, at thirteen years of age.`
`Your brother is dead.` Loe said to the girl.
`No.` she disagreed, `Daddy wanted everyone to think that after he killed a whole
lot of people, daddy kept him here, locked up.`
`Yes!` Nurse exclaimed. `The Salton mall killings three years ago, witnesses that
survived said he was a very small person, and the report said he died in the resulting police
shoot out. This must have been who it was.`
Loe did remember hearing about it, but there was something strange about the
killings that Loe couldn't quite remember and it nagged at him.
`Lets get out now.` Joe cried, `This guys a psycho and he took on Moe fully armed
with only a piece of metal.`
`He's right.` Loe decided. `Tech,` speaking into the radio, `pack up, were leaving,
now.`
`Ok.`
Walking down the halls towards the control room was nervous. A psychotic killer
was on the loose in the house, he had killed once and if the past was anything to go by, he
didn't stop at one.
`Everything going to plan?` Loe checked up on Tech.
`Sure is,` He assured, `I just have to check...` He stopped.
`Whats the matter?` Loe demanded.
`Dunno, this front door control isn't working, I cant get the bastard open.` Tech
exclaimed.
`Sabotaged?` Nurse asked calmly.
`Could be.`
`Well the laser cutter is still sitting next to the door,` Loe noted, `We`ll get out the
way we got in.`
`Ok.` Tech sounded dubious. `I`ll just keep working on it from... HOLY SHI....`
`What?` Loe broke into a run towards the control room. The only sounds coming
over the radio was a dull crunch and a clatter that sounded like a roll of wire had hit the
floor, then another crunch, and another, crashing, and then nothing.
Loe reached the door, it was locked. Summoning all his strength, he kicked the door
squarely next to the doorknob to reveal Tech sprawled over the console, blood from
numerous gaping wounds, ran down the desk and dripped into a pool on the floor. There
was no sign of the killer.
Joe looked in and gagged. Nurse came in and drew a deep breath. `Time of death,
twenty five minutes past nine.` He said.

Beth looked around the deserted games room, the two bodies lay there silent,
patient, waiting. Beth hugged herself tighter as if it might protect her should the dead
people rise up and walk towards her, she sat there listening, they lay there listening. She
had to get out but her legs wouldn't move, her arms would not propel her to a standing
position, all she could do was sit and look around her, what was worse, out there with her
brother or in here with the bodies.
Then her eye caught the dim shape of the phone on the wall, could she phone the
police? could she bear to sit and wait for help? in here? Beth looked at the phone, she
concentrated, she had to get up and just walk to the phone.
Pushing up with her arms she stood and took a few shaky steps, to get to the phone
she had to walk past the bodies. She kept going. As she neared the blanket she pressed
herself against the wall so to get as far away as possible, she pushed past and almost fell
the rest of the way in her rush to get away. The receiver was in her hand and she backed
against the wall so she could see the bodies, she pressed the `Emergency` button and....
nothing. No sound, the screen was black, there were no standby lights, the phone had been
cut off.
Beth had heard on the news and from pieces of conversation between her parents
and the doctors that she wasn`t supposed to hear that during the Salton mall incident he
had programmed the entrances to shut everyone in and cut off all the communication in or
out, if he had done it here, they were done for.
Beth heard noise outside and ducked behind the couch before whoever it was saw
her. In strode three of the men dragging another inside, also dead. She gasped at the
horrific wounds and they saw her.
The three sat at a table and said nothing, one toyed with a small knife, another
cradled his head in his hands, finally the third spoke:
`There has to be another way out.` He turned to Beth. `Do you know of any ways
out other than the main doors?`
She shook her head, there were none that she knew of.
The one with the knife exclaimed: `Damn! we need that laser cutter. How would he
know we needed it?` he turned to her, `Would there be any sort of tools in the house
somewhere?`
She nodded `In the storeroom.`
Beth led the way to the storeroom, all three left alive came along to avoid splitting
the group up, they had their guns ready but they weren`t pointed at Beth. The storeroom
was cool and musty and full of things Beth`s family never used, the tool rack on the wall
held only simple things, screwdrivers, hammers and wrenches but the drawers underneath
held larger items. The men pulled them all out, cataloging, discarding, choosing, the tall
man who acted like the leader exclaimed:
`Damn, no power saw, no cutter, nothing.`
`We have an arc welder though,` another said, `We could try using that to get
through to the door CPU.`
`No.` The first disagreed, `That would really damage the circuitry and we don't have
replacement parts this time.`
`Well lets just take all this stuff and go back to the games room, that's the most
defensible room.`

Loe looked at Nurse who was speaking, `We need to know who we are up against.`
`How do we do that?` Joe asked raising his head up from the table.
`We have to go to where the laboratory was and search the records, they might have
put down what he does, his habits, even weak points in his methods.`
`Its all we have.` Loe agreed, he turned to the girl, `Stay here, we wont be long.`
The lab was deserted. Nurse sat down at a computer terminal and logged in, `You
two look in the cell, look for, say, sketches or something.`
The cell was lined with a strange material, a smooth white fabric and if you looked
closer you could see fine bare wires woven in. `Electrified.` Joe said almost to himself.
`When we cut the power to the surveillance circuit, it must have malfunctioned and
turned off the power to the cell, that is how he escaped.
`Guys,` Nurse called out, `The records are in a safe in the next room, I`m just going
to get them, keep looking around.` The sound of his footsteps became fainter as he left.
Loe looked at the desk by the hard bed, there were heaps of sketches laid out, some
were pictures of calm scenic views by the water or in the country, something unexpected
of someone who could kill so ruthlessly. Other drawings were of the human body, muscle
cross sections, bone structure the teeth against the skull and jaw bone. There were even a
few sketches that were unidentifiable whichever way you turned them...
`AAAAAARGH!` The blood curdling cry came from the direction Nurse went in
search of the records, Loe and Joe grabbed their guns and ran to try and help.
Loe rounded the corner first and there he was, standing over the dead Nurse, barely
a man, barely human, he was terribly white with huge dark circles under his eyes, he was
not thin but wiry, having an awesome agility and sense of strength, he was in the act of
ripping up the last disk. Loe aimed the gun but the boy was gone, disappeared. He cursed,
and ran under the hole in the ceiling that the psycho killer had leaped up with no difficulty
but all he could see was blackness.
The clock on the wall clearly read 10:25.

Only two men returned this time and Beth could see the fearful expressions on both
of their faces, they paid no attention to her whatsoever, they sat at the table and said
nothing, it was clear that they were the only ones left.

Loe stared at the gun in front of him, it was ages ago he had chose that gun, it was
only to use to keep prisoners at bay and for emergencies, he looked at Joe`s gun, almost
the same model but lighter, it had less magazines, four to Loe`s seven, would the extra
weight be the reason for his own death? He had not really expected to use up seven
magazines of ammunition on one night, and if he needed to, would the gun work properly,
would the empty magazine drop off and make room for the next to run down its track and
fall in place ready for use in the half second the black market dealer promised? Or would it
stall Loe long enough to allow the boy to get through? It was strange how these sort of
coincidences popped up all the time, Loe tried to change the subject in his mind, Tech
dying at nine twenty five and Nurse dying at ten twenty five....
Suddenly Loe remembers what was strange about the Salton mall killings, someone
was killed on the hour, every hour. Loe leaped to the dead Moe and looked at the broken
watch, destroyed when he was killed, it read twenty minutes past eight.
`Joe.` Loe felt weak. `one of us is going to die at twenty five past eleven.`
`We have to get out of here!` Joe almost screamed.
`How?` Loe yelled back, `He has us trapped, we have to fight.`
`There's no way. He doesn't use guns and still he has killed three of our men.`
`That's because he was prepared, he set up ambushes and came out from behind, we
have to set up an ambush for him.` Loe stated.
`Where?`
`This is the only place.` Loe indicated the games room, there is only one door in or
out.`
`He`ll have us trapped!`
`No way, when the twenty five minute deadline comes around, he will have to come
in and look for us, and we`ll be ready, we know when he is going to attack.`
`And then what?` Joe asked calming down somewhat.
`We shoot him as he tries to get in the door.`
`And if he decides to wait outside the door?`
`We wait inside.` Loe declared.
Twenty three minutes past eleven and all was silent. Loe and Joe had cleared all the
furniture away from near the door and pushed the couch so it faced the door, in that
position they could steady their weapons on the top of the couch and use it as a sort of
shield should the killer decide to use projectiles this time.
Twenty four minutes past eleven and still silence, the two focused all their attention
on the only door to the room. The only way an attack could be made is if he ran in here so
fast there was no time to react and jumped over for most of the way so the pair would have
to readjust their aim in which time it would be too late, it would take an extremely fast
runner and an extraordinary jumper to complete that sort of feat, but Loe braced himself
should he need to point the gun up in a short time anyway.
Twenty five minutes past eleven and nothing, no movement, no sound... wait, a
scratchy noise from somewhere, not the door, but... Suddenly Joe was lifted off his feet,
he dropped his gun and was clawing at his neck, the killer had draped a loop of wire
around Joe`s neck and was hauling him into the ceiling. Loe ran under trying to do
something but nothing could be done, Joe disappeared into the hole in the ceiling though
the noise of his struggling continued, abruptly, it stopped. A stream of blood soaked
through a seam in the ceiling.
`Bastard!` Loe screamed and opened fire on the ceiling, spraying it constantly,
riddling the white surface with gaping holes. Then the stream of fire stopped, the emptied
magazine fell out and the next in line clicked in, the shooting began immediately until that
magazine was empty, half a second later the third was in use, then the forth, then the fifth
but Loe didn't care, all he wanted to do was nail this guy. Suddenly the fiery rain upon the
ceiling stopped forever as the seventh magazine fell to the floor empty.

The last man stood looking into space for what seemed to be hours, the gun that had
run out of bullets fell from his limp hand, he dropped to his knees and cradled his head in
his hands, muttering something Beth couldn't quite hear. Finally he looked up around him,
at the hole in the ceiling, the clock on the wall, the door, Beth and then the camera jutting
out of the top corner of the room.
`So thats how he knows where we are.` He exclaimed. `The damn cameras.`
He picked up a spraycan, shook it, and sprayed thick black paint all over the camera
lens, he left the room and Beth could hear him do the same to the camera in the hall, it
seemed he was going to do as many cameras as he could before twelve twenty five.
Suddenly he ran back inside and picked up the smaller gun the other guy had dropped
when he was attacked, then he ran back out, maybe he was going to spray every camera in
the house, Beth supposed it was possible. The man's footsteps sounded further and further
of, now Beth was alone again.
Beth read the clock, twelve twenty. The man had not returned, maybe he had
decided to hide somewhere in the large mansion hoping her brother went for Beth first,
she should start thinking of better places to hide than the games room, with the hole in the
roof and all, maybe she could lock herself in the toilet and hope he doesn't find her. Beth
heard foot steps outside the room and hid behind the table, it was the man.
He grabbed her arm, `We have to go.` He propelled her along the hall with the gun
in one hand and Beth`s arm in the other, he walked so fast Beth had to run to keep up and
now and then she tripped, he just held her aloft by the arm until she got her footing. His
grip hurt her arm.
If he planned to use her as a bargaining tool, it wouldn't work, she hadn't seen her
brother in years and the doctor`s reports said he held no love for his family. If the man
planned to use her as a human shield, throw her at the wolves in hope that he might be
satisfied with one death in the hour then she was done for anyway.
The man took her to the entrance hall, a huge grand staircase ran down to a polished
floor. This was the most dressed up and least used room in the entire house, now however
it was covered with all the electronics and artworks and other expensive things the five
men had stolen. Beth had a terrible feeling she was going to die very soon.
The man looked at his watch. `Its time where are you?` The entrance was a good
choice for a stand, being a good two stories high there was no way to hang him like the last
attack, to attack in this case one would have to either come in through the ground floor
doors and run across clear floor for about twenty meters or enter by the first floor doors
and run down the grand staircase being in sight all the way, there was a good chance he
would get shot attacking, unless he thought of a better way to attack.
The wall clock flashed onto twenty five past. Suddenly a blur dropped from the
chandelier into the centre of the room, it was him. The man pushed Beth back, not
forwards and stood in front of her in a protective manner and took aim.

In one hand the psycho killer held a huge hooked club commonly used in sport, on
the other, a thirty centimeter iron bar. As Loe took aim he threw the iron bar in a smooth
underhand throw, before Loe squeezed the trigger the bar landed on target, with a scream
of tortured metal the second last magazine in Joe`s gun snapped off, but not cleanly. The
boy took the hooked club in both hands and began charging Loe. Loe, was trying to get the
next magazine into place but small parts of metal remained in the mechanism preventing
the operation to take place.
Suddenly the club was swinging towards him and holding the muzzle of the silencer
Loe smashed it away but he swing too wide and wasn't fast enough in coming out of the
swing, the boy was, bringing around the club a much more appropriately weighted weapon
for swinging he landed the club with a severe crunch into Loe`s arm. Crying out in pain
Loe deflected the next shot and the next but didn't have enough time to counter attack.
Loe realized the boy was between him and the little girl, he had to get the fight
away, carefully he backed off. The boy still attacked ferociously, spinning and attacking,
Loe deflected that and threw the butt of the bun into the killers face, he hardly flinched.
Loe felt the first step under his foot and began to climb the grand staircase backwards
deflecting the deadly swings of the club.
The boy swung with the club again which Loe deflected with the gun but this time
he also kicked at Loe`s face stunning him momentarily and sending the gun spinning over
the side of the banister to clatter on the polished floor below, Loe was thrown against the
banister and he saw the gun land so far away with chagrin, the next blow would be the last.
Loe saw as the gun land it sat at an angle as if partly lying on a out of place bump,
the jammed magazine, then it fell flat with a click. The gun was operational again.
The boy swung and Loe kicked at it diverting its trajectory so it swung wide only
glancing his already wounded shoulder. Loe ignored the pain as he vaulted the banister
and jumped to ground level, his eyes were on the gun as he tried to jump out as far as he
could, when he hit the ground his foot rolled out from under him in a sickening twist and
he hit the ground a meter short of the gun. Behind, the boy fell expertly to the ground in a
crouch.
Using one leg and his arms Loe propelled himself at the gun hoping to get there
before the boy reached him, he felt the cool metal in his hands, gripped the hand positions,
had his finger in the trigger guard... Suddenly the madman was upon him and they
struggled for control, Loe twisted around and opened fire...

Beth watched the two grapple for control of the gun, suddenly there was a volley of
shots ringing out and blood sprayed out, both stopped moving. One raised himself above
the other, it was the man.
The control room stank of blood, the man had led her here wordlessly, holding her
hand rather than her arm he walked around the blood spattered console and repaired some
wires.
`What`s your name?` He asked.
`Beth.`
He came around the console and said. `I`m sorry.` before picking up the phone and
pressing the emergency button. Beth watched him leave in silence as the tinny voice of the
operator broke the silence:
`Hello? hello?....`