Escape From New Orleans
by Edgar J. Steele
September 9, 2005
Caution: not for children - rough language and graphic scenes
Easing through the open doorway, Snake paused at the top of the stairs. The smell of marijuana hung in a lazy, slow-moving drift from below. Down one flight, then another. Without warning, a hand fell heavily on his shoulder from behind. Trying to turn, Snake's world spun as he was picked up bodily and flung down the next staircase.
Shaking his head to clear his vision, Snake looked up to see a huge black man with solid white eyes stolidly plod down the stairs after him. Jerking the M4 battle rifle around into position, he delivered enough rounds to cut the man in half. Nothing. The man picked him up again, ripped the rifle from his hands and flung him down the next flight of stairs. This is getting serious, Snake thought as the world went into a slow motion spin, with pain stabbing every joint. He came to rest on the landing below and shook his head again as consciousness came and went, pulled up to a kneeling position, then fell over, unable to rise. The hulking monster was halfway down the stairs now.
Remembering the ElectroDart, Snake lifted his arm, pointed and flexed his right forearm. Hundreds of tiny drops of lightning flitted toward the giant, who jerked about as if on puppet strings, then fell heavily, down onto Snake. Snake lay there for what seemed an eternity, gathering strength to shove the guy aside. The smell of burnt hair was overwhelming as he struggled out from beneath the apparently lifeless body. Funny how cold the guy's skin is. Funny creepy. He confirmed the man's death with two fingers to the side of his neck, feeling no pulse.
Snake looked at the device strapped to his arm with a new-found respect. "I could get to like this," he said out loud.
The music had morphed into a low, slow drumbeat. Snake advanced down the hallway from the landing where he most recently had been flung. Now he heard a voice chanting, as well. He stopped at an elevator shaft with the doors standing open. The chanting stopped, but the drumbeat continued, clearly coming from somewhere below, down the shaft. A large culvert, the sort used for major drain pipes, had been fitted into the shaft. Looking down, Snake saw a reddish light at the bottom and noticed that five-foot sections of culvert had been laboriously welded together inside the shaft and a ladder attached to the inside. Must go to a watertight chamber, or it would be full - this floor has to be about the level of water outside, he thought.
Just then, a woman's scream pierced the muggy air from the other end of the hallway. Snake padded down the filthy carpet toward a partially-open door and paused just outside.
A gravelly voice rasped out: "You like 'dat, doncha, honky bitch? Yeah."
Intermittent sobs came from just out of sight, beyond the half-open door.
"Yeah. You love it. You goan be doin' my homies, too. Hear 'dat, you piece a shit white prick? Yo wife, she be suckin' off 'dem guys next."
Snake saw the backs of two Blacks about ten feet inside the doorway, looking toward the hidden corner from which the now uncontrollable sobbing came. Drawing both Berettas, he crept forward. The guy closest to him was unfastening his belt.
"Hey! Who 'dat?" Gravel Voice had spotted him through the crack at the door jamb. Both heads, one bald and the other near bald, turned as if on swivels. As their eyes grew large, both reached for the rifles slung to their sides. Snake dropped each with a single head shot, then jumped and, in a single fluid motion, rolled forward into the room, using their crumpling bodies as a shield. Gravel Voice was floundering up off an old wooden chair, grasping for his own rifle, slung over the back of his chair.
"Don't! Unless you wanna join your friends here." Standing up, Snake nodded toward the still forms crumpled at his feet.
"Now, jus' a minit, mister. Don' be doin' nuthin' we both gonna regret. This doan concern you and dere be lots mo' of us den you."
Looking around, Snake replied, "Oh? And just where be de lots mo of you? I don't see 'em, you piece of shit."
"Nice and easy now, stand up and face that wall...no, leave your pants right where they are. Now, as they say in the funny papers, assume the position. And, somehow, I just know you know exactly what that means." The black man placed both palms against the wall, then shuffled his feet back a couple of feet and as far apart as his pants, now stretched tightly between his ankles, would allow.
A pudgy brunette in her late twenties sat in front of the chair. Her blouse had been ripped and now hung in tatters from her waist. Her face was bruised badly. A bra lay nearby. She watched Snake with hopeful eyes, sobs still catching in her throat. "Relax, lady. Nobody's gonna hurt you now." A half smile came and, as quickly, left her face as bleary eyes shifted to the corner, where a slender white man, about the same age, lay bound.
"Your husband?" She nodded tentatively. "Go untie him. Better yet - here - use this." Snake pulled the knife from the scabbard at his waist and tossed it, handle first, to her. It bounced off her hands and fell to the floor. Picking it up, the woman crawled on hands and knees to her husband and sawed at the duct tape around his wrists. He took the knife from her, then pulled off the piece of tape that had been placed over his mouth.
The man pulled himself up to a sitting position. "Thank God! Mister, you are a life saver for sure. Thank you, thank you, thank you." He grinned goofily, then set about cutting the tape that bound his ankles together.
"Doan be gittin' yo' hopes up, white bread. Dis jus' be a little distraction fo' now."
"Shut up, asshole." Snake closed the ten-foot gap between himself and the bare-assed Black and slapped a pistol against his ear.
"Ow! Don' be no call fo' yo to be..."
Snake rapped him again, harder. "Shut up, I said!"
Meanwhile, the man had taken his wife into his arms as she broke into a full-on wail. "I don't think there's anybody else right nearby," Snake told him. "I took care of a guard down the other end of the hallway."
Glancing at his watch, Snake added, "Look I've got business I've got to take care of and I'm on a real short deadline. The coast is clear up to the roof. Go up there and hide out until morning, then figure something out. I've gotta move on."
Collecting the dead men's rifles, Snake added the rifle slung over the chair and handed them to the couple. Then, thinking better of just walking out, he quickly frisked Gravel Voice's shirt and felt his pants. The black man moved, so Snake jammed the barrel of his pistol in between his butt cheeks. "Move just once more and you'll never shit right again. Do what I tell you and you might just live...but that'll be up to that fella over there and his wife."
Snake pulled a massive switch blade from one of the man's pants pockets. Flicking it open with a quick movement, Snake whistled, then handed it to the husband, now standing next to him. His wife was holding one of the rifles, pointed directly at the Black. Snake took his military-issue knife back from the man and replaced it in its scabbard. He stepped over, took the rifle from her and checked that the safety was off and the breech loaded, then handed it back to the woman, who stood unashamedly before him, now dry eyed but still bare breasted. You might just do after all, he thought. This time, her smile was wall to wall as she whispered, "Thank you."
Snake grabbed the black man by the neck of his shirt and threw him toward the chair, pants still around his ankles. "Sit down, asshole." Snake had the husband tape the man's arms downward, to the back chair legs, then do the same with the man's bare ankles to the front chair legs.
"Where's Crawdaddy?" demanded Snake. The man stopped in mid giggle when Snake drew his knife again.
"I'm gonna ask you just one more time and then I'm going to let this here law-abiding citizen go to work on you with that pig sticker of yours. Now, where's Crawdaddy?"
"Who dat?" Snake nodded to the husband, who knelt down and, in a single movement, hacked off the man's left pinky finger. It fell limply to the floor.
The scream was impressive, but stopped short when Snake moved to the other side of the chair.
"Okay, Okay. I tell you."
Snake took the knife from the husband, wiped its blade on the front of the Black's shirt, then gestured to his groin with it. "You get one chance to do this right. If you lie to me, I'll come back here and cut that off."
The man whimpered while his eyes darted madly from side to side.
"Where?" thundered Snake.
"He be all de way down de elebatur in de hallway." The husband moved closer with an evil grin. Snake handed him the open switchblade. "Keep him away frum me! I dun tol' you."
Snake glanced at the husband, then back. "That's between you and him. I've got business elsewhere. Besides, it looks like he has a few things he might like to discuss with you."
Just outside the door, Snake heard the Black's next scream cut through the thick night air. It would prove to be far from the last, as things turned out. Snake reached back and pulled the door shut. His skin crawled as yet another scream started, a full octave higher than the last but well muffled now by what once had been an ornate and expensive, solid wood door, then he stalked back down toward the open elevator shaft.
Snake peered down the shaft and saw no movement. Hearing nothing come from below but the soft throb of an electric motor, he swung one leg over and placed his foot on a ladder rung. Then the other. Slowly, he began climbing down what looked to be about a forty foot ladder.
Copyright ©2005, Edgar J.
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