The following takes place between 4am and 5am
We charged across the pavement, down the short street between the two stadiums and the training center. The massive hulk of Lambeau Field lit up the sky a few hundred yards ahead. It seemed like it was mocking me.
We had just reached the stop lights at the intersection when I heard the faint sounds of doors swinging open from the Resch Center, pounding feet, and fighting going on behind us. I slow to risk a look backwards, just in time to see a crowd maybe fifty strong run out onto the sidewalk, heading for us.
Kinda reminded me of zombies.
A car screeched behind us, and I put on a burst of speed as I crossed the intersection, more than a little apprehensive of feeling a bumper against my back. Up onto the opposite curb, and I hurtled the short guardrail that ringed the parking lot, Bob a moment behind me.
The vehicle I’d heard screeching – a Suburban – roared up the driveway into the lot at a ridiculous rate of speed, tearing past us and then arcing across our path. From the two open passenger side windows, people shot at us, probably expending entire pressure chambers, what with the seemingly endless waves of water that poured out of the SUV. They were just outside the range of their soakers though, and those endless waves simply dropped to the concrete a few feet away, and then the SUV was past, speeding towards the over-sized press tents far to the right.
The lack of reach hadn’t stopped me from taking a few shots of my own though. As soon as they’d opened fire, so had I. I wasn’t entirely sure they weren’t planning on running at least me down, and even if all I had was a water gun, I wasn’t going out without shooting.
We kept running. I kept an eye on the SUV, tracking its movement around the parking lot. They headed up to and disappeared around the right hand corner of the building, out of sight behind a tower.
Probably meet up with them later.
Up close, the stadium was impressive. The lower half was brick, but the upper half and exposed skeleton were dark green, and mixed with the brown of the stone, it looked very retro. Very big, too. It towered over us, even the gates we were approaching were four or five times as tall as I was.
Both of us were breathing hard as we climbed the steps up to the gates, exhausted from the run. My leg – hell, my whole BODY – ached, and my head was pounding like an African war drum. I glanced down to see a wet patch forming on my right thigh. I wasn’t giving this a chance to heal. Or even close.
“Where to, chief?” I asked Bob.
He straightened from bent-double, and took a deep breath. “Through those doors.”
“Yo! Bob!” A voice behind and below, and since I didn’t have the Vanquisher shouldered, I pulled the Triple Shot, one-handing it towards the source. In the bushes, below and to the side of the steps. I pulled the trigger, water hissing away. A wide shot, and I corrected, slamming a stream into his chest. Probably someone from the SUV. A glance over my shoulder showed a couple dozen people sprinting through the parking lot, all spread out to avoid each other. Son of a bitch, it WAS like a zombie horde.
I yanked the doors open and we ran in, into a massive atrium. Built onto the side of the stadium, there were three or four levels shops built into both the outside wall and the outside of the bowl. These were connected by green metal catwalks, all merging at a central platform hub, supported by green metal spans and girders and I-beams, a glass-walled elevator lost in that tangle somewhere. Ahead, dead escalators rose towards the first level.
I could see people running across the atrium towards us from the enormous glass wall in front. Two in front, two trailing behind, obviously slower.“Where to?”
Bob nodded at the escalators. “Up there.” I pushed him towards the escalators and moved forward, Vanquisher up, aiming for the two in front. I shot one at the edge of my range, and moved off the “X” as water reached for me, interrupting the shot I was setting up on the other guy. A jerk of the head showed me the back two had taken cover at a shopfront and were hanging back. My target was also hanging back, dropping into my range occasionally to take a few quick shots and then retreat.
The worst kind of stand-off.
I hated to, but I retreated, backing up for the escalators. With the people rushing in from the parking lot, I didn’t have time to screw around with a duel.
I reached the first step, and the shooter rushed me, holding down the trigger, sweeping left and right to make sure he hit me. He started from a far edge of his sweep, and it was simple to duck down below the metal side of the escalator, then rise when the beam passed and drill a stream of my own into his chest.
The run to the first level was brutal, our feet clanging up, up, up. At the platform, and we turned left, took another escalator up. Halfway up that one, I started hearing feet on the one below. I leaned over and took a shot down, stitching the lower escalator with splashes of water. Then we were moving again. Next platform, right turn and up another escalator. Three stories…in very little time. I took a moment to lean against the railing at the top, even though the clanging below told me that my opponents weren’t stopping.
Breathe. Just breathe.
Up another level, and Bob motioned me to stop. “That way.” He was pointing to the left, down the catwalk that ran around the bowl. I sucked air in to calm the heaving of my lungs, and then we took off again. The elevator dinged behind us, and I whirled, setting myself in a shooting stance.
“Have you ever thought,” Bob asked “that it might make more sense for your enemies to work together and then eliminate each other than to just all ‘die’ in a big free-for-all?”
So that was why there were five people in the elevator. Four men, one woman.
I dropped my stance to one knee, placing me below the level of the railing. They came around the corner onto the catwalk, and I placed a liquid comet right into the navel of the man in the lead. That drove them back a little, and I rose, advancing slowly, shooting with deadly deliberateness to drive them back farther. Then I turned and ran again.
Around the curve of the bowl, almost to the doors out of the atrium, and I flattened my back to the wall, slinging the Vanquisher with my left hand and drawing the Triple Shot in a textbook transition. I could hear their feet thumping on the thin carpeting, getting closer. I breathed deep, preparing for what was coming, sliding the pump quietly to bring the gun to maximum pressure.
Wait for it…
Wait for it…
I stepped away from the wall and two steps forward and pushed the large water gun held by the guy in the front away with my palm. I pulled the Triple Shot back to my side and shot him twice in the stomach and brought my left hand from his gun to his chest and pushed him backwards. “Hey!” he exclaimed as he backpedaled to stay upright, and I slammed him into the crowd of his friends behind him, extending my pistol over his shoulder and shooting both a man and a woman in the face. Mist exploded behind him, and I guessed – in a mind-racingly clinical sort of way – that his friends had gotten trigger happy and shot him in the back. A sidestep to the right put the last person in a free angle, and I fired without aiming. This was nearly contact distance, while it was possible to miss, it wasn’t likely that I would.
I stepped back, the pistol up and held lightly in their direction, breathing hard from the rush and the apprehension.
“No frickin’ fair!” Someone said from the back as he elbowed his way to the front. “You can’t just assault people…”
I got out of there. He was about five seconds away from shaking a finger in my face, and if that had’ve happened, I would’ve broken it. I was fast coming to the realization that I didn’t want to be messed with tonight.
“Bought us some time,” I told Bob when I caught up back up with him.
“Not as much as you think.” He pulled that damned walkie from his pocket and fiddled the buttons on the front. “We’re leaving the atrium, heading for the boxseats” he said into it. His voice boomed over the loudspeakers.
For just a moment I was tempted to take the little plastic box and drop it the four stories to smash on the floor below. I did want to win this thing though, and that would be tempting fate.
The doors out of the atrium were thick and heavy and the air on the other side was surprisingly warm and humid. I stopped and looked around. Oh. Outside. Open-air balconies ran around the outside of the stadium, doorways to the bowl set into the wall on the left every few dozen yards. To the right, I had a great view of the road that split Ashwaubenon and Green Bay, the businesses that thrived on football traffic. I was only up four stories, and everything seemed so small…
“Ok, we’re heading for the boxseats, how do we get there?”
Bob pointed ahead. “There’s an elevator just above the main gate, a few hundred feet ahead.”
The door slammed open behind us, and I turned, Vanquisher up, pulling the trigger as I backpedaled, rolling flat-footed like I’d been taught. Pull, pull, pull. I hit someone, because they slipped back inside the door without even shooting at us.
We sprinted along the balcony, past all the doorways leading onto the field. How many people would pay hundreds of dollars for this in just a few weeks?
There was an elevator set into the wall on the left, right between two glass doors that opened onto brightly lit stairwells. I held the stairway door for Bob. “Why not the elevator?” he asked.
“I recall you didn’t particularly like the last trip we took in one. Something about getting drenched.”
“Something like that.”
I ran up the steps, Bob lagging behind. The stairs spiraled around and around and around the inside of the shaft. About three quarters of the way up, I heard the door below swing open. Damn.
We picked up the pace, and as I pushed open the door at the top, the elevator dinged nearby. I stepped through the doorway as she stepped out, and I blasted a stream off her collarbone. Bob ran past, paused long enough to say “Right behind me” and kept running.
I shot the first guy through the door in the back, a plate-sized water spot appearing dark between his shoulder-blades in the harsh white lights.
Some buried-deep-reptilian-part of my brain started screaming the moment I passed the slowly closing blond wood door. That was all the warning I got before it flew open again. Another guy came rushing through, college linebacker big, and it was only because I’d already turned that I was able to slam my palm into his gun and drive the shot wide with my right hand, letting the Vanquisher fall to swing on the sling.
He muscled the gun back towards me, and I pushed across my body, driving it away from me. We circled twice as he fought to bring the bright orange nozzle onto target.
I was gunless, wrestling with someone better armed and much stronger.
This could be going better.
I reached behind my back with my left hand, grabbing at the grip of the Triple Shot as we turned, each fighting for control of the soaker. My fingers brushed the slick plastic grip a few times, and then it was in my hand. I swung it from behind my back, one handing it up and getting off one good shot into his sternum before he slapped it out of line like I’d done to him. His slap was a bit more forceful though, and the pistol bounced off the wall and floor, landing a few feet away on the green carpeting.
We looked at each other over the soaker held between us, and then I let it go.