20 August 2012

Tiled Haven - Part One

The blood was oozing out of Unger's abdomen and through his shirt, right around the area that was torn by the bullet hole. He was breathing heavily and alternately clutching the wound and looking at the palm of his hand. Every time he looked he let out a little breath and closed his eyes. There was gunfire in the distance.

“It's getting less intense.” Sheik was keeping watch out of the concrete frame of what used to be a window but what was now just more of a hole in a cinder block building. They were in a shot-up room on the third floor in the ruins of something that to the casual observer might have been an office block or it might have been an apartment building. It was an apartment building. This became obvious upon entering, owing mostly to the remains of the plumbing, as Unger had once observed. He was more concerned with his own plumbing at this point.

“I'm gonna' die. I know it.” Unger dabbed at his bullet wound with the palm of his hand again. “I'm gonna' die.”

“You ain't gonna' die.” Sheik turned in place and looked at Unger lying on the floor. “I'm gonna' have to shut you up if you don't shut up yourself, though.”

Unger closed his eyes. He tried breathing through his nose and calming himself, but it didn't accomplish much. There was a little bit of a breeze blowing through the opening in the wall, and he could feel it on his forehead. It was wet, and when the breeze kicked up it felt cooler than it actually was.

“You think anyone knows we're here?”

Sheik didn't answer. He turned away and looked out the window again, staying close to one side of the what used to be it's frame, trying to make use of any concealment the shadows there might offer. This answered Unger's question just as well as any words could have.

“They can sniff out blood the way a shark can,” said Unger. “They got some kind of sensors on their drones. I heard a guy talkin' about how they can pick up fresh blood and some kind of hormone or something that's in it. They can zero in on a guy who's been hit and doesn't stay indoors. As soon as he steps out into the open air, bam. They got him. The finger of god comes down like the sky just dropping right on him. Bam.”

“I don't know if I buy that.”

“It's true. They got the all-seeing eye of god up there in the clouds, and as soon as they get a fix on a position, the drones start circling like sharks. Then its the almighty finger of god.” Unger was looking up toward the ceiling, like he expected the finger to burst through at any time.

“Why don't they just open up with a gun or something?” asked Sheik.

“The drones just get a lock on the target. They circle and circle until they positively identify the DNA or something in the blood that they're picking up. They get a match based on a real-life blood trail. So a guy gets hit in a firefight, and the troopers from the Project get a read on the blood – even from a long distance – and there's some kind of spectral analysis, some kind of DNA readout or something. You get fingerprinted. They got your name. They got your number.”

Sheik kicked at a piece of concrete and adjusted the sling on his rifle. He looked at Unger and spit on the wall.

“So the drone just spots you and gets a lock on you,” continued Unger. That's just the eye of god. After they got you in your sights, the finger of god is just a breath away.”

“So how's it work?”

“Gravity,” said Unger, breathing heavily. “It's some kind of titanium bolt. I guess it's got a little transmitter or something on it. It gets dropped from a satellite that carries a couple thousand of these things. The bolt is just a couple of inches long, and it comes streaking down through the heavens and hits the target red-hot. Bam. It hits you between the ears and your melon explodes.”

Sheik was quiet. A light rain started falling, and he watched it make dark spots on the dry, broken slabs of concrete in the street. He leaned against the wall and gazed out through the shattered window frame.

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