Check back every week for a new instalment of the online exclusive by Richard Cozicar The Ice Racer
“Follow my lead.” Marcus whispers to us as he takes a quick step behind Annaliese and myself.
He calls back to the guards. “Over here.” He waves, purposly calling attention to us. “I found these two sneaking around this alley.” He shoves us from behind moving us forward to meet the military guards.
The guards watch warily as we approach. Their raised guns slowly lower. My heart beats rapidly at the thought of being returned to the cage. Annaliese’s gaze swivells between Marcus, the guards and me as step by step we close the gap.
“Stop.” Marcus instructs us as we come almost face to face with the two guards. Stepping around from behind us, Marcus stops to the side of the men drawing their attention.
I had no idea what he has planned but seeing the opportunity I rush the guard on the right, my one hand clasping the other man’s gun hand, my shoulder ramming into the guy’s chest knocking him back into the wall of the building.
We struggle. The guy is strong but I can feel my adrenaline spike from fear and the thought of recapture. Raising my right hand I drive a fist into the man’s gut knocking the wind out of him.
He doubles over into my raising knee. A sickening crunch follows as the guard’s hand releases the gun and he topples to the street. Swiftly retrieving the gun I whirl around in time to see the butt of Marcus’s rifle connect with the other guards face.
The two of us stand staring down at the fallen men. Marcus relieves the other guard of his weapon and passes it along with his own to Annaliese.
“Help me peel their uniforms off.” He said to me in between gasps of air as he bends over to pull the robe off the guard he clubbed. With the military robes removed the two of us drag the guards back into the shadow of the building they emerged from.
Marcus rumages under his robe and produces a knife. Slashing and cutting at my discarded brown robe he cut strips and passes them to me.
“Tie their hands and feet and gag them.” He rapidly calls out as he continues cutting strips from the cloth. Our work is hastened from the fear of being discovered by other guards patrolling the streets.
With the stolen guns in hand and donning the military robes as disguises we leave the area at a brisk walk, sticking to the deeper shadows of the buildings, Marcus walking a few steps in front of us to scout for any other unwanted company.
“A few more blocks.” Marcus states as he points ahead of us; his breathe is still laboured from the brush with the Prophets men and the tension we are all feeling. We move as quickly as we dare while maintaining all the caution we can afford.
At an intersection in the road, he raises his hand signalling us to stop. Annaliese and I wait and watch while Marcus peers around the corner, what he is watching we have no idea but he remains silent and unmoving. Something around the corner is obviously troubling him.
After several minutes he returns to us, his face a readable map of what lies in the path of our escape. Marcus shakes his head and in a hushed voice almost imperceptible to my ears he relays what he saw.
“The door to the oil mines lies just ahead.” He starts, “The problem is there is a sizable group of the Prophets men clustered around the entrance.” I find that I am holding my breath as I wait for him to tell us what he is thinking.
“The only way through is to draw their attention away from it.” He hesitates.
“There’s not another way into the mines?” I ask. Surprising the first two guards was more luck then we deserved but to my thinking trying the same trick against a larger group would require more luck then the three of us had. I search Marcus’ face and I know he is thinking the same thing.
He shakes his head. “The wall separating the mine from the city is solid steel embedded into the rock cliffs, the door is the only way across.”
“What can we possibly do to distract them? There has to be a solution that doesn’t involve us splitting up.” I plead, not willing to give up. “We could try and shoot our way past them but that would no doubt draw every guard in the city down to this area.” I think out loud.
“No. Shooting has to be our last resort. Give me a minute I’ll think of something.” “There has to be a way.” He adds.
The three of us have shrunk into the shadows as we try to figure a way past the men blocking our only chance of escape. Suddenly Marcus stands up as an idea sprouts into his mind.
“On my signal you two run for the door.” He tells us.
“What are you going to do?” Annaliese ask, her voice laden with worry.
“I’m going to create a diversion, draw as many guards away from the door as I can.” He replies leaving us before we can protest. He creeps back to the edge of the building where the streets meet, pauses a second then disappears from our sight.
Grabbing Annaliese’s hand the two of us rush to the corner, stopping to peer across the street Marcus just entered. Clinging tight to the buildings wall we watch as he scuttles down the side of the buildings getting ever closer to the gate. Two-thirds of the way down the next block he runs across the street to a break in the buildings on the other side and into the opening.
I feel Annaliese’s breath on my neck as the two of us remain hidden behind the corner wondering what Marcus has planned. He suddenly reappears hollering toward the guarded gate.
“Here.” He cries and waves his arms frantically until he has the guard’s attention. “Over here. Hurry, over here. I just saw them run down the alley and around the corner.” He jumps and points down the alley then when most of the guards have left their post to head in his direction Marcus takes off running back down the alley and out of our sight.
Annaliese’s gasps as she witnesses Marcus’s ploy. I keep my eyes on the door. All but one of the guards has gone chasing after Marcus. Standing up quickly I turn to Annaliese whispering instructions.
“Stick tight against the building. We will only have one chance so we need to creep as close to that guard as we can while his attention is focused on the alley Marcus disappeared down.” I slide around the corner pulling Annaliese with me and then move as fast as I can in the cover of the building. The distance from our hiding spot to the door is not far.
The whole time we are on the move, my eyes are fixed on the guards face expecting him to notice us. His gaze continues toward the spot his comrades disappeared to in search of Marcus. Still holding Annaliese’s hand we close the gap. Twenty feet away and the guard’s attention is still turned away from us. Fifteen feet. Thirteen feet.
About ten feet out the guard swivels his head and looks right at us. Confused at the sight of us running straight at him causes a delayed reaction. I let go of Annaliese’s hand and without pause I charge right at the surprised guard.
Using the advantage of my momentum and his confusion I lower my head and charge forward ploughing shoulder first into his chest. My rifle flies out of my hands as the force of the collision carries us both backward until we hit the wall at an angle. I hear his breath rush out of his mouth as he is pinned between the weight of my body and the solid wall behind him.
I trip and fall away from the guard. He regains his footing first and grabs for his weapon when he suddenly stops, staggers and then falls in my direction.
Annaliese is standing behind the spot vacated by the fallen guard with her hands still in the air, facing me, her stolen rifle clutched in her hands like a club. I nod my thanks to her as I scramble to my feet, quickly I dust off my robe and retrieve my gun.
I hurry to the door and try the handle. Locked. The door will not budge. I rush back to the fallen guard and search for a key. Digging through the pockets in his robe I fail to find a key of any kind. I roll the man over onto his back. As I do a chain slips out from beneath the collar of his shirt. I grasp at the chain and pull. A key slides out and I quickly yank my fist back snapping the chain.
I raise my hand in triumph and show my find to Annaliese then I hurry back to the door to try the lock. The key turns smoothly, we listen to the lock click open. Twisting the handle I swing the door inward slowly, I prepare myself for another guard on the other side. Stopping to have a look around I see a vast cavern bathed in bright lights.
Noticing no other guards I pass Annaliese my rifle and rush over to the prone guard. Motioning for Annaliese to go ahead of me I drag the man through the doorway. When we are through I close the door and lock it before quickly glancing around again to reassure myself that my actions went unobserved.
I remove the guard’s robe, tearing it into strips to tie the man up as we did with the other guards and then roll him tight against the bottom of the door. Reclaiming my gun I raise it and drove it into the guards head a couple of times. Panting from the excursion I straighten up and glance at Annaliese then around the huge cavern containing the oil mine.
I stand still and look over the interior of the large cave. Not too many feet away to the left of the door stands a solid wall of craggy lava rock. The wall runs all the way to the underside of the cavern’s ceiling. Opposite the door, about twenty feet away is a metal rail. On the other side of the rail the stone shelf we stand on drops off.
My eyes follow the rail as it runs to our right, several hundred feet away from the door is a building extended over the edge of the shelf with large braces angled from the buildings underside back toward the rock cliff.
With my focus on the building I walk away from the door toward the metal railing. The hole on the other side of the rail is massive; I can barely make out the far side even with the bright lights that light the cavern.
Annaliese follows close behind me as I near the rail. Convincing myself that we have gained entry to this side of the wall without being noticed, I turn my head as we reach the rail and together we look down.
As one we both let out a gasp as we grip the metal rail and stare at the site below us.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.