He wasn’t old, but no longer young. A time was given for him to arrive, but would his quarry realize that the man had arrived early? Officers were on their way, but would they be on time? Would the sight of them endanger the victim? Even while telling them that he was no hero, the man knew he had to at least act like one. Someone’s life was at stake and no one else was creeping around the old factory to attempt a rescue.
Again he wondered if some time in the military would have been a good choice, but what would they do when it was discovered that they had a soldier with chronic depression? He might have been a greater threat to his comrades than the enemy. Still, he did the best possible to be silent, clutching the knife that was the only weapon he owned.
It was made to be decorative, but was a quality weapon regardless. When a person frequently experiences suicidal symptoms, a gun in the house is unwise.
His foot barely nudged a pipe, but was gentle enough to not make a sound. The man exhaled, feeling even more sweat trickling down his face. Why had the killer chosen him to be some poor soul’s erstwhile savior. Perhaps it was just sick humor to invite someone with barely a clue to thwart the scheme.
The knife was gripped in reverse to keep the glint of steel from being noticed. Could he kill someone, even in the defense of an innocent person? Maybe. If it were just possible to stall for time until the authorities arrived it would suffice.
Traversing the narrow corridors and offices wasn’t too difficult. His night vision was decent. The thought of crossing the more open space of the working area, though, with moonlight spilling in through the mostly broken windows was causing too much tension. The stress had begun to develop into a throbbing in his temples. Spoon it would be a piercing headaches. Trying unsuccessfully to work out the knots in his shoulders, the man looked across the open expanse.
There was nothing to see apart from the decay and vandalism of many years. Anything remaining of value, such as scrap metal, was long gone. Practically nothing remained and none of what did made for poor cover.
This must be where it is supposed to happen, he thought; too few places remained to be searched. Remaining in the shadows, scanning the area, it took several minutes to see the bound figure near the ceiling. He could just make out a noose and what seemed to be a harness keeping the body attached to a high walkway. Try as he might, though, no sign of another person could be observed.
The man continued to wait, his breath coming so fast that steam was forming and hyperventilation was a threat. Forcing his respiratory rate down while carefully examining the area, what must have been an emergency ladder could be seen close by. A fast, noisy sprint would bring him to it, but could he climb fast enough and cross the walkway fast enough?
Deciding that there were no other options, the man sprinted along the wall, jumping as high up the ladder as possible, the clanging of his shoes against the ancient metal ringing through the building. Reaching the top, he began sprinting again, racing towards the bound figure. A dim thought in his mind wondered if the walkway could give way beneath him. Acknowledging the thought, he accelerated.
Yards away from the feebly struggling person, a booming laugh bounced off the walls. The cable holding the person clicked, and they began to fall away from the railing. Screaming in desperation, ther man lunged. His hand closed on the harness’s waist strap, the fingers of his other hand sunk into the grating under him. Fortunately, the one thing going in his favor was a strong body. He hauled the person up and the sharp edge of the knife easily sliced through the thin rope. At once cradling the body and rolling away from the edge, he quickly sawed through the harness and freed who he now saw was a thing, almost waif-like, boy. The eyes were3 wide in horror, red-rimmed from tears.
A sudden flash of a reflection caused him to grab the boy and roll again. A piercing streak of agony stretched his shoulder down through the arm. A crossbow bolt was jutting through the flesh, but seemed to miss any bone. The pain forced the headache into full-force, adding to the screeching pain he felt. The figure below began to clap in seeming admiration. Ignoring this, the man grabbed the boy, eyes slitted against the pain and growled through clenched teeth:
“Run, you little shit!”
Without hesitation, the youth responded to the order by immediately leaping forward into a loping run. The man followed as best he could, but could not muster such speed. No more bolts sped through the air, leaving him lurching unsteadily into an old office alongside the boy.
Fueled by desperation, the man grasped the bolt in one hand and contorted his other arm behind his head to unscrew the projectile’s tip. The edges sliced into the unsteady fingers, but managed to remove the point and drop it to the floor. He knew not to pull the bolt out. It would make the wound bleed even more profusely, but there was nothing for it. He couldn’t hope to fight with it through the shoulder.
There were no wailing sirens, just the sound of car doors bursting open as the police flooded into the building. The boy leapt up and started shouting where they were, screaming for help in a shrill voice. The man grabbed him by the jeans and drug him back down.
“You do recall a man tried to muder us with a crossbow, yes? He could still be out there, yes? Kindly shut up and stay down, boy. What’s your name anyway?”
The kid hesitated before squeaking out “Sammy.”
The man sighed and responded, “I’m Derrick, Sammy. Pleased to meet you.”
Derrick looked closer at Sammy, noticing certain signs that made him ask: “Were you born as Samantha?”
Sammy looked ready to panic, until Derrick clapped his shoulder.
“There won’t be a word from me, kid. Promise.”
The boy breathed a sigh of relief before collapsing against Derrick’s injured shoulder, eliciting a yip of pain. Regardless, he wrapped his arms around the youth, rocking back and forth while comforting him. That was how the SWAT team found them, with Derrick’s blood soaking Sammy’s hair. The attempted murderer had so far eluded discovery and may have fled before the officers entered. But, that was a problem to save for another day.