By Jeffrey R. DeRego
The tenements are easy to scale, but I ring the apartment doorbell beneath the intercom instead. They don’t answer immediately. Someone thunders down the steps.
I smile up at him. “They sent me from the club.”
The man is big, broad chest and a thick black mustache. “What club.”
“Island Oasis. They paid in advance.” I reach out slowly and touch his chest. It’s all muscle.
He pulls the door open and hesitates for a second before leading me up to the third floor. He and three men crowd the small living room. The baby shrieks from the bedroom off to the right. “Lookie what Sanderson sent us! It must be bonus day! Can someone shut the kid up, Jesus?”
“He’s been screaming all night. Just turn up the music to drown it out.”
“Okay bonus, let’s see what you got.” Mustache crosses his arms and steps back as someone else turns up the music.
“Is anyone else here? I am supposed to make sure you all get treated right.”
“This is it.”
I start to dance. There’s a big plate glass window in the living room, a kitchen just behind me with a back door to another set of stairs. The guards are sitting, whooping as I spin and twirl. Black Mustache is still standing near the bedroom.
A cell phone rings and Black Mustache answers. I can hear only his half of the conversation.
“Yeah man, it’s cool — No, I haven’t heard from anyone — And thanks for the bonus! Huh, yeah, she’s right here. Red hair, dressed like the devil, and she’s got an evil set of —”
He doesn’t say another word because I’ve slammed my high heel through the phone and his cheekbone. The other three scramble out of their seats. I knock one down, then the other. The third gets his hands on me and shoves me back. I knock the radio and a little side table over. Black Mustache fumbles for a pistol and fires.
A bullet grazes my shoulder just as I drop kick him through the bedroom door. I snatch the still-screaming kid off the mattress.
I use the last guard as a battering ram and ride him through the plate glass window and onto the fire escape with a screaming baby in my arms.
Jeffrey DeRego was born in the seaside city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, one time home to both Fredrick Douglass and Herman Melville. A graduate of New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, He now lives in Derry, New Hampshire, with his children Ian and Margaret and the memory of his beloved wife Cindy. His wildly popular Union Dues stories have appeared in audio format at Escape Pod, and Clonepod. His post award-winning post apocalyptic tales of Pleasant Hollow are available at Tales of The Zombie War. His novels, Escape Clause and Fleas, are available wherever books are sold.