“I do love a chance to beat up some bad guys. Well they do deserve it – don’t they?”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango — Exuberant
Your Daily Word Prompt — Cling
Ragtag Daily Prompt — QI (Chi)
Gabriel Garrett pushed through the glass doors into the Castle Mall. Standing tall in black jeans and a smart leather jacket, he looked like any other man. A closer look revealed him to be dealing with severe anxiety. He was sweating profusely and looking all around for signs of danger. Gabriel, a former sergeant in the British Army had completed four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’d won medals, collected scars and most of all, through the carnage and atrocities he’d witnessed and fought through had left him with PTSD. His first couple of years back as a civilian had been nightmarish, to say the least. He always felt he was still a war with the sounds of bombs and gunshots ringing in his ears. His trauma had cost him his wife and left him unable to trust anyone.
Entering the mall today was a big step in Gabriel’s life. He’d been unable to enter any place with lots of people through fearing danger could be anywhere. Today he was fighting through that to meet his psychologist for lunch in the food court.
Gabriel took a deep breath and started between the shops. He glanced at the offerings in the Everyday Fashions store, the Digital Entertainments, and the QI Chinese Herbal Remedy shop. Anxiety rising in his chest caused heart palpitations leaving him flushed. He forced himself not to look at everybody as a threat as he continued along the concourse. Seeing a sign for an exit, his feet took him that way.
Walking toward a set of glass doors bearing movie posters, he felt cool, fresh air wash over and calm him. The doors opened ahead, permitting three men dressed all in black and wearing the darkest shades possible. Each man was bizarrely carrying a flowery shopping bag.
Gabriel focused on the posters but was on full alert. It was dull and raining outside – they didn’t need dark sunglasses. They could be gay excusing the bags, but something told the ex-soldier these men were trouble.
“Afternoon, Fella. Rotten day isn’t?” commented the lead man.
Gabriel felt his heart thumping his chest. “Yeah, sure is.” He dropped his eyes to the bag man was carrying and looked away just as quickly. ‘Shit! I hate being right!’ “Have a good afternoon, mate,” he added as he passed through the doors. Outside in the plaza, he saw dozens of people. All obliviously shopping without realising the brewing danger.
“I have to stop them.” Gabriel whirled around and shot back into the mall. He was in time to see one man duck through an employee’s only door. The other two reached the concourse and split up.
Needing backup the ex-soldier ran to the Digital Entertainment store. A security guard was always present. Today was no different, the overweight guard stood drinking a Macchiato without a care in the world.
“Excuse me, buddy. I need you to call security and the police immediately. There’s three guys in here; each with an explosive device in their bag. They are wearing —”
“Woah! Exuberant prick, aren’t you? We’ll not have any bomb scares around here today. So, piss off and let me drink my coffee in peace or it’ll be you getting arrested!”
Gabriel groaned. “Stop being a badge-wearing arsehole and listen. I’m not a teenage twat trying to scare people. I’m a former British Army sergeant who knows a bomb when he sees one! Get the police, evacuate the building and save some—”
“No time — just get on with it!” Gabriel turned on his heels and ran back through the mall. “There’s bombs! Get out now!” he yelled causing children to cling to their parents and people everywhere to fear a terrible massacre.
He reached the employee’s only door and burst through it at a controlled panic. Wasting no time, he started methodically searching for the bomber he’d seen going this way.
Signs on the grey walls revealed this passage led to the building’s generator room beyond the shops rear entrances. ‘Looks like the perfect place to explode a bomb to me,’ without slowing Gabriel raced past the last couple of shop loading areas, avoiding pallets of boxes and cages of merchandise. He shouldered through the service door into a concrete-walled room. The hum of electrics from generators was loud in here.
“It’s Condor. I’m in place, Griffin. Just setting the charges now,” said a voice just beyond the first generator.
Gabriel’s PTSD vanished now he was in battle. As much as the wars had been horrible, this was where he felt most in control. Hopping some piping, he rounded a corner and leapt on the man. “Condor, huh? Taking a day out to blow up a mall, are you?” Gabriel bashed his head into the metal wall. “How charitable, you rotten turkey!”
Condor kicked out at Gabriel catching his knee and making space.
The soldier never flinched, spinning hard he broke the bomber’s nose with an elbow and bounced him off the generator’s casing. On the dusty floor, he forced Condor’s arms up behind his back. “Tell me where the other bombs are going? Or I’ll make your arms look like chicken wings!”
“Argh! Screw you, Lumphead!” Condor screamed.
Gabriel tightened his grip causing joints to pop. “Well, where can I find turkeys two and three?”
“Aright — Ahhh! You breaking my arms! Everyday Fashions department store and the food hall. Condor relented. “You’ll never stop them in time.”
“Don’t bet on it,” Gabriel locked in a sleeper hold and squeezed until the man was unconscious. He bound him with his own shoelaces. A look in the bag revealed a timed explosive detonator attached to two-kilos of black-wrapped RDX plastic explosives. This trio of terrorists had some connection to the military.
Gabriel hauled Condor over his shoulder and seized the bomb in his free hand. He ran from the generator room straight into a problem. The second terrorist was running toward him with a pair of nunchucks in hand.
“Seems the boss was right. We do have an arsewipe fouling up our plans!” He said whirling the weapon dangerously about him.
“Oh, look! A teenage, ugly, ninja, twat with a bomb fetish.” Gabriel shrugged Condor from his shoulder and grimaced as he slammed down on a pallet breaking it as he tumbled down into the loading bay. “He used to be Condor until I made him a turkey. Who are you?”
“I’m the most murderous Crane you’ll ever meet. You’ll pay for hurting him!” Crane let out a war cry and charged his opponent.
Gabriel remained frozen until the nunchucks swung towards his head. With scintillating speed, he ducked and rolled away allowing the spinning weapon to obliterate a box of mobile phones and clang against the cage they were in. The soldier landed a couple of stiff punches catching stomach and jaw.
Crane didn’t even groan, he bounced off the soldier’s knee, shrieked and heel- kicked him in the nose as he backflipped onto a pallet of boxes.
Dazed by the blow, Gabriel lunged caught a boot, dragging the ninja down with a thud. He threw a punch but the martial artist wasn’t there
Crane had spun away, landing more kicks as he leapt the soldier and landed neatly behind him. “Now, I kill you!”
Gabriel wiped blood from his nose and lips as he turned and fixed the ninja with an icy stare and beckoned. “Bring it on!”
Nunchucks rotating like a whirlwind, Crane lunged. The chained weapon thundered into the soldier chest. Grinning, the ninja flexed off a skull breaking shot.
Gabriel threw up the bicep blocking the blow and catching the nunchucks. Crane’s grin vanished with several of his teeth as his weapon smashed into his face. The soldier grabbed T-shirt and trousers and hurled him off the loading bay.
Crane tumbled through the air and smashed back-first through the windscreen of an HGV lorry.
“That’ll teach you for using all that QI powered martial crap on me, you Kong-Phooey kicking pheasant!” Gabriel heard footsteps running towards him. To his relief, it was the security guard flanked by a couple of police officers. “You’re late for the party boys. That’s bomb one in that bag. The broken turkey down there had that one. The one reclining in the windscreen has already set his to explode in either Everyday Fashions all the food court. Either way, there’s two bombs and one terrorist-grade mall rat, left in this building.”
“And what’s your part in this, pal?” asked the security guard.
“No time! Just evacuate the bloody building!” Gabriel told him.
“This is definitely a bomb,” put in one of the police officers sweating fearfully having checked the bag.
“Nah really? I thought it was a new-fangled masturbation station. Designed to give its user some explosive relaxation!” Gabriel glared at the officer. “Arrest these two and get the bomb squad deal with that. Send officers to the food court. I’m going clothes shopping!”
The police officer opened his mouth to speak but Gabriel had already left at the run.
Everyday Fashions was over three floors. The soldier headed up the escalator; ‘An explosion on the middle floor would do most damage,’ he thought. “Ladies’ Wear – boots, bras, and bombs!”
“You trying to say we ladies, dangerously hot, young men?” said a smirking lady with grey hair inspecting a rack of skirts.
Gabriel grinned, his eyes scanning the clothes rails, checkouts and shoppers for signs of the last bomber. “Oh, yeah! You’ll be toasted with exuberance if you don’t get out of here in the next two minutes,” he said as his focus dropped upon the changing rooms. “Excuse me!”
The soldier ran through the racks of clothes as the building’s alarms went off. Cries of concern erupted around him now. Reaching the curtained-off stalls, he found a blonde service lady blocking the way.
“I’m sorry, sir. The fire alarms going off. You have to leave,” she told him.
“I know, love. I had them set it off. Did a guy dressed all in black come in here?” Gabriel pushed past her and began throwing open curtains. A half-naked lady screamed in one stall but there was no bomb.
“Wasn’t he the electrician? He’s in the back—” A gunshot rang out.
Gabriel saw plaster explode from the wall and shower him with white dust. He was off his mark like an Olympic sprinter. Leaping the counter, he ploughed into the third bomber as his pistol discharged a second shot. The bullet lanced into and detonated the till in an explosion of banknotes.
“I knew you were trouble when we passed at the entrance!” he yelled while rolling with the blow and hurling Gabriel into a rail of onesies and dresses. Garments tore from hangers as he disappeared within them.
“You must be, Vulture. When I break your balls, you’ll be singing like a canary!” Gabriel emerged swing clothes hangers. He cracked cheeks, chin and stomach as he moved behind his man and hooked a hanger in his crotch.
“Come here, scumbag. What you going to do with a coat hang—” Vulture tried to twist away and went wide-eyed instead.
The soldier wrenched the hangar high, lifting the bomber into the air. With a flex of his biceps, he introduced his nose to the steel rail and sent him sprawling face-first into a fashionably dressed mannequin. “Aww look at her smiling at you, tweety bird. You just made her day!” Gabriel joked as Vulture rose to his knees. A swift kick in the head left him unconscious in an uncompromising position over the dummy. “Now, you just lie there like a good birdie and keep the model smiling, hey?”
“Why’d you kill him?” asked the shop assistant looking scared of him.
“He’s not dead. There’s a bomb in here somewhere get out while you can!” Gabriel ran through the warehouse doors and swiftly discovered the bomb positioned by building support columns where it could do maximum damage. He took moments to pull the detonators from the plastic explosives rendering it safe.
Entering the food court moments later, he discovered the other bomb had been made safe and began to relax as he gave details to detectives.
“Hey, Gabriel. You did it! You beat your PTSD and entered the mall on your own.” said a balding man coming over with the biggest smile. He was Jerry Yallop the psychiatrist. “Shall I order your favourite turkey sub role?”
“Hi, Jerry. Let’s give a miss.” Gabriel shook his hand amid scores of police officers. “I’ve had enough turkeys today. They gave me an explosive headache. So, yeah, sod the shopping trip! let’s get a beer instead!”