Down the Rabbit Hole - Chapter Seven
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mal and Simon on the run from Feds. Not slash. This chapter: sometimes you just have to feel sorry for Simon. A/N: thank you for the nice comments. I apologize for not answering or being a good reviewer of late - real life is real busy and I'm concentrating my fandom efforts on getting a new chapter finished. But I do appreciate it.


Back to Chapter Six


He landed facedown in dirt and leaves, arms covering his head, neurons simultaneously screaming at him to run and holding him unmoving, until the shooting ceased as suddenly as it had started. Simon looked up cautiously.

“He’s outta ammo,” Mal whispered. He was crouched on Simon’s side of the hovercraft, which now sat on the forest floor. “You got that gun?”

“Yes,” Simon answered, pulling the pistol from his waistband.

“Keep it out, and make for the house when I start firing. Use it if you need to. Don’t stop ‘til you’re behind those walls.”

“What about you?”

“Oh, I’m right behind you. I got no desire to linger.” Mal shifted position away from the hovercraft. “Can’t have that Cortex link getting shot up,” he explained. “Ready?”

Simon glanced ahead through the dark woods. The clearing was some hundred-plus yards distant. He bowed his head and readied himself to run.

“Go now!”

He sprinted for the house as gunfire started again behind him, first Mal’s revolver, then the rapid answer of the reloaded automatic weapon. He forced himself not to look back but raced on, branches slapping his face and snagging at his shirt and trousers, and a new worry occurring to him.

Fo zu, please let the house be empty.

He tightened his grip on the gun as he broke from the trees and sprinted across the yard, slowing only slightly as he leapt up bowed wood steps to a sagging back porch, and---oh, lao tian bu. The door was ajar.

Simon ducked back into the shadows against the house, his mind racing. A trap? Had they been tracked? From their wave? Had they been herded here? Behind him the firing had again stopped, and he strained without luck to hear any sound from within the house, from the treeline, from anywhere. Where the hell was Mal?

An enraged yell sounded from the woods, and a new eruption of gunfire forced his decision. "Don’t stop til you’re behind those walls."

Leading with his gun, Simon slipped inside the door.

He nearly fell as he skidded on something slick, just managing to catch himself on the doorframe. Shaking, he waited for his eyes to adjust, keeping the gun up although he was fairly certain the room was empty. But anyone in the house would be alerted now to his presence.

Gingerly he slid his foot along the floor, feeling something like mud beneath his sole. He pulled out the engineer’s flashlight and scanned the room, trying to force his nerves to settle. He was in a small kitchen, with an overpowering smell of mildew and decay. Thick sediment covered the floor. Water marks lined the walls. The house had clearly been flooded, and not long ago.

Simon saw no footprints in the muck, but recent events had left him wary of assumptions. He could wait, nerves on edge, wondering whether anyone might approach him from outside of the house or from within. Or, he could find out for certain. Straightening, he wiped his hands on his shirt, adjusted his grip on the gun and flashlight, and proceeded down the hall.

Two empty rooms, presumably for sitting and dining, were divided by a front door that hung wide open on broken hinges. The same muddy sediment covered the floors and the bottom steps of the narrow staircase, which disappeared into gloom above. Stepping carefully over the lower treads, Simon slowly ascended, ignoring the frantic protest of every instinct. It would be ridiculously easy, he mused, for a gunman to shoot down on someone stupid enough to head up, but still he continued, trying to avoid creaks, expecting with each step to glimpse the rifle barrel that would end his life.

The shot never did come, and when he gained the landing he found, not assassins, but more vacant space. No furniture. Nothing on the walls. No glass in the windows. Only some worn curtains, long-faded from their original pattern, testified to anyone having called this a home.

Simon had just lowered his arms and permitted himself to breathe when the chatter of an automatic rifle sounded outside.

Pushing aside the curtains, he tried to make out the action below. Muzzle flash flared from the trees, followed by return fire from Mal, visible as sparks near the clearing. Simon rested his forearm on the windowsill and aimed toward the trees, with the wild idea of providing cover. Before he could shoot, the auto weapon again raked the night. Simon heard Mal cry out even as he fired back, and he traced the captain's dark form as it crumpled into the bushes at the edge of the yard.

Bolting to the stairway, Simon hurtled down the steps two apiece, only to feel his feet fly out from under him as he skidded on the slick at the bottom. He crashed hard into the edge of front door, the blow to his side making him see stars. It was a full minute before he could draw a proper breath and, using the wall for support, scramble to the back entrance.

Outside, it was disturbingly quiet once more. Shaking off his bruises, Simon surveyed the scene before him, adjusting his orientation from the second story height to the flat ground. There. With just enough light and landmarks to guide him, he slipped off the porch, moving through the brush at a crouching run, painfully alert for noise from humans or hardware.

He was halfway to where the captain had fallen when a figure emerged from the trees opposite... the trees where Simon has last seen the automatic weapon fire.

Simon froze on one knee, his breath refusing to come, as the man advanced with a lopsided stagger. Coming to finish the captain off? Coming to hunt down Simon? The shadow figure lurched, but made steady progress forward. Closer to him. Closer to Mal.

Simon felt the gun in his hands, felt the weight. Extended his arms. Took aim at the man approaching him. Watched him. Watched him.

You’ve done this before.

Watched him.

Not with this certainty. Not in this quiet.

Watched him.

The man didn’t see him. Simon’s shot would be a surprise.

Watched him.

At any moment the face would be visible. Better not to see it. Better not to risk the familiar features of a boyhood friend. Better to shoot now. Shoot him.

Shoot him.

Shoot him.

Shoot him!

And he fired.

On to Chapter Eight


Wednesday, January 10, 2007 7:33 AM


Ahhh! Excellent action - I can picture it so well. But why are these damn chapters so short!

I hope the next posts soon... I'm on the edge of my chair here!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 8:20 AM


>At any moment the face would be visible. Better not to see it. Better not to risk the familiar features of a boyhood friend. Better to shoot now. Shoot him.
Shoot him.
Shoot him.
/Shoot him!/
And he fired.

What a perfect Simon moment - it is so hard to capture objects in motion well, and this moment of transition is captured with such clarity.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 8:28 AM


Nicely done. You've captured Simon's reluctance very well. Looks like Mal might have another scar to add to his collection...

"Here's an idea I've been workin' on, why don't we shoot her first?"

Rob O.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 1:03 PM


Beautifully captured. It was interesting to see how when push finally became shove that Simon would do what needed to be done if it was to save his friends or himself. I just hope there was only that one gunman and that Simon didn't miss. Can't wait for the next brilliant chapter! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, January 12, 2007 3:46 PM


I hope your head is swelling with pride as to the quality of this fic - both the story line and the calibre of the writing. Love reading your work!

Friday, January 12, 2007 6:04 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER this is the kind of quality writing we got denied when the BDS was pulled! Definitely A-1 stuff, homespun:D



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