Year 19
"

Chapter 23
Colin's House

by E.Escher - 20th Feb 2017
They stormed the house with military precision. Carmen unlocked the door and flung it open for Colin, who rushed in, twisting this way and that as he checked the corners for danger. Carmen quickly followed, using her computer-aided vision to do likewise. In the event of encountering Brian (or anybody else, for that matter) the plan was simple: attack with overwhelming force. Carmen would use her astonishing zombie strength to inflict what damage she could, and Colin would open fire.

'Don't be shy about ammo,' she'd told him. 'There's plenty more.'

And so they rushed in, quickly but silently. Colin led the way to the kitchen, where he had a shotgun stashed in the broom cupboard. He passed the handgun back to Carmen, taking the shotgun for himself. The weapon was clean and smelled of oil, which she guessed meant it had been well-maintained, but it looked old. Most of the casing looked to be made from wood!

'Is that thing safe?' she whispered.

'Safe enough on this end,' he'd replied. 'Bloody lethal at the business end.'

They swept through the rest of the house, which was a strange experience for Carmen; her first look at a guy's house didn't usually involve an armed sweep. They checked everywhere, room by room, until Colin was satisfied the place was empty.

'He's not here,' he said, sounding like a mixture of relief and disappointment.

'Can we turn the lights on, then? Creeping around in a strange house is fun and all, but if he were to arrive now he'd get the drop on us.'

'If we turn the lights on, he'll know we're here.'

'Okay, fine. You get changed in the dark, I'll keep watch.'

Brian rushed into the bedroom and spent a minute or so sorting out his wardrobe. Like Carmen he was dressing for battle, but there was also the unspoken fact that he might never see this house, or any of his possessions, ever again. Not that he'd be leaving much behind, in Carmen's opinion. The house was virtually devoid of any personal touch, like the lair of a modern cyber-professional who shuns the real world to spend all his time and effort on virtual reality. Perhaps he had a driving hobby that required all his focus and attention.

Somehow she didn't think that was Colin's issue. He hadn't mentioned anything, and he didn't strike her as the obsessive type; he just didn't seem to care that much about his house. Maybe he'd never thought of it as home, as though he never really belonged anywhere. Given the circumstances she could certainly understand if he felt that way. It was probably hard getting attached to a house when you've had to move every ten years to make sure nobody realises you're immortal.

At least in her time he wouldn't have to hide his nature anymore. Revs weren't exactly popular, but he wouldn't be dragged away and studied, or burned at the stake, or hounded by curious reporters. He'd be pretty much left to himself, which seemed to be what he wanted.

Not entirely alone, of course. Carmen intended to help him readjust to a new life, and she was going to make herself a part of it.

It took several long minutes for Colin to make whatever mental preparations he needed, and when he presented himself Carmen couldn't help but nod in approval. There was something in his eyes, his expression, that spoke of a determination to finish whatever he started. He looked ready to tackle anything, and she felt a small surge of pride.

'Okay,' he said. 'I've got what I need. What do we do now?'

'Now, we get the hell out of here before somebody comes looking. Don't forget to lock the doors and windows.'

'Right.' He tucked the shotgun into a bag, and slung it over his shoulder. Carmen noticed that his jacket was also looking decidedly lumpy around the inside pocket area.

'What're you packing, there?'

He shrugged. 'Nine mil' automatic, the Remington, and a couple of knives, just in case.' He patted himself down. 'Are you going to be okay with just that pistol?'

'I'll be fine, this little thing can take down anything up to and including light technical units.'

'Revs?'

She shrugged. 'With a lucky shot, sure. We're not indestructible.'

'And you're good at lucky shots, I bet.' He smiled briefly. 'Hey, I forgot to ask, can you actually use that thing? Are you a good shot?'

It was a fair question, but she didn't feel the need to explain about the barely-visible markers printed onto her pistol, or the fact that her computer lenses would paint the bullet's trajectory onto her vision in glowing 3D. All she had to do was use her revenant strength to keep the recoil under control. 'Good enough,' she replied, with a grin.

'Glad to hear it. Where are we headed?'

'I don't know the name, but I have it on my navigator. It's a green space, a few kays from here. If we hurry we can be there before the sun comes up.'

Colin blinked. 'Is that important?'

'It's best to make the transition away from witnesses. Night-time is generally better for privacy.'

'Right.'
They decided to leave through the rear entrance and cut through the housing estate. Hopefully that way they would avoid any potential unpleasantness.

It was a nice plan, while it lasted. No sooner had Colin locked the door behind them than they heard somebody kicking at the back gate. The yard had high walls and the gate was a solid plank of dark wood, so they couldn't see who was doing the kicking. Colin hissed an archaic swearword and went for his keys again, but Carmen put a hand on his arm.

'You open the gate,' she suggested, 'and I'll pull him in.'

He nodded, and they got into position. Colin timed the methodical kicking and flicked the latch open between impacts. The next kick flung the gate wide open, almost into Colin's face, so he didn't see Carmen as she surged forward and grabbed the intruder by the wrist. A swift yank dragged him into the yard, a quick kick at the ankle tripped him into a stumbling run, and seeing that it wasn't Brian she gave the man a gentle tap on the side of the head with her pistol.

He collapsed into a rolling, sprawling heap, and Colin smoothly closed the gate.

'That's not Brian,' commented Colin.

'He's got the look of a hitman, though. Nice suit.' Carmen knelt down and deftly rifled through his pockets. 'Gun. Knife. Brass knuckles. Probably a garrotte hidden somewhere we won't find it. A friend of Brian's, do we think?'

'He might be a killer, but he's not very professional. He'd have been quieter climbing the wall.'

'Probably just a thug then. Lucky break for us, but it means Brian knows where you live, and now he's going to know we were here.'

'He'll know we left through the back, too. Should we go out the front way instead?'

Carmen shook her head. 'No, we proceed as planned. If this guy's at the back, there might be more at the front.'

She glanced back at the back window of the house, and her enhanced lenses picked out human shapes moving through the dining room. She yanked the gate open and ducked through, dragging Colin in her wake. 'Two more in the house. Come on!'

They hurried away, Carmen pointing the way they needed to go and Colin guiding them as best he could through the labyrinthine system of shortcuts and passageways that sliced through the convoluted road network.

'Who designed this place? It's like a maze!'

'It was all rage in the eighties,' explained Colin. 'Landscaping at the expense of logic. Just be glad we're on foot. Some of these roads don't seem to connect to anything.'

'That should keep Brian off our backs for a while, at least, but we need to hit some main roads sooner or later.'

'We might be safer in the open.'

'It's still dark, if he wanted to gun us down he still could, and nobody would know any better.'

'Then we'll have to hope he wants more than that.' He looked at her hands. 'You took that guy's gun?'

'Sure. One more weapon for us is one less weapon for our enemies to use against us.'

'Well, put it in a pocket or something, or you'll get us arrested.'

They carried on running. Carmen stuffed the gun into a left-hand pocket. Brian was going to get a surprise next time he showed his face.

'The main road's just up this way,' warned Colin. 'It runs pretty much North-South, heads directly back into town, thataway.' He pointed right, and Carmen pointed left. 'We need to head the other way. It's not too far, we should make better time once we're out of this maze.'

They cleared the estate, and took a left, jogging along the main road in as casual a manner as they could manage. Colin appeared to be struggling with his shotgun bag.

'I used to think I was pretty fit, because I could jog for miles without getting tired, but looking at you I suspect it's just part of the condition.'

Carmen frowned. 'You think I'm not fit? I was an athlete before I got revived.'

'No, I didn't mean that, I just, well, now I don't know what I meant. Is the extended stamina a revenant thing, or just me?'

'It varies,' she conceded, 'but yeah, revs can do manual stuff for hours. Y'know, running, walking, digging. Anything physical.'

Brian turned and waggled his eyebrows at her, and she laughed. 'Yes! Anything physical. What, you didn't notice?'

'Like with the jogging, I just assumed I was naturally awesome.'

Carmen laughed. 'Natural or not, I like it.'
Chapters...
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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