by Nathan Goldschot
I’m a woman. Twenty-whatever. Before you ask, I have shoulder-length auburn hair streaked with blue highlights and turquoise eyes to match. My muscles are toned, my frame is slender and my skin is pale. Are you hoping I’ll describe my perky breasts and pouty lips? Stop. No amount of sex appeal will endear me to you once I’ve finished my bloody task.
Chaos erupts the moment I step through the security gate. A stomach wound would probably suffice to drop the first guard but instead I choose to put a bullet in his face. This may be underselling my emotions, but simply put–I’m pissed.
Turned off? Would granting a glimpse into my private life help regain your sympathy? Fine. I adore boysenberry pie but never touch cake. I don’t smoke or drink, but I started taking Adderall in college and I’m probably addicted. I like telling jokes. Bad ones.
A man walks into a bar and sees two large pieces of meat hanging from hooks. After getting his drink he asks, “Barkeep, why do you have meat hanging from the ceiling?”
“I bet anyone who walks in here $50 they can’t pull down one of those slabs,” the bartender replies. “Want to give it a try?”
“No way,” says the man, “the steaks are too high.”
Perhaps more relevant to the situation are the two years I spent in the Marine Corps. I was set to join Force Recon until some desk barnacle quashed my dreams…but I digress. Bottom line: I learned a plethora of ways to kill a man.
After dispatching the first guard the next guy rushes toward me with surprising speed. He knocks the gun out of my hand with a wild swing of his baton. I drop him to the floor with a boot to the testicles and retrieve my piece. A pistol isn’t normally my weapon of choice, but toting a semi-automatic rifle toward a super-max prison wasn’t an option. This Glock 27 will have to do.
The crumpled guard has a kind face. He regains enough air to start blathering about his wife and kids. Such a cliché. I convince myself he wasn’t one of the men responsible. I waste two rounds shooting him in the knees. Stupid.
A bullet grazes my cheek. I realize adrenaline is far more potent than Adderall as I slide across the top of a table. I accidentally scissor a cup of coffee on my way over the oak and soak my crotch. Fucking embarrassing. It will be even more embarrassing if I can’t get any deeper into the prison than the break room. Concrete chips rain down on me as I slide behind a low wall. The guards have pulled the M16s reserved for special occasions out of their lockers and their keeping me pinned to the floor with fully-automatic fire. Dammit.
The bastards are all complicit in this. My father’s an innocent man. They didn’t have to beat him nearly to death. Break his arms. Take his eye.
Anyone who stands in my way will die.
I find a preternatural calm amid the havoc but the hail of bullets tells me the odds aren’t stacked in my favor. A series of dry clicks tells me the officers’ magazines have ran dry, giving me a few seconds to react. Before they finish reloading, I rise up and pop a .40 caliber round into the forehead of the closest guard. He flops to the grey tile and convulses like a carp in a drained pond. Fear boils in the eyes of the dead man’s compatriots as they resume firing wildly.
Something impacts my arm but it’s not enough to shake my resolve or my aim. I blow off a man’s jaw and his eyes express regret over his life choices. I move closer to the firing squad with every pull of my trigger until only a pair of guards remain. In one motion I stash the pistol in my belt and draw my knife. Two quick slits later and the hallway goes silent. The floor is packed with thick bodies–their gray uniforms turning black with blood. I’m alone again but not for long. I sprint toward the medical bay.
My father had been silent for weeks and I was beginning to worry. Finally, my phone rang with call from the prison, but it wasn’t my dad. The young man on the line informed me my father had been beaten to a pulp and was barely able to speak. When the kindly inmate finished relaying my father’s love, he gave a detailed account of how the guards took turns breaking dad’s bones before dumping him in the prison clinic to die. I dropped my phone and broke down. I had to act.
A can of tear gas bumps my foot. I kick it back in the other direction but not quickly enough. The painter’s mask I brought isn’t doing much. Shit. My eyes are burning. I’m firing blind shots through the smoke.
A termite walked into a pub and asked, “Is the bar tender here?”
If you lived in the middle of nowhere and wrecked your back every day farming alfalfa, wouldn’t you smoke the occasional joint? Of course it was my dad’s dumb luck to buy from the biggest drug dealer and gun runner in the state. And of course he had to be there when the feds raided the place. My dad didn’t have anything to do with the dead men in the back of that damn trailer but the truth didn’t matter. Guilt by association. When he refused to confess, his captors did their best to fire up his imagination with their night sticks. Still, the tough old bastard wouldn’t bend.
The next batch of guards are in riot gear. Face shields and bullet proof vests. My only hope to survive is to take them by surprise. I charge ahead, becoming more battering ram than woman. I’m in the air screaming at the top of my lungs. I knock a big man to the ground, my knees crushing against his chest as I snarl like a puma and twist my knife in his neck. Three point-blank shots from my pistol enter the guard to my right and he topples. His buddies retreat and I’m off again.
Inside the next door I see rows of rusting steel beds with paper thin mattresses. There he is. My heart sinks. My father’s face is a bruised prune wearing an eyepatch. His arms are encased in plaster. Goddammit. I lift him to his feet. Can you walk? He says he can. This is no time to cry, for either of us.
Where are you, Samantha?
My sister is one hell of a welder and an even better mechanic. I didn’t think we had a shot at pulling this off until I saw that five-foot steel pole she mounted solidly to the front of the hulking, second-hand tractor we bought. It’s common to see a farm implement taking up the road in rural Idaho, but not one covered in armor plating and towing a truck. It was my job to distract from the eyesore Samantha had created. I didn’t barge through the prison’s front gate for vengeance alone–I needed every eye on me, not the home-made tank slowly pushing through each row of chain-link fencing.
I pull dad into the corner as bullets start peppering the room. After firing my last round, I duck back into the clinic and barricade the steel door with a few gurneys.
I’m desperate to hear that rumble. Come on, Samantha.
Boom. The air is full of concrete suddenly made aerosol. I wave away the dust and drag my poor father through the fresh hole in the wall, past the massive steel pole penetrating the room. My sister looks exhilarated and deranged. Hurry up and get to the truck she yells. She’s busy cranking the tow hitch loose.
The clinic door flies open, falling off its hinges. The front of the tractor rings like a steel drum as it soaks up bullets. I throw my dad in the back of the truck and fall on top of him. The engine roars and we screech onto the asphalt. We’re gone.
I feel a series of thumps as the truck slips over a cattle guard onto a muddy road. Seconds later a parade of sirens fly right past us, keeping to the highway. My sister is laughing loudly and pounding the roof of her Ford exuberantly with her fist. Somehow, we’ve escaped.
Why did the burglars steal the toilets?
So the police would have nothing to go on.
If you tip Idaho on its side it looks like a pistol and we’re zooming to the tip of the barrel. Soon we’ll be in Canada. We have friends there who can get us to Alaska where we’ll disappear into the wilderness. My arm’s gushing blood.
Do you care if I bleed out and die? Despite my rampage, did I win you over in the end?