Monday, June 28, 2010

Ann Onymous, pt. 5, 455 words

“Jesus Christ!” Ann yelled, snapped out of her shock by the figure's voice. Bad, a distant part of her mind chided. Shouldn't speak, now they've got your voiceprint. The scarf may have muffled it, but who knew what they could still extract despite that. She backpedaled, bumping her shoulder into the door and stumbling out.

The figure crouched and stepped forward, scraping the ceiling. The floorboards screamed under its feet, creaked as if they were ready to shatter. And they probably were. Despite the speed the figure had displayed chasing her, and what it must have had to get here ahead of Ann – and how did it know to come here, of all places? she wondered – it moved slowly, hesitantly.

Ann turned to bolt, but the figure's voice held her back a little longer. “Don't try running,” it said. It stumped out of the bathroom, into the faint light filtering in from the windows. Its body was covered in a matte black bodysuit, or perhaps the armored cloth had been fused on to replace its skin. “The place is surrounded with drones. You can't lose them if you run.”

A challenge. Ann couldn't help but grin despite the situation. The drones – the good drones – had thermal and light-amp imaging, and enough resolution to catch the shape and texture of a kid's nose-pickings.

Ann flipped a small metal cylinder out of her coat pocket. A small metal pin was threaded through a handle. She popped the pin out and lofted the firebomb gently towards the figure. It paused in apparent shock, and Ann dove for the window, hooking her hand on the wall and swinging around out to the downspout once more. On the ground, she pulled a second flashbang free and hucked it as high and hard as she could before turning to bolt.

The firebomb had a longer fuse than the flashbang. Both went off about the same time with a thunderous roar. By that time, Ann had torn the scarf loose and thrown the goggles aside. Her coat flipped inside-out to hide the camo layer, and velcro patches let the trailing skirt fold up to change its profile. The plastic hood followed the goggles, and Ann's gloves went last into a pocket. Only her feet remained unchanged, now that her boots were burning merrily in the old house.

The fire hid her thermal shadow while she slipped out. The flashbang fouled the drones' light-amplification long enough to give her time to change her visual profile. And while she doubted the firebomb had actually killed her stalker, the figure would have no clue what she actually looked like. Ann slipped out into the night, anonymous once more.

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