Breathe in...now out...breathe in... I calmed myself as I crept up the stairs of the old abandoned house. Willing the stairs not to creak, I gingerly stepped only on the edges. I held my gun at arms length, pointed at the ground, with my index finger hovering apprehensively over the trigger. My partner, Reed, followed close behind me as I approached the first bedroom door on the right. Pressing our backs against either side of the door, we stood for moment, listening.
The solid wood door, separating Reed and me from the two figures we saw slink into the house earlier, withheld most of the noise that was coming from within the bedroom. However, the distinct sound of hushed murmurs slipped through the crack where the door didn't quite touch the ground. The first voice sounded deep and gruff, like the engine of an old car, while the second voice sounded like personified stress; slightly higher and more tense. The subject of their conversation was unknown. Not that I cared anyway. Right now they were interfering and they needed to leave right now.
I looked over at Reed, who was already staring intently at me. It was hard to see him, his features melded into the shadows almost perfectly, but I could make out the outline of his face and his fingers as he mouthed that we were to go on three. He lowered his hand over his gun and began to count down.
1...he mouthed. My muscles tensed, ready for action.
2.... Reed poised his hand over the doorknob. I cocked my gun. Breath in...
3. With one swift motion, Reed jerked open the door and I shoved my gun inside, barging in with it raised in front of me. The two men, who were sitting on the floor, turned and jolted up at the sudden sound, reaching for what I assumed were concealed weapons.
"Freeze!" I yelled, my voice sounding larger than it really was as it reverbrated through the empty house. Reed trailed close behind me and stepped so that he was on my left side. Both our guns were aimed at both of their heads- mine at the taller one's mop of shaggy hair and Reed's at the shorter one's grimmace.
"Wait a second!" the taller one objected, reaching for his back pocket. "It's alright, we're-"
"I believe she said 'freeze!'" Reed said deeply, eyeing the taller one suspiciously. "Either you don't know what it means or you're just ignoring her. Either way, you're stupid."
"Hold it there, Sonny and Cher!" the shorter one blurted in his gravelly voice. "We're with the FBI.So go ahead and put the guns down or we'll charge you for detaining federal agents." He smirked, puting on his best tough guy face, as if he didn't care that we had guns, he would still take us on. " I was slightly taken aback by the sudden reference to pop culture in this altercation. It was an interesting remark; I was taller than Reed by a couple of inches with dark hair and tan skin. However, Reed looked nothing like Sonny, being stocky and muscular with curly blonde hair. I laughed, honoring his attempt at a joke. But the noise came out hollow and scoffing.
"Funny," I intoned. Reed and I both reached in our pockets, pulling out our badges and holding them up for the two to see. "We're the feds too." It was my turn to smirk, watching the shorter ones face fall and the taller ones eyes dart nervously between Reed and I. "Now, why don't you two tell us who you really are?" I scanned the spot where they had been sitting just moments before. An LED lantern sat in the middle of a scattered mess of papers. Yellowed and brittled looking, they appeared to have old script scrawled across them or different shapes. Could those be maps of the house?
"And," I added, getting even more suspicious of these two by the minute, "enlighten us as to why you have those papers. They look ancient." The shorter of the two shifted his weight backwards as if to protect the papers, looking as if he would try and fight us with or without a gun. Possible jobs that required maps and floor plans flitted through my mind, but none seemed to fit the profile of these two. Except a something that was a little far-fetched. Could they be...?
"Fine," the taller one said, raising his eyebrows, his voice heavy-laden with sass. "My name is John Wilson and this is Peter Smith. I'm an architect and he is the contractor with the local construction company." There was no way those were their real names or occupations, but I didn't intervene. I let them spin their lie.
"0kay," Reed said slowly. "Then why are you here so late?"
"Well, technically," the guy with the short hair, Peter, said from the side of his mouth, shrugging. "We're in a bidding war with another company at the moment, so we don't technically own this place yet."
"So you're trespassing?" I asserted, stitching together what they weren't saying. I raised on eyebrow, still not convinced.
"Psh," the shorter one sort of snorted, grinning as if her were in pain. "Of course not!" The taller one swayed nervously. It was Reed and my's turn to exchange a look. I could tell that he thought their story was complete BS too and without a word, he stealthily pulled out his handcuffs. I pressed my own into the palm of his hand as well.
"We're going to have to take you guys in for trespassing on private property and interrupting a federal investigation," Reed declared, approaching the shorter one cautiously, handcuffs at the ready. I kept my gun trained on the taller one, just in case he decided to try anything funny. Stretch furrowed his brow, but watched placidly as Reed pulled his partner's hands behind his back and clapped handcuffs around his wrists. Reed shoved Tough Guy, or T.G., in my direction and I placed my hand firmly on his elbow, not taking my eyes off of Stretch.
"No need to be so rough," T.G. muttered. Just for that, I dug my fingernails into his jacket until I felt skin and continued to squeeze. He winced and glared at me. "Fine," he hissed quietly. Before I knew it, his foot connected with my knee. I yelped and crumpled to the ground, the gun falling from my hand. TG lunged for it, but I grabbed hold of his foot and pulled him back, sort of making him faceplant. He groaned and I smirked with satisfaction. We were about the same height, but he was stronger and I was faster. I rolled over on him, trying to get hold of him to pin his arms. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Reed tussling with Stretch and fairing pretty well. My stupid moment of distraction earned me a swift punch to the jaw, making my vision speckle with black splotches. He used this to his advantage and shoved me off of him and tried to pin me down, but I rolled out from under him. I kicked him with the force of a mule right in the ribcage with my good leg. He rolled onto his right side and held the other, yelling with pain while I snatched my gun. Before he could turn to fight back again, I whalloped him with the butt of my gun on the side of his head. TG slumped to the wood floor, knocked out cold. I was tempted to throw up a fist pump of triumph, but unfortunately I didn't think that would be professional.
Reed and Stretch were still scuffling closeby, but it looked like my partner wasn't doing so well. Stretch flipped him on to his back, crawled on top of him and cuffed his wrists with his own handcuffs. He reached to grab Reed's gun from his pocket, but froze when he felt the end of my gun pressed into his temple. I cocked it, the sound a loud warning inside his ear.
"I swear I will blow your brains out," I said convincingly, dropping my voice low to sound more menacing. Reed wriggled out from underneath the giant man and adjusted his clothing back to how it was supposed to look. He glanced at the guy lying on the floor behind me.
"You didn't kill him, did you?" Reed asked warily. Stretch visibly flinched at the thought. It was completely obvious that these two were not merely acquaintances on a business project who knew how to fight well. I shook my head.
"Just knocked him out," I replied, clapping my hand down on to Stretch's shoulder. "Now," I murmured in a chiding tone, "if you're done causing trouble, would you mind carrying your partner down to the car with Reed for me." He looked at me, his eyes filled with indecision, anxiety and anger, all at one time. "Please? He'll only be out for about 15 minutes maybe less, but his head will hurt like crazy for a while after that." Stretch looked at his partner for a long time, then nodded quietly.
"Good!" I exclaimed, glad for his cooperation. I liked him and I didn't want to have to hurt him just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He seemed like a good guy.
Reed and Stretch carried the unconscious TG down to our hummer around the back of the house. I followed close behind, gun at the ready at all times, but not aimed. I wanted to trust this guy. We put TG in the back seat and had Stretch sit next to him. I saw worry play across his face as the 15 minute mark passed and his partner still wasn't stirring.
"Don't worry," I consoled him. "I didn't hit him that hard." With that I slammed his door and climbed into the passenger side. Tonight's mission had been compromised by these two, so we'd have to head back to the motel.
Reed clambered in behind the wheel and gave me a concerned look. I know what that look meant without him even saying anything. He wanted to know what on earth we were going to do with these yahoos once we got back to the room. Especially since we aren't FBI agents.