Chapter Four


"My shrink? I don't want to talk to him." That's just what Captain Steele needed.

Captain Steele placed a hand to his forehead and massaged his temples. This was not turning out to be a good day. First, he'd been late due to having an argument with his wife about what brand of soap they were buying, then he was splashed as a car drove through a puddle whilst walking to the station. Following that it seemed he'd made a typo on one of his reports and it was in an important enough document, in such a place that it looked like it could have been an, albeit pathetic, attempt at fraud so now IA was on his back. To top it all off, he was about to have dinner when this incident with the lunatic was called in. He just hoped he could pawn it off onto the poor doctor and find time to eat the sandwiches his wife had made him.

"Look Doc, if you can't calm him down I'm going to have to let the snipers have a go. We've already got one down thanks to this nutjob."

Doctor Merkle raised a brushy white eyebrow and stared over his glasses at the captain. "I see. Well clearly the man is agitated."

"The guns shots and screaming kinda gave that away."

"Ahh sarcasm, tell me captain, what do you think of your mother?"

Steele swallowed slowly. "I think my mother is the kind of person who would want you to talk to this looney-tune and put an end to this." He said. "And probably do something with your hair, she'd think it was scruffy."

The doctor wrote down something in a notepad which appeared so fast in his hands it was almost like magic and let out a long hum.

"Mr. Frood is a desperate individual, he craves attention, validation, celebration even."

Captain Steele thought he could do with some of that as well.

"Furthermore, be believes he is a literary protege, a distinguished author of great talent. Unfortunately for him, his book, shall we say, would serve better as toilet paper than reading material."

For Captain Steele who had once had to wipe his bottom with a newspaper in a public restroom, this particular analogy was one he was intimately familiar with. He didn't think there could be a harsher review.

"So he write crappy books. When do we get to the part where you fix all this and I have my dinner?"

"Hmm, dinner... I see..." The doctor hummed, writing down another note in his notepad.

The captain glared at him through squinted eyes.


"I think I am ready captain. The megaphone if you please?"

The captain handed it over eagerly.

* * * * *

"Mr. Frood, this is Doctor Merkle." Boomed a voice from beyond the bookstore. Salisbury titled his head like a quizzical bird and then waved the gun out of the window.

"And this is Mr. Gun and I don't think he wants to talk to you!" Yelled another voice.

The entire exchanged raged above his head like water down a storm drain, crashing in torrents against his brain. He tried to remember what was going on. Ahh yes, he'd come into the store when Nell hadn't shown up for their date and then... then... it was blank. His stomach hurt like nothing he'd ever felt before and his head was ringing like a bell. Cautiously he opened one eye.

As it turned out, Drake Abernathy wasn't dead after all.

Carefully, he raised himself up on his elbows and looked around. Against one wall were lined terrified shoppers, by the bookstore window stood a man waving a gun around wildly. Clearly something was up.

Silently, he dragged himself behind the checkout counter. When he was sure he wouldn't be seen, he checked under his shirt. His abdomen was a mass of purple bruising, a bullet embedded in the shiny metal belt buckle Nell had given him for Christmas.

Nell! She was trapped here with this maniac! It all came flooding back, the struggle, the shooting. He looked around desperately and saw the store phone hanging off it's hook beneath the counter. As quietly as possible he reset it and dialled the number for the police.

"Hello." He whispered.

"You have reached the police department, for emergencies, press 1, for all other enquiries press 2."

Drake grimaced at the grating, automatic voice and pressed 1.

"You have selected 1. Emergencies. If you are having an emergency now, press 1. For all other emergency related calls, press 2."

Drake pressed one again and was put on hold as the line played a terrible cover of "Guns, Guns, Guns" at him.

"Hello, you've reached emergencies, how may we help you?"

"I'm at the book store, there is a maniac with a gun here!" He whispered.

"Uhuh." The voice said with a clear lack of interest. "Oh, you mean that bookstore, the one on the news?"

"Err, yes, probably." Drake spluttered. "Look, there must be police outside, can you put me through to them, I'm on the inside, I could have them valuable intel!"

"Hold please."

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down...

"Oh for Christ's sake, I was about to eat my sandwiches. What is it now?"

"Err, this is Drake Abernathy, I‘m inside the bookstore."

"What? Inside you say?"

"Indeed. I have a plan. You keep the good Doctor distracting the poor man and I'll grab him."

There was a pause while the captain thought about the suggestion. "That doesn't sound like the safest course of action..."

"But it is the quickest."

There was a pause while the captain thought about his dinner. "Okay."

Drake placed the handset back on the receiver and crept around the counter. Salisbury was still ranting madly out of the window, gun held aloft as Doctor Merkle asked him questions about his mother. Sneaking up behind him, Drake struck, whipping the gun out of Salisbury's hand and sending it skittering off into the street outside.

The End

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