It actually helped that the hundreds of shoppers had vanished.
That meant they couldn’t be shot by accident while that gang of goons chased us with their handguns.
Of course, it was now more obvious exactly where we were.
I probably had it worst – dressed in pink like a stage performer. A long dress down to my ankles, with extra wide ruffles wasn’t the best thing to either run or hide in.
Yes, I left the high heels some aisles behind me. Fashion can’t replace staying alive.
What they were after, besides me and my brother, was anyone’s guess.
Right now, I was more concerned about myself. As my brother had disappeared.
And I counted at least four goons closing in where I was hidden.
Well, not hidden exactly. They just couldn’t get a good shot at me.
Yes, that’s called pinned down…
I spotted the first one before Finn could. Charcoal gray overalls, right hand in the front pocket. No name tag or stencil. Wearing sunglasses indoors. Shaved head.
“Finn – to your right, 10 o’clock.”
He only glanced that direction, keeping his face straight ahead. “Got him.”
With a fast long-armed motion, he snagged a shampoo bottle from eye level and turned to face me. He held it up between us as if getting my opinion of the brand or price.
“Another to your 5 o’clock, and two aisle over at about your 7.”
“You’ve got another on your own 7. So that makes four.”
“But they all seem to have stopped.”
He turned back to his right to put the bottle back, then held out is arm again for me to take it and keep moving.
“Nothing behind us. So they are only tracking, not herding. A bit distinctive outfits, even though no one would particuarly notice them.”
I nodded. “And what’s with all of them having bald heads?”
“Same bad hairdresser.”
I had to smile at that joke. “What’s your suggestion?”
“Just keep going for now. These aisles are long. And we’re heading for the women’s clothing, lingerie. At least you and I can stop and have a discussion – but they’ll be out in the open and standing out like sore thumbs in all that pastel lace.”
So that’s what we did.
And the result was that those beefy guys had to spread out to take what cover they could without looking like fetishers.
Which meant as long as I was acting the part of teasing Finn with unmentionables, we could stay relatively safe. But it also meant that anyone else in the commissary shopping near us would be at risk.
We were basically surrounded.
Then I saw them pull out their guns and adopt their take-no-prisoners stances.
– – – –
A distraction helped. The lights went bright, then dimmed to nothing, and then resumed.
Since there was still a good amount of afternoon sunlight streaming in on the side windows, it didn’t get completely dark. But the split- second of them looking away gave us time to dive beneath a rack of swimsuits.
But the commissary got real quiet at that point.
All the noise of the crowd disappeared. The shoppers had vanished.
The only sound remaining was the creaking soles of the goon’s soft-soled boots on the polished tile floor.
Coming toward where we were crouched – not too far from where they’d seen us earlier.
Finn caught my eye with a signal and also disappeared from view…
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