Project Merlin – Short Story
By Mary Ting
The sound of endless bullets exploding rang in my ears, as they headed straight for their targets. We were the targets. My heart pounded against my rib cage while the adrenaline coursed through my blood; my fear of getting shot was heightened as we ran for our lives. Ducking low, I turned the corner, ran down the hall, turned another corner, and hid behind the wall. Samantha and Nicole did the same, following behind me. Pressing my back against the wall, all I heard was the piercing echo of ammunition being fired, as well as my ragged breathing from being deprived of oxygen.
“Shit!” Nicole yelled, breathing frantically. “It nicked me.” Her long, brunette hair cascaded down her face, blocking my view of her wound. Her angry voice told me she would be fine.
“Are you bleeding?” I asked worriedly, reaching for her arm, but she pulled back. Instead of tending to her need, I looked at the stopwatch I was instructed to wear. We had five minutes left.
“I’ll be fine.” Nicole released a heavy sigh. “It’s not that bad.” Placing her hand over her wound, I saw blood soak her shirt and pool between her fingers. I hoped the bleeding would stop so she wouldn’t leave a trail.
“Shhh…”Samantha said to Nicole, who was still cursing underneath her breath. “They’ve stopped shooting at us.”
“That’s because they can’t see us,” Nicole snapped through her gritted teeth.
“Stop arguing,” I scolded. As I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand, I listened. And sure enough, she was right. But when I heard the sounds of feet on the laminate floor, sounding like thunder, getting closer by the seconds, I knew they were coming for us.
“Run!” Samantha panicked.
“Follow me,” I ordered, turning the corner. I swept the long hallway to my left with my eyes, then to the right. I saw that the coast was clear; I took off toward my left. Standing at the end of the hall, I had to make another decision.
“Do you know where you’re going?” Samantha asked frantically, panting. “We’ve never been here before. How do you know?”
“I just do,” I said. It was difficult to explain and now was not the time. Ever since we were injected with the special serum called Merlin, my senses had been heightened. We were told we would experience an increase in sensation, especially the five senses. But some were lucky to have six or more. I was one of them. Though I’ve never been here before, oddly I could mentally picture the blueprint of this structure. My mind was like a compass.
The footsteps got louder. It was difficult to tell from the echoes which direction they were coming from. “They’re coming from behind us too,” Samantha pointed to the left of us. “How much time do we have?”
“About four minutes,” I replied, trying to suppress freaking out, trying to figure which turn to make. Fear had taken over me and somehow I had lost the image in my mind. Focus…I demanded myself and tried to calm my nerves.
“How about up there?” Nicole said, pointing to what looked like an opening to the air vent.
“Are you nuts?” Samantha huffed. I’m not going up there. What if they start shooting the ceiling? We’ll be trapped. We’ll be dead. Maxine…hurry up. Which way?”
Thankfully, the image came back to me. “This way,” I directed, running down another long hallway. I stopped at a door. There was a sign indicating stairs.
Samantha looked relieved. “I think this is the exit.”
With my trembling hand, I grabbed the knob to turn—nothing. It wouldn’t budge. “What the heck!” Yanking, pulling, tugging numerous times didn’t help either, so I kicked the door in frustration. My toes stung, the pain shooting through my leg like an electric shock. I didn’t use enough force. From my peripheral vision, I could see them coming for us; dressed all in black from head to toe with mega guns, aiming at us.
“Move out of my way!” Nicole shouted, kicking the door wide open. That is when I knew her strength was one of her gifts. I don’t think she knew it until now since the expression of shock showed on her face.
Speedily, we charged down the stairs while we heard the sounds of bullets behind us. To my surprise, we were pretty fast. I felt alive and powerful, like a lioness on a hunt. As we headed down the multiple layers of stairs, the running footsteps dissipated. Just as we were about to reach the exit door, I heard the beeping sound from my watch. That is when I knew we didn’t make it. After hearing the blast, I was thrashed into the air. The fire behind me intensified and engulfed us with scorching heat. There was a loud booming sound and the building collapsed. I failed the mission…again.