With unbelievable speed, the boy’s hand licked across his belt, grabbed a knife, and made a circular thrust at the side of Derrick’s throat. Derrick was suddenly very happy the Rangers he flew had convinced him to come to some of their hand-to-hand combat classes. He wasn’t able to grab the boy’s wrist like he was supposed to, but he did get his forearm up in time to stop the knife and even managed to launch the simultaneous counterattack; a palm strike that hit the attacker right in the chest.
It surprised the boy, who must have been expecting to kill Derrick right away, and knocked him right out the door and out of sight. Derrick stood stock still for a moment, then shook off the surprise and went to the door to see what had happened.
The weird kid was nowhere to be seen.
Derrick had seen too many horror movies to go out there and try to find him. He slammed the door to the plane and locked it. With a sharp crack, a knife appeared in the small double-paned window of the door Derrick had just closed. Derrick stared at it in amazement. It had gone through both panes and the glistening, oddly oily looking tip, which was pointing right at his forehead, didn’t look the least bit damaged.
Not wanting to see if the boy could get one clear through on the second try, Derrick hit the deck and crawled on hands and knees to the door of the cockpit. His caution saved his life; a second knife came right through the weakened window, shattering it and sticking into the far wall of the little anteroom.
Derrick crawled to the cockpit and opened it. He nearly gagged on the stench of a dead body and … something else. It was a sweet but invasive scent, and it filled the room. Derrick saw the pilot sitting in his seat, unmoving, bent over the controls with a knife in his back and his hands dangling towards the floor. The skin was pale green and the veins were visibly pumping along dark blue viscous liquid. Derrick recoiled in horror and glanced back over his shoulder at the strange knife with its oily blade stuck in the skin of the airplane. He recalled the young psycho’s outfit with its green skulls.
“Oh, man,” he thought. “Some costumed freak is coming to make me into a green, pulsing corpse.” He searched around frantically until finding a Glock 17 pistol hanging halfway out of a holster under the controls. The dead pilot had not even had enough time to fully draw it. The controls, he discovered, had been slashed to ribbons, and he couldn’t find the joy stick.
“Okay,” he thought out loud. “He’s fast. But you hit him, and no one can dodge bullets, so …”
He stopped suddenly, hearing something from elsewhere on the plane. At first, he thought it was the knife-throwing poison kid getting to the door, but then he realized it was coming from deeper into the aircraft.
Keeping low and keeping the pistol in front of him, Derrick moved through the anteroom and opened the door to the passenger section. There were only some ten rows of large, comfortable seats, and from there, they all looked empty. Derrick chanced a look out the window and saw the knife-thrower pacing away from him and towards the cockpit. He raised his pistol instinctively, but his target was out of sight before he could get a bead on him.
Cursing silently, Derrick searched the passenger section and found nothing but a small set of matching luggage. That meant someone had been back here. Had it been that kid? Was Kirby Labs sending some psychotic mutant to California?
Hell, he’d fit right in, thought Derrick.
Just then, he heard the noise again. Someone was in the plane’s tiny galley.
Derrick jogged up to the door, throwing it open and dodging to one side in one motion, taking care to show nothing into the room but the barrel of his pistol and a small portion of his head.
Inside was a very frightened Chinese man in a business suit who was climbing down from one of the overhead cupboards. He started and fell back onto the floor. “Don’t shoot me, please!” he said in perfect English. “There’s a madman out there!”
Derrick lowered his pistol. “Green hair? Knives?”
The Chinese man nodded.
“We’ve met,” said Derrick dryly. He stepped into the galley and helped the fallen man to his feet. “Are you Dr. Kim Law?”
“Yes, that’s me. Are you Derrick Lucious? The other pilot?”
“That’s right. Why didn’t he find you?”
“He came in and looked, but only briefly,” said Dr. Law, who reached up into the cupboard and pulled down a small metal case. Derrick figured that was the package. “I think he thinks this is the plane from California. How did you get past him?”
Derrick shrugged. “I think he thought I’d be an easy kill. I caught him by surprise, that’s all.”
Dr. Law looked disappointed. Derrick thought back to his resistance training, and how prisoners have to keep each other encouraged. He had never needed it in the service, and thought it was just plain weird that it was coming in handy, now. He probably would have been pissing his pants without it.
“I think we can do it again, too,” he said.
Dr. Law looked up. “How?”
Derrick’s mind raced furiously. “There’s another way out of this plane,” he said. “Come on.”
Outside, the frustrated killer paced back and forth along the length of the aircraft. He had two knives between the fingers of his right hand, ready to shatter the next window he saw that pilot’s head in. That bastard had hit him … actually hit him! Just a normal human being! Did he have any idea who he was dealing with?
He knew there was something important he had to do, but he was going to deal with this upstart pilot, first. The package and its carrier had not been on the first plane, so it must be on this second one, but it wasn’t going anywhere. He had the pilot pinned down in here, and he was looking back every so often to make sure no one came out of the second plane.
He glanced over his shoulder once more. The aircraft sat there on the runway, still, not moving, nothing in it. He sighed. What had started out as a fun job was quickly turning into a very boring game of cat-and-mouse.
The killer wheeled around at the sound of the pilot’s voice and had barely enough time to register his face and a pistol barrel hanging upside-down from the plane’s wheel-well before getting shot twice, once in the chest and once in the shoulder, spinning him around to fall flat on his face on the tarmac.
Incredible! He had barely even seen the pilot before getting hit. He must have once been a Navy SEAL … or something …
The killer’s eyes flickered, his vision went dark, and he slipped into blackness.
Derrick dropped out of the wheel-well and used the wheel for cover. He watched the kid for a few moments. Once he was sure the kid was staying down, Derrick motioned for Dr. Law to come down. Together they crossed the tarmac, moving slowly until they were past the fallen killer, then bolted all the way to Derrick’s plane.
“We should call the police,” said Derrick.
“Yes, but let’s do it from the plane,” said Dr. Law. “I really do have to get to California.”
“Are you crazy?” said Derrick. “I can’t run away from a … a murder scene like this. The other pilot is dead and I may have just killed that kid …”
Derrick froze when he gestured to where the young man he had shot was no longer lying.