Weston lay in the floor gasping for breath. A dark figure stood over him swinging a piece of paper back and forth while saying something that Weston couldn’t quite make out. Blood trickled down the side of Weston’s face. A head injury? Probably. Weston recalled stuffing the lab report in his pocket then putting on his coat ready to leave the lab. After that, there was nothing.
Weston’s eyes squinted at the man pacing in front of him. The man was frantically swinging the piece of paper toward Weston’s face hitting him every few swings. Weston knew how to defend himself, but his limbs felt too heavy to make any sudden motions. He lay still trying to assess the situation and the extent of damage to his body. His head throbbed in rhythmic, shooting pains up the side of his left temple. His vision was blurred but seemed to clear up then fade to blur again every few seconds or so. Weston hoped that a severe concussion was the only real threat.
As the dark figure continued to swing the paper at Weston, he focused his eyes on the man. Weston couldn’t make out his facial feature but observed that he might be around six feet tall and could see his hairy arms in the gap between the man’s dark-colored jacket and what appeared to be a purple lab glove. Weston recognized the brand of shoes. He owned a similar pair of hiking boots that were two-tone brown. If they were exactly like his own, the original shoe strings were a deeper brown than the other two tones. The man’s feet seemed small, maybe a size nine.
“I told that damn man not to pursue this! I told him. Tell me what you know. Tell me now.” The paper seemed to float in midair as the man put it too close to Weston’s face. It was the report he’d stuffed in his pocket. Weston hadn’t known anything other than what he’d read. He’d only intended to give the report to Midge to get her thoughts.
Weston heard the security door beeping. Someone was scanning an identification card. Someone was coming. The man heard it too and became silent as he watched the main doors sliding slowly open. Midge rounded the corner. Weston mustered the strength to adjust himself slightly into a partially sitting position. He thought he might be able to grab the man’s feet if he concentrated. He might not like Midge much, but she was his coworker, and this man was a stranger trying to hurt him.
A light ignited the room. An orange flash and the familiar sulfur, acidic smell came from Midge’s direction. Thank God. She had a gun. A second bone-jarring sound and the man grunted and fell to one knee. Weston grasped one of the man’s legs and tried to pull it out from under him. Instead, the man pulled his leg away twisting Weston’s wrist in pain. A metallic smell joined with sulfur made his stomach lurch. Blood was flowing down Weston’s arm nearly unnoticed as he wondered how Midge could have hit the man in the partially lit room at the distance she had. She’d hit him at least once.
The man was already headed toward the emergency exit as Midge ran in Weston’s direction. He had managed to sit which resulted in ragged gasps for air and blurred vision that was closing in. The last thing he’d said to Midge was, “You’re a good shot.”
Midge lay the compact Glock .357 on one of the lab tables and rubbed at her wrists. When Midge had decided to purchase a gun and practice at the gun range, she’d asked a former police officer for advice. He’d told her that his preference was a .45 or .357 caliber, and he had told her that the recoil on the .357 might make it a less desirable choice for her. Once she’d found out that the .45 tended to do damage, but rarely deeply penetrated flesh especially at a distance, she went with the .357 which was much more capable of penetrating flesh, an idea that she liked if she were going to defend herself. The former officer had been right about the recoil. Even with regular practice at the shooting range, she felt the impact to her wrists.
Midge called 911 requesting an ambulance and the police. Luckily, the lab owner had a long-standing agreement with the local ambulance service. It was, after all, a prestigious research lab. Within five minutes, the EMT was standing at the outer security doors. Midge had put pressure on Weston’s head wound and left the gauze there as she rushed to let the EMT into the building. All that was left was the police. After the day she’d had, she was not looking forward to answering questions. After seeing that Weston’s head wound was probably not fatal, her concern shifted to the certainty of the police taking her beloved .357 into evidence with no hope of a quick return.
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