This is the first draft of the prologue to a new Garth Owen project, a reworking of action movie tropes and cliches-
The tower shivered as another of the gas canisters on the top floor cooked off. The last of the statues- Mike Angels Well Hung David- finally toppled. With a clang followed by a series of off tone rings the head broke free and bounced across the tiled floor.
Milos stopped the bronze head with a now heavily scuffed calf skin shoe. The blandly pretty face stared pathetically at him. With an angry tut Milos kicked the statue head through the gap in the balcony’s glass. He tightened his grip on the arm of his hostage and returned his gaze to the display above the lift doors.
The number for the 31st floor was busted, so there was a tense pause between the 30th going out and the pling of the car arriving.
Esther tensed as the lift doors opened. The men either side of her and Milos raised their guns. A trolley, packed high with boxes and papers, dominated the inside of the lift. Uncertain, the gunmen lowered their weapons and took a couple of steps forward.
“Malone! Time to stop playing around.” Milos’ calm drawl, so threatening when he had been in control, was tinged now with exasperation and anger. “We have your daughter.”
“Esther honey, are you okay?” The call came from inside the lift, but could have been miles away for all the background noise of crashes and explosions.
“I’m okay Daddy. These guys are amateurs.”
Milos jerked Esther’s arm and hissed, “Very talented amateurs, my dear, if we hold all the cards.”
“All the cards but diamonds.” Malone’s voice floated out of the lift again. “That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? These.”
A black velvet bag flew clumsily over the top of the boxes and landed halfway between the lift doors and Milos’ group. It split open on landing and scattered little splinters of light across the tiled floor. The gunman to Milos’ left- Malone had christened him Nobby- dropped his gun onto its shoulder strap and rushed forward to start gathering the stones up.
“No you fool! That’s what he….” Milos’ warning was cut short as the trolley suddenly jumped forward out of the lift.
They were in the vaunted two storey ‘Atrium in the sky’ and outside the lift the floor sloped away and funnelled into a curved ramp which ran down to the lower level. The trolley picked up speed as it headed toward Nobby. Stooped down to pick up diamonds he stared dumbly at the approaching wall of paper.
Nobby didn’t move in time and the trolley picked him up and started carrying him down the ramp. With his right leg trapped under the trolley he couldn’t get away. He wasn’t helped by the other gunman- Smiler in the taxonomy Malone had made up- who stepped around Milos and sprayed the trolley and Nobby with bullets in the vain hope of finding Malone with one. He had a moment to stare, befuddled at the receding trolley before a bullet from another part of the room caught him just behind the ear. His head snapped to the side and he slumped to the floor.
Milos pulled Esther in front of him and whirled around to face the corner he thought the shot had come from. His pistol wavered around as he searched for a target. “MALONE!!!”
Malone had chased the trolley out of the lift just far enough to jump aside and over the security guard’s desk. There was a puddle of blood on the floor where the guard had been caught unawares earlier. His pistol had still been in its holster on the underside of the desk. Malone had grabbed it and moved around until he could get a shot at Smiler.
There was a smash from the lower floor as the trolley exited through one of the few remaining intact windows and began a tumbling curved fall to the ground. Milos growled and fired three random shots toward the security desk.
“Give it up Milo!” Malone called out, the acoustics of the battered room meaning his voice could be coming from anywhere. “There’s no way out of this tower!”
“I beg to differ. There is always a way out, and you are going to help provide it if you want your lovely daughter to see tomorrow’s dawn. Now show yourself.”
Malone did a quick check of the pistol in his hands. It was in good condition, and he’d found the sights dialled in when he’d taken the previous shot. “Possum!” he shouted as he started to rise.
Milos’ confusion at the shout doubled as Esther let her knees give way and dropped to the floor. Milos couldn’t hold her up with the limited grip he had on her arm. He watched her fall, then his head snapped up at the call of “Milo!”
Comprehension was about to dawn on Milos when the bullet caught him in the upper chest. He staggered back, held up by his grip on Esther’s arm until his fingers slipped off it. On jelly like legs he still managed to stay upright, bringing his pistol around and pointing it shakily at Esther. A second and then third shot distracted him. He bumped up against the edge of the balcony then toppled over it.
Malone staggered around the planter he had hidden behind and limped toward Esther. Battered and bloody he holstered the pistol in his belt and commented, “I’m getting too old for this.” Esther ran to him and hugged him hard, almost knocking him over. She dragged him to the chair behind the security desk and made him sit down. Somewhere in the atrium a sheet of glass tumbled to the floor and shattered.
As Esther took paper handkerchiefs from the box on the desk and started dabbing at the cuts on her father’s face he picked up the phone and checked the tone. Satisfied he had an outside line he tapped in a long number from memory. “Barry.” he said when the call was answered, “You watching the news? Yes, that’s me. It’s happened again. See if they’ll wait for another chapter and up the advance……”