Protocol Six: Episode Five
by Alan Augustson
27 February 2017

The alleged car was the most horrid piece of scrap metal David had ever seen, but it ran gloriously. He could feel punch from that engine every time Lorelei accelerated.

Desperate to make conversation, he groped for an icebreaker. “So… did you and Michael study theater together?”

Lorelei grinned. “Nah. We just kept turning up at the same parties. We’ll stop by his place on the way, so you can drop off your stuff. Have you finished moving in?”

“The last of it, just this morning,” David shook his head. “The house and car, gone. I had a life once.”

“Not according to Michael, you didn’t,” she cackled. “Don’t look back, David; you’ll turn into a pillar of salt. You just need something positive to help you look ahead. All the more reason he thought it’d help to attend the dress rehearsal.”

“Yeah… about that. How does one ‘rehearse’ for an improv show, dress or not?”

“Quit overthinking,” Lorelei grinned. “They’re just getting the bugs out. Look, they’ll either be funny-awesome, or funny-terrible. Either way, you get a free laugh, right? Win-win.” She pointed ahead. “This is your place?”

David nodded, and the alleged car pulled in, streetside by the flat. Lorelei led the way, up the stoop and inside, as David carried his box of materials from the presentation. Arriving at Michael’s door, Lorelei stopped abruptly, and held him back with a surprisingly strong arm. Her face had changed from mischievous to… something primal. He couldn’t put his finger on it.

Lorelei lightly touched the door. It swung inward just a crack, and she shot a glance at David as if she was ready for a fight.

“David,” she whispered, “wait here.”

“What are you, my body–”

“Sh-!” she hissed sharply, with a flash in her eyes that made the hair stand up on David’s neck. Lorelei carefully, silently opened the door just far enough to see, and slipped inside the apartment.

A while passed, and David’s bewilderment turned to annoyance. He carefully peered in, unable to see much in the shadows, other than that the place looked disturbed. He could also make out Lorelei’s silhouette, and was almost certain she held a large-caliber automatic, carried low and with two practiced hands.

“David, come in. Get the lights,” she called, and the weapon, if there had ever been one,  had already vanished. The apartment was… he groped for the right word… upended? Instinctively he reached for the nearest phone.

“No tone,” he said, offering Lorelei the handset. She waved it off.

“Cut,” she said with a disturbing matter-of-factness. “We need to get the fuck out of here.”

“Right behind you.”

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Social scientist, public policy analyst, emergency management consultant and author. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former firefighter. Former candidate for U.S. Congress.

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