Nick had considered himself a lucky guy, until now. He pressed his hand against his partner’s throat, blood pooling up around his fingers in a warm flood.
“Come on, Sally, hang on, dammit!” He thumbed his radio again. “Sampson, hurry up! I’m gonna lose her!”
“We’re en route!” Sampson’s voice snapped back, the siren sharp in the background. “Just keep pressure on it!”
Nick heard the gurney wheels before he saw the two EMT’s barreling down the gangway. He recognized Pat Mallek in the front, but couldn’t see the second one.
“Hey, Nick,” Pat greeted absently, kneeling by Sally. He moved Nick’s hands, his own gloved ones cool against Nick’s sweaty skin. Nick sat back on his heels.
“Hi, Pat. Thanks for coming.”
“This is my partner, Luiz,” Pat said, nodding sideways, his attention on Sally.
Luiz handed Nick a wet-nap that he used to get the blood off his hands.
“How are things here?” Luiz asked softly, handing things to Pat as he asked for them.
“Tense. Two shooters down, but we’ve still got at least one inside. I can’t tell how many hostages.”
“When’s the Negotiator get here?” Pat asked, proving he’d been paying attention.
“Stuck in traffic on the 80,” Nick muttered.
All three of them ducked. Nick heard the sharp whine of a bullet whizz overhead and frowned. “Get clear, guys. Now.”
“Yup,” Pat snapped, glanced once at Luiz, and then both EMT’s ran in a crouch up the gangway, Sally bouncing a little on the gurney.
Nick drew his backup piece out of his calf holster and crept forward. He pressed himself against the building and peeked. The house across the street glowed an unhealthy orange in the sulfur-colored streetlights. Three storeys tall, the shooters had been using the first floor. No one was sure if the rest of the building was vacant or not. That uncertainty kept the police pinned down.
“Any word on that Negotiator?” Nick asked into his radio, scanning the street for movement.
“No. Nick, you clear?” Nick recognized the voice of Captain Joiner, the ranking officer on the scene.
Nick frowned, tucking himself back into his corner. “No.”
“Well, get clear, God dammit! Why aren’t you in the ambulance?”
“Because I wasn’t shot, Joiner. Keep your shirt on.”
“Do not engage,” Joiner shot back.
Nick didn’t answer. He saw a flash of white moving across the street and concentrated. He thumbed his radio off so a stray bit of sound didn’t give him away. He saw the white again.
It was a teenaged boy. Latino, about sixteen, black hair cut short. He wore a white t-shirt and jeans, no shoes. His nose and one ear were bloody.
Nick thumbed his radio. “I think we have one hostage coming out, South side of the building. Latino male, teenager about sixteen, appears to be injured. Barefoot, heading toward Position Three.”
“We got him,” a different voice answered. Nick recognized Bart Jenkowiac, one of the guys from his own precinct. They’d called in everybody on this one.
Nick saw another person come out of the shadows at the same spot the boy had. This time is was an older woman, graying hair caught up in a bun that was coming out in whisps all over her face.
“Second hostage, same location. Woman, approximate age mid-fifties, navy dress.”
“Got it,” Bart confirmed.
A gunshot sounded from inside the building and Nick saw the flash against the window opposite his position. A body fell half-in, half-out of the balcony door.
“Hello?” a voice called.
“Hold your position, this is the Metro Police,” Nick shouted. “You are covered on four sides. Do not approach with a weapon or you will be shot.”
After a moment, the voice responded. “Okay.”
Nick sighed. Of all the days for traffic… “Do you have a weapon?” he shouted.
“Yes. But I’m not one of them!” the voice shouted. Nick hazarded a guess that the speaker was around twenty, male, and of Latin ancestry based on the slight accent.
“Are any of them still alive?” Nick called.
“I think so, but they’re not awake. My brother and I took care of them. Is my mom okay?”
Nick glanced down the street but couldn’t see the woman. “Yeah!”
“I’m coming out!” he called.
“Slowly!” Nick yelled.
A man in his mid-twenties approached the sliding door and stopped, blinking out at the night. “Are you there?” he called.
“Hands laced on your head. Now!” Nick shouted, aiming center-mass.
The man did it, moving like his left arm pained him. He stepped onto the balcony, still not able to see Nick. “It’s just me and my brother in here,” he said. “The other three are down.”
Three? Nick swallowed. This was looking less and less like a domestic problem and more like a deal gone bad.
“Tell your brother that he should lay on the floor, hands on his head,” Nick instructed. “Officers are going to come in and I don’t want there to be any mistakes.”
He nodded a little wildly. “You want me on the floor too?”
Nick shook his head. “No. I want you right where I can see you.” He paused. “What’s your name?”
“Tomás,” came the answer.
“I’m Nick, Tomás. Are there any other injuries inside?”
“I don’t know,” Tomas answered. “These guys just broke in and started shooting, I don’t know why or if there were any others.”
Nick nodded. He could hear the door splinter from behind Tomás and knew the police finally had it under control.
When they brought Tomás out of the building, Nick came over to the ambulance. “You were very brave today, son,” he said.
“Thank you, sir. I just want to see my mom and little brother.”
Nick nodded. He moved away and pulled his own keys out of his pocket. It could have gone a lot worse tonight. Maybe his luck was turning. He just hoped Sally would be okay. He hit the siren and headed for the hospital, praying.