[Back by popular demand! Well, someone mentioned it in passing… Find the rest of the story here and enjoy!]
I glanced over again. He was still busy talking, hands gesticulating and eyes locked on the girl stood at his desk. I nudged Alex as he was packing up for the evening.
“Who’s that talking to Tom?”
Alex shrugged. “Katie, from downstairs. Don’t know her surname. Why?”
“Just not seen her up here before,” I replied casually.
Truth was, I was very suspicious of why she’d been talking to Tom for so long. I’d been building up the courage to confront him all afternoon over Kerry’s disappearance, but he had been busily engaged for an hour now.
I looked at the clock. It was getting late – Alex’s leaving had left just the three of us in the office. I carried on pretending to work; a few minutes later I saw Katie nod and shift her feet to leave, and took my chance.
“Tom,” I called as I walked over. His eyes caught mine – grey, metallic. Then they flickered away from me, towards the doors. Sarah, the pretty but uninterested girl from my first day at work, had burst through them and was heading in our direction.
“I just need a word with you-” I began to Tom but Sarah cut me short.
“It’ll have to wait until tomorrow, Kyle Broomer,” she snapped. “Tom, I need to see you upstairs now.”
I’m usually subdued on work matters and outspoken on conspiracy ones. The situation here seemed to combine the two – my conspiracy voice won out.
“No, Sarah, I need to speak to him.” Tom put his hands up towards me apologetically; pre-empting his excuses I continued, “He knows something about Kerry’s disappearance.”
Sarah shot towards me as Tom leapt from his chair.
The two collided, almost in midair. Sarah’s fist met Tom’s chest and she immediately jumped back into a crouch.
I didn’t know what Sarah was up to, but a fight with a cyborg wasn’t going to end well for her. I grabbed Sarah’s hand and turned for the door.
“Run!” I shouted. Sarah’s grip tightened as her other arm swung towards my face, fist clenched.
Just before it hit me, my legs gave way and I collapsed. Tom had dived forwards and held my ankles like a vice.
In one movement, he flung me backwards along the floor and rose to his feet. I crashed hard against a desk and my breath rushed from my lungs.
I could only watch as Sarah and Tom squared up to each other. They reached a strange impasse – one would twitch, almost imperceptibly, as if just starting to move, drawing a similar feinted response from the other. It was as if they were predicting the other’s movements, and only a glimmer of a reply was needed to dissuade it.
After a few seconds, Tom dropped to his knees and swung a right hook at Sarah’s midriff. She caught it and twisted as he spun round to reach her head with his left hand, trapping her neck just as she pulled his arm clean out of its socket. The pop was followed immediately by a crack and Sarah slumped to the floor.
Tom turned to me, still slumped against his desk, popped his arm back into its socket, and spoke in the artificial voice I’d always known he must have.
“Good cyborg; no time to explain. Kerry’s safe. Come with me.”
I got unsteadily to my feet. Powerless to resist, I followed.