I'm in a building wired to blow up. I've got a minute to get out before it all blows up. I run down the stairs like a madman and out the emergency door. I'm about twenty yards from the building when I'm thrown off my feet in a terrific blast. I feel sharp pains as debris slams into my back. I'm tossed probably another thirty yards away. After rolling on the ground, I look back. Smoke is pouring from the bottom of Building Four. I see one edge of the building sag, and then the whole thing collapses in a huge cloud of dust and noise. I put my shirt over my mouth so I can breathe, and start running away as fast as I can. I don't look back.
All around me I see ambulances and police and firetrucks lumbering to the scene. A large black SUV stops in front of me. The passenger door opens.
"Get in!" cries Ellie behind the wheel. I flop in and she takes off before I can get the door closed. I try to catch my breath.
"You okay," she asks, glancing at me. "Try to hold it together."
I'm still coughing and choking from the dust and exertion. We get about two or three blocks when another car slams into the driver's side of the SUV. We're tossed around the cabin like rag dolls. "Ellie!" I tweak out.
Ellie is very still, her head lying on my lap. I can't even tell if she's alive. A figure emerges from the other car and comes to my side. My door is wrenched open and I'm looking down the barrel of a gun. It's Carrie. She doesn't have a crutch or a leg boot. She's not limping. What??
"Give me her fucking gun. Now! Really easy. I just blew up a building, and you'll be next if you don't cooperate."
Ellie moans a little. Thank god she's alive! She has a nasty cut on her head, and her leg doesn't look right. I find her holster and pick out her gun. I toss it out to Carrie.
"Good. Now tie her hands behind her back." She throws me some quick ties.
"Carrie, come on, she's unconscious."
She comes closer. "Do it, Ross. Or I will take you both out right now. Move!"
I try to move Ellie off me and she howls in pain. I reach behind her and push her hands together and bind them with the ties. I hope Ellie knows how to get out of this.
"Tighter! Good. Now get her into your seat, you get in hers."
There are no words to really describe getting Ellie over. Her lower left leg hangs limply, her head is gushing, and she is barely conscious of anything but her extreme pain. She screams as I try to move her, but there's not much I can do. I jump back into the driver's seat.
Carrie jumps in the back. These SUV's are great, you can beat them up and they just drive away. "Drive."
"Just move it! Head South."
Ellie begins moaning as the car starts jerking around. "Alex," she says weakly.
"Shut her up," screams Carrie.
Ellie struggles against her bonds. "It's Carrie," I tell her. "She has a gun."
Ellie just moans in pain.
We drive South for a bit. I'm starting to piece everything together. There's no plot. There's no fingerprinting. There's no Building Four, and there never was. But why?
"I don't get it Carrie," I say finally. "What the hell was all that about? Do you just like blowing up buildings?"
"Shut up, fuck head. You should know. You are so stupid. You and everyone around you. You think you own the fucking world. Well I've had it. I've been waiting a long time for this."
Ellie cries out loudly as we hit a bump.
"Will you shut her up?" Carrie reaches out to knock her gun against Ellie's head and I just snap. I jump out of my seat and go for the gun. I don't give a flying fuck what happens anymore. You can only push a man so far, and this is it. We struggle for the gun and it goes off. The sound is deafening, right next to my head in a closed space. But the recoil startles Carrie and I wrestle the gun away.
"Shoot her," says Ellie quietly, somewhat cognizant of the circumstances. Instead I toss the gun out of my broken window. I turn around quickly, as the car is headed right off the road. I correct it quickly and slam on the brakes. Meanwhile Carrie still has Ellie's gun which I had forgotten about. Fortunately it's a imported model and she can't figure out the lock quick enough and I snatch it away from her. I don't throw it away.
Carrie bolts for the door. I jump out my broken window and chase her. She may be light and speedy but she's been in a fake cast for almost a month. Her leg has atrophied and I catch her and push her to the ground. She struggles but I slam that bitch right in the face.
"Fuck you Carrie! I'm going to fucking mess you the fuck up!"
"Alex! Stop," cries Ellie. Those words stop me from doing something unthinkable.
She's leaning out of the car. I drag Carrie pretty much by the hair as she bleeds from the mouth. She struggles but I hold on firmly.
"I've got a knife in my back. Cut me loose," she asks. "Then we can deal with her."
I throw Carrie on the ground. I gentle reach around Ellie, under her shirt. Taped to her back I can feel the hard edge of the knife. I quickly release her, and she immediately feels her head and her leg. "I'm going to need help soon, Alex, but first we need to deal with her. Alex, there's something you need to know. Something about Carrie. Do you want to tell him?"
Carrie looks up at me with pure hate in her eyes. "No."
"Ok then. Ow. God this hurts. You see, I did some digging on her. Turns out Carrie Park died almost ten years ago."
"I heard that. It's a weird coincidence." Shit. Of course it's not.
"There is no other Carrie Park. At least not one anywhere near her age."
"So she's not Carrie Park. Then..."
"She's Shelly White."
Wham! "Oh my god...no!" I look at Carrie. She can't be! She doesn't look like Shelly...but...
"Fuck you, Alex," says Carrie. "You didn't remember me, did you, you don't even remember what you did to me! Do you remember now! You stupid fuck! Look at me! Look what you've done to me!"
Shelly White. We used to call her "Smelly Shelly." I know it was cruel and juvenile. But she never bathed, and always had an odor about her. We teased her mercilessly. But she was big, like 250 pounds big. Could this be Shelly? It seems impossible.
The memories all come rushing back to me. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. Shelly and I had been thrust together on an assignment. It wasn't so bad, she was definitely smart and I knew I'd get a good grade. But then she started giving me little gifts, sending me poems. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but she seemed pretty fragile. That day someone discovered she had been sending me these poems, and it was on. They posted it around school, they put it on the net, it was humiliating. I protested but not that strongly, I mean I wanted her to back off. I caught sight of her later that day crying. I didn't feel so good.
You'd think that was bad enough. After school, a buddy and I are waiting at a light, we're looking at racing for a block or so. The light turns green, and out of nowhere this car cuts us off. We almost collide. My buddy talks to me through the window. "Isn't that Shelly White? Do you want to teach her a lesson? Let's get her!"
We start after her. He starts blaring his horn at her. It must have frightened her, because she takes off. We're going down the street, 70, 80, 90, then I back off. But my buddy keeps chasing her. She tries to take a corner, the car flips, and she's thrown from the car.
There are witnesses, and soon we're all arrested. Shelly's on life support basically. My dad gets them to give me a year at a work camp instead of basic juvenile detention. Shelly collects millions in the settlement. The other guy goes to jail, since they consider him the instigator. My life is ruined, though. With that work camp on my record, I can't go to college. Instead I go to a technical school. I never heard from Shelly again...until now.
"Carrie, Shelly, I--"
I began thinking about everything that's happened. The Hit List. The attacks on Ellie and the cabin. The secret datacenter. Building Four. The explosion.
Ellie speaks up weakly. "Tell him, Carrie. Tell him what you've done."
Carrie crawls to her feet with a smirk on her face. I just can see her as Shelly. The thought makes my skin crawl. But when I look at her, I see Shelly's eyes.
"God, Alex, you must be the stupidest person in whole fucking world. Look at you two. Chasing leads around like dogs. You believed every fucking thing I told you."
"Why? Why did you do it? Did you want me? Did you want me dead?"
"No, Alex. Well, I mean after that horrible excuse for fucking, I certainly didn't want you. Jesus, Ellie, how did you ever put up with that? I figure a slut like you could get any man in town. What the hell are you doing with this loser?"
"So you want me dead? Is that what this is about?"
"Hell no, Alex. I want you alive. The bastard that chased me, well...he's dead."
Shit! I remember now that Larry died in some kind of accident. Well I guess it wasn't an accident now. I hear some sirens in the distance.
"We gotta go," says Ellie. "Someone must have called us in."
"Wait. Carrie, so what do you want from me? What the fuck are you doing this for?"
Carrie scowls at me. "You don't understand what I went through. My entire face had to be reconstructed. I lost my spleen, half my intestines, and now I can never have children. Why do you think I'm so thin now? I laid in that hospital for years, with nothing to do but study and figure out how I'd ruin your life as much as you've ruined mine."
"Well congratulations. But when they find out you were behind everything, you'll be put to death."
Carrie laughs at that. I see a worrisome triumph in her eyes. "No, Alex. What made you think to go into Building Four? Was it the sketches I had deliberately leaked out? Where some monster experiment was about to start? Well it worked out great, because right now on every major video site there's a video of you running out right before the explosion. And then it shows you getting in the car with Ellie. Don't worry, Alex, there's plenty of evidence on you at your apartment, on your old work computer, and of course, on your precious blog where you mention blowing up Building Four. And Ellie, I hope you like what I did with your old laptop and your account. You sure saved me a lot of money. You two are so screwed."
The sirens grow louder.
"Alex, we have to go!"
"What about her," I ask Ellie. "Should I just fucking shoot her?"
"No, we'll get to her eventually. She can't hide from us. Trust me, you don't want her blood on your hands."
I can now see the flashing lights half a mile away. Carrie's waving at me. "This isn't over," I shout at her as I scramble back into the driver's seat. I floor it an we take off, leaving Carrie in the dust.