They Couldn't Hit The Broad Side Of A Barn With A Target Painted On It

rating: +138+x

November 24th, 2006

Markus Matthews was an innocent man. Or at least he was until this month started. Sure he'd been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. But the system got it wrong. So when a shadowy government agent came to him and offered him his freedom for a month of service, he thought it was a salvation.

Then they put the necklace on him and he was no longer innocent. Because he was no longer him. They'd told him he wouldn't remember anything. But he was fully conscious the entire time. Looking through eyes that no longer seemed his. Feeling everything and controlling nothing.

He'd watched on in morbid fascination yesterday when this Dr. Shaw had gone to a family Thanksgiving dinner with other Shaws. He'd sat through the awkward meal and the awkward glances and stares and he wished he could retreat even further into his own mind. But it had mercifully ended.

Dr. Shaw though, had gotten up early this morning. His physical therapist had suggested that he try out video games to improve the recovery of his hand-eye coordination. So here he was, in a Target parking lot on Black Friday, hoping to buy a Nintendo Wii. What a dumb name for a game system.

Dr. Shaw took up a place in the back of the line, which by the time they'd opened the doors was somewhere in the middle. The mass of people surged forward, almost knocking over the man who had let them in.

Dr. Shaw, along with half the people in the store made a beeline for electronics. He dodged a few buggies unsteadily, and stumbled more than a few times, but he got there and laid his hands on his goal. And then another pair of hands landed on the same box.

Dr. Shaw looked up, and Markus recognized the face. This was Dr. Clef. What… what was he doing here?

Dr. Shaw didn't say anything at first, instead pulling a silenced Beretta M9A3 out of his shoulder holster. Clef saw this and pulled an identical gun and both pointed it covertly over the box at the other.

"This one's mine Clef. Get your own." Shaw said through clenched teeth.

"Fuck off." Clef mumbled, looking around at the shoppers. "There aren't anymore and I saw this one first."

"And I grabbed it first." Shaw slid his gun a little closer. "So back off."

"Fine." Clef made a big show of letting the box go, and turned around while putting the gun back in his holster. Shaw smiled and started to do the same. Markus saw the body language, and knew what was coming, but Shaw was surprised when Clef spun around and hit him in the side of the head with a haymaker.

Shaw was knocked backwards and onto the ground, his gun still out. Clef grabbed the box and ran. Shaw raised his pistol, carefully lined up a shot, and missed, the bullet pinging off the metal roof.

The suppressed weapon fire still drew some attention, and several people screamed. Shaw stood up and fired several more shots, all wildly inaccurate. Clef ducked behind a counter with the box and peeked over the top with his own gun out.

"Don't be stupid Shaw! You couldn't aim for shit even before you got stuck in a necklace!"

"Fuck you, you quadriplegic piece of shit!"

"That doesn't even make any sense! I'm obviously walking now!"

"Your face doesn't make any sense!"

That was when the gun-battle started. For Markus, this wasn't actually as awkward as the Shaw Thanksgiving Dinner. But it was close.

Dr. Clef and Dr. Shaw both sat in chairs opposite a man with a large handlebar mustache. He was reading a collection of documents on the desk between them. Above them was a bright florescent light with a slight hum.

"It says you got into a shooting match over a Nintendo Wii."

Dr. Clef raised his hand halfway. "Actually I think that's a typo, it should be 'shouting match'."

The man with the mustache squinted. "Right. It says you exchanged several shots before the police intervened and you fled the scene?"

Shaw spoke up this time. "Again, shouts not shots. That's a weirdly consistent typo."

"You two know that the whole thing was captured on video by the store security cameras right? Infosec captured and scrubbed it from public record but I'm going to be looking at it to determine exactly what happened. So is there anything you want to tell me?"

The two doctors looked at each other and shook their head. Clef raised his hand halfway again "Some bitch with a mohawk ran over while we were uh, shouting at each other and stole the Wii. I think that was the real crime."

The man with the mustache grunted and waved his hand towards the door. Both men got up and left the room.

Just outside Clef grabbed Shaw by the shoulder. "You know he only has a level 3 security clearance right?"

Shaw considered this for a moment and nodded. "Race you to the records room?"

Clef's eye widened. "Yeah! On Three! One-"

Clef took off down the hallway. Shaw cursed and tried to catch up.

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