Copyright© 2020 by Lumpy
Taylor forced the bike he and Whitaker were on around a tight turn, leaning the bike almost too much as he tried to keep from bleeding too much speed as they ran from the cyber cafe. His hopes that the siren he’d heard was just a different officer pulling some motorist over were soon dashed as they flashed past a cross street. Taylor caught sight of a different police car whose lights flashed on as soon as they’d crossed its view.
Glancing at the side mirror, Taylor saw the police car run through a traffic light and turn to follow them. He was making enough turns that the car he passed was the only one he could see at the moment, but Taylor was nearly certain it wasn’t the only one chasing them. That patrol car had jumped off the mark way too quickly. The officer he knocked down must have called it out on the radio, and the cars in the area had been converging on them. Even if this was the only one behind them, it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
What Taylor needed was a way to lose the pursuit, preferably before a police helicopter showed up and made that a lot harder. Taylor turned hard onto one of the main artery streets that lead to the heart of the city. Even an hour after rush hour had ended, the street was still packed with cars, buses, and trucks delivering the people and goods that made a major metropolitan center work.
Taylor hoped that the denser packed streets would give the smaller, more maneuverable motorcycle an edge over the police cruisers since there were enough vehicles on the road that even if citizens wanted to give way to the police, they couldn’t.
For that to work, though, they had to survive the trip. Whitaker gripped Taylor hard around the middle as the bike dipped dangerously to one side so they could dodge in between a taxi and a large box van. Roaring down the lane line in between rows, a helpful citizen decided to pull into the space between lanes to help the police, blocking it off.
Taylor managed to whip around the rear of the blocking car and slid onto the next lane divider at the last second, barely missing scraping along the side of the car, which would have been bad for both the bike, and Whitaker and Taylor.
The move had cost them speed, which Taylor had been building up as he saw the light ahead turn yellow. By the time he got to the line, it had already circled through to red, and cross-traffic had started. Taylor didn’t have time to wait for the way to clear, however.
Although the traffic had slowed the chasing police, which had now become three cruisers instead of one, it hadn’t stopped them. They were making progress towards them. There was a chance they’d reach Taylor and Whitaker before the light turned, or that one of the citizens around them would again try to take a hand at helping the authorities. Either way, the decision was already made for Taylor.
He didn’t even slow down as he plowed into traffic, barely missing a BMW. Behind him, Whitaker screamed, and horns blared, but dumb luck saw them through. The bike exploded through a gap in the traffic, soaring down a now much less dense roadway.
Their luck didn’t hold. A police car jumped the thin concrete medium and turned to block the lane. Taylor applied the brake and turned hard before opening the throttle back up, tires smoking as he fishtailed, the rear of the bike throwing a bloom of white smoke onto the police car, temporarily blinding the officers.
The tires bit into the road, and the bike took off once more, now heading down a car lined side street. Taylor wasn’t a hundred percent sure where they were, but he thought he remembered something from a map he’d been looking at the night before. Looking at the improving quality of the street as they drove down, it suggested that Taylor was correct about where they were driving, which was fortunate as the cruiser they’d avoided was now in close pursuit.
Rounding a slight curve, Taylor saw what he was looking for, a dignified grey stone wall covered in vines with an opening from the road they were on for the bike to pass through. Taylor blew through to the street that ran parallel to the brick wall, a small bus with a bright blue and gold paint scheme on it blaring its horn as Taylor forced it to swerve to avoid hitting him.
The surroundings opened up as they passed the wall’s curved archway. The narrow streets and tall buildings were replaced by lush green open spaces scattered with the odd gothic architecture. Students walking with backpacks and books stopped to gawk as Taylor ignored the t-intersection and hopped the curb, tearing chunks of grass out as he accelerated across the open lawn.
In his mind, Taylor could see the circular loop that ran around the outside of the campus. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the police cruiser slow before turning left, attempting to trace their cross-campus journey by going around the loop and catching up to them.
“This place doesn’t have a lot of street exists. They’re going to radio ahead and have them blocked off,” Whitaker warned, leaning closer and yelling to be heard.
Taylor nodded in response so she would know he heard her but didn’t slow down or turn towards the area where one of the exits would be. In fact, Taylor did the opposite and turned slightly in the opposite direction, back into more of the campus, circling around one of the school buildings while dodging a group of kids spread out on the lawn, sending them scattering. Around the building, Taylor saw what he wanted, a large parking garage in between three of the buildings.
Pulling into it, Taylor drove into an open spot and hopped off.
“What are we doing?”
“Just follow me,” Taylor said, pulling off his helmet and the jacket.
Whitaker followed suit, confused, her head on a swivel looking for the police. As they passed a large trash bin, Taylor took her helmet and jacket and threw them and his into it.
Taylor grabbed her hand and pulled her through one of the garage’s exits into a small area in between one of the buildings and the side of the garage. Whitaker looked alarmed as he pulled out his weapon, fired twice into the air, and holstered it.
“Run,” he said, grabbing her hand and yanking her after him.
They rounded the side of the building back into an open area of lawn, where a dozen or so students had stopped and looked in the direction of the garage at the sound of gunshots.
“Run. They’re shooting people. Run,” Taylor shouted, as they ran away from the garage.
This was the one flaw in his plan; he didn’t speak enough German to pull this off in their language. He’d gambled on the fact that students at a university in the heart of Berlin would speak English.
Thankfully, his gamble paid off as the students began to run in panic, several girls screaming in alarm as their dash turned into a small mob running for their lives. Several of the students, afraid for their safety, had gotten up from where they’d been sitting, abandoning everything they’d been holding.
“Run. Shooters. Run,” Taylor kept yelling to keep the crowd panicking.
Coming up to where one group had abandoned their items, Taylor reached down and scooped up two backpacks before turning and heading towards the building they’d been running parallel to. As soon as he pushed through the door, he slowed to a brisk walk, and handed one of the backpacks to Whitaker, swinging the other over his own shoulder.
“What are we doing?” Whitaker whispered to him as they passed students, most of who were looking out the windows at the scattering people.
“Getting us a way out.”
“How, they’re already setting up a perimeter.”
Taylor pulled her down a side hall and out through another exit, walking quickly away from the scene he’d created. The further they got the fewer kids they saw running around until it was mostly students milling about and trying to figure out what all the noise across campus was about.
“They were setting up a perimeter to block off the street exits from the school. They probably already have those covered by now. By the time we could have walked to one of the side pedestrian gates, someone would have gotten the idea to cover those as well. Now they’re going to start having students running up to the police on the perimeter with stories of an active shooter on the loose. Knowing witness statements and the game of telephone that happens, they’re probably hearing stories about students shot, lying dead on the quad. The beat cops who were chasing us are going to have to do a one-eighty on their procedures, twisting themselves in knots. Someone’s calling HRT right now and everyone on the perimeter is switching to containing rather than catching two people on a bike. As word spreads, more kids will start making tracks to get off campus, and the perimeter is still soft. Eventually, a sergeant or lieutenant will show up and remember the pedestrian gates, but that will be ten minutes from now. These things always turn into a cluster fuck.”
They didn’t break stride as Taylor explained it all, crossing over the circular drive that bordered the campus and closing in on a gate in the side of one of the walls. As Taylor predicted, there were a bunch of kids walking through the gate, casting worried glances over their shoulder. Taylor didn’t need to know German to get the gist of what they were talking about.
They did see a patrol car in the middle of the street, but it was a block away from them. There was no way the single officer could pick out two people from the throng of students leaving, and rubberneckers showing up to find out what all the commotion was about.
“You have us all figured out, don’t you?” Whitaker said.
“Sure, but not because you’re cops. The reaction would have been different if it had been army units, but just as predictable. Everyone has their procedures to follow, and those procedures are never very good at adapting to rapidly changing situations. Police forces have a lot less training than the military, relying mostly on ‘on the job’ training, which leaves for a lot of weak points if you know where to look.”
“Of course, now we don’t have wheels.”
“True. We need a place to hole up for a while, and it needs to be away from here. They’ll start their search from the last place they saw us, so we just need to stay ahead of them.”
Taylor led them several more blocks away from the campus until he saw another parking garage, this one next to an office building. Walking into it, he started staring hard at the cars until he found the one he wanted. Most of the cars he’d passed were newer luxury models, just what you would expect from people working in a fancy office in the middle of a major city. The car he stopped at was fifteen years old at best, with a paint job that had seen better days. Places like this needed working stiffs, too, as janitors and service laborers. He felt a pang of guilt as he smashed the driver’s rear side window in and reached around to unlock the driver’s side door.
Whoever owned this car wasn’t the kind of person who’d easily replace it. He knew he was making someone’s life hard, but there weren’t a lot of options. To his surprise, Whitaker didn’t say anything, just getting in when he opened her door. He took his gloves off and had the car hot-wired in two minutes. Putting his gloves back on, he drove out of the garage and headed for the outskirts of town in under five minutes.
“We need to look at that video.”
“Look in the backpacks.”
Whitaker pulled the one Taylor had dropped on the back seat next to the one she’d been carrying and opened them. She just smirked at him when she pulled a laptop out of one of them.