Joe side-kicked his attacker. It bought him a couple of seconds. He used them to plunge the hemostats into the guy’s forehead. No, the crazy’s forehead. It collapsed to the floor.

Mike was fighting off the other two but had seen what happened. He used the scalpel to do the same while Joe took out the third.

They stood there, both panting, adrenaline rushing through their veins.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Joe finally said.

This shook them out of their initial shock. They took off down the hall. Mike stopped long enough to break the glass from a fire-ax, which he weighed for good measure as they continued.

Cole was standing in his office at the end of the hall. He’d heard the commotion; when he saw Carter and Mendoza pass by, he opened the door. “Take me with you,” he pleaded.

“Fuck you,” Mendoza told him.

“Please. Don’t leave me here alone.”

Joe Carter didn’t get angry too often but he was angry now. He doubled back to Cole. Stood about two inches from the Agent in Black’s face. “You left us alone,” he spoke in a quiet but menacing voice. “Alone and defenseless. You bastard. At least you have a gun.”

“I––I’m sorry,” Cole said. “I didn’t think there was anyone here. I wasn’t going to keep you in there for long.”

“You’re lying,” Mike said. “Nobody ever trusted you. Except us, in the end. Look how you repaid us. You almost got us killed.”

“Come on, Mendoza,” Joe said. “We’ve got plans.”

“No, no,” Cole begged.

They were halfway down the hall when they heard more crazies ahead, just around the corner. They turned around to see two more trudging from the other end. When they turned back, that bastard Cole was trying to shut them out. Mike roared and kicked the door open. Unfortunately, he broke the lock.

Cole had scampered back deeper into the office, fear on his face. He was nothing like the man in charge the lieutenant commanders had seen days earlier. Little did they know that the fear of drowning had awakened something deep within Cole, something primal and ugly and afraid.

Six crazies were at the door trying to get in. Mike first fumbled with the lock, but it was useless. He pushed his back against the door and leaned as hard as he could. The horrible grunts and growls from the other side were louder now.

Joe scanned the room for anything that could hold the door shut. His eyes landed on a metal half-file cabinet. It was bolted to the wall. “Your ax!” he called to Mike. Mike tossed it to him. Joe began prying the thing loose.

Cole was frozen at the far side of the room.

“Do something, goddammit!” Carter shouted at him as he worked on the file. The crazies’ snarls were so loud now he had to yell. “We need your fucking help!”

But Cole, eyes wide with fear, just shook his head and backed further into the corner.

Finally, the cabinet tore loose. Joe carried it across the room and under the door handle. It held. For now.

Mike wasted no time. He crossed the room in one step and picked up the semi-automatic that Cole had left on the table. Two more steps and he had the weapon pointed at Cole’s forehead.

“Face the wall, motherfucker.”

Cole registered the fury in Mike’s eyes. He turned around.

“Search him,” Mike ordered his friend.

Joe did so, searching the Agent in Black and found two more pistols on him. “Where’d you get these?” he demanded.

“They—were in the office.”

“Any more?”

Cole shrugged. The file cabinet rocked as the Crazies banged and pushed. Joe tossed one of the pistols to Mike, who pocketed it.

“I’ll tell you what you’re going to do, Mr. Agent in Black.” Joe’s voice was deadly now.

“Get over to that file cabinet and keep those bastards out. You hold them out. Mike’s going to have his gun on you while I search this place.”

Instead of waiting for an answer, Joe shoved the agent over to the door. “You’re not calling the shots anymore. Keep them out any way you can.”

Cole did his best. The file cabinet was dangerously close to coming loose. He pushed it back into place and kept pushing for dear life.

Three angry men locked in the same room can be a dangerous circumstance. Mike wanted to shoot Cole in the head, and regretted like crazy saving the bastard in the first place. Some thanks. Meanwhile, Joe shuffled through drawers and cabinets. He came up with two more semis and surprisingly, a pair of handcuffs.

He thought about cuffing Cole to the desk and letting them get to him. As for Cole, he was frightened but infuriated. No one had ever treated him that way. Back at the Sunset Beach cottage and now here. No one. He’d be damned if he’d let these two punks get away with it. Once he got out of here...well, they would see.

Joe took a couple of deep breaths. Saw the anger in both Mike’s and Cole’s eyes. “Look, we need to calm down,” he said to Mike. He gestured to Cole. “You, too.”

Cole was sweating, putting all his strength into keeping the filing cabinet in place. “Help me, goddammit,” he grunted.

Joe traded Mike’s pistol for a semi and stashed the others in his jacket pocket. “I’ll help,” he said, moving to the cabinet. His strength relieved Cole a little. “We need to quiet down. They respond to sound. Cole, Mike has us covered. You’re going to get a piece of paper and some tape. Cover the window so they can’t see us. If you make one wrong move, you’re history. Go.”

When that was done, the three remained completely silent. It took a few minutes, but they finally heard the group of crazies drag their feet away and down the hall. Mike still had his gun pointed at Cole.

Joe had his ear pressed against the broken door. “They went that way,” he whispered, pointing to the right.

“Good.” Mike sighed in relief. “Front door is the other way.”

“Lie down,” Joe ordered Cole. “Arms locked behind your head. And keep that hole in your face quiet while we figure out what to do.”

Cole knew he had no choice. He was defenseless, and he understood the danger of causing a ruckus.

The two LCDRs sat on the desk, both with a gun aimed at Cole beneath them. They talked quietly.

“We have to get the hell out of here,” Joe said, and then laughed a little. Understatement of the year.

Mike smiled. “What, you don’t want to stay? We got all the food and drugs in the world, and our best friend here.” He kicked Cole in the leg.

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