Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Just Another Christmas Story" Part 18

            Mr. Henry strapped on his bullet-proof vest, slid a side arm into the holster on the back of his belt, and slung the shoulder strap of his assault rifle over his head. He would be leading the assault team in the front door, if that became necessary, while one of the officers in his unit would lead a squad in the back door. The perimeter was now fully set, and the trap was just about ready to be sprung. Mr. Henry reached for his radio and was just about to give the signal to move in when the lights in the house came on. Had something alerted the people inside? He didn’t know, but it didn’t change anything in the plan. Quickly he made sure that the squad in the rear of the house was ready, then motioned for his team to advance. Part of the unit moved silently up onto the front porch of the house and took up positions around the door while the other part moved into the garage and set up around the door located there.

            Mr. Henry checked to make sure that his men were ready before stepping toward the door and pounding on it with his fist.
            “This is the police; open your door!” he yelled. He didn’t really expect that the people inside would comply with the order, but he had to give them some time, so he examined the door and latch while he was waiting. It was a good lock and would be extremely difficult to break; however, the wood surrounding the door appeared to be of fairly low quality. A good blow would probably break it.
            Mr. Henry heard sounds coming from inside the house, and moved to position himself in front of the door. He looked at one of his men positioned near a window who responded with a shake of his head. The people inside the house didn’t appear as though they meant to answer the door. That was just as well with Mr. Henry; his men were more than prepared to deal with these jokers at the other end of a rifle. Swinging his rifle up, he gripped it with both hands and quickly adjusted it for use.
            “All units, enter the house,” he said into his radio. With a solid kick from his boot, the front door crashed opened and his men rushed inside. Directly in front of them, a man poked his head around a corner and fired several rounds from a sidearm at the tactical unit before ducking back behind the wall. Mr. Henry sighted on the wall near the corner and pumped a pattern of five rounds through the thin plasterboard. The thug fell to the ground and was instantly covered by two officers.
            Mr. Henry didn’t know if that criminal would make it, nor did he care. By his count, there were five more hostiles inside that needed to be taken care of. A brief burst of gunfire came from the back of the house. Make that four hostiles. Mr. Henry lead his team through the house, clearing every room that they came to. He looked down the hall just in time to see the double barrels of a shotgun appear. His rifle came up and had pumped out two rounds before the shotgun was fired. His bullets must have contacted because the shotgun fired high. Even so, a spatter of buck shot bounced off of the shoulder plates of his vest. Two of his men moved down the hall to the next reliable cover. Quickly they neutralized the target, and the team was just about to move forward again when they came face to face with the team that had come in the back doors. The house was cleared of all threats.
            All three teams met in the living room of the house. The one that had entered through the garage had a female prisoner with them, presumably Mrs. Young.
            “What’s the sit rep?” Mr. Henry asked his second in command.
            “Five hostiles were contacted during the takedown,” the officer answered. “Four were killed, and the woman surrendered.”
            “What about the kidnap victims?” Mr. Henry asked. “Any sign of them?”
            “The woman said that they were being held in a basement,” the officer answered. “I have men going to secure it now.”
            “You said five hostiles, correct?” Mr. Henry asked, and his second-in-command nodded. “But there should have been six of them.”
            “Maybe the fifth one is in the basement,” the officer said. “If he’s not, then he’s not in the house. We’ve cleared every room in here.”
            “Hostages have been located and secured,” Mr. Henry’s radio squawked. “We’re going to need a pair of bolt cutters down here to get them loose.”
            “Copy that,” Mr. Henry responded. “The bolt cutters are on their way.” To his second-in-command he said, “Make sure that they get their bolt cutters. I want to check the house one last time and make sure that there isn’t anyone still here.”
            “Yes sir. I…” the sound of the rear door slamming open cut of the officer in mid-sentence.
            “The house isn’t cleared!” Mr. Henry yelled. “An armed man with a girl just left by the back door.” Faster than if he had been fired from a cannon, he was sprinting down the hall and toward the door. In a matter of seconds he had blown through the doorway and was standing in the house’s backyard facing one of his greatest nightmares. The man had the girl in front of him, using her as a human shield and his gun was pointed at her head.
            “Drop your weapon!” Mr. Henry called as he drew sights on the man. The shot would be difficult with only his head visible though it wasn’t impossible to make. The real problem was the gun pressed to the hostage’s head. Even if Mr. Henry did succeed in killing the gunman, his last action might be to tighten his finger on the gun trigger, killing the girl. That was simply not something that Mr. Henry would tolerate.
            “I think that you’d better drop your gun, old man,” the gunman yelled back. “If you don’t the girl is going to get it.”
            Mr. Henry kept his rifle pressed to his shoulder with his sights on the man’s head. He would win the shootout, that he knew, but the girl probably wouldn’t. For a few moments he wrestled with the decision. He couldn’t bring himself to let this man escape and yet…
            “Fine, I’ll put my weapon down, just don’t hurt the girl,” Mr. Henry said. Slowly he unclipped his rifle from its strap and laid it on the ground. “Now let’s talk about this. I’m sure that we can come to some sort of an agreement.”
            “I have all the cards, old man,” the gunman said. “There’s nothing to discuss except your funeral.”
            Mr. Henry couldn’t tell if he heard the gun shot or felt the bullet hit his chest first. His vest stopped the round from penetrating, but the energy still threw him off of his feet and onto his back. Rolling left, he drew the pistol from its holster and aimed at the man who now had his gun pointed safely away from the girl. The headshot was out of the question now, but the man’s left knee was in plain sight. Squeezing his trigger, Mr. Henry dropped the man, putting two more shots into his chest before he ever hit the ground, stone cold dead.
            Officers rushed out of the house where they had been frozen by the impasse taking place outside. Two covered the downed gunman while another checked on the girl and a fourth saw to Mr. Henry. Mr. Henry flicked the safety of his pistol on and allowed himself to be helped to his feet. That didn’t go like he had wanted it to, but it hadn’t gone that poorly either. He would take whatever he could get.

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