Chisel & Groove: Chapter Three
Copyright © 2012 by Stuart Wakefield
All rights reserved by the Author
Chisel felt something wet spatter across his face as dust and debris raced over their heads. He heard Groove’s breath catch, and the DJ staggered momentarily, but the panel slid shut above their heads.
Motion-sensitive lights registered their movement and Chisel felt Groove’s hold on him loosen. He took several steps before turning back to face him.
Blood dripped from beneath the hand clamped firmly over Groove’s left ear while he looked at his surroundings.
“You look like shit,” Chisel said.
“So does your place.” Groove pulled a face. “Who’s your decorator? I’ll get ‘em for you.”
“I know.” Groove looked up at the ceiling. “I’m guessing they can’t hear us?”
“Can you hear them?”
Chisel shrugged right back before reaching around to a console behind him and punching a series of keys. A screen at the far end of the room snapped on and four clear images of the garage filled it, one from each corner of the room.
Groove took a couple of paces forwards until he was standing beside Chisel. “What, no 3D?”
After another key press the image of the group of men standing in the garage leapt from the screen down onto the coffee table where they stood in three-dimensional miniature.
“Flash bastard. No sound?”
“You can’t hear it? Sorry.” Another key press and the audio kicked in. Chisel tapped side of his head in explanation.
Groove smirked. “I get it. Audio receiver.”
“Find them,” said one of the figures. He stood the tallest and sported facial hair known as a chinstrap.
“Them?” said Groove. “They’re after us both.” Concern drew his brow down, creasing it in the middle.
“Looks like you’re unemployed, Groove.”
“As long as my cover isn’t blown.”
“Cover? You’re a DJ with a Doctorate in Xenobiology.”
“No. I’m an agent posing as a DJ with a Doctorate in Xenobiology.”
A beat followed, during which Chisel crossed his arms.
“Do you or do you not have a Doctorate in Xenobiology?”
“Then surely you’re an agent with a Doctorate in Xenobiology posing as a DJ.”
Groove considered this for a moment. “Pedant.”
Satisfied with his agreement, and ignoring the insult, Chisel reached out to take Groove’s hand away from his bleeding ear. As he did so, a fresh trickle of crimson spread into the dust and particles clinging to Groove’s sweat-drenched face.
“Let’s clean you up, soldier.”
“What did you say?”
Chisel strode away, eager to put some distance between them despite the enclosed space. “You heard me. We need to clean you up.”
“Yeah, but you called me soldier.”
Chisel paused in front of an overhead locker. “Force of habit.” He opened the locker and pulled out a battered, red metal case.
Groove’s eyes shone with excitement. “So I am right. You really are one of them.”
Thumbing open the latches, Chisel sighed. “One of what?”
“You know what I’m talking about. One of them.”
“They’re all—the past is—it’s dead.” Chisel thumbed open the latches on the case and flipped open the lid to reveal an assortment of first aid supplies.
“But you’re not. You’re still here. You might be the last one of them now.”
“I’m sure there are others.”
“Not like you.” Groove took one step towards Chisel but stopped when the other man shot him a look that would halt a charging rhino. “Yeah. There are probably loads of them like you around.” He took one step back.
Chisel slowly unscrewed the cap from a small bottle retrieved from the case, and the smell of antiseptic flooded the room. After some further rustling, he pulled out a small pad of wadding and pressed it over the open neck of the bottle before turning it over in his hand a couple of times. “Shall we?”
Groove tugged at his collar and made a face. “You know what you’re doing?”
“I learned enough to treat my men on the battlefield. Is that good enough?”
Groove nodded and Chisel advanced towards him, bringing up the wadding at the same time. “This will sting.”
A sharp intake of breath greeted the introduction of damp wadding to damaged cartilage.
“I’m guessing you don’t see much action in the field, agent?”
The sarcasm wasn’t lost on Groove. “I do. I just don’t get hit often.”
“There’s no such thing as luck. It’s all down to preparation and discipline.” Chisel worked as quickly, and as gently, as possible.
“In your humble opinion.”
“It’s fact. There.” He crossed back to the case and rummaged some more until he pulled out a small metal cylinder that bore the legend LIQUID POLYMER.
“What?” said Chisel. “You’d rather I used a hammer and some staples?”
“Just don’t get it in my ear, okay? I enjoy my hearing.”
“Whatever you say, Mister DJ.”
“Just get on with it.”
After Chisel sprayed the wound with the polymer, he tilted Groove’s head up to check the coverage in the light. Squinting, he bent down and, holding Groove by the chin, tilted his head from side to side.
“So Mazzaccheri’s is still in business, huh?”
Groove blinked rapidly, not expecting to hear the name of his favourite restaurant. “What?”
“Mazzaccheri’s. You ate there today.”
“How do you—did you follow me?”
Chisel let go of his face. “No, but you ate there. You had Pan di Ramerino.”
“How. The. Fuck?”
“I can smell rosemary, raisins, and sugar on your breath—and it’s Easter.”
“But how do you know it was from there?”
“Drillbit shits in their herb garden. I can smell that on your breath, too.”
The look of astonishment on Groove’s face quickly turned to disgust and he furiously wiped his mouth with the back of his hands while Chisel chuckled.
A noise from the other side of the room caught their attention and they both turned to the coffee table.
A small, green Chinstrap stood with his back to the holo-wall and watched as one of the other men scrabbled on the floor. “Just open the damn thing, Leach.”
“It’s sealed, sir. I can barely tell where the panel meets the wider flooring.”
Chinstrap made a sound of revulsion and called the shortest of the group over to where he stood. “Quake, can you do any better than our friend?”
“I’ll try, sir.”
Leach moved aside to let Quake assess the flooring.
Quake dropped to his knees and traced the line of the panel with his fingertip, pausing in places. “It’s the best work I’ve seen. I’m going to need equipment we don’t have to get this open.”
“They could already be putting distance between us, sir,” Leach chimed in. “There could be a transport bay down there for all we know.”
“Doubtful,” Chinstrap said. “The target’s profile suggests an attachment to this place. He doesn’t venture much farther than the club these days.”
Groove looked at Chisel’s quarters. “Is that true? For a homebody you really need to tidy up after yourself.”
Chinstrap had turned to face the holo-wall. “Am I the only one who smells blood?” His hologram blurred and reappeared at the other end of the coffee table.
“Is your display on the fritz?” Groove said. “He was just—” The sound of screaming cut him short.
“It’s not the display,” Chisel said. “It’s Drillbit.”