Borland nodded and yelled, 'I've lost a lot of blood! Not sure how bad things are inside.' Then he nodded, pressing against his stomach. He pulled his hands away and looked at the blood, at the hole in his gut. A strained laugh escaped him. 'I'm cut open. This is bad. And the morphine's wearing off.'

A hard throb had started past the burning edge of the wound. The cut tissue scorched him, but he felt the beginnings of deeper injuries, bruising, displacement…


He couldn't think about it.

Judy went quiet. The doctors tried to get her to talk.

Time passed.

Borland's mind drifted…

And then the doctor started on Judy again. His voice was muffled by the door: 'You see Judy, Mr. Borland is injured. You can see that.'

She looked over at Borland, saw that he was watching her, and winked.

'And when his morphine wears off, he's going to be in excruciating pain,' the doctor explained.

'Pain…' Borland whispered, laughing on morphine vapors.

'Judy, Mr. Borland is in danger. You don't want to hurt him do you?' the voice shouted.

Judy startled Borland by firing a round at the door. There was a commotion outside as the negotiators fell back.

Mr. Cumberland snorted, but slept on.

'You're not going to turn us against each other!' Judy yelled. 'Like you did before.'

Like they did before?

Another time of pain and deafness followed.

Things were dark.

And then…

Borland was dizzy and had finally collapsed with his back against the wall and his legs straight out. He knew there was a good chance he could overpower Judy if he could get the drop on her, but the morphine and blood loss were making everything impossible.

What's this?

From his vantage point he saw a bottle of Listerine protruding from a small gym bag under the bed.

He clawed the bottle out and wept in pain as he tried to get past the child safety cap. His hands fell to his sides and he gagged. He had to control some of the pain, make himself numb enough for something desperate.

He cried out as he pushed down on the cap, broke the plastic links that kept it safe.

In a single motion, he threw the cap away and upended the bottle.

It was fresh. A clean taste that burned all the way down.

But Borland needed something, and he knew rummies drank the swill to relieve their pain. There was nothing else he could do. As the morphine peaked, flushed out of his system by the activity and excitement, he knew there'd be a struggle to stay conscious.

There was a lot of pain on the way.

He took another drink of Listerine and gagged.

Borland looked over at Judy where she crouched by the bed. He lifted a numb left hand and closed it in the air. The skin felt bloated, like he was wearing a mitten.

You can take her.

So his plan was to crank on Listerine, get ready to experience the full pain and panic of having his belly muscles cut open. Then do something violent and reckless that would likely get him shot.


His fellow veteran, Captain Hyde, would recognize the little Borland touches.


Borland's vision was off too. The lights were bright, threw a hazy aura over everything. If he could reach her, he doubted he could aim and punch her without throwing up, or having his guts spill out on the floor.

He tried to think how long it would take for the morphine to wear off completely. What had he heard, some guy, some old man on the stairs with his belly all taped had said he slept after the operation for three hours? And then they started him on simple pain meds… something light; nothing as serious as morphine, but he was also sutured and stapled shut at the time.

His operation was complete.

Borland's wasn't.

They'd just cut all the necessary layers and then…

The running, and fighting-the damage might already be done.

Another stab of pain wracked him, brought him out of his stupor.

He coughed, and the incision over his navel bulged. A bag of bloody, pale tissue pushed against his hands.

And he almost vomited.

Clean. Fresh. God!

Gagging, to keep his mind off it, he talked.

'Listen to me…' Borland started, took a swig of Listerine. You idiot!

But he couldn't do it with anger.

'Judy,' he said, wheezing. 'They're here to help you.'

'They want your baby,' she snarled. 'Like they took mine. Don't let them fool you.'

'Judy, I don't have a…' Borland started and then clamped down on his anger. He grimaced around another pulse and nauseous twist of his guts. 'They can't take my baby. I'm a man.' He tried to grin reassuringly, but only managed to bare his teeth and groan. 'I'm a man. You can see that! You god…' Damn. Stupid… Temper. Easy. 'Judy, I'm badly hurt here. It's nothing to do with a baby.'

'You're in denial, sweetie.' Judy pursed her lips and let her eyes slide down over Borland's belly, surveyed the bloody mess under his hands. 'We'll get you help.'

'No!' Borland shook his head and he took another drink of Listerine. A spasm of pain clenched his torso and he gasped. 'I'm a cut open man, Judy! Look at me!'

He spread his bloody hands; the raw wound gaped. A sack of light pink flesh protruded slightly.

'Stay calm. Don't get down on yourself.' Judy shook her head and smiled reassuringly. 'I know what you're going through. You don't want to believe.'

There was another clamor out in the hall. Heavy thumping, the big bad SWAT team would be there soon. Borland closed his eyes against the pain and tried to think of their protocol.

If Judy weren't armed, they'd just charge. With her gun they'd be left with Tasers or stun grenades. Would they use them knowing Borland's condition and that there was another captive in the room? Not likely. The chance of the grenade landing on an injured civilian was too great. That could start a fire too.

What would they do?

He coughed again and shivered. His hands were wet, very wet. He was bleeding again.

Jesus! You don't have time for this.

A new voice shouted through the door.

'Judy,' a woman called. 'This is Dr. Lemington. Do you remember me?'

Judy looked over at Borland, her eyes wide with terror or fear or anger. His dying eyes were having a hard time with the subtler points of emotion.

'Who's that?' he asked her, finally.

'She's the one who took my baby!' Judy hissed, squeezing the pistol in her hand.

'Judy,' said Dr. Lemington, 'I know you're frightened.'

Judy glared at the door.

'And I know you've been confused,' Lemington said, 'and I know you've been disappointed.' The voice quieted and then: 'I know you're depressed. That's why you left the police force.'

'I left to find my baby!' Judy surged onto her knees, and fired three shots at the door before she screamed: 'I'm a police officer, I won't let you do it to anyone else.'

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