I wrote this years before I discovered FanFiction.
Disclaimer: I do not own Death Zone or any of its characters. I do miss them though.
Warnings: Some violence and bad language.
Unfortunately, Johnny Smith did not get a vision to give him a hint of what was to come before he entered the store. This was not surprising since everything had been planned very carefully by people who had studied their target meticulously. After all, it was possible to find much worthwhile information digging
through those tabloids and occasional mainstream local papers who liked to follow Johnny's exploits. For once, outlandish claims were not necessarily untrue. As they reported, Johnny did need to touch an object or a person to get a vision, and this touch did not necessarily yield anything useful or anything at all. If these psychic powers had been fictional, they would have been much more powerful, consistent and revelatory. But no point in dwelling on that, what happened, happened and had to be dealt with.
Johnny had no clue that his comings and goings were being monitored by an interested party who had quietly moved in across the street from his house. Without touching his house, his car, Sarah's car or anything on their property this band of well-trained operatives were able to hear quite a bit of what was going on, with very powerful, remote-sensing and expensive spying devices. They had been listening in for a couple of weeks and were very prepared to take advantage of the first opportunity to do what their client in Chicago had commissioned.
The door of the drug store slid open when J.J. stepped in front of it, Johnny was right behind him finishing a conversation on the cell phone. Sarah had called to remind him to get more diapers and baby food for nine-month old Hope. A trip to the video store had turned into a bigger expedition, but Johnny didn't mind, happy to be involved in such mundane affairs for once. Things were going well with Sarah and the kids—Johnny mulled over the idea of finally popping the question.
J.J grabbed a shopping cart and said, "I'll get the Ben and Jerry's and meet you back where the baby stuff is."
"Don't forget the Cherry Garcia, some of us are not so crazy for Chunky Monkey. I can't stand nuts in my ice cream," said Johnny basically to J.J.'s back, since his son was already walking away to the freezer section.
"Hello Bob," Johnny said as he strode down the aisle. Bob Raymond, a retired mail carrier, was filling his shopping cart with toilet paper and paper napkins displayed in the row opposite the baby items. "How are you?"
"Good evening Johnny," said Bob. "We're finally going to have some snow soon. I feel it in my bones."
Johnny scanned the diaper display looking for the right brand and size. As he reached to a high shelf to grab a supposedly economical 40-pack, a woman's voice behind him said, "Turn around slowly and put your hands up."
Thinking that it was a joke, Johnny turned without paying attention to the specific instructions. He saw a ski-masked woman, dressed in an olive green winter jacket and jeans, aiming a gun in his general direction.
"I said, put your hands up" she repeated. "Both of you."
Johnny started to raise his hands, when he heard a rattling noise behind him. Bob's shopping cart rolled towards him and touched his legs. He flashed into a vision.
Raising one hand, Bob clumsily uses his other hand to pull out a gun from his coat pocket. He struggles to click the release and doesn't obey the masked woman's order to drop it. Johnny also yells at him to watch out. She shoots Bob in the chest and he falls to the floor, where he lays unmoving, glazed eyes staring at the ceiling .
Back in the present, Johnny heard the woman order Bob to drop the gun. The scene began to unfold just like in his vision. But, this time instead of warning Bob, he dove in his direction pushing him to the floor. Two shots went off in quick succession. While falling partially on top of Bob, Johnny cried out as a hot scorching sensation dug deep into his left shoulder, while another traveled through the forearm. The bullets tunneling through his body, sent him into another vision.
Two dark-clad figures, a woman that judging from her built and jacket could have been Johnny's shooter and a tall burly man, wait behind a privet bush outside a small one-story office building. There is only one car left in the unlit parking lot. The sign by the door reads, "Robert J. Wofford, M.D., F.A.C.P., General Medicine." Heavy snow flakes fall at a steady but unhurried pace. The grass bordering the parking lot is barely covered by a thin white veil. The snow is just beginning to stick to the pavement.
As a white haired tall man steps out of the office and turns to lock the door, the woman jams a gun in his back and says, "Don't lock it yet, doctor. You will need some supplies to tend a man who was shot in the arm and shoulder."
Her partner opens the door and guides the doctor back inside.
"If you quietly help us, we won't hurt you," the woman says as she shuts the door behind them.
The searing pain in his arm and shoulder, snapped Johnny out of the vision. Inhaling deeply to suppress a moan, he rolled himself off Bob, who lay trembling on the floor.
"Are you okay, Bob?" Johnny's voice cracked a little as he slowly pulled the bloody arm against his chest with his uninjured hand. "She would have killed you."
"Oh my God," Bob said in a hushed tone as he took in the sight of the blood dripping from Johnny's arm. "The gun jammed or I would have had her."
The shooter had a semi-automatic gun aimed at them. Without lowering her gaze, she picked up the old gun that had slipped off Bob's hands.
"You fucking fool! Get up old man and put your hands behind your head. You have to join the others at the front of the store. Don't cause any more trouble and you won't be hurt." She turned toward Johnny. "This was not the time to play the hero, Mr. Smith. We'll take care of you in a minute."
She led the now very cooperative Bob toward the front of the store, where voices seemed to be shouting commands that Johnny could not quite make out. Trying not to dwell on what she might have meant by taking care of him, Johnny shifted his position so that he could search up and the down the isle for where J.J. might be, hoping that he was all right and that he hadn't seen the shooting.
Finding no sign of J.J., Johnny tried to check the extent of the damage. He felt dizzy and cold. Judging from the core of fiery pain he felt in his shoulder, Johnny was pretty sure that the bullet was still lodged inside. And while he could not see through the bloodied ragged material of his favorite leather jacket and long sleeve t-shirt underneath, it certainly felt like the other bullet had fractured his arm.
Johnny turned his head when he heard a sound to his left. J.J. was silently crawling on his hands and knees toward him.
"Johnny?" whispered J.J. kneeling next to him, but not daring to touch him. "Dad? What happened? Are you alright...?" His face was pale, green eyes wide with fear.
Sarah's eyes, Johnny thought realizing that the kid must be scared indeed to call him dad. He wanted to pat him reassuringly with his uninjured hand, but was afraid that more blood would spurt out if he let go of the wound.
"It's okay J.J.," he said, managing a grin. "It's just my arm. It looks worse than…" As J.J. gently touched his dad's unhurt shoulder, Johnny stopped in mid-sentence, his steely blue eyes staring far away.
In the vision, J.J. helps him stand-up. Guessing from the amount of blood soaking their clothes, a few minutes seem to have elapsed from the shooting. They take a few steps toward the back of the isle, when Johnny stumbles and falls. He hits his injured arm and cries out in pain before losing consciousness. J.J. tries to shake him awake.
Vision-watching Johnny moves away from the two of them to see what is happening in the front of the store. Three black-clad men, hair and faces covered by black ski masks, have gagged and tied-up the clerk, store manager and three customers, including Bob. The woman who shot Johnny is keeping watch on the scene at gun point.
After he is finished with the ropes, one of the men says to the shooter, "Go secure the target and his son."
"Don't worry, he is not going anywhere and the kid will be too petrified to leave his dad like that," she replies walking away.
"He better be. We need both of them."
Blinking as he came out of his vision, Johnny realized that J.J. was staring at him.
"That's the vision look right? You just saw something," J.J. said. He was talking very softly, afraid to catch anyone's attention. Suddenly, remembering his Boy Scout's first aid training, he took off his fleece jacket and handed it to Johnny. "Is everything going to be okay?"
"Yes, it's going to be fine," Johnny tried not to sound as shaky as he felt as he haphazardly wrapped J.J.'s fleece around the arm wound. Whatever was going on was more than just a store robbery gone wrong. He had no idea what these people wanted, but he felt absolutely certain that he had to get J.J. away from them.
Noticing a door at the back end of the isle marked with an Employees Only sign, Johnny said. "Do you see that door to the storeroom in the back? I need you to very quietly creep away and hide in there and get help when it's safe."
J.J. stared intently at his father. The contrast of the pallor of Johnny's face and the dark blood seeping through his torn clothes was terrifying him.
"But I can't leave you here," J.J. had lost one father almost a year ago and he now had an awful sense of dread about Johnnyny. "Something bad is going to happen to you if we don't get out of here."
"Please son, you got to get away to tell the sheriff what happened," said Johnny trying to carefully pick his words. "There isn't much time."
Unconvinced, J.J. said, "I can help you get up and we can both sneak out from there."
Jaw clenched, Johnny experimented shifting his weight and moving his legs a little to get to a kneeling position. A new wave of bone-deep pain made him clutch his arm tighter against his body as if that could smoother the nauseating sensation. Johnny felt a chill run down his back.
"J.J. I…I am sorry. I would slow you down," he managed to say in a soft, but steady voice. "They would catch us both. Buddy, please promise me that you'll go now."
"But…I promise," J.J. finally said biting his lower lip.
"Listen, I got to ask you to do something else," Johnny added, speaking quickly. "Tell the sheriff to find and keep an eye on a Doctor Robert J. Wofford. He has a small office over in New Hampshire. I had a vision of these guys kidnapping him. Maybe to fix my arm, but I am not sure. They were lurking around the bushes near his office door and it was starting to snow. It looked like the first snowfall of the season. Can you remember that name, J.J.? Doctor Robert J. Wofford spelled, W O F F O R D."
J.J. dutifully repeated the name twice and said, "I'll remember, dad."
"Take the cell phone from my pocket," Johnny said. "Call for help when it's safe."
As J.J. lightly hugged him, carefully avoiding his bloodied side, Johnny snapped into a vision again. When J.J. pocketed the phone and stood up, the vision released him.
"I'll go now," said J.J., the frightened look had been replaced by determination. "Dad, I…"
"I love you too—All three of you," Johnnyny said, finishing his son's sentence. "Hurry and absolutely don't come out of your hiding spot until your hear sheriff Turner. No matter what they say. You are going to be fine, I saw it."
With one last look back at his father, who looked horrifyingly helpless, crouched on the bloodied floor, J.J. quietly sneaked to the back door and disappeared behind it.
Johnny was relieved, the vision had shown him that J.J. would be all right. He considered and quickly rejected the idea of standing up to make himself scarce, away from where J.J. had gone of course. It would be nice to slow them down, but he really had no strength to muster.
Within a few minutes, the shooter came back and stood over him.
"Where is the kid?" She said aiming the gun at his head. "Tell your son to come back here."
The threat did not impress Johnny, who was so relieved that J.J. had gotten away that he hadn't placed much thought about what would happen to himself.
"I really don't think that you were hired to kill me," he said, guessing that he would be dead already, if that had been the plan.
The masked woman bent down, switching her grip on the gun as if to use it to hit him. But she stopped right before touching him and stepped away.
"Not yet at least," she said.
Two of her black-clad, masked comrades hurried around the corner to the isle.
"The van is upfront, we have to wrap it up," one of them said. Looking around, he added, "Where the hell is the kid?"
"I don't know," said the woman. She pointed at Johnny, her frustration clear even through her hidden face, "If I can't touch him, I can't make him talk. The kid must be hiding somewhere. I only left them for a couple of minutes to help you guys upfront."
"Look around. Find him quick," the other man replied. "We'll take care of Mr. Smith. We have two minutes to get out of here."
"Who sent you?" said Johnny. He didn't really think that they would answer, but it certainly couldn't hurt to ask. "What do you want from me?"
The two men completely ignored his question. One wetted a cloth with liquid from a brown bottle and covered Johnny's mouth and nose with it, before he could utter another word. Johnny passed out in the midst of a fleeting vision of a bearded man being dumped in the back of a dark SUV after being restrained and rendered unconscious by a cloth placed over his face.
He remained totally unaware of what was going on as he got unceremoniously carried past the bound and gagged people who were jammed on the floor behind the front cash register counter. Above the sound of their wildly thumping hearts, all they heard were booted footsteps on the linoleum floor.