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Bare Metal | Chapter Eighteen

Bare Metal | Chapter Eighteen

MS Glacial Adventurer
Somewhere in the Arctic Ocean

Oscar stared down at the mangled mess of flesh and bone that used to be Miles’ head. The sharp smell of cordite mixed with the pungent coppery reek of fresh blood wafted into his nostrils. He wanted to be sick. Everything was moving too fast. He had only wanted to slow things down, to assert his authority once and for all.

And now this…

He lifted his gaze to take in the survivors, who, to the one, hadn’t moved since he pulled the trigger. “What’s the matter?” He said, waving the gun in their direction. “You didn’t think I would do it?” He barked out a harsh laugh that sounded foreign to even his own ears. A white-hot mass of anger churned in his gut. These people—these traitors—had challenged him. He seethed inside, barely able to constrain himself. He needed to teach them a lesson.

Every single one of them.

He turned his attention to Colin, who had been silent throughout. “I thought you were one of the good ones. I trusted you.” He shook his head.

Colin’s voice held a quaver when he answered. Fear, Oscar realized with satisfaction. “We—” Colin started. He stole a glance at his co-conspirators—“we talked. We decided we needed a change.” He nodded at the weapon. Tears leaked from his eyes. “The gun…” He fell silent.

“Who else is involved?” Oscar asked. “I want all the names.”

There was no response.

Oscar fired a round into the ceiling. A chunk of foam tile fell on his shoulder.

The crowd shrank back. Simone began to cry.

Oscar’s ears rang from the gunshot, but he didn’t care. His action had had the desired effect. He now had their undivided attention. “I asked you a question.”

He waited a few moments, but still, no one would answer him.

“Jesus Christ,” he said, losing patience. “I don’t have time for this bullshit.” He motioned toward the stairwell. “C’mon. Let’s go!”

Gemma was the first one to break the wall of silence. “Where?” She asked, pleading. “Where are you taking us?”

It took only one more shot to shut her up and get her moving.

***

Oscar herded the group upstairs, where he collected the rest of the survivors from their cabins. Once he was sure he had accounted for everyone, he drove them all back down two decks. He brought them to a stop at a set of large exterior double doors just outside the gift shop and did a quick headcount to make sure no one had slipped away.

Everyone was present.

“We’re going outside,” he said, gesturing at the doors.

“No,” Gemma said, emerging from the crowd and stepping to the front. She motioned at the scared people huddled behind her. “We can’t do that. None of us are dressed for the weather. It’s raining out there. The wind. We’ll—”

Oscar had had enough of her. She was always interjecting herself into the middle of everything. He put the barrel of the gun against her forehead and applied just enough pressure so that he could see her skin begin to dimple. “You can stay in here if you want, nurse Mansfield. That’s entirely up to you.” He caressed the trigger. “But I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Gemma glared at him with malice in her eyes before finally taking a step back. She bowed her head in defeat and turned for the door.

***

The lifeboat was a lot bigger up close than Oscar had expected. It could easily hold forty of fifty people. Maybe more. It would work.

“In you go,” he said to a gaunt sixty-something man standing nearby.

The man climbed the short ladder leading to the hatch and disappeared into depths of the boat.

Oscar watched in silence as the rest of the crowd followed.

When it was Simone’s turn, he called out to her: “No! Not you.”

Simone gave him a confused look.

“You’re staying here, with me.”

Simone looked to Gemma, who had just boarded, and then back to Oscar. “But—”

“You heard me.”

“I—”

“Just make room!” Oscar growled, motioning with his pistol for the next person in line to board the boat instead. “You’re holding up the line!”

Simone hugged herself and moved aside.

Once the last person had boarded, Oscar slammed the hatch shut. It popped open again a second later, and a panicked man appeared at the portal.

“You can’t do this!” The guy said, his fingers gripping the door frame. “It’s murder.”

Oscar mashed his fist on the release button and a loud bang shattered the air. The lifeboat sprang out from the side of the ship on retractable arms, leaving it dangling over open water. The sudden motion made the man at the hatch lose his grip, and he broke free and tumbled out of view. A moment later, the boat plummeted to the surface in a barely contained freefall.

Oscar exhaled. If he listened carefully, he thought he could hear yelling over the steady drone of the wind.

Simone stared at him with terror in her eyes.

“Well, come on,” he said, motioning at her to follow him as he turned and headed for the door. “It’s cold out here. We got a lot of work to do.”

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