When Chief Executives of the top secret agency "Ultra" get ordered to "prejudicially retire" the classified program for training child assassins to do the government's dirty work worldwide, they naturally comply by destroying the secluded Ultra Training Facility and terminating every last student, instructor, and staff member -- right down to cooks and janitors. But what will "Ultra" do about the five young assassins already sent out on assignment to five different spots around the world?

HUNGER GAMES-esque. Dark and violent.


14. Escape Hatch

At 3:43 AM he woke with a start. He was gazing right at the red-lit numerals on his alarm clock. He didn't know what had woken him. Then the numerals blinked out. At the same instant, the motor of the refrigerator stopped humming. He sat up quickly and swung his legs from under the covers and put his bare feet onto the floor. He picked up the Sig-Sauer with his left hand and put it into his right and stood slowly, listening. He heard nothing but the crickets outside. He was waiting for the generator in the main building to start and for the lights to blink on. It didn't. So, they didn't. The generator had been shut down. That meant the electric fence around the property was disarmed. He walked in the near total darkness to the door and pushed it open with his left hand. He made his way down the hall, sweating. The front room was lit by beaming moonlight. Kap heard a small but distinct click. It was, he realized, the click of a key opening a lock. He stopped about five feet from the front door. The knob was turning. It turned very slowly and then some pressure was put on the door from outside so it strained against the bolt. The pressure relaxed. He knew what would come next. He walked backwards into the hall and took cover behind the archway. He slipped the safety catch with his thumb and held the Sig-Sauer up at forehead level and shut his eyes. The explosion made his ears ring and plaster dust and pieces of the door flew past. Then red laser beams darted into the dusty blackness. He stepped out into the dust cloud and fired twice into the chest of the black-clothed op coming through the shattered door. The man pitched backwards, knocking down two or three other intruders. Kap rapid-fired another four rounds, then turned and sprinted full speed the hallway to his bedroom, reaching it just as the intruders fired their first clanging shots. Once inside, he kicked the door shut. He got down on the floor and pulled the briefcase out from under his bed, where he'd stashed it. Outside, there was more automatic weapons fire and shattering glass. 

Kap had always felt that it was commonsense to establish an easy escape route in the bedroom of any place where you were going to live for very long. Here, he'd cut a hole into the ceiling of the closet then covered it with a piece of canvas to keep out the dust. By using the shelves as a crude ladder, one could clamber up through the hole and into the attic in seconds. He did this now, pushing the briefcase up through the canvas ahead of him, tossing the Sig-Sauer after it. Men were shouting in the hallway. Once he'd rolled up through the hole, he groped in the dark and found the piece of plastered ceiling he'd cut out, and this he fit back into its place, so that at a glance the ceiling would appear to be normal. He picked up the gun and crouched under the beams, sweating and forcing himself to breathe slow and deep.

 There were two small side dormer windows, and these Kap had carefully worked with planing tools so that they could be taken right out of their frames. The house faced South, so the escape choices were East and West. East led into a grove of thick pine trees. West, he'd have to jump out into the garden, landing either in the carp pond or on the soft dirt that grew his vegetables. Kap chose East. It was a lightning choice made for no particular reason except that he was wearing his black silk pajamas and he felt he'd blend well with the pine grove, giving him an extra shot at escape. 

He pushed the briefcase over to the window with his bare feet, then crouched and, setting down the Sig-Sauer beside it, felt along the frame. Deftly and without any fuss or even the slightest noise, he removed the window and set it against the wall. The air outside was autumn-cold. The pine grove was dark despite the full moon. He didn't see any movement. He heard his bedroom door shatter with the force of a kick, and the men's voices were suddenly quite clear. They were just below him. In an instant they'd find the escape hatch in the closet. He threw the briefcase out, picked up his pistol and jumped after it. 

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