From the author: "Relax," said the main in the suit. "This is a business deal." He picked up a small assault rifle, one-handed. "Ever seen one of these babies?"
by Stephen Dedman
The motel bed was only slightly smaller than Brian's cell had been. Brian stood on one side while the man in the suit, on the other side, hauled a suitcase up on to the bed. The case was as cheap and anonymous as the room, even though Brian knew that the man in the suit had money. His bail had been set at a quarter million, more money than he could imagine one man owning. The suit looked expensive, too; hell, the haircut and the shoes probably cost more than Brian's family had made in a week. The man reached into one of his pockets for a key-ring, and unlocked the small padlocks on the case.
Brian said nothing. The deal had been simple; his lawyer was waiting outside in the carpark, watching the door, but this meeting was strictly private. The man opened the case, and laboriously turned it around so that Brian could see inside. There were five guns, most of which he recognised from his father's magazine collection, and he began edging towards the door. If someone had bailed him just to have him executed...
"Relax," said the man in the suit. "This is a business deal." He picked up a small assault rifle, one-handed. "Ever seen one of these babies?"
"K2. Korean .223. This one's only semi-auto, but it has a 30-round clip. What about this?" He picked up a small handgun with his left hand, and tossed it onto the bed in front of Brian.
"Derringer." Without looking down, he picked up the handgun and examined it. ".357 Magnum." He managed not to whistle. The rifle remained pointed at the ceiling, even when Brian opened the derringer to make sure it was loaded. It was.
"That's right. Good."
Brian glanced down into the case at the other guns still inside. "So what's the deal?" he asked, trying to sound tough.
The man smiled. His teeth looked expensive, too. "You've attracted a lot of media attention, Brian - do you mind if I call you Brian?"
Brian tried to smile back; the result looked more like a sneer, but the man didn't seem to mind. "For quarter of a million dollars, you can call me just about anything." His lawyer made a point of always calling him Brian, stressing his youth - he was still three weeks shy of sixteen - while the prosecution team called him Mr Bridger.
The man in the suit nodded. "Seven people killed in one morning. Nine wounded. And all with an old .30-30 Winchester and a 1911 Colt .45." Brian said nothing. "Not a record by any means, even for somebody your age, but you've made headlines around the state." He glanced into the case, and removed an oversized handgun with an enormous helical-feed magazine. "Ever seen one of these before, Brian?"
"Only pictures of one."
"9 millimetre, 50 shot magazine." He placed it, and the shotgun, on Brian's side of the bed. "Go on, they're yours. The others too."
Brian stared at him. "What's this all about?"
Another expensive smile. "Did you ever hear of Patrick Purdy?"
Brian hesitated. "I've heard of Purdy shotguns."
"No, different guy. Patrick fired into a schoolyard himself, a few years ago, in California. Killed five, wounded twenty-nine. But he used an AK-47 clone." Brian nodded warily. "Probably the most common assault rifle in the world; my father brought one back from Vietnam, preferred it to the M-16. They've probably sold better than Big Macs. But they never sold better in California than immediately after it got out that Purdy had used one. I remember seeing people standing three or four deep at the counters; a lot of shops sold out in less than a week. Of course, part of the credit for that has to go to the gun control lobby - people got scared that the AK would be banned, and so they rushed in to buy one. Or take the Glock. Used in the Killeen massacre - two pistols, twenty-two dead without needing to reload. Great advertising - do you know how many Glocks we sold after that? Not that they really needed it, they'd always been controversial, but these guns, on the other hand, just aren't selling the way they should. They're excellent guns, they're not even particularly expensive, it's just that people haven't heard of them."
Brian looked at him, puzzled. "Who are you working for?"
The smile twisted for a moment, as though Brian had made a joke in very poor taste. "I can't tell you that," he said, "that's part of the deal I made with your lawyer. For the record, your bail's been paid by a charity that's opposed to harsh sentences for minors, no affiliation to any manufacturer or business or any other organisation, and nobody's supposed to know where you got these guns from. If need be, we'll start a rumour that it was the gun control people, that usually works. People will always believe what they want to believe."
"What do you want me to do?" He took a few seconds to think of the right word. "Plug - I mean, endorse these guns? Like I was an athlete or something?"
"You want to do an ad with me using these guns?"
The man's smile melted. "Not quite. I can see all sorts of legal problems getting ads like that onto the air - not to mention the fact that we couldn't pay you without the government confiscating any payment as the profits of crime. Of course, they can't stop news being reported, can they? Can't stop it getting out which guns were used? And so we can use the money to pay for good lawyers, instead, do plenty of research on the jurors before it gets to voir dire... we can probably get you out in a few years." Brian looked blank. "Do you need me to spell it out? I know you took care of your parents and your ex-girlfriend, but what about the guy she left you for? Out of hospital already, and he's delivering the eulogy at her funeral this afternoon." He pushed the suitcase towards Brian - just a few inches, but enough to make him look down. "There's enough firepower in here to take out everyone you hate - they'll all be there - then turn yourself in. You'll make the headlines, and we'll do the rest. What do you say? Do we have a deal?"
Brian picked up the handgun and looked at it, then pointed it straight at the man's tie-pin, flicked off the safety switch, and squeezed the trigger. The first few rounds flattened themselves against the man's kevlar vest, but recoil jerked the gun upwards, sending bullets through his neck, mouth, and forehead. Blood, brain and bone fragments splattered against the wall and ceiling of the anonymous decor. "Sounds good to me," said Brian. He stuck the Derringer in his pocket, then bundled the rest of the guns back into the suitcase and closed it. He picked up the case and, smiling broadly, walked to the cemetery.
Every news magazine in the country showed pictures of that smile, the next day. It was a very expensive smile.
This story originally appeared in gothic.net.