"What if they recognise this as a fake?" Tucker said, scrutinising the security pass in his hands.
"Well our plan to take over the world will fail then," Nathan replied, with a grin.
"Not funny," Tucker replied, chucking the pass back onto the table and taking to chewing his thumb nail again.
"So the perpetual comedian has finally lost his sense of humour then?"
He pretended not to hear, but in truth, Nathan was right and he Tucker knew it. Nothing about the next few hours could be looked upon with any levity. After the meeting finished at ten the night before, Tucker had retired straight to his bed, in the draughty, safe- house, Bill had found for them. For hours he'd lain there, going through the plan and his role in particular, unable to switch off. Nathan didn't seem to have such a problem sleeping and within seconds of him turning in for the night, Tucker could hear the gentle snoring across the other side of the room. He envied Nathan's calmness. Even this morning, while Tucker had pushed some scrambled eggs around his plate, Nathan had devoured a huge breakfast and joked that if he was going to meet his maker, then he might as well do it on a full stomach.
"Hey, it'll work out." Nathan put a hand on Tucker's shoulder and squeezed it gently.
"I'm worried I'll let her down."
"It won't be easy, but you know the layout well enough and if Scott can get us in, we should be able to find her mother and get her out while everyone else is being kept busy."
Tucker pulled one of the boots out of the box and placed it on the floor, pushing his foot inside. He thread the lace through the eyelets of the military-issue boot, pulling it tight. "These are at least three sizes too big," he said, giving his toes a wiggle inside.
"Yeah, well I'll remember to get made-to-measure next time I rob a supply depot. Now, stop moaning and finish getting ready. We've got to leave in ten minutes."
Nathan left the room, and once dressed and booted, Tucker stood in front of the tall, cracked mirror on the back of the door. At least the khaki-patterned uniform fit better than the boots did, but he'd never felt quite as uncomfortable in his own skin as he did right now. He practiced a salute, realising he hadn't a clue what he was doing.
"Tucker, will you hurry up."
Tucker followed the sound of Nathan's yell to the yard at the back of the house.
"Okay take this." Nathan held out both his hands; a rifle rested across his palms.
Tucker jumped backwards.
"I'm not holding that!"
"Exactly how many soldiers have you seen that don't carry weapons?"
Tucker shook his head. "None... but I'm not carrying it. I don't want that thing anywhere near me."
"For the love of ... Listen, Tucker, I didn't risk life and limb to get these uniforms, for us to be immediately caught because you're too chicken to hold this. It's not even loaded. Just...look at is an accessory, like the cap and the belt. Nothing more."
Tucker stared down at the weapon. Hearing it wasn't loaded was a relief, but it was still a gun. He held out his hand, unable to hide the slight tremors as Nathan passed over the rifle. His fingers made contact with the cool, hard metal of the rifle butt. It's not loaded, it's not loaded, he said to himself over and over.
"Okay, so now you look the part. Let's go."
Nathan opened the gate to the back alley and climbed into to car, he'd liberated earlier that morning. Hannah's father sat behind the wheel, the engine running.
Tucker looked down at the weapon in his hands. Everything up till this point had felt like some weird game that he was watching from a distance. As he placed the rifle strap over his shoulder, the scary game was over well and truly over. Reality was much more terrifying. With a deep breath he walked quickly to the car and climbed into the back.
YOU ARE READING
The NumberedScience Fiction
Imagine the second you're born, a consultant removes you from your mother's grasp and runs a battery of genetic and physiological tests on you. Thirty minutes later they give you a score out of one hundred which denotes your level of perfection. If...