This is a story of Sean AP Ryan, security specialist, one of the stars of The Pius Trilogy, and the star of It Was Only On Stun!


Enjoy.

Deck
the Maul

By
Declan Finn

[Real
name: John Konecsni]

‘Twas
the morn of Black Friday, and all through the mall, chaos was
brewing, especially with the midgets at the Big and Tall.

Security
consultant Sean Ryan took the gathering of the redheads as the first
sign of trouble in the mall. They had started to swarm the first
anchor store around 10:30. The redheads – men, women, a few
children – were soon joined by men with green hair. The two tones
naturally sorted themselves out so that the red and the green were
evenly distributed throughout the gathering. By 11:00, they started
belting out a loud rendition of “Deck the Halls” that was less
sung and more shouted.

When
three hundred people do that at once, it’s a little
loud–eardrum-shattering, even.

At
the other end of the mall, around 10:45, was a smaller problem–a
gathering of men and women, all under four feet tall. As he saw the
gathering, Sean Ryan had a disturbing flashback involving Hobbits and
being trapped in a burning Orc suit, but after that, merely watched
them.

While
the redheads weren’t a major problem, this new gathering was a bit
more of a problem. At 11:00
,
they put
out a sandwich board which identified them as the
Society
for the Prevention of Abuse of Diminutive Elves–SPADE, for short
(pardon the expression).

Anyone
who read down the sandwich board did a double-take and moved on.
However, most people couldn’t get past the bold green and red letters
that spelled out their acronym across the top.

Ryan
sighed as he studied both groups through the security cameras. “Is
it just me, or do you see a problem?”

Next
to him was Athena Marcowitz, a woman of so many nationalities and
ethnicities, she had a flow chart to explain to people she just met.
She was seated next to Ryan, looking at the same screen, and despite
the fact that he was standing, she could see eye-to-eye with him.
“We’re sitting in a mall on Black Friday and I don’t have a machete
with me. Where do you want to start?”

The
attack of the redheads at Needless Markup, and the Hobbits over at
Big and Tall.”

Athena
just gave him an arched eyebrow. “Really?”

He
pointed at the screen. “I can’t make this crap up.”

She
squinted at the screen, then blinked. “Huh. Odd. So, you’re
thinking flash mob?”

Two
of them,” he muttered, half to himself. “Both setting up at
almost the same time. That sounds a little odd, don’t you think?”

How
do you figure? The mall’s been open since yesterday. In terms of high
traffic, now is as good as last night, probably better. If you want a
better question, you can ask them why they hired
you.
Didn’t they read the property damage listed on your resume?

He
shrugged. “Eh. No one ever believes it. That’s why I give the real
numbers. After a while, the numbers become so big, they can’t wrap
their brains around it. Besides, given some of the stampedes that
this mall has had on Black Friday, they wanted someone who worked
crowd control. And after two SF conventions that went sideways, I’m
sure that gave them the right impression.”

Ryan
kept frowning at the screen, and absentmindedly smoothed out his
fire-engine red shirt, and pulled at the belt of his hunter-green
pants.

Then
the next question should be who dressed you this morning.”

He
didn’t so much ignore her as not hear her. “Do you notice something
about these two groups?”

They’re
here and they’re loud?” Athena asked.

That,
too,” he murmured. Sean leaned in closer. “How good are their
cameras?”

Not
bad, but not great, either. We should be grateful we even have
color.”

Point
taken.” He bunched up his lips, then headed for the door. “You
have over-watch. Ring me if something goes off, will you? I’ve got my
Bluetooth in.”

Athena
glanced at him. “Where you going?”

I
need a closer look.”

Don’t
pull out your tactical baton just to clear the shoppers.”

No
promises.”

Ryan
slipped into the halls of Woodrow Wilson Mall and didn’t have to go
far to take a look at the first flash mob. The redheads and the
greenheads were perfectly color coordinated. With the redheads, their
shirts were green, their pants and backpacks were red, and the
greenheads were inverted. They were still belting out “Deck the
Halls.”

Ryan
studied them for a little bit longer, then moved towards the midgets.
As he did, he came up with his own lyrics for the song.

Deck
the Mall with Poison Ivy, , fa la la la la, la la la la. ‘Tis the
season to be Hostile, fa la la la la, la la la la. Mugger’s gun right
up your nostril, fa la la la la, la la la la…

Sean
Ryan moved through the crowd with the ease of a dancer, slipping
between groups of people in motion, with openings that were only
there for a fraction of a second. While the only dancing he was
interested in was either the dance of death or capoeira, most people
would have said that his moving through the mall looked like a waltz.

As
he came across the Santa Claus outpost in the middle of the mall, he
was blocked off by the line of parents and children. He didn’t even
break his stride as he jump-kicked off of a pillar. The move
propelled him towards a jewelery store archway. He grabbed onto the
molding below the store sign, and started edging his way along. He
dropped down on the other side of the Santa line, then dashed off.

And
people tell me that parkour isn’t worth it
,
he thought.

Can’t
you just get a jungle gym?” a parent yelled at him.

Ryan called over his shoulder,
“Looking at you mobs, I thought I was already in the jungle.”

Ryan stepped past a family of
six, all trying to carry a castle of some sort. He bumped up against
someone who tried putting his hand in Ryan’s pocket. He grabbed the
pickpocket’s wrist, twisted his arm until he was leveraged to the
ground, zip-tied him, and left him on the ground.

Pickup
in aisle three,” he muttered into his Bluetooth.

Check.
Cleanup is on the way,” Athena said. “And I saw your stunt. You
really should get a jungle gym.”

I
live in a city,” he answered as he ducked under curtain rods
someone carried on his shoulders. “It’s called ‘the concrete
jungle’ for a reason.”

Some
people might consider that racist,” she joked. “Jungles and
monkeys and all that.”

I
grew up in Hollyweird,” he answered. He broke out into a clear
patch of hallway in front of GNC, and ran, full speed. He had enough
momentum to wall-run over another crowd. When he landed, he baseball
slid past two men carrying a ladder. “I have more street cred than
Shonda Rhimes.”

Who?”

Don’t
you watch television?”

I
gave up on most media when they ruined the Jason Bourne novels.”

Can’t
argue there
,
he thought as he slowed to a walk. The SPADE group seemed to have
grown bigger. He didn’t pay much attention to anything they were
saying, except he thought there were a few Game of Thrones CosPlayers
among them. He looked them over, and tried to reason his way to a
conclusion. Something about both groups and their timing had put him
off from the beginning.

On his third scan of them, he
broke down their wardrobe. Unlike the redheads, the clothes weren’t
uniform …

Except
that they all had alternating red and green backpacks. Just like the
redheads.
Oh
nuts
.

Ryan
closed his eyes, and reviewed his memory of his run here.
Dodge
this person. Slip past that person. Run, jump, grab …

He blinked. He noted at least
two people with green backpacks, the same make and model of the ones
he’d seen thus far. Both wore watch caps. But one of them had green
sideburns.

Where
was I doing the parkour stunt? Oh nuts. A jewelery store.

Ryan tapped his Bluetooth. “How
many jewelery stores are by the Santa station?”

Four.
Why?”

The
flash mobs are a heist. The backpacks all match up.”

Really,
Sean? They’re not exactly inconspicuous, and they’re at the wrong end
of the mall.”

Ryan saw one of the SPADE
members in front of him pull out a cellphone. The evil Hobbit smiled,
raised one hand, and shouted “Charge!”

SPADE moved as one, rushing out
into the mall proper. Ryan took three steps and threw himself into
the front runners, his body hitting them lengthwise. As they fell,
the rest swarmed around him. He came to his feet, and took the cell
phone from the leader who called the run. The text message was on the
screen: Now.

Ryan winced. “Aw crap.
Athena.”

The
redheads are on the move, too.”

They’re
going to rush Santa!”

It wouldn’t be hard to do the
math on this. At one end, three hundred rampaging redheads. At the
other, several dozen dwarfs who had already pissed off every black
shopper in the mall. In the middle were a few thousand shoppers who
were already crowded into one building like a sardine can.

Ryan grabbed the midget who
received the text and picked him up by the lapels. Since he could do
that with a six-foot weightlifter, this fellow wasn’t a problem.
“Tell me the abort code.”

The small thief sneered. “What
abort code?”

Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “Listen
to me buddy–“

Hey!
What are you doing to that guy! Just because he’s smaller than you–“

Ryan barely looked as he slipped
away the cell phone, whipped out his tactical baton, and delivered a
low back-handed swing to the bystander’s balls.

“–I
figured out what you were up to. Call it off! Or you start losing
body parts.”

You
can’t touch me, cop.” He pouted, as though about to cry, and his
voice became more high-pitched. “I’m disabled.”

Ryan grinned. “I’m not a cop.
I’m private enterprise. There are no Miranda rights here. I’ll be
happy to disappear your half-ass down the nearest mine shaft.”

The thief stopped smiling.

*

The police Detective looked at
Sean Ryan and nodded. “After that?”

Ryan leaned against the patrol
car, a duffel bag over one shoulder. “I sent the abort code. That
sent the thieves to where you picked them up in the parking lot.”

The cop nodded. “But those in
the flash mob who weren’t involved? And couldn’t be aborted? What
happened to them?”

My
colleagues gassed them.”

The
cop blinked. “You did
what?”

Ryan took in a slow, deep
breath. He knew this would cause some problems. “My company
installed a whole collection of knockout gas canisters that were
strung from the ceiling as Christmas decorations. My colleague Athena
merely had to release the canisters. Once the abort code had been
sent, and the thieves were en route to the evac zone, she waited for
the mob to be stymied by the traffic flow. We figured everyone
involved would prefer a nap to being in a brawl.”

Point
taken. But expect some lawsuits.”

I’m
insured.”

I
just bet you are.” The cop slid his notebook away. “So, what
makes you sure that you got all of ’em?”

Ryan said nothing. He took his
duffel bag off of his shoulder and dropped it on the ground. He
reached down and unzipped it. Inside was the thief he had cornered,
wrapped up in Christmas tree lights, with a small round ornament
stuffed in his mouth, like he was a pig at a roast.

In bad, Al Pacino Spanglish,
Ryan said, “Say hello to my little friend.”