Tanner’s eyes were closed. His head was buried in his pillow after hitting the snooze alarm for the third time, trying to recall the dream he was having. The temporal shapes floating through his mind faded away, but with the pained reality of the day ahead of him, he relaxed and drifted back into one of his few moments of daily bliss – which would elude him that day.
BAM. BAM. BAM. BAM.
A forceful knock on his apartment door pulled him from the last of his sleep. Tanner opened his eyes and sat up explosively. He waited for a moment to be sure he hadn’t dreamed the sound.
BAM. BAM. BAM.
The knock was harsh. He checked the time on his phone: 6:30 A.M.
Who the hell knocks like that this early?
He got up, grabbed a designer t-shirt from the pile of dirty clothes on the floor and shuffled toward the door.
His heartbeat accelerated as he walked through his apartment. Normally visitors used the intercom on the first floor. No one had dialed up to his room, and the force of the knock made it clear this was not a social visit.
The harsh noise only exacerbated the dull headache of his hangover. Craft beer bottles still ornamented his coffee table from the night before. Glancing at the expensive electronics scattered around his living room a paranoia rose inside him over the possibility of a robbery. He grabbed one of the beer bottles, gripping it by the neck, just in case.
Tanner looked through the peephole of his door. Two men stood behind a woman in the hall. They wore black baseball hats, their heads tilted down to cover their faces with the brims.
“Who is it?” Tanner asked.
The woman’s voice on the other side of the door was muffled, yet demanding authority.
“Tanner Moore. This is Justice Officer Carter with Social Justice. We need to speak with you.”
Slack jawed. Frozen tongue. Is this really happening? Tanner thought. I didn’t do anything illegal...
“Tanner.” The voice dropped any attempt to be nice, cutting off his thoughts mid-stream.
Tanner shook off his sleep to speak with some conviction. “What’s this about?” He shuffled nervously a few feet away from the door, looking for a better weapon than the bottle in his hand.
“Please open the door.”
“How do I know you’re law enforcement?”
“We’re with Social Justice.”
Tanner shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve never heard of Social Justice!”
The response sounded like an automated recording. “Social Justice is a citizen protection program keeping people safe with efficiency, vigilance, and honor.”
Sounds like bullshit, Tanner thought.
“I’ve never heard of you. Get out of my building or I’ll call the cops!”
The voice lost its calm.
“We don’t have time for this Tanner! Four F.B.I. agents are on the way over here, so you can either deal with us or them. If you don’t open the door we’re coming in to get you.”
F.B.I.?! That’s it, this must be fake. He conjured the toughest movie line he could think of. “If you try to come in here, I’ll get my gun and feed you your last meal!”
A short electric buzz sounded outside the door as Tanner continued to stammer.
“It’s within my rights to shoot intruders! I don’t give a damn what crazy group you’re from.”
Another muffled voice spoke up from outside. “Initiate breach.”
Two rapid hits of the mechanized breaching device and they were inside. The door splintered, and Tanner was on the ground before he could make it halfway to his office where he kept his gun.
Tackled. Nightstick to the head; darkness.