Friday, January 20, 2012

All Hell Won't Wait
All books can stand alone, there's plenty of back story in book 5, if you haven't read the first 4 yet.

An excerpt from book 5:

20. All Hell Breaks Loose

Carla assembled all her weapons and ammunition on the kitchen table. She had jerked it into the living room where it claimed a central position, and removed all the throw rugs from the floors.

Brew watched her take each weapon apart and expertly wipe it down. She reloaded each to capacity, checked the chamber, and removed the safeties. She laid each carefully in position, organizing them according to ballistics and started on the knives. She tested each blade and honed the ones deemed lame. Brewmaster watched her assemble candles and solar lights, and count out the remaining matches.

“They could be delayed, too. You still have to eat.”

“I’m fine, I’ll grab something later.” She had come straight home from the river and taken initiatives.

Someone pounded on the door and Carla said, “Can you get that for me Brew?” She continued arranging the weapons. She wiped the binoculars and straightened the cord, and laid the night vision monocular next to it. Her hand ran lovingly over each piece.    

“Yeah, she’s working on them now,” he said. Brewmaster stood aside to let the sheriff and Apache pass into the room. The men walked over and surveyed the arsenal.

“O’Leery’s on the way. The deputies are going door to door, talking to everyone, getting things ready. We’ve been through this, Carla. It will be alright,” Snyder said.

She glanced up and nodded absently. Apache’s brow furrowed and he asked, “What’s on your mind?”

“We’re living on borrowed time.” Brew and Apache remembered the night they met the Hendersons, the night she’d walked into camp after gleaning information from a temporary hostage. Unless they urged her to speak her mind, she’d continue on her path alone.

“What else?” Apache asked, placing a dark hand on her arm. She stopped and looked up at the tall warrior.

“What worries me, why would they give them a specific date? How could the main contingency be sure? Or if the advance parties were discovered and gave up the information, we would be ready. Waiting. If anything, they’ll be early.  We’ve been living on borrowed time.”

The men watched her. Sheriff Snyder said, “I’ve never known you to be scared, Carla.”

O’Leery burst into the room, panting. “I got here as fast as I could.”

“Carla’s giving us inside info, listen up,” Snyder said.

She paused, glanced at Brew and swallowed. “I am scared; Sheriff and you should be too. But, more importantly I’m fucking pissed.” Brewmaster hid a smile. It was no time to be smiling. He erased the image of her on his desk and stepped closer to check her mini 14. He scowled at the scratches on the barrel, pointed it towards the back door and checked the sites.

“Outliers? They’ll eat their own mother, play a hand of poker and fight over her scraps.” Carla continued, passionately, “They’re armed scavengers, thieving murderers with no soul. Bastards who operate in darkness, alone, undercover. They won’t come full out, like an army we can see and surround.” She let that sink in. “Picture 30 or more vicious cannibals, roaming at will, raping River Town with nothing to lose, Sheriff.  Those are the men we’ll be fighting, who will be targeting your house and mine and everything we hold dear.”

She shook her head and watched Captain Rickman lay down the rifle. “They are coming.”

The River Patrol and Sheriff Snyder stood around Carla’s war chest. Not a finger moved or a muscle twitched. The sun had not set before the red moon rose. 

“The hanging is at high noon, tomorrow. I want you all to be there,” Snyder said and left. Apache doubled the 24-7 watch and dogs were paired with the town patrols.

O’Leery saw a farmer pulling a load into town and flagged down a ride. “We’ll be fine, darling,” he said and hobbled out to the road.

Brew urged her to spend the night at his house. She declined, “Our homes were both marked. If they took either as a command post, we’d be in deep shit. I’ll keep my lights off and watch tonight.”

“The candle is the signal.” 

“Hold the fort, Rickman,” she said and walked him to the door. He wrapped his arms around her, knowing she wouldn’t rest until this was over. She heard his heart beating strong. They’d make it.  

About 3 a.m.  the dogs started barking. She monitored each of the windows, established a pattern of surveillance. His main floor lights were on. She kept hers off. The moonlight cast an eerie glow, enough to see by. Carla opened a window. Far across town dogs were howling.

The dogs quit and all was quiet. Too quiet. She shut her windows and made sure her doors were locked and braced each one with a chair. Carla tiptoed upstairs with her night vision and scoped in each direction. Then, she returned to the first floor.

A soft rapping on the south window startled her. She eased over and peered into the darkness. Captain Rickman signaled he was going to take a look and indicated the stream behind their houses.

The man was terrifying, head to toe camouflaged, armed to the teeth. She recognized his weapons and his walk. The eyes that flashed from his mask were unmistakable.

leapt into the woods. He lowered his pistol and turned west. The red moon, poignant in heartless observation, was an omen of more blood to come.

The long night was finally over and the sun rose brilliantly in a perfect blue sky. Sunlight glinted over changing hues. The patrols checked in with the main office and reported minor disturbances. They figured the harvest moon had spooked them all.

The kids were sent off to class as normal, packing lunches and pockets full of show and tell. Brewmaster and Carla walked past the school on the way to the square. They checked the building before the kids arrived. All was unmolested, secure and pronounced safe. The kids entered noisily, chattering about the candy apples the teachers promised they would make today and the biggest pumpkin ever in the Hoffman’s field.

The patrol crossed the street and checked the hospital. The nurse reported rustlings during the night. The doctor had checked the yard, run over to the lab and returned home unalarmed.  Brewmaster noted the firearms in the lab, but Paul said they expected a quiet day after the last dose of penicillin was administered.

Brewmaster said it was time for the hanging. The doctor frowned, “They were the cause of this whole mess, but I was able to complete my research as a result. The silver lining, kids!”

Carla promised to come back later that afternoon and take another look around. She told the cook to keep watch and let them know if any food, table scraps, or garbage went missing. Brew grabbed her arm and pulled her away, chuckling, “It’s almost noon. Let’s go.”

“I don’t think you’re taking this seriously,” she accused.

“We’ve been through this before. Every man and woman is armed and well trained, and they have something to lose.”

A large crowd had already gathered to watch justice being served. No children were allowed. The Pastor was glad the innocents were unable to witness the thou-shalt-not-kill commandment being broken. It was a sin. If they’d only given him more time, the Bean family could have been saved.

The River Patrol felt relief knowing the outliers would hang in the square beneath the large oak that yielded bumper crops year upon year. The Beans were led to the 6 x 8 plank hastily braced between cinder blocks. It had been years since they hung anyone. The novelty called for a large attendance. Wagons and horses were parked in the center of the town square while the owners stood nearby to watch.

“I thought they put black hoods over their heads,” a chubby farm woman whispered loudly.

Her husband shrugged and said, “Hush, Margret, listen to the Sheriff.”

“For crimes of conspiracy, attempted murder and espionage, these three are hereby found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.”

Felicia was sobbing. Rob was a vegetable. Only Billy remained defiant. They climbed unto the plank and felt the heavy ropes go around their necks. Three men hauled on the first and Billy swung free, kicking. They jerked hard and he collapsed, eyes bulging from dripping sockets.

The three moved to the next rope, hauled on it and Rob joined his brother. Their faces were frozen in agony. The crowd hushed when the three executioners moved to the final rope.

Apache held out a dark arm and called, “Brand her and let her go.”  A murmur rose from the crowd and the sheriff nodded to his deputy.

The crowd waited. A man ran across the square and came back with the iron. He lit a torch and held it to the steel X. It glowed red and he approached the woman. A man helped her off the plank and held her while the brand sizzled into her forehead. He let her go and backed away into the crowd.

Felecia stumbled and fainted. Patrick O’Leery pushed the gawkers aside, picked her up and set her on a bench. “She was only a diversion, foolish lass.”

A runner arrived breathless, reporting the pub was under fire. This seemed highly unlikely with so many armed clients. The crowd dispersed while the sheriff claimed his men and followed the runner.

Carla’s skin crawled. She told Apache, “I don’t like it something’s wrong.”

Now Available at Amazon.Com (kindle) or Barnes and Noble $2.99

No comments:

Post a Comment