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Authors: JT Sawyer

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Carlie Simmons (Book 5): One Final Mission

BOOK: Carlie Simmons (Book 5): One Final Mission
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One Final Mission

 

Volume Five in the Carlie Simmons

Post-Apocalyptic Series

 

By JT Sawyer

 

 

Copyright November 2015 by JT Sawyer

No
part of this book may be transmitted in any form whether electronic, recording,
mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without written permission of the
publisher.

This
is a work of fiction and the characters and events portrayed in this book are
fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, businesses,
incidents, or events is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Prologue

Osaka, Japan, the First Day of the Pandemic

Shiro Hatsumi knew that if he walked into
the other room more people would die. His leathery hands were already sore from
an earlier battle. Sunrise had brought enough bloodshed. He just needed a
simple answer to the question that had been searing into his psyche like a
flaming arrow, then the soiled tanto blade concealed in his coat sleeve would
remain dormant.

The petite secretary walked to the door of
her boss’s office and leaned inside, keeping it only slightly ajar. “Mr.
Takamura, there is someone here to see you. He says he knows you. His name is
Hatsumi.”

Shiro could hear the man stand and remove
something from a nearby rack before sitting back in his squeaky chair. “Have
him come in.”

The woman opened the door all the way and
smiled at Hatsumi, indicating with a sweeping motion of her hand to enter.
Shiro strode inside with quiet confidence before locking the deadbolt, a
tattooed image of his Yakuza clan showing slightly from under his sleeve. He
strode to the front of the desk, his arms by the sides of his black leather
jacket which had a few droplets of dried blood near the right cuff. He noticed
that the vintage wakizashi sword was missing from its resting place on the
bookcase to the left. The stout man before him sat like a stuffed carnival
bear, the horizon of sixty written across his doughy face. Stacked neatly on
the left side of the walnut desk were piles of currency arranged in thousand
yen bundles.

The older man nodded his head, a bead of
sweat already building up between his eyebrows. “Hatsumi, why don’t you sit?”

Shiro remained still, glancing at the
semi-open drawer of the desk, the man’s hands, and the large window to his
right, taking in the security systems in the place and knowing he only had a
few minutes.

“You know why I’m here.”

“Your little brother has yet to pay what
is owed. Until he does, he will have to continue working it off,” Takamura
said, his lower lip quivering. “You…you know the arrangement. If you take this
last assignment abroad for the boss then your brother goes free. ”

Shiro ground his teeth and then spoke. “I’ve
just taken care of that problem by permanently removing our employer.”

The fat man’s face drained of color and he
slid his hand inside the drawer slightly, his arm trembling. Shiro remained
motionless, his senses taking in every nuance of the man’s figure and the
immediate surroundings. He could hear the secretary behind the door nervously
mumbling on the phone.

“I should’ve come here first because, from
what I was told earlier this morning by the last bodyguard, you are apparently
the only one who knows where Takumi is.”

The man withdrew his empty hand from the
drawer, the trembling lessening as he heard his guards moving up the stairs in
the lobby. “If I tell you then you will run me through. I know you all too well—you’re
as reasonable as a rabid tiger. That’s why we were going to cut you loose after
this—that and your self-righteousness, always needing to adhere to some code of
honor. Despite your once-great standing in this clan, you’ll always be a
pathetic fisherman’s son.” The fat man leaned back, tilting his chin up. “Do
you miss the stink of fish on your hands, Shiro?”

Shiro felt his facial muscles tighten as
his mind drifted momentarily to another place. He could barely recall the image
of the boy that Takamura was speaking about. His childhood had been swept away
in one night when his father lost their fishing boat in a drunken gambling
spree with the Yakuza. His destitute father offered up his fifteen-year-old son
instead. The next day, Shiro was yanked away from the desperate arms of his
sobbing mother while his little brother ferociously clung to her robe. Over the
next fifteen years, he had endured countless brutalities and an apprenticeship
in pain within the criminal organization that ran most of Osaka. Initially, it was
only his sheer willpower and the strength he had acquired from his austere
lifestyle as a fisherman that enabled him to survive. Over the years, he rose
up through the ranks from being an enforcer to being one of the most skilled
streetfighters in his clan until the naïve fisherman’s son was pounded out like
soft steel under an unyielding hammer. Eventually his boss sent him abroad to
oversee their organizations in America where his charismatic nature would pose
less of a threat to the Osaka clan leadership that was passed down along family
lines. During a recent visit back to Japan, his employer requested that Shiro
kill the wife and young daughters of a rival Yakuza boss. Knowing he might
refuse, they had abducted his brother Takumi and held him for collateral. Shiro
knew both their days were numbered so he opted for killing his boss instead and
bringing down the Osaka clan. 

Shiro heard the rumble of many feet shuffling
in the waiting room, whispered voices discussing their options for entering the
office. “Tell me the location and you walk away from here along with your goons
outside.”

Takamura leaned forward, his belly
pressing against the desk as he rested his arms on the edge, his men waiting on
the other side of the door having bolstered his confidence. “Alright, just for
the sake of entertainment—he’s at the Nara Textile Factory just a few
kilometers from here, at the north end of the prefecture.”

Shiro slid the phone with force towards
Takamura. “Make the call to have him released. Once I know he is safe, then I
will be on my way.” He canted his head slightly, hearing the deadbolt being
worked from the other side.

Takamura lifted the phone to his ear and
dialed the number and then stared at the oaken door ahead like it led to
another world. Shiro moved up alongside him, his left wrist ready to unfurl the
spring-loaded blade in his sleeve. Shiro reached up with his right hand and
pressed the speaker button on the handset.

Takamura spoke abruptly into the phone,
then repeated the same request with greater fervor. “What do you mean people
are attacking each other?” The sound of screaming in the background drowned out
the frightened man’s voice on the other end…there was gurgling like someone was
being strangled and then the stampede of feet followed by the shattering of
glass.

Shiro’s eyes went wide, his heart racing
as the phone went silent. Out on the streets below, he heard vehicles slamming
into each other and could see people running, followed by a tsunami of other
humans ferociously tackling the slower ones. His mind shot back to his
surroundings as the door to the office broke open and five heavily tattooed
goons rushed through, their large blades and clubs extended.

Shiro saw Takamura reach into his desk
drawer for the small sword but before he could withdraw it, Shiro’s blade was
already wedged between his ribs, piercing his heart. Shiro shoved the podgy man
on his rolling chair into two of the bodyguards, slowing their advance while he
went for the others near the door. Shiro rushed forward, feinting high with his
blade then dropping low for a cut across the abdomen of the first thug. He
narrowly dodged a crushing blow from the baton of the next man, sidestepping then
uppercutting his blade into the man’s lower jaw while gashing the third guard
across the right quadriceps muscle. The man went down on one knee screaming as
the other two bodyguards bolted towards Shiro, but he was already heading down
the hallway right on the heels of the secretary, who was also fleeing.

As he neared the landing, he saw a rush of
saggy-faced people, their bloody jaws snapping wildly as they overwhelmed the
dainty woman like a flood sweeping through a side canyon. Shiro grabbed the
metal railing to stop his momentum then pivoted around and ran back towards the
office. As he rounded the corner, he clotheslined one of the approaching goons
under the throat and shoulder-slammed the other into the door. Rushing up to
Takamura’s slumped figure, he got behind the chair and ran towards the
floor-to-ceiling window, driving the four-wheeled pudgy battering ram through
the plate glass. The dead man’s body plummeted five stories into the artificial
lake below.

He looked at the savage horde in the
hallway tearing through the soft flesh of the bodyguards’ faces and wondered if
he had entered some alternate reality. Was he in a nightmare or some kind of
self-made purgatory constructed to atone for his many sins over the years?
What
was happening?
Were these the
goryo
—the evil spirits coming for
revenge for all the lives he had taken over the years? His mind raced back to
the view below and he thought of his brother, Takumi. He was the only family
Shiro had left and all that mattered in this moment. He had to get to him. As
the maniacal ghouls rushed towards him, he tucked the spring-loaded blade into
his sleeve and pushed off from the jagged window frame, plunging towards the
murky waters below.

 

Chapter 1

Fort Lewis, Present Day,
August 24

The summer winds off the Pacific had
rolled in along Fort Lewis, bringing with them a pleasant dappling of warm
rain. It had been six months since the battles at the Grand Coulee Dam and Fort
Lewis. The last procurement flights along the west coast had stopped a month
earlier since fuel resources were stretched thin and Pavel’s work on a vaccine
was nearing completion. Dozens of rhesus monkeys had been obtained on a
long-range mission to a small research facility in Florida that Duncan had made
contact with. These provided Pavel with the necessary test subjects for the
antidote and allowed him and his tireless team of researchers to make rapid
progress and begin the first human trials.

The mood in the air at the base was a mix
of anticipation wrought with underlying tension. Several new waves of survivors
from outlying communities had sought refuge within the walls of Lewis and the
already meager food supplies wouldn’t last through the end of autumn. Most of
the distant cities had been combed for dried and canned goods long ago and helo
missions to explore other states were out of the question with the diminished
fuel supplies. Carlie and the other elite teams took turns rotating in and out
of sentry duties on the perimeter around Fort Lewis and the dam but other than
keeping members of the base current on their training, they were getting
restless from being grounded for so long.

With their basic needs of shelter, water,
and protection met, Duncan now sought to focus all of their efforts on food
procurement. He had divided people into groups based upon experience. The
largest group consisted of those with backgrounds in farming, botany, and
horticulture. The next group contained people who had worked in the Pacific
fishing industry on small trawlers or had experience with the salmon runs in
the Columbia River gorge. Fishing was the most viable alternative given their
proximity to the coast, the number of skilled fishermen in the group, and the
existing fishing fleet in the harbor around Seattle. Not to mention, it was the
safest method for avoiding encounters with the undead.

The last and smallest group comprised those
with extensive hunting or trapping skills. However, this was deemed the
riskiest undertaking as it involved taking to the open forests of the Olympic
Peninsula in the west where there were still unknown numbers of creatures
roaming about.

Duncan had previously had teams in
bulldozers tear up the concrete along the distant sections of the airbase for
planting crops. They started with two hundred acres and high-yield vegetables
like potatoes, carrots, lettuce, and squash. With the summer rains and warm
temperatures, these crops were doing well but wouldn’t be ready for harvest for
another month. In addition, all the rooftops on the different wings on base
were covered with container gardens and they had even converted the indoor pool
in the rec center into a hydroponics center. However, it was protein that was
the most challenging area to provide for and all efforts were put into
harvesting fish and aquatic life from the bays and inlets west of Seattle.

With most of the sailboats and fishing
fleet still intact around the bays, the eight teams of experienced fishermen
led by seasoned boat captains would head out on two-day rotations. Once they
had reached their limit, they would radio in for a truck to meet them at one of
the more isolated harbors to haul out their catch and drive it back to Lewis.

With the veneer of comfort from
supermarkets, stocked provisions, and the just-in-time economy stripped away
after the arrival of the pandemic, the daily quest for sustenance became the
driving force once more in human existence.

 

***

The sun had broken through the clouds and
was alighting on Carlie’s tan shoulders as she and twenty others worked on the
first section of the two-hundred-acre garden outside of C-Wing adjacent to the
airfield. Her gray tank top was already drenched with sweat as she worked the
hoe through the aromatic earth at her feet. She gripped the weathered handle
with vigor, marveling at the feeling of doing something with her hands that
didn’t involve maiming or killing. It had been eleven days since she had shot a
zombie—the longest she had gone since the pandemic began. Eleven glorious days
of staying put and not being in a helicopter in another godforsaken burnt-out
city. Staring hypnotically at the tilled ground almost made her forget where
she was until she stopped to adjust her baseball cap and looked up at the
hundreds of undead gathered around the half-mile of razor wire fences lining
the rear entrance gate in the distance.

It wasn’t required that she work in the
garden but she had longed for a break from the monotony of sentry duty and
usually spent an hour working the fields in between indoor teaching duties in
the combatives gym.

She was about to plunge her tool back into
the ground when she heard familiar footsteps behind her. She turned just in
time to thrust the handle of the hoe between her and Shane.

“Whoa, take it easy there, Joan Deere.”
Shane looked at her and then around at the others who seemed oblivious to his
arrival. He leaned forward slightly and whispered, “So, did you actually
volunteer for this Johnny Appleseed detail or did Duncan get pissed at you for
something and this is your community service?”

She frowned and blew a strand of blond
hair off her nose, walking with him to the shady overhang of a nearby building.
“You coming down here to contribute or just cause trouble?”

“A little of both. Just wanted to see if
you could slip away for a short break. Plus, I’d like to talk with you about
something.”

She swung the hoe to her right side and
then moved up, grabbing his tan shirt and pulling him close while she kissed
him. “I suppose I could pull away for a bit.” She noticed his hesitation and wondered
why he had been distant for the past few days. He kept shrugging off her
inquiries, saying that Duncan had him working on a new undertaking, but he was
keeping it close to his vest.

He moved back a foot and playfully brushed
the grime off his shirt. “Carlie Simmons—I never thought I’d see the day when
you would relish being a farm girl.”

“I thought you liked a dirty woman.”

“No—nasty, not dirty,” said Shane with a
grin.  

“Oh, get out of here.” She brushed a fleck
of dry clay off her fingers, flinging it onto him.

Carlie took his hand and led him over to a
nearby utility building where they could stand under the shade of the overhang away
from the prying eyes of others. Shane’s radio crackled and he reached down to
pull it off his belt without taking his gaze off of Carlie. She leaned in
towards him and whispered in his ear, “If that’s Duncan, tell him you’re busy.”

He tilted his chin up and cracked a
partial smile. “Listen to you—what happened to Ms. Punctuality? You know, now
that you’re a little wood nymph you ought to let your hair grow out so you can
put it in pigtails.”

She shoved him back against the wall as he
laughed and put the radio up to his mouth.

They both heard Duncan’s voice come over
the speaker. “I need all team leaders to report to the briefing room in A-Wing.
And if you get a hold of Carlie, inform her of the same. I can’t reach her.”

“Copy that—on my way.”

He returned the radio to his belt while
she slid her hands around Shane’s waist, pulling him in close while they
embraced. “You’ve got a hold of me alright and you better not let go.” She
leaned the hoe against the wall and wrapped both her arms around his neck,
kissing him deeply. Carlie’s heart was racing and she wanted to pull him into
the storage room in the corner. Shane responded with several faint kisses and
then paused to look at her. He brushed her hair back off her ear and then
sighed while resuming his hug. She stood still, trying to read his body
language, unsure what was holding back his interest.

She heard someone clearing their throat
and turned slightly to her right to see Matias standing a few feet away. Carlie
pulled back, biting her lower lip in surprise.

“Yeah, uhm, pardon the interruption but
Duncan is looking for you,” Matias said while putting his hands behind his back
and shooting his glance up at the eaves of the building then turning to walk
away. “Don’t you two see enough of each other in that little ten-by-twelve room
you share?” He shook his head while muttering sarcastically, “Now I’m gonna be
stuck with this image of my two best friends acting like schoolkids under the
bleachers.”

Carlie and Shane pulled back from each
other with chuckles and then trotted up alongside Matias who was heading across
the airfield towards A-Wing.

“So what’s on today’s agenda with Duncan,”
said Carlie.

“I don’t have all the details. But what I
can tell you is that the good news is that Pavel’s human trials are complete,”
said Matias. “The bad news is that we need to obtain a serum replication device
because the one we had suffered a meltdown from incompatible software.”

“Great—where do we find another one of
those? I thought we had obtained the only one left in the country,” said Carlie
as they walked into A-Wing and up the stairs towards the briefing room.

Matias gave a sideways glance to them
both. “That’s right—and the only other place Duncan knows where we can find another
device is...” His last word was overlaid by Shane’s voice.

“Japan,” Shane said as he shrugged his
shoulders, looking at Carlie. “That’s what I have been meaning to talk about
with you.”

She rolled her eyes as her lips formed a
smirk. Just before the entrance to the room where Duncan and the other team
leaders were assembled she stopped and yanked on his shirt sleeve. “No—don’t
tell me—you didn’t, did you? Tell me you didn’t volunteer to do a mission
without discussing things with me first.”

Shane tried to force out a partial smile
from his clenched jaw and then put his hand on top of hers. “Hear this out then
we can talk it over when we’re done,” he said, motioning for her to follow him
inside as she felt her stomach begin to coil in knots.

BOOK: Carlie Simmons (Book 5): One Final Mission
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