Authors: Abby Holden
Seventh Wave Books
Copyright ©2012 by Seventh Wave Books, LLC
All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Seventh Wave Books, LLC
Seventh Wave Books, LLC
First Paperback Edition: 201
The characters, names, incidents, organizations, dialogue, and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to a real person, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Desperate Situations: a novel/ by Abby Holden.
ISBN: 978-1938852008 (pbk)
Cover design by Jason Wilcox
Printed in the United States of America
Table of Contents
"Drive it until it stops!" Captain Jake McGrew barked
at the driver of the Hummer as a wisp of smoke escaped from under the hood. He pressed his hands harder into the wounded, bloody leg of a young soldier writhing in agony. The gushing blood made his hands slippery.
A sharp scream ricocheted around the vehicle as a body fell against McGrew, snapping his attention in that direction. The young man, hardly more than a boy, tore at his chest
, blood already soaking his desert camo jacket.
"Casey, check out Escobar. Rios, take the next right onto Halfa Street," McGrew yelled as the Hummer neared a corner. His mind worked furiously to remember the map of Baghdad, Iraq.
Shouts were hurled at the truck in Arabic from the streets. Moans came from the two wounded. Another voice in Arabic added to the confusion; the prisoner shouted insults and racial slurs at McGrew's men.
McGrew glanced up as another soldier, Stubbs, stared with wide, dilated eyes in horror at the two bloody men. "Stubbs… Stubbs!" McGrew raised his voice to grab the shocked soldier's attention. "Gag him." He pointed with his chin to the Iraqi being held by the bleeding man under him. Even in agonizing pain, Reed hadn't let go of his prisoner.
Stubbs recovered quickly and shoved material into the mouth of the Iraqi.
McGrew thought back over the last several minutes, shaking his head at the situation. It had gone to hell in a hurry.
His orders today were to interview an informant and to gather information and evidence. A lower level Iraqi official supposedly had information on an assassination three days ago of one of Saddam Hussein's head men. It was rumor and innuendo, but the General wanted the information squashed. And, he wanted proof that the CIA was once again interfering in a military action. McGrew couldn’t have cared less why the Iraqi official was killed or how, but orders were orders.
As McGrew and his squad of six unseasoned soldiers exited the building, they literally stumbled into Omar Ali Jamedin, the Jack of Spades in President Bush's famous deck of cards. A huge prize.
Seizing the unexpected opportunity, he captured the Iraqi ex-official. Then the trouble began.
A firefight ensued.
Another cry of pain from Reed, and a contraction of muscles under his hands returned McGrew's thoughts to the immediate situation. He glanced at Casey, the lieutenant and oldest of the squad, who was checking out Escobar, the soldier hit in the chest. "How is he?" McGrew asked as he swung his head around, monitoring the rest of the squad.
Rios, dodging people and cars, drove them successfully away from the firefight. A NASCAR driver couldn't have done a better job. Hamilton, hanging out the window, gun pointed toward the rear, yelled and fired into the crowd of insurgents. Stubbs, taking the initiative, bound the prisoner's hands behind his back after a brief struggle.
Casey ripped open Escobar's shirt. He reported over his shoulder to McGrew. "Shoulder wound. Through shot. There's… There's blood everywhere, Captain." His voice was tight and pitched higher than normal.
"Pack it off. Both sides," McGrew ordered Casey then looked the wounded man in the eyes. "You're okay, Escobar. It's a clean shot."
With shaking hands, Casey fumbled as he pulled bandages from his pack.
"Hamilton!" McGrew shouted to get the excited man's attention. "Med kit."
Hamilton retreated back into the Hummer, searching for medical supplies.
"Oh man!" moaned Escobar. "I got shot! I signed up for the National Guard for extra pay. I ain't supposed to be here. Two weeks ago I was cutting grass and trimming shrubs. Shit! Oh God, it hurts!"
"Rios, slow down," McGrew ordered as the eighteen year old drove wildly down the empty street. "We got away from the fire fight, don't kill us now," he said, trying to relieve tension.
Hamilton put the med kit next to McGrew.
"Put the bandages right where my hands are. Pack'em in," McGrew instructed Hamilton. "Grab the tourniquet." McGrew swung his attention back to Stubbs and the prisoner. "Secured?"
"Help Rios navigate. Head south."
As soon as Hamilton staunched the flow of blood, McGrew released the leg, wiped his bloody hands on his pants and keyed the microphone on his shoulder. "Momma Duck
, this is Ugly Duckling, come in." He immediately grabbed the tourniquet from Hamilton and wrapped it around Reed's upper thigh.
"We took fire. Two men down."
The engine sputtered and more black smoke curled out of the engine compartment.
"Transport is breaking down. Send rescue. We have the Jack of Spades in custody. Do you copy?" He secured the tourniquet, then glanced at his watch.
"Ugly, repeat that. You have the
Jack of Spades
McGrew ripped open Reed's shirt
, and with a fingertip dipped in Reed's blood, wrote the time on Reed's chest. He knew medical personnel needed to know when the tourniquet was applied. Jake once more grabbed the microphone. "Affirmative, Momma. Jack of Spades in custody." McGrew checked the leg to see that the blood flow had slowed.
"Good. Where you at, Ugly?"
"Stubbs, I need a GPS reading," McGrew ordered as he rechecked the tourniquet again.
Stubbs grabbed his microphone and relayed coordinates as the engine sputtered
again. This time the truck died with a bellow of black smoke.
McGrew cursed softly under his breath as
he panned the now deserted streets. "Momma, we're on foot. Out." He turned to his men. "Get out. Head south. Stay close to the buildings," he ordered, lifting Reed into an upright position. McGrew looked up at the stunned men. "Move it!"
Hamilton grabbed Reed's other arm as they wiggled him out of the vehicle. Casey helped Escobar, who was now moving under his own power.
"Stubbs, prisoner. He gives you any problems, shoot him. If we get in another firefight, shoot him first," McGrew ordered. "Rios, rear." With one of Reed's arms over his shoulder, he led the way down the street and turned the corner. "You're doing good, Reed," McGrew said to the moaning man.
Reed hopped along between McGrew and Hamilton as best he could with one good leg.
Stubbs hurried up next to the Captain, pulling the reluctant prisoner with him. "This looks like an abandoned part of hell," he said as they worked their way down a bombed and deserted part of Baghdad.
Shelled, half standing buildings were crumbling. People scurried into hiding. The acrid smell of smoke hung in the air. It mingled with the sickening sweet odor of decaying bodies
, not yet collected, that lay in grotesque positions in the street. The buzzing of flies was louder than the background din of the city.
"We just cleared this section," McGrew said, glancing behind him to keep track of his men. "Our guys should still be in the area."
"Captain," Casey called out as he grabbed Escobar to stop his stumble.
They had jogged almost three quarters of a mile from the disabled Hummer. McGrew took stock of his men, especially the wounded. They couldn't go any f
arther. He swiveled his head around checking the area. They just happened to be standing near one of the few intact buildings. "Hamilton, Rios, secure that building." He moved toward it, taking all of Reed's weight as the other two men cleared the bottom floor.
McGrew entered the building and laid Reed against the wall. "Casey
. Stubbs." He pointed at the windows. Each nodded and took a secure position watching for the enemy. McGrew helped Escobar to the floor next to Reed and patted Escobar on his good shoulder. He headed to check out the rest of the bottom floor.
"Ugly, this is Momma
," came from the speaker at his shoulder.
"Rescue is scrambled. Estimated time enroute—ten minutes. Big Duck wants secondary confirmation. You have the
Jack of Spades
"Affirmative. Expedite that rescue, Momma. Out," McGrew said as he ran toward the steps.
"Captain!" Casey called out in a stage whisper.
McGrew stopped and turned to see Casey pointing out the window and down the street.
"Searching," Casey said softly, yet loud enough for the Captain to hear.
"Shit," McGrew said softly as Rios ran back into the room.
"All floors secured," Rios said.
"Good. Grab Reed and Escobar. Roof. Move," McGrew ordered, waiting until everyone was moving to the second floor before he set a small trip wire with grenade at the bottom of the stairs and another at the first landing. As he climbed the stairs, he keyed the microphone. "Momma, come in."
"Situation deteriorating. We're holed up in a building…" He quickly relayed GPS coordinates to command as he climbed the stairs. "We need… help now."
"Affirmative, Ugly. Big Duck has instructed you to 'cook' the Jack of Spades if you get beyond us. Do you understand?"
"Affirmative. Orders already in place. Ugly out."
"Listen to this," the co-pilot said.
After their mission, it was habit to scan several channels including military ones.
"Sounds bad," the pilot said, glancing at the GPS radio. "We're closer
than any military units."
The co-pilot nodded as he punched in Ugly's coordinates. The computer immediately showed their position and the new coordinates. "Fuel, Darlin'." His voice drawled in a southern accent as he pointed at the gage.
"We've got enough. Ugly sounds desperate."
"Yeah, but what 'bout Truman? He said he wanted us back, like yesterday."
An evil grin broke the serious curve of the pilot's eyes. "Yeah, I know. Another point in favor of doing this rescue. Heading?"
"Fly heading zero five, zero degrees," the co-pilot instructed, a conspiratorial smile formed on his face.
The pilot banked the helicopter and headed toward the new destination. "Gunner," the pilot ordered via the intercom. "Get a door gun ready. We're going in."
McGrew exited the stairs to find his men gathered near one of the roof vents. They were helping the two wounded down to the floor as he hurried over to them.
"We sit tight, men. Rescue's on the way. Positions." He pointed at the four walls
of the square building. "No talking. Do not fire."
Rios rubbed his hands together nervously. Stubbs
' eyes were wide and dilated again. Hamilton wiped his nose several times. Casey tended Reed's bleeding leg with shaking hands. Escobar closed his eyes to the pain in his shoulder.
McGrew smiled at the guys to reassure them. "We can do this. We only have to hold them for a short time. Ammo?"
Each soldier checked his supply which was diminished during the firefight. "I only got half a clip left!" Hamilton looked around with wide eyes.
Escobar grunted in pain as he retrieved a clip
off his belt. "Here."
McGrew sighed. Green troops. He was stuck with unseasoned troops. Being the only person with Special Forces training and the most time in country, his gut twisted with worry at how they would hold up. Taking a deep breath to fight off his own adrenalin, he shook his head then thanked Escobar. "Auto off. One shot. One kill. Conserve your ammo. Fire on my command. Any questions?" When he saw that there
were none, he motioned for the men to move into positions.
Omar Ali Jamedin grinned at him around his gag as he lay on the ground where Stubbs had thrown him.
McGrew grabbed him by the collar and dragged him over by the wounded men. He pulled the prisoner to his face and growled in Arabic, "If you make one sound, I swear to God, I'll send you to those virgins right now and with equipment missing." He jammed his muzzle into Jamedin's crotch.
Omar's eyes widened in fear momentarily as he jerked at the pressure, then resumed his arrogant attitude.
McGrew tossed him back to the rooftop. "Don't move," he ordered in Arabic. He squatted down next to the two wounded men. "Escobar."
The young Hispanic opened his eyes.
"You need to guard the prisoner." McGrew took Escobar's rifle and put a fresh clip in it. "Understand?"
"Yeah. No problem, sir." Escobar took the rifle back and glared at the prisoner. "He ain't goin' nowhere without some new holes."
McGrew patted him on his good shoulder with a nod, then turned his attention to the man sitting next to him. "Reed."
Reed focused on McGrew. The pain was excruciating
, and it showed in his blue eyes. "Yeah?" The Captain checked out Reed's rifle and placed it in his hands. The implied message was that everyone needed to defend the position. "Yeah." Reed's shaky hands gripped the rifle. "I got it."
An explosion rocked the lower part of the building. McGrew keyed the microphone again as he stood. "Momma, this is Ugly. Insurgents in the building."