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Authors: Dean Crawford

Immortal

BOOK: Immortal
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IMMORTAL

Dean Crawford began writing after his dream of becoming a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force was curtailed when he failed their stringent sight tests.
Fusing his interest in science with a love of fast-paced revelatory thrillers, he soon found a career that he could pursue with as much passion as flying a fighter jet. Now a full-time author, he
lives with his partner and daughter in Surrey.

Also by Dean Crawford

Covenant

First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2012
A CBS Company

Copyright © Dean Crawford, 2012

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.

The right of Dean Crawford to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act,
1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor,
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

www.simonandschuster.co.uk

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

B Format ISBN 978-0-85720-472-1
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-0-85720-471-4
Ebook ISBN 978-0-85720-473-8

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Typeset by Hewer Text UK Ltd, Edinburgh
Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd,
Croydon, CRO 4YY

For Debbie

To himself everyone is immortal; he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.

Samuel Butler

CONTENTS

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78

1
GLORIETTA PASS SANGRE DE CRISTO MOUNTAINS, NEW MEXICO

12 May

‘They’re out near the Santa Fe Trail. Shots fired.’

Patrol Officer Lieutenant Enrico Zamora pressed down hard on the gas pedal, the Dodge Charger’s V6 engine growling as the patrol cruiser accelerated along the scorched asphalt of
Interstate-25 winding into the shimmering desert heat ahead. Broad plains of desiccated thorn scrub swept toward the Pecos Wilderness either side of the highway, while ahead, the jagged peaks of
the mountains loomed against the vast blue dome of the sky. The late season was turning the thick ranks of aspens that coated the mountains’ flanks a vivid yellow, the forests glowing in the
afternoon sunlight as the cruiser plunged between the steep hillsides of the pass.

‘Any fatalities?’ Zamora asked as he glanced at his partner, his eyes veiled by mirror-lensed sunglasses.

‘Not yet.’ Sergeant Barker shook his head, one hand resting on the Smith & Wesson .357 pistol in its holster at his side. ‘One man is down and another’s injured. Park
ranger says that they came under attack.’

‘Chrissakes,’ Zamora muttered, wondering what the hell had happened out there in the lonely mountains.

The call had gone out ten minutes previously for emergency response teams to converge on Glorietta Pass. Eight tourists, tenderfoots down from the Big Apple on what Zamora suspected was some
kind of bullshit team-building exercise, had been caught in the crossfire of a gunfight. One of the park rangers had led them out on a horse-riding expedition, in itself a liability, Zamora
thought. Most city types didn’t know what a horse looked like, let alone how to ride one. He had seen every injury under the sun suffered by twenty-year-old investment bankers who earned more
in a day than he earned in a year, yet couldn’t lift a saddle onto a horse’s back without pulling a muscle

But this was different. He had heard it in the dispatcher’s voice, her tones edgy. Shots were being fired. People were being hit.

‘Just up here,’ Barker said as they turned off the Interstate and roared up a narrow, dusty track that plunged between the walls of a deep gully. Zamora saw his partner still
fiddling with his pistol as he ran the other hand over the bald dome of his head.

‘Will you quit it with the weapon?’ Zamora said as he followed the track. ‘I don’t want to see another wild bullet let loose, okay?’

Barker put his hands in his lap but his face remained taut like canvas stretched across a frame. Zamora slowed as, ahead amongst the trees, he saw a group of horses tethered to tree trunks.
Crouching amongst them were several men, each staring wide-eyed at the approaching cruiser.

Zamora killed the engine and got out, drawing his pistol and hurrying across with Barker in a low run to where a park ranger was waving urgently at him. The ranger looked at Zamora. He was
young, and his skin was flushed with a volatile mixture of excitement and fear.

‘You guys bring back-up?’ he asked.

‘Four more cars and an ambulance are on their way,’ Zamora replied calmly, glancing at the ranger’s pistol. A faint wisp of blue smoke drifting from the barrel told him to
expect the worst. ‘What’s the situation?’

The ranger shook his head in disbelief.

‘I ain’t got a clue, man,’ he said. ‘We were makin’ our way back down here when all hell broke loose. Some old guy’s having himself a shouting match with a
tenderfoot up on the pass, then he pulls out some kind of old musket and shoots the tenderfoot at point-blank range.’ The ranger gestured over his shoulder to the city slickers behind him.
‘Damned if he didn’t take a shot at us too. One of the guys here panicked and tried to ride past an’ then everything went to hell and the horses bolted. The tenderfoot’s
still lyin’ up there bleedin’ out.’ The ranger looked apologetic. ‘I didn’t want to go back up without support.’

Zamora took a deep breath and gestured to the ranger’s pistol. ‘Did you shoot the old guy?’

The young man glanced at his weapon as though he’d forgotten he even had it.

‘Yeah,’ he whispered.

‘You did the right thing. How far away is he?’

‘A hundred yards, give or take.’

‘Stay here,’ Zamora cautioned him, ‘keep an eye on the tourists. Don’t let them move.’

The ranger nodded as Zamora checked his weapon again and moved forward, hugging the rocky side of the trail that climbed up between the tree-studded hills either side of the gully. The sun
flared off the rocky terrain. Zamora could hear no birdsong as he climbed, no crickets chirping in the scorched undergrowth. Gunshots could do that, scatter or silence wildlife.

‘You smell that?’

Barker’s voice was a husky whisper, and a moment later Zamora caught the scent of woodsmoke drifting invisibly through the trees. He wiped beads of sweat from his forehead as he edged
around a bend in the narrow track, hemmed in by thick ranks of trees glowing in the sunlight.

He froze.

There, lying face down in the center of the track was a black man dressed in a checked shirt and gray slacks, not the kind of attire one would wear when hiking in the hills. Zamora could see a
thick pool of blood congealing in the dust around the man’s body. A pair of spectacles lay alongside the body where they had fallen.

‘He a dead’un?’ Barker asked in a whisper.

Zamora squinted, lowering the rim of his hat to shield his eyes, and detected the man’s back gently rising and falling.

‘He’s breathing,’ he said, ‘but he’s also leakin’. We need to get him out of there fast.’

Barker nodded, holding his Smith & Wesson with both hands.

‘You want me to do it?’

Zamora looked up at the steep cliff to their side. The faint smell of woodsmoke was stronger now, closer.

‘Looks like whoever did the shooting spent the night here,’ he whispered. ‘Maybe the tourists spooked them or something.’

A soft whinnying caught their attention. Zamora turned to see a horse tethered to a nearby tree, its head hung low. Across its back lay a blanket, and Zamora felt a twinge of concern as he saw
the blanket was thick with dried blood.

‘The horse?’ Barker said.

Zamora shook his head, swallowing thickly.

‘That’s not the horse’s blood,’ he said, realizing what he was looking at. ‘The ranger got ’im all right. Go up that gully there,’ Zamora said, pointing
up to his right. ‘Get to the high ground in case this lunatic comes back.’

Barker nodded, and they broke cover. Zamora hurried forward, reaching the body and squatting down alongside it. The nearby burgundy spectacles were those of a rich kid, a tenderfoot. He paused
for a moment, looking around for any sign of an impending attack, before reaching down and touching the man’s neck. A pulse threaded its way weakly beneath his fingertips. He was about to
holster his pistol when the man groaned and rolled over. Zamora judged him as no more than thirty years old, clean-shaven and definitely not a native.

‘Don’t move,’ Zamora cautioned, looking at the bloodstain soaking the man’s left shoulder. ‘What’s your name, son?’

‘Tyler Willis,’ came the dry-throated response. ‘Don’t shoot him.’

‘Don’t shoot who?’

‘Conley. Hiram Conley. He’s . . . he’s unwell.’

Zamora squinted up at the heavily forested hills surrounding them.

‘You’re goddamned right there, son,’ he said quietly. ‘We need to get you out of here. You know anything about this Conley?’

Tyler Willis swallowed thickly, grimacing with the pain.

‘Don’t shoot him,’ he insisted again. ‘He’s extremely old.’

Zamora was about to respond when a voice broke the silence of the pass around them.

‘Stay still. Identify yourself!’

Zamora flinched and peered up into the woods. The voice bounced and echoed off the walls of the pass, concealing its location. He could see nothing.

‘Officer Enrico Zamora, New Mexico State Police,’ he called back. ‘This man needs a hospital.’

‘There ain’t no such thing as a state police, and that man ain’t no part of the Union!’

Zamora frowned in confusion. ‘This man is injured and he needs treatment. I need to take him back down the pass.’

‘He ain’t goin’ nowhere!’ the voice yelled. ‘I got no beef with you, boy. You turn your back to me an’ I’ll let you leave, but I got forty dead men up
here if’n you try to cross me!’

Forty dead men? Dispatch had only mentioned one man down. Zamora’s gaze edged upward as he searched for corpses among the trees, and he saw a flicker of movement.

It took him a moment to register what he was looking at through the dappled sunlight shimmering in pools of light beneath the trees. The man was old, perhaps in his sixties, a thick gray beard
draped down across his bare chest. A navy-blue jacket clung to his emaciated frame, the sleeves marked with narrow yellow lines running from shoulder to cuffs. Across his chest was a thick band of
dressing stained crimson with blood. The old man was aiming what looked like an antique rifle over the top of a boulder at him. Zamora looked down at Tyler Willis.

BOOK: Immortal
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