Authors: T. Anwar Clark
THE TENEBROUS PUBLISHING CO.
COPYRIGHT © 2015 T. Anwar
Cover Design by Double G. A Triple. and
PANPOTE / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
All characters, places, and events have no existence outside the imagination of the authors wherein and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same names, places, or events. Not even are they distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author.
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Automatic gunfire echoe
from the south end of 7
Jim hit the next block corner, took cover behind a bullet-riddled van, reloaded. Panting, he calmed himself, lifted the warm chamber of his 30 round fully loaded TP9 semi-automatic pistol to his right temple, and lipped a prayer his mother taught him when he was just a kid.
He was grown now, 23 to be exact, and in a situation he’d never encountered. His black hooded sweatshirt, covered in the mud he’d slipped in while eluding his predators. His black threadbare jeans, filthy, felt the worst of a razor-wired fence he’d scaled not too long ago – just a pixel off from slicing into his muscular framed dark skin – to escape the clutches of the enemy. His black work boots, a reeking shit-stain brown. The sun, slowly cascading behind the dense smoke that traveled across the building structures that would have, in any other circumstance, provided cover from his antagonists, a new kind of enemy hot on his trail. And Girder still hadn’t made it around the corner.
The streets weren’t safe to travel at night – anymore – and Jim realized that if he did not reach a safe zone within the next few minutes or so, he would not stand a chance in the sweltering darkness… alone.
Where are you
He contemplated his next risky move, anxious to avoid the company pursuing him, gazing further up the street through the maze of abandoned vehicles and debris that occupied the area. To his left, mildly burning brick, three story project buildings a couple blocks down, through another labyrinth; to his right, a darkened, unoccupied two story high school, too far out, behind a row of condos and duplexes.
He wasn’t that far behind. He should have been here by now
, Jim nervously thought, racking his brain, to make his decision, to wait or run, and in which direction, a few seconds more.
He broke into a long-winded sprint toward the projects.
“Jim! Jim!” Girder called out from behind. “Hold up!”
“Through here, man, hurry!” Jim hollered back, without turning to see him, recognizing his long-time friend’s voice.
Jim made it to an alley, turned around and lifted his semi-automatic, finger on the trigger, left hand cupped under the clip. Spotted his comrade about twenty yards out, rising and sinking, hobbling, desperately fighting his way toward him.
Girder’s all-black attire was also abused and ragged. He didn’t have Jim’s ability to run as fast, held his SCAR 16s battle rifle in one hand, a gunshot-wounded leg that he nursed with the blood-leaking other. If Jim would have known that, he would have turned to help his injured affiliate get to cover.
“Come on, Gird. Hurry up!” Jim instructed, scrolling his sight past Girder, ensuring he wasn’t tailed.
He was alone.
“They got me, man. They got me.” he admitted, as he caught up.
Jim grabbed Girder’s rifle, slung the strap across his thick neck, held Girder underneath the arm and assisted him through the cut in route to the projects. And the roaring sounds of a diesel fueled motorcade excelled from the block corner where they had escaped.
“We’ll be at
in no time, but you gotta pick up the pace, Gird, they right behind us.” Jim informed his maimed partner, looking back, ensuring they weren’t spotted.
“Don’t let ‘em get me, Jim!”
“We’re almost there. Come on.”
She pressed har
on the gas.
Her experienced eyes were trained on the disastrous road that lay ahead, leaving everyone else just two miles back over an hour ago. Her black hair, matted together and drying. Her guilty and fragile hands firmly gripped the steering wheel. And as the wearing sun tried its damnedest to pry its way through the murky fumes above, she slung the filthy poncho’s black hood over her head to omit the rays, and flipped the dusty visor from overhead.
“What is it?” Neshia asked, only to break the concentrated silence, looking on from the passenger side.
“I couldn’t see the road.” she blandly answered. “How’s the baby?”
Neshia attempted to grin, rubbed her hand gently in a circular motion around her slightly protruding stomach, and responded, “Fine,” then smiled. “Thank you, Rebekah.”
They were on a two-way street, less than a half mile to Valley’s End, a section within the city distinguished for its many illicit contributions to raising the murder rate without one suspect apprehension. The streets renamed Valley’s End,
, stemming from the many unsolved murders that abruptly stopped, only to be substituted by criminal mischief and major narcotic trafficking. Not the residents, the trouble makers were the hoodlums that came through to make a quick buck. They made the place what it was. The residents weren’t so much of the problem. Most of the project’s occupants were good hardworking people that wanted better, trying hard not to lose it while the city did nothing to alleviate the problems that betook the area by storm… before the storm.
Rebekah took her eyes off the road to peek at Neshia for a millisecond, turned back to the street. “For what… asking? Don’t sweat it.”
“For back at the apartment,” Neshia forced her adjusted pupils from Rebekah’s fluid-dried hair back to the side-view. “You’re the real deal. How did you learn to
“It’s a long story… but ends with a lot of work.”
“I know that much,” she looked back to her.
Rebekah’s eyes stayed glued to the road. “Sports… gymnastics… calisthenics... self-defense… it’s just… I don’t like to talk about it, less use it. That was the first time.”
Neshia looked across the sun-faded dashboard, where Rebekah’s recently used .40 caliber XDM pistol found its much needed resting place – a twin to the one Rebekah had kept in her lower-back double holster. She gazed out the window of the beat-up white pick-up truck, sighing at the approaching presence of thrashed vehicles, burning homes and debris filled lawns and sidewalks. “You saved our lives,” she said. “You saved my baby’s life.” solemnly reminding her.
“How are your mother and brother holding up?”
Neshia looked through the side view mirror to see her younger brother, Chase, in the truck bed, arm wrapped around their mother, Brea. Brea instantly caught Neshia’s eyes, rimmed
, I love you
. Neshia smiled back and turned to Rebekah with the same pleasantry.
“Couldn’t be better…”
Rebekah’s stern eyes of a determined survivor on a mission remained focused on the bereavement-plagued concrete road ahead of her. Her weighty foot weakened off the gas. “Oh shit,” she gasped, not losing what was left of her sanity at what lie further up the street. She stopped the truck. “Stay cool,” she informed Neshia.
Neshia’s nervous eyes enlarged. She looked back into the side-view mirror, peered through the back cabin window at the rest of their passengers and convoy. A blue, four door taxi cab with six untrained but grunged-out armed men – none of which Neshia or Rebekah knew – tailed by a fully occupied blue pick-up truck; the rest of the surviving women and children. It was driven by Ann. Her passenger was her cousin, Maria, and the stiff-in-the-middle, a teenage, newly recruited hood that went by the street name, Baker. Both vehicles stopped in unison.
“Wait here.” Rebekah advised Neshia. “And stay focused. I’ll be right back.”
Neshia held onto her stomach. “Rebekah!” she gasped, shaken, extending her right hand.
“Nothing’s going to happen to you… or any of us.” she reassured, accepting Neshia’s small, red fingernail polish-faded hand.
“You see that?” Rebekah nodded, moved her eyes to the dashboard. “He means a lot to me. My father gave him to me on my 18
,” she said of her firearm. “I wouldn’t leave him anywhere I wasn’t coming back. I wouldn’t hear the last of it.” She tightened her grip, released Neshia’s hand and exited the vehicle, advising the truck bed passengers, more women than children, to remain silent as she marched toward the dusty blue taxi.
Simultaneously, Ann and Maria emerged from their vehicle. Maria, wiping down her tacky, sky blue, long sleeve t-shirt, tugging on her utility belt of multiple cartridge pouches and holstered .9mm. Her blue jeans, cross colored, with dried body fluids from their earlier encounter with their fiendish enemies. Ann, with a crafty expression that told Rebekah she had something up her sleeve, used both hands to pull her brunette hair back into a small ponytail, and then let it fall back in place. Her way of stretching, fatigued from the excitement – sort of like how one would be after a fight, the loser most likely falls asleep. Her shirt and blue jeans, which held cartridge pouches and a small hunting knife, also, very much stained. Both ladies donned in bullet proof vests, met Rebekah at the cab.
Rebekah wasn’t the best of friends with Ann and Maria; they were accompanied by Dale and Mike Ashe shortly after the storm, introduced by another member of their group, Jon Wardwell. Jon, in search of his daughter, Diana, thought she might have retreated to Rebekah’s house back in Diamond Manor. Shortly after, Ann suspected Rebekah was after Mike, and Maria supported her on the suspicions. Now, they were seemingly coming along – verbally combative – but even together they were still no match for Rebekah. If there was not a better time to coin the phrase,
if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em
, Maria and Ann would be its protégés of example, if they screwed around with Rebekah the wrong way, at the wrong time.
“Why’d we stop?” Ann questioned. “You know the sun’s going down.” she said, before Rebekah could mutter a word to the husky cab driver.
The cab driver lowered his window, eyes content. With a scar on his face that began at his chin, and curved in a crescent shape that stopped dead center of his third eye, curly hair and a fresh edge-up, thick eyebrows and funny eyes, he was a machine, Neshia, would call his type. He sucked on his teeth like chewed meat was chiseled somewhere in between them. A hard rock of the sort, he appeared to have a chip on his shoulder. Spat some thick, yellowish phlegm on the asphalt ahead of him, right close to Rebekah’s black flats, after he fished out the invisible piece of meat.
Rebekah looked to the cab driver, and then back to Ann, figured, just a regular old tough guy thing, although she’d took offence. “Up ahead… there’s a group of them crossing the road. I stopped to let them pass before we go any further. You should tell your group to keep quiet until then.”
Ann gave Maria that look, the one that said
, just do it. We’ll kick her ass together, later
Maria acknowledged, nodded her head and urgently made her way back to the truck. She might not have liked Rebekah on and off, but she didn’t want to risk jeopardizing the group by being objective and creating a scene over something as small as,
tell your group to be quiet
. She held her silence although she would have preferred Rebekah advised them herself.
“Let’s blow through.” Ann suggested.
“No. That won’t work. It’s too risky for the group. We should wait a minute.” Rebekah proposed.
“What happens if they spot us?” the husky driver of the cab asked.
“As long as we don’t do anything to attract them we’re fine.” Ann answered. “The only other option’s a no-brainer.”
A rusted creaking sound developed. The passenger side door of the cab opened, and then both rear doors. The men stepped out, military issued bullet proof vests on top of black hoods, wearing black jeans and tan hiking boots, gripping AR-15s’ and AK-47 assault rifles; clearly hoods. Two of them immediately walked to Rebekah’s truck and stood guard, the other two positioned near Ann’s blue pick-up.
And the girls could not believe what they would soon set their wonders upon.