The Last Operation (The Remnants of War Series, Book 1)

BOOK: The Last Operation (The Remnants of War Series, Book 1)
4.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub






The Last Operation

The Remnants of War Series

Book One




Patrick Astre

Award-winning author






Published by
ePublishing Works!


ISBN: 978-1-61417-507-0



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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.


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Route 41, Near the Everglades.

May, 2014

Blood seeped down the back seat of the Lexus, pooling in congealing clumps, gleaming black on the gray leather. The man's shirt was soaked in red splashing, and his battered, ruined face looked like road kill on the lolling head. One eye remained swollen shut, the other a white slit under partially closed lids. His hands were behind him, held together with bailing wire that cut deep into the wrists, coloring the steel like dark copper.

A fat man sat next to him—bulky-muscled fat with a long beefy arm resting on the victim's shoulder. A scarred-knuckled hand resembled a great shovel blade against the side of the bloodied shoulder. The fat man looked out the window as the night countryside flew out of the front circle of the halogen headlamps. His eyes stared from deep craters in a face with skin like compressed raisins. His eyes held no emotions, no curiosity and little intelligence, certainly no pity for the demolished human being next to him.

It's just a job.

The driver of the Lexus held the wheel loosely with his right hand, the left disappeared down his side to rest on the interior panel of the door. He kept the speed at a steady eighty on the night road, straight and long and numbingly boring. No traffic rolled at this hour. An occasional eighteen-wheeler, trying to make time toward an early morning delivery in Naples or Fort Myers, the only thing to break the monotony of Route 41, the Tamiami Trail cutting through the Everglades.

The driver was another hired hand, perhaps higher up, but still a hired hand. Dark features shone in the reflected light of the instrument panel, the thin mustache a black line above the slash of a mouth. The eyes caught your attention. Slightly bulging lids gave him a bit of a bug-eyed look. A nose with flaring nostrils betrayed the mixed blood of the Cuban Latino and the Miami African-American.

A passenger next to him wore the uniform of a Collier County Sheriff's deputy. The tag above the brown pocket read "Schmus." The passenger's bulk filled the generous bucket seat. His stomach bulged over the beltline and a lower roll of fat rested against the regulation nine millimeter strapped in the holster attached to his belt. A crewcut flanked by military style "whitewalls" topped a face partially hidden by shaded glasses. Under the lenses, two small eyes peered out in a porcine brutish face that in these parts, screamed redneck. His hands fidgeted as he sat and darted quick glances at the driver and the fat man in the rear view mirror. Having to deal with Taylor and that big spade, Rollie rattled his nerves to no end.

Schmus believed Rollie was the second scariest man he had ever encountered. The first was that damned Richard Daniels and his Special Forces and Karate shit. Best thing about Daniels was that you rarely ever encountered him.

Taylor was something else. Schmus had dealt with him much too often for comfort since he got on his payroll. He smiled at the thought of the weekly envelope stuffed with six greenbacks, all with pictures of Grant.

"Left turn coming up," Schmus said.

The driver slowed the car as a sign appeared, shining green and white in the headlights.


The Lexus turned left, now heading west between the Visitor's Center and the all-night Texaco. Bouncing headlights cut a swath in the surrounding dense vegetation without penetrating the viscous dark.

"Fucking boonies out here, gives me the creep," the fat man said.

"Wha'd you wanna do, dump him in Miami Square?" Schmus replied, then to the driver, "heads up, there's a trail coming up, you're going to make a right."

The driver braked as a little trail appeared, nothing more than a lighter spot in the thick, jungle night. The Lexus turned into it. Squeaking noises erupted as the suspension negotiated bumps and sand holes at walking speed. Branches and bushes rubbed against all sides of the car and wheels with scratchy, grinding noises. Schmus gave out a small shudder. It was like driving in an inkwell with ghosts on all sides.

The trail widened. Mangrove trees sprung around the Lexus. Branches and leaves twined above them in a black canopy that ended at the edge of a natural canal. Across the channel, no more than a dozen feet distant, the eyes of an alligator glittered like diamonds in murky water.

The driver opened the door and got out. His feet sank a few inches in the unseen ground muck. It was so dark that a man could believe dawn would never return. All around the car cicadas, frogs and God-knows-what chirped and chattered. Something screeched in the distance answered by a nearby splash in the canal. The alligator's eyes suddenly disappeared in a swirl of sooty black water and a slight breeze carried the scents of wet, tropical vegetation.

The fat man opened the door and dragged the passenger out. The battered man fell to his knees and pitched down, face first, in the grassy muck. Gurgled moans escaped from swollen lips as he sprawled in the illuminated oval of the Lexus' interior lights.

"Just do it now," the driver said.

"Where the hell's the Indian?" the fat man replied.

"He'll be here, guaranteed," Schmus said.

"Yea, but still, he ain't here now."

The fat man reached in his pocket and pulled a small nickel-plated automatic, a .22 Caliber Saturday night special. Cheap and accurate to a maximum of about twenty feet, it glinted in the reflected light like a snake's fang.

"Jesus, not now, not when I'm here," Schmus said.

BOOK: The Last Operation (The Remnants of War Series, Book 1)
4.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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