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Authors: Jason Halstead

Wanted

BOOK: Wanted
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Wanted

 

By Jason Halstead

©2011

 

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

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

For additional information contact:

www.novelconceptpublishing.com

7974 Brookwood ST NE

Warren, MI 44484

 

 

Cover art © 2011
Willsin Rowe

 

 

Warning: the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Find Jason Halstead on the web at:
http://www.booksbyjason.com

 

Look for the sequel to Wanted,
Ice Princess

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 


I told you not to fucking move!”

Jessie barely heard the words shouted at her. She felt something stop her fall and saw that it was blue. A wall? It had to be a wall, she reasoned, since she was sliding down and away from it. There was a ringing her ear and a dull echoing noise that made no sense. She tried to roll over and stand up, knowing somehow that she had to rise. She wondered if he was in the beginning stages of the fever.

For some of the people that came down with Burnout Fever their sanity was the first thing to go. A day or so later and they lost energy, became lethargic, and their body started to shut down. There was blood everywhere it could leak out of a person. A day or two of that and they died. There was no cure. Once you had it, two out of three people died. The others were immune. She figured this guy wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

He was shouting at her. Spittle sprayed from his cracked lips. She had no idea what he was saying, it just washed over her and hurt her already ringing ears. A concussion, that’s what she must have. It made sense, and explained why the left side of her head was warm and throbbing. He’d hit her with his gun. He didn’t like the answer she gave him, so he clubbed her.

He bent down and grabbed her halter top with his free hand. He pulled in an effort to rip it off, but it stretched and dug into her skin. Jessie hissed in pain, trying to grab his hand and work it free. Her fingernails bit into his wrist and broke the skin, drawing blood. He screamed and swung his gun again, the barrel glancing off her forehead and stunning her for a few moments.

She stared at him, suddenly nauseous and wishing the world would stop spinning. “Stop,” she whispered, pleading with him. “Please stop!”

He grinned at her, aiming his pistol at her head. A crack rang out and Jessie jerked. She had squeezed her eyes shut, wondering why there was no pain. Was she dead? She was warm and comfortable. All that ended a heartbeat later when something fell on her legs.

Jessie stared, mouth open, when she looked and saw the man’s body. He was half on her legs, his limbs twitching a few moments before he finally lay still. The warmth was his blood. His head had exploded, bits of brain and blood showering her body. She could not help but stare at the carnage and felt herself suddenly taken back to another time and place.

 

* * * *

 

Jessie held up the microphone to the lieutenant so he could answer the question she had asked. He opened his mouth, a smile on his face, but never had the chance to speak. Someone was shouting about infidels and then someone else was shooting. A man’s body was flying through the air, punched through a dozen times by the 5.56 millimeter rounds. He landed nearby, a peaceful grin on his face. The lieutenant, a man who’s last named was Thelen, threw himself at Jessie and tried to take her to the ground even as the suicide bomber released the trigger he held in his hand.

 

* * * *

 

Jessie snapped out of it, pulling herself forcibly out of her memories. That had been years ago, a different life for a different girl. She kicked her legs, making the corpse move and causing some of the gore to spill onto her bare knee. She gagged and then turned to retch. It turned to dry heaves quickly, and she was huddled up and shivering a few moments later when the man who had saved her walked up.


Get up,” he said, his voice dead and emotionless.

Jessie jerked. She rolled over, retching again from the vertigo. She stared up, an arm held above her head as if to block a kick or a punch.


I’m not going to hurt you,” he told her.

She stared up at him. He was older. Not grandpa old, just older than her. Solid too, she saw. A rifle hung from a strap in front of him, easy to grab and use if he needed it. Black hair that was starting to lighten with gray spoke of either age or stress, probably both. His eyes were brown and sharp, missing nothing.

He reached down, offering her a hand. His eyes glanced around, checking the surroundings efficiently then darting back to her. Jessie hesitantly reached up, realizing he could have easily killed her if he wanted. If he didn’t want to kill her, then that meant he wanted something else. She felt the strength in the gloved hand that grabbed hers and knew she had no chance except running if she had to. She saw his eyes glance to their joined hands, surprised when he realized he held a hand that was missing her little finger.


What’re you doing out here?” he asked, ignoring her disfigurement.

She stared up at him and wondered who he was. She looked around, searching for his vehicle. There was nothing, just the car she had come in and the makeshift roadblock. She looked away from the corpses, refusing to be drawn back in.


I… we,” she corrected, jerking her head towards the man that hung half out of the open driver’s side door of the dark blue Buick. “We were headed up to the mountains.”


Why? Ain’t safe out here,” he demanded without acting like he really cared.

Unable to figure him out, Jessie looked up at the distant mountain range and felt her head swim again. She moaned and stumbled, but his hand caught her shoulder and steadied her.


We were going to shoot a scene,” she said softly. “For a movie.”


A movie? Who the fuck watches movies?” He growled. “You from the city?”

Jessie nodded, thankful he didn’t recognize her and annoyed at the same time. She had made quite a name for herself. “You live out here?”

He nodded, her question answering his. “Go back,” he told her. “Nothing but death out here for you.”

She nodded, but then had to fight down the bile in her throat the motion caused her. He stared at her a minute, nodded, and made to leave. He turned back, a smirk on his face, “Thanks for the show.”

Jessie looked down, following his gaze. Her halter top had been twisted up and let her breasts hang out, thanks to the asshole that had beaten her with his pistol. She gasped and grabbed her shirt, covering herself.


Wait!” she cried out, stopping him. “Who are you?”

He looked back at her and said, “Your fairy godfather.”

She stared at him as he went back to checking out the remains of the men he had shot. She had only noticed the one, but she realized there had been two others as well. She stared at him, wondering what kind of a man could so efficiently kill three others, then rescue her with no apparent interest in her. She saw that he was ignoring her even as he gathered up the firearms the bandits had dropped and took their ammunition and anything else of use they had.

At a loss, Jessie turned to the car and walked around. Steeling herself and fighting back tears, she pulled her boyfriend’s body out of the car. It wasn’t like she had loved him or anything, he had just been her agent and he cut her a great deal when she started sleeping with him. This latest movie had been his idea, a surviving the badlands kind of theme. They heard the stories of how lawless it was outside the city, but they also heard how there were other cities out there too. Places that had sprung up or survived.

They hadn’t expected to be stopped and robbed. When Andres had protested, they’d shot him. Jessie had been scared shitless throughout, and that nearly broke her. She shook her head, trying not to remember it, even though it was so fresh and unavoidable. She was good at forgetting the past, she just needed a little help. Forcing herself not to look at Andres, she opened up the glove box and shoved some junk around until she found what she was looking for— a vial filled with syn, a new drug some genius had made that was a synthetic twist on cocaine.

She straightened up, feeling relieved at finding it. The pressure change made her dizzy and nauseous again. She clutched the syn tightly and doubled over to vomit out whatever may have remained in her belly. She hit her head again on the door, stunning her and dropping her to the ground senseless. She blinked, trying to force the world to make sense, and passed out.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

It was her job to interview the soldiers on the street. They were making “real life” videos of men and women in the field, something to help recruit more naïve young kids. Corporal Jessie Banks smiled, tired of the heat and the sand, but determined to do her part to help. The army had given her a way out of a fucked up life, plus money for school when she was done. The least she could do was give Uncle Sam a good last six months of her six-year tour.

Lieutenant Thelen was the man she was trying to interview now. Some of the men in his squad had pointed him out to her, and she had cornered him finally. His eyes took her in, an easy smile coming to his face. He was a good looking man, even though she had gotten over the attraction to men in uniform a few years prior. She smiled back and asked him if he believed they were making a difference. They all did. She knew the answer he’d give before he’d given it. Hell, she even believed it. She saw the people and how they looked at them. They were thankful and filled with hope. Well, mostly.

There were some who felt differently. She had a non-combat job. She didn’t get to meet the hordes of screaming Iranians brandishing weapons and telling the Americans to go home. She’d heard they were so fanatical about it they’d even armed children.

Jessie’s eyes met those of a man coming out of a shop. He moved forward with purpose even as she finished her question. He threw his robes back to reveal the dead man switch in his hand and shouted in Arabic, “Death to the Western devils!”

They were in a safe zone. The part of Abadan near the Iraqi border that was secure. There was no way this could be happening. Somebody opened fire, Jessie never knew who, then somebody else.

She felt Lieutenant Thelen’s arms around her, forcing her to the ground. She heard the detonation of the explosive wrapped around the suicide-bomber’s waist. She felt the impact of the ground from the shockwave of the explosion.

 

* * * *

 

Jessie woke up gasping for breath. She stared, seeing only unfamiliar shapes in the darkness. Things began to make sense to her as her heart gradually slowed down to something less life threatening. She recognized the pattern of some containers, a table, even a door, but she had no idea where she was or how she had gotten there. She groaned softly when she tried to sit up. Her vision, already dark and blurry, swam with the effort. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she was hungry. She welcomed the distraction, anything to keep her from remembering her dream.

She was lying on a cot and covered with a blanket. She looked around the small room again and saw no one. Gritting her teeth, she pulled the blanket away from her and immediately realized that she was naked. She forgot about the pain in her head for a moment as she tried to figure out what had happened. Had there been a party? An over the top scene in one of her movies? Had she and Andres tried something?

BOOK: Wanted
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