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Authors: Jason Halstead

Wanted (4 page)

BOOK: Wanted
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Jessie’s eyes widened. She shook her head. “I found that part first… no survivors,” she repeated. She shuddered at the unbidden image of the torn apart bodies she had seen in the tail section.


Come on, we’ve got to get your guys out of here. I’ll get you home, don’t worry. Dusty, can you move?”


Dustin,” he gasped, then nodded and reached up his other hand for Jessie to help him with.

Jessie smiled. “Okay, Dustin. I’ll help you, come on.”

Together they pulled him to his feet, though his face whitened from pain and he seemed about to pass out again. Jessie insisted he loop his arm around her shoulders, and she put her arm around his waist to assist him. The broken ribs were all on his left side, so she stayed on his right.

He glanced over at her once, his face next to hers, and his eyes widened in recognition. He looked away quickly, before Jessie could look back at him, and he felt his heart hammering in his chest. He remained silent, too caught up in breathing as shallowly as possible and trying to walk as evenly as he could to avoid the pain in his side. Jessie led them across the ground, then froze when she thought she heard something.


What was that?” Tanya asked, only a few paces off to Dustin’s left in case he needed her.


Down!” Jessie hissed, lowering her charge to the ground carefully but still painfully to the desert floor. Sagebrush, cactus, and other weeds grew enough to provide them with some cover, but nothing would hide them from a dedicated searcher.

They listened and heard voices, then a few moments later an engine fired up and multiple voices cried in triumph. Jessie’s eyes were wide with fear – she recognized the sound of the engine, it was Andres’ car. Her car now. Their car, now.


What’s that?” Tanya asked, her voice a whisper.


That was our ride out of here,” Jessie said.


Great, now what? Maybe they’re here to help?”


If they wanted to help you think they’d have hotwired my car?”


Oh,” Tanya said, crestfallen.


Dustin, you’re not going to like this, but we have to get out of here,” Jessie told him, not sure how they were even going to manage it. She figured the best thing to do would be to leave the boy and take Tanya. She was the money anyhow, she figured. Problem was there was no way Tanya was going to let her leave Dustin behind.


How? He’s hurt!” Tanya protested dangerously loud.

Jessie glared at her, reminding her to keep her voice down. Tanya had the decency to look properly chastised, and repeated her question softly.


It’s cool,” Dustin said, feigning indifference. “I can make it.”


Dus, there’s no way!”


I can make it,” he assured her. “They know somebody’s here now, they’ll be looking for us.”


He’s right,” Jessie added, silently thanking the kid for having a solid set of balls. “They found my car, they’ll know someone is here.”

Jessie pulled the pistol out and slid the action back just enough to see the bullet was still in place. She reseated it quietly, to the wide eyes of the Kurkova siblings, then whispered, “Stay low and don’t move until you see me signal you.”

Tanya opened her mouth to respond, but Jessie was already moving and thinking. She moved, hunched over, through the sharp grasses and gritted her teeth when she brushed against a cactus or other thorny bush. She moved north, parallel to the wash that she had parked next to, and tried her best to spot the scavengers that had happened across her car. They were too far away, but she could still hear occasional shouts as they talked or argued. She motioned for Tanya and watched as the girl tried her best to help her wounded brother make the crawl. It took forever, to Jessie, and she caught herself wondering what she was going to do now that she had lost the car.

Even beyond getting back to Mexicali, all of her and Andres’ camera equipment was in the truck. Replacing that would be damned hard to do. She would have to hook up with another studio, nobody was making new camera gear in the area. She almost cursed aloud at the thought, then caught herself and brought her mind back to the present. She shook her head once, briefly, to try and focus. She was spacing out and she knew it. She needed a fix, dealing with the world straight on was way too fucking difficult!


Now what?” Tanya asked while her brother just gasped shallowly and tried not to cry in agony.


We keep north, then over east,” Jessie said. “There’s a dry washout we can get in for cover and follow it up towards the mountains.”


Mexicali’s south of here!” Tanya hissed. “Where are you taking us?”


I know where the fucking city is, okay?” Jessie said, her tone and words harsher than she meant. She closed her eyes and rubbed her temple with her free hand.


Look, I’m sorry,” she said, afraid that she might scare them off. Seeing the look in their eyes she wondered how she could keep them.

Then it occurred to her, eyes widening briefly at her revelation, she almost laughed. She was an actress! Sure, by old world standards she might be a ‘B’ movie star at best, and maybe most of her screen time involved screaming or screwing, but she was still an actress. She could play a role, get herself into it, and they’d never know the difference!


You see this?” She held up her pistol.

Tanya nodded while Dustin focused on controlling his breathing and his pain, more or less oblivious to them.


I had more guns in my trunk. I’m a courier. I make the run from Mexicali up into the Colorado Wilds and even Texas, Nevada, and northern California once. I’ve run into worse than this, we can make it,” she said, making up a story just as fast as she told it.


A courier?” Tanya asked, unsure.


Yeah, the guys who take news or emergency supplies between the cities?”


You don’t look much like a courier,” she said, still doubtful.


Jesus kid, what do you want me to look like? I’d show you my ID and guns if we could get to the car. You want me wearing a full combat uniform or something? It gets fucking hot out here, even with the sun hazed out by the dust clouds. Besides, you’re a girl, you know how the right clothing can make a man change his mind when you’re in a pinch.”

Tanya blushed at her last point, then looked away.


So, you coming with me or not? I’ll keep you guys safe, I promise.”


Why? What’s in it for you?” the gymnast asked.

Jessie blinked at her. “What’s in it for me?” she returned, trying to come up with an answer.


Yeah.”

Jessie shrugged. “Ain’t there been enough death the last few years? Between the Fever and the bombs and the radiation, do we need any more?”


You know who I am, don’t you?” Tanya said, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.

Jessie shrugged. “Don’t make a difference, I’d do this for anyone that needed help. Out here you got to help people, there’s too much death otherwise.”


But you know.”


Yeah, I know. So what?” Jessie pushed back.


Fine. Get us back, there’ll be a reward,” Tanya said, eyes glaring coldly at her.


Is that right?” Jessie asked, hiding her excitement and playing the part of being surprised at the concept.

Tanya just glared at her. Jessie was spared the awkwardness a moment later when Dustin coughed and gasped in pain. A few more weak coughs and gasps and he picked his head up to look at them, blood speckling his lips.


Dusty,” Tanya whispered in alarm.

He tried to smile, but his eyes told a different story.


We’ve got to get help!” Tanya said, turning back to the would-be rescuer.

Jessie nodded, but secretly she was thinking if the kid just died all their lives would be a lot less complicated. “Alright, let’s get going. The gully isn’t far and we can move faster once we’re in it. No more crawling either,” she added.


Let’s go,” Dustin wheezed.

Tanya stared at him for an anxious moment, then nodded. Jessie led the way, angling back towards the east. She motioned for them to follow her once she reached the edge of the gully and was keeping an eye out for any signs of movement further down it. They heard nothing now, but she knew better than to think she was safe.


You all right?” Tanya asked when she and Dustin reached her.

Jessie glanced at her and saw she was not looking at her brother, but was staring at her instead. “I’m fine, why?”


You don’t look good,” she said.

Jessie frowned. “You’ve probably looked better too,” she replied testily.

Tanya rolled her eyes. “Oh come off it, I meant you’re pale and sweaty, like you’re sick. You don’t have the fever, do you?”

Jessie’s eyes widened. She did feel cold in spite of the fact that the sun was climbing steadily into the sky. She looked down at herself and saw that her halter top was spotted with moisture. Trails of sweat streaked her dust covered chest and belly as well. The clean spots stood out in sharp contrast, surprising her at just how dirty the air was with the dust and dirt kicked up into it by the wind and bombings.


Nah, it ain’t the fever,” she said. It wasn’t and she knew it, but she didn’t want to think about what it was, and certainly didn’t want to tell the rich kids. “Something I ate earlier, maybe. I’ll be fine. Let’s go.”

Jessie slipped into the wash and knelt near the wall, watching down its length anxiously. She waited and heard a hiss from above. Looking up she saw Tanya holding onto Dustin. “Help please,” she asked, just as anxious but for a different reason.

Jessie slipped the pistol into her shorts again and reached up to put her hands on the boy’s hips. He was a little taller than she was, but thin and gangly. With Tanya helped to control his descent and Jessie catching him, it was an easy drop for him. He blushed as he slid down her body, but grinned in spite of the agony as her firm breasts rubbed against his belly and chest.


Sorry,” Jessie said with a knowing smile. She knew boys and knew what was on Dustin’s mind even with his pain.


It was worth it,” he whispered, then glanced up to make sure his sister had not heard him. She slipped down a moment later and looked at them.


Alright, we need to move fast, can you do it?” Jessie said, looking to Dustin.

He nodded. “I can make it,” he assured them.

Jessie stared at him then smiled and gave him a wink. “Tanya, you take the rear. Keep Dusty between us so we can keep an eye on him.”

She nodded, a relieved look on her face. She even gave a thankful smile to Jessie for it.


Dusty, can I call you that? Good, I like it. Okay, you keep your eyes on me, you got it? Focus on me. Don’t worry about anything else but making sure you’re sticking close to me.”

Dustin nodded to her, granting her the familiarity to use his nickname. He smiled a little at her praise, and nodded again to let her know he understood her instructions. She gave him one more smile then turned and started off. She mused that, no matter the age, men and boys alike could be treated like little kids when a pretty girl was involved. In her line of work, she had to be a pretty girl. She’d never believed it, but it helped when the Army paid for reconstructive surgery after…well, after. She suddenly started seeing the curves and saw how men were looking at her differently. It gave her some new options, things she’d never dreamed of before. And now here she was playing the role of her life. If only someone had a camera on this!

She paused after fifteen minutes of following the wash. Dusty was breathing rapidly, coughing a little and grimacing every time. She had noticed his eyes stayed glued to her body though, especially her legs and ass. She had considered him an inconvenience, but what rescuing one kid would bring should easily be doubled if she got both of them back alive and well. Besides, he was probably a dozen years younger than her, but still, he was a cute kid.


Okay, the wind’s picked up some,” Jessie said, her own eyes partially closed against the dust that blew across the dry landscape. “Let’s get out of this riverbed and start circling.”


How far is it?” Tanya asked, still whispering.


Only a few hours,” Jessie said quickly. A few hours, she realized. Circle the jerks that stole her car and then a few hours and she could be back. She had a stash at her place that she couldn’t wait to get her hands on. She licked her lips and felt her hands shake a little.


You don’t have a car,” Tanya said.

Jessie looked at her, blinking. “Right, we’ll circle around them and-“


No! I mean it’s a few hours by car, right? How far for us?”

Jessie’s eyes widened and her throat suddenly felt dry. When was the last time she’d had a drink… of anything? She had some water before she left Carl’s, but just enough to wash the meat down.


150 – 200 miles?” Dustin asked, straightening up. “I’ll keep up,” he vowed, “but we’re talking what, 5 – 10 days?”

Tanya stared at her brother, then turned to look at Jessie, a mix of emotions warring on her face. Her eyes were angry one minute, then her chin quivered a little with anguish. Jessie took a breath and nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, I always drive.”

BOOK: Wanted
11.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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