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Authors: Jason Halstead

Wanted (9 page)

BOOK: Wanted
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The outhouse had no water in it. She looked around, sighed and headed back inside. Both of the kids were still asleep so she made her way into Carl’s kitchen and looked around until she found another rag. A jug half full of lukewarm water was on the counter, so she poured herself a cup and, grimacing at the bland taste, forced herself to drink it. Fighting the urge to gag, Jessie poured another cup full of water and made herself breathe evenly to get past it.

Finally feeling as though she could keep the water down, she dipped the rag into the cup and began to work on wiping the sweat and dirt off of her face. From there she moved on to her arms. Glancing at Tanya and Dustin and around the small building for a place to go, she gave up and pulled her halter over her head. She turned her back to the sleeping teenagers and realized she needed a fresh cup of water. Hers was brown with dirt.

Several minutes later the door opened again, making her freeze in panic. She saw a two pronged meat fork nearby and grabbed it, turning to face the door. Carl stepped in, looked around and saw her first. His expression would have made her laugh had she not been standing naked with her shorts halfway up her legs in one hand.

He turned and saw the other two still sleeping, though Tanya stirred. He stepped in, shut the door behind him and turned to put his rifle and coat in the cabinet. Finally, that finished, he turned back to see Jessie still standing there, meat fork held out defensively in front of her.

You allergic to clothes or something?” he growled, albeit softly.

You allergic to knocking?” she countered. She realized how silly she looked though, and put the fork on the counter then finished pulling her shorts back on. She reached for her top, keeping her eyes on him.

It’s my place,” he pointed out, then shook his head and turned away. “I got some spare clothes you can wear while you wash yours up.”

Jessie stared at him, forgetting the halter top in her hands. She looked at him suspiciously while he walked across the room without making any noise. He opened a trunk and took out some clothes, then turned and walked back towards her. He tossed them to her, looking almost uncomfortable for a minute. With a hint of satisfaction in his voice he said, “Just don’t bleed on ‘em.”

Jessie stared at him, lips parting again. She knew exactly what he meant and couldn’t believe he’d said it. The winkle of amusement in his eyes as he turned away sucked some of her building rage out of her though, and then it fell flat within her. She looked down at herself, staring at the clothes in her hands and then at her belly. The dirt was gone and the tan and cosmetic surgery she had hid her scars well, but she knew they were there.

Don’t worry,” she said flatly, her voice drained and dead sounding. “I can’t.”

Huh?” he asked, turning around and not understanding her.

Jessie saw him looking at her and, for the first time in a long time, she felt dirty. She let her soiled top fall to the floor and slid her shorts back down, then thought about scrubbing herself down again, but knew it would not change a thing. She slipped his pants on, hauling them up and finding the green and brown camouflaged fatigues so roomy that they barely held on to her hips. A t-shirt followed next, which was similarly loose on her except for where her bust stretched it tight. She blushed as she realized how much Dustin might enjoy her wardrobe change, even though she was wearing more now than she had in weeks. Come to think of it, if Dustin had seen all her movies, he had seen everything she had to offer anyhow.

I didn’t mean any wounds,” Carl said, thinking she had misunderstood him. It had been a funny private joke to him before, but now he wished he’d kept it to himself. Something about the chatty, and stupid, girl just left him feeling awkward at times.

I know,” she said, looking up and smiling without emotion. “Thanks for the clothes. I’ll wash them up when I’m done with mine.”

Use the sink, the drain still works. I just ain’t fixed the plumbing yet,” he offered, feeling like he was walking on eggshells. It was a feeling he didn’t like, especially in his own house.

She nodded and turned back to it, pouring water from the jug into the sink after stopping the drain. She dumped her clothes into it and pushed them down, then began rigorously scrubbing them even though she had no soap. “I can’t bleed,” she said softly, and for no reason she could explain.

Huh?” he asked again, not sure he heard her right because what he thought she had said made no sense.

She stopped and stared out a dusty window above the sink through which dirty light filtered. “My period – I don’t get one. I don’t have a uterus.”

Carl’s eyes widened briefly at her revelation. He suddenly wished he was back out cleaning off his solar cells and cameras. He wished he was anywhere, really, but there. “Oh,” he said, uncomfortably acknowledging her for lack of any idea how best to respond.

She turned and looked at him, some water darkening the brown fabric of her borrowed t-shirt from where she had splashed herself. “They took it,” she whispered, staring at him. “Took my womb and my finger and one of my tits.”

Carl really looked uncomfortable now. Jessie stared at him, not letting his gaze go, and reached up to grab one of her breasts in each hand. “They gave me these instead. Bigger, firmer, sexier. Some deal, eh? Make everybody think I’m sexy and hide the fact that I’m broken?”

I’m sorry,” Carl muttered, realizing he needed to say something, to do something, to keep her from going off the deep end.

Jessie barked a quiet laugh at him. “You’re sorry? Why? For liking them? Don’t be, that’s why I got them. You want to touch them? Kiss them? Maybe slip your cock between them and fuck them?”

He walked around the table to her, seeing the moisture gathering in her eyes and the way she was trembling. She thought that maybe he did want to. She hoped he did, to remind her that she was good at something, that she was wanted, desired. Sure, having Dustin lust after her was great, but he was a kid. He’d lust after the skinny bitch of a sister he had if he had to. No, she wanted proof from a full grown man, a powerful man that knew what he wanted.

She grabbed the bottom of his shirt and started to pull it up She was almost to her head when his hands stopped her. She had seen them rising and assumed he was going to grab her boobs. Instead they rested on her shoulders and stopped her arms. He grabbed her hands and pulled them gently back down, covering her back up.

Don’t you want me?” she whispered, her eyes pleading with him.

Jessie,” he said, not knowing what he was supposed to say. “You’re a mess. You’re strung out, you’re confused, and you’re out of your element.”

She let his words hit her, taking them and feeling them roll over her, burying her in more misery. They reminded her of what she secretly fought against, telling her that she was the piece of trash her parents had called her.

I’m sorry about what happened to you, whatever it was. Sorry you had to go through it even,” he added. “But I don’t pity you. You make out of life what you make out of it. You got choices. All of us do. Choose what you want to do with yourself – and not making a choice is still making one.”

He looked down at the watch on his wrist symbolically then said, “You keep this shit up you’re into now and you’re gonna run out of time.”

She stared at him, tears running down her cheeks. “You got it all figured out, don’t you?” she asked through a strained throat. “You the fucking expert on life?”

No,” he said.

So that why you hide out here? Not good at anything else?” she hissed at him.


She stared at him, her tears drying up but her mind a circus of jumbled thoughts. She wanted to throw something at him or hit him or kick him or-anything to hurt him and make him realize that she needed him to want her. That’s all. She could just tell him. Ask him to hold her, to let her cry. To tell him…

Fuck that,” she snarled, not even realizing she had said it aloud. She saw the confused look in his eyes and looked around, desperate for something.

What about her? What’s that skinny bitch got that you want? Huh? I seen the way you look at her! Seen the smile she gives you. You tap that while I was passed out?”

He stared at her, the muscles in his cheek twitching. Then he regained control of himself after biting back whatever retort he had wanted to say. “She’s accepted control of her life. She’s not letting fate control her. I admire that.”

She’s scrawny,” Jessie said, staring at the sleeping and injured girl.

You ever tried gymnastics?” he asked. She just stared at him, confirming his suspicion. “You try her out when she gets better, you’ll be surprised. That kinda strength comes from inside. You show me that kind of strength-well, you just show me.”

She stared at him while he turned and headed off to use the bathroom. He shut the door loudly, waking up Dustin and Tanya both with a start. They looked around, confused, and saw Jessie standing in the kitchen in her borrowed clothes.

Give me your clothes, I’m doing laundry,” she said, answering their unspoken questions with the only thing she could think of to keep them from complicating her life more.





Chapter 6


Marko Garza paused to wipe the sweat and dirt off his forehead, then replaced the nylon combat helmet and held the satellite phone closer to his ear. “No sir, no survivors,” he confirmed into it.

Some of the bodies are torn up pretty bad,” Marko admitted after listening to his superior on the phone. “We’re in the identification process now. We’ve eliminated some looters, but in spite of that, the wreckage has been picked over pretty good. We don’t know who yet, but there are three MIA so far.”

The curse that came across the sat-phone did not even make Marko flinch. His boss was old school military, the best the United States Navy had put through their SEAL program in the 80’s and 90’s. That meant, to him, that he was a hard man who could fight, talk, and drink with the best of them.

Yes sir,” Marko said smartly in response to another request. He paused a moment then asked, “I can’t imagine anyone surviving this, but if they did, we’ll get them back.”

Marko’s eyes widened as he listened to the response. When it was over he could only nod and say, “Yes sir, understood.”

Garza was left holding the phone and surveying the burned out remains of the crashed airplane. For the briefest of moments he began to wonder about the possibility of the missing bodies being survivors. He almost segued that thought into wondering about the mission, but stopped himself in time. He was just a lieutenant in Maelstrom Incorporated’s field team. He had orders to follow and orders to give. Besides, a man like Mr. Kurkova had the money, and the resources, to find out that nobody had survived the crash.

Sir, we found some tracks. Something was dragged – we think it was a body.”

Cut loose from his wonderings, Marko looked at the new recruit that had spoken. It was Owen Sanchez, just a private, but a former US Marine. Marko had interviewed and hired him personally. He was impressed with the man’s tenaciousness, even if he seemed a bit stupid and bullheaded at times.

Show me,” he said, pulling his re-breathing mask over his face to keep out the stinging dust. It served as a low grade radioactive scrubber too, in case there were still trace amounts of fallout from the bomb that had taken out LA in the area.

Sanchez led the former Mexican GAFE officer through the torn up and burnt out ground to the nose section of the fuselage. They walked past a few other men that were combing through the wreckage, some policing bodies and others trying to find items of worth to take back. A third group of two men could be seen off to the side, dragging the bodies of some looters they had encountered into a ditch.

Here, sir,” Sanchez said, pointing to a break in the hull. “We figure one or two people pulled out a body and dragged it that way.”

You find the body?”

Not yet.”

Marko grunted and started walking in the direction of Owen’s finger. He saw one other man already ahead of him and recognized him as Private Michael Twotrees, a Navajo who had served in the Air Force as a clerk. Marko knew he had a lot more potential than pushing papers around, so he’d hired him quickly and it looked as though he was about to be thankful for his intuition about the man.

Got something, private?”

Michael looked up from where he crouched. Seeing who it was, he straightened up and glanced around. Sanchez had followed them, but the next closest people were the two in the ditch nearly a hundred yards away.

One, maybe two people walking, one being carried and dragged,” he said. “It’s been too long, too much wind and dust to know more.”

So where’d they go?” Marko asked.

Twotrees stared off to the north and west. He shrugged, then said, “Found car tracks over there, but these aren’t headed that way. Not much cover here either, too thin to hide in for long.”

Marko nodded, knowing the Native American was taking his time before giving an answer so he could be sure he agreed with what he said. He also knew that most people knew what they were going to say before they said it, even if they didn’t realize it themselves.

BOOK: Wanted
2.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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