Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fall From Grace - Bulls Eye - Stand Alone 1.2

Good evening!

This is the second part of a "stand alone" short series introducing the characters from Fallen.

Catch the first one by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Keeley

~

Two men gone in twenty, but I couldn’t dwell on my losses or I stood to lose even more. I silenced the nattering in my brain.

The last time I had been ambushed had gotten me into my current situation – back in this shit hole, being ambushed. Only this time I had the black railroad tracks also known as Captain bars pinned on my lapels.

I had not been thrilled with the idea when Ryan, the Major General who happened to be my immediate boss, cheerfully told me the good news.

“It’ll be an easy in and out,” he’d told me. “You’ll be home before dinner.”

That comment alone should have raised every red flag available on earth. Home before dinner. Right. In the future I would clarify how many dinners would pass before I made it home for the one he referenced.

Brooding about it wouldn’t help the situation, I knew, and I launched back to reality as the wall I leaned against vibrated with the bullets embedding into it.

Down the line my eyes met the shell shocked gazes of almost a dozen young men. The two flanking Gates had blood spatter on their faces. Every one of them wore the grey pallor of terror. We were prey, sitting ducks with our backs against a tiny wall in a sandbox that time had neglected to update.

“Maddox, please relieve Cowboy of his duties,” I squeezed the radio in my hand until my knuckles turned white. More bullets lodged into the cement column that protected my spine. My teeth rattled through the onslaught. I needed to get my boys out of there. Cowboy could either help me achieve the goal or give the job to someone who would.

“Think Woods,” I whispered to myself.

I would send them down the wall and around the corner – to the medics building. They’d be safer there. Then I would end this as Ryan had originally requested of me.

“Maddox,” I barked into the radio. “Shoot on sight.”

“Aye aye, Captain.”

I grit my teeth. I hated when he said shit like that. It made me feel like a pirate, and I had never particularly enjoyed parrots. Although, making people walk the plank would be fun.

I slapped Davis on the leg and cocked my head to the side when he looked at me. “Rendezvous with the medic.”

His eyes widened and he fumbled with his rifle.

“Davis,” I snapped. “Go now.”

His knuckles were white against the barrel and his mouth had drawn into a grimace.

“Don’t make me repeat myself,” I commanded.

Davis nodded, stretched out onto his belly and started slithering towards the end of the wall.

“Think of it as a boot camp exercise,” I patted his shoulder as he slowly crept past me and tried to keep my voice neutral. “Stay low and against the wall.”

“Yes Ma’am,” he mumbled.

“And don’t call me ‘Ma’am’,” I muttered, turning my head towards the next sorry kid in the line and directing him to follow Davis.

One by one my battle weary troops began the slow process of snaking through the sand and blood, rounding the corner when they reached the edge of the final building. The last two shared the burden of Gates’ body between them.

A sharp crack tore through the air from above. The radio squawked with static then went dead. The barrage of bullets stopped. My ears rang.

“Maddox,” I held the radio to my ear and waited for his reply, holding my breath. I shook my head as the seconds ticked by without response. My stomach clenched as time stretched out.

“One down, Cap,” Maddox’s voice finally came across the radio.

“Thank god,” I muttered. “I need an eta on that air support, Maddox.” The shooting resumed, bringing with it the now familiar vibrations from bullets slamming into the piece of crap slab of wall protecting my six.

“They aren’t coming, Woods.” Another shot resonated overhead. “Bulls eye,” Maddox’s voice had become louder with his excitement.

“I hope you’re joking,” I spread out on the sand, my face practically in the blood that the sand hadn’t yet absorbed.

“I would never joke about a bull’s eye, Woods.”

“About the helos, Maddox.” Blood seeped through my clothes as I crept along the wall.

“Not joking,” his voice had lost the edge it had been full of moments before. “No fun in cracking jokes about things that aren’t funny.”

“God damn.” I kept crawling along the wall, away from my team and towards the hostiles. The wall flanking me reverberated at the latest leaden onslaught.

“I’m gonna need your eyes, Maddox.”

“Without question, Cap. I got you.”

I continued to creep through the sand as the bullets flew two feet above my head.

“Careful, Woods. You’re almost at the edge.”

The edge of sanity, I thought to myself, coming to a stop.

The sun started to drop, casting shadows that played on the side of the building.

“Maddox, keep on the air support.”

They wouldn’t come, though, I already knew. It would be too risky to fly so low over an area full of armed men. Nobody could handle another Mogadishu.

“Son of a bitch,” I sighed and checked my rifle, preparing for another round of pop goes the weasel.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#8Sunday - Desolation - Episode 28: Not The Time To Panic



Good morning!

Welcome back to another Sunday of Weekend Writing Warriors and another eight sentences from my WIP "Desolation".

For those of you new to this, head on over to wewriwa for the guidelines and for links to the works of the very talented writers participating this week.


Background:  Andie has been taken to the fracture clinic at the hospital by James (her husband) to have her cast removed. It's the middle of the night and the cast is covered in blood, making it evidence in the investigation of her friends murder. In this snippet, she's just started having one of the anxiety attacks that have plagued her since she stumbled across her dead friend after spending way too much time thinking about the most likely suspect.

~

The air had thickened and the room had started closing in on me.

I could picture the son of a bitch in my mind's eye -- cackling like Macbeth's witches as he dealt away chunks of his soul in exchange for handfuls of mine.

The next thing I knew I was being pulled off the floor and lifted onto a gurney.

"I'm fine," I tried to tell them, as nurses scrambled to get an oxygen mask over my face.

"I'm fine," I repeated. My words weren't just falling on deaf ears, they didn't seem to be falling out of my mouth at all.

I could hear James giving out my private information as though he was running an auction. Surely it didn't translate nearly as badly as it sounded.

~

And there we have it. Thoughts? Your feedback is welcome!

Thanks for stopping by!

See you next week,

Keeley

Friday, January 2, 2015

Fall From Grace - One Last Stand - Stand Alone

Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 brings you all health, happiness and success!

As promised last week, here's a introduction to several of the characters in the "Fall From Grace" series. This stands alone and is not an excerpt from Fallen. I'll be posting more over the coming weeks as Fallen's release date inches closer.

~  

The bullet whistled through the air. We ducked for cover, but not before it silenced itself in the neck of our Sergeant, Graham Lawton.

The last of us to hit the ground, Graham clutched his torn flesh. His body slid slowly down the wall as blood gurgled into his lungs.
    
“Put fucking pressure on it,” I yelled, as a red mist hit my face.

My men hovered on the ground in useless quiet, watching Graham’s life ooze out between his fingers.

“Goddamn you all,” I shouted, doing an army crawl through the scorching sand so I could reach my Sergeant.

The desert took its sweet time absorbing the fluid, and I wore a shit colored mud before I could finally reach up to stuff my hand into Graham’s gaping bloody wound.

“You goddamn pussies.” I couldn’t look at my troops for fear that I would shoot them myself.

Lieutenant Declan Maddox tore around the corner of the building and dove to a stop at my feet.

“First aid kit,” he tossed me a pressure bandage as another round lodged itself in to the wall less than half a foot above my head.

“We got us a sniper in one of them buildings,” Maddox pulled out binoculars and did a quick scan of the blown out windows the building over. “Bingo,” he said after a minute, picking up his radio.

“Cowboy? It’s Maddox. I got a visual on a sniper in the building, top floor. He’s about two hundred yards from your position, twelve o’clock. We got a man down.”

“Fire when ready, Cowboy,” I relayed through Maddox. “One shot.”

“All I need,” Cowboy replied, cocky.

We waited for his shot to pierce the now silent air. Seconds ticked into a minute, then two minutes.

“Maddox,” I barked. “Find out what in the fuck is going on over there.” I kept my attention on Graham, because every second counted in firefights. He would bleed out before the medics could get to him, if it took our Cowboy much longer to remove his target.

By now Graham had bled through the pressure bandage. I ran my hand under his neck looking for the exit wound and found nothing.

Thank God some women are soldiers, I thought, tugging on the pocket of my pants. I fished out a tampon and used my teeth to tear open the package.

“Maddox, hand me another bandage.” I threw the sodden gauze to the side and inserted the tampon into Graham’s neck.

Maddox’s eyes had widened. I snatched the fresh bandage away from him.

“Focus, Lieutenant,” my elbow brushed against him.

A single crack had my teeth reverberating. I ducked for cover, leaning over Graham’s pasty body to protect him as the cinder block structure beside us crumbled. Head still intact, I continued to dress my Sergeant’s wounds. Another lovely day at the office, I told myself, forcing a smile when his eyes turned to me.
    
“Am I gonna die?” Blood tinged his teeth red and foamed on his lips as Graham struggled with his focus long enough to make the sentence.

“You will not.” It came out as an order and I hoped to God that he would not defy it.

“Can you tell my mama that I love her?” Graham had chosen to ignore me.

“You tell her yourself,” my eyes met Declan’s. “We need a medic,” I mouthed.

“Can you just tell her for me? Please?” The panic in Graham’s eyes betrayed his stoic expression. I thrust my fingers against his wrist, counting off the beats.
    
“You’re not going to die today, Sergeant, but on the off chance that I do see her before you, I’ll be sure to let her know.” I replied. His pulse had become thready and faint. “We need a fucking medic,” I yelled.
    
Graham attempted a smile. It appeared as a grimace.

A short burst of gunfire hit the wall. Again I leaned over Graham to keep him covered as clouds of dust were kicked up and debris rained down on us. I needed to get him out of the hot zone before he died in my arms because we were pinned down by hostile fire.

Moving a casualty went against the bulk of my training, but then, my first aid training had been very basic.
    
“Cover me,” I ordered my team. I closed my eyes and counted to ten, readying myself as I planned our escape.

I hazarded a final look at Graham. His eyes were closed and his face had smoothed out. He almost looked like he had fallen asleep. I slapped his cheek. “Wake the fuck up, Sergeant,” I snapped.

My heart sank when he didn’t move and rage bubbled in my veins. “Cover me,” I barked at my troops again.

Bullets flew the second I popped my head up and I got the feeling that we would be playing a lethal game of whack-a-mole until I had pulled Graham around the corner to safety.

No choice, I knew, wrapping my hands under his armpits, tugging him along while I walked backwards and attempted to keep low to avoid getting shot.

My men finally did me proud, jumping up to fire a few at time in a rotation that kept the reloads possible and the enemy at bay.

Graham’s bandage had started to redden; a sign both good and bad.

“Hang on a few more minutes, Sergeant,” I told him, relief washing over me as I reached the corner of the wall that temporarily marked the end of the hot zone.

Declan popped into my vision the second I had cleared the side of the building. I kept dragging Graham along the ground, hoping that he hadn’t fallen victim to his injuries and would hang on just a little longer. Our medic had holed up three ugly ass structures down. I had only to get him there, alive, and the medic would do the rest.

“So our sniper seems to have fucked that up,” Declan told me, as he relieved me of one of Graham’s arms and helped me pull him along the ground.
    
“I noticed,” I replied. “Take Graham to the medic, find out what happened with Cowboy and report back to me. In that order, Lieutenant.”
    
“Where are you going?” As he asked the question he had already taken over my position under Graham’s armpit and begun staggering duck-like and backwards to his first destination.

“My men are out there. We don’t leave our people behind.” I turned without another word and sprinted back around the building. My men were still playing pop goes the weasel with their enemy.

It had to stop, I thought, taking a position alongside them. It had to stop and we would be the ones having to stop it.

I emptied my clip, dropped back behind the two foot wall that had been protecting us and pulled out a map sheathed in plastic. My Corporal yelled that he needed to reload and dropped down beside me, struggling with his clip.

“Gates,” I punched his leg. “We need to end this so Graham can be med-evaced out of this shit hole.”

“Yes ma’am.” His eyes dropped to the map in my hand and he pulled the china marker out of its housing. “We’re here,” he circled our position on the map.
    
I smiled tightly at our mapped out situation. The town had been divided by the fighting and reminded me of the strategy board game that my father and I had played for hours in my childhood, when dad had his pieces surrounding mine and my armies were much smaller than his.

He had always forced me to consider moves before I made them; to weigh out the pros and cons of each possibility and predict what he would do when I finally figured out what my best move would be.

The tables turned when I turned twelve and, while grossly undermanned, I somehow managed to divide and conquer.

“This is a proud moment for me, Steph,” he had told me.

My head had swelled until I thought it would burst. It had been the first time in my short life he had said anything about his pride for me. From that day I strived to hear the words as often as possible.

I looked down at the map again, shaking myself away from memory lane. I had twelve men, a sniper team, and Declan Maddox. I couldn’t count the medic or Graham.

Gates dropped back down. “Anything I can do?” My Corporal and I both turned to watch the men down the line.

“Yeah. Take six men and circle around to the back of these buildings,” I penciled his route onto the map. “Stay low. We’ll cover you.”

Declan’s voice crackled over the radio. “Woods, Cowboy doesn’t have the shot.”

“Then he needs to move.” I wanted nothing more than to shake my head in frustration and bite his head off but Gates’ eyes were on me, and that meant that all eyes were on me. Dressing down my Lieutenant in front of the men would not further our cause. It would just make me look like an ass.

“Roger that,” Declan replied.

Gates began crawling away. I put my hand on his foot to stop him. He turned his head. “What’s up Cap?”

“Be careful out there, Gates.” I couldn’t afford any more injuries.

He had collected his men and they were discussing movement when the shot cracked through the air. The muzzle blast had me covering my ears as I burrowed lower behind the wall. My teeth rattled.

Gates’ eyes were wild when the dust settled and I caught sight of him.

“Too close for comfort,” I yelled. “Abort the mission.”

Blood dripped down his forehead.

“Get down, Gates,” I hollered, slithering towards him. He leaned with his back against the wall, his head peaking out over the top.

“Gates,” I yelled out again, reaching for him.

Another shot screamed through the air. Gates slumped forward as my hand hit his leg. The back of his skull disintegrated. Blood and brain matter sprayed.

“Get down,” I bellowed to my men.

“We need air support,” I blurted into the radio at Declan. “They’ve got us pinned. Gates is down.”

“Cowboy can’t get a visual,” he replied.

“Fuck Cowboy,” I raged, conducting a quick count of the eyeballs turned my way. “Get air support here.”

“Not possible, Woods.”

“Make it happen, Lieutenant.”


I turned to my team, most of whom were teenage boys fresh out of training with zero combat experience before that day. “Looks like we’re on our own, fella’s. Stay down and against the wall.”

~

KSJ