Authors: Joe Nobody
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Dystopian
Secession: The Storm
Copyright © 2014
Kemah Bay Marketing, LLC
All rights reserved.
E. T. Ivester
This is a work of fiction. Characters and events are products of the author’s imagination, and no relationship to any living person is implied. The locations, facilities, and geographical references are set in a fictional environment.
Other Books by Joe Nobody:
Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart
The TEOTWAWKI Tuxedo: Formal Survival Attire
Without Rule of Law: Advanced Skills to Help You Survive
Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival
Holding Their Own II: The Independents
Holding Their Own III: Pedestals of Ash
Holding Their Own IV: The Ascent
Holding Their Own V: The Alpha Chronicles
Holding Their Own VI: Bishop’s Song
Holding Their Own VII: Phoenix Star
The Home Schooled Shootist: Training to Fight with a Carbine
The Little River Otter
The Olympus Device: Book One
The Olympus Device: Book Two
I am a man with simple needs and a simple life. I write a lot, shoot a little, and devote a respectable amount of time to research.
Every once in a while, something unusual crosses my desk that changes my daily priorities. This past summer, a close friend demanded I read P.A. Troit’s manuscript, and I was instantly motivated to work with her on this project.
Aside from a similar writing style, I felt a kindred spirit in the message and delivery of
Patricia and I soon became friends, her strong commitment to professionalism and tireless work ethic making the project enjoyable.
We discovered that both of us shared a core belief that none of the answers we seek as a nation are as simple as pure conservative versus liberal “solutions.” Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can never be defined in a single dimension. It is our hope that this work respects our complexity and differences as a people. For readers who may expect a rant justifying a hard-right political perspective,
isn’t it. The same can be said for those of a more progressive nature – you won’t find this work a testament to pure left-wing politics.
The weapons, tactics, and capabilities described in this work are real. They exist today, and are commercially available. We changed some product names so as not to infringe.
Formulas and designs of explosive materials and incendiary devices were modified or left intentionally vague. The authors have no wish to promote illegal activities or contribute to delinquency.
The economic statements, figures, and estimates stated herein are accurate to the best of our ability. It is impossible to be 100% precise, given that different sources often tout conflicting numbers. We exercised reasonable diligence to base this tale on real-world facts and certain historical events.
And finally, while we were wrapping up the editorial process, Scotland held its historic vote on whether or not to separate from the United Kingdom. While
was essentially a completed work before that referendum, we couldn’t help but reopen the manuscript and apply a few perspectives garnered from that event. I believe that additional insight gives the story even more credibility.
One quick glance was all Zach needed to understand why everybody called the man “Tusk.” Local gossip alleged the contorted ridge expanding one side of the fellow’s forehead was the result of an adolescent brawl. Other lore attributed the sharp, prominent crest of bone to a direct lineage from Satan. While it was doubtful anyone had broached the subject with him directly, discreet whispers around town speculated that he might be an evolutionary anomaly, the “missing link” between humankind and the underworld.
No way this guy is a candidate for the Mount Rushmore of Criminal Masterminds,
the Texas Ranger thought.
What an ugly dude.
Evidently, Tusk was proud of his malformation. A charcoal black tattoo had been applied to accent the protrusion, highlighting the irregularity’s depth and ferocity. Similar ink also adorned the opposite side of the man’s skull, a low-rent attempt to construct a pair of devilish horns either as a psychological advantage against his foes… or a year-round Halloween costume. Zach assumed the former.
Despite his reputation of being a first-class badass, Zach noticed the fugitive’s hand was shaking, the barrel of his pistol trembling against the woman’s temple.
; the lawman observed.
Good. He should be
“Put the weapon down, and let her go,” Zach said firmly. “You know how this is going to end.”
“Fuck you!” came the reply. “Put
gun down, and I might not kill both of you.”
Tusk was sweating, the layer of perspiration making the cranial distortion even more apparent. His hostage was glistening as well; her wide eyes scanning right and left in panic, her open mouth inhaling small, desperate puffs of breath.
Zach didn’t know the woman’s name. Clearly, she was Latino, and most likely a prostitute working one of the small, home-based bars that dotted the border slums of El Paso. The colonias were known as a place where a man could purchase cheap tequila and even cheaper female companionship. Questions were rarely asked, even if things got a little out of hand.
She has no idea how rough things were going to get once he was done with her
, Zach mused.
He’d gotten word of Tusk’s crossing over from Mexico last night. An informant’s message indicated the Gulf Cartel had lost the latest turf skirmish, the organization’s foot soldiers retreating to the safety of the United States to regroup, liquor-up their courage, and perhaps entertai
señorita or two.
Tusk’s real name was Antonio Luis Chavez, a nefarious individual who neither country claimed as an upstanding member of its citizenry. Zach’s interest in the man stemmed from a bank robbery four weeks ago in Van Horn, two of the financial institution’s employees shot execution-style during the heist.
Enjoying quite the reputation as a cartel enforcer, Tusk’s claim to fame was his sickening expertise with a machete. The New Mexico authorities had encountered a
of hacked-up bodies over the last five years. Most witnesses credited the carnage to a deranged, semi-mystical figure rumored to be part diablo, part man - Tusk.
A stolen pickup, a missing bargirl, and a rancher’s report of some asshole crashing through his fences led Zach to a 20-year old, dilapidated house trailer outside Study Butte. Tusk was alert, ferretted inside the modular home, hiding behind the topless woman, using her body as a shield.
“Put it down, or she dies,” Tusk reminded his nemesis. “Do it now!”
“I’m going to give you to the count of three to let the woman go and drop that cap gun, Tusk,” Zach replied coldly. “If ya don’t, I’m going to de-horn that thick skull of yours with 230 grains of lead.”
“One,” the ranger muttered, his eye calculating how much of Tusk’s face was visible behind the hostage’s disheveled hair.
“Two,” he continued, deciding he didn’t have enough margin.
The ranger started tapping his toe, the steady rhythm causing Tusk to raise his head just slightly for a look, exposing a bit more of himself over the terrified woman’s shoulder.
This is going to be close
, the Texan judged.
The lawman thought about giving the third count but decided against it.
He probably can’t count anyway
, he decided, squeezing the trigger. The .45 ACP roared like a thunderbolt inside the confined space. Tusk’s head jerked backwards, his body following suit, the gun wavering around his hostage’s temple.
Before the spent brass hit the floor, the ranger re-centered the front post, and fired again.
Both woman and thug went down, Zach stepping closer as they fell. The ranger’s eyes remained fixated on Tusk’s pistol hand, which he found empty. A swift scrape of his boot sent the criminal’s weapon scooting across the linoleum floor.
A glance at Tusk’s skull left no doubt the county just incurred a $300 burial fee for the cartel henchman. “Ladies and gentlemen, our tax dollars at work,” the lawman grumbled. A moan from the hostage drew his attention to the prone woman, a stream of blood curving down her exposed shoulder and chest.
“Damn,” Zach whispered, eyeing the bullet wound just above her collarbone. “That
a little tight.”
He examined her injury closely, quickly determining she’d live. His first shot had carved a trench through the flesh on her shoulder, the bullet missing the carotid artery by less than an inch. When the damage mended, she’d sport a ropey-looking scar to show her gentlemen’s club patrons, but apparently suffered no other long-term, physical consequences.
He spotted her thin, cotton camisole next to the bed. Folding it over a few times, he pushed the square of material against the wound. It took a few moments before the woman’s shock subsided and she could manage the dressing on her own. “Press,” Zach repeatedly reminded her, “Press hard.”
The town of Study Butte, Texas didn’t house a hospital or clinic. Five minutes away, there was a 4-star resort in Terlingua, offering a variety of services and entertainment from its “pamper yourself silly” spa treatments or Texas-sized golf course, to the horseback mesa tours or Old West shootout town. But he doubted there was a physician on staff, and a masseuse just wasn’t going to cut it. Alpine, just over an hour north, was the surest bet for the kind of medical care she required.
At his insistence, the rescued hostage attempted to stand. Between the shock of the encounter and her loss of blood, Zach ruled her legs too unsteady to reliably support her own weight, much less shuffle to his pickup. After wrapping her in a sheet from the bed, he scooped her up and headed for his truck. He’d call the Brewster County Sheriff’s office as soon as his cell phone registered a signal, probably 40 miles closer to Alpine.
After placing the victim in the backseat of the crew cab, Zach opened a bottle of water and handed it to the wide-eyed woman. He tried to explain to her in broken Spanish that she wasn’t being kidnapped or arrested, but doubted the message got through.
He flashed his badge and credentials, hoping to settle down the skittish señorita, but the act had the opposite effect on her demeanor. With an expression of pure terror, she stared at the silver star in his hand, her mouth rattling off a stream of words, a tear rolling down her cheek as she begged for mercy.
“I’m not here to deport you,” Zach replied in perfect textbook Spanish… but the ranger’s assurances didn’t seem to comfort the girl at all. Zach’s metered, conversational tone was no match for the fast-forward rambling of the native speaker. It was times like this when he wished he had paid a little more attention to his Spanish professor instead of flirting so much with that Chi Omega hottie. Still more fluid than most, his command of the Spanish language was no match for the speed of the Latina’s rant.
“Oh, for gawd’s sake, chill out,” he snarled, exasperated at the failed attempt to communicate thus far. The victim paused, taking in his words as she took in air.
He pivoted, intending to minimally process the crime scene before transporting the victim to the emergency room. In a flash, the girl bolted in hope of escape. Zach barely caught her wrist as she made a last ditch effort at freedom. Concerned for the former hostage’s injury, the lawman took more than a couple of minutes to contain the thrashing ball of flailing arms and kicking legs back inside the truck.
Words, English or Spanish, seemed to have no lasting impact on her desperation. Sighing, he finally handcuffed her to the door.
Zach straightened his hat and reentered the trailer, still mumbling about her reaction. “I should have anticipated that,” he whispered, “but it never ceases to amaze me. She didn’t struggle very hard when Tusk was about to blow her head off… but the thought of deportation… that’s enough to turn her into a wildcat.”
His first act after surveying the crime scene was to snap a few pictures with his cell phone. He had a much better camera out in the pickup, but it wasn’t warranted here. Besides, he had a problem handcuffed to his truck, and high definition pictures might further complicate his current situation.
Mentally rehashing the morning’s drama, Zach envisioned some “Oilcan Harry” attorney getting a hold of the woman and making a federal issue over his bullet’s grazing wound. He’d run into some real scumbags before, many of the so-called lawyers worse than the criminals he encountered. “So much for my promising career in law enforcement,” the ranger scowled.
Zach realized that these ambulance chasers frequently represented lobbyist organizations in East Texas. Immigration reform was an up and coming political darling there, the Latino communities hiring the greasiest of attorneys they could manage. Given the Texas Rangers’ history of accumulating Mexican blood on their boots, lawmen like Zach were prime targets for those seeking to make a name for themselves in both Austin and Washington.
“Wonder if they are still looking for a security guard at the apartment complex,”
“At least I would get to drive one of those little golf carts. Maybe I could negotiate for priority parking.”
A whirlwind of negative thoughts continued to spin through Zach’s brain. Could his career survive the media circus of a lawsuit? How would he repay the $25,000 he owed in student loans if he were not gainfully employed? But then, an idea occurred to Zach, a small indiscretion that might make life simpler. Leaning over to retrieve Tusk’s pistol, he hefted the revolver while recreating the encounter in his mind.
Finally coming to a decision, he carefully dipped the barrel in the woman’s blood and fired the old .38 Special at just the right angle. If anybody made a fuss, it would appear that the criminal’s shot had injured the hostage - not his.
my life shouldn’t become more complicated when I am the white hat.
Zach turned to leave when the green and white logo emblazoned across a gym bag on a nearby table commanded his attention. The emblem on the outside proudly read, “The Jets,” and Zach recognized the design sported by the New York football team. Zach hesitated for a moment, considering the small number of folks he knew who cheered for out of state teams – something certainly not commonplace in remote West Texas. Electing to investigate further, he tugged the zipper to see what might be inside. Halfway expecting to be greeted with sweat laden gym shorts and rancid athletic socks, he was only mildly surprised to discover a bag filled with Franklins – somewhere between twenty and thirty thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills secured in rubber banded bundles.
“Tusk, you old devil, you were planning on some serious partying, my man. Even an ugly fuck like you can arrange a good time with that much cash,” the ranger commented to the dead man at his feet.
A hint of white in the sea of green drew Zach’s attention. Being careful not to leave any prints on the bag or money, he gingerly fished out a piece of copy paper, complete with a photograph.
Zach inhaled sharply when he flipped the sheet over. The image confronting the ranger was that of his superior, Major Alcorn, the man in charge of Company E.
“The boss isn’t going to like this,” Zach whispered to the carcass lying next to his boot. “But then again, what man
appreciate having a contract out on his life?”
Five minutes later, after snapping a few more pictures of Tusk’s body, Ranger Bass was leaving a trail of dust in the air as his truck sped north.