OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Shh... Part 6

Fiction Series: Shh... Part 6

“What the hell?!” I shout, gripping the wheel with both hands, and lowering myself in the driver’s seat. Andrea ducks completely.

“Seems like they want us dead,” Andrea says.

“Well, this car is armored, so they’ll have to do better than that,” I say. “But it’s not fucking mine.” I curse loudly as bullets dig into the windshield and the rest of the car.

“So do we just block bullets until they run out?” Andrea asks.

“Um, fuck no,” I say. “Look. I have some carbines in the trunk. We pull off onto one of these dirt roads and drive a bit into the desert. I lay down some cover fire and you get them out, okay?”

“Sounds doable,” she says. I stomp down on the gas and the car jolts ahead of the SUV. I guide it off of the road and into the desert. As we separate further from the SUV, they stop shooting but maintain pursuit as I look in the rearview mirror.

“Get ready,” I say.

“We may not even need cover fire at this speed,” Andrea says, looking in the mirror.

“We will,” I say, slowing down. “I have to slow down. This performance vehicle isn’t exactly built for off-road pursuits.” The gap begins to close. I grip the steering wheel with my left as I reach for the second pistol I tucked in my waistband.

“Whose car is this, anyway?” She asks, readying her pistol.

“Ricky’s,” I say. Andrea cringes. “This was supposed to be a simple extraction, so I borrowed it from her, but nope. This.”

“She’ll be pissed,” Andrea says.

“She’s going to be absolutely livid,” I say. “And that’s if we don’t fuck around and get killed first. I’m telling her it’s your fault, by the way.”

“My fault?!” Andrea exclaims. “What? Me? How?!”

“This isn’t the first time you’ve attracted an armed conflict in my presence,” I say.

“This is entirely too ironic,” Andrea says.

“Virtually all of my armed conflicts are schemed out in advance,” I say. “I never ran out of ammo in a gunfight until I met you. I never knew that experience.”

“With the way you like to spray everywhere, that’s a god damned miracle,” Andrea says. I roll my eyes hard.

“There’s a difference between cover fire and targeted shooting,” I say. “You should know this by now.” Without giving her a chance to respond, I pull off a perfect jackknife turn and stop the car. I pop the trunk and step out, raising my pistols, aiming at the SUV, and squeezing the triggers.

Two Weeks Earlier…

“I want to meet him,” Charlie said. I finished my drink and ordered another one.

“It’s not even serious!” I exclaimed, chewing on a block of ice.

“I don’t care,” she said. “This is a turning point in your life. And he’s a cutie.”

“Turning point?” I asked. “This is me dating a guy. It’s not like I’m finishing my dissertation.”

“Will you ever do that? Like, ever?” she asked while eating popcorn. I shrugged.

“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe not. Maybe I’ll be a security consultant until the arthritis takes over.”

“With you,” Charlie said, “I’d be more concerned about CTE than arthritis.”

“I don’t do that anymore,” I said. Charlie almost dropped her glass.

“Oh really?” she asked. “I noticed you haven’t made any dry jokes about dying before thirty lately.”

“No urge to,” I said.

“Holy shit,” Charlie said. “I’m speechless. This really is a turning point in your life.”

“I guess,” I said.

“Do you have any champagne back there?” Charlie asked the bartender.

“I actually have a couple bottles of Moet,” he said.

“We’ll take both,” she said. “No need for glasses.”

“What the fuck,” I moaned, grabbing my head. I came to, facedown on my couch. I looked up and around. Charlie was asleep on the floor, my Glock tucked into the back of her jeans. The clock on the cable box said 7:03. The sun was still up. My phone pulsated from my pocket.

“Good grief,” Charlie said, waking with a start. I sat up and Charlie moved until she was sitting in front of the couch. “How much did we drink?”

“Something like three Laphroaig doubles, some beers, and a bottle of champagne each,” I said. I dug in my pocket for the phone and set it on the coffee table in front of me.

“Can’t drink like we used to,” Charlie said. She peeked at my phone. “Dinner with Kenneth?”

“You were always nosy on the low,” I said. I looked at the phone. “You might get your wish, as soon as I figure out if I’m hungover or just still drunk.”

Now…

I keep squeezing the triggers as Andrea makes her way to the open trunk. I step back slowly. One of my rounds punches through the windshield of the slowing SUV, hitting the driver. A few more rip through the glass. My pistols run dry and I dart off to the car, riddled with dings, dents, and other bullet-related trauma. Andrea is loading a rifle as I reload my pistols and drop them in the trunk. I grab the other rifle, locking and loading. “I hit one for sure,” I say. “Maybe two.” She nods.

“On three,” Andrea says. I check the M4 one last time. “Three!” We step out from behind the car and start lighting the SUV up. The three remaining passengers keep shooting back but are quickly overwhelmed by our firepower. We shoot until our rifles run dry. Silence. We put them back in the trunk, and then grab our pistols to check out the vehicle.

“WelpI” I said while looking around. “No survivors here.” The red car we ditched earlier reappears, barreling towards us. I raise my pistol in my left hand and take aim. The car comes to a halt quickly. The driver’s door opens and he gets out, hands raised…I take a few steps closer, weapon ready to fire.

“Hey buddy,” he shouts.

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