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The War – Episode 31

June 13, 7:07 PM
Tucson, Arizona

A blast of hot air hit Bob as the doors slid open in front of him and he pushed his cart out of the air-conditioned grocery store. The late evening sun was bright enough that he had to bring his hand up to shade his eyes so he could scan the parking lot for his truck. Rene saw him come out and honked twice to catch his attention.

Bob waved to her and started walking across the cracked parking lot. The polymer grip of his pistol, which he took pride in having lost enough weight to holster inside his waistband, bumped against the cart’s handle as he started off. His long shadow slipped across the asphalt as he went, and he watched for traffic as he crossed to the parking area.

Rene got out of the driver’s seat and walked to the back as he dropped the truck’s tailgate and started loading the groceries.

“Busy in there?” she asked as she picked up a box of cereal and placed it next to the cat litter in the truck’s bed.

“Not bad,” he said, “Had to wait for someone who could work the meat cutter to get that turkey you wanted for lunches. Most everyone in the deli was gone.”

She nodded, “I figured. But it’s what the kids’ll eat,” she replied.

Bob humphed a bit. “Still think we ought to just buy bologna. They’ll eat that when they get hungry enough,” he said with a small smile.

Rene rolled her eyes as she walked around and got back in the truck. Bob put the tailgate back up and took the cart to the corral in the next row over. He squinted again as he faced into the sunset and started back toward the truck.

Suddenly, a hand grabbed his shoulder and pushed him around. He felt something hit the back of his knee and his right leg folded underneath him.

“Allahu akhbar!” his attacker screamed as Bob felt a bolt of pain rip through his gut. The attacker, his face shaded by the sun behind him, pulled his knife from Bob’s torso and then struck again, driving it back into his belly.

Bob struggled to grab at his attacker, but only succeeded in pulling the thug down with him as he fell onto the asphalt. The man pulled the knife out once again, then raised it high for another stroke. Bob brought his arm up to block the blow, and screamed as the blade ripped down into his forearm.

The attacker grabbed Bob’s shirt and struggled to pull his knife back out. Bob lashed out as hard as he could, striking at the man’s chest and face. The man, now smeared with Bob’s blood, pulled the blade free and reared up on his knees to strike again.

Rene’s pistol roared and spat out a tongue of flame a foot long. The man’s back exploded outward with a burst of meat and blood as her bullet struck him in the chest and passed through to exit on the other side.  Time seemed to hang in the air for an eternity, then Rene fired again, this time hitting him at the base of his throat. The attacker fell back, his head hitting the asphalt with a sickening thud.

One of Bob’s hands went to the wounds in his belly, and he tried to reach for his pistol with the other. He felt Rene grab him, and heard her scream for someone to help. He reached up and touched her cheek with his free hand as he felt the world gray out around him.


Other episodes can be found here.  The rest of the story can be found in Escort Duty, available now at Amazon.


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  1. Never drop you SA… sigh

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