Burmese Crossfire Chapter 3

Well, there’s less than a week until Burmese Crossfire comes out.  One last peek before it’s go time.


Joe Flanagan was not a man given to many words or noticeable outbursts of emotion.  He was often best described as “laconic,” and he took some pride in that fact.  He was a quiet man, often a gray man, passing unnoticed through the crowd, and he liked it that way.  He and Brannigan were of similar temperaments in that respect, as both preferred the wilderness to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Right at the moment, though, Flanagan’s eyes were smoldering, and his jaw was tight under his thick, black beard.  He was not a happy man.

He checked his watch again.  He knew he was in the right place.  The Vegas apartment complex hadn’t been hard to find.  It had been a long drive to get there, and now Curtis was late.  He would have let the man make his own way, but he’d been hiking in Utah, so he’d been close enough to swing through Vegas and pick the other man up on the way up to Colonel Brannigan’s place in Idaho.  But they still had a long way to go, and here he was, sitting at the curb, and there was no sign of the little man.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket.  “Where the hell are you?” he typed.

Joe!  Just in time!  I need extract!  I’m in the Blue Lagoon!  Hurry!

“Son of a…”  Flanagan had to fight the temptation to punch the steering wheel.  “Leave it to him to go to a damned bar and get into trouble now of all times,” he muttered, as he put the truck in gear and headed down the street.  Only having something of a working knowledge of Curtis’ favorite hangouts in Las Vegas gave him a general idea of where he was going, without looking at a map.

Ordinarily, it would seem to be too early for anyone to be in a bar, but it was Vegas, it was mid-afternoon, it was a weekend, and it was Curtis.  The man had never seen a bar that he hadn’t wanted to go into, and Flanagan was pretty sure he knew just why the little man was in trouble, too.

He was fuming and ready for a fight when he stalked through the doors of the Blue Lagoon.

The place was dim, lit by blue neon lights set above the bar and in abstract patterns on the ceiling.  The walls, ceiling, and most of the floor were black, except for the mirrors behind the bar, which just reflected the blue light even more.  The atmosphere was somewhat relieved by the Nevada sunlight coming in the tinted windows at the front, but not by much.

It was easy enough to pick out where Curtis was, even though he couldn’t see the little man behind the knot of belligerents gathered around him.  He could hear the gambler and erstwhile machinegunner’s slightly high-pitched voice clearly enough.

Say what he will about Kevin Curtis’ judgement, he could never accuse his old friend of being a coward.

“Oh, look at you, big man!” Curtis was saying.  “Bow up all you want, it don’t matter to me.  Or to her, apparently!”

The other man said something, probably intended to sound threatening.

“Oh, look at me, I’m so tough, in my Hard Rock Café t-shirt with the sleeves cut off,” Curtis mocked.  Even without seeing him, Flanagan could picture Curtis puffing his chest out and pulling his chin in to ridicule the man.  “Man, get outta here with that noise!  If you were half the tough guy you think you are, she wouldn’t have needed to get to know me, now would she?’

Flanagan was halfway across the floor when the man raised a fist.  “Try it, bitch!” Curtis called.  “See what happens!”

The man let the punch fly.  At the same moment, his half-dozen buddies also converged, fists flying.

Flanagan waded in. Continue reading “Burmese Crossfire Chapter 3”

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“Older and Fouler Things” Chapter 4

Edit 2 is finished, and the preorder for the Kindle version of Older and Fouler Things is up!  It will release on September 22.  In the meantime, here’s a look at Chapter 4.

Oh, and there’s a cover, too.

Paul didn’t show up to breakfast, even though it was pretty late in the morning, and the sounds and smells of frying bacon and eggs were permeating the entire house.  After the events of the previous night, that was a matter of some concern.  I was about to go check on him, but Eryn put a hand on my arm.

“Let me get him,” she said quietly.  “If he’s as traumatized as I think he might be, a gentle voice will probably help him a little more.  No offense, hon, but you’re better at the ‘shooting monsters’ part, and I’m better at the ‘comforting victims afterward’ part.”

I just nodded, and stepped back.  I was still hovering in the hallway, though, and I still had my .45 on my hip.  The combination of Magnus’ reaction to him, the eerie activity at the witching hour that morning, and his silence and absence at breakfast were not serving to make me particularly comfortable.

Eryn knocked softly on the door to Paul’s room.  “Paul?” she called.  “We’ve got breakfast, if you want some.”  She waited, glancing at me.  “Paul?” she tried again, knocking a little more insistently this time.  “Are you all right?”

We waited, and I was gearing up to kick the door in.  Sure, he’d come to us as a terrified, traumatized victim, having narrowly escaped becoming a human sacrifice in a demonic summoning ritual.  But there was obviously something weird going on with him, and while Eryn had been right when she’d pointed out that some great Witch Hunters had started out that way, there were also some pretty gruesome stories floating around in which similar victims had ended up going bad.  Very, very bad. Continue reading ““Older and Fouler Things” Chapter 4″

Lex Talionis Chapter 7

By the time we hit the rally point, it was pretty obvious that things were threatening to spiral out of control.

Gunfire was echoing through the night, more intense than anything we’d unleashed yet, except for maybe the mad minute into Fat Boy’s safe house.  Red and blue flashing lights were clearly visible, as were the flames from something having been set on fire not far from them.  The local PD was in the middle of one hell of a firefight.  Given what I’d seen, I didn’t imagine it was a fight that they were remotely prepared for.

Even though it had been a pretty successful night, we were all pretty subdued as we gathered around the vehicles in a field south of town.  Granted, some of our silence was simply professional habit; once you’ve spent as long as we have running around hostile environments, outnumbered and generally outgunned, you don’t get loud and chatty very easily.  Some of it was because of fatigue.  There hadn’t been a lot of sleep since Jim’s death. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 7”

Lex Talionis Chapter 6

Twelve hours later, aching with fatigue and sleep-deprivation, we pulled off and headed to another one of the myriad abandoned houses that we’d picked out as safe houses elsewhere in the city.

 

“Well, that’s interesting,” I said, looking around at the weary, grimy faces gathered in the shadowed living room.  At least, I think it was supposed to have been a living room.  It was just an empty space covered in dust and debris at that point.  We were keeping well back from the broken front windows to avoid being easily spotted from the street.  “Nobody saw any police response at all?”  I looked at Derek.  “I know you were monitoring their comm freqs.  Even the IED wasn’t enough to stir ‘em?”

He shook his head.  “They were aware of it.  Several calls came in, from locals and police units.  But there was no response from dispatch except to say, ‘Yeah, we know.’”  He shrugged.  “They knew that the wild goose chases I had them on were probably connected to it, too, judging by a couple of the responses to the bots’ 911 calls.  But they still didn’t lift a finger to go into the East Side.”

“That is very interesting,” I mused, scratching my beard as I stared at the map. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 6”

Lex Talionis Chapter 5

The sound of pistol shots could only mean that things had just gone very, very bad.  Of course, being the East Side, we heard sporadic gunfire all the time.  If I had been inclined to wishful thinking, I might have been able to put it down to just another couple of gangbangers removing themselves from the gene pool.  But the timing, the direction, and the fact that the explosion we’d been waiting to hear hadn’t gone off yet, disinclined me to such hopes.  Bryan was probably dead, and our first diversion was a bust.

Strangely enough, I didn’t feel the surge of rage and frustration that I probably should have.  I was in the zone, game face on, and I just did what came naturally anymore when things inevitably fell apart.

I attacked. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 5”

Lex Talionis Chapter 3

The wrecked, bullet-riddled cars had been dragged away from the gate by the time we got back.  With the uproar in town, the sheriff’s department hadn’t showed up yet, either, though I was sure they were on their way.  It was going to take them a while, though.

I pulled the truck up in front of the porch and got out.  Tom was waiting in the doorway.

“Where’s shithead?” I asked.  The fury was burning pretty hot by then; I’d been feeding the flames most of the way back from town.  It might not have been the healthiest way of coping, but as long as it kept me from breaking down, I was going to stick with it.  I had so damned much bottled up grief and fucked-up shit in my head by then that I didn’t dare open that floodgate.  That way lay madness and fatal alcohol poisoning. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 3”

Lex Talionis Chapter 2

I hadn’t put my rifle down.  Tom grabbed his M1A that had been leaning in the corner as we both turned and ran out of the ops room.

Larry and Nick were already in Nick’s big diesel, and Tom and I hauled ourselves into the bed.  It wasn’t quite the leap that it might have been a few years before, but we got ourselves situated and braced in a few seconds, before I banged on the roof of the cab with my off hand.  Nick threw the truck in gear and we roared down the long driveway toward the gate.

It was more a road than a driveway; the gate was almost a mile from the ranch house.  Tom and I held on for dear life as the pickup raced over the unfinished gravel track, leaving a cloud of dust behind us.  I could hear the shooting even over the roar of the engine and the buffeting wind of our passage.  Those boys at the gate were getting some. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 2”