By Michael Morgan
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
This is the continuing story of Emma Pitts after the end of Three Righteous Souls, now available in the Amazon Kindle Store.
“Alright you wogs! Off the bus! GO! GO! GO!” The unidentified voice screamed its way down the aisle. Cries of pain and the crackle-pop of a Taser dragged Emma out of her nightmare into nightmarish reality just as the screamer passed by her seat again. Pain stabbing into her thigh slammed her forehead on the back of the seat ahead of hers, but the screamer forgot to trigger the electric shock before he turned his attention elsewhere.
“Bend over! Touch your toes!” Screamer yelled at the uneven line of people standing in an open field in front of the bus’s headlights. “Get to it! Grab those toes!”
Emma glanced along the line as her fingertips just barely reached her shoes. An obese woman half-way down was dragged out of line by her hair and thrown to the ground.
“Get up wog!” Screamer kicked the sobbing woman. “You’re gonna get ground up and fed to the troops piggie!” Another kick as the woman struggled to her feet and almost fell again.
“You cain’ treat people like that!” a man stood and made to help the staggering woman gain her balance.
“Who’s she to you?” Screamer demanded. “Yo’ wife?! Yo’ girlfriend?! Yo’ mama?!”
“She’s nobody to me,” the man said. “But she don’t deserve to be treated like that! None of us do!”
“I see,” Screamer sounded almost reasonable for someone still yelling to be heard. “We have ourselves a HERO! Ever’body look! Here’s a Gen-u-wine HERO comin’ to the aid of a damsel in distress!”
A pistol appeared in Screamer’s hand, and the man crumpled to the ground before the sound of the shot registered on Emma’s consciousness. The second shot dropped the woman before she could protest.
“I better see everyone looking at their toes and nothing but their toes!” Screamer paused for breath, “Those people were mutineers! They were dealt with the way we deal with ALL mutineers!” He walked to the end of the line furthest from the bus, “As I walk this line, I will give each of you a number! You will remember your number!” He tapped the first person in line with his shock baton, “Two!”
Emma watched and listened as the numbers were shouted out. Each person who could get close to touching their toes got a One. Between knee and ankle got a two. Knee or less, Three.
“One and Twos back on the bus!” Screamer ordered. The bus drove away leaving the Threes milling about in the dark field.
— 2 —
“Knockers! Front and Center!”
The order snapped Emma awake. She had almost dozed off leaning against the splintery wood siding that cloaked the deserted farmhouse they were assaulting. Knockers, the nickname made her grind her teeth as she sprinted around the corner of the house.
“Knockers! Door!” Patrol Leader Mulvaney ordered as Emma reached behind her head and dragged the sledgehammer from its sling on her back. Taking the handle in both hands, Emma braced herself, and swung. She was barely able to dive off the porch before the eight-man stick followed the door inward. Shouts of “Clear!” emerged as Emma retrieved her hammer and slung it. Every patrol had someone that carried the tools. Sledgehammer, crowbar, and a shotgun with special breeching rounds. Female, male, or not quite certain, that person was called Knockers.
The indignity of the name came with few perquisites. You always got to be last in line, until of course, something had to be forced open. Then it was your ass standing in front of the door, vehicle, or whatever hoping your next action was not going to get you killed. Emma had been “promoted” when the previous Knockers triggered an IED by testing a doorknob to see if it was unlocked. Emma used the hammer.
Of course, Knockers was never truly the last in line. That spot was always occupied by Screamer, otherwise known as Commissioner George Silas, whose job it was to insure everyone in the patrol showed the proper amount of enthusiasm when engaging the enemy. Silas had worked his way up through Red Militia movement, and he was committed to see this war through to a successful conclusion. What constituted a “successful conclusion” seemed to vary, but he wore eight black stripes on his uniform sleeve. A stripe for each “mutineer” or “deserter” he had executed personally.
Mulvaney walked out of the house, “Building secure.”
Silas clicked the stopwatch behind Emma making her eye flinch slightly. The sound too close to the noise of a safety being released. “Very good, patrol,” Silas sounded pleased. “Especially you Knockers. Got that door on the first try.”
Emma turned to face him, “Thank you sir.”
Silas looked at the gathered patrol, “Alright you wogs! Police up this area! No signs we were ever here! Kockers, get that door back in place for the next team, and…make it a challenge for them.”
“Ten hut!” Mulvaney and the rest of the patrol snapped to attention and saluted as Silas strode away. Once he was out of earshot, Mulvaney dismissed the team, “You heard the man. Git ‘er done!”
— 3 —
The second hammer blow opened the door. Emma had time to recognize a very large gun muzzle before a sledgehammer smashed in her chest and pitched her over backwards. The teenager holding the gun died as she was stitched from groin to collarbone by Murphy’s AK.
More shots rang out as the stick fanned out through the building. Emma lay on her back gasping to recover the air knocked from her lungs. Finally, the shouts of “Clear!” faded out, and Mulvaney appeared at the edge of her vision offering a hand up. “C’mon, upsy-daisy,” Mulvaney said as he helped her get her balance.
“Thanks Mully,” Emma touch-checked her gear before bending stiffly to retrieve her shotgun.
“Thank DuPont for Kevlar,” Mulvaney joked. “And be glad that bitch didn’t have an AK.”
Murphy came out of the building with a fistful of plastic cards. He handed the deck over to Mulvaney, “Typical LU-LU ID cards. This group was Honduran.”
“Weapons?” asked Commissioner Silas as he joined the group. Emma stifled the urge to cringe away from the man as he placed a comradely arm around her shoulders.
“Usual. Machetes, hatchets, a couple of pistols,” Murphy nodded to Emma. “And a shotgun.”
“Supplies?” asked Mulvaney.
“Dried rice, beans, and corn. Some cans with US labels, and what was probably a dog cooking in back.” Murphy answered. “In pretty good physical condition. No obvious wounds or disease. LULU-NOOB types.”
“Survivors?” Silas snarked.
Mulvaney did not wait for Murphy to answer, “No survivors. Our casualties?”
“Knockers the only one hit,” Murphy said. “She didn’t sing out, so I guess she’s OK.”
Mulvaney looked Emma in the eye, and she gave him a weak thumbs-up. Mully put on his best British accent, “Right! On to the next one!”
Basic, or what they had called Basic, lasted three weeks. Just long enough to weed out the rebellious hot heads and terminal weaklings. Emma only remembered one lesson from Basic. The US was in a war with all of Central and South America. The cause of the war was never quite explained, but what was clearly explained was the US Military was otherwise engaged overseas, and she had been drafted into the Federal Militia. Their job was to push back the invasion of Latinos Unidos troops.
If they could not hold their ground, a general call up of every able-bodied person between age twelve and seventy-five would be necessary to assure victory. Emma had two very important reasons to hold her ground, and those reasons were locked up in some government relocation center. Somewhere.