H. L WEGLEY
FLASH FICTION FRIDAY
EXCERPT FROM NO TURNING BACK
The vexing question was, when does it become self-defense if you shoot someone? When you know they will shoot you if they see you? But what if they don’t see you and might shoot anyway?
One of the gunmen stepped into the shallow water beside his raft and raised his gun.
Drew’s answer about when to shoot came in a flash.
He gripped his gun with both hands, sitting in firing position, and squeezed the trigger.
The man about to shoot fell backward onto the raft, nearly turning it over. The pop from the Governor’s two-and-a-half-inch shotgun shell echoed off the canyon walls leaving Drew’s ears ringing.
Beth’s hand on his ankle squeezed with surprising strength, but she kept her head out of his way.
The second gunman now stood on the bank. He fired a burst, mowing down bushes three feet to Drew’s left.
Drew pushed Beth’s head to the ground to protect her, then shot again.
The second man spun around and fell on the bank, half in and half out of the water. His pack landed on the shore.
Drew must have hit him in the shoulder.
One man floated in the water near the bank. Odds were he was dead.
The two immigrants began paddling their rafts for the opposite shore.
Drew let them escape.
He and Beth were in no danger now.
Beth’s hand, still gripping his ankle, was trembling.
“It’s okay, Beth. Both gunmen are down, and their guns are in the water. One’s likely dead. But I need to check out the wounded guy.”
“But how did—”
“Let’s just say they got on the wrong side of the Governor.” He popped open the cylinder and pulled out an empty shotgun shell.
Beth’s forehead creased with twin frown lines. “A shotgun?”
“Don’t move. Put your sort of shotgun down slowly. Comprende?” The raspy voice came from behind them, loud, authoritative, and threatening, hinting that the man would love for Drew to try something.
He wouldn’t. Not with Beth beside him.
“Comprende?” Impeccable Spanish. The guy could turn his accent on and off at will.
“Yes.” Drew laid his gun on the ground.
“Hands on your heads and turn around despacio, ever so slowly.”
Drew had only turned half way around when Beth gasped. “Suarez. He’ll kill me,” she whispered.
Suarez? Drew looked up into the barrel of an AK-47 held by a man who looked much like the two gunmen he’d shot. But this guy had the bearing of a leader, a guy who was used to giving commands.
Raspy voice scanned Beth then swore, part in English, part in Spanish. “Señorita Elizabeth Alicia Sanchez. Patience is one of my virtues. I have been waiting for this moment for seven years. What a pleasant surprise.”
“What’s he talking about, Beth?”
“Silence. No more talking, Señor. Be still and be quiet while I decide how you will die … and while I decide how to give Señorita Sanchez the fate she deserves.”
Drew glanced Beth’s way, and the look he saw on her drawn face was one he’d only seen on an actress’s face in some old horror flick right before the madman killed her. But Beth wasn’t acting.
“What is your name, Señor?” He pointed his gun at Drew’s head.
He tried not to flinch or to glare at the man. “Drew West.”
“No. Your name is Drew who-shot-my-baby-brother.”
Not good. Was his brother the dead guy or the wounded guy?
“It would be most appropriate for you to pray to your patron saint that Ricardo is not dead. If he is dead, you will die for two days. If he lives, maybe eight hours … or until I grow weary of your screaming.”
If Drew hadn’t fully understood the reason for Beth’s terror, he did now.
There were some mysteries to unravel here—how this man knew Beth, why he hated her. But Drew needed to study the end of that gun barrel pointed at him and find a second or two when it wasn’t pointed at either him or Beth.
In the meantime, Drew needed to appear frightened and subservient. The frightened part wasn’t difficult. Feigning subservience, when he wanted to kick the man’s head off … that was another matter.
“Señor and Señorita, keep your hands on your heads and stand up, slowly.”
“That’s a pretty good trick. Getting up slowly from a sitting position with our hands on our heads.”
“You do not listen well, Señor West.”
“What do you mean, Mr. uh …”
“Hector Suarez,” Beth said. “CEO of the Del Rio Cartel. The man who murdered my mother and father.”
The ugly picture came into focus, raising the stakes to the highest level. If Drew didn’t act quickly, they were dead.
“My two prisoners, they are deaf. Silence! The only reason I do not kill you now is I need you to tend to my little brother, Ricardo. See, he moves. Walk to him, slowly.”
Suarez jammed his gun barrel into Drew’s back, prodding him to walk toward Ricardo who lay moaning and holding his injured shoulder with his good hand.
Beth and Drew walked side-by-side to the edge of the river where Ricardo lay. His eyes were closed now, and his jaw clenched as he panted out his pain.
Drew studied the man’s right shoulder. The Winchester PDX1 had damaged the outer third of his shoulder. He needed the bleeding stopped and then needed to see an orthopedic surgeon, or he’d never regain full use of his arm.
Ricardo’s rifle was nowhere in sight. He must have dropped it in the river. That meant Drew’s only available weapon was his body.
He needed to draw Suarez in close and disable him with one well-placed blow or kick. But he must make sure Suarez’s rifle was not pointed at Beth when Drew made his move.
ABOUT NO TURNING BACK
Elizabeth (Beth) Sanchez, daughter of the militia organizer who drove out the Del Rio Cartel, was the lone survivor after drug lord, Hector Suarez, retaliated, massacring her whole town. Now Beth has an MBA, American citizenship, and is ready to chase her dreams. But she encounters Suarez who is bent on killing the one remaining symbol of resistance to his power, Beth Sanchez.
Once called a coward, Drew West has a mile-high chip on his shoulder and an impressive resume of fighting skills. He’s ready to fight anybody, anywhere, especially if someone needs protection … and happens to be named Beth Sanchez.
ABOUT H. L WEGLEY
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life, he served as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he jumped ship to build computer systems for Boeing for 20 years before retiring near Seattle, where he and his wife enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, and hiking on Olympic National Park beaches. He’s an award-winning author of 12 inspirational thrillers and romantic-suspense novels and has several more books on the way.
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