Welcome to the next stop on the Summer of Zombies blog tour!
A New World: Awakening Excerpt
Bri listens to the conversation with Robert standing at her side. An icy feeling of fear strikes her gut as she listens to the plan which includes her dad parachuting into a hostile compound at night.
“He can’t be serious, can he?” She asks leaning over and talking quietly to Robert.
“I think he is,” Robert answers.
“I don’t like it. I mean, dad parachuting in at night? And then the two of them facing all of those people by themselves?” Bri says.
“I don’t either, Bri. But you know dad. Once he gets an idea….” Robert says letting his sentence trail off.
“Can he do it? I mean, has he ever parachuted? And at night?” Bri whispers.
“I don’t know. I know some of dad’s stories but I’m beginning to think there’s a lot more to them,” Robert replies. “But I’m not overly fond of him doing this.”
She feels her balance shift from the tempered steel inside to a feeling of fear which turns into an anger boiling in her gut. That fear is redirected at the night runners. She realizes it’s people her dad is going after but she blames the night runners and feels they are indirectly responsible. If it weren’t for the night runners, then they wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with. The crowd of soldiers and the others they picked up the other day are intent on the conversation. She backs slowly away.
Bri’s thoughts migrate back to her sister. A terrible longing envelopes her; she misses Nic so much. Nic was always a source of comfort and inspiration to her. She misses the smile Nic always had for her; misses Nic’s enthusiasm for everything she did. She feels like a piece of her was ripped out when Nic died. The night runners took Nic away just as they almost took her dad. They also changed her dad; both physically and emotionally. She almost doesn’t recognize this part of her dad. He used to be playful and funny and she misses that. She missed the laughter they shared.
Now he seems tired and almost too business like. She sees glimpses of the old dad from time to time and relishes those moments but now, with him contemplating doing something so dangerous without her really understanding why he has to, a deep fear of losing him surfaces. The slams against the aircraft and howls from the night runners continue, igniting a deeper hatred for them. She is tired and so emotions bubble to the surface easier.
She watches as Greg and her dad head into the cockpit for some reason. The others mill about in the back of the aircraft. A slam pounds against the fuselage nearby startling her. Bri feels a knot form in her stomach and her teeth clench in frustration and anger. She’s tired of this and just wants things to go back to the way they were. The frustration of knowing it will never be that way again adds to already pent up feelings. She looks behind her noticing the ladder in place leading to the overhead hatch. Looking back at the group, no one is paying any attention to her.
The emotion she had on the firing range returns with one notable exception – there is cold calculation involved. The feeling of wanting to see every night runner dead resurfaces. A part of her feels numb but she remembers Gonzalez’ words to her that day. She battles her emotions and feels a fear filling her knowing what she is about to do. She’s tired of reacting and wants to act. Determination sets in.
Donning a set of NVG’s and with her ever-present M-4 shouldered, she begins to climb the ladder; fearful of being caught and even more fearful of what waits outside. She knows from watching the night runners at night that they can’t scale the aircraft and so the top should be safe enough. Bri doesn’t feel she is putting the others at risk by opening the top hatch but she will close it when she is outside.
There isn’t any cry of alarm or shout of discovery as she reaches for the hatch opening. She opens it and the shrieks outside increase only slightly. They are below and so the sounds don’t increase into the opening. She climbs out onto the top of the aircraft and gently closes the hatch. Lowering her NVG’s, she looks across the area. The wings stretch flat away from her with the four engines and huge props attached. The large tail rears into the night and she looks forward to where the flat surface of the top arcs down to the cockpit where her dad and Greg stand.
Bright stars twinkle overhead against the black velvet sky but are unseen in the green glow of her goggles. The chill of the night envelopes her and sends a shiver down her spine. The chill is even more noticeable because of the heat that was prevalent during the day. Mindful of not stepping on anything and following the pathways marked safe for walking, she edges to where the wing merges with the fuselage. On top, the screams of the night runners are more succinct and louder. She may not be able to kill all of the night runners but she can take care of these around the aircraft.
She becomes suddenly mindful of what she is doing and where she is at. She is outside with the night runners. Bri turns to head back fearful of what she is doing. Killing the night runners here will not change what her dad is planning nor make it any safer for any of them. She’s here though and the knot in her stomach is just as tight as it ever was. She halts her retreat and goes to a knee near the leading edge of the wing but on the flat of the fuselage. The curvature of the top is not so bad that she feels fearful of slipping off. Bri unshoulders her M-4, ensures a round is chambered, flips the selector switch to semi, turns her night laser and sight on, and brings her carbine to her shoulder.
The night runners below halt their runs against the aircraft and look up at her. They’ve smelled me, she thinks centering her small cross hair on the head of a night runner. The laser, as seen through her NVG’s, paints a dot near where her sight is set. Aim small, miss small, Lynn’s words echo in her head. Bri centers her sight right between the night runner’s eyes. She is aware that she can’t shoot near the aircraft or any of its vitals so she picks one standing a little distance away. The shrieks and howls escalate and the night runners renew their efforts against the 130 in an attempt to get to her.
She eases the trigger back feeling a slight kick against her shoulder sending a round streaking through the night air. A muted cough mixes with the shrieks of the night. The night runner started its charge for her so the bullet misses where she aimed but forcefully impacts the night runner high on the forehead. The small 5.56mm round flattens on impact with the thick skull but punches through leaving a small entrance hole. The downward angle of the shot alters the bullet’s path even more downward and to the right. Bone splinters and the steel-core round plows through the gray tissue. The force of its passage turns the millions of synapses of the brain into jelly. Impacting the skull near the jaw, the enlarged bullet explodes outward in a spray of blood and gray tissue; meaty chunks and blood splashes on the night runner’s shoulder and the ground. The night runner falls instantly to its knees and falls forward to impact the ramp face first.
Bri only registers the hit and knows the night runner is taken care of. She watches as another tries to climb the outboard propeller and shifts her aim point. The parallax view allows her to sight in quickly and, mindful of not hitting the large propeller, she sends another sub-sonic round into the night. The night runner jerks from the bullet slamming against the side of its head just in front of its ear and is thrown from the prop; hitting the tarmac with a heavy thump. Bri shifts her sight aligning with another target. Ever conscious of her surroundings, the knot in her stomach, her fear, and her anger all vanish into a business-like function as she is now just shooting at targets.
John O’Brien Biography
John O’Brien is a former Air Force fighter instructor pilot who transitioned to Special Operations for the latter part of his career gathering his campaign ribbon for Desert Storm. Immediately following his military service, John became a firefighter/EMT with a local department. Along with becoming a firefighter, he fell into the Information Technology industry starting two large casinos in Washington as the Information Technology Manager and becoming the Network Manager for the Washington State Legislature, the Northwest Information Technology Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Network Systems Manager for Hollywood Video.
Currently, John is writing full-time on the series, A New World. As a former marathon runner, John lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and can now be found kayaking out in the waters of Puget Sound, mountain biking in the Capital Forest, hiking in the Olympic Peninsula, or pedaling his road bike along the many scenic roads.
John O’Brien Links
Amazon author page