JERICHO BLUESFor those of you who are waiting on the sequel to Border Town Blues, here for you is a taster from Jericho Blues. If you do read it leave a comment telling me your opinions. Thanks.
Twenty minutes after the explosion, we regrouped in downtown Roanoke, at Martins All Night Bar and Grill. I took my Detonics MTX-H .45 from the lock box in the van, and secured it in the modified Talon holster under my jacket. I felt human again now I had changed out of my mission clothes, and not so naked without my new favourite handgun. I had fallen in love with the Detonics pistol during training. The Combat-Master Mick Rix, an ex Navy Seal had provided us trainees with a variety of handguns to choose from, our final choice would be our permanent issue sidearm.
I fell in love with the Detonics right away, with little recoil, and ten in the mag plus one in the barrel it was ideal.
After getting us all my prescribed medicine for shock, Jack and Coke, we found a booth near the rear of the half empty bar, I made sure we were facing the window though. It had been a night of shock and surprises; I wasn't in the mood for anymore crap.
We were all silent for a few minutes sipping our drinks. Clark had been with Unit more or less since its inception, so I was hoping he had some idea on what our next move was.
“So, Mr Clark, what are the protocols for this situation . . . You know when the only man in the Government knows of your existence is dead, and the rest of the workforce has been wiped out?”
“There are several agents still out in the field, we have to go to ground for forty eight hours, then there is a number to call, it’s secure, and whoever answers will make arrangements to bring us in.”
“Fuck me, my question was rhetorical, you mean they actually prepared for this?”
“Oh yes, dear boy, forewarned and all that.”
“So, what are we supposed to do for forty eight hours?” Jamie raised an eyebrow as she spoke.
Clark shook his head, “Whatever, just stay off the grid, no contact with anyone, and definitely no showing out,”
“Good lets get pissed then, I haven’t had a good sesh in two months.”
“No, we need to stay sober, we need to work out who targeted us; and fast, before they come after us again.”
I looked at Clark, “When we get back to the van, you work your magic on those gizmos of yours, and see what info you can come up with.”
I took out the flash drive from the pocket of my jacket, and passed it across the table to him.
“I wanna see what’s on this as well.”
“Where on earth did you get that?”
“I took it from the Senators safe.”
“Dalton, that was against mission regs!”
“So sack me, the point is moot now, I had a gut feeling it may be important.”
Clark disappeared the flash drive, and we made small talk while finishing up our drinks. We were just about to leave when I saw a strange sight outside the large pane glass window of the bar. Four M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, followed by six canvas covered trucks rolled by the bar.
“What the hell, they called the army out on us now!” Jamie downed her drink, and headed for the door, Clark and I followed behind her.
“I don’t think this is to do with us, it’s something else,” I said when we caught up with her on the sidewalk outside.
We looked up the street to see one of the tanks had parked by the intersection, the others had moved on. One of the trucks had disgorged its load of troops who were setting up saw horse barriers, and piling up sandbags. This was a checkpoint of some kind.
“Let us get out of here; I know somewhere we can lay low.” Clark headed across to the van parked on the opposite side of the road. I took one last look at the checkpoint then moved to join him.
We headed across town, Clark had a house on Timber view Drive, outside Hanging Rock, and buried on a hill shielded by trees. During the journey we saw more Military vehicles, and check points being erected. This was quite scary, I could understand a mobilisation of law enforcement after the assassination of the president, but what we were witnessing as we drove through the streets of Roanoke, was nothing less than Martial Law being put into place.
“We need to find out what is happening,” I said as I turned on the radio. I dialled through the frequencies, but all I got was static, or a tone similar to what you get when you dial a disconnected number.
“Oh dear, that is not good,” Clark said, as he directed the van onto North Electric Road taking us towards Hanging Rock, a small township where a large battle was once fought in 1864, becoming a Confederate victory. Union General David Hunter, notorious for his hatred of slave-holding states, was driven to retreat. Here’s hoping we would be safe, up here in the hills surrounding Roanoke, and would not have to fight the second Battle on the rock.
“Why’s that?” Jamie asked.
“That tone we are hearing, someone is using a powerful jammer to block radio signals.”
“Looks like somebody somewhere does not want people knowing anything,” I looked ahead of us, we were approaching the State Route 630 flyover bridge, dawn was breaking, the sky was taking on a lighter hue. For us though we were approaching dark waters, the Military had set up a checkpoint on the bridge. Two machine guns barricaded behind sandbags covered the approaching traffic. Ten heavily armed National Guard soldiers operated the checkpoint.
Clark applied the breaks, and we came to a stop four cars away.
The lead car's trunk was open. Soldiers peering in. The owner stood on the verge with another soldier. He looked nervous.
“What do we do if they want to search our van?” Jamie whispered.
“Don’t panic, I got it covered,” Clark reached into the glove compartment and after a brief search, he pulled out a leather ID wallet.
“Tonight Mathew, I am going to be Major General Thomas Buckner, goin’ a huntin’ with his daughter and son in law.”
Despite the gravity of the situation, we cracked up laughing; old Clarky gave us the best South American accent I had ever heard come out of the mouth of a posh boy.
“Where the hell did that come from?”
“Eton Boys Theatre, I was Rhett Butler on many occasions, dear boy.”
We silently watched the events before us.
One of the soldiers pulled out a plastic bag. He showed it to the driver. For a moment the tableau was frozen. Then all hell broke loose. The driver punched the soldier next to him. He took off, sprinting down the line of cars. Another soldier stepped forward. He lifted his weapon. The runner drew level with us. Crack! The driver went sprawling, his brains exploding out of the front of his head as the 5.56 slugs tore through his skull..
Jamie flinched, grabbing my arm.
“What the fuck!”
“Do not react, either of you,” Clark told us in the most serious voice I had ever heard him use.
He climbed out of the van as the shooter approached. The soldier pointed his M16 at Clark.
“Return to your vehicle sir, this don’t concern you!”
“You bet your gosh darn boots it does soldier,” he said. His voice stern, and commanding.
“What kind of army are you in that don’t salute in the presence of a superior officer?”
The soldier looked unsure. He looked back at his buddies then at Clark.
“I’m Major General Thomas Buckner, and you salute me boy!”
Clark stepped over and jammed his ID in the soldiers face. He went red, and nearly dropped his rifle, as he gave the clumsiest salute I had ever seen.
“What the fuck orders have you been given, that gives you the right to shoot civilians, and from behind no less.”
Another of the soldiers came forward, he bore the insignia of a Sargent, so I took him to be the one in charge. Clark continued to harangue the pair of them.
I had to give him his due, for a techno geek, he was showing some big brass ones.
After a bit more apoplexy from the fake Major General, where at one point I was sure he was going to slap the both of them, he returned to the van, and climbed back behind the wheel.
“My work here is done,” he sighed.
I shook my head, and watched the pair return to the checkpoint. A soldier moved the dead man's car out of the way, and the little jam that had formed was waved through the checkpoint.
“I don’t know what you said to them but it seems to have worked.”
“They have been ordered to shoot anyone who resists them, in any way shape, or form, something is rotten in the state of Denmark!”
“I don’t know about Denmark, something queer is going on here as well,” I felt Jamie shiver as we passed the hard faced soldiers.
We travelled for another ten minutes before pulling up in front of a run down stone and clapboard three storey house, set back from the road, and surrounded by Aspen and Beech trees. We climbed out of the van and I stretched, and yawned, I needed a shower and some kip.
Clark threw me a set of keys.
“You two go make yourselves at home, I am going to get to work, see if I can find out what is going on.”
“Clarky, you need to get some rest, we have been awake all night.”
“I need to do this first, I will not sleep otherwise, dear boy.”
He disappeared into the back of the van. I shrugged, and Jamie and I trudged up to the front door.
“Bagsy I get first go in the shower,” Jamie grabbed the keys out of my hand, and ran the rest of the way to the door.
“Be my guest, I’ll see if I can’t rustle us up some coffee.”
Jamie unlocked the front door, and we stepped into a large room. With a Cathedral ceiling, and a balcony, overlooking the room. A breakfast bar separated the room from the kitchen area. One wall, dominated by a floor to ceiling log burning fireplace. The furniture was old, but functional. A flight of stairs led up to the balcony, and the upper floors.
She disappeared upstairs, and I set about making a brew. While waiting for the kettle to boil, I crossed the room and switched on the TV. We had only been out of the loop news wise for twenty four hours, how had so much changed in that time? The only reason I could see from the amount of Military on the streets, the country was under attack, or massive civil unrest. This was Roanoke though; the only unrest here would come from the local sewing circle.
I dialled through the channels, all seemed to be showing reruns of old shows. The news channels, all of them, stated they were ‘having technical problems and normal service would resume shortly’.
I switched off the TV, and returned to the kitchen. Made the brews, then thought about what had happened to us over the last few hours. What I could not get out of my head, how the chopper team found us. The only people who knew our location were those in the hub. No information existed outside, nothing on paper or in a computer file somewhere.
A mole, there had to be a mole within the Unit, feeding information back to whoever our enemies turned out to be.
I took a sip of my coffee, and gazed out the kitchen window, at a small overgrown garden. The list could not be that huge, we had only become operational a week ago, and in that week there had been one ‘happy accident’. Something else was niggling me, and had been since joining up with this outfit. Any number of clandestine agencies could have done the job we were doing, I had a feeling the Unit's purpose was more than I or Jamie had been told. I made a mental note to question Clarky.
Jamie disturbed my thoughts, returning fresh faced from her shower, and smelling of flowers. She grabbed her coffee.
“I was thinking about those mugs that attacked us,” she said after taking a sip of her coffee.
“And me, I think there was a mole in Unit, the only thing I can come up with, no else knew where we were.”
“That’s what I thought, but what if they tracked our position by the van?”
“What do you mean?”
“All of Units vehicles are fitted with a GPS tracking device, maybe that was how?”
I made for the front door. Clark came tumbling in before I reached it.
“We have company!”
“How many?” I asked as I drew my weapon.
“Six, they have barricaded the end of the road off, I was keeping a watch on our surroundings while I worked.”
“Some kind of Special Forces I think. They are dressed all in black, wearing gas masks.”
I looked through the window at the side of the door. Nothing moved outside.
“Have you got any weapons here?”
He crossed to a cabinet under the balcony, and reached underneath. He retrieved a Glock 26 and tossed it to Jamie.
“Okay, you two upstairs.”
“Where you gonna be?” Jamie checked her weapon had a full mag.
“Outside, I’m gonna show these mugs a bit of Brit grit!”
I took another look, before I opened the door. I stepped out, and ran for the Van. Dropping to the ground, I rolled underneath.
From my prone position I could see the front of the house on one side, and on the other, part of the road leading to the house. No sign of life as yet. I knew that would not last.
When we had arrived, the birds had been singing in the trees. Silence reigned now.
And here they came.
Six black clad bodies, armed with Heckler and Koch machine pistols. They moved, silent, bent legged up the road. As if by some unspoken signal, four split from the group. Two going to the left of the house, the others to the right. Once again we had a professional hit team coming for us. The remaining four moved around the van. I had to time this right. I edged over so I could see them better. They were mugs, not one paid any attention to the Van. In a combat situation, never assume, assume makes an ass out of you and me; I had the phrase drilled into me so many times; it became a mantra to put me to sleep at night.
One of the assassins pulled a gas grenade from his utility belt and pulled the pin. Now the time was right. I put a round in his ankle, half blowing off his booted foot. He collapsed, dropping the grenade.
I closed my eyes and held my breath. The explosion was deafening close by.
Rolling out from under, I shot the other three. The gas filled the area in front of the house. The man I had shot in the ankle was screaming, I ripped off his gas mask, and put it on. Remaining in the centre of the cloud, I squatted and waited. The other four appeared, weapons ready. The gas cloud was too thick for them to see me. They came, weapons up, and in a combat crouch, paying more attention to the house: assuming again.
I took them out, double tap, one after the other. The only one left alive was ankle boy, and he was gagging and puking. I put him out of his misery with a shot to the head.
I know I could have questioned him, but it would be a waste of time, professionals never give up their secrets, especially in the limited time we had.
There were still the goons up at the road block. That would be a simple job.
I banged on the door and called out to Jamie, letting her know it was safe. The cloud had dissipated in the slight wind that had picked up.
They emerged from the house; Jamie had her weapon at the ready.
“You took your time, getting slow Jimmy?”
Clark looked at the bodies with distaste.
“Did you get them all?”
“We still have the boys up at the barricade, time for me to do some play acting.”
While Jamie played lookout, Clark helped me to strip one of the bodies, and I changed into his uniform. After depositing my clothes in the back of the van, I told them to be ready to move on my word, I was still wearing the throat Mic so Jamie would have to drive while Clark rode in the rear.
They had used two Humvees to blockade the road, two black clad troopers leaned against one of them. I approached casually, like I belonged.
The two moved away from the Humvee.
“Is the job done, you get ‘em?”
I nodded, and gave a thumbs up. Before they could say, or do anything else, I opened up with the machine pistol. With looks of shock, they both bounced off the Humvee, and fell dead to the ground. I moved fast. Putting the bodies in one of the vehicles before driving it off the road. I called Clark. Thirty seconds later they rolled up, and I clambered aboard. Jamie informed me she had disabled the tracking device, so that should give us some breathing space.
We had survived the second battle of Hanging Rock, but were still no closer to finding out who was coming after us, unless Clark had found something with his gizmos, and gadgets. That would have to wait because we had to find somewhere else to hole up.
Statement from President Lecompte
Location Oval Office April 7th 2014
People of the United States of America, it is with great sorrow I stand before you today, making this, my first address to you. I have only just learned an evil has befallen the city of San Francisco. Despite all our efforts to safeguard you the people, terrorists have detonated several dirty bombs. The death toll is massive, and for all purposes, the city has been wiped off the map. The resulting explosions triggered a failing of the San Andreas Fault; earthquakes have been widespread and ongoing, hampering the efforts of emergency responders.
Reports are also coming in of dirty bomb explosions in several other cities around the globe. Notably Manchester, England, Paris France, Sydney, Australia and Moscow. So far no one has claimed responsibility, but all intelligence is focused on finding these monsters.
This is a colossal tragedy to befall our country, and the world, ever. But mark my words; our anger at these atrocities is biblical. The perpetrators and those who give them their orders will be hunted down like dogs. We are now on a war footing, and as such hard decisions will have to be made, law-abiding citizens will have nothing to fear. Those who pose a threat to our way of life I give you this message, run, because we are coming for you. There is no place for you to hide, we will find you, and have our justice.
The ten regional security sectors are now all in place, and governors have been appointed. Each governor will be answerable only to my Office; all Police within these sectors will be subsumed into the Military force providing security within the sectors. Travel will only be allowed with the special passes, provided at the Fusion offices. I beg all of your indulgence during these dark times. We must all stand together, and I ask you to trust me to protect you during this transfiguration. Unfortunately, and with the agreeance of the Senate, and Congress, I have suspended the Constitution as pursuant to Article One. This historical unusual move, which I know will be unpopular with many of you, is vital in our pursuit of the threat that faces us all. This will mean it is now illegal for anyone other than the security forces to own a weapon. Firearm Revocation Centres will be in place for you to deposit your weapons, your details will be held on file, and once the situation returns to normal you will get your weapons back. Please fully cooperate with this mandate, as any dissent will be seen as resistance against the common good and dealt with accordingly. Gatherings of any kind are henceforth prohibited. A curfew will be in place countrywide from 20 00 hrs. Until 0700, a special curfew pass can be obtained from your local Fusion Centre. A full list of the new mandates will be broadcast after this message.
A special meeting of the United Nations will take place in New York in two days’ time, this is a global threat we face not just a threat to our country. The leaders of all nations will be in attendance, and by the end we hope to have a solution to the threat, a solution which will lead us to a new world order, a world of peace and prosperity. For now, god blesses the United States, and peace to you all.
Angel Fire Radio Broadcasting on 256 KHz
It’s seven PM, and you’re listening to old Cootie Nordstrom on AFR 256, coming at you wall to wall and treetop tall, as my old Pappy used to say back in the day when he rode the big rigs up in Kane-a-da; that’s Canada to you folks.
Did yawl see President Incompte on the ‘lactic box tonight, I tell you I am terrified of what is to come, heck takin’ all our weapons away. This country was built on our rights to bear arms, how the heck we gonna defend ourselves when these terrorists come a knockin’ on our door. I’ll tell you this for a nickel, old Cootie ain’t relinquishing his guns, they’ll have to pry ‘em from my dead hands first. I have a feelin’ the ‘spiracy theorists will be rubbing their hands and sayin’ I told ya so, he’s talkin’ ‘bout a new world order, didn’t we tell you?
Folks, I heard about a little town near Charleston, the army boys went in there, and rounded everyone up, all because the town’s folk protested, and spoke out against President Incompte. I do believe they are on their way to one of the so-called Residential Centre’s operated by FEMA. These are prison camps folks, prisons for you and me. And not because we have committed any crimes, you don’t need to have done anythin’, to be sent here, all you need to do is be a threat to the status quo of this new world order.
Well old Cootie is gonna say no, loud and proud, I ain’t gonna be a licking dog to the jackboots of your oppression . . . The revolution starts here! I didn’t fight in Nam for this to happen to my country. If yawl feels the same come stand with old Cootie, ‘cause I can see where we’re heading, I hope yawl can see too. Cootie is going to be the back-beat to the revolution, stay tuned for more information, we are going to have to move again after the show tonight but hopefully we will be back, come in at cha tomorrow night. Time for some Muzak now, ‘n old Cooties got a rare treat for you, a young girl called Roxanne Gunn, she sent in a demo tape, I gotta say she rocks, here’s Roxie with Running Home!