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DARK SOUL

 

 EXCERPT

 

       His gaze shifted back to the rearview mirror.  In an instant, the semi filled the mirror.  Thinking the driver wanted to pass, Sable pulled closer to the edge of the road, slowing to make way for the rig.  Without warning, the semi slammed into the back of the truck, almost lifting it from the ground and driving Sable’s head into the steering wheel.  "What the hell . . .?" 

       Amy screamed.

       Sable shook his head.  He tried to focus on the road while the Suburban took on a life of its own, shuddering, shimmying, rocking, and bouncing.  The wheel tore from Sable's grasp, and the vehicle went into a skid.

       "What's happening, Dad?" Bobby wailed, as his game flew from his hands.

       "My God!"  Sable glanced at Amy's face—it was drained of color.

       "Shit!"  Sable reached out for the twisting wheel, wresting control back from the skid.

       "This can't be happening.”  Amy voice was almost a high-pitched scream.  “What the hell is wrong with that truck driver?"

       "This is Meyers’s doing!"

       "How . . .?"

       "We'll get out of this."  Sable fought not only for the vehicle but his voice as well.  He knew that the driver was toying with him and could crush the Suburban any time he wanted.  He took several deep breaths to calm himself, but his heart still raced, thudding wildly as if trying to break out of his chest.  One at a time, he wiped his sweaty hands on his pants.  None of his combat, Trooper or Tlingit training had prepared him for this. 

       "Are you sure?"

       The semi nudged the Suburban again, driving it left and into the guard railing.  The screech of scraping and tearing metal reverberated throughout the GMC.  Sable forced the vehicle to the right, which sent them careening toward a steep rock wall that rose almost vertically from the edge of the road.  He tried to move the GMC to the left but it bounced off the rail.  With all his muscle control, he coerced it into a straightened course, but the semi was relentless, continuing to prod the SUV repeatedly in a sick version of bumper cars.

       "Dad, don't let them kill us," Bobby sobbed.

       "It's all right.  Dad will save us."  Amy's voice was now a fever-pitched scream.

       "We just need to get away from him."  Sable pushed down the accelerator and pulled away from the rig.  The GMC straightened, then skidded, but corrected itself.

       "I don't think we can."

       Out of the corner of his eye, Sable saw his wife's ashen face as she gripped the dash with all her strength.

       "Pray that we can," he said under his breath.

       As the Suburban gained speed from the natural incline of the hill, it looked like they were getting away.  Suddenly, the highway went into a steeper incline and while he didn't want to, Sable gently pumped the brakes to decrease the SUV’s speed.

       The semi rammed the SUV, forcing it into a deadly dance of lurching and swaying that shook the entire frame, sending it in one direction and then another across the road, a crazy zigzag between the rock wall and the gorge.  Sable cursed.  The next hit drove his accelerator foot to the floor, causing the battered truck to go airborne.

       "I love you," Amy yelled over the screaming tires.

       The front tires drove into the pavement and for a moment Sable thought the Suburban would cartwheel.  Instead, it rebounded, throwing the rear end down with a lurch.  "I love you too."  His breath came in short spurts and he felt the weight of his rib cage crushing in.  “But this isn't the end—we can get away.”  He wasn't sure he could deliver on his promise.

       As he drove the accelerator to the floor, the speedometer rocketed to eighty-five with the needle vibrating off the stop post.  If he lost control on the curve ahead, he knew that he and his family were dead.  For greater control, Sable grabbed the drive shift, locked the hubs, and threw the vehicle into four-wheel--gears meshed and growled.  As they slowly pulled away, gaining distance and a respite from the attack, Sable breathed a sigh of relief and glanced in the rearview mirror.  The driver was almost visible.  As he tried to make out the features, the Suburban hit a chuck-hole and Sable lost control going into the curve.  The truck tilted on two wheels.  The veins and muscles in Sable’s hands seemed as if they wanted to burst from the pressure he was exerting on the wheel.  The SUV continued to wobble, but then slowly tilted back to the asphalt, bouncing while the springs loudly squeaked and screeched.  And when it stabilized, Sable crunched the gas pedal to the floor and raced toward a large, grassy field that opened next to the roadside.

       "Give me the gun from the glove compartment."  He kept his voice even, but an edge broke through.  Years of practice on the force of keeping calm, took over.

       "I . . ." Amy didn't move.

       "Give me the gun," he repeated.

       "Yes . . ."

       "The gun."

       "Oh . . .," she said, her voice still shaking.  She opened the glove compartment and with two fingers gingerly picked up the .40 standard Trooper issue pistol by its trigger guard, and handed it to him.

       Snatching it, Sable slid the clip out, checked it and reseated it by popping it on his knee.  Then he pushed his finger into the ID lock thereby releasing the action.  He stuffed the gun in his belt, and then pulled the truck out into the field, where it launched itself over the uneven grassy terrain.  The tractor-trailer followed them into the field—the driver was giving no quarter or respite.

       This time, Sable felt he was ready for the impact, but it was harder than he expected—the rear window exploded, sending glass throughout the cab.  The screams of tearing metal reverberated throughout the GMC and the ground momentarily disappeared.  It was as though it has been run over by a locomotive or placed in a crusher—the end result only to be a solid block of iron.  Amy's seat belt ripped from its anchor, and her body catapulted through the windshield, spraying blood across the front seat as she flew over the hood, disappearing under the front end.  Helplessly, Sable heard the thud and rumble of the tires as they rolled over her.

       He instinctively reached for her but found blood drenching his clothes and the dash.  As numbness settled over him, the Suburban broke free of the semi and Sable swung it hard to the left.  He opened and rolled out the door, then hit the ground, somersaulted to a kneeling position.  Sable drew the weapon from his belt and though wavering slightly, took a bead on the semi.

       The truck pulled out and around then stopped.  In one fluid motion, the driver, a tall swarthy man, leaped down from the truck, and hefted a shotgun.  "This is for Meyers . . "

       Sable fired several shots in rapid succession.  The bolts of hot lead jack hammered the assassin's body and slammed him against the truck.  When he rebounded, he shook himself as though he hadn’t even been hit.  He pumped a round into the shotgun’s chamber, then fired at the Suburban, the blast shattering the rear passenger window.  Bobby screamed.  Sable aimed and fired, putting a bullet between the man’s eyes.  The corpse bounced off the semi, wavered, then crumpled to the ground.

       Sable let the .40 slip from his finger.  He was barely able to move but somehow, in spite of his paralysis, he found himself at Amy's side.  As he pulled her broken, lifeless body to his chest, tears welled in his eyes and streamed down his face.  He gave out a heart-wrenching sob.  It took all he had left to drag himself to the Suburban to check on his son.  Fear for his son’s safety took over, though, giving him inner strength from a deep untapped reservoir.  He ripped the door from its hinges and threw it aside, only to see blood oozing from Bobby’s nonexistent face.  His stomach churned with pure hate while his heart thudded in his chest like a racehorse running on an open track.  His breath came in short painful bursts as his throat muscles crushed his windpipe, but then the adrenaline rush and anger left him.  Sable fell against the battered vehicle and slipped to the ground.  With his family dead, was life worth living now?  The thought of ending his life here—now—swirled in his head.

       He looked for his gun, but his eyes couldn’t focus.  He tried to pull himself up but failed.  A new thought emerged.  He’d join his family, but later.  His one mission in life now was to avenge his family’s murder— to kill David Meyers.  Darkness clouded his mind, heart and soul—Meyers would die.


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