Minuteman

Feb. 19th, 2016 05:59 pm
fodschwazzle: (Sandy hole)
While setting up his ranging spot on a high bluff over three miles away from New Magdalena, Everett Hayes considered how much the landscape had altered over thirty years. As he attached the scope to his rifle and began to calibrate the drones to it, he almost remembered a girl.

Months before the wall went up, Everett shot a child. Normal ranging, standard watch--it was a dry, windy day, and dust danced across the brush speckled plains. The crack of the M107’s shot echoed back long after the girl’s filthy skirt flapped to the ground. In his mind, he could have guessed she was six. It was a very long shot, just over a mile away.

If he could have dreamed, it would have been of her face, frowning as he banished it from his conscience. Who, besides him, could have cared that an orphan was put down in the desert beyond the border? No one would know. Carrion birds and other elements would see to that. Later, Everett would find that even his fellow Minutemen were congratulatory about the kill. Later, Everett would find himself stretching the distance of the kill, the angle he needed to take to counteract the wind, and the extent to which his vision was obscured by sand. Later, Everett would forget that it was an accidental kill.

When his high school buddies who had served overseas returned from their own battles, Everett joined them for drinks to swap service stories. It took only one telling of his kill story to earn one fist against his mouth, cementing all that Everett would become.

Not long after the wall went up, Everett was given a special job. The surest method to keep expunged illegals from returning to what they believed was their homeland was to stop them in the desert. As the rains slacked off, leaving the desert increasingly sparse, it became easier for Everett to pick off whatever they sent him. He became better at it. Farmers from Magdalena were paid to load up and relocate the targets after. His boss gradually updated his tools and techniques.

Everett had to hold down the calibration button on the scope--it would allow him to faultlessly fire at any distance up to four miles, so long as the drones inside New Magdalena were still in effect. The scope gave him a digital overlay indicating where the heads of his targets were, and the rounds could pierce the storage containers set up as make-shift housing units without making too much sound due to the nature of the round and the silencer. The drones let him see his targets even if they were inside a building. He liked to let go of the calibration button before it could give him a perfect reading--it was more fun when he had to work a little for it.

Once every three days, a fresh batch of illegals were processed and then posted just south of the wall. After the people found their way to New Magdalena and got cozy, Everett would drive out in his own truck from his “outpost” home about twenty minutes from where Nogales once existed, head to the bluff, set-up his ranging spot, and take aim.

Even though he had the X731 and was required to use it for his duties, he still brought along the old M107 just in case he got a wild hair on the last shot. It was like the icing on his cake--he loved his job, but sometimes it needed a little something extra.

*****

Cory Roane heard a popping sound. It wasn’t his unit. His feet were still sore from the walk to New Magdalena, so he couldn’t get up as quickly as he liked. He pushed open the door of his steel shipping container disguised as a living space and looked around. It was dusk.

A woman named Seline shoved open the door of her own unit, three units to Cory’s left, ran for about three steps, and then planted face down in the rocky scrabble, her long brown hair barely twisting as she fell.

Cory’s blood was in his ears. He dropped to the ground, guessing the angle of the shot to be behind him. What about the shot? The woman was clearly and definitely dead, but the amount of blood was trivial.

Another man opened his door to check what he was hearing. He also fell down, but he fell in a different direction. Cory snorted and coughed dirt while trying to turn on the ground to get a look.

There were sixteen people in New Magdalena--someone would kill them all and do something with the bodies. Cory started to crawl away from the first kills. I’m dead. There are at least two shooters.

The sound of the shot started to click in his head. The pop was barely audible as it sliced through a storage container directly in front of him. A new angle. Three shooters. Cory assumed it was a perfect shot. He had noticed small holes at face level in many storage containers previously. Staying low could save him. Breathe and crawl.

Then a man stumbled out of the same unit. He was missing part of an ear. He was screaming. People began to open all of their units and step out. Something popped and he stopped screaming. Everyone saw it. Everyone scattered. No one heard Cory shout “Get down!

The firing picked up speed. No matter how people ran, they fell. Cory couldn’t count the number of shots. I’m dead. How many shooters?

Another man tripped and fell trying to get out. He heard Cory’s command and stayed low, and then he too stopped moving. The back of his head started to bleed into the dirt. Cory gagged and started to snap, standing as fast he was able and running away from the door of his own unit. It might be the general direction of the shots. If I can get out…

Pop! Cory thought he’d been shot, but he found another dead woman as he crossed out of the cluster of units. I’m out! he thought, and he started running downhill away from New Magdalena, hoping the hill would serve as cover. Crack! Something significantly stronger whipped across the air and hit the dirt at the top of the hill, covering him with a spray of small rocks and debris.

Cory was fast. Breathe, he reminded himself. They missed. They’re aiming for me now. I don’t need to die. Cory was fast, deliberately kicking dust with the toes of his feet scraping behind him to obscure the aim.

What was that last shot? Is there another shooter, or did someone change guns?

When he reached the bottom of the hill, flat plains and distant ridges stretched out before him. If he went forward, he would be doomed--out in the open, easy picking. He dropped to the ground again and began throwing dirt in front of himself. Maybe I can lay here until night and stay alive.

Cory thought of Denise, his wife. Soon, she would be sent down to New Magdalena also, unless she was lucky. Escaping wasn’t an option. I’m dead, Cory thought now. As the wait for the shot to end his life stretched on, seconds from death, then minutes, then an hour, Cory realized that his death would likely be his own fault. Cautiously, he walked back up the hill and began to walk in the general direction he had heard the last shot, confirming it when he saw the part of the hill it had cleaved aside.

No one was shooting anymore. It was dark. They must have gone home, saving him for another day. It wouldn’t be hard to spot his tracks in the dirt or to pick out his bright skin and clothes across the plain. Cory guessed that whoever was targeting him would need to be close enough to make the trip in the morning.

As soon as he reached the top of the bluff, Cory found tire tracks. Following those, Cory found a road.

*****

“Fucker got away,” Everett muttered, waking with indigestion at about 3 in the morning. It wasn’t the first time he’d muttered about it. He had no one to talk to and needed to pretend that he was dismayed. In truth, he was delighted. The next morning, he would wake up, drive his truck down to New Magdalena, and let his M107 find the sneaky fuck that escaped.

It wasn’t the first time he’d let someone elude him on the first hunt. It was the first time he woke up to find that someone standing over his bedside with his own M107 aimed at his face.

“Tell me how to save my wife, and I might not kill you,” Cory said, breathing raggedly from the run to get to Everett’s house.

Everett was screaming so loud and in such a startled way that Cory accidentally pulled the trigger anyway.

__________

This was part two of a three piece unit. The first part was last week, New Magdalena. Topic and voting willing, next week will be the conclusion.

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