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A missing inmate. Thereâ€™s something about the inmate that has raised red flags within several clandestine branches of government, and has drawn the attention of two assassins to him. Caught between government agents and assassins, an investigative reporter canâ€™t help but wonder, why all the attention to a missing inmate?
We almost missed it.
Perhaps it was by luck that we heard the hollow metal clang as the hand grenade landed on the stone floor. Someone had tossed it into the cavern through the hidden entrance.
We had been found.
Chad broke from his introduction and shouted the warning that sent the three of us diving for cover, barely in time to avoid the deafening explosion and ricocheting shrapnel. His automatic rifle burst to life as the lead intruder charged headlong down the entrance steps. The man was dead by the time his feet touched the bottom step.
"Head for the passageway,â€ Chad shouted, taking aim at a second man charging down the steps.
Between the exchange of shots, the stranger and I made it to the entrance of the passageway. We grabbed rifles as we scrambled past the stash of weapons Chad had brought with him.
We retreated through the passageway a second after Chad set the timer on a hidden charge of dynamite near the passageway entrance. A minute later, a thundering explosion shook the ground and sealed the entrance. A wall of stone and earth now stood between the killers and we three men within the passageway.
A hundred yards of stone-lined passageway led us to the side of a grass covered slope. Two armed men had just walked over the spot where a large chunk of earth suddenly burst upward, nearly tripping one of them. Surprised, they spun around, leveling automatic weapons as they turned.
A blazing burst of gunfire from the strangerâ€™s weapon ripped through the two men before they completed their turn. I wondered if he really understood in what he was getting himself involved.
We scurried out, escaping from the stagnant air of the passageway into fresh mountain air. It actually felt good to fill my lungs with the crisp air. But I didnâ€™t have time to savor the feeling and soon my lungs ached and my breathing became labored as we made a break for a grove of trees and thick underbrush perhaps fifty yards away. Fifty yards that seemed like miles.
Off at a distance, a group of armed men ran toward the bodies of the two men. Bullets kicked up dirt and ricocheted off rocks all around us as we zigzagged to the cover of the trees. At that point, I wished I was back sitting in my cramped office. Why the hell hadnâ€™t I walked away from this when I first talked to Paul about it? Paul. I sure wished he was here now.
With an intense fireball, two helicopter-launched rockets blasted into the tree line, striking the trees twenty feet above the ground. The explosion knocked us to the ground, stinging our ear drums. I was beginning to think I was in Afghanistan.
"These men do not like you very well,â€ the stranger shouted as he got back to his feet.
"They love me,â€ I said, barely able to draw in enough air. I stood just as a machine gun burst raked a tree near me. I dove back to the ground, my right side landing square against a sharp rock. A stinging sensation raced through me..
"I can tell,â€ the stranger said with deep gasps. He reached down and grabbed my shirt collar and yanked upward. "We have to get the hell out of sight,â€ he shouted.
Through the forest we ran with Deadwoodâ€™s band of killers pursuing us. I thought my lungs were going to burst. Up until now, Iâ€™d thought I was in good shape. Sure I jogged as often as possible, but joggingâ€™s a lot different than all out running like we were doing now. I was beginning to feel like I could collapse at any point. But a bullet striking near you has a hell of a lot of incentive to keep a person going. Feeling half dead or not. The only shield from a near continuous volley of automatic weaponâ€™s fire was the density of the trees, an acreâ€™s span that separated the hunted from the hunters.
We ran through marshes and into the bog that Chad and I had crossed on our way into the forest. Without a thought, I followed the stranger across the bog, followed by Chad who kept up a return fire. One of the bad guys sank into the cold, dark depths of the bog after h
Joel Goulet lives in Wausau, Wisconsin. Single, he has three sisters and a brother. A graduate of Wausau East High School, he enjoys bowling, taking walks with his dog, watching movies, and most of all he enjoys writing.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 276
Paper Weight (lb): 11.6
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