I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 1
I Kill Rich People 2
I Kill Rich People 2
a novel by Mike Bogin
Copyright © 2014 by Mike Bogin
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States.
Additional information: www.MikeBogin.com
Cover design by Tony Goedde & Kelsye Nelson
Interior design by Kelsye Nelson
Published and manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition: 2014
This story comes completely out of my head.
All factual elements in this story were derived from readily-available, publicly-accessible websites. Absolutely no secure or confidential information has been cited.
This country is so much better than its government. We all know it! What happened to our democracy? Why has it gotten so bad? Most people want the same basics: to feel safe and to have a fair chance of a better life. But our votes don’t seem to change things.
We can’t elect people to improve this country; not from inside, not anymore. We can only elect the puppets, some willing, some not, while billionaire puppeteers rule over us.
Our world is not wrecked! We are not zombie hordes set on devouring one another!
But the people will awaken. The rich have made themselves easy targets. When we recognize what is happening we will be their worst nightmare.
We are a million to their one.
We can take this country back in the blink of an eye.
- Captain Samuel Hall
United States Army
Vibrations rumbled through his guts. His insides coiled with springing intensity; all thoroughbred, anxious to burst out of the gate and do what he was put on this earth for. Your mission, your skills, your will. All you.
“We’ve been flying through here the last five nights,” the young specialist shouted through the engine roar into Spencer’s headphones. C130s and Chinooks had been making regular night runs all along their current flight path in order to get his ass in there without raising suspicion. “Burning all that gas to cover for you.”
The kid kept moving his lips, only nothing resembling words came across. Inside the dim cabin Spencer could hear only THUD buhROOM THUD buhROOM THUD. The huge dual-rotors whirred; their methodical thumping churning into him from sternum to tailbone.
A dry wind blasted over Spencer’s weathered face. He flipped the protective cover to check his wristwatch. Fifteen minutes out.
“Getting the Taliban down there used to the pattern,” the kid continued excitedly. He had never seen anyone dropping solo deep into the Badlands. The sergeant, his one passenger, wore Airborne, Rangers, and Special Forces patches; a Tower of Power. Without realizing that he was doing it, the kid’s hand was magnetically drawn to the desert-brown Barrett 50-caliber rifle. Spencer’s fierce glance singed the kid like he had touched a hot stove.
He smiled sheepishly but Spencer’s snarl remained. Spencer stabbed a stiff finger and pointed toward the far end of the helicopter’s long cabin. The kid got the message. Get the fuck away. The kid served one function: give the five minutes to drop alert.
Below, blackness. A uniform sea of absence that hid ten thousand unknowns with one thing in common: a raging intent to kill him. Above, a billion dazzling stars; electric, alive, stretched wide across the soft moonless universe. He could reach out and embrace it. With one easy step he could rise up and lose himself within that infinite beauty.
Jesus. Get on routine!
Routine was everything. Routine kept him alive.
Routine. Review the drop zone photos, targeting site(s). Target identities. Day old drone photographs. No pickup trucks and no mortars indicated inside the mud walls. Pick-up 1, alternate 2, his cover zone if everything went to shit. He had four hundred meters across open ground to the only outcrop offering any cover. Four hundred meters at full run to make it. Barrett, ammo, water. Fuck the rest. Four hundred meters down to a few boulders rising twenty feet above the plain surrounding the village.
He could make it, if they really had no trucks. He could hold them beyond range for a while with the Barrett, if they had no mortars. Lots of “ifs”, but ”ifs” go with the job. Ifs and death.
Nothing new there… you live with death; yours, the men around you, and the targets; you eat it, sleep it, breathe it. You need to get one with it, bring it inside. When you start making plans, you look forward to living, then you’re paralyzed. Finished. Time to get the fuck out.
Spencer had packed his own chute, bagged ammo, and run through his checklist twice hours before he ever stepped up from the landing bar into the helicopter. Routine. He ran through it again in his head. Six gallons of fluids, split two-thirds and one-third between main pack and the ankle bag. Barrett in hand, 45 Colt in the ankle bag. The Barrett was about separation. The Colt was about keeping a handle on fate. No capture. Don’t get shown around the world on some grainy Taliban video with your head being hacked off.
He left that thought trailing into the darkness.
Routine. One hundred twenty rounds. MREs for two days eating. One fourteen-ounce emergency meds kit. Two locators, neither of which he hoped to use; the Afghans down there, living in their mud hamlets, could be scanning signals faster than the U.S. Army.
Night-vision goggles brought the pack carry-weight total to seventy-one pounds. U.S. forces were losing the night vision advantage. More night raids coming from their side. Only six months ago, Night-vision goggles on the Kabul black market had been worth twenty RPGs or ten Kalashnikovs. Intel now pegged the price point at half that amount, plus they were taking Afghanis, the local currency, in payment. Fucking Pakistan; bringing Chinese product out to the Tribal Areas then straight into enemy hands.
Any fighter watching the fly-over with night vision capability could plug him twenty times before he touched the ground.
He left his body-armor in camp; it had no practical value and he had been on the job too long to get any gain from illusions. Under his army-issue camouflage, the clothing was his own: a Northface fleece and REI Polartec. Adding the Barrett and the additional forty rounds of ammunition in the ankle pack put 130 pounds onto his 190-pound frame.
He flipped open the cover and checked his watch again. Eleven minutes out, by his estimate, to some no-name village somewhere east of Garmsir, Shit Storm Central.
Just get there already. The waiting always fucked with his head. Over 200 drops and nothing changed. Always that one confused blink when he always wondered…what if? What if he didn’t pull? What if he just let it happen, if he became one with the moment? Could he fly? The seductress.
“You’ll thump down dead like a sack of potatoes,” he shouted aloud, smacking himself back to focus. They will strip you naked so some ready-for-Paradise asshole can wear this uniform on to get close to our guys before he blows his vest. They would put their fucking hands on his Barrett and use his weapon to fire on U.S. positions.
The Specialist was back; he had been sitting on his heels and watching Spencer.
Spencer tapped at his watch cover and shook his index finger toward the cockpit. At five minutes out, he would begin pre-jump routine, checking how the pack was riding, snugging down the Barrett, making certain that nothing was loose and that no points would come through to jab him upon impact. Jumping at under 400 feet. No room for imaginatio
“Three minutes,” the Specialist signaled, holding his fingers in front of Spencer’s unshaven face.
Spencer jumped up, angry. One important job, just one, and the kid had fucked that up. Five minutes! Now he had three minutes, not the full five that he needed. No margin to open a pack and make any last-minute shifts. He slung the heavy load onto his shoulder and passed his arms inside the straps. Two magazines carrying forty-fives dug at his side just above his left kidney, but there was nothing he could do about that. Not now.
He was still testing and re-closing the heavy Velcro strap that cinched the ankle pack when the red hatch bulb above the slide-door lit up. Spencer reacted fiercely, pointing at the light Before the Specialist understood what was wrong, Spencer unstrapped his helmet and slammed it against the fixture. The young Specialist stared in disbelief.
Bad fucking training. The kid didn’t know better than to leave a red light on in an open jump door for thirty seconds.
The stiff-moving wind rushed coldly into the open doorway now. Spencer began counting down. Get past it. It was either that or throw the kid out the fucking side.
Twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven. He blinked once on the GPS; the moving red circle was coming nearly into alignment with the fixed green drop location. His right hand moved to Pledge of Allegiance and closed on the rip-cord handle. Just pull the fucking chute. Seven, six, five, four, three, two.
A green light flashed inside the cabin as he launched himself into the black night. The huge helicopter was above and away, its deafening roar diminishing. The night air now washed softly across his face. The pack no longer pulled, the ankle pack felt like nothing.
Pull the fucking chute!
Jumping at 400 feet leaves no time to enjoy the sensation of floating downward. He had to check his chute lines, saw the black outline ballooned above him cleanly, and then he landed, slamming hard. He used a multi-point roll to offset the impact.
The Barrett’s muzzle dug into soft dirt. Spencer sprang to standing position and reached for the night vision goggles. A uniform bright green flickered on, with orange crosshairs and metric depth measures replacing the black darkness.
No movement evident, nobody coming out from the mud perimeter with guns ready. Even the dogs were silent, disinterested. His transportation still rumbled, blinking off into the distant night.
Spencer dropped the main pack and pulled to collect his chute. He tugged only a few feet of cord before feeling resistance. The chute had closed over the one nasty, dwarfed tree in the entire area. Two-inch thorns snagged at the black fabric. The tree was a product of the harsh terrain, suited perfectly to survive alone.
Charlie Brown and the kite.
The chute had to come down. At sunrise, what remained invisible in the moonless night was going to flag for his position bringing on every jihadi from miles around. Leaving it flapping there in the morning, it would look like a giant black flag saying, “come and get me.” He told himself that his extraction team would be in position out there, but even if they were poised and ready, they could never get close in time to cover his ass. He had to either abort now and use the night to make distance on foot or strip it down off those fucking thorns.
Get it done.
Spencer pulled and ripped at the billowing fabric with both arms. His mind wandered to bad shit as the long ripping noises he was making sounded out into the moonless darkness.
Superficial cuts and jabs kept nicking away at both hands. The cuts he could handle. But a thorn pierced beneath his fingernail and deep into the knuckle. A nasty toxin instantly aggravated sensitive nerve-endings, scalding him and quickly swelling the finger thick as a turnip.
Get centered, calm it down. He knew that the veins in his neck were enlarged without needing to touch them. Throttle back the adrenaline. MOB. Mind over body.
Using his tarp-blind to cover a short burp of light, Spencer identified his first-aid pack. A second flash, one blink longer, to locate the Neosporin and cortisone. Worthless. Nothing. No effect whatsoever. Morphine was his only other option. Use morphine, scrub the mission. Waste two weeks of flyovers. Once the Strykers showed up he’d get no second chances. If he called in to get evacuated, his targets would scramble for Pakistan and chill out in the tribal regions. Failure. On him.
His body was his tool and the tool wasn’t working for shit. His dexterity was dropping. Clarity and judgment could be going, too. He ran a self-check exercise: place (three kilometers west of Marja, South Helmand, Afghanistan), time/date (03:11 hours, 5 October), target (primary = male Taliban, 19, just under six feet tall, severe facial scarring along right side). Check.
“Your person is the property of the United States Army. This army has gone to great effort and expense to train you, to equip you, and to support your mission. When your mission is compromised, it is your duty to return that army property that is your person to this man’s army in the best condition possible.” Special Forces training echoed in his ear.
Bullshit. He was clear, he thought, but it was ego, only ego was weakness and he could not square up to that. Right thinking meant weighing all the options, including aborting, only he was never adept at assessing failure.
His evac-A location was a mile west, out in the open hardscrabble. Any movement at all fired excruciating shots up his arm and straight into his heart. All from a fucking thorn. But pain was just another test; he could take pain. All day long. You trained for that. Working past pain proved who he was. Tower of Power, he reminded himself, and then he reached out, squeezed down on the fucked finger, stared down the red-eyed demon and smiled. His finger was the instrument he needing to have working, doing the job.
He turned to a field fix; Spencer fumbled at the fly of his pants and then pissed down his left forearm arm and again down his right, working in the fluids and rubbing briskly palm to palm and between his fingers. Maybe urinating on a sting is an old wives’ tale, maybe the relief was psychological, and maybe the toxin was short-lived. Fuck it. He felt some relief.
He was in focus again; back on operational assessment. No more drift. Pulse returning to 56 BPM. He hydrated, took a deep breath and blew it out, and then he picked and yanked back the shredded pieces of chute cloth, embracing and savoring every long ripping noise that sounded across to the village dogs.
Signs of light were showing over the eastern mountains when he was finally able to dig in his position. Now, with the morning, Spencer spotted small scraps that were still left hanging, but at least he hadn’t left a giant black billboard right above his shallow shooting blind. He broke an Adderall and swallowed half, then dragged a long sucking gulp from the nipple tied into the electrolyte-enriched fluids he carried.
Spencer grabbed for his binoculars then recoiled. A shock of pain zinged from the bad finger into his armpit. It was an angry red now, and in his way.
In the dim blue morning light, beside the village a young child was opening the crude shrubbery gate of a livestock pen. A muezzin wailed out the Morning Prayer from the single brown brick minaret at the center of the village. A herd of about thirty goats that the little boy released were instantly attracted by the remaining bits of cloth fluttering on the thorns. White, tan, some tiny goat kids, some larger billy goats with dramatic, magnificent horns twisting out more than a foot on each side of their heads moved in single-file directly toward his position. All that he could do was to hunker down beneath his cover in preparation for bad shit and watch out a narrow slit, gripping tightly around the Barrett. He dragged his ammo close alongside, wishing momentarily that he had an old-fashioned BAR instead of the bolt-action weapon and then patting the Barrett to apologize.
Spencer smelled the goats’ musky wool as they moved in close. The smaller ones made exacting targeted leaps onto the thorny limbs and took tentative nibbles before one goat devoured a scrap and the others quickly follo
He held the tarp’s ends pinned beneath him, but the air was stifling. He considered kicking up the Barrett’s bipod legs to bring in air but dismissed the idea. Amateur bullshit. Stay focused. Hydration discipline. He needed to consume a liter each half hour. Forget that and the legs go first, right when you need to move.
The chilling nighttime breeze was long gone. When the sun arched into full view above the jagged eastern mountains, the temperature rose fast.
Shadows shining through his camouflage cover cloth wove patterns everywhere while the irrigated fields just outside the village burst into rich greens and warm morning gold.
One of the goats rained crap down onto him from above. Then, just like an epidemic of yawning, one goat after another joined in the shit storm, hitting his cover like warm hailstones. He couldn’t care less; it was funny, just as long as the dogs and villagers kept their distance. For any solid shooters, he was 400 meters inside the range. It would take him twenty seconds at a full gallop over open ground to get beyond rifle fire. Running was not an option. If it came to fighting from this placement, accuracy and experience were the only advantages that might save his ass. Intel had said that the village had no mortars; this time, intel had better be worth a shit. If they fixed on his position with mortars, putting the Colt to his brain was about as good an option as running away.