I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 38
He wanted to sweat. He put a big hooded sweatshirt that was roomy enough to let him pump his arms in it, getting his whole body moving. The shoes were a little small but he had them laced loosely at the toes and decided he would get away with it. XMercy could pick up a pair of size thirteens for him the next time she went into Beckley. I still have a little cash, he reminded himself.
A root-covered embankment of dark rich soil rose six feet up from the edge of the meadow. Above that, the thickly treed slope took a thirty-degree angle upward for a hundred yards then pitched upward more steeply for another thirty yards before peaking at a rocky, exposed ridge. Spencer pulled up the hood, tightened the lanyard, bobbed on his toes, stretched his arms wide, wider, until they were nearly parallel behind him, then rocked back off his heels and exploded forward, taking the embankment in a single leap. He punched off his landing foot, and attacked up the hillside, driving his thighs, forcing his knees to pump, his ankles to lever, pushing, pressing, and taking in the moment with every breath. At the crest, he spun without braking and plunged downhill, picking his footfalls at breakneck speed that nearly catapulted him off the embankment and would have let him fly if he hadn’t caught a tree limb to stop himself. He panted, breathing hard, smiled and pushed up a second time, demanding his limbs to work together, coordinating arms and legs around mind and core, defining the purpose and the value of each to the whole.
This time when he reached the ridge, he turned to take in the vista, seeing out to Glen Jean and imagining the river beyond. He could hear the hum of traffic along the highway, blending like cicadas into one living buzz. Then, coming in from the south, he heard the unmistakable deep tut-tut-tut-tut of a helicopter on approach. The shiver ran up from his anus into his throat. He blew it out his mouth, re-centered, then squinted, watching to identify the make and model and fighting against the feeling pulling at him to curl up behind the first big rock.
The helicopter was big, but it was a single-rotor civilian aircraft, all black, non-military.
Going back down, this time he varied speeds, cutting zigzag paths between the trees, concentrating to test for body control and lateral turns, shifting like an elusive running back avoiding tacklers. Nearing the embankment, he leapt, reaching both hands around a high branch, and let himself hang there, feeling his hips and pelvis, vertebrae, ribs, armpits, wrists and hands.
The sound was louder now, several times louder. He couldn’t see anything, but when he let go and dropped he felt the vibrations pulsing around him and instinctively moved behind cover.
It came in low, skimming the treetops before spinning around to dissipate momentum and drop inside the meadow. The whole trailer shook. XMercy leaned over the trout in the sink, looked out from the kitchen window, didn’t believe her eyes, and moved to another window to see if that changed what she was seeing outside.
Black-uniformed, helmeted men exited fast. Spencer recognized the set movements, appreciated the training as the six-man squad efficiently cleared the fuselage the instant the skids touched ground. They fanned into a 3-1-2, the first three spreading apart then sprinting toward the trailer. A fourth soldier trailed out to the left. The fifth and sixth, both security, moved wide, one heading toward the driveway, the other directly on a path straight toward him. They were capable, decisive, a well-oiled machine. Matte black from boot to helmet, everything cinched tight with nothing flapping. I could be leading them, he thought.
The pilot kept the helicopter idling, which muffled all other sounds, but in his head he could imagine the TL calling out fine adjustments, the ATL encouraging, one to six, each one calling his number when he had taken his position. One, Two, Three, Five and Six carried Heckler & Koch HKMP5s, stubby automatics, light and effective for up to medium-range fire. From where he watched, Four looked to be slinging a Remington 870. The pistol grip stood out from two hundred yards.
Spencer flattened himself low along the base of a twisted clump of laurel shrubbery. No Identification. NO SWAT or FBI, ATF or any other law enforcement lettering. They were almost to the trailer; he watched Four, carrying the shotgun, break around toward the back of the trailer.
They had come for him. Spencer looked around him for rocks, logs, anything he could use as he watched them center themselves. Nothing was anywhere within reach. The TL and ATL spread on both sides of the doorframe and nodded, confirming readiness ahead of the rush-assault that Spencer could see coming. He could only watch, crouching low to make himself small.
Three hit the door at full run, crushing the aluminum frame inward into the trailer and landing atop the broken door. Flash grenades boomed a split-second later.
The soldier approaching him grabbed hold of an exposed root and pulled himself up the embankment, swung behind a tree, sighted the Heckler-Koch across the meadow along a fast forty-five degree arc of fire, called “Six!” into his headset and reset his boots more comfortably. Six had his earpiece cranked up like an iPod. Spencer, who was within two strides of Six, could hear them shouting inside the trailer.
XMercy stood paralyzed in shock. Her front door was destroyed; the flash grenades left her barely able to see the outlines of men with guns thundering into her home.
Mouse came out from her bedroom, saw the chaos, and was instantly pissed. “What the fuck?” she screamed. “You fucking Nazis! Over a little weed!”
Three had rolled to his feet and caught her, and with one arm threw her off her feet onto the banquette. She slid to a stop with her back against the wall, and was kicking her feet to get back up when he snapped his rifle stock into her face, shattering all the cartilage in her nose.
XMercy, who had never seen blood come out of anyone, not like that, like red milk spilling out a carton, stood with her mouth wide-open, paralyzed.
“Jonathan Spencer!” the Team Leader yelled out. Three raised his weapon high, his cheek rigid on the stock; Curtis and Profitt lowered theirs to belt level.
XMercy stared at Mouse, wanting to move but her body wouldn’t respond. Mouse glared at the green eyes and the bridge of the nose inside the helmet; the rest of his facial features were hidden inside a black cover hood.
“Jonathan Spencer!” Profitt echoed. “Where is he?”
Spencer listened and watched as Five took up a security position along the driveway two-hundred-forty yards away.
Curtis lifted his weapon and pointed the barrel at Mouse’s bleeding face. Her eyes instantly dilated. XMercy remained confused. When he shifted the weapon around to XMercy, her eyes failed to indicate any understanding.
A single pop sounded. XMercy’s knees collapsed; she fell like a building imploding upon detonation, a lump, a heap. Dead. Instantly.
Inside the singlewide, Mouse sprang like a panther, leaping at Curtis’s face and driving her fingers inside at his eyes. He brought the HK up lengthwise using both of his arms, striking hard under her chin. The force snapped her upper front teeth and lifted her slight frame up and off her feet.
Curtis straddled her. “You want to live?” he demanded. Mouse kicked up at his crotch. He responded by bringing the butt of his weapon down against her kneecap, cracking it in two. “Spencer! Where is he?” Before waiting even a second, Curtis pressed his boot onto the knee and concentrated his two hundred pounds. “Spencer!”
XMercy’s dead limbs shook from nervous contractions. Her thigh bumped into Mouse’s cheek.
“You want to live, nod your head,” Curtis shouted down at Mouse. “Hey! Focus!”
Mouse reacted, never nodding but raising her eyes toward the Team Leader. “He,” she tried to think. Too much was happening at once. “He was fishing. The ATV. He had the ATV.”
Profitt nodded toward the fresh trout lying in the sink. The Team Leader acknowledged.
“ATV is here,” Four confirmed. “Behind the trailer. Black Honda here, too.”
“Do you want to end up like your friend?” he warned. “Where?!”
“Guest house,” she stammered. “The camper. Down the meadow.”
Spencer knew that Mercy was gone; it was on him, all of it, only he had no time for emotion. Mouse was still alive.
Training fundamentals kicked in. When attacking a better-armed, better-equipped, better-positioned enemy, the body functions on experience. Focus. Fluid motion.
Panther-like, Spencer concentrated his spring on the single point in the exposed neck where the C2 and C3 vertebrae meet, the locus for every nerve controlling the head, neck, and diaphragm. He clamped his right fist rigid inside his left hand. The point of his elbow concentrated nine hundred PSI—the ball peen hammer, the bludgeon spear, nine hundred pounds per square inch concentrated from his hips and torso entirely into one thrust point.
Six, sensing movement, had instincts, too, a hair less practiced; adrenaline-addled, possibly just having an off day. He turned in time to throw Spencer off-target and got a harmless shot off into the branches above them. Spencer’s elbow blow shattered Six’s clavicle.
Before Six could correct, Spencer used the pad of his left hand to drive down into C3. His right fist simultaneously jammed upward from below the jaw. The opposing forces cracked through the commando’s spine.
Spencer had Six’s Heckler-Koch unslung before Six’s brain had responded to the blow. It was an MP5K-PDW, he noted at a glance. He methodically shifted from trigger group 2 to 1, swung upward, and took aim across the meadow. Five had positioned himself onto one knee, fanning up the driveway and across the meadow. BRASS. He fired, taking Five in his exposed left shoulder, six inches to the right of Spencer’s center-chest target. The HK hadn’t been properly sighted. Lazy, Spencer thought.
The walloping impact slapped Five onto his back but Five handled himself solidly, professionally, recovering fluidly, rolling to a prone position and pressing tight to the nearest tree. Spencer watched him raise the weapon with his one good arm, scanning through its scope.
“Contact!” Five shouted.
Spencer heard Five through Six’s earpiece. He sighted inside one-half-increment left this time and fired again. Center face.
The pilot saw Five drop. He leaned forward into the cockpit canopy and spotted Spencer in Six’s position then jerked back, getting himself out of view.
The rotors came to life, accelerating for readiness to lift off.
“Contact!” echoed Four, who dove beneath the trailer. His 870, all about blunt force, was useless at longer range.
Spencer’s hands moved fast. He measured his breathing while he patted down Six, taking out two additional magazines and feeling foreign objects: a wallet, car keys, a cell phone. These were possessions no sniper squad would ever carry into combat. Military, but not military.
Spencer tossed the keys aside, but quickly shoved the wallet and cell phone into the sweatshirt, then yanked off the headset and the receiver to which it was attached.
“One!” Curtis yelled. Two, Three, and Four responded in order. No Five. Spencer supplied “Six!”
Matt, the big horse, blinked in response after his Team Leader nodded toward Mouse. She was hunched over, nursing her cracked kneecap when he jammed his rifle butt into her, crushing down at her lower back. Mouse’s chin smacked against the kitchen floor, splitting open. Blood flowed from her nose, her broken teeth, and more now gushed from the two-inch gash on her chin. XMercy’s dead eyes stared back at her from the floor. Her hand was flopped nearly within reach.
Curtis, Profitt, and Matt jumped over the front steps. All three moved out fast without looking back, triple-timing along the driveway and staying close to the trees on their way toward Five’s position.
The trailer shook like an earthquake as the three men ran past the twisted doorframe, stomped the threshold and leapt outside. Their helmets moved left and they were gone.
Mouse could feel the warm rush of her blood flowing down her neck. Oddly, the knee had stopping hurting. She tried to gather her legs underneath her to stand. Nothing happened. A total disconnect. Her body had vanished from her stomach down to her toes.
Mouse stuck her tongue out and tasted the blood. She inhaled deeply and pressed her torso into a pushup, dragging her body toward the sunlight. They were out there, the men, but they no longer mattered to her.
With two more desperate tugs, her fingers caught hold of the frame on the metal entry steps. Her breathing was labored. She knew, yet nothing processed, nothing except her need to get outside. Mouse heaved her weight forward, tumbling hard over the steps until she was settled, face-up, looking into the blue sky. She had no idea that her legs were akimbo.
Four listened through the headset and burst out from behind the trailer. Before Spencer could react, Four had tossed a large canister inside the obliterated doorframe.
BRASS. Breathe, Relax, Aim, Stop, Squeeze. Spencer’s bullet caught Four mid-stride as he hauled ass down the driveway with the big shotgun, trying to catch up to the others. The shot pierced beneath the right earlobe, entering the brain stem and killing the brain while the body continued running. After three steps, Billy flopped sideways. The soles of his boots dug into the ground beside the gravel.
A loud, hollow boom raised Spencer’s eyes toward Mercy’s trailer. The siding had blown away. Sections of roof were lifted sixty feet up in a roiling inferno, churning jet-black smoke. The roof drifted back in slow motion, floating down like sheet metal sails.
Mouse’s exposed skin shriveled like plastic in a microwave oven as the heat flashed over her. Her lips, nose, and eyelids were seared instantly. Her blackened legs were even worse, covered by bubbling pustules that stretched and burst like fat boiling in a cauldron. Fire raced up individual hairs on her head like sparklers. A sheet of hot metal landed on top of her.
“It’s the wrong way,’” their pilot screamed into his mic. “You’re going the wrong way.” Curtis, Profitt, and Matt were facing ahead. They missed it; only the pilot saw Four drop.
“No!” their pilot screamed. “Not Six! Six is down. Repeat. Six is down!”
Spencer switched the trigger setting onto automatic fire then rose from cover and emptied the remaining clip into the fuselage where the tail boom connected behind the main bay. In every helicopter he knew, that was where the fuel tank was situated.
The spot where he had just been standing crackled with incoming rounds. In the meadow below, the pilot lifted his skids off the ground and dropped them again; no fucking around, he was leaving whether they boarded or not. “Get the fuck on because I’m gone. Now! You hear me? Now!”
The open slide door was on the opposite side of the chopper; Spencer sighted but could see only boots hitting the far skid as One, Two, and Three flung themselves on. The pilot pulled back on his joystick and lifted airborne.
Spencer glanced back toward the flaming trailer and then rushed down the berm, out into the open meadow, dropping the spent clip in full stride. While the helicopter elevated, Spencer set his feet and fired again, continuing to concentrate his aim on the fuel tank.
“Crap,” the pilot exclaimed. He knew right away that Spencer’s fire had cut through the fuel line. The engine was stalling, starved for fuel just as he demanded maximum power. He had no time to explain the dynamics of RPM and lift, or how no helicopter pilot in the world could respond to a dead stick at seventy feet. “Brace!” he shouted behind him. “Hard landing!”
The skids slammed into the grow site’s soft newly worked soil. One of the rotor blades cracked against the hickory tree; the collision shifted its velocity, spinning it backwards, oblitera
Profitt felt his pelvis snap at impact. Compression fractures crushed every lumbar vertebra. His mic was caught against his shirt collar. “I’m fucked,” he tried to call out, but he could only puff into it; the pain left him unable to move even his jaw.
“Hold tight, Terry,” Three called. He reached out, but the Assistant Team Leader blinked his red eyes to tell him not to touch.
Three was whole. Bruised, but operational. He felt one rib crunch as he lifted his Team Leader up off the helicopter’s deck, but he nodded at One that he was good; he could handle it. For a few seconds, the helicopter thrashed, metal screeched, plastic flapped like tarps in a windstorm. Then all was silent.
“Boss?” Three called out, getting his face in front of his TL for orders. Curtis was concentrating his senses to fight past pain. He felt like a red hot metal rod had been pushed through his right knee.
Anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament had burst like breaking rubber bands. He didn’t need to touch it to know his patella was floating freely just beneath the skin. He laughed. “Fuck me.”
He could manage, nodding aggressively. “I’m good.” He was still in the fight.