Welcome to day 5 of the October Frights Blog Hop. I’ve got an action packed excerpt from chapter 2 of Warrant for Damnation, book 2 in The Courier series. This book releases mid to late November. I hope you enjoy the read.
Anyone who leaves a comment today gets a free copy of Warrant for Damnation in either paper or eBook.
If you’d like to read book 1,
It’s the last day to get Call for Obstruction FREE on Amazon.
My run jerks me to a stop beyond my control. My neck lashes forward and my gut retches, a thing that usually happens at the end of one of my cross country sprints. After the last bit of vomit splatters on the pavement, I struggle to catch my breath and burp up the taste of copper. While my wound remains crusted over, my ribs burn like a mother. I should have stayed back at the boarding house, at least until I fully recovered from being impaled by the coat rack a few minutes ago.
The sun starts to rise beyond the I-25 overpass up ahead. On my left, a twenty-four-hour gas station, and on my right, a closed burger joint. This is the Walsenberg exit, and from what I remember, it’s ten minutes by vehicle from where my run began. I’m not sure why I stopped here, but I need to get out of sight. Soon the daylight will make it harder to hide from Hell’s bounty hunters.
My stomach gurgles from internal bleeding or hunger. I walk toward the gas station for something to eat to rule out one of the possibilities, and to recuperate before I attempt another run to Trinidad to rescue my friend Nina. I hang my head knowing it’s my fault she’s with my demon ex-boss, Margery, and that my pain is nothing compared to what she must be going through.
Minutes later, I exit the convenience store sipping on a Monster and holding a small box of Froot Loops. Four guys around the right side of the building stand huddled together, their voices muffled. I swallow hard and do a double take. They’re all wearing red hoodies, the brand color for the courier company Margery manages for Satan.
Then I smell smoke. Cigarette smoke.
I whip around.
Margery emerges from between the red hooded men. “Hi, Honey.” She winks an eye smeared with black liner and turns a grin up one side of her puckered mouth. Real flames mix with her orange and red streaked hair, telling she’s in a bad mood.
I drop the cereal and aluminum can and turn to run, but it’s like my shoelaces are tied together. I trip and fall flat on my face and chest. All the air in my lungs escapes with a grunt. My heart races while doing a pushup, but my legs are stiff. I can only manage to twist my torso around and flip into a seated position. A stream of black smoke has wrapped around my lower body. Like a snake, it slithers upward, pins my arms to my sides, then wraps around my neck.
Margery’s all too familiar paralysis spell taught me to be careful around her a few days ago. I can’t believe I’ve fallen under it again. All I can do is whimper and brace myself while the inside of my mouth fuses together, muzzling my speech.
The four men move in and stare down at me like I’m roadkill. One of them gets extra curious, leans close to my face and says, “He doesn’t look so dangerous.”
My nostrils flare. Holy crap, what are they? His shriveled skin and sunken cheeks make him look as if he belongs at an Egyptian mummy exhibit. And his receding lips expose cone-shaped teeth like those of a tiger fish.
Margery’s long bulbous fingers reach in with hulk-like strength and forcefully sweep the men out of her way. “Back up, you idiots.” As usual, a cigarette hangs from her lip while she talks. “Barry, you stupid boy, did you really think you could get away from Old Margery?”
My eyes shift side to side and raspy breaths match the pace of my heartbeat. Why did I sign that contract to become a courier for her three days ago? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, I repeat in my head. I swear, I’m meant to live a miserable life, and here I am living it.
Margery holds her hands up and slowly brings her palms together. My knees bend upward in response to her control over me until my thighs meet my chest. I lose my balance and fall to one side in a fetal position, as helpless as a baby.
“Go get the van.” Margery shoves one of the mummy men. “We’ve got to get him back to the warehouse before bounty hunters show up.”
I groan, “Hmm?” Lingering smoke burns my nostrils and the back of my throat. Margery works for Satan. Why is she worried about bounty hunters showing up? What are these freaky-looking mummy men if not bounty hunters?
Three mummy men close in, their scurrying feet grind rocks into the pavement. They grasp at my clothes, and lift. Not being able to stop them, my eyes frantically circle in their sockets and sweat builds in my pores.
I take deep breaths and try to convince myself that this could be a blessing in disguise. The best place to look for Nina is the warehouse. What does it matter how I get there? Once Margery removes the spell, I’ll figure a way to escape with Nina.
I sigh, not at all convinced by my attempt at positive thinking.
In the background, a racing engine approaches. My eyes shift left. It’s Pete’s Hummer. Now I know what Candy meant when she said she didn’t want to help me learn the hard way. Pete let me leave the boarding house because he had intended to come after me all along.
The hooded men shuffle in different directions, tugging at my clothes until they lose their grip and drop me on my back. Sharp pain travels up and down my spine, and a high pitched cry escapes my nose.
“Get him back up,” one of the mummy men says. They try to regroup, but the idiots can only get me a few inches off the ground before they drop me again.
“Margery, help,” another calls out.
They all pause and look around before a third says, “Oh crap, she’s gone.”
The four doors on the Hummer slam shut in succession. A rush of my rescuers footsteps closes in on our location. Pete carries a baseball bat with nails spiked out of the end. Candy’s at his side holding a machete. Two other unfamiliar men follow, each carrying hand axes. Everyone’s weapons of choice take into consideration that decapitation or total skull mutilation is the most popular method to kill those of us who work for Satan.
Lying on my side, looking up at my captors at odd angles, they hold their position at first, but it seems more out of frozen fear. One of the shriveled men hisses and backs away out of my peripheral vision. The others follow his lead.
Candy brandishes her machete and lumbers in closer with a sort of grace. “That’s right, assholes. Back off or you’ll get a mouth full of my little friend.”
The two men catch up and the short, bald black man says, “They’re not bounty hunters.”
“No, Archie, they’re not.” Pete stares down at me. He holds his bat like he’s ready to hit a homer with one of the mummy’s heads.
I have to wonder why Pete is so invested in saving a guy like me who gets in trouble every time I turn around.
Archie steps sideways and closer to the other guy. “Any idea what they are, Ziggy?”
Ziggy stands silent, waving his hand axe.
I take in a deep breath then force through my nose, “Margery,” mixed with a primal scream. The volume barely reaches a two on a TV scale, and sounds more like an unsteady hum.
“Look at the teeth.” Candy hold up her machete, shuffles in closer, and nudges me with her lime green Crocs, still stained with my blood. “You alive?”
All I can do is blink and hum to show life.
She laughs then says, “Looks like Margery got you with one of her cigarettes.”
“Guess that answers who they work for.” Archie points into the distance. “Well that and the OTG Courier van pulling out of the parking lot.”
“Barry’s ours,” one of the mummy men says. Hissing from the mummy men grows louder in the background.
“Kissamyass.” Bad ass Candy thrusts her machete forward and takes off out of my line of sight.
“Candy, careful,” Pete chases after her. The other two men follow.
With each thump and thud, my nerves are on end, like a million spiders crawling on every inch of my skin.
Candy screams, “He’s biting me! He’s biting me!” She turns in circles back into view, waving the machete, and with a mummy man on her back.
Ziggy grabs the thing by the hoodie and pulls. In an instant, the mummy man turns and jumps from Candy to Ziggy’s throat and chews through the man’s neck like a piranha. Ziggy’s head rolls off his shoulder and his body falls backward with the mummy on top of his chest.
The mummy springs to his feet and stands hunched over, blood dripping from his mouth, his finger scanning the area for another victim.
Candy sneaks up on him and slashes her machete across his neck. The dry skin crackles like breaking a loaf of crusty bread. His head flies up into the air and lands inches from my nose. My eyes pop, staring face to face with prehistoric teeth and black sludge oozing from his neck.
A foot shoves my shins. I roll across the pavement a half dozen feet, flashes of the battle and the sky make me dizzy. Snot flies out of my nose while I gasp for air.
Pete yells, “Watch your back!”
Unable to see what’s going on, I hope that each bump and thud counts against the mummies.
“Two down, one to go, and he’s mine,” Candy yells before letting out a high pitched, “Eeee…” Her lime green crocs glow as she approaches the mummy rolling me toward a set of thrash dumpsters.
“Don’t kill him,” Pete calls out. “We need him.”
“Kissamyass!” The mummy’s body falls away from me in five pieces. Candy grabs his hoodie and pulls the head and torso across the pavement.
The mummy chomps at the air with his pointy teeth to show off his last defense. Candy takes off her Croc and shoves it in his mouth. His teeth stick to it and lock his jaw in place.
She turns and points at me. “You’re buying me new Crocs.”
Thanks to Candy, I’m able to let out a sigh of relief. I groan from aching bones and muscles, although I doubt I’ll get any sympathy from those who actually fought the battle.
“Good job, crew,” Pete calls out. “Candy, get Ziggy and Stumpy into the back of the Hummer. Barry goes in the back seat.”
“You got it, Boss.” The woman has amazing strength, and in no time she hauls the limbless mummy over her shoulder and off to Pete’s ride.
Archie stands over his headless friend, his voice cracks, “I can’t believe he’s gone.” Then he rushes me with the hand axe and a clenched fist, growling louder with each step. “He was my best friend. You killed my best friend, you son of a bitch.”
Pete holds Archie back. “You wait for a fair fight.”
Archie drops his axe near my head to deliver a final message. As in this battle may be over, but Archie’s beef with me has just begun.
“Enough!” Pete calls out. He digs cash out of his pocket and holds it out. “Go buy some lottery tickets and cool off. Then put the freaks’ body parts in the dumpster and walk back to the boarding house. I don’t want to see your face for at least an hour.”
Archie takes the cash and disappears into the convenience store.
Candy rolls me toward the Hummer. Shards of gravel poke at my body. Ouch, ouch, ouch plays over and over in my head.
Pete says, “Time to get Stumpy back to the boarding house and see what he knows.”
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