DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.
Tessa Takes the Wheel
“Just turn this thing around and get these girls out of here,” Mort instructed Susan in a chillingly even voice, his machine gun dealing death to any of Esteban’s thugs foolish enough not to have grabbed cover. “Follow the driveway to the gate and then turn right. The road will take you to town. Find a restaurant, one full of people preferably, and use their phone to call your Consulate in Cancun. Go.”
Susan turned to Tessa. “You heard him. Take the wheel. I’m going with him.”
Tessa stared wide-eyed at Susan, but Susan bailed out of the driver’s seat and went after Mort before she could protest. Tessa slid over, hit the gas, and spun the wheel. With bullets still ricocheting off the SUV, she sped over the bodies of the men Mort had killed moments earlier, past the wreckage of the Porsche, and down the driveway to the gate. The gate was closed, but Tessa didn’t even slow down. More decorative than defensive, the gate gave way easily to the brush bar on the Range Rover's grill. Tessa turned the wheel hard to the right, barely keeping the SUV upright, and disappeared down the road toward the nearby town.
Blasting a trail to Estaban
Mort, with an assault rifle in his hands like the one Susan carried, took down Esteban’s henchman with a scientific precision that would have astounded Susan had she not been busy picking her own shots. She’d already expended her first magazine, but thanks to the number of dead thugs Mort was making out of living ones, Susan had no trouble finding reloads.
Her adrenaline was running so high Susan was oblivious to the wounds she’d suffered while following Mort on his march into the heart of Esteban’s lair. Most were minor, a graze on the arm, a through and through near the hip, a bullet lodged in the muscle of her thigh that missed any major blood vessels. Somehow, Susan ignored them all and kept up with Mort.
It was the last shot fired at her that Susan wouldn’t be able to ignore. One of Esteban’s henchmen got off one last shot before the last few rounds in Susan’s final magazine slammed into him and ended his life. Susan felt like she’d been kicked in the chest, and her left arm quit doing what she wanted it to do. The arm just hung limply at her side. Suddenly very tired, Susan leaned against the wall and slid to the floor.
Mort ignored Susan as he stood examining an expansive pair of solid oak doors - the final barrier guarding Esteban. No more of Esteban’s henchmen challenged them. Mort took a deep breath and turned to look at Susan.
It wasn’t until Susan saw the way Mort’s brow furrowed when he looked at her that the girl realized how badly she must have been hit.
“You really want the job, don’t you?” Mort said, more with admiration than with concern.
Susan blinked against the pain that was finally making itself felt. “What job?”
“You’ll see,” Mort said. “By the way, forty-six.”
“Forty-six what?” Susan struggled to think past the haze that was overtaking her.
“You’ll understand in a few minutes,” Mort assured her with a smile. “I’ve still got a few things to take care of first. You wait here. I’ll be right back.”
Finishing the mission
Mort faced the door and Susan, despite the red haze that was beginning to cloud her vision, expected to feel the electric charge fill the air. Instead, shotgun in one hand, Mort simply reached out and turned the doorknob.
“No lock,” Mort explained to Susan. “Esteban never expected anyone to make it this far.”
Susan watched as Mort pulled the door open and dived into the room. Automatic weapons fire slammed into the door and she heard Mort’s shotgun fire three times. Then, silence.
Susan tried to pull herself to her feet, but grimaced and slid back down the wall to the floor, leaving a trail of her own blood on the silk wall covering. After what seemed an eternity to Susan, Mort came out the door.
“Forty-nine, forty-nine souls collected who didn’t deserve a chance to repent,” Mort said. “Seven times seven. Sam will like the irony of that. It’ll annoy the Boss’s kid though. He doesn’t agree with Sam’s methods.”
He looked down at Susan and sighed. “It won’t hurt much longer. You’re nearly done dying. It’s too bad yours had to hurt so much. But you volunteered for the job. Sam will be glad to have you, though. You’ve got what it takes.”
Susan, fighting for breath, struggled to ask Mort what in the hell he was talking about. Then the blackness closed in. The last thing she heard with her mortal ears was Mort laughing and saying, “I told you before, Susan, it’s not what in the Hell.”
Mort's story continues in Episode 21
- Soul Collector, Episode 21, Susan in Purgatory aka Mort's Bar
Susan meets Ahn Su and Gabe
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