Real quick, I want to make sure I manage expectations. This is a story that I post at Halloween time, not necessarily a “Halloween story.” There are no ghosts and goblins in this story (but there are politicians, which are WAY scarier).
I have been working on this story for a while now and finally decided to put it to paper. I wanted to post the whole story here, but my page count is creeping up there and I don’t think anyone will read 20 pages in a blog post. Also, its not 100% done. It is still a working title. I still need some feedback from my trusty advisors on the ending. It needs a good spit shine. I will be publishing this on Amazon though. If you like it, let me know and I’ll send you a notice once the whole story is up for grabs.
Two men stand side by side but could not be further apart. The current Senator stands behind his podium, neck bulging over his buttoned collar. He leans on his debate podium wearing a confident smirk, like the fox convincing the gingerbread man to walk into his mouth, his hair greased back and black as his suit. The contender, Raphael, a man of 45 rough years. Gray had begun to touch the sides of his hair. He stands tall, strong, as a military man had been trained. He did not fear the Senator, regardless of the threats made on his life if he proceeded with the debate. Change was needed and it comes at the cost of the brave.
“A wonderful fantasy you have shared with us, Junior.” The Senator took a breath as though even talking put strain on his heart. “You know nothing of how politics work and would not be able to accomplish even a fraction of what you say. You fill people’s minds with lies and fancies, which is at best, delusion on your part, and at worst blatant lies. You play a dangerous game; one I don’t think you will win.”
“That’s the difference between you and me, Senator. See, I don’t get winded on my trip to the refrigerator. I actually know how to work, how to get things done. If the ‘politics’ get in the way, then I’ll roll up my sleeves and do it myself.”
“Gentlemen, please…” The moderator’s voice disappears behind a boom echoing through the auditorium. Raphael cries out as a bullet rips through his hip. As he falls, his training kicks in. He rolls backwards until he falls off the stage, shots pounding behind him. He gathers his wits and begins to survey his environment.
The shots are coming from the audio booth in the back.
People are panicking and running in every direction.
The Senator strolls calmly off stage, hand in pocket.
Raphael must stay out of the shooter’s line of sight for 4 minutes, to give the local police time to reach the venue and neutralize the situation. He’s bleeding and the wound keeps him from using his left leg at all. He reaches up and grabs the frame of the stage, pulling his body forward as he pushes with his right leg. The end of the stage is behind a wall. That would put a structure between him and the shooter. He pulls and drags his body forward until finally he is safe at the end of the stage.
The auditorium is quiet. Everyone has left. Raphael prays someone has the decency to call the police and that it really will only be four minutes.
Raphael squeezes his hip, trying to slow the bleeding. There is a mechanical click and clank from the stage. The shooter has a bolt action rifle. One shot at a time. There is nothing around to use as a weapon. How long has it been?
The shooter steps around the wall and looks down on Raphael.
“Sorry, Sir.” The shooter shrugs. “Orders…” He lifts his rifle to his shoulder.
“Freeze!” The police rush down the aisles of the auditorium. “Drop your weapon!”
The shooter looks to the police giving Raphael an opportunity. He rolls to his right and pushes hard with his right foot. The shooter fires, hitting the wall beside his head. Three more shots fired, this time from the police.
“We need EMS!” A SWAT officer approaches Raphael and kneels beside him, inspecting his hip, his face, his ear. Raphael looks to the shooter, dead. Shadows. He lays his head down as SWAT secures the facility. Dark. A field medic runs towards him. Black.
Red and blue light fills the dark cab. Raphael can’t move his body. He bounces in the gurney. Pain. Black.
White hot lights. Beeps. Pressure. Rushing. Black.
Raphael wakes to the sound of a droning voice on the television. He jerks awake. His hands strapped to the hospital bed stop him from. His heart racing, he looks to his right hand and tries to yank it free. His head begins to swim and lays back. A figure blurred in his peripheral approaches. His eyes fill with starbursts.
“Easy, Raph. I got you.”
“Scotch…” Raphael’s eyes close.
“Ha! Yeah, that’s me.” Raphael reaches out and his hand is taken, strong, careful, safe.
Raphael wakes slowly. His mind is slow. A shooter. He’s coming. He needs to get a way.
“Whoa, easy.” Raphael begins to yank on his arm restraints again. “That’s it,” he hears a voice say. A hand smacks across his face. His eyes focus on the threat. “Look at me.”
The burly shape comes into focus. Muscles fill the cotton shirt. A beard covers his face. His eyes, green, shine. He knows those eyes, that voice.
“Sir! You can’t… Sir!” The man lifts his hand again.
“You hit me again, Tommy, you’ll need the doctors to dig my size 12 out of your…”
“He’s fine, Nurse.”
“You cannot strike my patients.”
“He was my patient long before he was yours. Who do you think treated that?” Tommy pulls Raphael’s sleeve up to show a long, jagged scar. The nurse leans over and inspects the scar.
“Sloppy.” The nurse turns and leaves.
“I’d like to see your sutures in the middle of a firefight!” Tommy hollers at her as she leaves. “I think she likes me.” Raphael smiles as Tommy pulls the seat into his view. They sit quietly for a moment.
“I used to keep a ten year, single malt scotch in the command center. We would debrief over a glass.”
“That’s what I’d like now.”
“Well…yes, but more so, a debrief. You want to tell me what the hell happened?”
“I got shot.”
“Yeah, no shit. I would like to know who was shooting at you and why.”
“I tried to make changes. People don’t like change.”
“You’re telling me some rando shot at you because you tried to build a park? Come on, man.” Raphael laughed, then coughed.
“No, I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know when.”
“Someone was threatening you and you didn’t tell me? I swear to God, right now, if I didn’t think that nurse would shank me, I’d smack you in your stupid head.” Tommy stands up and paces the room, back and forth. He pauses, then back and forth again. “Do you know who?”
“You mean you haven’t heard the campaign ads?”
“Who hasn’t. The Senator is making sure that every channel, every social feed, is full of some nasty stuff. I knew he was low, but I couldn’t believe it when he tried to blame Tasha’s accident on you.”
“I’m starting to think that wasn’t an accident.” Tommy sits back down, focused on Raphael. “I could never make sense of how it happened. That car came out of nowhere. That’s why I blamed myself. But that shooter, he looked me in the eyes and said ‘orders.’”
“I need to make a call.” Tommy storms off through the door.
Raphael lays in silence, except for the incessant beeping. It poked at his brain. Beep. It stabbed at his ears. Beep. The bullet piercing his hip. Beep. His life hanging in the balance. Beep. His life… He was alive. Beep. That sound reminded him. Beep. That he was alive. It is a welcome reminder.
Tommy returns, differently. His shoulder curled forward, hiding something, guarding something. He walks to the phone and pulls all of the cords from it. He sets the phone back down on the cord intentionally, making it look like nothing has changed. He sits and leans back, watching the door in his peripheral. He leans forward.
“Bad news. We have to move.”
I hope you enjoyed that. Let me know your thoughts on the first 2 pages (currently at 18 pages, expecting it to be around 20 when done I finish the re-write that are currently in process). Be sure to enter your email below because I will post a special notice once the story is published. Be on the look out!