excerpt from Preemptive Strike

a yet-unwritten novel

It was a dark and stormy night. Somewhere, anyway. Probably. But not here. Here it was daytime, and clear and hot, under a blood-blue sky somewhere in the Arizona desert, west of Tucson.

"Gosh, Myrna, this is just like a Tom Clancy book!"

"Shut up, Myra", Myrna intoned passionlessly.

"Yeah. Shut up", the Terrorist growled. He was quiet, but quite unfriendly. The menacing barrel of his Uzi pointed pointedly but negligently towards the women, his eyes smouldering with fury the women could not fathom, much less meter.

He stood, dressed in black like Johnny Cash in an old movie, except that his head was covered with a nondescript, two-bit black hood named Alex, still as a statue covered with pigeon dung.

If only Minerva was here. If only we had stayed for the encore last night. If only I had better thoughts than this, perhaps I would have more than a bit part in this story, Myrna thought bitterly.

Not bloody likely, thought the Terrorist.

Watch your language, thought Myra.

At that, Alex woke enough to leer at Myra, thinking how amazing it was that she knew enough to know what bloody meant. He wished he did. The Terrorist cuffed Alex sharply, rendering him senseless, once more just a nondescript, two-bit black hood perched casually but menacingly upon the Terrorist's head.

Myrna was thinking furiously, and pretty quickly, too, her eyes roving her surroundings. Desperately, as she sought a means of escape from the Chinese toe cuffs, she rejected one plan after another as too dangerous, too easy, or too much like something out of a Woody Allen movie.

The Terrorist's eyes spoke volumes, "I am death. I have come for you."

Myrna dodged the huge books as they flew by, and spat unabridged dictionaries back, but they were too heavy, and merely landed between them, stirring up a small dust devil, a couple of tarantulas, and an old snakeskin.

The Terrorist's fingers gripped the gun tighter. His left hand toyed with the spare magazine, a dog-eared "Boy's Life" from 1968.

"You don't talk to snakes. You kill snakes", the eyes hissed.

"But we're not snakes!", Myra pleaded! "You been reading Patriot Games or something crazy like that?"

Myrna wasn't sure why, but she could tell Myra had said the wrong thing. The gun came slowly up to rest with its muzzle aimed slightly west of Myra, about cardiovascular pump level.

"Click", whispered the safety.

"NO!", Myra and Myrna screamed together in perfect sync, quite unlike the music video they had watched for breakfast. Myrna had dim thoughts of fear and regret, while Myra flashed back longingly to the memory of Michael Jackson, dancing with his hair on fire.

The unmistakable bark of an angry Uzi clove the air.

One person stood alone in the hot desert air, as the vultures began gathering in the distance, their tiny, hungry minds sensing the blood upon which they would soon bloat themselves.

Spotting the carrion-feeders, the lookout cried, "Media!" The Terrorist scanned the horizon, realized a feeding frenzy was at hand. He ran full tilt to the car and jumped in beside the driver. They roared off toward San Francisco and their next victim.

The Terrorist ticked off two names in his head. "Only three more to go", he mused, "and we can release the new book with no trouble from these twerps!"

The driver grinned at Tom Clancy, as he pulled the hood off of his head and tossed him into the back seat, to lay quietly in a lump, dreaming of home in East Nyack.

The stinking book critics would either learn to leave her husband alone, or pay the price, Wanda thought, her eyes never leaving the road, which was rather painful on her corneas. She was the perfect getaway driver, never attracting police attention (except for the time she ran down that Tucson cop for wearing mismatched black socks). In addition, she was quite fond of Tom, and didn't charge by the mile like his father had.

As Tom grinned back at his wife, he remembered a remark she had made about a weakness in one of the characters in the new book. Well, so there's four more to go, he thought...

Last updated: 18 Aug 1994

Copyright 1989, 1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

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