Monday, April 16, 2012

Excerpt from Redemption Day by Steve O'Brien

Where the hell is back up?

 The two men scrambled to either side of the vehicle and continued firing. The side windows blew out quickly. Agent Gray fired his weapon once, Jaspers not at all. In a matter of seconds, their bodies were bloodied and riddled with bullets. The men ran to the back door of the escalade. It was locked.

 One of the men reached through the space that used to be the driver's side window and popped the lock. The back doors were thrown open. Justice Caprelli, stretched on the floor of the SUV, held his hands forward.

 "Get out."

 Caprelli started to get up off the floor when a hand gripped the back of his shirt and yanked him out of the vehicle. The man was a gorilla holding the Supreme Court Justice like a puppet. Caprelli's hands were out to the side, his airway constricted by the man with the death grip on the collar of his pressed white dress shirt. He was being dragged to the lead van.

 "Wha--what do you--" Caprelli garbled, but couldn't finish.

 The man threw him into the side of the van. Caprelli fell to the ground, blood oozing from a cut over his eye from being slammed into the van. A man in a blue T-shirt grabbed the justice's tie and lifted him to his feet.

 "Get your clothes off."  This came from the tallest of the three in the green shirt and jeans, the one who had ripped him like a rag doll from the SUV.

"What? What are you--?”  The assault weapon's butt hit him square in the face, knocking him back into the van. Pain seared through his face, between his eyes. He slid down the side of the vehicle into a seated position. The tie grabber picked him up again.

 "No questions. Get your clothes off. Now!"

 Caprelli was dazed and disoriented by the blow, but fumbled with his fingers to get his shirt and pants off. He trembled, not from the cool air, but from sheer terror.

 One man ran back to the red van and pulled out a whiskey bottle. He reached inside the SUV's broken window and shattered it against steering wheel.

 "Everything," green shirt yelled at him.

 The justice slid his boxer shorts onto the ground and tugged off his socks. Completely naked, he covered himself with his hands.

"Get in," he said, motioning to the open side compartment.

 The man in the blue T-shirt reached down and pulled the wallet from the pants. He started to examine the contents as the man in the green shirt slapped it from his hands.

"Hey, the cash," blue T-shirt pleaded.

 "Ya dumbshit."  Green shirt threw the wallet into the van and pushed the justice in behind. "Let's go."  He nodded to the man standing by the bullet-riddled SUV. That one fired up a Zippo and tossed it into the front seat. Flames erupted, dancing inside the front seat of the disabled carcass.

The vans burned rubber accelerating through the overlook, shooting back onto GW Parkway. Moving at high speed, dodging back and forth in the lanes, they shot past other vehicles.

 At the McLean exit, one van got off the parkway, the other kept speeding westward.

 Caprelli fell face forward and was kicked and bounced as the van rocketed up to speed. His upper body was pinned between the back of the driver seat and a smooth flat, object to his left side. His heart pounded; he was breathless and certain that his nose was broken. He pressed it between his fingers to staunch the bleeding.

 Who were these guys? Where were they taking me? What did they want?

 Questions swirled. He knew all of the answers were bad.

Terror surged through him like an electrical current. How long before anyone will know I’m gone? How much money do they want? Will Stella be able to get the money together? Stella. Oh God. What’s going on? Blood rolled down his cheek and into his mouth.

 Be calm, he thought. He took two deep breaths. Be smart. You'll get through this, whatever it is. Be calm.

He rolled onto his shoulder and pushed himself into a seated position. He was going to confront his captors. He opened his lips, but before sounds could come out, he froze. The sheer terror of the attack was nothing compared to what he saw now.

 He stared at the smooth flat object next to which he had lain seconds before. Caprelli's breath was trapped in his throat as he stared, unable to remove his eyes.

 It was a wooden casket.