Heroes, p.14
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       Heroes, p.14

           Leigh Barker
Colonel Mitch Morgan walked slowly to his car from the terminal at Camp Pendleton Munn Field Airport. He was tired but glad to be back home on American soil after a year and a half in Okinawa. Not that Okinawa wasn’t great; it was just having to leave Sarah and the girls for extended tours was wearing him down. Time to shoot for a desk job nearer home.

  The grey SUV was right where he’d parked it, even though his brother, Tim, had been using it while he’d been away. Better than just letting it stand there and rot. He glanced at the scrape along the driver’s door and shook his head. Maybe not. He smiled. Timmy was a bit of a speed freak, so having to use the SUV must have been tough on him. He opened the rear door and stepped back a little to let the stale hot air roll out. He threw in his suitcase and slammed the door. The air was just a little fresher as he climbed into the driver’s seat, but only just. It smelled of wet dog and fish. Great. But he was still smiling.

  He turned right onto Las Pulgas Road and put on the air-con and the radio—a country station. He wasn’t a fan of country music, but nothing says home like it. A few minutes later he was on the canyon road heading for San Diego Freeway. He changed the radio channel to news. Somehow, listening to people crying about their lost love, or their dog, or some cattle drive wears thin real quick.

  In less than two hours he’d be in Los Angeles. In time to take the girls to the beach for ice cream. Suzy loved ice cream. Sienna not so much, but she’d pretend for the sake of her little sister. She was ten, going on twenty. No, that was then, so now she was twelve. Two years of her life missed, and two years of Suzy’s life was a third. This was no way for a man to live.

  The traffic was light on Las Pulgas Canyon Road, and he settled back into the seat for a steady drive. He saw the Dodge Ram pickup in his rearview but thought nothing of it, except that he remembered somewhere that they were supposed to be the fastest pickups around. Which had struck him as odd. If you wanted to go fast, why buy a pickup?

  The news reporter was telling him that financial turmoil in Europe was the cause of all America’s ills. Which made him smile. The pickup closed the gap and overtook him like he was going backwards. Just showing off. Then it cut in suddenly and sideswiped the SUV, and Mitch had to fight the wheel to keep it on the road. The pickup driver must be blind not to see how close he was. He brought the car off the rough shoulder and eased off the gas while he settled down from the shock.

  He was feeling almost relaxed again as he came around the long left curve. He glanced in his rearview as a movement caught his eye and saw the pickup coming out of a dirt side road. A fist closed in his stomach, and he realised it had been no accident. He floored the gas pedal, but knew the lumbering SUV would never outrun the Ram. He wished he’d taken the sidearm he’d been offered, but he was in logistics, not Special Forces. And local law enforcement take a dim view of people, even marines, carrying weapons in LA. Chances are it wouldn’t have done him any good against a fast-moving truck from inside an SUV. Though he would’ve liked the chance.

  The Ram came up alongside, and he looked across to see the passenger smiling at him and pointing at the rocky hill sloping down from the road. A second later the Ram hit the side of the SUV above the front wheel, and it started a slow left turn as Mitch fought the wheel. He was going to make it; he could feel the front end coming round. Then the Ram hit him again.

  The SUV left the road and sailed ten feet over the rocks before crashing nose down into the boulders. It flipped almost in slow motion and slammed down on its roof, its momentum peeling it away like a can opener. But Mitch was already dead, with his head crushed by the compacted roof.

  The Ram slowed a little and drove away slowly. No point being stupid. There was still a lot of Americans to kill.


  First Responder

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