Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Dead Sheriff Finally Rides Into Town

The Kindle version was released today. Other formats will follow, with a trade paperback later this year, for those who like to hold a real book while you read.

Here's the link at Amazon. If you have a Kindle, you can saddle up in a few seconds.

In lieu of a plot description, the site uses my afterword from the book, a short essay on the beginnings of the notion of The Dead Sheriff. It's a pretty good introduction to what I hope to accomplish with the series.

I'm so pleased the book is finally out there. It seems I've been talking about it for years (and it's been a great lesson for me: shut up until the release date is near).

The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation is a pulpish brew of action, magic and mayhem which kicks off what I hope is several books.

I have big plans for my decomposing lawman. I hope you'll hitch up for the long haul.

As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 22

To Pike, it seemed as though he regained consciousness immediately.

There was a deep blackness, then he came fully awake. He was in a room of indeterminate size. There was only a single light–a small lamp with a low-wattage bulb on a table to his left.

His hands were behind him, restrained by something. It felt like plastic. Probably riot cuffs.

Someone sat in the shadows in front of him, ten or twelve feet away. It was a man, but Pike could not make out his features.

From the breathing sounds behind him, he was guarded by at least two men. Or perhaps they planned to torture him. Pike didn’t think that he would be killed, at least not yet. They could have easily killed him on the roof.

“No hangover,” Pike said. “It wasn’t chloroform.”

“It’s a pentothal derivative,” the shadowed man said. “Something our people are still fine-tuning. I’ll let them know you appreciate it.” The voice was soft and cultured, with the slightest hint of an accent.

“Sure,” Pike said. He lunge forward and tried to stand up. The chair was heavy, and his shoulders and head were grabbed by unseen hands and he was forced back in his seat.

“Bad behavior will not be tolerated, Mr. Pike,” the voice said from the darkness. “Explain it to him.”

A large form stepped in front of Pike. The guy was at least six-five and built like a football linebacker. The lamp’s weak illumination didn’t extend to the man’s face, though Pike could clearly see one beefy hand slide a set of brass knuckles onto a scarred fist. He tried to roll with the punch to lessen its impact, but he had nowhere to go. The blow caught him on the point of his chin, driving his head back against the chair. Pike had been hit many times, but never like that. Pain overwhelmed his senses. He heard or saw nothing, save a roaring in his ears and bright pinpoints of light behind his eyes. He felt blood dripping from his chin.

It took at least a full minute before he could get his jaw to work. When he was able to move it he said, “Where’s Gemma Ravencroft?”

“Who?” The shadowed man said. He chuckled. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Yes, I represent the Brotherhood of the First. I’m going to ask you some questions, then let you go. Unless you piss me off.”

“Why would you let me go?”

The man sighed. “Apparently you intend to piss me off.”

“Where’s Gemma?”

“I could have Lenny punch you again, or you can answer my questions. If you cooperate, I’ll tell you about the Ravenscroft woman. Fair enough?”

“‘Lenny’?” Pike said.

The large man in front of him made a sound deep in his chest.

“What do you know about La Ciudad de los Dioses?” the shadowed man said.


The man was silent for a few seconds. “Excuse me?”

“You drugged me, brought me here and went through this bad-spy movie crap to ask me about a kid’s story?”

“La Ciudad de los Dioses is real, Mr Pike.”

“Bullshit,” Pike said.

“Now, now. It is best that I remain your friend. Tell me what you know about the City of the Gods.”

Pike drew in a deep breath. Gemma, he told himself. Think about Gemma.

“Look, it’s a crazy myth. Like Bigfoot or skinny Oprah. There’s a hidden city full of spaceman ray guns. Blah, blah, blah.”

“Yes,” the man said. “A myth your father believed.”

“He did,” Pike said. “How about you? Did your old man ever do anything crazy?”

The man ignored him. “I know the city is real because our search for it has produced many treasures. Like the back light weapon you encountered. Twice, I believe. And the technology that killed the unfortunate Mr. Swift.”

“You didn’t have to kill him,” Pike said. Now his head throbbed from anger as much as from the earlier blow.

“Mr. Pike, you vex us. How much information do we share? Should we kill you to eliminate a nuisance? Finally, it was decided. We will let you live. For that boon you will work for us.”

“Like hell.”

“We want you to find La Ciudad de los Dioses. We have been unsuccessful so far, but we know of your tenacity and skill. We will continue to search, of course. Another team in the field can only hasten the discovery.”

Pike smiled, even though doing so hurt his face. “Might as well shoot me now, cupcake. I’m not working for you.”

The man crossed his leg. His tapped a finger on the air of his chair. Pike heard the ring on the mans hand striking the wood. Tink. Tink. Tink.

Finally, the man spoke. “I’m sending you home with a gift. Oh, and to show I always keep my word. Ms. Ravenscroft sill lives. However, if you do not immediately do as I ask, she will be killed.”

“Where is she?” Pike demanded.

The shadowed man snapped his finger. Another man–tall and thin–slapped a damp cloth over Pike’s face. The room and everyone in it faded away.

When Pike awoke for the second time, he lay on a familiar couch. Sunlight filtered in from the open door.

He was in the living room of his warehouse.

Pug stood over him, looking like a worried mother.

“Can you hear me?” Pug said.

“How long?” Pike said. His mouth felt as if he’d been gargling sand.

“Almost seven hours since we noticed you were missing. I got a call on my cell 45 minutes ago saying we’d find you here. You were snoozing on the couch.”

Pike’s thoughts were moving at a snail’s pace. Apparently two doses in a row of the Brotherhood’s knockout drug didn’t go down as smoothly as the single treatment. He’d be sure to mention that to his shadowy friend as soon as possible.

That would be the friend who mentioned a gift.

Pike tried to push himself to a sitting position. He raised a few inches from the cushion before his trembling arm gave away and he collapsed. Pug helped him to sit up.

“He said they were sending me home with something. Was there anything on me or on the floor or out front?”

“Oh, we found something,” Pug said.

He stepped aside to reveal a man standing in the doorway. One arm was in a sling and he leaned on a wooden cane.

“Howdy, partner. Rough night?”

Standing to the side of Pug was Early Helton, the pilot who had been gunned down in the jungle.

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Apology

Three months?

It's really been more than three months since I posted a chapter?

No one is more shocked than me.

Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods has always been a spare-time project for me, one that I did between the zillion other details of my life.

There hasn't been a lot of spare time in recent weeks. So I have to work a little harder at carving out the necessary window to work on Pike's story.

The latest chapter is posted below.

Thanks for sticking with Pike and me. We both appreciate it.

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 21

“What is it?” Pike said.

The young technician was nervous working in front of a lab full of visitors. He seemed especially anxious about the Maynard twins, stealing frequent glances at them and swallowing as he did. His Adam’s apple was the size of a walnut.

“It’s, uh, a stone hand,” he said.

Pike sighed. When his father was apart of the organization, the Ravenscroft laboratories had been among the premiere scientific investigation facilities in the world.

“We didn’t need a lab rat to tell us that,” Pug said.

“Is it part of a sculpture,” Pike said, “or is it some kind of fossil?”

“D-definitely fossil. But of what, I can’t say, not without further examination.”

That was what Elizabeth had basically told them earlier, insinuating that the giant six-fingered appendage was something that Brotherhood of the First had discovered in the recent past. After that, she clammed up. As far as Pike knew, she was roaming the hallways here, possibly making a call to her former Brotherhood cohorts.

Larry Bob Maynard loomed over the technician. “Whatchoo name, boy?”

The young lab worker swallowed again. “Doo-Doo-Dwayne,” he stuttered.

Larry Bob smiled. “Okay, Doo Doo, why don’t you get your ass movin’ on that further examination, yo?”

Dwayne nodded. He continued nodding as he shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. Finally, he said, “May I go to the restroom, sir?”

“Go ‘head, Doo Doo,” Larry Bob said. The lab tech fled the room, hunched over like a child who was about to mess his pants.

Pike shook his head. As amusing as his friend was, he couldn’t stay in the lab any longer. There were no answers here. He wasn’t any closer to finding Gemma than he had been in Mexico.

He followed Dwayne into the hall.

“Where you headed, boss?” Pug called after him.

“To get some air.” And to ask some questions.

Once in the hallway, he and the nervous technician went in opposite directions. Pike followed discreet signs that directed him to the stairwell. He had some thinking to do, and the laboratory’s roof seemed like a good place to do it.

His head fairly buzzed from a combination of sleeplessness and caffeine. He knew he wasn’t at his best, but there was no time to rest. Pike needed to be on the move, to search for Gemma. He also wanted some answers about his father, a subject that would have to wait.

From the stairs, he heard the metal door to the roof open and he looked up as a slim figure went through the opening.


Perfect. Pike was tired of waiting for something to develop. He didn’t trust the young woman and suspected she knew far more than she was sharing. It was time to press her for information.

He reached the door and yanked it open. Elizabeth leaned on the ledge, her back to him. Dawn was still hours away, but there was enough light from the half-moon to allow them to see each other.

She turned. “Donovan?”

“We have to talk.”

“This isn’t a great time.”

“It never is,” Pike said.

“No, this really isn’t a great time.”

The white-garbed figures must have been concealed behind the small structure that housed the stairwell. There were five of them, all armed with automatic weapons.

“You guys seriously need to upgrade your stealth wardrobe,” Pike said.

He lunged at the closest man, swinging from the hips, and drove his fist into the center of the face. He felt a satisfying crunch as the man’s nose collapsed under the mask. In the faint light, Pike saw a dark stain spreading across the white material, even as he pulled the moaning thug in front of him. He needed a shield against the guns of the Brotherhood, and the man with the flattened nose would have to do.

One of the larger men in white charged at Pike like a linebacker. He spread his arms and launched himself into the Pike’s human shield. All three men tumbled to the rough surface of the roof. It felt like a horse had fallen on Pike. He squirmed his way from beneath the pile. The thug with the flattened nose lay on his back and moaned. The bigger man struggled to his feet. Pike kicked him in the face. He collapsed again on top of the other guy.

The other three Brotherhood agents had their guns pointed at Pike.

Why didn’t they shoot?

“Come on, you bastards,” Pike said, just before the cloth slipped over his face. It was drenched in liquid, something he barely had time to register before his consciousness drifted away.

Well, hell, he thought as the darkness enveloped him.

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 20

It was dusk when they landed at Fort Meyers. Pug radioed ahead for transportation. One of Ravencroft’s big SUVs was parked on the runway. It was empty and the keys were inside.

Pug and Andre climbed in the front. Pike was in the back with Elizabeth, so they could continue their discussion from the flight home.

“It’s a waste of time,” she said. “I’ve been to that facility. There’s nothing there.”

Pike nodded.

“So you believe me?”

“Sure,” he said. “But I have to point out that Jimmy Swift told me the same thing about the Brotherhood place down in Mexico. Right before he turned to stone.” He smiled.

Elizabeth paled. She remained silent for the remainder of the drive to Pike’s residence.

After Pike cleared the security measures, the four of them entered the large warehouse. Pug and Andre headed to the armory.

“Where’s the bathroom?” Elizabeth said. She looked like she was going to be sick.

Pike gave her directions. After she took off, the sound of a big engine came from outside.

“They’re here,” Pug said.

In a moment, they were joined by the final two members of Pike’s crew, Travis Maynard and Larry Bob Maynard, jokingly called “the twins” because of their identical surnames. Travis was tall and black, and dressed like an accountant. Larry Bob was white, big as a barn, hailed from Geogia and wore more gold chains than a Rolls Royce full of rappers.

“Good to see you, Donovan,” Travis said.

“Word,” Larry Bob added.

Pike embraced both of them, then explained the situation. The five men were mostly silent as they loaded handguns and shotguns into the SUV and the classic Impala belonging to Larry Bob.

Elizabeth returned from the restroom just as the weapons were stowed away.

“Yo, little mama.” Larry Bob grinned at her, revealing four gold teeth. With her face scrunched up in disgust, she moved closer to Pike.

He introduced the pair.

“Am I staying here?” she said.

Pike shook his head. “We may need you there. After we secure the facility, we’ll bring you in.”

“Wait,” she said. “What if the brotherhood, uh, secures you?”

Larry Bob hefted his Pancor Jackhammer automatic shotgun. “Can’t happen, yo. We gone blow up they shit.”

Travis rolled his eyes. “Lord, help us.”

Pike and Pug laughed. Andre concentrated on sharpening his knives.

Pike herded them into the vehicles. He, Pug and Elizabeth took the SUV, while the rest rode in the Impala.

As they turned onto Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, Pug said, “Hey, boss, does it bother you that these Brotherhood yahoos have a base 20 miles from your door?”

“A little,” Pike said.

That was the sum total of the conversation until they reached the warehouse on Sanibel Island. It was smaller than Pike’s place, sitting in the middle of a block of similar structures within sight of the Sanibel lighthouse. Pug parked about fifty yards away. The Impala pulled in behind them.

“Stay here,” Pike said to Elizabeth. He had Pug leave the keys in the ignition. Pike and his four friends walked to the lighthouse.

“What if she runs off with the truck?” Pug said.

Pike shrugged. “You can sit on Larry Bob’s lap in the Impala.”

“He be like my ventriloquist dummy,” Larry Bob said. “He ‘bout the right size.”

“Bite me,” Pug said.

“The place looks empty,” Travis said.

“Yeah,” Pike said. “Maybe Elizabeth was right.”

“We find out,” Andre said. A long knife with a serrated blade was in his left hand.

“Maynards, you and Andre find the back door.” As they moved away, Pike and Pug approached the front of the structure. Two large garage doors faced the street. Between the big doors was a smaller metal door. A glass window was set in the upper half of the door.

“Got your pry bar?” Pike said.

“I never leave for a petty crime without it,” Pug said.

“This isn’t petty,” Pike said. “Bust it.”

Pug jabbed the metal bar against the glass. The first impact produced a large crack. The second blow knocked out most of the glass. Pug used the edge of the tool to clear the jagged piece from the bottom of the window. Pike slipped his arm through the opening and unlocked the door.

They both stood outside for a moment, waiting for the wail of an alarm.

“Maybe it’s silent,” Pug said. “Wired directly into the police precinct.”

“Oh, goody,” Pike said. They walked through the door. Pike found a panel of light switches on the wall near the entrance. As the large fluorescents came on, Andre, Larry Bob and Travis entered through the back door.

There was a small enclosed space against the rear left corner, probably an office. Otherwise, the warehouse was one big room.

The warehouse was empty, save for a table in the center of the space.

Travis sniffed the air. “They haven’t been gone long.”

Pike smelled cigarette smoke.

Pug stood next to the table. “Looks like they left us something.”

The others joined him. After staring at the object on the table for a long minute, Pike said, “Somebody get the girl.”

“I’ll do it,” Larry Bob said. “She into me.”

Nobody laughed.

In a minute, he returned with Elizabeth.

“What? Did you find something?” she said.

Pike stepped aside to give her an unobstructed view of the item on the table.

It was a stone hand. It might have been chopped from the arm of a very large statue. The hand was twice the size of Andre’s, and he possessed the biggest mitts among Pike’s crew.

The stone hand also had a thumb and five fingers. It ended in a jagged stump just below the wrist. The end of the stump showed bone and, Pike presumed, veins or arteries.

He thought of the way Jimmy Swift had died. If Pike had cut off Jimmy’s stone hand, it might have looked like this.

If Swift had been a six-fingered giant.

“Tell me that’s fake,” Travis said.

“No,” Elizabeth said. “It’s not”

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 19

Pike embraced his oldest friend.

“Good to see you, you old bulldog.”

“Aw, don’t get all sentimental on me,” Pug said. He stepped back from Pike, removed his ever-present Cincinnati Reds ball cap, and bowed in the direction of Elizabeth.

“And you, my dear, are a vision of loveliness. Percival Thaddeus Benson, at your service.”

“Percival?” She seemed perplexed by the short man.

“My mother drank,” he said with a shrug. “In any case, you don’t have to worry about hanging out with my backwards friend any more. Donovan has never been kissed, so he’s a little shy around the ladies. But have no fear; a real man has arrived.”

Elizabeth glanced at Pike, who rolled his eyes.

The passenger door of the chopper opened and Andre Romanov unfolded himself from the cabin. The tall man was the chef on Pike’s yacht, but he was also one of fiercest warriors Pike had ever fought alongside. Pike specifically recalled an incident in a seedy bar in Myanmar, when Andre dispatched four opponents with a broken beer bottle.

“Hey, Mister Pike,” Andre said. His eastern European accent was gradually fading, thanks to the influence of Pug.

Pike shook Andre’s hand. “Thank for the save, pal.”

“Pug did the driving,” Andre said. “I just shoot.”

“Good shooting,” Pike said. “Not to sound ungrateful, but what are you doing here?”

“We were bored,” Pug told him. “Sitting around Florida with nothing to do is fine if you’re, like, 90. I still have some friends at Ravencroft. They told me about Drake checkin’ in. So me and Andre caught a ride to Mexico.”

“Not on that,” Pike said, nodding toward the Apache.

“Naw. I, uh, borrowed a little jet from Ravencroft,” Pug said. “Hey, after the way they jumped us back in Somalia, they owe us.”

“Where did the chopper come from?”

“Oh, that,” Pug said. “See, there’s a Mexican girl who’s brother is in the military...”

Andre sighed loudly.

“...and she always told me if I was down this way and needed anything to give her a call.”

Pike turned to Elizabeth. “He wasn’t joking about being a ladies man.”

The petite archeologist stared at Pike’s short companion with something like amazement etched upon her pretty face.

“Oh, and boss,” Pug added, “we’ll need to reimburse the brother for the ordinance.”

Pike shook his head. He wasn’t a Ravenscroft, but thanks to his father, he had access to a good chunk of the family fortune as part of his inheritance. He also had to admit that the military chopper had come in very handy.

“Anything you need to pick up before we take off?” As Pug spoke, he kept his eyes of the demolished house. “I’d like to get out of here before I have to see–well, shit.”

Pike followed his gaze. Drake walked across the lawn toward them. His face and sling were blackened with soot, but his posture was ramrod straight.

Elizabeth stepped behind Pike. She gripped his shoulders and tried to make herself appear small.

“It’s okay,” Pike said. “He won’t hurt you.”

“But I saw him kill that man.”

Drake stopped in front of them. He looked first at Pug, then Andre. A thin smile twisted the corners of his mouth.

Andre raised his fist, which clenched a knife with a long serrated blade. “Let me give you a bigger smile, govniuk.”

“That’s Mr. Govniuk to you,” Drake said.

Pug glanced at Elizabeth. “Why is she cowering from tall, old and crewcut here? He threaten to kiss her?”

“She says she watched him murder Jimmy Swift,” Pike said.

“Jimmy? The mook who never won a hand a poker?” Pug narrowed his eyes. “You killed an old poker buddy, Drake.”

“Nope,” Drake said. “Not me.”

“He’s lying,” Elizabeth said from her place of sanctuary behind Pike.

Drake didn’t respond.

“Well?” Andre waved the knife at Drake. “You got something to say?”

“Yep.” Drake walked past them in the direction of the road. “Adios.”

“Where’s he going?” Pug said. “It ain’t like there’s a motel close by.”

“I don’t care,” Pike said. “I need to get back to Florida.”

“We can make that happen. What’s on the agenda?”

Pike started in the direction of the chopper. Elizabeth trailed him like a shadow.

“We’re going to make a house call on the Brotherhood of the First.”

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 18

A split second before the wall exploded Pike grabbed Elizabeth’s wrist and pulled her into the hallway.

He’d instantly recognized the signature flash of a helicopter-launched missile. This was a military attack, or an assault by someone with access to military weapons.

His ears rang from the explosion, and the back of his neck stung from some kind of shrapnel. There was no time to check it now. He towed the petite archeologist through the hall. Behind them, there was another explosion. Several framed photographs fell from the walls. Plaster dust from the ceiling coated their heads like snow.

“Nugget won’t be happy about this,” he said. His voice sounded like it was coming from under water.

“What?” Elizabeth said.

Whoever was attacking them intended to bring down the whole house. Pike would have to take his chances outside.

They made their way to the mansion’s foyer. Explosions shook the entire structure. Next to the front door one of Jiminez’s men lay unconscious or dead. A large metal shield, like something out of a Roman gladiator movie, had fallen from the wall onto his head.

Pike knelt to check his pulse. The man was gone. Reaching under the dead man’s jacket, Pike removed a gun. It was a Sig Sauer P220 Combat model with a 10-round magazine. It wasn’t much against missile-firing helicopters but it would have to do.

Pike threw open the door. The sun’s harsh glare was in sharp contrast to the rumbling explosions behind the house and the cacophonous thumping of the chopper blades. He pulled Elizabeth out of the house.

“We can’t stay here,” he said.


He spoke louder. “We have to go. We’re going to run to the jungle, okay?”

She nodded.

With the enemy choppers concentrating on the back of the house, they would have to take an indirect route to cover. Pike would head for the road, then enter the jungle slightly north of where he and Drake had first stumbled onto Jiminez’s property.

“Let’s go.” He released Elizabeth’s hand and they ran.

They had covered less than 40 yards when one of the choppers sailed over the house. The road was at least two hundred yards away. Pike stuck out an arm to stop Elizabeth. He turned and fired at the chopper. One shot cracked the cowling in front of the pilot before the man nosed the craft up. Pike’s other shots bounced harmlessly off the undercarriage.

“Come on,” he said.

They ran toward a long detached carport. The sides were open to the air, but the roof was metal and might offer some protection.

Unless the chopper launched a Hellfire missile at them.

There were only two vehicles parked under the carport: a Mercedes SUV and a Bentley Continental Supersports convertible. Jiminez’s other transportation must have been stored somewhere else. If they were behind the house, they were probably already gone.

“Notice anything about that helicopter?”

“It was white,” Elizabeth said. “Do you think it’s the Brotherhood of the First?”

Pike nodded. “I think whoever killed Swift called in the air strike.”

“Your friend?”

“For the last time, Drake is not my friend,” Pike said. “Let’s get behind the SUV. Try to keep it between you and the chopper.”

They heard the Brotherhood’s helicopter hovering overhead. Then came the chattering of automatic gunfire. Bullets pierced the carport’s roof and shredded the top of the small convertible.

“Slide under the truck,” Pike ordered.

They both crawled under the SUV. Elizabeth fit easily. The space was cramped for Pike’s large frame, but he made it.

Once again, gunfire rained down on the carport. He heard the metal tearing into the roof of the SUV.

“What are we going to do?” Elizabeth said.

Pike wasn’t sure. He only knew that if was going to die it wouldn’t be on his back, hiding under a drug lord’s Mercedes.

When the gunfire ceased, he said, “Stay here.”

He pulled himself out from under the truck and climbed to his feet. He checked the magazine of the Sig Sauer. Six shots remained. If he chose his targets carefully, he might be able to do some damage. He stepped out of the carport’s cover just as the sound of the chopper blades doubled.

Both Brotherhood choppers were hovering over his position. They looked like Russian KA-52s, the attack helicopter of the air force there. Both were painted white. Pike couldn’t see any more missiles. Maybe all of the heavy stuff had been used on the house.

One of the KA-52s came closer to the ground. The cowling in front of the pilot was unmarked. So this was the second craft. Pike waved a hand in greeting and smiled. Two men were in the craft. One pilot and one weapons man, he guessed.

“Hey! How’s it going?” Pike shouted.

Then he raised the Sig Sauer P220 and emptied it into the pilot’s cabin. The cowling starred, then shattered. The gunner slumped in the seat. Pike saw blood spread across the chest of his white jumpsuit.

The pilot yanked the stick, and the chopper rose into the sky.

Pike tossed the empty gun away as the other helicopter opened fire again.

But the gunfire instantly stopped.

Pike heard the roar of an engine and felt the vibrations of another helicopter rotor. He shielded his eyes with his hand and looked to the north.

The new arrival was a black AgustaWestland Apache, the British version of the U.S. Army’s AH-64. The Apache fired a missile. The Brotherhood chopper vanished in a ball of flames.

Pike stepped back under the flimsy protection of the carport as metal and flaming fuel and body parts fell to earth.

He heard the distinctive sound of the other KA-52 growing fainter. The other Brotherhood pilot was fleeing.

The black Apache landed lightly on the expansive front lawn. When the rotors stopped turning, the pilot’s door opened.

The man was short, but built like a fireplug. An unlit cigar was clenched between his teeth.

He removed the stogie and smiled at Pike.

Pug Benson said, “Boss, is this a good time to ask for a raise?”

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011