Groundswell: Chapter thirty-six

“Dobson, c’mere.”

Cory Dobson was a good kid, as far as Kimball was concerned. Everybody said he was too young to be on the force; too green, but he was a fast learner and eager to please.

“Yes sir?” said Dobson, crawling on his belly over to where Kimball lay on the edge of the ridge overlooking the highway, staring down at the scene below with binoculars.

“What do you see down there, son?”

Dobson seemed confused. “Federal troops, sir. Lots of them.”

“Who is the law in this town, Dobson?”

“You are, sir.”

“No,” said Kimball. “You are. I am. We all are. They aren’t. This is our land, and they are an invading force. They are, right now, committing an unconstitutional, criminal act. And they’re about to commit more. Lots more. Now, it’s our job to uphold the law in this town, but we can’t do it alone. They still teach kids about Paul Revere in school?”

“Yes sir,” he said. “I think. Maybe I saw something about it on TV. Heard of him, though.”

Kimball shook his head. “Heard it on TV,” he muttered. “Well son, you are going to be Paul Revere today. Know how he rode around at midnight warnin’ everyone the British was coming? Well them down there are the British. I need you to ride into town and wake up every able-bodied man you can. Use the bullhorn. go up and down the streets in the shittiest redneck neighborhoods you know of. Hit the trailer park. Make as much damn noise as you can. Tell ’em ain’t no laws right now. Any of these sons of bitches they see, shoot to kill.”

Dobson looked terrified. “How am I gonna do that? What do I tell ’em?”

Kimball thought for a moment. “Tell ’em… Tell ’em the government is comin’ to take their guns.”

***

The footprints stopped where two sets of tire tracks began. The tracks disappeared once the vehicles they were attached to left gravel and hit asphalt. Shonda kept walking in the direction they’d gone.

The rifle was starting to get heavy, and her skin was slick with sweat, which stung her mosquito bites. She stopped to pull up her pants, which were sagging under the weight of the grenades, and a wolf howled in the distance.

Or a coyote, or whatever. Damn it, Logan.

She trudged ahead, past a graffiti-covered gas station and a church whose steeple had long ago fallen to the ground and been covered by vegetation.

She was on the outskirts of town and about to give up hope when she saw a brief flash of light as the door of a building closeby opened and shut.

That’s where he was. That’s where they’d taken him.

She ducked behind a tree, then dashed to another. Then another.

The building was round and constructed of brick, with a concrete dome roof. A World War II-era cannon sat next to a sign near the entrance.

When she got close enough to read the sign, their choice of the place as a base of operations made sense.

National Guard Armory.

A generator hummed away out front, and Shonda hoped it would drown out the sound of her footsteps as she inched closer.

A man came outside, locked the door behind himself and lit up a cigarette.

She circled around and approached him from behind as he reached into his pocket for something.

His phone.

He looked at it, shook his head and put it back. “Duh,” he said. “Idiot.”

Those were his last words.

Shonda grabbed him by the chin with one hand and by the back of his head with the other. She snapped his neck and he fell to the ground.

After dragging him off into the woods, she picked up her rifle, fished a set of keys out of the dead man’s pocket and tiptoed back to the door.

The key was in the lock when she heard a gun click behind her.

“Set the gun down! Turn around! Hands up!”

“Okay,” she said. “Okay.”

She squatted down and placed the AK on the ground, unhooking one of the grenades from her waistband and pulling its pin as she rose and turned.

It was another of the men in the black uniforms, standing about ten feet away from her. He had a gun of a type she didn’t recognize aimed directly at the center of her forehead.

“Hands up!” he barked.

“Alright, I’m complying, just taking it slow so neither one of us gets jittery.”

“What’s that in your hand? Drop it!”

“If you insist,” she said with a shrug, and tossed the grenade at him before diving in the opposite direction.

It detonated about two seconds after it left her hand, reducing the man’s top half to hamburger meat.

“So much for stealth,” she mumbled as watched the front door to the armory swing open.

More men in black fatigues swarmed outside, yelling and pointing.

Time to be Rambo, I guess.

She opened fire on them, mowing down four and driving the others back inside.

She hurled her last grenade at the door as the last one in went to shut it. It almost didn’t make it inside, but it did, and soon a good portion of the front of the building was missing.

She stormed into the smoky debris, firing wildly until she ran out of ammo.

She tossed her weapon to the ground, snatched one up from a dead man and darted down a hallway.

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