Groundswell: Chapter thirty-seven

Logan heard an explosion, followed by gunfire. Shonda. It had to be. He flailed and kicked and tried to get loose, but his efforts proved just as fruitless as they had the last time he’d made the attempt, and the time before that. The toxin he’d been injected with was starting to wear off, and he felt weak and disoriented.

The bloodlust remained, but his desire to kill was no longer indiscriminate. He knew now, though, why Carl Stintson had been so savage, so unrelenting in his attack. What he didn’t know was how exactly the boy had received such an obviously high dose.

He heard more gunfire, and someone kicked the door in, admitting a cloud of thick white smoke into the room.

Shonda stepped into view, and Logan breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank God.”

“Don’t forget to thank me, too,” she said, rushing over to untie him. “I did the legwork.”

“You’ve saved my ass,” he said, pulling his arms free as the ropes around his wrists loosened. He flexed his tingling fingers.

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” she said. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Wait, we’ve gotta get Candy.”

She stared at him. “Candy? Is that the girl you came here to investigate? She’s here?”

“Yeah, if she’s still alive.” He cupped his hands to his face. “Candy!” He shouted. “Candy!”

“Shut up,” Shonda hissed. Just shutup.”

Logan shoved her against the wall, his hands wrapped tightly around her neck.

“Don’t tell me to shut up, cunt!” He spat through his teeth, his wild eyes ablaze with fury.

She kneed him in the groin, and when he let go of her and doubled over in agony, she shoved him away. ” What’s wrong with you?”

“Sorry,” he said, shaking his head like a wet dog. “It’s not me. They put the, uh, you know, the stuff inside me.”

His breathing was heavy. Her face was concerned.

“Seems like the effects are temporary,” he said between deep breaths.

“Not temporary enough,” said Shonda, rubbing her neck.

“I’m okay. But an hour ago I would’ve bludgeoned my mother to death with a hammer given the chance. I think they low-dosed these people over a long period until it built up in their systems. And it’s probably not easily detectable in an autopsy, if I were to venture a guess.”

“Fine,” she said, seeming somewhat relieved. “Let’s go.”

Shrouded in smoke, the old man stood near the end of the hallway with one arm wrapped around Candy’s neck from behind. His other hand held a pistol over her shoulder, pointed at them.

“Shit,” breathed Shonda.

“Throw down your weapon!” the old man barked.

“Skirving!” Shonda called, holding her gun steady. “What’s going on here? Why are you doing this?”

The old man’s eyes lit up and his grip on Candy relaxed, just slightly.

“You know this deep state douche?” asked Logan, his rage levels rising again. He wanted to claw the man’s face off. So bad.

“I did,” she said, not taking her eyes off Skirving and Candy. “A long time ago. I don’t think I do, anymore.”

Skirving made a sarcastic face. “Poor little Shonda Lasiter. Still fighting the good fight, eh? Still believing in truth, justice and transparency? Well, you’re right, then, when you say you don’t know me. You never did, though, you were always so naive about the way things really work.”

“Oh,” said Shonda, “I think I do know you. All too well. I know your kind. To you, the ends always justify the means, and it doesn’t matter who gets hurt, or who dies, in the process.”

“Like I said, naive.”

Logan’s eyes met Candy’s. Give me a chance. All I need is three seconds.

She received his wordless communication and acknowledged it with a wink. She knew. She got it. She’d felt the rage, once, too. Twice, actually, if his suspicions were correct. She was no killer, not deep down. She knew what it was to feel like one, though. She knew how fulfilling it was to satiate that hunger. She would not deprive him of the same pleasure.

Because reasons.

Candy smirked, and the old man glanced down at his leg.

All Logan needed was that glance. Thank you.

In less than two seconds, he charged and tackled both Skirving and Candy to the ground, sending the former’s gun tumbling across the floor.

Face to face with skirvin, like a sexual partner on top and in control, he sensed no fear from the old bastard. That made him furious.

“You’ll be afraid before you die motherfucker, I promise you that! You ain’t gettin’ off that–“

Bang.

Logan stood and glared daggers at Shonda, who now held the gun on him.

“Calm the fuck down, okay? Hello? Are you in there? Snap out of it, Hayes. We are the goodguys. We are the ones who fight and deny our own baser instincts every single day because it’s the right thing to do. Fight it now. Fight it!”

She was shaking him now. “Fight it, you pussy!” She slapped him across the face, and he looked down.

“You’re right, of course,” he said. “It’s only using what’s already in there. I have to take that away from it.”

He looked back down at Skirving, who looked different with a bullet hole in his forehead. Maybe it was the sudden surprise forever frozen on the face a man who’d become accustomed to believing his own hype. Maybe it was just because people looked different dead.

Candy rushed to Logan and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him tight and crying.

“What’d you do?” he asked her. “You know, to make him look down?”

“I peed on him,” she said into his sweat-dampened shirt.

Logan laughed, and Shonda cleared her throat.

They both turned to look at her. She was holding Skirving’s gun, and looked angry. “Can you shoot?” she asked candy.

“I mean, I’ve played Call of Duty a bunch.”

Shonda rolled her eyes and tossed the gun to Logan, who nearly dropped it.

“Oh, CZ 75,” he said, looking it over. “Neat.”

“Anyway,” said Shonda, “I don’t know if there’s anyone else around here or if they’re all across the woods over in Axton, but keep your eyes peeled and be quiet. We have to get as far away from here as possible, now. We can take an M-ATV to get out through rougher terrain. I need everyone to start checking these guys’ pockets for keys.”

“Wait, why can’t we go back to Axton?” asked Candy.

She put her hands on Candy’s shoulders. “Because, sweetie, there isn’t going to be any Axton anymore.”

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