Mount Si: Refusal of the Call (Axon, Inc. Sample)

June 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

This is a sample from the Refusal of the Call section of Axon, Inc. See the post on mapping story structure to get a sense of where this appears in the novel.

He didn’t know the fastest way to a road or a house, so he simply headed back the way he’d come: straight through the clearing. He had to use his flashlight to keep from stumbling. That might make it easier for the drones to find him, but they’d find him soon anyway. His only hope was speed, and he could run a lot faster without a broken ankle…

Too late. There was the hum of the drones, flying invisibly in the dark above him, behind him. As he crashed through the fern, horsetail, and Scotch broom, he thought he heard Emir shouting. The drones whined as they changed course, circling, closing in on their target. Then a thunder of bullets and a sharp blast as the accelerant exploded. Emir was gone.

He’d barely covered a hundred yards through the clearing. There was no way he could outrun them.

The humming rose and fell, dipped and arched around behind him. They were triangulating on his heat signal. His military training kicked in, and his feet found their way almost noiselessly through the brush, heart pounding, lungs gasping. His body hurtled forward on automatic while his mind raced. He had to disguise his heat signature. Either find something else warm — an animal, a heated building, a car… Or cover up his signal? Dig a hole? —

His feet splashed in the stream. That was it.

It was about two feet deep in the center. Plenty deep. But how long would he have to be underwater before the drones gave up? And if —

The drone hum surged and circled around him in the dark, and then the bullets came, hailing around him. Pain seared in his shoulder and his leg. He lunged into the water, throwing himself onto the stream bed, spread-eagled to make sure he was completely submerged.

Damn, it was cold. But the current was fast. All his heat was dissipating, carried away downstream…

And he was losing blood. He began to shiver violently. He’d have to get warm fast, when — and if — the drones gave up and flew away. Else he’d go into shock. If he wasn’t already.

At least the cold was deadening the pain of the bullets.

He waited. No more bullets came.

He felt dizzy. It occurred to him he must not, must not pass out, or he would drown. He focused on holding his breath.

When his lungs were burning, and he could stay under no longer, he raised his head and gulped for air. No bullets. He froze, listening. All he could hear was the rushing stream bubbling past his ears.

Was that a distant hum? No point in taking any chances. He went under again.

Now his body was going numb from the cold and shock. Stay awake, stay awake. Hold the breath. He tried wiggling his fingers and twitching his feet, to bring some life back to his body, but he couldn’t feel them. Hold the breath. Just a little longer. Just a little longer…

His body shook violently as freezing water came in his nose. He must have passed out for a microsecond. He jerked up out of the water, gasping. Breathing. Listening.

Nothing.

Completely numb, he lurched to his feet and staggered out of the water. He would call someone —

No. The phone in his pocket was ruined, of course.

And Emir’s memory stick.

After sitting for a few minutes feeling sick, gasping for breath, and trying to get himself together, he bound his wounds with strips of clothing, and got moving. The motion eventually warmed him up, stopped his shivering and shaking, brought him out of shock. Of course, the pain came back. But he’d make it.

He’d make it. And he had to do something. He had to stop the “therapy” somehow, or at least keep the military from —

That was it, of course. He had to keep the military from getting Logan’s telepathic computers. And there was only one way to do that.

After half an hour of climbing, he was spotted by the park service’s EMT drones. They dropped off water, a blanket, a spare phone, and some packets of energy gel, and let him know that an emergency team was on its way. Gratefully he sat down to wait.

And he called Logan.

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