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Authors: Jerry Ahern

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BOOK: Assassin's Express
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Chapter Fifteen

“There's a roadblock up there—I don't think we're easin' through this one, guys,” O'Hara rasped through his gritting teeth.

Frost looked across the wheel of the rented Ford Granada, then glanced back to O'Hara, peering over the front seatback between Frost and the girl. “What now, FBI person?” Frost asked.

“What you mean we, paleface?” O'Hara laughed. “Let's turn off—try to make it look inconspicuous. Could be a driver's license check, you know.”

“My rear end,” Frost answered.

“Yeah—well, that too. Naw. You're probably right—the Mississippi cops are lookin' for us. Couldn't be lookin' for the car, though—unless the guy at the rental agency made me. Can't see 'em puttin' out an APB on a fellow fed though,” O'Hara groused.

Frost spotted a side road of the highway—they'd avoided the Interstate—and took it. O'Hara had rented the car early in the morning, leaving the FOUO car in the parking lot of a twenty-four-hour supermarket; then they'd started heading out of Louisiana for the Mississippi line. They'd passed state troopers twice and there hadn't been as much as a flicker of a Mars light, Frost thought. But the roadblock at the border into Mississippi had to be for them.

Frost went slowly down the side road—it was in clear view of the roadblock still.

“You finked on us, O'Hara—at that last gas station,” Jessica Pace shouted suddenly.

“What? You're bananas, lady—why the heck would I rat on you when I'm workin' with you?”

“It's a trap, just a con to get us off guard. That whole CIA thing last night, then you showin' up. Just to sucker us into a better spot for them to nail us without too many of them getting it. Or maybe they want to get me alive so they can get me to tell them something—that's how the Commies work, they—”

“Now shut up!” Frost realized he was losing it, losing control, losing his temper. “Just shut up. O'Hara is my friend, he's trying to be your friend. You don't know what you're saying.”

“A Commie'd sell out his own mother!” Jessica Pace shrieked.

“Well ... I can't argue with that,” O'Hara said with what Frost labeled almost insane calm. “But I ain't a Commie, girl—see!”

“O'Hara—Jessica—just both of you—or so help me,” Frost realized he was shouting; what he was saying was incoherent, didn't make any sense. “Damn it!”

“He's gonna put us away, Hank!”

Frost started to say something back to the girl, but O'Hara, his voice odd-sounding, cut him off. “No, lady—I'm not, but maybe they are!”

Frost glanced into the rear-view mirror, just catching sight of an airplane disappearing over the car.

“Get over there,” O'Hara rasped, leaning forward into the front seat, apparently trying to look up through the top of the windshield. “Look at that! A lousy airplane—they got us spotted.”

“Cops or the feds?” Frost grunted.

“Naw—KGB. I'll lay ya money on it. Looks like the shootin' war's got itself started, guys,” O'Hara snarled. The FBI man leaned back from the front seat, Frost moving the mirror down to watch him. O'Hara had the big Metalifed Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum out of the shoulder rig under his coat, the cylinder swinging out, then closing in his hands. “Never shot down an airplane with one of these—but if they start shootin' at us, they can kiss that single engine good-by.”

There was a faint whistling sound, then suddenly the front end of the car was shuddering, the steering not responding under Frost's hands; there was a burst of light, dirt and gravel rained down on the hood of the car.

“For God's sake, Frost—you don't drive worth a—”

“Shut up, O'Hara,” Frost rasped through his teeth, his lips bared, his knuckles white on the steering wheel as he fought the car back onto the road, the plane off to his far right. “That was a bomb—maybe a grenade. I've had it—really had it with accidents, with cars, with driving this woman from one end of the country to the other!”

“Those weren't Mississippi cops at that roadblock,” O'Hara muttered.

“I've had it with automobile accidents, with people I don't even know shooting at me! What the hell is—”

The plane was coming back and Frost shut up. He felt foolish, angry and disgusted. As the plane made another low pass he saw a small dark object drop out of it and he felt semiterrified. “Grenade!” Frost shouted, cutting the wheel hard left to avoid it. The concussion rocked the car. Frost cut the wheel left again as the dirt and gravel streamed down on the hood of the car and across the windshield.

“Look out for that tree!” It was the girl shouting.

Frost tried pulling the steering wheel hard right, but the steering wasn't working. The hood had popped up in front of him. Frost tried the brakes and when they didn't stop him fast enough he tried the transmission; he realized the grenade had knocked out the engine. “Get down—we're gonna—”

Frost's hands and wrists and forearms and then his shoulders, shuddered. His forehead hammered forward into his right fist still locked on the steering wheel, his head bouncing back as he rolled down toward Jessica Pace. The car stopped dead and Frost rolled to the floor.

He opened his eye, not knowing if he'd been unconscious or not; his head ached.

Jessica Pace was beside him, on the floor of the front seat. Frost heard O'Hara. “Out of the car-quick! They're comin' after us!”

Jessica Pace was already moving, the little Walther PPK .38 with the funny-looking silencer at its muzzle clenched in her tiny, right fist. Frost pulled himself across the seat, like a swimmer, his hands ahead of him, clawing at the fabric. He half-rolled, half-fell to the ground. O'Hara shoved his pack at him and Frost started to his feet. His ears ached suddenly as the big .44 Magnum went off too close to him. “Put a muffler on that thing!” Frost snapped, on his feet, slinging the pack across his back, the KG-9 in his right hand, the two spare magazines rammed into his trouser belt.

“Lay down some fire on that plane, Frost, and stop complainin',” O'Hara shouted.

“Bite it,” Frost retorted, then grasped the ventilated barrel shroud of the KG-9 in his left fist, the thirty-two-round magazine already loaded up the well, the bolt already back. Frost's right fist tightened around the pistos grip, the first finger of his right hand pumping the trigger. He started running, the KG-9 spitting two-round bursts as he moved.

The plane was making another low pass and cars from the “police” barricade were streaming up the side road toward the wrecked Ford Frost had piled into the tree. His head still aching, Frost shouted, “Grenade!” The small single-engine plane made another low pass along the ground. Frost hit the ground, rolling, covering his face with his hands. He heard the booming of O'Hara's .44 Magnum, then looked up. The windshield of the lead car was shot through; the car piling off the road, roaring into a ditch. Frost rolled to his knees, the KG-9 in his fists, its trigger pumping as the small aircraft started to climb, away from him, into the low clouds over a stand of pines. The KG-9 bucked slightly in his hands as Frost kept elevating the muzzle, the aircraft almost out of range. Mentally keeping count, he guessed at four rounds left in the magazine—Frost pumped them out as fast as he could pull the trigger.

The single-engine plane seemed to stall in midair; then Frost dove for the ground. The forward portion of the fuselage exploded, leaving Frost's ears ringing with the sound. He looked up, his right eye squinted against the black, oily smoke and the debris. More explosions, smaller than the first, belched from the tumbling aircraft—the grenades, he thought. There was a whistling sound, almost like an air-raid siren. It grew louder and more intense as the aircraft, belly-flopped, then half-glided back into the stand of pines. There was another explosion, then an orange-and-black fireball gushed upward out of the trees.

Frost was on his feet, ramming the next magazine into the KG-9. O'Hara shouted behind him, “Nice one, Ace—come on!”

Frost wheeled, pumping a half-dozen rounds from the KG-9 at the five cars speeding toward him along the side road fifty yards to his rear. Then he bent low, wheeling, starting into a dead run.

Frost could see Jessica Pace, ahead of him, stopping every few yards, spinning around, firing two-round bursts from the little Walther .38. O'Hara was on one knee, the gleaming .44 Magnum in both fists, the six-inch tube jerking upward as the booming of the big-caliber handgun reached Frost's ears. Frost spun around, dropping low, firing at the men streaming from the cars along the road. The faces were Slavic-looking, their guns a collection of automatic weapons not common in domestic police arsenals. O'Hara had been right, Frost thought. It was the KGB. Frost could hear the Model 29 booming again, see one of the KGB men flying backward, his assault rifle falling from his hands, the hands going up to the chest.

“Ha! Ha!” It was O'Hara. “Got one!”

Frost pumped the trigger on the KG-9, ripping a ragged, vertical line of red into the neck and face of a mustached man holding an AK-47. The man spun around crazily, then collapsed into a heap on the ground, and AK-47 firing into the muddy dirt at his feet as he fell.

Frost got to his feet again, hearing the 29 boom once more, and catching a glimpse of O'Hara cramming a speed loader against the cylinder of the N-frame Smith, then starting to run. Jessica Pace was about twenty yards ahead of him, Frost judged, on one knee, firing the little Walther. Frost shot a glance behind him. One of the KGB men snapped his head back, dropped his gun; his face was a mass of red, his body was collapsing forward.

Frost, without looking, snapped off two two-round bursts behind him. There was a drainage ditch of some kind up ahead and he aimed for it. Already the volume of fire from the dozen and a half KGB men was heavy and once they organized into more than a group of running, shooting, and hollering gunmen, the fire would get heavier.

“The ditch—over there!” Frost shouted, seeing O'Hara, then catching sight of the FBI man nodding. “Jessica—make for the ditch,” Frost shouted. The girl didn't seem to register anything on her face—that she'd heard Frost or even cared—but she changed the direction in which she ran, still pumping the Walther again, the absence of noise when the gun discharged almost making it seem unreal, as if she were a child playing cops and robbers or cowboys, and not firing real bullets at men firing back.

Frost emptied the KG-9's magazine and bent low, running, trying to swap magazines as he moved. The ground around his feet was ripping up and Frost could hear whining sounds, like those made by huge insects; the sounds whistled past his ears, surrounding him. He remembered a tour of guard duty back in his early days in the military, the flies, so thick in the night air that he could feel them around his face, parting like a wave as he'd walked. He could hear the buzzing sounds near his ears, waited for the sensation on his skin that one of them was sucking his blood. He felt an impact now, on the left side of his neck, started falling forward, but kept his gun up out of the mud as his face slammed into it; his mouth tasted it. Frost ran his left hand up to his neck and it came back wet, sticky.

He rolled onto his back, snatching the KG-9 up on line and pumping the trigger twice; two of the KGB men coming at him in a rush from ten yards behind, went down.

Frost pushed himself to his feet, fired another two-round burst, caught another KGB man—blond, long-haired and thin-faced; the man grabbed at his crotch, doubling over. Frost thought he heard a curse coming from the man's lips over the roar and whine of gunfire.

When Frost started to run again, he heard the almost-reassuring sound of O'Hara's Model 29, and shooting a glance over his right shoulder he saw one of the KGB-ers go down.

The ditch was less than a dozen yards ahead. Frost ran for it, the KG-9 in his right hand. He could feel the wetness of his neck wound as the blood dribbled down into his shirt—the burning, almost-itching feeling. The lip of the ditch was a yard away now, the volume of fire around him suddenly increasing. As Frost dove for it he heard O'Hara's N-frame Smith booming again, its noise almost deafening him. Frost hit the ditch and rolled down, wetting the left side of his face with the brackish water as he did so. Then he pushed himself up to his knees, and poked the muzzle of the KG-9 over the lip of the ditch.

O'Hara was muttering something. Frost looked to his left, toward the man's face.

O'Hara's icy eyes locked on Frost; the FBI man said, “You know—I lost six rounds of once-fired empties back there when I reloaded—boy! Those suckers are gonna pay for that!” And the big .44 Magnum revolver boomed again. Frost looked to his right. A KGB man went down, rolling across the mud, his AK-47 discharging a fast burst into the air.

Shaking his head, almost smiling, Frost started pumping the trigger of the KG-9 9mm, nailing one, then a second, then a third KGB man. He fired at a fourth man, clipping the man in the shoulder; two of his comrades grabbed at him, dragging him off, his heels in the mud, one of the men still firing. Frost started to fire at the man, then let it go; he'd never shot a man hauling a wounded buddy to safety and he wasn't about to start. The thought amused the one-eyed man for a moment—did KGB men really have buddies? Maybe wives and children? Was he getting soft? he wondered. Frost fired the KG-9, nailing a hulkingly tall man with a submachine gun, running dead on for the ditch. Frost's first round slammed against the man's chest—Frost could see him lurch back, then keep on running. Frost's second round hit the throat. The big man's left hand started to grasp for the wound; then the man spun out and collapsed into the mud.

BOOK: Assassin's Express
4.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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