Authors: JT Sawyer
Until Morning Comes
A Carlie Simmons Post-Apocalyptic Thriller
2014 by JT Sawyer
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is a work of fiction and the characters and events portrayed in this book are
fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, businesses,
incidents, or events is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.
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book is dedicated to the warriors of the special operations and personal
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Terms Found in the Book
PPD Personal Protection Detail
POTUS President of the United States
MP-7 Submachine gun used by Secret Service agents.
Often two are carried in shoulder holsters beneath their dress coats during
Sunday, 1100 Hours, Sonoran
Desert, Southwest of Tucson
“Out of ammo,” Carlie Simmons shouted as
she bolted behind a cement barricade to begin a tactical reload of her
Sig-Sauer P229 pistol. Gerald, her partner and an older operator, ran ahead of
her, his weapon sending a hail of rounds downrange to its intended target.
After releasing the slide and racking a new
round, Carlie resumed her position, weaving past Gerald into the doorway of a
two-story house. As she entered the bullet-riddled dwelling, she deftly placed
two shots into the heads of the terrorists on the staircase and another volley
into a semi-hidden figure crouching behind a civilian in a distant archway. As
she and Gerald wound through the upper levels of the dilapidated shoot-house,
they dispatched the rest of the cardboard hostiles with three seconds to spare
on the timer.
An overhead buzzer shrieked out the end
time and both of them holstered their weapons. After returning to the ground
floor, Carlie removed her hat long enough to shake a piece of loose brass from
her blond ponytail. She removed her ear protection and stepped out into the already
intense heat of the desert sun, the sunlight shining across her athletic figure.
“Not bad—not bad at all,” said Gerald,
who had turned and pointed back to the overhead monitor with her score. “You’ve
got the edge in the competition and on the street, alright,” he said with a
Carlie was at once pleased and
disappointed to hear his compliment. “I got one round a little off-center on
that last headshot. It could’ve been better,” Carlie said, resting her hands on
her nylon ballistic belt.
“Out of thirty-nine rounds fired, and
all of ’em right in the kill zone, you have to complain about a micrometer of
difference with one shot that only you would notice and that wouldn’t have any
bearing on dropping a bad guy,” he said, shaking his head. “I know I demand
perfection but don’t be that hard on yourself.”
“Yeah, well, it matters to me, especially
if I’m going to make the next cut of applicants for the D.C. position.”
“You’ve got the highest scores in
today’s inter-agency surgical shooting match so far, as well as the best in our
Southwest agency’s track record. You’re the only one who’s going to lose sleep
tonight,” said Gerald, who had seventeen years more experience than her.
A voice came over the speaker from the
range master. “Final round commencing.”
They put their ear protection back in
place and moved over to the shade of a cottonwood tree behind the range
master’s elevated observation platform. The two agents who stepped forward at
the white starting line were from the Drug Enforcement Agency and had grimy,
dust-covered clothes compared to the neat appearance of Carlie and Gerald, who
were clad in their agency’s typical attire of button-down shirts, suit coats,
and creased pants.
“I heard those guys just got off a
week-long deployment south of the border and raced here for the competition—I
mean ‘inter-agency training,’” said Gerald, shaking his head at the raggedy
appearance of the two men.
“Hell, they look that grungy all the
time, even off duty, for crying out loud,” Carlie said. She looked over at the lithe
figure of the nearest DEA shooter named Shane, whose tactical vest bore the
handwritten saying “caballero” in red ink.
She glanced around at the other two-man teams
standing on either side of her—shooters from the U.S. Marshals, FBI Hostage Rescue,
NSA, and the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tactical Division. The Southwest bureau chief
for the Secret Service had spearheaded this bi-annual training event to foster
inter-agency cooperation and information sharing on counter-terrorism
techniques. For Carlie, it was another excuse to be on the range honing her pistol-craft
and to learn from veteran operators. Though she got her share of looks from the
alpha-dogs beside her, the fact that she was the only female field agent in the
Southwest branch never bothered her. Carlie’s considerable physical prowess and
skill under fire had earned her a place of respect within the small circle of
elite operators that she had come to think of as brothers. Growing up as an army
brat with three competitive brothers made her feel at home in the company of
The final match finished and the two DEA
agents went back to their table to strip off their gear and wait for the final
scores. Carlie strode over and stood under their shade canopy.
Shane Colter, a senior DEA agent with a
scruffy beard, looked up from his gear bag. “Carlie, Carlie, you look so spiffy
in those city slicker clothes. Doesn’t your agency ever let you slip out of
that snazzy suit into something practical for a few hours at the range?”
“If there’s anyone who should worry
about their clothes, it’d be you two. Whew,” she said, waving her hand before
her, “even the ravens are afraid to fly overhead.”
“This is what happens when you have a
real job working in the field busting bad guys instead of sitting in air-conditioned
coffee shops babysitting the president’s daughter,” said Matias, a wiry agent
of Panamanian descent who was Shane’s second-in-command.
Carlie looked back at the range and then
returned her eyes to Shane. “Not a bad bit of plinking, fellas,” she said.
“Yeah, well, Navy SEAL training, you
know,” said Shane.
“Wow—you were in the SEALs?” she said with
wide eyes while putting her hand over her mouth. “Why, I had no idea—oh wait,
yeah I did, because of those other 79 times you told me and that cool tactical
watch you’re wearing.”
Shane chuckled while placing a fresh
magazine in his Glock 17 and reholstering it on his belt. Then he peeled off
his leather gloves, which revealed his thick hands and scarred knuckles.
“You oughta come out with us sometime,”
he said. “I mean, along the border to see what real runnin’ and gunnin’ looks
like. I bet you’d get a taste for that life and want to jump ship to our
kick-ass agency. There are no fancy suits to be worn in our unit, either,” he
said, smacking his palm against his filthy vest.
“No thanks. I’m three months away from a
potential position with the Counter-Assault Unit in D.C. Then I can be out of
this blast furnace. Gerald’s been preparing me and says I have a good shot at
making the next batch of applicants.”
Shane looked up at the protective gaze
of the older man, who was examining him from a distance. “Gerald’s the guy to
take you to the Promised Land, that’s for sure. He’s a helluva mentor from what
I’ve heard but do you really think they’re gonna let a 007 muchacha like you
out of your current gig with the president’s daughter? I mean, she’ll probably
be on campus for another three years or more.”
Carlie thrust her hands on her hips and tilted
her chin up slightly. “D.C. is calling and my record here on that security
detail will only serve to further those ends. If everything goes according to
plan, I should be headed east by Christmas.”
“Well, don’t forget the wild bunch ‘down
under’ when you’re gone. And when the time comes to sail on, I’ll take you out
for a steak dinner to celebrate.”
“You eat meat? I thought you were a
“Ouch, that hurt my feelings. Now I’m
gonna have to make you pay the tab.”
Carlie had taken Shane up on an offer to
go out for dinner two months previously but knew she better not pursue things
further after that first encounter. He was just out of a recent divorce and she
found it necessary to squelch her budding interest early on rather than risk a
relationship that could potentially conflict with her career goals. There would
be time for longer-lasting romantic involvements elsewhere once she was
assigned to D.C. and could unwind more. Nothing was going to interfere with her
personal goal of being assigned to the detail of the president.
Carlie flung her hair back with a smile as
she walked away. “Better keep practicing if you want to beat me.”
The range-master, a gray-haired man in a
Stetson, moved down from his observation platform with the results. After
reading the scores, he leaned back and retrieved a six-pack of Heineken from a
red cooler and handed it to Carlie and Gerald. “Secret Service cleans up
Carlie held up the unopened bottle and
nodded to the other teams, noticing Shane slowly shaking his head as a faint
grin widened out from beneath his mirrored sunglasses.
The range master stepped into the circle
of agents. “Last group out locks up the place. I’m headin’ out early. There’s
supposed to be a decent storm coming in from Baja tonight so don’t dally here
too long or you’ll need a kayak to float out of this canyon.”
After the match, Carlie drove her
agency-issued black Suburban back to Tucson with Gerald riding shotgun. The
air-conditioning was cranked up to level four and Carlie was still wrestling
with the discomfort of her button-up shirt sticking to the leather seat.
“Gonna be another scorcher today,”
mumbled Gerald while checking his texts. “108 degrees is the forecast, I
“Yeah, but at least it will cool off to
a frigid 90 degrees tonight,” Carlie chuckled while turning the radio dial.
“Have you heard who won the Diamondbacks game last night?”
“Nope—is that a baseball or a hockey
team?” chided Gerald. “You know me, when I’m home, which is almost never, I
spend time with my two grandkids. I ain’t got time to follow sports or anything
Carlie and Gerald had only worked
together for the past year and she looked upon him as a close mentor. Most
agents who worked the personal protection details of the president,
vice-president, and their families were assigned to one person’s detail and
stayed with them for three years or until a transfer to another assignment came
in. She had been with the Tucson office for one year, coinciding with the
arrival of President Huntington’s daughter, Eliza, coming to the University of
Arizona. During that time, Gerald had shown her the ropes and really taken her
under his wing, passing along his decades of fieldwork around the globe in his
work with two former presidents.
At thirty-one, Carlie was the first
female field agent to be appointed to the Southwest Division of the Secret
Service. Despite the sentiment in the department that she was hired to fill a
minority quota, she had achieved the highest field operative and aptitude
scores in recent years. Prior to getting hired for the Personal Protective
Detail section, she had worked the standard six years in investigations that
all Secret Service agents had to undergo prior to applying for protection.
Before that she had served four years in Army Intelligence as a Russian
linguist. This still got her the occasional assignment within the Secret
Service to work as an interpreter for visiting Russian dignitaries coming to
the West Coast.
While Carlie was going on about which
team won the last Diamondbacks game, the barely audible voice of the radio
announcer pierced through their conversation with news of a rash of violent attacks
that had happened in the southeastern U.S. the previous night.
“Sounds like another new street drug is
being circulated,” said Gerald. “Reminds me of the time when I was working a
detail in Europe for Bush. We had a bunch of crazed protesters hopped up on
PCP. Man, I swear we must have kept the pepper-spray companies in business that
No matter what the topic, Gerald always
had a personal anecdote to share and Carlie just sat forward in rapt attention.
She reflected on what Gerald had said to her a year ago upon accepting her
field position in personal protection. “Though it’s seldom spoken about between
agents, just remember that every day you are expendable and the sand in your
hourglass will only be yours again when you retire—if you retire.”
Those words had hit home last month when
she was briefly assigned to a protective detail for a former vice-president’s
visit to Brazil. She rubbed her right shoulder, where she was still nursing a
knife wound that she had received after disarming an attacker. One of several attackers
whose faces she tried to blot out of her mind.