Fulcrum: V Plague Book 12

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Fulcrum

 

 

V Plague Book Twelve

 

 

 

 

DIRK PATTON

 

Text Copyright © 2016 by Dirk Patton

Copyright © 2016 by Dirk Patton

 

All Rights Reserved

This book, or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced or
used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the
copyright holder or publisher, except for the use of brief quotations in a
critical book review.

Published by Voodoo Dog Publishing, LLC

2824 N Power Road

Suite #113-256

Mesa, AZ 85215

 

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1535027335

ISBN-10: 1535027339

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses,
brands, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s
imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

 

Also by Dirk Patton

 

The V
Plague Series

 

Unleashed: V Plague Book 1

Crucifixion: V Plague Book 2

Rolling Thunder: V Plague Book 3

Red Hammer: V Plague Book 4

Transmission: V Plague Book 5

Rules Of Engagement: A John Chase Short Story

Days Of Perdition: V Plague Book 6

Indestructible: V Plague Book 7

Recovery: V Plague Book 8

Precipice: V Plague Book 9

Anvil: V Plague Book 10

Merciless: V Plague Book 11

Fulcrum: V Plague Book 12

 

Other
Titles

 

36: A Novel

 

Author’s Note

 

Thank you for purchasing Fulcrum, Book 12 in the V Plague
series.  If you haven’t read the first eleven books, you need to stop
reading now and pick them up, otherwise you will be utterly lost as this book
is intended to continue the story in a serialized format.  I intentionally
did nothing to explain comments and events that reference books 1 through 11. 
Regardless, you have my heartfelt thanks for reading my work, and I hope you’re
enjoying the adventure as much as I am.  As always, a good review on
Amazon is greatly appreciated.

I have been remiss in thanking all the amazing people who
help me deliver a completed book to you, the reader.  Some of you wish to
remain anonymous, and I will honor that, but you know who you are.  Your
insight and suggestions when I put a completed first draft into your hands are
invaluable.  For this, I thank you!

 You can always correspond with me via email at
[email protected]
and find me on the internet at
www.dirkpatton.com
and follow
me on Twitter @DirkPatton and if you’re on Facebook, please like my page at
www.facebook.com/FearThePlague
 .

 

Thanks again for reading!

Dirk Patton

2016

 

Down in a hole and I don't know if I can be saved

See my heart I decorate it like a grave

Oh, you don't understand who they thought I was supposed to
be

Look at me now I'm a man who won't let himself be

Alice In Chains –
Down In A Hole

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

The female was slowly picking her way between the low
dunes.  Every few feet she would stop and test the air, take a quick look
around, then continue slinking forward.  The sun had set, and it was that between
time of the evening when everything is lit by a hazy, blue light.  Even
with the high-powered sniper scope on the rifle I was using, it was growing
harder to maintain my target.

I was at Groom Lake in southern Nevada, Area 51 if you will,
and the infected female was on the hunt.  She knew we were in the area,
undoubtedly had smelled us, but she wasn’t sure where we were.  Yet. 
So I lay in the sand on the back side of a low hill, rifle resting on the
crest, and tracked her. 

She was still nearly 1,000 yards away, and I wasn’t
comfortable with taking the shot.  Not now.  Years ago, I’d probably
have tried it.  But then I’d spent a lot of time shooting at training
targets anywhere from 100 to 1,200 yards.  And I’d been pretty damn
good. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I wasn’t one of those guys that
could repeatedly hit a heart or head shot at 1,000 yards.  No.  I’ve
never had the patience and temperament to be a sniper.  But, there was a
time when I could at least hit my target at that range.  Now?  I
didn’t have the confidence.

Sure, I’d been fighting everything from Russians to infected
for months.  And my skills with a battle rifle were as sharp as
ever.  Inside a couple of hundred yards.  However, the skill to make
a shot at 200 yards, versus a thousand, is like comparing high school
gymnastics to the Olympics.  They’re doing the same basic things, but the
execution couldn’t be more different.

To add to the difficulty level, a breeze was blowing from
left to right across the path the bullet would have to travel.  It wasn’t
a strong wind, by any means, but at a thousand yards, a round is in the air for
a long time.  And the longer it’s in flight, the more it will be affected
by environmental forces.  So, unmoving in the twilight, I waited.

Perhaps I should have been more confident with the rifle I’d
found in the armory.  It was an M2010 ESR or Enhanced Sniper Rifle,
complete with a high power scope, night vision, thermal imaging and a sound
suppressor.  Chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum, the weapon was more than
capable of taking out the female.  It was just the rusty old soldier behind
the trigger that wasn’t so sure.

Beside me, stretched out on the sand, Dog growled
softly.  Tearing my eye away from the scope, I glanced at him.  He
only growls when he catches the scent of an infected.  And, there was no
way he was smelling the one I was watching.  The wind was wrong.

Dog was looking to our left, into the wind.  Moving
slowly, I pulled the rifle off the top of the hill and swiveled, activating the
night vision scope.  Settling the bipod's legs into the dirt, I carefully
scanned for whatever had drawn Dog’s attention.

The night vision scope let me see everything in the rapidly
fading light.  Several large, squat, concrete structures were sprinkled
across the shallow valley of the dry lake bed that spread out below me.  A
dozen massive hangars were on the far side of a broad, extra-long runway.

Slowly panning across the scene, I paused when I saw
movement between two of the buildings.  A pair of females out for an
evening stroll.  They stalked along the base of one of the walls, heading
for the entrance.  With a sigh, I settled my cheek onto the stock of the
rifle and clicked the safety off with my thumb.

The females weren’t a threat to me or the building. 
They couldn’t get through the door.  But if one of the small group that
was inside happened to walk out for some fresh air, they would be in
trouble. 

I checked the range to target.  700 yards.  The
wind was in my face, so I didn’t have to worry about lateral movement of the
bullet.  But, I was shooting downhill, and that combined with the breeze
would cause the round to drop more than normal.

Clicking an elevation adjustment on the scope, I hoped I
remembered enough about long range shooting not to have completely fucked
things up.  Taking a breath, I moved my finger onto the trigger and
squeezed until the first stage clicked.  Exhaling, I timed my shot for the
moment my lungs were empty, trying to fire the weapon in between heartbeats.

The big rifle bucked against my shoulder, seemingly
impossibly quiet with the specialized suppressor.  Watching my target
through the scope, I cycled the bolt, loading a fresh round into the
chamber.  Squeezed through the first click of the trigger as I watched one
of the females fly backward to slam against the concrete wall. 

Shifting aim, I repeated the breathing process and fired
again.  The second female was looking around, trying to figure out what
had attacked her sister when the big bullet arrived and blew a hole through her
chest.  Cycling the bolt, I watched through the scope for several seconds
to make sure they were staying down.

Neither body moved.  Before I turned back to check on
the original female I’d been tracking, I noted the dual sprays of blood on the gray
wall.  A fist-sized divot was blasted out of the concrete in the center of
each where the bullet had struck after passing through their bodies.

When I found her again, the first female appeared to have
noticed nothing.  She was too far away to have heard the suppressed fire,
so had continued on, thinking she was alone.  Checking the range, I noted
she had drawn closer.  825 yards, now.

Adjusting the scope, I undid the elevation from a moment ago
and made my best guess on the lateral setting, or windage.  She was still
drawing closer, moving a little faster now, and I would probably only have two
shots at the most before she knew I was there.  If the first one was off
target, it had better not be far off.  I didn’t have time to keep playing
with the scope.

Females are fast.  No, not fast.  Damn fast. 
If she took off, unless she happened to run directly at or away from me, I’d
never hit her.  I knew there were shooters that could.  Had seen it
done on targets even faster than a female infected, but I also knew I wasn’t
one of those freaky good trigger-men.

I fired and quickly cycled the bolt.  An instant later,
the female violently spun and tumbled to the ground.  For a heartbeat, I
thought I’d made a good shot, but knew I hadn’t fully compensated for the wind
when she jumped to her feet and raced away behind a dune.

No matter how many times I’ve witnessed it, it still amazes
me.  My bullet had drifted to the side and struck her shoulder.  The
socket had been completely destroyed, and when she leapt up, her arm was swinging
loosely by only a few tendons.  Blood was already soaking her filthy
clothing.

I looked over when Dog yawned, no longer worrying about the
female.  The wound might not have put her down immediately, but it was
mortal.  She was running on adrenaline, but that will only take you so far
when you’re bleeding out.  As she ran, her heart would pump harder,
emptying her body.  She might make it a few hundred yards if she was very lucky.

Eye back to the scope, I spent another twenty minutes
scanning the surrounding desert.  It was now fully dark, cold stars
filling the sky.  The moon wouldn’t come up for another few hours, so
other than possibly an owl, I had the best vision of any predator in the
desert.

A small pack of coyotes trotted across the far end of the
runway.  Other than them, nothing was moving in any direction.  My
stomach rumbled, but I ignored it.  I briefly tried to remember the last
time I’d eaten, but couldn’t, so gave up.  I knew it was before I’d given
Katie a fatal dose of morphine, but other than that I didn’t know.  And
didn’t care.

Leaving the rifle propped on its bipod and stock, I sat up
and looked a few yards away.  In the faint starlight, I could just make
out the hump of desert soil that was my wife’s final resting place.  We
weren’t religious, so there was no marker.  I’d thought about finding a
machine shop somewhere in the facility and making a crude headstone, but had
yet to do anything more than think about it.

I’d left Katie’s grave only twice since I’d buried her more
than 24 hours ago.  Once, when Igor had talked me off the edge of throwing
in the towel and sticking my pistol in my mouth.  But I hadn’t been able
to take the looks of sorrow from my companions, especially Rachel.  Not
that anyone was doing anything wrong, I just needed to be alone.

The second time had been to find and raid the armory. 
When I’d arrived at Groom Lake, there had been a cordon of Marines and Rangers
providing security and preventing any infected from wandering in.  But
they were gone, and I’d begun seeing the occasional female show up. 
Needing something with more range than my M4, I’d been pleased to find the big
sniper rifle.

Dog had stayed by my side.  I hadn’t called him or
given any command.  He just wasn’t leaving me.  Rachel had brought us
food and water during the day yesterday but hadn’t stayed long.  I wasn’t
a very good conversationalist right now. 

I’d drank the water, but Dog had gotten my food as well as
his.  At least one of us was well fed.

There was a soft bang from the direction of the closest
building.  Dog’s head snapped up, but he didn’t growl.  Still, I
grabbed the rifle and peered through the night vision scope.  I spotted
Rachel, looking at the two dead females.  She had found a light-weight Air
Force jacket and hugged herself against the chilly, night wind.

Turning away from the corpses, she looked in my direction,
then began walking.  The wind whipped her long hair around her face, and
she had to forego holding herself for warmth to control her unruly mane. 
I scanned the entire area, making sure there weren’t any infected stalking
her.  She was alone.

Several minutes later she sat down on the sand between Dog
and me.  After a couple of repositions, she was mostly sheltered from the
wind by my body.  Leaning out, she ruffled Dog’s ears.  He rolled
onto his side and raised his front foot so she could scratch his belly. 
The sound of her nails was loud in the quiet darkness.

“How long are you going to stay out here?”

Rachel didn’t stop scratching Dog, or look away from him
when she spoke.

“Hadn’t really thought about it,” I said.

She was quiet, and I lifted the rifle to make another check
of the area.

“Am I bothering you?  Want me to leave?”

I thought about that before answering.

“No,” I finally said. 

“Want to get drunk?  Nicole found a liquor cabinet in
the base commander’s office.  It’s pretty well stocked.”

“Probably better if I’m not drinking right now,” I said,
even though the idea of losing myself in a bottle was kind of appealing.

Rachel gave Dog a final pat and turned to face me in the
dark.  I couldn’t make out her expression.  After nearly a minute,
she twisted around on the sand and got to her knees.  Leaning forward, she
wrapped her arms around me and pulled.

I resisted.  Didn’t return the hug.  Tried to pull
away as my throat began to constrict.  But she was persistent. 
Didn’t let go or stop pulling.  Slowly, I let myself be drawn into her
arms until my face was buried in her hair.  I couldn’t breathe at first,
then I regained control and drew a shuddering breath.

My arms came up and circled Rachel.  Neither of us said
anything.  I didn’t cry.  I’d already done that, and there was
nothing left.  We sat there in the night for a long time, not moving or
speaking.

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