As I neared completion of my novel, I decided there was a part of the story that I wanted to tell but it didn’t necessarily fit within the novel. So I decided to write a short story prequel to introduce people to the world where my story takes place.
Today, I am sharing an excerpt from the first chapter of the short story which have titled Dark Rising. My story is a sci-fi action/adventure/thriller set in the very near future.
Any comments would be appreciated. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek and that it leaves you wanting to read more.
It is not going to end like this.
That solitary thought overwhelmed all others as Sgt. Brian Duncan fought to stem the steady stream of crimson that flowed from his shoulder. A jagged shard of shrapnel had slashed a ragged stream along his skin as it flew past him after the blast. The unexpected eruption had upended the truck he and his team had used to get from the Afghanistan-Iran border to the holy city of Mashhad, Iran.
Got to keep moving.
The acrid smoke burned his eyes as he struggled across the debris-covered earth toward the truck that had brought his team into this nightmare, one hand pressing a field dressing against the wound in his shoulder, and the other pulling him along. Bullets flew around him like a deadly blizzard of hot metal.
The bandage he held on his shoulder was stained a bright red, like the rose bushes he remembered his mother growing in her garden back in Royal Oak, Michigan, a vibrant suburb north of Detroit. She always took such meticulous care of those bushes, tending them with the same loving care she showed her two sons. But he quickly put those thoughts out of his head. This mission was too important to be distracted by thoughts of home. If his team failed, there wouldn’t be a home to go back to.
I’ve got to make it. Everything depends on it.
He looked up and felt a surge of hope. He was almost there. With a final, desperate tug, he eased his battered body behind the fiery remains of the truck, which now rested on its side. Brian shielded his face from the heat of the flames that roared from the engine compartment.
It had probably been less than a minute since his team’s mission had gone sideways but it seemed as if he had been crawling for hours. But there was no time to rest. He slowly poked his head up and saw their Iranian driver still belted in his seat. It only took a glance to see that this was going to be the young man’s final mission.
He risked a peek around the front of the burning truck and was greeted by another hail of gunfire. The barrage of bullets seemed to be coming from all directions at once.
How many soldiers are out there and where are they?
“Ortega. Can you hear me?” No answer on his headset. “Mason. Jamison. Riley. Wilson. Anyone out there?” No one. Either all his teammates were dead or their communications gear was on the fritz.
Am I the only one left? Can I complete this mission alone?
Above the roar of the battle, Brian could hear anguished screams, maybe from one of his teammates. Another yell pierced through the tumult and bore its way deep into Brian’s frazzled brain. This wasn’t his first firefight, but that didn’t make it any easier to stay calm and think clearly when in the midst of the fray. Blood-curdling screams like those could rattle even the steeliest of men. Several deep breaths and a moment of stillness helped clear the surge of adrenaline that threatened to overwhelm Brian’s years of training and field experience.
With his thoughts a little clearer, Brian paused to assess his situation and see what his options were. His wound was serious but not life-threatening, and he would need both hands if he was going to survive this. Usually, someone else applied the trauma dressing, but since he was all alone, Brian removed the bandage from his first aid kid and did his best to apply the dressing one-handed. When he was done, he studied his handiwork. Not ideal, but it would do for now.
He had his Sig Sauer M11 at his hip and his HK MP5 over his shoulder, but only a few clips of ammo for both. He also had three grenades and two flash-bangs in the pockets that lined his legs. Better than nothing, but not much good against the horde of killers that had him pinned down. He had to conserve his ammo if he wanted to have any chance at survival. Once his bullets were gone, so was he.
He tucked himself tightly against the remains of the truck, trying to formulate a plan. His first order of business was to make his way to a more defensible position and attempt to locate the surviving members of his team, if there were any.
As he glanced again around the rear of the truck, Brian saw the gilded peak of his team’s intended destination: the Imam Reza Shrine. The “shrine” was actually the world’s largest mosque – a 1,300-year-old massive complex that was home to a museum, a library, four seminaries, a cemetery, and a university. Millions of Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mashhad and the ancient mosque each year.
Normally, the shrine was home to education, religion and peace. But if their intel was accurate, today, it was housing something deadly. No matter what had happened to the rest of his team, Brian knew that he had to make his way to the mosque and attempt to complete their mission.
Brian whirled, squeezing the trigger on his MP5. The approaching figure crumpled to the ground at his feet. He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw that the bloodied form was not one of his teammates, although he knew it could have been. He had pulled the trigger without even a thought; without even seeing who it was. That probably had saved his life, but what if it had been one of his teammates?
OK, get a grip! I really need to get out of here.