Faithful Deceptions -
Agent Bryce cursed and pushed his door hard. It creaked in protest against the forceful blows, but finally edged opened. He pulled himself out using the sunken roof for leverage and then rushed around the front of the debris covered truck to check on his partner.
Any man with half a brain could tell there was little hope his partner had survived. The tree hadn't been as kind to him as it had the cold blooded murder sitting directly behind him.
He forced the blood and disfigured picture from his mind and reached in to touch his partner's neck. No pulse. He cursed again and kicked the side of the truck before gazing up at the moon, trying its best to work through the breaking clouds.
“How the hell did this happen?” His eyes locked on the prisoner still inside. This man was a thorn in many sides. But he was also possibly the luckiest son-of-a-bitch alive.
“You going to leave me in here?” Dustin shifted his weight and the car rocked with his movement. “It doesn't look safe, you know.”
“Shut up.” Agent Bryce took a step back and studied the vehicle still sinking in the mud. The only way to get Dustin from the backseat was to uncuff him so he could crawl out the window over the damn tree limb wedged up against his door. The entire left side of the truck, from the driver’s seat to the tailgate, was smashed in. How Dustin had the sense to move his head and bend down at just the right moment was beyond understanding.
Uncuffing this madman was against every instinct Agent Bryce had. But even as much as he'd like to, he couldn't leave him in the car and go for help. The smell of gasoline burned his lungs. It was leaking steadily from the ruptured gas tank and could ignite any second.
Making the first mistake of the night, he busted Dustin's window with a large rock and proceeded to free him instead of trying to notify headquarters. As soon as Dustin's head cleared the vehicle, an elbow was jabbed into Agent Bryce's gut, knocking him off balance. He stumbled backward over a limb and then fell down hard into the muddy ground. Several seconds passed before Agent Bryce registered what happened.
“You son of...” Agent Bryce's words trailed off as clarity hit hard. He sat watching as if in slow motion. Dustin reached through the broken driver's side window and went for the shotgun in the front seat. Agent Bryce’s hand flew to the clip at his side, panic climbing through his chest. Where the hell had his own gun gone?
Eyes trailing back up the truck to Dustin, he didn't miss the satanic expression engraved across the killer's face. He had one chance of survival. Run.
Breathing heavily, Agent Bryce almost made it out of sight of the vehicle before the loud explosion erupted all around him. Bullet fragments slammed into the trunks of the trees beside him, sending bark and tiny wood pieces flying into the air in all directions.
His hand darted to his side where a burning pain throbbed and spread like fire. He'd been hit. Oh, God. He’d been hit.
The laughter behind him churned his stomach as nausea threatened to overwhelm his strength. He took a deep breath and forced himself deeper into the cover of the trees.
He had to warn them. He had to give them enough time to get out. He had to spare them the fate he knew all too well he was about to suffer.
Grabbing his cell phone from his breast pocket, he stumbled behind a large pine tree for cover. The picture on his phone of his young daughters tore at his heart when he flipped it open and pushed the speed dial. If he had one wish, it would be that he'd already made this crucial call and therefore be able to see his family again.
The sounds of twigs cracking nearer alerted him his time was slipping away. With one last heroic breath, he pushed off from the tree and took off like a wild gazelle, zigzagging and ducking, anything to grant him more precious seconds. There was no way to run and talk. It was taking everything inside him just to focus in the dark and keep inhaling the brisk night air. But the call would serve its purpose. His contact would know he was in trouble and start the recovery process. They would send out a search party and warn Roark.
It was all he could do. Maybe his death would not end for nothing after all. At least he would die doing what he loved. Serving and protecting the innocent till the end.
With his vision coming and going in erratic spurts, he stopped to regain his bearings and thought about the family. His three innocent daughters and his lovely wife, what would they do without him? That little hesitation cost him and was to be his last mistake.
Something hard hit his head from behind with the force of a baseball bat. He fell to his knees into the soppy wet ground, grasping his side with one hand and his head with the other.
He watched through hazy eyes, filled with a dark liquid, that stung each time he blinked. It dripped onto the ground in front of him, forming dark red puddles that mixed with the rain and mud.
Agent Bryce lifted his head and came eye to eye with the man who killed easier than he breathed. Chills consumed his body. He had never felt the essence of death before. But as rays of moonlight illuminated Dustin's form, bile enhanced the sinister sensation, icy black terror fighting for a foothold.
Dustin's eyes swirled like empty pools of death and destruction as he stood poised to shoot not ten feet away.
It was over.
A wicked grin eased over Dustin's face, his entire body frothy with victory. Once again, success. This was one of those magic moments that made the multitude of tedious planning hours and hard work worthwhile. Moments that lured him back again and again. It had been a long time since he had actually been the one to pull the trigger. After Rodney and Dwayne's little screw up with the senator’s daughter, he had been left no choice but to kill her himself and he had been inching to do the delectable deed again ever since. He loved to smell the fear. To see the moment his victim realized he and he alone controlled their fate.
Dustin waited only long enough for Agent Bryce to lower his head in defeat. Then the second earth shattering explosion rang out beneath the blanket of rain soaked trees.
The sound of Agent Bryce's body hitting the ground was all the proof Dustin needed that his callous act had been completed. He turned and walked back toward the car, content to leave the body for the wild animals.
It was done.
Now to plan his most horrifying, unimaginable affliction against another human being.
Patrick Roark, bodyguard his ass, would pay a hefty price for his treacherous betrayal.
And he knew just the sweet little trick to use too.