Friday, December 5, 2014

Fallout Chapter 12

Connie stirred from her awkward position against the chair in the hospital waiting room. Sunlight filtered in through the blinds; a baby cried. Its mother bounced it in her arms, walking back and forth by the window.

The baby must've woken me up, she thought. Then it all rushed back to her. Discovering where Jason was. Telling the police as discreetly as possible. Renting a helicopter and pilot to fly to the former site of Zebulon's cabin, following the police helicopter as close as they dared.

They landed in the aftermath. There had been a gun battle, one woman shot in the leg, a man who'd been shot by the police leaving a trail of blood into the forest, another man, dead, some sort of blade in his throat.

And Jason, horribly wounded, blood spreading over his chest. The police were applying pressure to the gunshot wound and radioing in the ambulance. A policewoman ordered her to press a piece of cloth to it, but blood soaked it almost as soon as they tore a new piece.

It wasn't long before the hospital helicopter landed. After paramedics had rushed Jason off on a stretcher and the helicopter rose into the sky, Whit and Connie had left for the hospital in the rental helicopter.

She'd been there all night. For most of that time, she'd been pacing the halls while the surgeons worked to save Jason's life. A few hours ago, they'd come in and said he was stabilized; they'd gotten most of the internal bleeding under control. He was fortunate the bullet had missed his heart and hadn't done more damage at such close range.

After that, she must've nodded off. Now it was 7 a.m., and Whit was nowhere in sight. She got up and took a drink from the water fountain.

As soon as she sat back down, Whit reappeared. His hair was in disarray, showing his old war wound. He looked thinner, infinitely weary.

"They said we can go and see him now. But…he's not conscious. And he's not in good shape."

"I want to see him anyway."

"They think he'll pull through. It's still just a seventy percent chance—but that's a lot more than it was last night." He shook his head, tears gleaming in his eyes. Her own breath caught in her throat as they walked down the hall. She wished she could speak, comfort him, but if she did, she knew she'd start crying again.

When they reached the room, she couldn't hold back the tears any more. Jason's whole face looked swollen. Bandages covered his chest and most of his visible skin. A breathing tube was taped to his mouth, and a respirator went up and down, in concert with the beep, beep, beep of the heart monitor. She made her way through all the equipment, and knelt beside the IV stand.

It was hard to believe this was the Jason she knew, the man who was so strong, so full of life. She touched his hair, the only way to be sure to touch him without hurting him, and carefully smoothed it back from his brow.

"How could anyone do this to him?" she said, looking up at Whit.

Anger blazed across his eyes. "What we saw was pure evil, Connie. I have no doubt about that." He touched his son's right hand, the only part of him that looked relatively undamaged. His other hand was bound in bandages; when they'd found him, it had been wrapped in a blood-soaked cloth.

"Have they found the man that shot him yet?"

He shook his head. "The police have been searching, but they haven't found him, even though the he's wounded. The FBI will be here soon, though. They're going to question the girl."

"What do you think she has to do with it?"

"I wish I knew."

"Maybe she'll tell who Will really is."

"I doubt it. But who knows what he'll do now. He's still out there, somewhere."

"What if he comes after us again? What if he tries to hurt Jason?"

Whit looked down at his son. "As much as in my power, I'm never going to let anyone take him away from me again."

A nurse walked in, a clipboard at her side. "He is going to need another blood transfusion."

Whit started rolling up his sleeve, as if preparing it for the needle.

"They don't recommend someone your age giving any more so soon."

"I'll take the risk."

"What's your blood type, Whit?" said Connie, her heart pounding.

"AB negative. The same as Jason's."

"Mine's O negative. That would work, wouldn't it?" She turned to the nurse, who nodded.

"Connie, you don't have to—" Whit said.

She looked at Whit. "This is the least I can do. If there's any way I can help save Jason's life, I'll do it."

"Thank you, Connie." The gratefulness in his eyes pierced her heart. She turned away so he couldn't see her tears, and followed the nurse to get prepped for the transfusion.


Will sat at his desk, waiting for Gray to call. It had been too long; something must've gone wrong. Neither Nadira nor Akim had contacted him either, and he couldn't get ahold of them. He hated feeling like events were spinning out of his control.

He twirled his pencil, resisting the urge to slam it lead-first into his antique desk. He had set up his plan up so well. While researching leverage to make John Whittaker give him the almost too-good-to-be-true computer program, a bonus had fallen into his lap—he'd discovered a woman who wanted revenge against the man who happened to be Whittaker's son. And this man also held a valuable secret in his mind. It had been such an elegant solution. He had the people who were all too willing to get their hands dirty for him. He had the leverage. He would soon have both secrets, and then—he could take the next step.

But suddenly, in his public life, things had become precarious. If he didn't get these secrets now, he wouldn't have the resources later. Time was running out.

It must be taking longer than expected to extract the intel from the younger Whittaker, he thought. Doesn't surprise me. Both father and son's profiles are pretty substantial.

His phone rang. He'd only used this phone to contact Nadira or Gray during the mission, and he would incinerate it soon as it was over.


"This is Gray." The agent sounded out of breath—uncharacteristic for him.

"What happened?"

"The girl turned against me. I took her guard out of the picture, and I was about to take her out too, but-–the target stepped in the way."


"His mind must've been compromised by the drugs still in his system. He stepped in front of her, took the bullet, and that gave the cavalry enough time to arrive."

"You mean—"

"We've lost the target. He could not have survived the wounds he sustained."

"That is…unfortunate."

"As this mission has been terminated, do you have any further orders?"

"You'll have to stand by."

"Copy. And sir, in the future, you know who to contact if you want the job done."

"You didn't accomplish much this time."

"I obtained the identity of the weapon. It was only the civilians who—"

"If you allow two civilians to beat you, perhaps you're not as good as the image you sell."

He shut off the phone before Gray could say another word. He'd probably regret it later on; contrary to what he'd said, Gray was the best freelance operative he'd ever employed. It was best not to alienate him, especially since Gray was a dangerous man to have as an enemy.

There has to be a way to get what I want, he thought. I'm going to prevail in this and every venture I set out to do. I have to. I deserve the world. And the world needs my guidance.

There was a knock at his door.

"Come in," he said, after shoving the phone in the wastebasket. He'd burn it as soon as possible.

It was his aide. "I have some…news for you, Senator."

"You don't look like it's good news."

"No, sir. Here." He handed him some papers with bell curves scrawled across them, percentages—He knew what they added up to.

"I'm not going to be reelected, am I."

"The polls are down by another two percentage points. I'm sorry, but only by a miracle would you win this race."

He sighed. He'd seen this coming, but he'd let himself become distracted by the other section of the game. "Thank you, Parker. Thanks for all your hard work in this campaign. I suppose I'll have to make a concession speech now."

"I'll help you with that."

Will fought the need to snap back at him. "No, I want to do this thing on my own." And he dismissed Parker, and sat down at his desk, trying to figure out what had happened. How everything had fallen apart so quickly.

And how he could recover…

Someday, he thought. All great men have had setbacks. With this comforting thought, he stepped to the window and looked out at the Capitol, its dome gleaming golden in the early morning sunlight.

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