Two murdering terrorists on the run, taking innocent lives with them in their desperate flight. A quiet Tennessee back road with no witnesses to see the horror.
From my recently released crime novel, GROUND EFFECT:
She moaned then stirred. Walid had the pistol now and poked her high in her back. She didn’t seem to feel it but stopped moving. “She is waking up,” Walid said. The little girl stopped bawling and was now asleep. Ghali was working his way back off U.S. 41 past small farms and just a few houses and trailers. He was trying to find a place with woods on both sides and no one around.
Ghali came around a twist in the road and crossed a small bridge. There was no house visible and no other cars were seen. He pulled over just past the bridge and stopped.
Walid said, “What?”
“Wait, just be quiet.” Ghali rolled down the window and felt the rush of warm humid air slide into the Lexus. He listened and then opened the door and got out. He walked back across the bridge and looked back down the road from the direction they came. He turned and started back to the Lexus and passed a blue sign with “Al GORE JR BRIDGE” written on it. Ghali went several steps farther and then stopped. He thought that name was familiar to him and then remembered he’d seen the man in a movie at university. Some foolish American earth science documentary nonsense. Why name a bridge in the woods after a movie actor?
Ghali went to the passenger side and opened Walid’s door. “Give me the pistol and drag her out.”
Walid sat for a moment then got out and pulled the groggy woman out with him. She could barely stand and Walid had to hold her up. She was heavy for her short height but soft under her clothes. That excited him just a little. He was jolted from his thoughts as Ghali snatched her arm and pulled both of them toward the bridge.
“Hurry, before someone comes,” Ghali snapped. They pulled and pushed her down off the road and into the bushes and reeds along the stream bank. Something hustled through the weeds at their feet and into the water. Neither got a look at it but it startled them for just a moment. “Down here.”
Ghali led them under the low bridge but they had to stop. The ground turned to muck the farther they went under the bridge. Ghali forced the woman out of Walid’s hands and pushed her down into the slime. She opened her eyes but could not get up. Ghali found the pistol in his belt and pulled it out. He stepped closer to the woman and yanked the trigger. The bullet hit the woman in the head, bouncing water and muck out from the impact.
“Get the child,” Ghali ordered. Walid did not move. “Bring the whole seat.”
Walid finally climbed back up to the SUV. Ghali watched the woman’s eyes. They were closed now and she appeared very dead. He decided another bullet was not needed and started back up to the road. Walid had the car seat out and the little girl was awake and staring at Walid.
“Give her to me,” Ghali said and took the strapped in toddler and went back down the bank. He waded through the brush and threw the car seat over the body of the woman and as far under the bridge as he could. It landed with a splash and the girl began to wail again. Ghali stood for a moment and the wailing stopped. He retraced his steps to the Lexus and got in. Walid slid in the passenger side and they turned around and drove back toward the highway.
“We have a short time before this vehicle is of no use to us.” Ghali turned north on 41 and kept to the speed limit. The navigation system in the Lexus was fed the address they were heading for and directed them to turn east on an interstate connector just a few miles ahead.
They were many miles away when the woman heard her baby whimper somewhere behind her throbbing head.