A flash fiction piece in preparation for my novel tentatively titled Annie and the Second Anasazi, scheduled for publication in late 2012. Sign up for notification by email here.
Helicopters pounded the air and everyone scattered. Annie didn’t know what to do and hesitated.
“Annie!” Serles shouted. “Over here!” She heard but couldn’t locate him and turned her head in the wrong direction.
The four helicopters surrounded her, their ferocious weapons covering her in an overlapping extreme overkill zone.
“Annie,” a voice said over a loudspeaker. She recognized the voice at the same time she wondered how she heard it over the din of the blades.
“Annie,” Reagan Newcastle said again. “I’m not in any of the machines. I’m back home in Fort Worth, where you should be. But I can see you. And you can hear me.”
Annie stood her ground, turning from one copter to the other, each hovering twenty feet off the ground. A dust storm obliterated the view beyond the flying machines, the peaceful desert morning ruined. But the initial rush of fear left her. Reagan Newcastle would never hurt her. She was his only weakness. It made her smile. That meant she had a chance to escape.
“One of the helicopters is going to land, Annie. I want you to get inside it. We won’t hurt any of the others there with you if you come along peacefully.”
Annie saw a figure emerge from the dust coming toward her. She recognized the way he walked. Serles. The copters reacted, flew up like scattered insects, then reformed with both Serles and Annie in the strike zone.
Serles continued to walk toward Annie. She felt her hands and jaw clench. Surely they wouldn’t shoot him down in front of her.
“Stop that man!” Newcastle cried.
Rapid chest-thumping fire erupted. Bursts of sand exploded between Annie and Serles, who ran, collided with Annie, pulled her two steps away to a solid metal hatch in the ground that opened. Serles threw Annie down the shaft so hard her teeth clattered. The hatch closed with a hissing sound. The pounding of helicopters and the chatter of machine gun fire became muted. They heard a soft explosion overhead. Then another.
“Missiles,” Serles said, wrapping an arm around Annie’s waist. “I guess Reagan Newcastle wants you dead or alive now.”
“What is this place?” Annie asked.
“Old nuclear missile site. Luther used to work here. He knows how to stop the helicopters.”
Annie looked at him, dust covering his curly hair, two days’ growth of beard. He’s the only man she’d ever met who kept her full attention every time she looked at him. She’d nearly fainted when the shooting started and she thought he would die.
“Listen,” Serles said.
She heard only silence. The helicopters. She no longer heard them. “Where did they go?” she whispered. The silence seemed overwhelming.
“They took a little fall.” He smiled. His teeth and the whites of his eyes gleamed in the dim light.
“Luther and his bag of tricks. Some kind of electromotive pulse. Knocks out everything electronic for, I dunno, a mile or so I guess.”
Annie nodded. That wouldn’t stop Reagan Newcastle. It would enrage him. Not the loss of his men, which saddened her. People were expendable to him. But the loss of four helicopters. It would make it harder for him to get close to her again. He wouldn’t likely risk losing so much next time. No. Next time, he would be much more sneaky.
This is exploratory flash fiction for my work-in-progress, tentatively titled Annie and the Second Anasazi, about a migration of intellectuals into the deserts of New Mexico after the great disruption (see Gilding) where people live like the ancient ones because of changing climate coupled with an intolerable mix of politics and religion that rises in the cities of the South.