More than two hours passed since Lilly and Morina left before anything happened. The shadows continued to creep across the road as the afternoon slid into evening, and the temperature dropped with it. All Seth could do was roll up the windows and suck it up.
With the engine dead he couldn’t get the heater working, but even if he did he’d fill the car with a rusty smell that made him violently hack when they’d tried to warm up last night. He had the few possessions he’d purchase at a Walmart, which included a sweater, but he didn’t want to aggravate his injuries any more than he had to. He’d just embrace the suck for a few more hours until Lilly got back with a new car.
<Hopefully one with a working heater,> he grumbled.
Intellectually, he knew that the car Lilly would bring back was stolen, and stealing was wrong. That’s what his momma had taught him since he was old enough to reach out and grab things. When he’d been rich, getting what he wanted was never a problem. Everything was at his disposal. He could always get his hands on anything: boobs, booze, and the latest toys; it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that he was only eighteen. He’d flash his black triple platinum credit card and the bartenders would grab top-shelf stuff. That same credit card would get panties to drop and Ultra 5K interactive HDTVs developed by some tech genius somewhere. It was one hell of a good feeling when everything was at his fingertips.
<That’s gone now.> The thought hit him like a punch to the gut, and along with it came the realization that he didn’t really care if the car was stolen. <They’ll have insurance, and if the commercials are true they’ll replace the car with the same model year or newer. Hell, it might even be helping out the family we stole it from. Who doesn’t want a new car.> He continued without realizing that it was the first time he’d used “we” when thinking about the theft.
It was surprising how fast a person’s thoughts on something could switch when they really needed something to get by instead of a luxury just for fun.
He was in the middle of hoping Lilly could find a nice Porsche, Lexus, or he’d even take an Audi, when twin beams of light crested the slight hill behind him.
“Finally.” He turned around, but the smile that had been forming froze on his face. Lilly had gone the opposite direction, and he didn’t remember some big loop around when reading the map earlier. “Fuck.”
The twin beams of yellow light were joined by flashing blue and red as the police SUV pulled off the road behind him. “Shit…shit…shit…” he looked around the car like he had half a kilo of cocaine to stash, but there wasn’t much. They had a few Walmart shopping bags filled with what could loosely be defined as gear, but not much else; certainly nothing suspicious or illegal.
<Just me.> A feeling a dread pressed down on Seth’s shoulders. He hadn’t even made it through more than a few days of consciousness as a wanted fugitive before getting caught.
The tapping on the passenger side window made him jump and he immediately regretted it. He winced audibly before reaching across the seats to the window crank. The car was so old it didn’t have automatic windows.
“Good Evenin’, Sir.” The cop had the twang Seth associated with the Deep South, but he wasn’t a pot-bellied redneck. The cop was fit, like he dutifully weightlifted four times a week, and had a rugged jaw with a healthy five o’clock shadow. He looked like he fit the role of handsome town cop on some Hollywood TV show a hell of a lot better that his real backwoods Mississippi job. “Everythin’ ok?”
“Everything’s fine,” Seth tried to act relaxed. “The truck broke down and my friends went into town to get help.”
“Why didn’t you call 911?” Seth already didn’t like the cop’s line of questioning.
“No bars.” Seth replied with a shrug. It was the truth.
“Well I can’t get a tow out here until at least day after tomorrow with it being Christmas Eve and all,” the cop informed.
“Yeah,” Seth’s reply sounded lame even to his ears, but he didn’t even know it was the twenty-fourth.
“Where you from?” The cop leaned casually against the door, but Seth saw his hand resting on the butt of his pistol. For the moment, the clasp of his holster still secured the weapon.
“I’m from South Carolina,” Seth told him a partial truth. He was from a Carolina, just not that one. “My girlfriend is from Texas, and we’re driving out to her place for Christmas break. Her friend is with us and…” Seth thought of where Morina could be from and came up with nothing. “Honestly, I don’t know where she’s from. She’s my girlfriend’s friend and she’s tagging along for the ride.” He let a genuine laugh escape in the hopes it calmed the cop down a bit.
“Where you go to school?”
“Alabama…Roll Tide.” Seth, being from the South, knew how serious they took college football down here. Much more serious than the NFL or Super League.
“I’ve got a cousin who goes to Bama,” the cops posture didn’t relax like Seth hoped. “So I know class ended there over two weeks ago.”
“We got a late start,” Seth felt the mood in the cop shift, and looked at his options.
The cop was still a normal human and Seth was a Super, so Seth automatically had the upper hand. The real question was what to do. He could jam the gun with his metalokinesis, but he wasn’t angry enough to do that. He could throw a fireball at the cop, but that seemed a bit harsh. The pushing water down someone’s throat trick seemed equally harsh, and blowing him over with a gust of wind wouldn’t get the job done. Seth wasn’t going to get far in his condition. Although he might be more onboard with stealing stuff he needed to stay alive and on the run, he wasn’t about to roast a cop just for doing his job. Then there was the certainty that the cop had radioed in his position and situation. It was just an all around shitty situation for Seth.
“Please step out of the car, Sir.” The friendly voice the cop had used was gone and his gun was out of his holster.
<Damn, that was fast.> Seth hadn’t even seen the man draw. <Maybe this isn’t Super versus human after all.> He didn’t know that for sure.
“Yes, Sir.” Seth remained respectful and went through his options.
He opened the door slowly and hopped out.
“Turn around and face away from me…put your hands up…walk backwards toward the sound of my voice…go to your knees.” Seth followed the cop’s instructions with the final one eliciting an audible groan for him.
“Watch the ribs, I was in an accident,” Seth informed as the cop yanked his arms behind his back and cuffed him.
To his credit, the cop helped Seth back to his feet before leading him back toward his car. The car, which read Sherriff on the side, was the type of car Seth wanted Lilly to steal. It was a supped up SUV that looked like it could take on a tank and survive. Seth was busy wondering how the poor-looking county could afford this beast while the cop patted him down, then opened the door and plopped him in the passenger seat. This wasn’t the first time Seth had been in a cop car, but it was the first time sitting up front.
“You aren’t under arrest, but I’m detaining you for suspicious behavior.” The cop booted up his laptop and started typing away. “If you cooperate, and don’t have warrants, then you’re free to go, so what’s your name.”
Seth knew for a fact if he gave the cop his real name the laptop would light up like a Christmas tree and a Hero would be on scene in minutes. He needed to think of something fast.
The answer turned out to be simple. He’d seen it portrayed on the news for years, and it guaranteed that the cop wouldn’t find out who he was and it wouldn’t be too suspicious. Seth’s generation was full of entitled brats who thought they knew more than they actually did. They thought they had a right to everything without giving anything in return. Seth could leverage that millennial arrogance to his advantage.
“This is bullshit, man. This is police brutality. I didn’t do anything wrong!” Seth stopped short of yelling Attica, but the cop’s reaction was immediate.
The cop rolled his eyes and visibly bit the inside of his cheek. “Just tell me who you are, Sir, and I’ll send you on your way.”
“No way, this is profiling!” Seth might have gone a little far on that one, but he was in character now.
“Sir, calm down.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down. You calm down. You’re the one who put me in handcuffs for no reason!” Seth continued to rant and struggle against his handcuffs. That was a bad idea as pain flared in his side and wrists.
“Sir, are you not going to tell me who you are?” The cop asked. He was clearly running out of patience.
“Not without a reason.” Seth shot back arrogantly like he’d just won an argument.
“Sir, Mississippi requires you to identify yourself if involved in a law enforcement investigation. Please just tell me who you are, I’ll check for warrants, if you’re clear I’ll even give you a ride into town and put in a call to Sal’s Garage to pick up your car when they open. Just give me your name and date of birth.”
“Why, so you can steal my identity!” Seth knew he’d hit the breaking point when the cop sighed and shook his head.
“Ok, have it your way, Sir. You’re under arrest for failure to identify. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand your rights?”
“Good.” The cop hopped out, walked around the side, pulled Seth out, and deposited him in the cramped back seat where a bulletproof partition now separating them. Then, just to add insult to injury, he wrote up a ticket, put it in one of those florescent orange envelopes, and slid it under the truck’s windshield wiper.
Without another word, the cop hopped in the car, and headed back toward the station. The suspension on the vehicle was excellent because Seth didn’t wince once as they drove the dirt backroads to the interstate and onward to the county sheriff’s office.
Seth had bought himself a little time, but when he got to the station they would undoubtedly try to fingerprint him and run him through the system while booking him. He’d tackle those problems when he got there. He just hoped Lilly and Morina showed up to bail his ass out…again.
As you might have noticed…the Dark God Murphy has struck again 😦 My editor had some setbacks due to personal emergencies, so the release date is being pushed back farther. However, now I have a hard release date of April 16, 2018. What i was able to do today was get Aftermath available for pre-order. Feel free to order it and you’ll receive it on the 16th. Sorry it is taking so long.
In the meantime pick up The Harbinger Tales or reread it so you’re all ready for Book 2. You can get it on Kindle Unlimited for free or for on sale for $1.99 starting 4/2/018 – Book 2’s release on the 16th.
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