Alexandria Rising Chronicles Book 1
by Mark Wallace Maguire
Genre: Action-Adventure, Conspiracy, Suspense
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Rand leaned back in the cool confines of the taxi heading south on Interstate 75 toward Atlanta’s hip Midtown District.
The air-conditioning brought him a temporary relief and he breathed in the air deeply, wiping his sweaty forehead with his shirt.
He had been too busy staunching his bleeding arm and making sure his backpack still held all his possessions that he barely registered the taxi was already gliding into a parking lot for MARTA, Atlanta’s maligned public transportation system. There wasn’t a baseball game underway or a music festival so the lot was half-empty for a afternoon, the blinding white sunshine lending a washed out look to the oil-stained pavement.
The taxi driver slowed down. Rand fished in his pocket for some money.
“You got change for a hundred?”
“A hundred? No, amigo. I’m not a high roller, like you.”
“Here,” Rand shoved the bill forward, “Just give me 20 in return and if anyone asks, I am going north to the North Springs station to meet some friends.”
“Hey, amigo, who would ask, I – ”
Rand shut the door, ignored buying a subway token, slipped over the turnstile and ran toward the stairs leading to the underground terminal.
As he reached the first step, he heard the screech of tires and turned to see the silver Mercedes screech to a halt in the parking lot.
“Damn it,” he muttered.
He hoped they would question the taxi driver. He had no intentions of heading north to the North Springs station. He was heading south to the airport.
He raced to the bottom of the stairs hoping to catch a quickly-departing train, but his enthusiasm waned as the rush of warm air rose up around him signaling another fresh departure.
He quickly took stock of his surroundings.
Faux-Greek columns and wire trash baskets standing at attention. A quiet clatter of plastic bottles and whisper of paper bags drifting across the floor. No one else was there.
What to do? What to do?
A mechanical female voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Train 42 arriving . Train 42 arriving . Heading southbound. Stops include Civic Center, Mechanicsville and Airport.”
The sound of footsteps clicking down the steps.
Fast. Nimble. Getting closer. Closer.
Rand wrenched one of the wire trash baskets from its spindly column and hid behind a column.
The footsteps reached the landing. Rand could barely hear the click clack of heels walking around. Cautiously. Deliberately. He hoped whoever it was would think he was on the train that just left. The steps seemed to stop. He could hear his heart beating in his ears.
“Train 42 arriving . Train 42 arriving one minute. Heading southbound. Stops include Civic Center, Mechanicsville and Airport.”
Rand waited. Thought. He didn’t know what type of chance he would have to board the train if his pursuer was still on the landing. It was a risk he could not take. He had to do something. Either go down fighting or go down running. He heard the steps again, barely audible, moving slowly, heels scraping on concrete. Definitely moving toward him. He crouched behind the column. Bent his knees.
“To hell with it,” he thought.
He swung around the column, the wire basket over his head and ran straight ahead, a yell escaping from his throat.
He saw the back of a shaved head, began to turn and his eyes met Venator’s. Empty-handed, a half-look of surprise on his face.
He reached inside his suit jacket and pulled out a gun, but Rand was too quick and bashed the wire trash can onto his head. The gun spilled from the man’s grasp and slid across the landing. Venator staggered, but remained on his feet.
Rand didn’t give him a chance to recover and lifted the trash can again slamming it down on the head. This time, Venator fell to the floor. A bloody welt on his head, but still aware, he tried to rise. Rand straddled him and delivered a solid right hook to his face. Then an uppercut from his left. He felt Venator’s hand grip his sleeve, felt a knee in his torso. Rand swung again with his right, saw the man’s jaw snap back. A trickle of blood on the lips. Rand had forgotten the brutal excitement of the act. The impact of fist into bone and tissue. The gratifying release of anger and, simultaneously, the self-repulsive act of watching someone reel back from his own body. He ignored the raging pain that spread across his fist and hit him again, this time feeling the soft tissue of a nose break.
The man’s eyes were closed.
Rand kicked him in the stomach for good measure and was aiming another swift kick, when he heard the train whisper to a stop behind him.
He turned, half-guilty, hoping no eyes inside had seen him.
He looked around the platform again. No one. He saw the gun beckoning to him on the cool tiled floor. Walked toward it, hesitated, then kicked it toward the stairs. Looked around again, paranoia threatening to dominate his thoughts. Nothing, but the red blink of a CCTV camera in the corner
“Damn eyes everywhere,” he muttered.
Rand hesitated then reached into Venator’s tailored coat, fingers reaching for anything, only finding a wallet. He stuffed it into his pocket. A muted bell rang.
“Train leaving. Preparing to depart to Civic Center, Mechanicsville, Airport.”
Rand half-ran, squeezed in between the pneumatic doors of the train as they closed behind him. Sat down on the sickly plastic seats, feeling conspicuous, just noticing the blood on his knuckles, the sweat glistening on his brow. Exhaled. His only other companions in the compartment were a punk rock couple ensconced in each other, tattoos and blazed hair lost in a blend of pierced kissing and groping.
Moments later, the only sound was the cool whistling as the train glided toward the airport.
Alexandria Rising Chronicles Book 2
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