At the exact moment that the Regulator saw the Zero with the grenade launcher, Maria looked behind her and saw three Satan's Reich members coming from behind the group, with guns in hand. She grabbed Juana and Juana grabbed Sophie. Maria dragged them through a side door. An explosion ripped open the ceiling overhead. They crashed to the floor as a hot blast smashed them to the ground. Smoke was everywhere in thick, choking billows. Maria's ears were still ringing as she crawled away from the blast. The cell phone was still pressed to her ear.
After what seemed an eternity Maria reached a wall. No one was firing a gun, so she decided to rise to her feet. On shaking legs she found a light switch that did not work. Then a light flared in the darkness. Juana sat in the middle of the room holding her lighter. Sophie was nearby. Juana found a pair of votary candles under a framed photograph of Tony Montana and lit them. The women were in a small room with two doors in opposite walls. One door they had entered by the other led into a bathroom. There was a well stocked bar and a cabinet containing M-16 rifles and cases of ammunition. Juana immediately went to the bar.
Sophie lifted an M-16 and smiled. "I learned how to shoot these when I was in the Texas National Guard. Here Juana, take one. They're easy to use."
"Oh I don't know how to use a rifle! Maybe I should just mix us some drinks?"
"Nonsense, this is a crisis. Girlfriend, we need to defend ourselves, not get drunk!" Sophie proffered another rifle to Maria, but she waved it away. She still clutched the cell phone to her ear. "What? Speak up! No, I can't hear! Huh?"
Sophie locked and loaded an M-16 and passed it to Juana. "Now, pay attention. First you find the fire selector..."
A burst of gunfire from the rifle stitched through the ceiling. Sophie frowned. "On second thought, maybe you should mix us some drinks."
No sooner did Sophie have a large rum and Coke balancing her M-16, than a masked gunman stepped through the door. His eyes widened in surprise as she raised her gun. Sophie fired from the hip and the gunman staggered away streaming blood.
"Keep the ammo and the drinks coming Juana, I'll need 'em both girlfriend!"
Bullets hissed viciously through the door while Sophie fired back gamely. The three women huddled in the dimly lit room. Death had been stalking them. Now Death had them cornered.
When he saw the grenade launch, the Regulator flung himself at the floor. He felt it whoosh overhead and smack into the ceiling. The blast smashed him flat, and after what seemed an eternity the Regulator felt feeling return to his numbed body. The feeling was pain.
"I'm still alive. Must have gone through the ceiling, blew up on other side. Else I'd be real dead." The Regulator swayed drunkenly as he mumbled to himself. The world was a blank of pitch-black darkness, choking smoke, and a hellish ringing in the ears.
Suddenly a muffled report penetrated the ringing. The Regulator felt a burning pain on his shoulder from a bullet that had creased him. Instinctively he reacted. Both guns were in his hand and he was snapping shots blindly as he charged forward. Orange flashes popped in the dark and bullets flicked past the Regulator. He roared his battle cry into the soundless void. He felt a man fall under his trampling feet and saw a figure silhouetted in a doorway. A bullet sent the figure crashing down and then the Regulator was through the door and on a verandah.
Under the stark, skeleton-white moonlight, Mad Dog stood. A thick cast covered his right arm. His left gripped a 9-mm pistol. "Well, we meet again. This time I'm gonna kill you!" He raised the 9-mm.
"What? If you're gonna move your lips, talk. Otherwise let's fight, and this time you don't walk away!"
"Eh? So afraid you can't speak, huh?" Mad Dog laughed and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Then he noticed the slide was extended, the sign of an empty pistol.
The Regulator raised his .357s, triggering first the right and then the left. Both times the hammer fell on a spent shell. Mad Dog pulled a massive Arkansas toothpick from boot and the Regulator reached for the razor-sharp Bowie knife in his belt.
There was nothing to say. They could not have heard it anyway.
The Regulator © Dave Hardy. HTML © Tim Hartin.
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