Recoil by Joanne Macgregor Read Free Book Online

Book: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joanne Macgregor
crouched down behind a rusty, old-model Ford.
    Should I follow him? That was the smart course, probably what we
were supposed to do. But it didn’t feel right to leave Leya behind. It would be like leaving a friend in danger, or a fellow-soldier behind
on the battle-field. A betrayal of sorts.
    I should surrender. Maybe as Sarge released Leya , Bruce would be able to take a shot. It
meant I would lose the game, of course, and Bruce would win, but at least we’d
have gotten Sarge .
    But there was no guarantee that Bruce would get Sarge . No guarantee, even, that Sarge would release Leya if I surrendered. I could just as
easily see him shooting me as soon as I laid down my weapon, then taking out Leya at short range, grinning maniacally all the while. Maybe
he’d only captured her to lure us in. What had he said about the rules before
we started playing? Drop us before we drop you … the aim of the exercise is to take
as many of our lives as you can, while keeping your own. Oh yeah, he
would drop us both, alright.
    “I’m going to count to ten,” Sarge called from behind Leya . “If you haven’t surrendered
by the time I get to ten, I’m going to add another kill to my count.”
    And if I did surrender, he’d add two kills to his count.
    I lifted my rifle, rested it on a spare tire leaning up against
the Ford, and studied him through the scope. I found myself running
calculations through my head, even though there was no possible way to take him
down without hitting Leya .
    “One … two …”
    He held her so that her body covered the whole of his, with his
head tucked behind hers. The hand holding the rifle was the only part of him
not protected, but a shot to his hand wouldn’t be a kill-shot. Even if I could
hit him there, he’d just take out Leya immediately.
    “… three . You’re beginning to make me
ma-ad!” he called, in a sing-song voice.
    The hand was exposed. And a small area of skin where the side of
his neck protruded beyond the edge of hers. Damn these goggles — they did more
to obscure my vision than protect my eyes. I yanked them up onto my helmet,
locked my cheek against the stock, aligned my right eye with the eyepiece, and
found that spot again.
    “Four … five … six …”
    It was a scant square inch of flesh, the tiniest target I would
ever have aimed for. An impossible shot. And if I missed, I would either hit bare air and give away my position to Sarge , or I’d hit Leya and be
instantly disqualified.
    “Seven …”
    But if I hit? If I hit that nickel-sized target directly above
his jugular, it would be a kill-shot for sure. We’d have taken out all the
instructors, while we three would have survived. And I would win the game.
    “Eight,” Sarge called, his voice rising
high. “Poor little girl, she’s running out of time.”
    So was I. I needed to make a decision. But it seemed my body had
already made it for me. My breathing had slowed down, my shoulders moved down
into their relaxed position, the pad of my forefinger was on the trigger, and a
freckle in the exposed patch of my target’s neck was at the dead center of my
cross-hairs. My finger tightened on the trigger until I reached the point of
resistance. I breathed in, held it, breathed out slowly.
    “Nine …”
    As gently as though I was touching a raw wound, I squeezed back
on the trigger.
    The recoiling rifle stock slammed into my shoulder. A vicious
expletive from down the avenue told me I’d hit something. Quickly, I lifted the
scope. An arm in a green jump-suit. Up. Leya’s stunned eyes and open mouth. Down a bit. Her neck, a small splash of blue on
the side. To the right. A neck above a black jump-suit — a neck splattered with
blue paint. A hand moving to touch it. Up. Eyes above a mask, looking down at
the hand. Then lifting to look down the avenue in my direction. Eyes livid with
    Uncertainly, I lowered my rifle and stood up behind the Ford.
    “ Uhm … Man down?” I called out.
    Sarge cursed

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