“Owww my ass,” Seth grumbled as the bronco gave a final lurch before hitting smooth pavement.
“Oh shut up. You never hear me complaining.” Lilly threw him a grin that hid her own spinal discomfort.
Following the advice of BigDog and RandDandy, they’d backtracked all the way to the 59 using backroads, which had taken hours, but then it had been a smooth shot down to the 10, except for the checkpoint. Thankfully, she saw it coming early and was able to get off the road. After careful navigation, and one pissed off farmer later, they’d hit the 10.
“I need to pee.” Morina threw in her own two cents.
“Geez, you’re like a bunch of children.” Lilly scolded without any real anger. “We need to put a little distance between us and the interchange back there. Hold it for twenty minutes.”
Morina didn’t look happy, but she sucked it up, or in if you wanted to be specific. Seth reached behind himself with a wince, and attempted to massage his lower back, but that was hard to do with a seatbelt. Altogether, the night had been pretty fucking miserable, but it was better than prison.
Twenty minutes flew by on the smooth asphalt of the 10, which quickly split. Lilly opted to switch to the 12, because the 10 went on to head into New Orleans, and that was the last thing she wanted to do. Twenty minutes put them on the outskirts of Slidell, LA, and a fast food joint that would only allow people to use their restrooms if you purchased something. Instead of making a fuss, Lilly ordered a lukewarm burger and soggy fries with a five she had in her pocket. The appropriately distracted teen running the cash register didn’t even bat an eye lash when she kept her hood up and sunglasses on.
Since the guy reeked like weed, she was pretty sure he wouldn’t have been able to identify her even if she was in her full Wraith outfit and ordering a combo platter. The tension that had been building in her shoulders had lessened a little. They’d crossed from Mississippi to Louisiana, and the farther they got into the new state, the harder it was going to be for authorities to coordinate. She doubted they were routing all criminal activity through federal channels, which just wasn’t possible, so the DVA’s response time to anything they did was going to be delayed as it got filtered through to the appropriate people. The amount of resources at law enforcement’s disposal actually worked in Lilly’s favor now.
After getting her burger, Lilly waited in the car and munched on the mushy meat. After a few bites she was worried about getting salmonella, so she put it down and waited. Seth was the first out. He walked stiffly, and in minor pain, but he was ambulatory and walked straight back out to the car. Morina didn’t. She walked up to the register.
“What the hell is she…?” Lilly didn’t get to finish before a glint of metal caught her eye just before Morina plunged it into the cashier’s neck. The guy’s shocked expression held as he sunk to the floor behind the counter.
“What the fuck!” Lilly didn’t bother using the door. With a small blast of darkness she was in the car one moment and standing next to the counter the other. Morina had already hopped over and was on top of the guy.
He was still alive, but Morina had his arms pinned so he couldn’t apply pressure to his neck wound. Instead, the blood was spurting out, flowing upward in a stream that defied gravity, and coating Morina’s face. The red clung to her like paint for a moment before being absorbed through her flesh.
“Morina, what the fuck?” Lilly repeated, but didn’t touch her friend. The piece of metal in her hand, that looked an awful lot like a shiv, still dripped with the cashier’s blood.
“We needed a car, so I got us a new car.” She held up the guy’s keys. “And I got a snack for the road.”
Lilly was just glad there were no other customers in the place. It was the early morning hours, and even those factory workers who worked a six o’clock shift wouldn’t be in for their to-go breakfast for another hour and a half. That meant…
“We need to go now!” This time Lilly did grab Morina, but the other woman didn’t swipe at her, she was finished. The last of the guy’s blood absorbed through her pores. When Lilly grabbed her hand, it was soft like a baby’s ass, and flawless, but even Lilly wasn’t willing to do that skin care regiment.
“Seth!” She called and her boyfriend quickly got out of the car. “We’re moving.”
The dead cashier had an old pickup parked in the back. The cab was going to be a much tighter squeeze, but the bronco was a known stolen vehicle. They’d be good in the pickup until someone reported the kid dead, and the car missing. They hadn’t even moved the body from behind the counter, but from the lack of blood, it might confuse anyone who found the body.
<Except the right people.> The DVA and Heroes would know exactly what they were looking at, so they needed to get the hell out of Slidell now.
Lilly did just that. She didn’t quite peel out, but she moved with a purpose, and got back on the 12. The map in the car said the road curved around the northern edge of Lake Pontchartrain and headed over to Baton Rouge. She would need to get off it before she hit the state capital, but there were plenty of options. The Mississippi Delta region was famous for their backwoods, swamps, and bayous so Lilly had no doubt she’d be able to evade the law.
Maybe it was exhaustion after the adrenaline rush of Morina’s attack, or she was just getting sloppy after so long on the run, but Lilly was so busy studying the map for an alternate route that the blue flashing lights crept up on her.
Deputy Sheriff Brown had been a cop for two years in St. Tammany Parish, and he’d never been rousted in the middle of the night by a call from the Sheriff himself, told to get in uniform, and haul ass to the exchange where the 12 and the 190 met. All without being told why.
He had some theories. The 190 led to the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which was one of the major arteries into New Orleans. If you wanted to keep people in or out of the City, you needed to control that route, but to have a bunch of cops up where the 12 met it didn’t make sense. Sure the 12 was a big highway that ran above the lake, but there were several ways to get to the causeway by avoiding the 12, so Deputy Sheriff Brown wasn’t sure what to think. The other explanation was a DUI checkpoint, but it was a little unusual to have those at four in the morning. Everyone was usually passed out by then.
In the end it didn’t matter. He was getting authorized overtime to sit with a few other cops on the highway where there was minimal traffic. Hell, half of the checkoint’s deputies were asleep. Brown didn’t even bother to wake them up when a lone pickup came to a stop.
“Hey officer.” The woman in the driver’s seat stifled a yawn. She was wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, which wasn’t uncommon for teenagers these days. She looked like someone in her late teens, maybe a college student, and the other two people in the car with her, both asleep, fit the same description.
“Good morning,” The woman’s yawn triggered Brown’s own reflux, but he fought off the urge. “Can I see your license and registration please?”
“Sure.” She handed over an Alabama license and reached over her sleeping passengers to get at the glove box. She rifled around for a minute before coming back out with a slip of paper. “This is my friend’s truck. He lent it to me so I could get these two love birds home.” She gestured to the two sleeping passengers.
The woman’s head was buried in the guy’s shoulder, and the guy’s face was plastered against the bit of plastic outlining the window. They fit the description of love birds.
“I’m just going to run this quick. You been drinking at all?”
“No, Sir.” The woman replied, and she didn’t show any indicators of intoxication.
Brown nodded and returned to his car. He nodded to his partner, who was dozing in the patrol car’s passenger seat, and waved to the two deputies blocking the road in the opposite direction.
“Anything?” The older deputy asked as he blinked to clear the sleep from his eyes.
“Three kids, two asleep, one driving them home. No signs of intoxication. I’m gonna run her and then send her on her way if nothing comes back.” Brown replied.
The other deputy squinted at the pickup twenty feet in front of them, and grunted his affirmation. “Waste of county resources if you ask me…” he mumbled as he settled back into his seat.
Brown expected it from the older deputy, but the man had a right to complain. He had twenty years on the job to Brown’s two. Brown needed to be the over-enthusiastic new guy to get on the right people’s good sides. That was how he was going to move up in the world.
He ran the license first, and it checked out with no warrants or anything. Next was the registration…which was expired, and the guy who owned the car had a warrant for failure to appear for traffic tickets.
“That sucks for these three.” Brown shook his head. He couldn’t let the car leave. He’d have to tow it, and the owner could have it back when he showed up from traffic court and paid his tickets. With a sigh, Brown hopped out of the car and found himself face to face with the female driver. “Hey, get…” that was as far as he got before something hard hit him in the leg, and his whole body locked up. All he was able to do was gurgle as he toppled over like a tree.
“Fuck!” The older deputy might be dozing, but he was quick. He jumped out of the car and drew his side arm in one fluid motion, pointed it at the suspect, and…”she’s gone!” he yelled just before something hard hit him in the ass. He collapsed like a felled tree onto the hood of the car and slid off it to crash into the ground.
“Freeze!” The deputies from the other car were coming around at the target with their guns drawn. “GUN!” One yelled when he saw a firearm in the woman’s hand.
His finger moved from the side of the trigger guard to the trigger and gently applied pressure. A split second before the gun went off, a gust of hundred mile an hour wind nearly knocked him over. His gun went up, and the shot went high and away. The deputy adjusted position for another shot, but a piece of the asphalt broke free from the road and rocketed into his chest. His vest blunted the impact, but he still felt like he’d been run over by a semi, and now it was hard to breath.
“Officers down…Super…need assistance…” were the only words the deputy’s panicked partner got out before he went rigid and fell flat on his face.
The last thing the conscious deputy saw was the two seemingly asleep passengers get out of the car and walk toward the driver. They were saying something loudly, and arguing, but he couldn’t hear them over the sound of his own blood pumping in his ears. He was sure he had internal bleeding from the impact. Something important felt like it broke when the chunk of road smashed into him, so he went for his radio. By the time he looked down to find it on his belt, and looked back up, the woman was standing over him and pointing a gun at his head.
“P…P…Ple…” that was as far as he got before Lilly tasered him.
She turned around to Seth and Morina. “We’re so fucked.”