Title: Iron Mike
Author: Patricia Rose
Release Date: September 27, 2015
Genre:Coming of Age / Sci-Fi
They came, but not in peace. They came to destroy us. Our cities crumbled. Our people died by the billions. Their weapons were sophisticated beyond our worst nightmare.
But they didn't count on our stubborn tenacity or our will to live. We fight back, and we fight dirty.
Mike Sanderlin survived the first attack ... but could he survive the war? How will he keep his sister safe in a world where terror swoops from the sky and looters claim the streets? Law and order are as forgotten as the bodies that rot in the sun.
To keep his sister alive, Mike changes. He becomes Iron Mike, a man unafraid of making the hard decisions, a man unafraid of war, of killing or being killed. Iron Mike isn't afraid, period.
Iron Mike is a survivor.
She kept the Sig Sauer in her unzipped pocket, within easy reach. She had gone through Malik’s gun safe and now had three extra magazines in the back pocket of her jeans. She figured if she needed them, she was dead. If eleven rounds of 9mm weren’t enough to protect her, the extra magazines would be no better than paperweights.
Nothing to be done for it. Kari stepped out of the jeep and pulled out her heavy backpack, adjusting it over her shoulders and snapping the straps in front to balance the load. It wasn’t bad, she told herself. She’d seen plenty of soldiers jogging around post in full rucksacks, and a lot of them were women, too. If they could do it, so could she.
Kari squinted at the town of Shepherdsville behind her, then back up State Road 44, which she knew was at least half the mileage she needed to travel to Knox. Once she hit Dixie Highway, it was about another twelve to fifteen miles to the front gates on Brandenburg Station Road. She didn’t even consider cutting through the woods. Kari was a city girl, and she intended to arrive on the post alive, not wander in circles through unfamiliar terrain until she froze to death or got eaten by coyotes. If she stuck to the roads, she would get there eventually.
She walked for more than an hour, almost totally uphill, before hearing the first vehicle. Kari cautiously stepped off the side of the road, her legs backed against the guard rail. S.R. 44 was a two-lane cut-through to Dixie Highway, and it was twisty; with the light layer of snow, it would also be slippery.
The red pickup’s engine roared as the driver downshifted, and passed right by her. Kari pushed off from the guard rail to start walking again – stopping abruptly as she saw the brake lights and backup lights. She leaned back against the guard rail and waited.
She made her decision instantly when the passenger window rolled down, and the man leered at her with what he probably assumed was a pleasant smile. His eyes moved up her body from her heavy boots, jeans, to the shapeless heavy coat she wore and the long braid of brown hair covered with a thick stocking cap.
“Need a ride, sweet thing?” the driver asked, leaning forward so he could see around the passenger.
Kari smiled politely, but it was stiff. The man was smiling, but there was a meanness to his smile that made Kari’s radar go off. His red hair was greasy and unkempt and he looked like he hadn’t showered in a week. “No, thanks,” she replied. “I appreciate the offer, but I don’t have far to go now.”
The passenger spoke, his voice making Kari’s skin crawl. “Aw, you really should come with us, miss. A pretty lady like you all alone in this crazy world, halfway up Martin Hill – it ain’t safe.”
“I’ll be fine,” Kari said politely. “Thank you again for the offer.”
She watched the crazy as it happened. The passenger’s pleasant leer fell from his face, and his eyes clouded with fury. “Bitch, you don’t know a good thing when you hear it,” he said, and opened his door, putting one foot on the snow.
Kari drew the Sig and aimed it right between the man’s eyes, thumbing the safety off in one smooth motion. He froze for a moment, his eyes narrowing as he assessed her. “You’re a cute little thing,” he said, a malicious eagerness in his voice. “Mine’s bigger.”
He moved his eyes to the gun rack on the back wall of the pickup where three large shotguns rested. Kari knew he wanted her to look at them, for her eyes to leave his so he could jump her. She didn’t oblige, keeping her eyes dead level on his.
“First shot takes out your rearview.” Her voice was oddly calm and quiet. Maybe all of Dad’s lectures and target practice hadn’t been wasted on her after all. “Second shot goes between your eyes and takes out you. Third shot the driver, if he’s still here.”
For a long moment, it was stalemate.
“Come on, Hank, let’s just go,” the driver whined. It was the wrong thing to say, because Hank was full of crazy, even if the driver didn’t know it, and his friend’s cowardice fueled his bravado. He shifted his weight so he stepped out of the truck.
Kari shot, the sound thundering down the ravine, echoing back to her. She was almost certain the man named Hank felt the bullet pass next to his head. It was a lucky shot. Not only did the rearview mirror break, but it broke cleanly in half, the wiring inside leaving both ends of the mirror dangling impressively and a neat round bullet hole in the windshield. Hank looked back, looking into Kari’s eyes again, his own narrowed meanly.
Kari didn’t react at all. She didn’t let victory or fear show on her face. “That’s one, Hank. Either get back in your truck, or come at me for number two.”
The driver, fortunately, kept his mouth shut this time. With a snarl, Hank shifted his weight back inside the vehicle and pulled his door closed with an angry slam. “I’ll find you again, cunt,” he sneered. “And when I do –“
Kari didn’t get to hear the rest of his threat because the driver peeled away before Hank could finish it.
Kari stood, adjusted her backpack and headed out with quick, confident steps.
She was her father’s daughter. She was nobody’s goddamned prey.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patricia Rose was born a bookworm, and has never outgrown it. Her love of stories started with The Bobbsey Twins when she was five and continues today with the best offerings of science fiction, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. An avid animal lover, she shares her home with her husband, her spiritual wife, two dogs, four cats, a snake, and a tarantula. Her husband, Kevin, has strongly advised her to put down her hammer, chisels, and stone tablets and come into the digital age!