- L. E. Fitzpatrick
Guest Post: New Release - Every Storm Breaks, (Reacher Series #3)
Every Storm - Breaks BLURB
When a Reacher terrorist group enlist the help of a deranged serial killer, their goal is simple: bring about chaos in Britain. But when the death count starts rising chaos comes sooner than expected.
With the tension between the London elite and the surrounding slums reaching breaking point, Charlie finds himself in handcuffs on the wrong side of the border. Government agents are closing in and Charlie is running out of time.
Can his friends save him in time?
When the storm comes, will anyone get out alive?
The concrete barrier separating London and the surrounding Safe Haven was impenetrable. Built to withstand a full militia invasion, it was guarded day and night by trained security officers. On a normal day they would be watching a queue of traffic as the daily commute crossed the open gates, but this wasn’t a normal day. A full watch was gathered at the top of the blockade, automatic weapons poised, ready to shoot, ready to kill. The growing crowd being kept out was swelling, spilling over into the surrounding streets like an overflowing drain. The bubbling cesspit of discontentment polluted the atmosphere. Tension climbed as more and more people took up the plight of the immigrant workers, fuelled by fear, isolation, and more hardship. The rioters crushed themselves against the gates, kicking at the barbed fencing; screaming, climbing, falling. Blood stained metal like crimson rust. Things were turning bad and turning quickly.
John pulled up the car at the junction leading to the main gate. It was farther away than they had originally planned their ambush, but there was no way they were going to get any closer without being swallowed by the crowd. A raucous energy surged through the concrete jungle. Rachel dared a glance behind them. Another tribe of urban warriors was coming towards the gate, and soon their current position would be compromised too. Police sirens were getting louder, a tinnitus in this nightmare. It was going to erupt into a full-scale riot, and in a few minutes all of S’aven would be engulfed.
She twisted her fingers together, focusing on the closed border, allowing her powers to penetrate the collective feeling of the mob. The concentrated fear and hatred were overwhelming. She could feel their frustration, their utter hopelessness, even as far back as she was. Desperation was winning, and nothing short of a miracle could sate it. Bottles, launched into the air by the protestors, smashed against the fence. Glass rained down on the crowd, and blood started to pour. The police were closing in. Soon the fighting would flood into the surrounding streets. All of S’aven would be consumed. Rachel watched the gate and the air around her seemed to thin. She took a desperate gasp, trying to visualise their rescue attempt in this chaos. Anything leaving London was going to get swallowed up; anyone trying to help would be trampled.
“What if they don’t come out?” she asked.
“They’ll come out.” The certainty in John’s voice was unwavering. Nothing about their current view seemed to concern him. His composure was measured, as though he were watching this from a distant window, unaffected by the consequences of the phone call he had made.
Rachel couldn’t understand how he could be so calm. A couple of hours ago he was throwing bottles at a wall like the desperate men and women in front of her. Now he was sitting patient and expectant, waiting for a miracle she couldn’t believe in.
“And what if they do come out?” she said, softer this time. She clasped her hands together. The anguish around her was contagious. She wanted to lash out. To scream. To charge the gate and save Charlie herself. This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t how people should be treated. The rich shouldn’t be locked behind a wall with all the wealth, while people on the other side died in squalor. People shouldn’t be punished for wanting a better life. For trying. For being different. They shouldn’t be locked up, experimented on, executed.
“Hey, the gates are opening,” Roxy said, drawing her back before her outrage compelled her to action.
A shower of rubber bullets and gas canisters rained down on the crowd. Through the chemical mist, a vehicle pushed into the mess. It was unmarked, but it was obviously a government transporter. What else would brave leaving London in the middle of a riot? Before anyone could react, the guards behind it opened fire again. People dropped to the pavement, gasping in the smoke, crying out as feet stomped on their helpless bodies. Rachel could feel the rage surge through the street. If there had been a chance this was all going to pass over, they’d just lost it.
“Well, that was a good idea,” Rachel said.
The smoke hissed, making it impossible to see anything. Bloody, bruised people fell out of the poisonous fog, into cleaner pockets of air, but more were coming. Coming from the surrounding streets; healthier, stronger, angrier. And the border patrol continued to fire. Rubber bullets giving way to metal. This wasn’t a security mechanism—this was war. The gas was clearing and the gates were once again closed, but that left the van stranded and suddenly the only thing the crowd could retaliate against.
“Oh God, do you think Charlie’s in there?” Rachel said, unable to control her panic. Would the crowd take mercy on a prisoner? She didn’t think so. Even if they did, how much damage would they do before they even reached him?
“He’s in there,” John said. Still cool. Still calm.
The protestors started pounding on the truck, rocking it back and forth. Again and again.
“Holy shit, they’re going to tip it!”
“Take the wheel,” John told Roxy. “Turn the car around and get ready to move. Do not fall behind. Rachel, you’re on crowd duty.”
“Are you bloody kidding, they’re going to rip you apart!” Roxy shouted.
John gave Roxy a look, half smug, half challenging—I’d like to see them try—and gestured for Rachel to get out.
Marginally inspired by John’s confidence, Rachel took his hand and focussed. If they were going to have any chance, she couldn’t let her surroundings frighten her. The people’s tension and anger were fuelling the riot. This wasn’t going to dissipate. This was years of stored-up fury at the richer classes, at the injustice folk on the wrong side of the border suffered. There was so much hate. Too much to control. The weight of it was oppressive and, as Rachel tried to sway the crowd to her favour, she found herself blocked and unable to push her commands into their one-track minds. Her subtle Let me pass was being ignored, or unheard, or deliberately disobeyed, as though that was the one command they had conditioned themselves to reject. She needed something more, something that suited their mood.
Red and blue started flashing. The police were encircling them. They were surrounded, unable to go anywhere, and Rachel knew what to do.
“Stop the police cars,” she said, tapping the nearest man to her. He paused, his hand held up in the air as her words filtered into his brain. Then, like a switch being pressed, he was charging towards the nearest police car. She touched another, giving him the same command. By the third, the crowd had picked up the idea. They covered the police cars like a swarm. There was no escape.
Rachel squeezed John’s hand. She braved a step deeper into the rabble. If her powers failed, if her concentration slipped, they could both be crushed. A shot was fired in the distance. More smoke canisters struck the crowd. John took over. He pulled her towards the truck, somehow able to see what was happening in the frenzy.
“Get in the passenger’s side,” he told her.
She let him go, and for the briefest moment she was drowning. Smoke stung her eyes, and she had to hold on to the vehicle for support. As her hands touched metal, she could feel Charlie inside. The connection to him steadied her nerves. It was as though he were speaking to her, only there were no words or directions, just a feeling, a knowingness. A tremor passed through the vehicle, and she knew he had unlocked the doors for her.
She grabbed the door handle and pulled. It flung open, and she nearly went with it. A rioter pushed past her and grabbed a fat man from the passenger seat. As he came hurtling out of the truck, she launched herself inside. She swung the door closed and jammed the lock in place. Another rioter pounded on the glass, ecstatic that she’d breached the vehicle. He cheered, and a bullet hit him in the temple, spattering the window with pink flesh. His body fell out of view, swallowed by the violence below.
She turned to the driver and froze.
Mark was staring back at her. His lost brown eyes were wide, his mouth agape. Of all the people to come across. She tried to think of something to say, and then she saw the barrel of John’s gun press against his head.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” he said, and hauled Mark from the driver’s seat.
John slammed the door closed. A bullet hit the safety glass, scratching the surface. “We need a route out of here,” he said.
Rachel nodded and closed her eyes. She pressed her hands on the dashboard. Her heart was racing, but her head was focused. The command was instinctual. Attack the border! Immediately, the crowd was moving, abandoning the vehicle and heading straight to the gate. She didn’t watch them go; there was enough on her conscience already. John slammed his foot on the accelerator and hit the road.