The sound of thousands of voices rumbling through Paul’s mind was nothing but white noise. The static of a television. The fuzz of no signal.
The sharp crack of the sniper’s rifle from above created a preternatural focus.
Head shot for Paul. Followed by more.
That was when the sky erupted into ear shattering explosions of thunder and flashes of lightning.
The weather hadn’t changed. That was the sound of .50 caliber machine guns opening fire. Paul never handled a weapon in his life, so the sounds and recoil shook him to the core.
The rotors and blades of the Black Hawks created high speed winds that threw dust and debris in every direction. The crowd panicked and scattered. Lasseter, Billy-Bob and Paul stood their ground, bobbing and weaving through the carnage.
Akira threw her arms skyward, greeting the chaos.
Billy-Bob shielded his eyes, tracking the Black Hawks. “They’re shooting each other!” He yelled, grabbing Paul’s shoulder pulling him backwards towards safety.
Paul responded with a painful wink and a grin.
Abruptly, the firing stopped and the helicopters banked hard toward the empty parking lot on the opposite side of the mall. The crowd tripped and clawed in a mad scramble to escape.
This was American soil. A friendly crowd. Black Hawks firing. Flashbacks to Afghanistan.
“They’re clearing out!”
Paul stood transfixed. He’d connected with the infected minds and in the ‘copters and ordered them to shoot—at each other. At the engines. At the search lights. At the snipers.
It wasn’t long before he connected with the pilots, ordering them to bank away.
The ‘copters he couldn’t control had to go down.
That wasn’t the loudest explosion Billy-Bob had heard, but based on their altitude, he knew the crashes were survivable.
The death toll would be at a minimum.
If it were up to Akira, we’d all be dead.
With her arms raised and with the wind billowing her hair, she looked in control.
But she wasn’t.
Billy-Bob knew. He knew.
Lasseter slid his arm around Paul’s waist, propping him against the wind, shielding him from the debris. He cupped his right hand into a semicircle, yelling to be heard.
“How’d that feel?”
He took a swig from flask, rolled his eyes skyward, and smiled.