HOMELAND: Falling Down (Part 1 of the HOMELAND Series)

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Book: HOMELAND: Falling Down (Part 1 of the HOMELAND Series) by R.A. Mathis Read Free Book Online
Authors: R.A. Mathis
anybody if we get overrun.”
    More shouts sounded from the perimeter. More shooting. More screams. More panic.
    “Mount up!” Young ordered.
    “You heard the man!” Cole echoed.
    Amber ran to Cole and grabbed his arm.
    “You can’t leave.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    “What about the rest of us? What are we supposed to do?”
    “I’m sorry.”
    “Damn you.” She slapped him, then disappeared into the crowd of sick and wounded.
    The ride back to Campbell was cold and quiet. The hiss of dead air on the radio and the drone of tires on asphalt were the only sounds.
    Cole reached back to Crowe’s body and touched the dead man’s face. The flesh was still warm.
    Two days ago Cole and his men were enjoying hot wings and beer, glad to be back in the U.S.A, and thankful to be alive after seeing so much death. They didn’t realize as they celebrated that death had followed them home.
    Cole stared into the darkness beyond the headlights, wondering how so much could go so wrong so fast.
     

3
    HANK
     
    Freeport, Tennessee
    7:45 PM
    It felt good to be home, even if only for a few hours. Hank kicked off his shoes and eased onto his favorite chair. Rest was a luxury these days for anyone tasked with preserving the peace. He sank into the well-worn cushions, suddenly realizing how tired he was.
    “How was work?” asked his wife, Betty, from the kitchen.
    “Tough. We’re stretched too thin. Everybody’s working doubles and triples. We had to post deputies at all the gas stations and grocery stores. You wouldn’t believe the lines. Reminds me of the oil crunch back in the seventies, but now it’s food, too. We arrested two people today for fighting over a loaf bread. A damn loaf of bread.” He sighed. “I’ll be glad when this blows over and life gets back to normal.”
    Hank found the T.V. remote and turned on the news. The riots were spreading. It wasn’t just the big cities anymore. It was happening in Knoxville now, a mere fifty miles west on Interstate Forty.
    “I’m just glad we have you to keep law and order,” Betty said.
    “These twenty hour days hurt more than they used to.” He yawned. “I’m gettin’ too old for the sheriff business.”
    “You’re not old. You’re just out of shape.”
    Hank laughed. He’d put on a few pounds, but was still in better shape than deputies half his age. “I’ll be sixty next year. That, my dear, officially makes me an old man.”
    “Papaw!” Hank’s granddaughter ran into the room and jumped in his lap.
    Hank quickly turned off the television. Maggie didn’t need to see what it had to offer.
     “Hi, sweetheart. How was your day?”
    “Good. We went to church then we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. It was really good, but we missed you.”
    He hugged her and kissed her forehead. “I missed you too, Maggie.” He rubbed his chin, pretending to be confused. “Somebody has a birthday next week. I think she’s gonna be eleven, but I just can’t remember who.”
    “Oh, Papaw. You know it’s me.”
    He laughed. “You got me.”
    The girl had her father’s eyes. His son’s eyes. He wondered how much she remembered about him, gone these five years.
    Betty called from the kitchen, “Supper’s ready.”
    Maggie hopped down. “You stay there. I’ll get yours, Papaw.”
    His cell phone rang. Hank fished it from his pocket with a weary sigh.
    What now?
    He answered. “Yeah.”
    “I’ll be right there.” He hung up the phone.
    Betty asked from the kitchen, “What happened?”
    “Somebody just robbed the CVS. It’s bad.”
    Betty came into the living room. “Dear Lord.”
    He got up with a grunt. “Looks like supper will have to wait.”
    “Hank, you can’t keep pushing yourself like this.”
    “I’ll rest when this blows over. Good thing I’m not an old man.”
    Betty went to the kitchen and returned with a paper sack full of hot food. “Take this. Even the sheriff needs to eat.”
    He kissed her cheek. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
    “Be

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