Jun 3 2014 11:30am
Rebellion: A New Excerpt
Rebellion by Ken Shufeldt is a thriller where China has invaded New York City and the fate of the country falls into the hands of a Texas general and a Air Force Academy graduate (available June 3, 2014).
Bailouts and ambitious plans for recovery have failed to rescue the United States’s crumbling economy. As the country stands on the brink of total economic collapse, the president takes a desperate gamble and strikes a bargain with China to write off America’s debt. It seems a brilliant move—until the Supreme Court is destroyed by a cruise missile in a shocking attack and Manhattan is invaded. China has come to claim what’s theirs.
With American captives executed daily in national broadcasts by the attackers, the government in disarray, and US military forces shattered into local militias, all seems lost.
But deep in the heart of Texas the American spirit lives on. John David Drury, a young, untried, but highly qualified “four-star general” of a scrappy militia, along with Molly Spitz, a highly-ranked graduate of the Air Force Academy, prepares to lead a strike against New York City.
As in 1776, America’s fate once again hinges on rebellion.
Eastern New Mexico, northern Texas, and the Oklahoma panhandle had been under a winter storm warning, but the ferocity of the late-October blizzard had taken everyone by surprise.
Lyndon and Betty Drury were dirt-poor sharecroppers in the Oklahoma panhandle, and as the brutal north wind buffeted their drafty old farmhouse, it shuddered and groaned in protest.
Betty was taking a quick shower before they went into town to catch a movie, so Lyndon switched on the TV to see what the weather was going to do.
Betty was almost nine months pregnant with their first child, and if the weather was going to get worse, Lyndon was going to try to talk her out of making the forty-mile round trip into town.
Betty hadn’t wanted to worry Lyndon, but she’d been having an occasional contraction all day. As she was getting out of the shower, she doubled over in pain, but unlike the previous contractions, this one didn’t want to let up.
“Lyndon, I think my water just broke,” Betty yelled as she slumped to the floor.
“Hold on, I coming,” Lyndon assured her as he tried to keep the panic out of his voice.
When he came rushing in, he almost fell when he slipped on the wet bathroom floor.
“Careful, you’re going to bust your butt. We’ve got plenty of time yet.”
“Are you sure you’re all right?” Lyndon asked as he helped her up.
However, as she was toweling off she had another strong contraction.
“Maybe we should get going,” she said softly, as she tried to mask the pain.
As he helped her into the bedroom, she asked, “What did the weatherman have to say?”
“He said we’re in for a real blue norther, and to stay home unless it was an emergency.”
“I think this qualifies.”
Lyndon was hovering, so she suggested, “Why don’t you get the truck warmed up, while I get dressed?”
Lyndon had his warmest coat on, but he was shivering when he reached their decrepit old truck.
“Come on, you piece of shit, start,” he exclaimed as he pumped the gas and turned the key.
As it slowly turned over, he prayed for a little good luck.
It finally started, but it only ran for a few seconds before it backfired and quit.
“Oh hell!” He pumped the gas and tried again. When the engine roared to life, he exclaimed, “Oh thank God.”
When he was sure it was going to stay running, he rushed back inside.
“Take a good hold of my arm, the steps are really slick,” Lyndon advised.
“It looks like the weatherman got one right for a change,” Betty commented, as they struggled through the blinding snow.
Their house sat at the end of a dirt road, and it was filled with ruts.
“Take it easy,” Betty groaned as the pickup swerved and bounced its way toward the highway.
It only took him a couple of minutes to reach the pavement, but by then Lyndon was getting anxious. When the old truck slid up onto the pavement, he floored it.
“I can hardly see the road,” Lyndon complained as their old pickup struggled for traction.
“Slow down,” Betty implored.
Jeff Reeder lived just down the road from the Drurys, and he was trying to get home before the worst of the storm hit.
“Oh shit,” Jeff screamed as he lost control of the semi. He never had a chance to react as his truck skidded across the centerline and struck the driver’s side of the Drurys’ pickup.
Lyndon was wearing his seat belt, but he died instantly when the truck crashed into them. Betty hadn’t buckled up, because it hurt her swollen belly, and the horrific force of the impact catapulted her through the windshield and out onto the snow-covered pavement.
Jeff hadn’t been wearing a seat belt either, and the impact had propelled him across the cab of the truck.
Momentarily unconscious, it was several minutes before he crawled down from the cab of his jackknifed semi. Jeff knew he’d hit something, but he was still disoriented, and the whiteout conditions were making it hard to see. He wandered aimlessly, until he heard someone whimpering in pain. He couldn’t see more than a few feet, but he kept moving toward the cries.
“Oh God, what have I done?” he exclaimed when he saw Lyndon’s mangled body pinned in the wreckage.
There was no doubt that Lyndon was dead, but when Betty made another anguished cry, Jeff forgot about him, and rushed to help her.
“Hold on, Betty, I’ll call the ambulance,” he screamed when he saw her bloodied, mangled body lying in the snow.
As he fumbled for his cell phone, he threw up all over his shoes. He spit to clear the bile out of his mouth, and dialed 911.
“This is Jeff Reeder, and I need the ambulance west of town on FM 1125,” he said, with panic in his voice.
“Calm down,” the 911 operator told him. “What’s going on?”
“I just hit the Drurys head-on.”
It took him a couple of seconds to get the words out. “Lyndon’s dead, and Betty is in bad shape.”
“OK, how far out are you?”
It was snowing so hard that Jeff had to get within a few feet of the mile marker to see it. “We’re at mile marker eighteen, and you need to tell them to hurry.”
The phone went quiet for several seconds before the operator came back on, “The ambulance is on its way, but it may be awhile, because the roads are getting slick as hell. Try to keep her warm, and if she’s got any bleeding, put some pressure on it. Call me back if you’ve got any questions.”
Jeff took his coat off and covered her as well as he could. Her cries had turned to an occasional whimper, as Jeff tried to get the gashes on her head to stop bleeding. As the wind howled around them, the snow was getting heavier. By then he was shivering so badly he could hardly think. Shit, she’ll be dead before they get here if I don’t do something, he realized.
He returned to his truck and dug out two sets of old, greasy, insulated coveralls he had stuffed behind the seat. His hands were so stiff he could barely get the coveralls on. He didn’t know how he was going to get the other pair on Betty without hurting her, but he knew he had to do something.
As he was getting down out of the cab, he heard one of the tarps covering the trailer flapping in the wind, and thought, Damn it, I should have thought about that sooner.
He quickly cut one of the larger ones off, and started dragging it toward Betty. The tarp almost took him with it a time or two, as the wind caught it, but he finally managed to get Betty covered up. The cold had helped slow the bleeding, but he knew she wasn’t going to last very much longer if the ambulance didn’t get there soon.
He redialed 911. “Where are they?” he asked frantically.
“They should be there anytime now,” the dispatcher told him.
Normally the ambulance only carried an EMT, but Jim Johnson had been the doctor on duty, and he’d decided to ride along.
“Oh crap.” Tim Warner, the ambulance driver, screamed as he hit the brakes to keep from hitting Jeff’s truck. “Everybody alright back there?” Tim asked.
“Yes, but what the hell was that?” Dr. Johnson asked, as he got up off the floor.
“I damn near ran into the wreck,” Tim explained.
“Let’s get to it,” Dr. Johnson called as he opened the back door.
“What happened?” Dr. Johnson asked, as Manny Perez, the EMT, and Tim put stretcher down beside Betty.
“I hit a patch of ice,” Jeff explained as he tried to choke back the tears. “I’ve tried to keep her warm, but I didn’t know what else to do.”
Dr. Johnson pulled the tarp back and got his first look at Betty’s mangled body. He patted Jeff on the back, and told him, “Doesn’t look like there was much else you could do.”
He was about to ask about Lyndon, when he caught sight of their pickup. At least he didn’t suffer, the doc thought to himself.
After Dr. Johnson gave Betty a quick examination, he stabilized her neck with a collar, and motioned to Manny. “Help me slide her onto the stretcher.”
When Manny had secured her to the stretcher, Dr. Johnson, told them, “Let’s get her in the ambulance. I know the conditions suck, but we need to get her to the hospital as fast as you can,” he called to Tim.
Tim flipped on the lights and siren, and hauled ass. They’d only gone a couple of miles when Dr. Johnson yelled, “You’d better pull over and park. I’ve got to deliver the baby.”
“I’m afraid so. Betty’s dying, and it’s the only chance the baby has.”
“Manny, get the kit ready, and I’ll cut her clothes off.”
It didn’t take long to do the C-section, but Betty died as he was removing the baby boy.
“Damn it, she’s gone.”
“How’s the baby?” Manny asked.
“He’ll be fine, but this really sucks. Would you mind recording the time? I’ll need it for the death certificate.”
As Manny noted the date and time (October 28, 2028, at 6 p.m.), he thought about how bittersweet the poor little boy’s birthday was going to be.
Dr. Johnson clipped the cord and wrapped the newborn in the warmest blanket they had, before he told Tim, “You can get going, but there’s no need to hurry.”
When they reached the hospital, Betty’s OB/GYN was waiting. “What the hell happened out there?” Dr. Winslow demanded.
“Lyndon and Betty were in a horrible wreck, and they’re both dead,” Dr. Johnson explained.
“Oh God. What about the baby?”
“I managed to save him.”
“Good work, but what a tragedy. They were so looking forward to raising John David.”
“They’d already named him?”
“As soon as they found out it was a boy.”
“What’s going to happen to him?” Dr. Johnson asked.
“It’s hard to say. Neither of them had any living relatives, so I guess it’ll be up to the state.”
When they discharged John David, the Oklahoma Child Protection Services sent him to live with an old couple who were willing to serve as foster parents.
Leroy and Emma Bolton were already in their sixties when they took John David in. They were good honest people, but Leroy was a hard man, and never paid much attention to the boy.
John David’s life had been uneventful until he started school. On his first day, some of the older boys had started picking on him.
Leroy was in the front yard cutting the grass, when he saw John David come running up, with the bullies hot on his trail. When the boys saw Leroy, they quickly turned and ran the other way.
Leroy grabbed John David by the arm and growled, “Were you running from them boys?”
“Yes, sir, I was. I was afraid they were going to beat me up.”
Leroy never said a word as he took off his belt and beat John David bloody. When he finished, he turned him around and warned, “Boy, don’t let me ever see you run from anyone again.”
Leroy expected John David to cry and run into the house to Emma, but to his surprise, John David looked him in the eye, and said, “Yes, sir! I understand.”
John David had nightmares of what the next day might bring, but he never said a word about it when Emma handed him his lunch and sent him out the door.
After school, John David was sneaking down the alleys, hoping the boys wouldn’t see him.
Just when he thought he had it made, they found him.
There were six of them, and they were all older and bigger than he was. He knew he could outrun them, but there was no way he was going to take another beating.
His heart was racing madly as he looked around for something to defend himself. He was about to give up and make a run for it, when he spotted a pile of tree limbs. He could hear them shouting threats at him as they grew closer, but he was surprisingly calm as he picked up a branch, stomped on it to break it down to size, and turned to face them. When the gang of boys reached him, they started laughing and taunting him, as they circled around him menacingly.
They were really enjoying themselves until John David let out a bloodcurdling scream, and started swinging his homemade club like a broadsword. His attack took them by surprise, and before long they were running away, bloodied and bawling like babies.
John David was trembling as he watched them run for it, but it wasn’t from fear. He didn’t realize what it was at the time, but he’d grow to love the feeling of an adrenaline rush.
Once he was sure they were gone, he threw the bloody stick down, and went on home. When he walked up the driveway, Leroy and Emma were outside working in her flower beds.
“How was school, dear?” Emma asked.
“Fine,” he lied. Hoping she couldn’t see that he was still trembling, he asked, “Do you have any chores for me?”
“Not today, but I do have some fresh-baked cookies on the kitchen table. Just don’t eat too many, it’ll spoil your supper.”
“Ha, nothing could spoil that boy’s appetite,” Leroy grumbled. “He eats like a horse.”
Emma looked at him and shook her head. She loved him dearly, but his time in the military had soured his outlook on life. He’d spent most of his career leading a Black Ops team, and he was a changed man by the time he’d retired. He’d never been willing to discuss it, but occasionally he would talk in his sleep, and she would catch a glimpse of the horrors he’d experienced. She’d often thought of leaving him, but after all those years, it was just too much trouble. She wished she could do a better job of protecting the boy, but she knew Leroy would never tolerate anything but what he viewed as proper behavior.
John David went inside, and thirty minutes later, the six boys’ mothers showed up in front of their house. When he saw them stop and start getting out of their SUV’s, Leroy stood up and took off his gloves. As he walked toward them he grumbled, “I wonder what the hell they want.” He’d only gotten halfway there when one of the mothers started screaming at him.
“I want you to do something with that juvenile delinquent you’ve taken in,” Rose Parker screamed at him.
“You need to calm down,” Leroy advised.
“We will not, he attacked our boys for no reason,” Betsy Jenkins declared.
“He did, did he? Well, let me tell you this. It was probably your damn kids that chased him home from school yesterday, and I gave him a real thrashing for running from them. I told him never to run from anyone ever again, so I guess you can blame me for your brats getting what was coming to them.”
One of the other women was starting in on him, when he cut her off, and said, “Look, if you don’t like it, you can tell your husbands to come back down here, and I’ll kick their asses too. Now get the hell out of here. I’ve got more important things to do than stand here jawing with you.”
John David had heard the commotion, and was watching from his bedroom window. When the mothers left, he’d expected Leroy to come in and beat him again, but Leroy went back to helping Emma.
Leroy didn’t mention it until they sat down for dinner. “How many of them were there?” Leroy asked.
“Classmates of yours?”
“No, sir, they’re older than me.”
“You listened. That’s good.”
They never discussed it again, but from that day forward Leroy treated him differently. Not that he was any easier on him; in fact, he seemed to expect even more.
The next Saturday afternoon, the bullies’ families got together for a barbecue at the Parkers’ house. Rose Parker and the rest of the women were drinking screwdrivers, while the men were in the backyard waiting to cook the steaks.
“I still can’t believe the way that old fart talked to us,” Rose Parker complained.
“Me either,” Betsy Jenkins agreed. I told Billy what he said, but he blew me off.”
“Same here,” Genevieve Fisher chimed in.
When Rose had finished preparing the steaks, she took them to the backyard. The men were laughing and swapping tall tales as they swilled beer after beer.
“Here are your steaks,” she told her husband, Jeff. “Instead of sitting out here getting shit-faced, you losers should be jumping on old man Bolton’s ass for talking to your wives the way he did.”
“It wasn’t that big of a deal,” Jeff told her.
“No big deal? Your sons got beat all to hell, and he as much as called you all cowards.”
“He did what?” Billy Jenkins asked.
“He told us to get the hell out of there, and that if we didn’t like it, we should send you all over there, and he’d kick your asses as well.”
“Well, that’s crap. If that gets around, we’re going to look like complete dumb-asses.”
“Maybe we should go over and have a talk with the cantankerous old bastard,” Jeff Parker challenged.
“Let’s do it,” Billy agreed. “The girls can cook the steaks while we’re gone.”
They all grabbed a couple of beers, and piled into Jeff’s SUV. When they got to Leroy’s house they swaggered up on the porch and knocked loudly.
“Can I help you?” Emma Bolton asked, a little concerned to find six obnoxious drunks on her front porch.
“Where’s your old man?” Jeff demanded.
“Leroy and the boy went to the grocery store for me. If you’d like to wait, they should be back in a little while.”
“Let’s go, boys. We can catch him there.”
As they sped off, Emma wished Leroy had a cell phone so she could warn him.
The grocery store was only a couple of blocks away, and when Leroy and John David came out, they were waiting by his old car.
“What’s up, boys?” Leroy asked.
“We need an apology out of you, or we’re going to teach you and that snot-nosed kid of yours some manners,” Jeff said.
“You boys look like you’ve been drinking. You’d be better off to get back in your car and go on home.”
“Piss off, old man,” Billy Jenkins challenged. “You’re not talking to our wives now, and you and that juvenile delinquent need to learn some manners.”
One of the bag boys had seen the fight about to start, and had run back inside the store. “Jeff Parker and some of his buddies are starting shit with Leroy,” he told the store manager.
“Oh hell, they’ve got no idea what they’re getting into,” Marvin Meyers responded. “Call nine-one-one.”
When Marvin ran outside to see if he could break it up, most of the people in the checkout lines followed.
“I’m only going to ask you one more time,” Leroy warned the six men. “Get back in your car, and get the hell out of here.”
“The hell we will,” Jeff screamed, as he took a swing at Leroy.
Leroy seized Jeff’s right arm and flipped him into the side of the car. When the rest of them saw Jeff hit the vehicle, they made their move.
“Boy, get back out of the way,” Leroy ordered.
Marvin was still a hundred feet away when Leroy pitched Jeff. “Shit, too late,” he commented, as he stopped to watch.
John David had moved to the other side of the car, and he watched in amazement as Leroy spun and kicked the next closest one in the balls.
“You old bastard,” Billy Jenkins screamed as he made his move on Leroy.
Leroy slammed him to the ground, and drove his fist into the center of his chest.
The fight was over in less than three minutes, and the six men were sprawled across the parking lot. Two were out cold, and the rest were screaming in agony from their injuries.
“You alright, Leroy?” Marvin Meyers asked as he walked over.
“No problems here, but you might want to call the ambulance for these assholes.” Leroy looked over at John David. “Load the groceries, and get in the car.”
“Yes, sir,” was all John David could say.
After John David loaded the groceries, he sat in the front seat, reliving how easily Leroy had handled six men half his age.
It was a small town, so it only took a few minutes for the EMTs and the police to arrive. Chief Long stopped to talk with a couple of the bystanders, before he walked over to where the EMTs were treating the injured men, and demanded, “What the hell were you drunken assholes up to this time?”
“The old man jumped us,” Jeff Parker said.
“That’s bullshit,” one of the bag boys yelled out. “They were out here waiting on him, and Mr. Parker took the first swing.”
“You need to shut your mouth,” Jeff threatened.
“No, you need to shut up,” Chief Long advised.
By then the town’s two patrol officers had shown up, so the chief told them. “Get all the witnesses’ statements, while I visit with Leroy.”
An hour later, they’d taken the six men to the hospital, and Chief Long had finished comparing notes with his men.
“Leroy, I’m sorry this took so long. If you wouldn’t mind following me back to the station, we’ll get the assault charges filed, and get Judge Blackburn to slap a protection order on their asses.”
“No need, I won’t be pressing charges, and I don’t need a restraining order.”
“Why not? It’s an open-and-shut case.”
“I don’t think they’ll be bothering me again.”
The chief chuckled. “I’ll bet that’s right. You got them good.”
By nightfall, the stories of the brawl had spread over the entire county, adding to Leroy’s reputation as a war hero, and someone you didn’t want to mess with.
Copyright © 2014 by Ken Shufeldt.
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Ken Shufeldt was born in Kansas and raised in the West Texas Panhandle. He served in the US Navy for a number of years before leaving to begin a career in computer programming, where he specializes in law enforcement system software and 911 dispatch software. He lives and works in Amarillo, Texas, and is currently at work on his next novel. Shufeldt is the author of Genesis, Tribulations, and Rebellion.