If you haven’t been playing along, you might want to check out our Death Brackets feature page to get the lowdown on the contest and the participants along with how all the previous elimination rounds have gone down.
Only two contestants remain. The cunning, highly trained, and super careful assassin John Rain, and the former Military Policeman turned all-around-go-to toughguy Jack Reacher.
The battleground: Stonetown, Zanzibar
The Vegas Line: It’s a battle of the J.R.’s, and they’re equally matched. Reacher is bigger and stronger. Rain is quicker and the more natural killer.
Reacher has the more powerful brain. Rain has the bigger arsenal of techniques.
Stonetown is an ancient trading post, where ships from Africa, India and Europe came to partake in the spice trade. It’s on the island of Zanzibar, off the east coast of Africa.
There’s a city and a beach. Water and hills. If either man wants to pick their favorite terrain, they’ve got a chance to do that.
The Action: Reacher knows there’s no point hanging around downtown or the suburbs, where he’ll stand out and Rain can sneak up on him. He finds a rifle and heads for the bush northwest of Zanzibar Airport. The Marine Corps Invitational champ figures if he can spot Rain and shoot him from 800 yards away, why not do it?
Rain picks up the trail of the ex-military cop. People noticed the giant. They remember which direction he went.
Silently moving through the bush, Rain spots the reflection of a rifle scope. He sees the barrel of the gun poking through branches and the shape of a figure, prone on the ground. Circling around is smart. Attack the big man from behind. Stab him in the liver and slit his throat.
Rain pounces on a pile of clothing stuffed with leaves. Reacher—who buried himself under dirt and branches and leaves behind his dummy—appears out of the dark like a vengeful ghost. They fight and grapple. Reacher connect with a heavy right hand to the chest of Rain, who closes the gap and manages to lock in a guillotine choke on Reacher.
The former military cop bends down and uses the strength of his legs, back and shoulders to pick up the body of the smaller man and swing hard to smash Rain’s hips and spine into the nearest tree trunk.
Because four times would have been overkill.
The Outcome: In a surprise, the master detectives hold their own against the spies, assassins and anti-heroes, and Reacher, the former military cop, is the last man standing in a battle of the literary tough guys.
Guy Bergstrom is a speechwriter and reformed reporter. His first novel, Ten Days, was a 2011 PNWA finalist for best mystery-thriller. You can pick literary knife fights with him at @epicblackcar on Twitter.