Will signaled to Ed that he’d found the women, and the two smiled briefly at each other. But it was a little premature for a celebration. They probably could not slip the girls out without being noticed. Ed gestured for Will to go back into the office and set up by the doorway leading from it to the aisle behind the counter. Will did as he was told, and along the way alerted the two women. They managed to squirm into cover inside the store room, out of the line of fire.
Ed stepped back from his position long enough to glance into the store room, where the two women were cowering on the floor. Past them he could see Will, shotgun ready. He signaled for him to hold his fire until he had good targets, and then Ed moved back to the door, hunkered down in a firm shooting stance, and readied himself for the next few seconds. After just an instance of mental focusing, he pushed into the room.
The electronic sight mounted on top of the carbine superimposed a glowing circle of red into his field of vision; it looked as if the aiming reticle itself floated a few feet in front of his face. It was not the circle on which he focused, but beyond it, at his target. The red glowing circle formed a fuzzy halo around the face of the first raider, the one standing guard at the far windows.
The shot was incredibly loud, rebounding off the walls and ceiling, and as it did everything began to move both quickly and slowly. Ed was acting on instinct and he wasted not an iota of a second; as his far target dropped Ed pivoted smoothly and unceremoniously blasted the guard by the door right in the face, then turned again and drilled the three sleepy raiders on the counter. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. The heavy triple staccato of the shots coincided with each raider as he sat up, and then slumped back off the stool and onto the ground in a loose clump. The five shots took place in a flash and in that span no one seemed to move at all but Ed.
After those shots the conflict entered a dreamlike state for all involved. Everything seemed to happen at once. The raider on the counter dropped behind it, into the aisle way of the kitchen. The cook dropped low behind the counter too, putting the two of them out of Ed’s line of sight.
“Fire,” he yelled, turning to the booths where the raiders who had been sprawled out asleep were now scrambling in an almost comical fashion to get to their feet. Ed felt more than heard the crash of the shotgun as it blasted down the lane behind the counter from Will’s position in the store room doorway. Ed was confident of Will’s aim and too busy to check in any event; he worked his trigger finger with celerity, firing at point blank range into the group. When his carbine ran out ammunition, Ed transitioned straight to his handgun without missing a beat, managing to hit the last raider twice as tried to limp out the front door. The raider collapsed, however, propping the door open with his limp body.
The room was full of bloody, groaning, and screaming men. The carbine’s heavy rounds had made gruesome work of them, the massive .50 Beowulf bullets splattering bits of bone, brains, and blood all about the floors, counter, and booths. Ed wasted no time admiring his handiwork, but simply kept firing his handgun at anything that crawled, moaned, or wriggled, until it too ran dry.
The whole sequence hadn’t lasted more than 3 or 4 seconds. Ed’s killing of the dozing men was less a gunfight and more an execution, which was just as he had planned. No one reached a weapon. No one fired back. They simply startled awake and were slaughtered mercilessly at close range. At their best, Ed knew, ambushes were like that – simply murder.
Ed stuffed the pistol back into its holster and slapped a fresh magazine into his rifle. He backed out of the restaurant, ready for any retaliatory fire.
“Go! Go!” Ed barked as he backed down the hallway, shielding the women with his body. Will hustled the women out the back door and into the cover of the brush pile. Ed watched the hall for a five count, and then turned and sprinted to the brush pile from which Will had covered his retreat.
The two women stayed hunkered down while the two men covered the back of the Waffle House. As they waited, Ed and Will handed them both handguns, a last resort in case things turned south. After an agonizing minute, to make sure no raider busted out the back door and began firing after them, Ed motioned that it was time to go, and the group slunk away into the night.Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five
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