Celina and daughters made it to the second floor of the closed movie theatre and found two slit windows which gave them a perfect vantage point of the square from behind the attacking cons. Celina and Brenda took the first two turns while Tracy would reload magazines if needed.
It was then Tracy realized that she had left one of their duffles downstairs by the door they had forced open in the theatre. She told her mother and sister she would go down to get it and would be back in a few minutes.
Rafe and four of his men had made it to the third floor and were moving without resistance down the hall to the "Boss's" office as Holtz had told him. Take out this guy and the town would be his.
Rafe had two men killed and three wounded on the way up. They left the wounded guys on the landing of the second floor and with things going his way, he doubted he would have a hard time replacing guys in the future. Hobbs would be his base of operations from which he could spread out and raid in any direction.
When they reached the door, Rafe called out in a high falsetto voice,
"Yoo hoo, anybody home?"
A shot rang out from in the office and splintered the door, but nobody was hit.
"Now that's not the way to greet company. Where's your sense of hospitality, Hough? We just want to come in and get acquainted." mocked Rafe.
Another shot rang out and again, Rafe's men ducked and looked to their boss for instructions. Rafe motioned for the man closest to try the door knob which he did and shook his head; it was locked.
Rafe nodded to one of the other men and he let lose with his AK at the door frame, the rifle's bark magnified by the close confines of the hallway while each round chewed up the carpentry.
Hough wildly fired three rounds at the rapidly disintegrating door before jumping behind his desk. Rafe kicked open the door and one of his men tossed a flash bang grenade into the office.
A muffled boom followed by a flash of light and eruption of smoke filled the office forcing Hough to stagger backwards from his desk pushing his massive leather chair across the floor. Rafe stepped across the threshold and fired once hitting Hough in the shoulder and sending the Colt skittering into the corner.
Hough fell backwards into his chair and looked finally defeated. Rafe cocked his head at him and said,
"See you in the funny papers, mac!" and fired twice hitting Hough in the chest and throwing his body to the floor.
"Alright, let's clean up and see how many fine women they got in this town, boys!"
Tracy made her way downstairs, picked up the bag and was about to head back up to the second floor when a strange hand grabbed her face from behind while another yanked her left arm behind her back.
A deep voice sounded from directly against her ear,
"Hey beautiful, what's the rush? Let's get to know each other shall we?'
The deputy known as Deuce pulled Tracy back into the shadows.
Vic was still strafing the front of city hall, but it was apparent that resistance had died down to nothing so he paused to save ammo and get a read on the situation.
When no shots were fired from the building in his direction, he turned to the group behind the vehicle to his left and smiled a big grin.
I turned slowly and saw Holtz standing thirty feet away and the end of the corridor, his sidearm held casually in his left hand.
"Why don't you put down that shotgun real slow like, punk."
I slowly set down the shotgun, keeping my left side slightly forward facing Holtz. I had no plan other than delay this maniac as long as possible and hope that Delbert magically appeared in time.
"So where's your little friends, punk? Where's that big mouth hippie boy, huh?" sneered Holtz.
"Dead. Same as you someday." I replied calmly turning my left side out a few inches more.
"Now that's funny. Little snot got his ticket punched. I'd like to have been there to see that. Tell me something, did he cry like a little girl when he died? Or did he scream like a woman and roll around on the floor?"
"Neither. He died saving a kid's life." I said taking two steps forward. "You know, the same thing a firefighter or police officer would have done when a kid was in danger.
Tell me Holtz. Have you always been this way or did you want to be that sort of police officer too. Maybe when you were a kid?"
"Oh no, don't try that cr*p with me, sonny boy. You stay right there and put them hands on top of your head and get down on your knees. I'm gonna teach your college a** a lesson." he said with as menacingly as possible.
"I don't think so, Holtz. Not today. Not ever. You want to cap me, you come on over here and do it personal, look me in the eye and ... Oh sh*t! It's Hough!" I shouted suddenly pointing past Holtz with my left index finger, my eyes wide open.
For a moment, Holtz turned white and jerked to turn to his right and as he did, I yanked the .38 Delbert gave me from my jacket pocket and squeezed the trigger three times. The first round went wild but the next two found the target.
Holtz turned back to me slowly, his mouth a perfect "O" of surprise and let out a huge grunt. A red stain quickly swelled across the area of his solar plexus rapidly darkening his dung brown uniform shirt.
His pistol slid from his hand and clattered to the floor and he staggered forward two steps and slapped the wall trying to hold himself up. He managed for a few seconds and long enough to look at me and say, "F*** you, college boy..." and then he fell face down on the floor.
Deuce was trying to pull the surprised Tracy to the back of the room and was already getting worked up when the girl suddenly dug her feet into the ground and raked the fingernails of her free right hand over Deuces right arm.
Deuce yelped and instantly tried to grab Tracy again, but instead she raised her knee directly into his privates causing him to lean over with a huge "Oomph".
Tracy then shoved Deuce back with a two handed shove and stepped backwards towards the back door of the theatre. Deauce lurched forward and drew his .40 caliber service pistol from its holster and screeched,
"You b**ch! I'm gonna mess you up!"
But he never had the chance. Three nine millimeter rounds fired from the darkness behind Tracy and hit Deuce in the chest in a perfect grouping.
"How many times do I have to tell you to stay away from strange guys?" said Brenda from near the stairwell.
Tracy ran to her big sister and they hugged briefly before Brenda broke off, grabbed the dropped duffle from the floor and pulled her sister up the stairs.
Jose looked at the square and saw the man on the SAW relax his grip and look over at his compatriots who then let out a big yell of victory. Jose took that as good as time as any.
"Fire!" he yelled.
Hearing the call from across the square, Arturo yelled the same command and both sides of the street erupted in a fullisade of small arms fire.
.22, .270, 12 guage, 30-30, .223 and all manner of calibers ripped through the lines of grouped attackers tearing them to shreds. Vic manning the SAW in particular was hit at least a dozen times before falling off the El Camino to the grass.
At the very same momemt, Ernie let lose with the M60 blocking any escapees from fleeing towards the city hall. Brenda, Tracy and Celina picked off stragglers attempting to retreat back the way they came.
It was not without bloodshed or cost. The convicts were heavily armed killers and had been shooting without fear far longer than the assembled volunteers from the camp ground had. They fired with impunity or conscience. The battle was far from over.
Rafe and his men were heading down the hallway when a large figure dressed in black appeared at the end, blocking out the light from the window behind him.
Rafe was about to make one of his trademark comments when the stranger quickly raised his rifle and let off a well aimed burst in their direction.
Two of Rafe's men went down immediately while Rafe and the other took cover.
At the other end of the hall, Delbert quickly moved to his left, ducked behind the corner, dumped the magazine in his rifle and replaced it with a fresh one. At the same time he heard the trademark sound of a grenade pin popping and crouched down in a ball, his face away from the open hallway.
There was a pop and a whoosh of smoke but nothing more. Delbert stood and saw the grenade was pluming harmless white smoke into the air. Using it to his advantage, Delbert ducked low and fired a burst around the corner. He then kicked the grenade back down the hallway towards Rafe and jumped to the other side of the hallway.
Rafe fired a half dozen rounds from each of his pistols and heard them smack against the far wall but could see nothing due to the smoke. He turned to his remaining compatriot and saw the man's lifeless eyes staring back at him; there was a large bullet hole in the center of his forehead.
"OK, Big Tex, looks like you want to play cowboy. Alright, I can do that. Tell you what, why don't you come out and let's have a showdown like in the movie shows? How's that sound?" asked Rafe.
The grenade was no longer spewing smoke, but what had still hung in the air. Delbert waited thirty seconds to his advantage and carefully set down his AR on the floor behind him. He then checked the Colt 1911 in his drop leg before answering.
"Why that sounds like fun Mr... say, I don't recall hearing your name stranger. How about we make this personal and introduce ourselves first?" said Delbert.
"Why you can call me The Lone Ranger, cowboy, and I'll call you Black Bart. How does that strike you?" replied Rafe.
"That suits me fine, Lone Ranger. Now, what are the rules? My mother didn't let me watch cowboy movies growing up, she said they were too violent so you'll have to tell me what to do". said Delbert, still stalling for time.
"OK, Black Bart, you and I face each other but our guns are in our holsters. Then we walk towards each other and then we draw. Last guy standing lives. Sound like fun?" said Rafe.
"How do I know you wont shoot me once I come around the corner?" asked Delbert
"Why that would be cheating and I never cheat. So you ready?" asked Rafe.
Rafe had one of his .40 calibers in his hand behind his back waiting for the big man to come around the corner. Delbert pushed his duster behind the butt of his 1911, took a deep breath and stepped around the corner.
Rafe smiled and then his face went white. In Delbert's left hand was a cut down double barreled shotgun the end of which looked like two open mouths until they belched fire. Rafes head disappeared leaving his body to collapse to the floor.
"Sorry, Lone Ranger, I always cheat. Adios, kemosabe." said Delbert. He then turned down the hallway the way he came and went down the stairs.
I picked up my shotgun and while there was still shooting outside, I had to check one more thing before I left the building.
I went up the stairs carefully until I reached the third floor and went towards Hough's office. There were numerous shell casings littering the floors and bullet holes in the walls as well as plenty of bodies, none of which, I was happy to note, were Delbert's.
I pushed open the shattered door to Hough's office and saw the carnage inside. I walked over and picked up the now broken picture of Hough and his son Billy and wondered whatever happened to the kid. I hoped he made it somewhere good because he was a nice guy.
I looked down at Hough's body laying on the floor and said,
"Looks like you answered my question after all, huh?"
It was then I noticed Curtis' iPhone sitting on the blotter. Hough or his men must have taken it when we were detained, something that felt like a million years ago. I picked it up and left the room.
The last convict went down a few moments later. He held up his hands to surrender but when Barger told him to drop his weapon, he snapped off one more round catching Aldus in the hand. Jose dropped the shooter like a bag of rocks.
Everyone slowly walked out of the surrounding buildings and checked the dead making sure none were alive and could pose a danger, but most had been cut to ribbons by multiple rounds.
Ernie checked the weapon and his the health of assistant before safing and stowing the weapon for travel. In his mind, he thought, "Now I am really too old for this." and they made their way down to the square.
Celina, Tracy and Brenda escaped without a scratch other than the nightmare inducing encounter with Deuce. Hopefully, time and love would cure that wound.
The packed up their gear and went to the square.
I looked out the window on the way down and saw both the shooting was over and many of my friends were moving freely about. That was a good sign. Before I joined them, I went to the parking lot behind the city hall.
There, against the dock, where Rafe and his men had left it, was my Scout. There was a nice dent on the right panel and it needed a good washing, but otherwise, was the same.
I went and opened the door and saw the keys still in the ignition. In the back cargo area were dozens of boxes of shotgun and .223 ammunition. I guess they were using this to haul around supplies, so I left it in there.
Figuring I had nothing to lose, I drove the truck over to a big fuel tank in the lot and filled it up along with a half dozen jerry cans lined up nearby. I then pulled out and drove into the street out front.
Sitting on a bench in front of city hall, as if it was normal to be people watching while dressed in black and carrying an AR15, was Delbert. I pulled to a stop at the curb.
"That your truck?" he asked.
"Yep" I smiled.
"It's ugly, like you." he replied.
"Not as ugly as you, big guy." I said back.
Delbert smiled and I said,
"Glad to see they couldn't kill you. See you around."
Delbert waved and I drove off.
I stopped near the theatre when I saw Brenda with her sister and mom.
"May I give you a lift home, miss?" I asked.
Brenda smiled, "Of course." and then stood there.
"Well? Get in." I said.
"I don't think so," she said raising her head and closing her eyes, "A gentleman always opens the door for a lady."
"Right you are, miss. Please forgive me."
And I hopped out and opened the door for my girlfriend.
As we pulled away from the curb, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for the first time in weeks.