Mounting StressMature

The van bobbed and jinked on its way and when Michael caught a glimpse of the road, it became apparent as to why. The bitumen was dominated by a lattice of cracks through which grass and other greenery reached for the sky. It was a marvel the minivan made it down the road at all. Michael thought it may have even had a better chance going through the grass.

“Alright, mount up,” said John, crouching near the road when he reached it.

Michael couldn't help but feel a little paranoid with how over vigilant John was being; his weapon tight into the shoulder as he scanned the treeline, stopping every so often to pay particular attention to something in the distance. Michael shook his head and was about to  ask Andrea if he was always like this. When he turned to speak to her, he noticed she too was thoroughly canvasing the area; her eyes snapping back to the van every so often to judge distance and time of arrival. 

“Hurry up,” said John, beneath his breath, though Michael had heard him.

Michael got low when he reached the very side of the road. He was just about to ask how close they thought their pursuers were when the distinct crack of automatic fire put him on his gut.

“Contact, south west,” John yelled as he returned fire. “Four hundred meters, multiple shooters,” he continued, getting up and moving toward the van as it careened to a stop. He got behind it as rounds impacted only a few feet in front of him. “They're dialing in, let's go! Get in!” John yelled, firing again from behind the cover of the van.

The trunk door of the van popped open and a man tossed out a Shoulder Mounted All-purpose Weapon. As if in retort to this, the hissing of a Rocket Propelled Grenade was heard just feet above them, it's warhead impacting twenty meters or so beyond as Andrea and Michael scrambled to open the sliding door. Michael shielded his head with one arm from the slow moving debris and shrapnel that rained from the nearby explosion of the RPG. “Come on!” he yelled as he pulled Andrea in front of him moments after he finished opening the sliding door.

“Get in!” screamed the driver, though no one needed direction at this point.

The next burst of automatic fire was accurate enough to have at least one round impact against the side of the van, splintering into debris as it ricocheted with a high pitched wham.

Michael was pushing Andrea into the doorway when the ricochet glinted across the side panel. He instinctively shielded his face from the sparks, but soon realized Andrea was falling backward out of the doorway. He tried unsuccessfully to hold her up and they both crumpled to the decadent asphalt. As if bouncing back from the fall, Michael sprung to his feet with Andrea in his arms. He grunted as he muscled her dead weight onto the minivan's floor; which was littered with spent casings as the driver stood up through the sun roof, firing rounds backward through the trunk door's broken window.

“John, get in,” the driver yelled as he reloaded his rifle.

John had the SMAW on his shoulder. “Ready?” John said, as he knelt, and like a well greased machine, the man who'd unloaded it yelled “Backblast clear,” as John thumbed the safety and pulled the trigger.

The van rocked and Michael felt a thud in the depths of his chest. His ears began ringing as he crouched over Andrea who's eyes were rolling into the back of her head. He was oblivious to the explosion in the distance as he stared at her while she went into shock. “She's hit,” he said, his voice weak from the panic. Realizing he wasn't heard, he yelled a second time, “She's hit!”

John and the man at the rear had climbed into the back of the van and continued firing toward the treeline.

“Go go go!” John yelled, one hand bracing himself on a seat belt, the other clasped around the pistol grip, squeezing the trigger of his assault rifle while his legs dangled off the back of the van.

The tires squealed and the smell of burned rubber filtered in through the vents along with a gray smoke that obscured Michael's view of Andrea as he searched for the wound.

“Where does it hurt?” he asked over the gunfire with no response from her but a sickening groan of delirious pain.

Another accurate burst of automatic fire rained onto the van, some rounds pinging off the roof while another slammed into the bumper just inches from John's legs. “Jesus,” John remarked, his heart barely contained in his chest.

Andrea's breathing was sharp and her chest jerked every time she sucked in a breath.

Michael was patting her body down, looking at his hands every few seconds to see if he could find the blood. On one such pat near her waist, his hands returned scarlet red. “Look, I'm sorry girl, but I'm going to have to take your pants off.”

Hearing this, the driver leaned over his shoulder as Michael tugged at her waistband fruitlessly. “It's a one piece man, the zipper's at the back.

Michael grabbed her shoulder and spun her onto her side, grasping frantically for the zipper and tugging it down. Pale skin appeared beneath the dark jumpsuit. Michael pushed the padded shoulder pieces around Andrea's frame and then rolled her on to her back. When he tugged on the collar and the top portion of the jumpsuit peeled off of her bare chest. Thirty two years of social conditioning forced a lump into Michael's throat as he pulled the jumpsuit further down her naked body. The sexual tension evaporated when blood spewed from a bubbling hole in her hip after he pulled the suit below her waist.

The End

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