Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Sixty-One

Another round of tremors quaked through Na Creidmhigh, molesting the foundations as they tore at them. Heat and smoldering ash filled Raine’s lungs as the fires consumed the building. He knew little could save the structure at this point and, frankly, he wished it’d burn. A needling suspicion told him the water from Oki’s Veins would save it.

Raine dragged Marise down the hallways, intent on escaping the building without being filled with new holes. The symbols on her hands had grown dull with her exertions. As he pulled her along, a part of him wished he’d taken Dion’s offer and left her behind. With the flickering lights, the shadows shifted. Raine heard a door open at the end of the hall. He stumbled into an alcove, slamming into the wall with Marise in his arms. He peeked around the corner.

Carrick’s guards emerged. Five, no, six guys approached, guns drawn. They moved in formation, obviously in pursuit but they hadn’t seen Raine ducking away. He recognized the first in the line, a brutish blonde man.

Cursing, Raine pulled the revolver from his shoulder holster. He whispered, “Marise, I don’t know where you’ve gone and I’m damn sure it’s better than here, but I need you back.” He leaned into the wall, steadying his arm, took a shot.

She didn’t stir.

While not clean, it caught one of them in the jaw, threw him to the ground. The formation broke and so did the cleanliness of the pursuit. A hail of bullet fire followed him as he took cover again. The structure shuddered as another explosion rocked the building. Shielding her from falling debris, he gasped at the sharp pain. He glanced at her, froze when her eyes focused on his.

They had no questions, no answers, just a cold determination. She motioned with a hand as a bullet lodged in the wall next to them. “You got another one of those?” Her words came out as a croak. She cleared her throat, repeated herself.

Raine numbly grabbed the gun from his waistband, passed it to her. She checked it, nodded approval, ducking her head as another volley struck, then asked, “Got any more bullets?”

“A handful.”

“You came prepared.”

He leaned out, fired two shots, then ducked back into cover. Digging in his vest pocket, he offered four rounds. He switched places with Marise, continued, “I didn’t expect to get into a gunfight. That was my backup.”

“This?” She tested its weight, looking at him quizzically. “Hell of a reserve.”

“Take what you’re offered.”

Squeezing out a shot, she retreated. Her eyes flickered with mischief. “How many bullets you got left?”

He shook her head. “Doesn’t matter.”

Marise eyed him, went to speak.

“Here’s the plan,” he interjected, peeking around the corner. He didn’t see the guards, but he’d caught them earlier. The blonde leader had managed to survive thus far and the other, a swarthy man he didn’t recognize, looked about ready to dart. This shouldn’t be too hard.

 “I’ll distract them. If I’m lucky, I’ll take them out before they get off a shot. But you’re going to run a second after I step out. Down the hallway, two rights, then out the first door you see, then your next left. That’ll get you out into the main lobby.” He turned back to her.

Her gaze had shifted hard. “You’re not planning on following.”

Raine laughed. “These fuckers have nothing on me. There’s two of them. I’ve dealt with far worse over the last couple of days. Plus, I’ve got an ace in the hole.” He tapped his cheek, indicating his eyes. Another volley struck the corner, spraying them with drywall. ”Go,” he said, then stepped out into the hall.

Swinging his arm into place, Raine spotted the guards leaning from the corner, squeezed the trigger. The bullet exploded into the air, lodged in the wall.

Raine cursed, dropping the revolver. His eyes flashed, drawing out time and space as he called up his new power. The air roared around him, lifeless, a cacophony of death. He darted forward.

The guards took aim, their movements sluggish as he approached.

Two bursts of gunfire exploded into the air.

The men’s heads rocketed back. They slumped to the floor.

Raine stumbled, tripped, slammed to the ground. He caught himself, turned to see Marise standing there, her expression resolute.

The dead air came to life as his power bled from his joints.

“One bullet then charge. That was your brilliant plan?”

“I thought I told you to run.”

“And miss you falling on your ass? Fat chance.”

Raine pushed himself up. “Not one of my finer moments.”

“I’ll excuse it on account of such gallantry.” She swept past him, moving down the bodies looking for supplies. “Seriously though, next time, try not to sacrifice yourself for the girl.” Marise offered him two guns, which he holstered.

“When’d you get those tattoos?”

Marise froze in the middle of searching one of the guard’s pockets. Her movements slowed as she withdrew her hand, smoothing out the jacket. “It’s a long story. I don’t think you’d believe me.”

“I think I’d believe anything at this point.”

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.