Home > I am Just Junco #4 - Range

I am Just Junco #4 - Range
Author: J.A. Huss


J.A. Huss - I am Just Junco #4 - Range

Range (I am Just Junco #4)
J.A. Huss

sf/fantasy/romance/new adult/young adult

I_am_Just_Junco_4/index

 

Prologue

Peak City basks in the glow of dawn, all the natural color washed out of the high-rise buildings that wind their way up the side of the mountain, replaced with a hazy orange that reminds me of sherbet. The Goat lurches a few times as I pick up speed to enter the tunnel that will shuttle me through the mountain and into the valley where I have an appointment with death.

I've never been sanctioned to work outside my father's explicit instructions but life has changed considerably in the past few months. Mrs. Strauss showing up at the house to take me back to school a week early, my father not being home all summer, no birthday week, Gideon went missing, and HOUSE's cryptic message that led to this opportunity. All weird shit that's been screaming at me to prepare.

And that's exactly what I'm gonna do.

Prepare. For the f**king shit to hit the f**king fan because I can feel it. It's definitely coming.

The road twists after I leave the tunnel and I guide my aging vehicle onto an almost hidden dirt track. I'll leave tire marks but it's pretty windy today. I'm confident that the dust will swirl and scatter long before anyone enters this forest with forensic equipment, so I don't give a shit.

Let them figure out who killed the Peaks mayor. Like I care. I could kill him from point-blank range at high noon during the Patriots' Day parade and probably get away with it.

All I want is the biometrics so I can get the connection as payment because I need what they have.

I turn off the main track at the 13.28 mile mark and I lurch up and down as the pine needles reach out and slap the side of the Goat.

My smile brightens as I pull out into the clearing and spy the swirling eddy, then swing around and mow down several saplings to partially conceal my vehicle. They'll see that too, the way I flattened the aspens. But f**k it.

I brought just enough supplies to get me through this job and a possible firefight on the way out and that's it. Ten rounds for the rifle, a TZi with four pre-loaded ten-shot mags, and a bottle of water. I check my timeclip and hoof it downstream another quarter of a mile, then find the tree I scoped out last weekend and climb.

The pine resin sticks to my hands as I make my way to the proper bough, another possible giveaway that I am the shooter if I am caught, but again—who f**king cares?

My timeclip buzzes against my skin and I check upriver.

There.

He's busy navigating the rapids and the kayak is being jostled this way and that, just like every other time I've seen him out here. He's not really great at this kayaking stuff. I mean, he's been practicing this stretch of river for two months if I believe what they told me.

And I do believe them. They have a look about them that says 'we know shit'.

So, yeah. He's not that great at kayaking because even I could navigate this baby-ass, wannabe whitewater and I've only been kayaking a few times.

I take out my rifle, don't bother with the bipod, just brace Big Boy against the tree limb, and scope my ticket to freedom as he weaves his way towards death.

He's so f**king close I barely need to aim. His head splatters fractions before the muffled shot rings out in the early morning dawn and I pack it up, swing my way down the tree, then haul ass back to the Goat.

His kayak is waiting for me, swirling in the strong eddy upside down.

I leave Big Boy and my pack on shore and then wade in to the river, swim over to the dead man, and find his left hand. My knife slices open his palm and I cut the biometrics away from the tendons, rinse it out in the water, stuff it in my vest pocket, and then jam him up against some rocks to hold him down just long enough for me to get back into the RR.

He's got no one downstream today, he never does on Wednesdays, so I'm not really worried about the whole getaway thing.

I leave him there, not even looking back as I thrust the Goat in reverse and the aspens spring back up, bent but not broken. I shove it in first and then spin my wheels a little as I leave the way I came.

Sometimes I think it's unfair that I'm such an efficient killer. I mean, they really have no chance once I'm set on taking them out. No chance at all.

The ride back to the RR is uneventful. Even as I pull up to the Council 3 border crossing and hand over my passport, I am calm.

The border guard is older, not anyone I recognize. He smiles at me. Flirting maybe, which is disgusting because I'm barely sixteen years old for f**k's sake. His eyes take me in, notice my wet civilian clothes, and then he finally glances down to read my credentials. His whole attitude changes and I watch his eyes with slight amusement. He tries to avoid my gaze as he makes to address me properly.

"Senior Cadet Captain Coot. Welcome back to the Rural Republic, sir."

"Thank you, it's always a pleasure to come home." I've only been gone two hours but you gotta say something when they tell you that shit. Just protocol.

The guard salutes me as I pull away and I light a cigar and let the wind whip my hair around my face as I haul ass down the road.

The only thing that could f**k this up now is if my dad suddenly appeared.

But he's not around. Hasn't been for months.

The rendezvous occurs in an old house with a crazy slanted roof that sits on top of a cliff out by Ramah. It used to be an artist's retreat, way back before the RR was even a nation, back when it was the State of Colorado in the United States.

But now it's just an old slanted house that can barely withstand its own weight.

I pull up and get out, not taking care to be quiet or to check the familiar old Jeep I'm parked next to. If there's one person from Stag Camp who never underestimated me it was James. I walk through a doorway that lost its door decades ago.

He smiles as I enter and I grab the biometrics from my vest and toss it to him. "Now hand it over, James."

He laughs at me. "Hi, Junco. Nice to see you too. I'm fine, thanks."

I shake my head and smile a little. James has been a big guy my whole life and even though I've grown up, he never seemed to get smaller to me. His gut got a little wider over the years, his light brown hair has always been a little too long, his shirts a little too loud, and his face a little too soft for what he's known for, but he never lost his hardcore-ness. He taught me everything I know about shooting and then some. "Fuck that, James, just give me what I need. I have to get back to school before Strauss comes to get me for piano this afternoon."

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