From nowhere, a tune began to play in the back of Hoot’s mind. A goofy riff bouncing off the walls of the old inner sanctum. It was one of those persistent tunes that he knew would not go away. And that was okay – it was comforting, actually. He’d always done this; conjure some nonsensical jingle-like soundtrack in his head whenever he was stressed. Hoot’s ex-wife, Linda, used to say a person would have to know Ezra Hooten prettydamned well to know this; that he was even capable of experiencing stress.
And no one did. Not anymore.
Hoot set his assault rifle aside and checked the clips and chambers on his 9mm Glock 19 and the .25cal Beretta that he carried for backup. Both were loaded and cocked. Safety’s off. He took a moment to park his fear in the numb zone at the back of his mind; then he stood and started squeezing off rounds from both pistols while walking straight uphill through the thorny underbrush toward his objective.
Nine shots from the Berretta and sixteen from the Glock.
The soundtrack playing in his head approaching a crescendo, the stark gunshots became a backbeat to his determined stride, Bam! Bam! Bam!