Excerpt: The Legion Under the Hill

By Marie Robinson

Richard held his side as he lowered into the wicker chair across from Chase, then he pointed at the radio. “Listening to citizen or police?”

“A little of both, but mostly police.”

“And what are they talking about?”

“I'll tell you what they're not talking about. You.”

“Is that right?”

“What, are you disappointed?”

He was, not that he'd admit it to Chase, though. “Not really. But it's curious. Mama said something about shots at the bank? Some teller mad about the overtime?”

Chase shook his head. “Wasn't any details.”

Richard massaged his side, bending and twisting to keep it loose. “Somebody rob it, maybe?”

The storm door opened, and Janine came out with two full glasses, slices of lime hooked to the rims next to their respective straws. “Here you go, gentlemen. Cold and sweet, and I put a little tequila in it.”

Chase rubbed his hands together. “Oh, boy.”

Richard took the glass. Shook his head with snort of laughter. “Here I am sipping spiked tea. Hiding from the cops who ain't even looking for me. Keeping myself in the dark so's I don't start crying. This how you thought it would be?”

Chase took a slurping sip through his straw. Sighed his pleasure before he set the glass on the table next to him. “I was watching with my field glasses. Scanning across town when a truck tore out of the parking lot. Just a preview, son.”

Richard frowned around a mouthful then swallowed the gut-burning tea. It was easily half tequila. “They get away?”

“Looks like it. A fella came out after 'em. Blood all over his face. Hollering and shooting.”

“Jesus. Any other word?”

Chase shrugged. “Nope. Maggie's incognito. Gonna be bad when everybody notices that.”

Richard took another drink. Rubbed the back of his neck.

Was Andrea okay? Did Jericka take care of her? “You hear from Walnut?”

Chase shook his head. “No signals. Phone and Internet are down. Power's out south of town. Fire and urgent care are running on generators, but how long will that last?”

Richard nodded. “Yeah, I got one in the basement. Without it, I got about four or five months of beer to hold us, but the food'll be gone in a week or two.”

Janine laughed. “We have enough food for five or six years.”

Richard set his glass on the arm of the chair. Slopped tea on his knuckle bandage. “Jesus Christ.”

“Oh, it's just those survivalist meals and MREs.”

Chase grinned. “We also have a few thousand gallons of water.”

Richard spread his hands. “You're actually enjoying this, aren't you?”

“A little.”

Richard dropped his hands and closed his eyes. “I gotta get back down there. Take stock before the shit really hits the fan.”

“They can see the ships, now,” Janine said.

Richard looked at her through slitted eyelids. “What do you mean?”

“With telescopes and binoculars depending on where you are. With the naked eye in some cities.”

Chase's grin withered. His eyes widened. His gaze focused on a point behind Richard's head. “Before it went down this morning, Astral showed pictures … they were so big, Richard. I don't know if all the water and food and guns are enough.”

Richard sat up. “Okay. I'll get down there and find Walnut. We'll get what we can out of the Bottom and consolidate up here. Just get as much as we can before they land or whatever.”

“I don't think that's a good plan, Richard.”

“Why not?”

Chase sighed. Took another pull from his tea. “Brian Brittle's in town.”

Richard's stomach churned. “Fuck!”

“They took his brother into emergency surgery. Blood's pooling in his brain.”

The feeling of planting a perfect punch on that ginger asshole's face. Sickening. Thrilling. He'd never see another one like it. It had been perfect.

Then he saw the damage to Brittle's face. The horror in Andrea's eyes.

Richard covered his face. “I practically told her I loved her.”

“About time,” Janine said.

“You don't understand,” Richard said. “The way she looked at me last night. I got no chance. I'm so fucking dumb.”

“That's true, but you definitely have a chance with that girl. I've seen the way she looks at you the rest of the time.”

Richard shook his head. He thought he wanted the misery and the pain. Just not if it meant other people suffered. “Has Brittle been up here, yet?”

Chase shook his head. His lips curled up in disgust. “Nah, he's just been sitting in the lot next to the Bottom. Drinking with Lance and Willis and them stooges he runs with down in Ironton. But he'll get tired of waiting.”

“Fine,” Richard said. “Let him come. Beats waiting for the aliens.”

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