Moses hesitated. He turned then stared into the eyes of Amanda Berkowitz. Her dirty gray hair fell off her head in disarray, blood splattered on her blouse, apron and skirt. She pressed her small hands against her chest, the village posture for prayer.
“Come on Amanda, don’t do this,” Moses said. “You let this bastard go and he’ll be back with friends.”
“I won’t! I swear to God I won’t!” the man said. Tears escaped his wide brown eyes.
“We’ve had enough of your brand of salvation today,” Amanda said. “Let him go.”
Moses lowered his gun. ‘I don’t understand you people.”
He raised his gun again, smashing the barrel against the slaver’s head. The man fell to all fours as he moaned.
“Get the fuck out of here,” Moses said. “If you’re smart you won’t come back.”
The man scramble to his feet then ran for the lead truck, the only one untouched by Moses’ attack. Moses raised his gun, firing off a round that struck the ground before the man’s right foot.
“No, buddy. You’re walking out of here.”
The man sprinted by the truck , through the other burning vehicles then down the main road.
Moses holstered his guns then strode to Amanda.
“You’ll be seeing him again,” he said.
“Maybe not,” Amanda replied. Villagers emerged from their hiding places to care for the wounded and collect the dead. Amanda trudged to the crowd that surrounded Christopher’s body. Together they prayed, their voices barely louder than a whisper. When they were done Amanda stepped away.
“Let’s get him buried,” she said. “No use staring any longer. Chris is gone to Glory.”
“When are you people going to listen to reason,” Moses shouted. “As long as you stay Outside this is going to happen. You’ll all be gone to Glory before the year’s out!”
“Mr. Pritchard!” Amanda strode them, standing so close their noses almost touched.
“I will not let you use this tragedy to further Newlanta’s agenda! It’s not your place to do so!”
“You’re correct Amanda. It’s not his place. It’s mine.”
Thomas Dern stepped between Moses and Amanda, his wide white smile in contrast to his umber skin. He wore his usual khakis and books, although the uniform looked more like that of a zoo guide than a soldier. Moses had been so distracted he didn’t hear the Extractors arrive.
Thomas was a tall, attractive man, the perfect eye candy for retrieval duty. He shared a sympathetic smile with Amanda as he took her hand.
“My team will tend to the burials and your wounded,” he said.
“We can take care of our own,” Amanda replied, the harshness gone from her voice.
“I know, but we wish to help,” Thomas said. “It’s the least we can do.”
Amanda kissed Thomas’s cheek. “Thank you, Thomas. God bless you.”
She glared at Moses before walking away.
Thomas held onto his smile until Amanda was gone from view before snapping his head around to face Moses.
“God damn it Moses! What were you trying to do?”
Moses shrugged then folded his arms. “You’ve been trying to sweet talk these assholes into Newlanta for three years. Thought I’d try some tough love. I’m tired of saving people that don’t want to be saved.”
“It’s your job,” Thomas retorted. “If you have a problem, complain to the mayor…or leave.”
“Maybe I’ll do both,” Moses said. He sauntered to one of the dead slavers, knelt beside him then searched his pockets until he found keys. He climbed into the damaged truck the pressed the start button. The truck bucked then rumbled to life.
“What are you doing?” Thomas asked.
“I blew up my bike, so I’m taking the truck back,” Moses said.
“The trucks belong to the village now,” Thomas said.
“Not this one. I’ll see you back at the ranch.”
“I’m filing a report!” Thomas said.
“Can’t wait to read it.” Moses back up the truck then steered it around.
“See you later, Tommy Boy!”
Thomas’s shook a fist at Moses as he drove away.
“I told you not to call me that!”