Boone’s ears started to buzz. His kneecaps started an odd twitching as they sometimes had in combat when a situation started to spin out of control. His body was realizing his situation just went over a cliff before his brain got the message.
Still there buddy boy?
Steve, what the fuck?
Sucks to be on the other end doesn’t it?
Steve, I don’t get it, said Boone, still playing for time and trying to find some mental landscape that could accommodate him being hunted by the one guy he thought he knew better than anyone else, someone who had saved his life.
It ain’t personal, dude. Let’s just call it business and leave it at that. Now I clock you at a slow walk for maybe three or four hours since you left your vehicle. You left a nice trail of blood for me to follow and your shaky voice tells me you haven’t found treatment. That about size it up?
Yeah, so now what.
I’ll come finish it. Like we used to say, don’t run, you’ll just die tired, right? See you, dude.
Steve flipped the cell phone shut, then opened it and tried calling 911. He had between one and no bars of service and the signal had just dropped out completely. He turned it off to save battery. His best chance at getting help was to find a place with a stronger signal, but then he remembered where he was. Any sort of help was probably six or eight hours away.
He knew he was a better sniper than Steve. The Army had sorted that out. Spotters had the same skills though, just not as consistent. And Steve had the long range rifle. The Ruger was accurate to at best 30 yards.
Any time he spent now figuring out why Steve wanted him dead was less time he could devote to staying alive. If Steve was tracking his trail he would come from the west and have to cover the ground in the open, probably in a vehicle moving slowly if the trail was that obvious. That meant he had minutes, maybe a half an hour at best.
Boone looked up the hill and saw a notch between two boulders that was in full shadow with a good view of the playa and large enough to fit into. It took him ten minutes to crawl up the hill and maneuver into it. His leg had stopped bleeding but would no longer support him. The notch was low, on sandy soil and just big enough for him. He put the duffle across the entrance and scooped dirt against the outer side as camouflage. He set the Ruger on top of the duffle. He had one clip. Ten rounds. He wished he had a banana clip or two but it probably wouldn’t make much difference. If Steve had a snipers rifle the game was nearly over anyway.
He took a few swallows of the warm water in his bottle and squinted across the desert now heating up fast and beginning to shimmer. There, dissolving and then reappearing and dissolving again in the heat waves and slowly getting larger was some sort of vehicle. Shimmer. Smudge. Shimmer. Bigger smudge. Red. It was the red Jeep his friend Steve had bought when he got back from Afghanistan.
Fuck. Here we go.