Today's Reading

Patel ignored him. "Jenna, get me the surgical drill."

Jenna hesitated. "You're gonna drill a burr hole? Are we set up for that?"

"No. But if we don't get some of this pressure relieved, he's not gonna make it to the city." Patel's dark eyes darted to Terzian. "And get him outside. Sir, I need you outside."

But Jenna was already gone.

"Is this gonna wake him up?" Terzian asked.

"It might. Outside, please, sir. We have to take care of your friend."

Terzian backpedaled through the swinging door as Jenna rushed in with the surgical drill. She handed it off and then slid trauma shears up the front of Grant's sweatshirt, getting access to his chest in the event they'd have to jump him. She pulled up one leg of his jeans before Patel said, "Wait. It'll have to wait. Hold his head."

The doctor readied the cranial perforator, then placed the drill bit three centimeters above the left ear, revved up the motor, and punched a hole through the parietal bone.

Blood drooled out, and then Grant's eyelids fluttered. He moaned and moaned again. "P-please..." he mumbled.

Jenna peeled back Grant's shirt, and her hand went to her mouth. "Doctor? Doctor?"

Patel looked down at the wounds puckering Grant's chest and stomach. More knots of shiny, angry flesh dotted the visible part of his thigh.

They heard the rasp of the door, and then Sheila breezed in. "The medevac's en route from—" She read Patel's face, went up on tiptoes to peer at the patient, the words sucked from her mouth.

"This man wasn't in a car crash," Patel said slowly. "He was tortured."

"Please," Grant mumbled again. "M-make it stop." The door rasped again.

A shadow darkened the air at Sheila's shoulder.

For a split second, the women remained frozen, afraid to move.

Then they turned in concert.

Terzian's suppressed pistol pipped three times. A hat trick of head shots.

The women collapsed, jerked down as if pulled by unseen hands. They hit the floor at once, clearing Terzian's view to Grant Merriweather.

Terzian's affect had changed entirely. Not a ripple of distress stirred the surface of his face. He held the barrel steady, sighted now at Grant's groin. Half-moons of sweat darkened his shirt beneath either arm; controlling a grown man while wrangling electrical cables and clamps required a fair amount of exertion.

Terzian's cuffs had ridden up past the bulges of his forearms, revealing where he'd carved patterns into his skin, the scarification process leaving his flesh textured elaborately. Rose-colored divots scalloped the rich brown skin where Old English lettering spelled out his nickname: the terror.

He spoke now with his true voice, the accent seeping through, rounding the vowels, rolling the 'r''s.

"Give me the name," he said calmly. "Or it begins all over again. But worse."

Grant cupped his hand to the side of his head with disbelief. He looked at his palm, sticky and dark.

"The name," Terzian said once more.

Grant blinked against watering eyes. A shuddering breath left him, the sound of defeat. "My cousin," he said. "Max Merriweather."

Terzian put a round through the hole Dr. Patel had conveniently drilled for him.

Unscrewing the suppressor from the threaded barrel, he pocketed it. Then he stooped to pick his jacket off the floor. In the far distance, the sound of the medevac came barely audible over the moan of the wind.

Pulling on his jacket, he stepped over the bodies and shouldered out through the swinging door.
...

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Today's Reading

Patel ignored him. "Jenna, get me the surgical drill."

Jenna hesitated. "You're gonna drill a burr hole? Are we set up for that?"

"No. But if we don't get some of this pressure relieved, he's not gonna make it to the city." Patel's dark eyes darted to Terzian. "And get him outside. Sir, I need you outside."

But Jenna was already gone.

"Is this gonna wake him up?" Terzian asked.

"It might. Outside, please, sir. We have to take care of your friend."

Terzian backpedaled through the swinging door as Jenna rushed in with the surgical drill. She handed it off and then slid trauma shears up the front of Grant's sweatshirt, getting access to his chest in the event they'd have to jump him. She pulled up one leg of his jeans before Patel said, "Wait. It'll have to wait. Hold his head."

The doctor readied the cranial perforator, then placed the drill bit three centimeters above the left ear, revved up the motor, and punched a hole through the parietal bone.

Blood drooled out, and then Grant's eyelids fluttered. He moaned and moaned again. "P-please..." he mumbled.

Jenna peeled back Grant's shirt, and her hand went to her mouth. "Doctor? Doctor?"

Patel looked down at the wounds puckering Grant's chest and stomach. More knots of shiny, angry flesh dotted the visible part of his thigh.

They heard the rasp of the door, and then Sheila breezed in. "The medevac's en route from—" She read Patel's face, went up on tiptoes to peer at the patient, the words sucked from her mouth.

"This man wasn't in a car crash," Patel said slowly. "He was tortured."

"Please," Grant mumbled again. "M-make it stop." The door rasped again.

A shadow darkened the air at Sheila's shoulder.

For a split second, the women remained frozen, afraid to move.

Then they turned in concert.

Terzian's suppressed pistol pipped three times. A hat trick of head shots.

The women collapsed, jerked down as if pulled by unseen hands. They hit the floor at once, clearing Terzian's view to Grant Merriweather.

Terzian's affect had changed entirely. Not a ripple of distress stirred the surface of his face. He held the barrel steady, sighted now at Grant's groin. Half-moons of sweat darkened his shirt beneath either arm; controlling a grown man while wrangling electrical cables and clamps required a fair amount of exertion.

Terzian's cuffs had ridden up past the bulges of his forearms, revealing where he'd carved patterns into his skin, the scarification process leaving his flesh textured elaborately. Rose-colored divots scalloped the rich brown skin where Old English lettering spelled out his nickname: the terror.

He spoke now with his true voice, the accent seeping through, rounding the vowels, rolling the 'r''s.

"Give me the name," he said calmly. "Or it begins all over again. But worse."

Grant cupped his hand to the side of his head with disbelief. He looked at his palm, sticky and dark.

"The name," Terzian said once more.

Grant blinked against watering eyes. A shuddering breath left him, the sound of defeat. "My cousin," he said. "Max Merriweather."

Terzian put a round through the hole Dr. Patel had conveniently drilled for him.

Unscrewing the suppressor from the threaded barrel, he pocketed it. Then he stooped to pick his jacket off the floor. In the far distance, the sound of the medevac came barely audible over the moan of the wind.

Pulling on his jacket, he stepped over the bodies and shouldered out through the swinging door.
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...