Home > Red Hill (Red Hill #1)(12)

Red Hill (Red Hill #1)(12)
Author: Jamie McGuire

It’s incredible, the way the imagination can physically affect the body. My heart rate had doubled, and I was beginning to sweat. The more my fear crept up, the more I kept reminding myself that my girls needed me. They were probably scared to death, and no matter what happened or what state they were in, I wanted to be with them.


Zoe instinctively kept her head down, or else she was mimicking me, as we hurried to the car. Gunshots rang out two houses over, and I looked over to see my neighbor Lyle Edson shooting someone approaching his front porch in the face. An ambulance raced by, the back doors open and waving around as it fishtailed with lights and sirens blaring down the street.

“Daddy?” Zoe said. The fear in her voice was real. Something I wanted to shield her from until the world wouldn’t let me anymore. I couldn’t shield her from this; hell was raining down all around us.

My hands shook as I tried to shove the key in the door to unlock it.

“Daddy?” Zoe said again.

“Just a second, baby,” I said, cursing at my trembling hands under my breath. Finally the key entered the slit and I turned it. In the same second, Zoe squeezed my hand.


I turned, seeing a police officer approach. He was shuffling slowly in our direction, his jaw relaxed, letting his mouth lie open. A low moan emanated from his throat. I picked up the bat that I’d propped against the car while trying to unlock the door, and then I stepped in front of Zoe.

“Stop right there,” I said. The police officer kept walking. I held the bat in front of me.

“If you can understand what I’m saying, please stop. I am going to hit you with this bat if you come closer.”

Zoe gripped the back of my pants, and I gripped the aluminum. “Close your eyes, Zoe.”

My daughter’s tiny hands left the fabric of my pants, and I pulled the bat back and to the side, in perfect position to swing. Before I could, a shot rang out. The police officer went down. I froze, and then saw Lyle Edson standing a few feet to my left.

“Thank you,” I said with a nod.

“Better grab his sidearm and get that little girl outta here,” Lyle said.

“You want to come?”

Lyle shook his head. “My wife’s inside. She’s been bit. I’m going to stay with her.”

I nodded and then leaned down, unsnapping the officer’s holster and removing his sidearm. I grabbed his radio, too, and then decided to take his whole belt.

Zoe opened the driver’s side door and crawled over the console to her side. We both buckled our seatbelts, and I started the car. The gas tank showed three quarters left. I wasn’t sure how close to safety we could get on three-quarters of a tank, but we had to leave town.

Zoe reached up to lock her door.

“Better lock the back door, too,” I said, doing the same. I backed out of the drive and went in the same direction as the ambulance. I figured I should get away from whatever they were driving away from in such a hurry.

Chapter Five


The last rays of sun unceremoniously fell behind the horizon. Shaking with fear, I slowly stepped out of the Jeep. My tennis shoes, still a little wet from the morning rain, sunk into thick mud. Clutching the tire iron to my chest, I took a step into the woods. The night was quiet—so quiet that every movement I made seemed like a boom echoing through the trees.

Every sound made my body freeze. Could they see in the dark? Did they rely on smell like an animal? Only when I thought of my girls waiting for me did I find enough courage to take another step.

About an hour later, a dragging noise startled me enough to make me cling to a tree. I hugged it to me and closed my eyes, trying to listen for danger over the pounding in my heart and gasping breath.

Just when I thought I might hyperventilate, my eyes popped open wide to try to pull in enough light to penetrate the darkness. Something darker than the dark and about as tall as a man crossed from one tree to another, only twenty yards or so from me. I closed my eyes tight one last time, and then broke into a sprint, refusing to stop until I slipped in the culvert beside the main highway in and out of town.

My knees hit hard, and then my stomach, chest, and face shortly after. Face and palms down in the mud, I quickly tuned in to the sounds around me, and then flipped over, searching in a panic for whatever was hunting me.

My chest heaved as my lungs tried to keep up with the constant adrenaline pumping through my body. A scream welled up in my chest, but recognition choked back the noise. Drawing anyone’s attention—alive or dead—could end my rescue mission before it started.

A man walked toward me, his arms out, trying to wave away the scream he could see was about to echo throughout the east side of Anderson.

The fear in his dark eyes was highlighted by the amount of white surrounding them. “Ssssh! I’m not going to hurt you!” he said in a loud whisper.

He slid in next to me, his clothes and skin already soiled with mud, spattered in some places, saturated in others. He looked like he’d been crawling on his belly through the woods for days.

I pressed my lips together to stifle a yelp, my entire body shaking involuntarily.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said again, panting. He didn’t need the mud. His skin was dark enough to keep him hidden, even if he was well over six feet tall. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m just trying to get into town. Same as you.”

I nodded, unable to form a proper response.

“My name’s Tobin. You . . . you okay?”

I took a deep breath, trying to settle my nerves. “Scarlet.”

Tobin took a quick scan of our surroundings. “Are you from Anderson?”

“I used to be.”

Tobin nodded. “You got family in there, don’t you?”

“My little girls,” I said, feeling salty tears fill my eyes. For the first time since I’d left the Jeep, I felt cold. My body hadn’t stopped shaking, and I was already exhausted.

Tobin pressed his lips together. “My sister and her kids live here. She ain’t got nobody.”

The knowledge that I wasn’t totally alone gave me enough strength to focus on my plan. I pointed across the highway to another patch of woods. “Across the road is a valley that runs alongside the river. There’s an old bridge maybe three blocks south of here.”

Tobin frowned. “There are soldiers at every entrance, and they’re walking the streets. Anderson is some type of military state now.”

“The governor is in there somewhere. He was visiting today. My daughters were supposed to meet him.”

Tobin shook his head. “That explains it, then. I’m not sure whether I should be glad or sick to my stomach. I mean . . . who gives a shit about his title when the whole world is going to hell, right?”

I laughed once without humor. “It’s a good time to throw his rank around. At least he’s not crawling through the mud.”

Tobin offered a small smile. “We better get going. They could do another sweep of the woods soon.”


Tobin looked at his mud-covered front and then back at me. “A word of advice: If you see a dead person walking, run the other way. If you see a soldier, hide. They were shooting the bodies lying in the road earlier. Just making sure, I guess.”

Tobin waited as I darted across the highway. My legs seemed to be moving in slow motion, but before I knew it, I was across the lit four lanes and hidden once again on the other side. A few seconds later, Tobin joined me.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Red Hill (Red Hill #1)
» Among Monsters (Red Hill #1.5)
» Matchmaking for Beginners
» Legendary (Caraval #2)
» Still Me (Me Before You #3)
» A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of
» When Never Comes
» Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)