Matt dropped to the floor of the tunnel and felt the ricochets of the bullets winging all around him. There was a sharp pain in his calf where he knew he’d been hit. He was inside the enclosure and if he tried to climb the ladder to escape he would be dead before he reached the second rung. Hal was still shining the light down on him offering the shooter a nice target.
“Shut the door!” Matt shouted, feeling the wound on his leg and grateful the bullet didn’t hit an artery.
There was a hesitation, voices above him arguing over the request, but he could see Nick reach over and slam the door shut. Immediately the tunnel became complete darkness. There was no sunlight to slip through the cracks of the trap door.
Matt scurried to the other side of the dirt floor and curled up, his heart pounding, his gun up and ready. He tried to slow his breathing. Adrenalin was his enemy. He needed to be still and quiet. There was movement from down the tunnel and he couldn’t tell whether the movement was going away from him or towards him.
There was nothing Nick or anyone could do for him now. He was on an island by himself and he needed his wits and his training to escape. As soon as that door opened above him he would become a Piñata for target practice. He was bleeding and needed medical attention, but he had more serious issues ahead of him.
The tunnel became still. Without light his hearing went into hyper drive. His other senses trying to compensate for the loss of sight.
An agonizing long time went by. Minutes. Matt thought he could hear breathing. One person? Maybe two. It was a small enclosure so it didn’t make sense there would be more than two shooters. Matt decided to take off his belt and tie it around his leg to slow the bleeding.
The shooters thought he was trapped. The only way to save Matt was to come through the door above him and expose his position, so they had time on their side. But Matt was a sniper in the Army. Special Forces. He knew things these drug smugglers didn’t know.
There was one issue they were probably mulling over just now. If they shot at Matt in complete darkness there would be a muzzle flash. It would be a short flash, but in this environment Matt would see this and respond immediately. If they were smart they would’ve kept firing while the door was open and he was exposed. Now they were deciding how to proceed. They were coping with the same sensory deprivation and relying on their hearing to make their decisions. This was important.
Matt could find a pebble and toss it across the tunnel and hope for a response, but they might be ready for that. He needed to give them a sense of urgency. Something that would cause them to fire their weapons impulsively. They would need to feel threatened.
Matt slowly pulled down on the heel of his shoe, keeping his breathing low and slow. He lifted the shoe with his right hand and trained the Glock on their position with his left hand. He drew back the shoe, low to the ground and skipped it across the dirt floor directly toward his attackers.
Matt got the exact response he wanted. Two bright muzzle flashes continued to fire at the ruse. He made two quick shots, one for each gunman. Years of training had him locked into the exact target. From the angle of shot he could tell both shooters were right-handed. This made it easy to connect the dots and make two direct shots in less than a second.
Matt rose to his feet, wincing from the bullet wound, then pulling off his other shoe with his free foot. He tip-toed down the tunnel, then pulled out his flashlight to illuminate his shooters. One was already dead. Headshot. The other was on his back moaning, clutching his shoulder and stretching toward his gun lying a few feet away.
“Don’t,” Matt said. “I don’t play games, I shoot to kill.”
The guy ignored Matt’s warning and kept straining to get to the weapon, just inches away. As his hand reached the butt of the pistol, Matt frowned then shot the guy through the temple. The guy went limp.
Matt shined the light farther down the tunnel to be sure there was no one else with them. There wasn’t.
He bent over to pick up the two pistols and looking down at the guy he shot, he said, “I told you no.” Then something dawned on him. “I sure hope you understood English.”
Matt limped down the corridor and managed to climb up the ladder using one leg and two strong arms. He pounded on the door.
The lid swung open quickly with Nick and Hal and Martinez all training their weapons on Matt.
“You okay?” Nick asked.
Matt held up his arm and grunted. “I could use a lift.”
Nick hauled up his partner, then examined Matt’s leg under Hal’s spotlight.
Dane leaned over the wound and looked like his was going to be sick. “Man, that’s real disgusting.”
“You’ll need stitches,” Nick said.
“Yeah,” Matt agreed, placing his arm around Nick’s shoulders and taking the pressure off his damaged leg.
“We can have the chopper swing back,” Hal said. “He could be here in ten minutes.”
Matt looked at the Border Patrol Agent. “You have a laceration pack in the truck?”
Hal glanced over at his SUV. “Sure, we keep one in every vehicle. You never know when you’ll be stuck miles from help.”
“Does it have Lidocaine? Syringes? Some nylon suture?”
Hal nodded. “Yeah, well the Lidocaine might be expired, but it’s only there for extreme emergencies. We’ve got plenty of time to get you to a hospital before that thing causes any issues.”
“It’s already caused me issues,” Matt said. “But I can sew up my leg better than most plastic surgeons.”
Nick was already shuffling Matt toward the SUV. “He’s not going to let this go,” Nick told Hal. He glared over his shoulder at Dane who followed the group like a stray dog. “Let him fix it, then we’ll take Mr. Uranium here and find Reynoso.”
Hal shined the spotlight on the kid. “You’ve been a real pain in the ass haven’t you?”
From behind them Matt heard the kid squeak. “Sorry.”
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