I, Target (Part 4) by Bruce Rousseau by Bruce Rousseau - Read Online

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Summary

My name is Marko Santana and I have been killed many times.

You see, each time I am killed, my mind jumps into the killer’s body and I take over. It’s weird but simple: if someone kills me, I get their body.

So does that make me the ultimate crime-fighter? Maybe a cool body-snatcher kind of guy? Or nothing but a freakin’ brain parasite? Personally, I prefer to think of myself as the ultimate survivor—with a serious personality disorder.

I am not your father’s punch and run superhero. I am a problem in motion—and for better or worse, I am on the road to being seriously mental.

Join me on my quest for purpose and sanity as I journey through life in other people’s bodies. For these are the chronicles of one who feeds on killers—my killers. These are the chronicles of Marko Santana.

Born in Texas. Died all over.

I, Target is a 5-part series and each part must be read in order. I, Target (The Complete Series) is also available.

Warning: I, Target contains no cool graphics. But it does have wry humor, adult language, and starting in part 2 it contains some humorous adult sexual situations. So don’t say you weren’t warned.

Published: Dark Teal Press on
ISBN: 9781498941396
List price: $0.99
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I, Target (Part 4) - Bruce Rousseau

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Acknowledgments

I,

TARGET

(Part 4)

By

Bruce Rousseau

Copyright © 2014 Bruce Rousseau

All rights reserved.

Dark Teal Press

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, products, brands, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, persons living or dead, businesses, or organizations is entirely coincidental.

BruceRousseau.com

Series Description

My name is Marko Santana and I have been killed many times.

You see, each time I am killed, my mind jumps into the killer’s body and I take over. It’s weird but simple: if someone kills me, I get their body.

So does that make me the ultimate crime-fighter? Maybe a cool body-snatcher kind of guy? Or nothing but a freakin’ brain parasite? Personally, I prefer to think of myself as the ultimate survivor—with a serious personality disorder.

I am not your father’s punch and run superhero. I am a problem in motion—and for better or worse, I am on the road to being seriously mental.

Join me on my quest for purpose and sanity as I journey through life in other people’s bodies. For these are the chronicles of one who feeds on killers—my killers. These are the chronicles of Marko Santana.

Born in Texas. Died all over.

To Carol

who transforms me

4.1 Roughage

I thought I was prepared for the jump. I knew the drill. Die. Get my killer’s body. Keep going. Right? But there’s something about being body-slammed into another human that torques your mind, slimes your senses, and makes you feel like you’ve just burst out of primal dark birth-mud and into harsh blinding sunshine.

The light at the end of my tunnel was nothing more than the carbon arc fire from another mind-welding rebirth. Born again—more or less. It always started with a blast of confusion.

A new passenger struggled to get a handle on things, his consciousness was now rudely shoved into a back corner of his own brain. I fumbled around for the controls—they were in here somewhere. His neurons fired wildly, flamed, shocked, shrieked under the rude yoke of a new spirit—my spirit. Marko Santana in control. A pack of motley killers kicked and spit in my mind’s back seat. Settle in boys. Settle in.

Sensations flooded in. Good, I was finally wired up.

First things first. Where the hell was I?

My head was still spinning, but I stood next to a white pickup truck. Passenger’s side. Open window. Good thing my left hand was on the windowsill to steady me. A new body always gave me the feeling that everything was wrong. I struggled to focus. I was standing outside looking into the pickup truck. Two guys sat in the front seats.

Got it.

And through the open window, inside the truck, my right hand was holding out a small semi-automatic pistol with a large black suppressor screwed into the barrel. The guy in the front passenger seat took the gun from my confused hand. Okay. Apparently I was in the process of handing it over. No big deal.

But it was a big deal. Wolf was dead. I remembered that death like it was only a moment ago, because it was. Somebody had just killed Wolf—my favorite body. There’d be hell to pay.

So where was I, and what was I doing here?

Judging by the scrappy little oak and cedar trees, this was Austin hill country. Getting a better look around, I was probably standing on the other side of the Austin waterway from Wolf’s place. I could make out Mount Bonnell through the brush and trees.

I must be in my killer’s body. Hell of a long sniper shot. Damn. I must be Davy Crockett or something. So where was my sniper rifle? There was no way Wolf was killed at this range by a pistol.

Hey. The guy who took my gun was pushing a paper bag about the size of a lunch sack into my hand.

I took it and looked inside the bag. Cash. Several bundles of twenties. Cool. Paid again for killing myself. Under the cash was a set of keys, an old wallet, a few other things you might stuff into your pocket.

It’s all there. The guy sounded downright unfriendly.

So I was another assassin. Except Wolf was a master of the art of a clean kill—no trace, no evidence. And whoever I was now, I was just some hack killer who’d left Wolf’s body along with a hot tub trashed with blood. I already had contempt for myself—a bargain basement killer.

Hey! Leave Texas. The guy’s voice sounded annoyed.

I looked up. I suppose I nodded.

If we see you again, you’ll wish we hadn’t. You’re running out of time, Pops. Now move it.

Pops? Move it where?

The pickup drove off in a hurry, kicking loose caliche in my face as it struggled for traction. It moved over onto the narrow pavement, then around a corner, leaving me standing there, confused, holding the bag.

I felt really old—run down.

My tongue probed a few gaps—missing teeth, long gone by the dull feel of it. Kinda like my mind, now probing missing facts about who I was.

I needed to ignore the missing bits and focus on what I knew. I had pieces of the puzzle. Info scraps. So stick the damn pieces together, Marko.

Right. I was a sniper. I’d just shot Wolf. I was now a sniper who had just handed over a handgun, but no rifle. Did I hand them the rifle, too? I couldn’t remember.

Typical memory mashup after a jump.

Well, I was on the side of a small paved road on a hillside. I turned around. A crappy old pickup truck was parked just off the road. Faded red. Seriously faded. More of a dusty pink than red. A real junker. The kind of truck that should have died a long time ago, but wouldn’t. Stubborn rural Texas rolling rust. My truck?

Yes. It felt like it was all mine.

Off to the right was a way through the brush and trees that seemed familiar. Downhill. I’d been that way. When?

So how’d I get here? Every new body’s short-term memory was blank after a jump. Just deal with it, Marko. What’s the last thing this old guy remembered?

No answer.

Got a name, Pops?

No answer.

Relax. I’m a pro at this. We’ll get things straightened out.

What’s the last thing I remembered? Being shot. In the back. Naked in the hot tub. As Wolf.

You still in here, Wolf?

No answer, but I could feel his presence. There was something big, feral, and pissed as hell in the back of my mind. No doubt about it, the beast was still in me.

Hey, Wolf. Feel free to break in the new guy. Yeah, the sniper that put an end to your awesome body. He’s in my mental back seat somewhere. Let him know how much we all appreciated the deed.

There might have been muffled screams coming from a shadowy corner of my head. Maybe the screams were just in my imagination, but I doubted it. Welcome to hell, new guy. We’ll get your name later.

Speaking of names, I reached in my pocket for some identification. Nothing. No phone, no keys, just lint and dust. At least Wolf had the courtesy to pack a wallet when I’d jumped into him. Not to mention the warm lovely boobs in my face—a wonderful way to welcome a new brain boss.

God, I missed that jump.

Wait. My wallet and keys were in the bag with the cash. My first senior moment.

How special.

I took a good look at my hands. Old, spotted, rough. Buzzard hands. Dead meat draped on hard bones. Great, I looked a lot like my scrappy old truck.

Then there was the scratched up wedding ring I was wearing. Not a good sign. The wife would be pissed. Or maybe she’d like my cool Marko self. It could go either way.

It crossed my mind to walk over to the pickup and check out my new face in the mirror. I loved me some mirror after a jump.

No. Not this time. My old-man hands told me as much as I needed to know. That and my stiff back.

I found myself walking through brush, down the hill, down to where Pops had taken his miracle shot.

This side of the river was dotted with big houses plopped on a few acres each. Posh homes nested rudely on rustic land.

We came to a small clearing. The old guy paused like this is where it happened.

I looked around. Not what I expected.

Directly in front of me was a spotting scope on a short tripod. A dozen feet to the right was a dead guy. Shot in the head. Not a lot of blood. Small caliber? I didn’t want to look at him, but I couldn’t help it. He was lying prone in sniper position, one hand still touching a seriously high-tech rifle.

The high-tech part wasn’t so much the rifle as the scope. A fat scope with unexpected bulges and a cool video screen on the side. Hell, there wasn’t even anything to put your eye up to. The sniper’s only view was on-screen. The screen was still lit up, but showing sky overlaid with numbers and a target pattern.

What the hell. Any clues, Wolf?

Something like disdain came from the back of my mind. A snort of disgust.

Settle in, Wolf. Your first new head. So what were we looking at? I was thinking it was just a high-tech scope.

No. This was a smart rifle. An electronic trigger and a ballistics computer in the scope. The computer adjusts for wind, elevation, temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and ammo. All the sniper had to do was identify the target, pull the electronic trigger, then move the rifle around to try and line up the image of the target with the electronic crosshairs. The shot never fired until the computer had a perfect lineup. The rifle did the actual shooting—every shot, perfect.

Wicked!

Wolf wasn’t impressed, just disgusted. It was all computerized. Any fool could kill someone a thousand meters away—first time, one round. It was a skilless way to kill.

So this dead sniper was just some fool off the street? Special Ops training not needed? Just someone with a steady hand and minimal ethics? Well, damn. That took some of the edge off.

I got down on my knees to check out the rifle but I was careful to keep my fingerprints off it. Bolt action. I pulled the bolt open with the heel of my hand. A spent round ejected itself all too casually from the chamber. The round that killed Wolf.

No dent in the primer. Weird. Electric contacts. I guess that made for a more accurate shot. Martoni wanted to keep it as a souvenir. But Wolf wasn’t too keen on that, judging from Martoni’s muffled scream.

I searched the sniper’s body. It seemed reasonable to gather some intel. Nothing but empty pockets. No ammo, unless it was under him. Weird. Whoever set this up only gave him one round?

As I struggled to my feet, knees popping, back aching, it was obvious I was ignoring the obvious question. What the hell happened here?

Wolf was obviously killed by the sniper on the ground. So I must have jumped into him. Then what? The sniper was shot by the old guy I was wearing now?

That sounded about right. But something didn’t quite add up. Some little detail was odd.

Well, I actually jumped into the old guy at the instant he traded the handgun for a bag of cash. That was the moment the sniper died. So the sniper was shot in the head immediately after he pulled the trigger on Wolf. But even with a head shot, the sniper was alive long enough for Pops to walk up the hill and hand over his gun. Something like a full minute for the sniper to finally die?

Crap.

That meant I had two new passengers. The old guy and the sniper. Hey, guys. Look around. Anyone else in my back seat?

No answer. But I had the feeling Martoni, Nameless, Wolf and the old guy were nervously moving around, checking under their virtual asses.

Nothing.

From the position of the dead body in front of me, it seemed likely that the sniper was shot in the head immediately after he’d fired. Okay. So the sniper fired, the old guy checked the hit with his spotting scope, then turned and put one in the sniper’s head. Then Wolf died and I made the jump from Wolf into the sniper. That would explain why I had no sniper passenger. I’d just jumped into a living brain-dead kinda guy.

Yuck.

But why kill the sniper? Covering the trail? Why not kill the old guy, too?

Then it dawned on me in an oh, shit moment that almost knocked me down. They knew I was a jumper! The sniper takes