Chapter Eight: Hunted

Chelsea was now approaching her seventh month of pregnancy with Naomi, and we decided we should see a movie. Even as we got ready to go, I felt a churning in my stomach, a discomfort about going. I foolishly shoved down the feeling as I knew it would be many months before Chelsea and I would be going on a date to a movie. Just before I walked out the door, I felt the pressing of The Holy Spirit to put on my kit and body armor. Even as we drove to the theater, Chelsea and I discussed how we both didn’t feel right about going to this movie, that something was really “off.” Unfortunately, we justified away the feelings and went to the movie.

The night wore on and by the time we went to walk out of the theater, it was nearly midnight. When I went to step out the door, I felt a Familiar burning presence waiting; the lion stalking in the darkness was coming once more to seek our death.

The well-lit parking lot was capable of holding hundreds of cars but now it lay all but deserted. There were a few cars parked directly outside the exit doors, most likely employees’ who get the premium spots in front of their entrance. Our car was the exception. It lay eighty yards from the exit doors.

The assassins came for us then. The heat on my neck built to a furnace, and I was reacting with instincts that have kept me alive through too many tangos with Death. It seemed innocent at first. A four-door crossover SUV started driving diagonally towards Chelsea and me through the parking lot, ignoring the painted lines. We both watched them troubled at first but waiting to see what they were doing. I grabbed Chelsea’s hand and had her watch. They pulled straight towards us, turning just before they hit the sidewalk. The driver watched us intently and his gaze disturbed me. He continued past us in a massive circle, parking out in the middle of the lot within only a few spaces of my vehicle. Upon parking, he did not move to get out but instead waited.

Moments later, a second car came on the same path as the first. This time there was no doubt about it: red flags began exploding in our minds. The small sedan continued to angle directly towards us. I grabbed Chelsea, pushed her behind me, and moved her towards the only cover available by the first vehicles. I intended to position her low near the engine block while I dealt with the threats. The adrenaline began to slow down time; numbing my extremities and heightening my essential fight senses of smell, sight, and hearing.

Heart slamming into my chest, I studied my opponents carefully. There was a man in his early forties with dark hair, a button-up shirt, and no jacket driving the small sedan. In his passenger seat was a woman with long brunette hair obsessively trying to unjam a black pistol. I could see her attempting to drop the magazine and rack the slide. She was shaking, looking up at me and down at the pistol. Frantic and hectic, there was fear in her eyes and panic in her actions. She was yelling something to the man I couldn’t make out, and he tried to angle the vehicle closer.

Waiting for them to engage us, I kept Chelsea moving, trying to keep the vehicles between us. Soon the driver ran out of space and had to turn away and drive past us. I readied myself for the raising of the pistol and the battle to begin but the moment passed. They both suddenly dropped their heads and drove off as she shoved the gun beneath the dash. They parked in the first row of spots twenty feet beyond where we were standing, forcing me to make a decision: continue on foot and head back towards the other side of the complex or make a break for the car and add my force multipliers to my options. I decided to go for our car and flush out whatever else is waiting for us in the ambush.

I lead Chelsea nearly at a run to our car, keeping myself between her and the other idling vehicle. The man never moved; he was a statue staring at the other vehicle and seemingly talking to himself. Jumping in, I began praying for The Father’s intervention to help us get out of here. Suddenly, a switch in my head was thrown, and training, which had been encoded into my very DNA took over.

The voices of my instructors and trainers came roaring to the surface.

“Stack the shots in the center of mass to slow them. Headshots for closure. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Keep forcing your opponent outside his own OODA Loop. Decisiveness and precision are weapons; use them. Find the edge of their ambush net and press through until they stop shooting or you are dead.”

The Soldier in my head was demanding a battle, but Jason was firmly in place keeping us calm, cool, and collected. I let them make the decisions; this was their familiar world of shadows, not mine.

I pulled away and began to leave the parking lot. The moment I did, a black lifted truck that I had seen two times earlier that day following Chelsea and me doing errands pulled out of a parking spot thirty yards from my own and sped up to get ahead of me. I could see two figures in the back of the truck lifting themselves beginning to turn in our direction. I immediately whipped our car around and peeled off to a secondary entrance. As I did this, the truck, which had been driving towards the exit, suddenly stopped but I put on the gas determined to break out of the kill box we had been funneled into. I roared past the two first cars where I saw the man screaming and the woman still attempting to fix her pistol.

We approached the four-way stop on the edge of the complex and Chelsea shouted out, “There’s a guy!” I slowed down briefly, and we both saw a lone man dressed in a dark windbreaker with a black pistol in his hand. Beginning to shove Chelsea low beneath the dash, I angled towards him. He continued to run away from us and through the intersection. He turned his head as he ran and I saw a look of terror in his eyes that screamed of fear from something I could not see. I waited for him to raise the pistol but he never did; he just kept running, an unfired gun in hand and fear in his eyes.

We tore through the intersection and retreated to a safe place, debriefing as we went. No one followed us, and we knew the immediate threat was over. We poured out thanks to The Father for intervening and asked forgiveness for our ignorance of His warning. Chelsea was shaken up by the adrenaline and the reality that people were intent on killing us. The worst part was, she did not know why. I did my best to calm her down, but there was no way I could explain to her at that moment what was going on.

The ravenous lion’s mouth had been shut for now, but soon I was to learn that that was just the beginning of my family’s end of innocence. The first silenced shots had been fired and whether or not Chelsea and I were ready, The Great War of The Ages had come to our door. My Family knew The Secrets in my head could bring down their corrupt kingdom. When their detestable domino fell, so too would many others. They knew the consequences of losing control of a Company “asset” would bring the end of their little reigns. My Family had been wise to try to kill me before I could prepare for their retaliation. Before I had spread their darkest and most dangerous Secrets into a thousand physical and digital hiding places that would be released as a plague of truth should they ever try again. In the age of instant information, a dead man’s secret

switch could do more damage than a hundred bombs or a billion bullets. My former masters and handlers had left too many wounded-ones out in plain elements to perish and those secret switches were about to be thrown.

I was not ready for that battle, not yet. I was still a weak man who was being buried by burdens and had no helpmate to share them with. I knew if I was going to ever be able to face this and live, I needed to speak The Secrets and get help.

Chelsea still did not know about the memories. She didn’t know we were screaming with a grief that was pummeling me on my drive to work and in the hours before I left the house. I needed to know she would not leave me. I needed to know she would love me even though I was so damaged, even though I was so defiled. She had seen some of the beautiful fruit come with my healing: the return of my passions, my joys, and my affection for her. I knew now it was time to help her understand just why I was a new man.

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