Only one week to go until Designated Survivor is released! The Kindle version has been on presale for a few weeks and is getting great traction. Can’t wait for the paperback to be available.
So, in advance of the full release, here is Chapter One of Designated Survivor:
The weapons and gear were heavy, but Jared Long was used to it. He’d been a Marine for six years before being accepted into the Secret Service uniformed division, then another two before joining the tactical team. His training had been hard and long and brought him to this point in his life, standing in the lobby of the United States Capitol building with an FN P90 compact assault rifle loaded in his hands, a Sig Sauer P229 on his side, and extra ammunition for both.
On either side of him lined up at fifteen foot intervals through the hallway were a dozen other members of his team, all armed and ready. Jared kept looking at his watch and each time tried to stop, to not draw attention to himself. He still wasn’t sure he could go through with it, in case what the man on the phone had said was a lie. But he also didn’t know if he could take the chance it was true.
A bead of sweat worked down his brow, coming from under his helmet, across his forehead and into his right eye. The words would come soon and he’d have to decide what to do, if he could do it. He wasn’t even sure he was capable of it. He hadn’t been home since before sunrise that morning when he left to prepare for tonight’s assignment, when he left quietly his wife was sleeping in bed, their daughter in her crib inches away.
The doors began to close along the hallway, locking the chamber behind them. It was going to come soon. He had to choose. Was the threat against his family real? The calls had started weeks ago, getting worse each time until the vile words spoken today.
The cheap white speakers were spaced out throughout the hall, clumsily mounted to the old stone columns and defying the architecture. They began to transmit the proceedings happening in the large closed room behind him. Jared’s stomach tightened. He moved his right hand to check the safety on the automatic weapon he was holding and glanced to both sides to see his team members.
Each word that came through the speakers made him jump for fear it was the signal he was waiting for. He wondered if he was the only one or if others had received similar calls, the same abrupt and vulgar threats. Capitol Police lined the outside of the building and inside there were enough Secret Service officers to stop anything, he thought.
He’d tried calling home three times in the short gap between the last phone call he’d received to his unlisted and secure work cell phone and when they were entering the Capitol building. She hadn’t answered, but in normal situations it wouldn’t have been a cause for concern. She might have taken the baby out to do some grocery shopping, or had simply turned the ringer off so they could both nap.
The applause coming through the wall behind him began to fade as the sound from the speakers grew and he knew it was time. He thought of his wife and their beautiful little girl, Lila. The baby would be asleep by now but Sarah would be watching on television as she always did.
And then the gentle but assertive woman’s voice came. “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans…”
Jared Long paused for only a moment and gripped the assault rifle tightly. He closed his eyes and spoke to himself.
“I’m sorry, Sarah.”
He raised his rifle as he turned to his left. He began firing in short, three round bursts as his training as a Marine and a Secret Service tactical officer had taught him. He knew to aim at a target further away first, that it would distract those closer to him as they turned to identify the threat he was firing his weapon towards. The first cluster of bullets hit Officer Timothy Strong thirty feet away and the man’s body fell to the ground. Just to his left, Sergeant Bobby Martinez stood frozen. Unsure of what to do as he looked at the body on the ground then back at Jared, he began to raise his rifle. Jared took aim and squeezed his trigger for a second burst of bullets that struck the man in his head and chest and he watched Martinez fall to the ground. It had only been seconds since he’d first pulled his trigger. He heard more gunfire behind him and turned to engage.
Some officers weren’t even raising their weapons, confused why one of their own was firing on them. Others reacted more quickly and returned fire in self-defense. It took only moments and nobody knew who had begun the fight or who was on which side. Yells for cease-fire were heard throughout the hallway and through the earpieces they each wore.
He stepped back to the wall and let himself slide down to the floor until he was sitting, his rifle still in front of him. He’d killed four men in a matter of seconds and nobody was left standing. The magazine in his rifle was empty and when he tried to reach back with his right hand to grab a new one his arm didn’t respond. Though there was no pain he was sure he’d been shot in the shoulder. There was little movement in the room as most of the officers were dead or seriously injured. Protocol had the doors to the House chamber locked from inside and the exterior doors were secured by Capitol Police protecting the perimeter for the State of the Union address.
The speakers were overloaded with the sounds of the commotion inside the chamber, reacting to the barrage of gunfire outside its doors. By now the president should have been pulled down from her podium and moved to a secure location, if there was such a thing at this point. He knew from the extent of the firefight that others must have been forced into killing, that he hadn’t been the only one.
Glass shattered and more gunfire erupted from down the stairs and hallway to the outside. Moments later three armored Capitol Police rushed in and spread out through the hall. A sense of relief rushed over Jared Long. He’d done what he was told to do and he’d survived. He watched the first policemen use their feet to kick the downed Secret Service officers to see if they were alive. With one kick came a grunt, a moment of silence, and a single shot from the Capitol Police officer’s rifle.
Jared sat there, realizing survival wasn’t to be and his time was limited, but hoping he would be missed, as he watched the methodical extermination of any survivors in front of him. He held still and closed his eyes. Even if he could have moved his arm and put his fingers around the grip of his Sig Sauer pistol, he didn’t know if he had the energy to pull it and fire.
“Over there,” he heard.
An officer in full gear, his face covered with the black balaclava used for secretive missions walked up to him and he tried to hold still and hoped he could avoid reacting when pushed or kicked to see if he was alive.
Something struck him in the side of the head, a blunt object against his helmet, and his reflexes defied him and kept him from falling over, his head returning back to an upright position.
A single bullet entered his forehead and everything was gone.