Hawker descends on the nation’s capital after a string of gruesome bombings It’s just past six a.m., and the Rutledge family is gathering for breakfast, unaware of the two bombs that have been planted outside their home. They’re about to start eating when a fireball bursts through the windows, and the house is blasted to dust, leaving only one survivor. In the last six weeks, the Rutledges are the seventh family to be attacked—and the onslaught is just beginning. A terrorist group is intent on bringing the citizens of Washington, DC, to their knees. But James Hawker will teach the victims to stand up and fight. A radical student group is behind the bombings, which are just their first step in an all-out campaign of terror. After years waging a nationwide war against organized crime, Hawker fears no terrorist. On the battlegrounds of Washington, the world’s most dangerous vigilante will fight to the finish. Terror in D.C. is the 8th book in the Hawker series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
Randy Wayne White was born in Ashland, Ohio, in 1950. Best known for his series featuring retired NSA agent Doc Ford, he has published over twenty crime fiction and nonfiction adventure books. White began writing fiction while working as a fishing guide in Florida, where most of his books are set. His earlier writings include the Hawker series, which he published under the pen name Carl Ramm. White has received several awards for his fiction, and his novels have been featured on the New York Times bestseller list. He was a monthly columnist for Outside magazine and has contributed to several other publications, as well as lectured throughout the United States and travelled extensively. White currently lives on Pine Island in South Florida, and remains an active member of the community through his involvement with local civic affairs as well as the restaurant Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grill.
Read an Excerpt
Terror in D.C.
By Randy Wayne White
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1986 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.
All rights reserved.
At 4 A.M. three members of a terrorist organization planted bombs beneath the bedroom window and the kitchen window of Chester A. Rutledge's split-level home in Bethesda, Maryland.
It was a Friday morning, a school day, and at 6:30 A.M. Rutledge's sixteen-year-old son, Luke, was the first to awaken. He yawned, threw back the covers, and headed immediately for the bathroom in the hope of getting there before his thirteen-year-old sister, Mary Ann, his eleven-year-old sister, Lisa, and his four-year-old brother, Jeffery, whom everyone called J.R.
Mrs. Betty Rutledge was the next to awaken. As she passed the bathroom, she smiled sleepily at her oldest son and blew him a kiss. She wore a pale gray robe that made her blond hair look flaxen and her blue eyes glow.
"Ham or bacon, Luke?" she asked him.
His mother laughed. "Sure, why not. And what about the eggs?"
"Poached. Four of them."
"My little boy is growing up."
Luke Rutledge inspected his face for acne in the mirror. "I wish I could make Dad believe that."
"Oh, he believes it. He may be trying to postpone it a little, but he believes it. And, whether you think so or not, dear, your father only wants what's best for you."
The boy turned away from the mirror and looked carefully at his mother. "I guess I was out of line last night, huh? I should never have yelled at Dad like that. I should never have said those things. It's just that those three idiots in the Lincoln who hit us —"
"Everyone says things they don't mean when they're mad," his mother interrupted, not wishing to hear the story again.
"But I've never talked to him like that before. I'm kind of surprised he ... he didn't smack me or something. Now I sorta wish he had."
His mother went to him and patted his head down onto her shoulder. "When you love someone, Luke, dear, words can hurt a lot worse than a slap."
"What I said was that bad?"
The boy's mother continued to pat his head. "I think what you said hurt him more deeply than you know — or you would never have said it. You and your father are a lot alike, Luke. Neither of you show much emotion, and that just makes it harder on both of you. But don't worry, dear — if you feel badly about it, just tell him when he gets up. Your father will understand. ... He cares for you so. I'm sure he'll forgive you."
The boy's eyes were suddenly glassy. "You really think so?"
Betty Rutledge was sure of it because she and her husband had stayed up late worrying over the argument. Her husband's feelings had been badly hurt, but he wanted nothing so much as to regain his son's respect and affection. She did not tell her son that. Instead, she said, "I think you'll both feel much better if you have a good talk. Okay?"
"Yeah, Mom, sure. And thanks."
Her son was whistling as she walked through the dusky halls to the kitchen. She plugged in the automatic coffee maker, put a skillet on for the poached eggs, and began to make toast. Upstairs, she could hear the clump and giggle of her daughters waking up, and soon, she knew, she would hear the familiar sounds of toilets flushing, showers purling, hair dryers whining as her daughters went through their preschool routine.
Little J.R., hair mussed with sleep, thumb in his mouth, would be the last to come down, dragging his blanket behind.
This was Betty Rutledge's favorite time of day. She was alone with her thoughts, but she still had her family around her, warm and loving, with their troubles, their small triumphs. It was in the morning that the four kids and her husband, Chester, seemed exclusively hers; in the morning before school or sports or the office took them away into the world.
She poured herself a cup of coffee and began to prepare breakfast.
At 6:58 A.M. Luke came clomping into the kitchen. He piled bacon on top of a piece of toast and jammed half of it in his mouth.
His mother asked, "Do you have practice tonight?"
"It's Kevin's mother's turn to drive, isn't it?"
"Yup." He took another bite. "Wheremyeggs?"
"What? Was I supposed to understand that?"
The boy swallowed. "Where are my eggs?"
"They'll be done in about two minutes. Did you talk to your father?"
"He isn't out of bed yet. I guess he's sleeping in."
"Maybe you'll have to wait until after school to see him."
"Naw, I'd rather be late for class. I don't mind. I'm kind of anxious to talk to him. It's important."
Betty Rutledge remembered that it was after two when her husband finally shut off the bedroom light. She nodded her consent. "Then why don't you go outside and get his paper for him? The boy missed the sidewalk entirely this morning. I can see it lying out in the street."
"The kid's got no arm. When I had that route, I dented doors."
"And broke windows. Don't remind me. I remember the calls."
Laughing, Luke Rutledge walked through the dark living room and out the front door. It was a cool May morning, cherry-blossom time in Bethesda and nearby Washington, D.C. The sky was orange above the suburban houses across the street, and a cusp of moon tilted low in the west. The streetlights were still on.
The boy sidled into the street and picked up The Washington Post. He pulled it out of its tubular plastic bag and unfolded it. The lead story on the front page was about terrorists. They had been setting off bombs in Washington every week for the past six weeks. The terrorists seemed to bomb at random, striking civilian homes late at night or early in the morning. So far, six families had been murdered.
"Officials Fear Resumption of Bombings" was the headline.
Luke Rutledge had read about the bombings before, so he flipped through the first two sections to the sports page. He wanted to see how the Orioles were doing. Then for some reason, he found his eyes drawn to the house. His father stood at his bedroom window looking out at him. He wore no shirt and the hair on the broad chest was grayer than the thin hair on his head. Luke felt his face flush, embarrassed. But then his father's hand lifted in a tentative wave and he smiled a shy, boyish smile.
Suddenly feeling much better, Luke waved and smiled in return. The boy took a step toward the house, but the inside part of the paper fell onto the asphalt. He stooped to pick it up ... and the world suddenly went white. His ears roared, his face burned, and there was a strange sensation of flying.
Then he was on his feet, walking in a daze. Someone stood beside him, pulling at his arm. It took Luke a long moment to recognize the man — Mr. Di Ornado, a neighbor from across the street. Mr. Di Ornado seemed to be shouting at him, but Luke could hear nothing because of the ringing in his ears. He noticed without emotion that several of the neighboring houses seemed to be on fire. But where was his house?
Luke jerked his arm away from Mr. Di Ornado and ran down the sidewalk toward a junkyard of smoldering bricks and lumber and burning furniture in the lawn where his home had once been.
His hands began to pull frantically at the debris as if they were being operated by a mind other than his own. This is weird, he thought. I'm looking through a trash pile, and I don't even know what I'm looking for. I'd better hurry, or I'll be late for school.
Then he saw something he recognized. The object was tubular, metallic, a scorched-blue. He pulled it out and looked at it blankly. It was a bicycle frame.
Somebody wrecked my ten-speed, he thought. Why would they do that?
Then he saw something else: a tiny hand attached to a smoldering pile of something that was wrapped in his little brother's Scooby-Doo pajamas. Several feet beyond, alone on a slab of board, his father's face peered at him quizzically. It was an odd expression, and Luke stared back at the face. Why aren't you smiling? he wondered. We're friends again, aren't we?
For long seconds, Luke stood frozen.
Then he dropped the bicycle frame, recoiling. He took a slow step back, then another. "Daddy?" he whispered hoarsely. "Daddy!"
Then he was running wildly, blindly down the street, swinging at the neighbors in their bedclothes as they tried to stop him.
During the seventeen months Luke Rutledge was to spend in George Washington University Hospital psychiatric center, he would speak no other word....
At 7:15 A.M. three students stepped from their dormitory out onto the campus of American University. The traffic on Nebraska Avenue and Foxhall Road was bumper-to-bumper. To the southwest the Washington Monument was a pale funerary beneath the blue May haze. From the distance, sirens screamed.
The three students heard the sirens and paused to listen. One by one, they smiled and nudged each other.
"Aiee! It seems our mission was a success, brothers," said the leader, Mosul Aski. He looked at his expensive watch. "And right on time too."
"Should we be surprised? Once again, your plan was flawless, Mosul. We may have helped deliver the bombs, but it is you who deserves the praise! You are proving yourself an able leader to our elders in the homeland."
"Yes," laughed the third student, "but when the day comes for you to take your rightful seat as master of our people, do not forget your two old friends. Remember how I was injured in the service of the Motherland!"
The other two laughed with him. Because their leader, Mosul Aski, feared that the front and rear entrances of the dorm might be under surveillance, they had reentered the building early that morning by a window the American students used to sneak in women. Karaj, who was very fat, had gotten stuck in the window and had scraped his belly while being pulled through.
"I will not forget, Karaj." Mosul smiled. "But this day, let us not think of wounds. Let us rejoice! The cowardly American pig and his little piglet son are dead, and the American newspapers and television stations will again remind the world of our great cause. But before we celebrate, brothers, we have things to do. Zanjen, it is your turn to telephone The Washington Post with news of our victory. Remember — tell them only what I have told you to say. Do not give them time to trace the call, for they surely will try. Karaj, you must call Isfahan at the embassy. Isfahan, our honored leader, will be very happy. Be careful, though! Speak only of the kindness of our professors. That is the code for a successful mission. Now more than ever, we must be careful. Our necks are not the only ones on the block!"
"And what will you do, Mosul?"
"I have an eight o'clock appointment at the student loan office."
Mosul Aski, tall, slim, with a black mustache and a dark Mediterranean face, grinned with sarcasm. "If we are to retain our diplomatic scholarships for next year, there are forms that must be completed! Have you forgotten that it is the great and generous United States that pays for our education? Where is your gratitude, brothers!"CHAPTER 2
James Hawker swung shut the cylinder of his Colt .44-caliber stainless-steel revolver and stepped out into the street. It was a dirt street with a row of dingy houses on one side and a field of rank weed and junk on the other side.
To his right a door creaked open. Hawker raised the weapon in both hands, but stopped himself just as an old woman walked from a house carrying a shopping bag.
As Hawker lowered his revolver two men swung out from behind a clump of bushes. The guns in their hands looked like Lugers, only longer, less metallic, more space-aged. Hawker dove for his life and rolled hard as laser beams sizzled into the ground behind him.
He came up on one knee and fired twice, carefully. The skull of the first man exploded into small shards. The chest of his companion became a gaping black hole.
Once he was sure they were legitimate kills, Hawker got to his feet and continued down the street.
Overhead, through the camouflage mesh that covered the area, a half-dozen 747s banked like vultures as they waited their turn to land at Washington's International Airport. From the far distance the sound of heavy traffic could be heard. The vigilante noticed neither the planes nor the traffic. His concentration was total.
Despite the cool wind that blew off the Potomac, Hawker wore only a thin black cotton crew-neck sweater, jeans, New Balance running shoes, and aluminum-tinted glasses. The wind mussed his short reddish-brown hair, but he did not feel the cold. He had come to this killing ground to prove himself, and nothing could draw his attention away from the job he had to do.
Ahead and to the left was a tanker truck. The fuel tank was made of stainless steel and brightly labeled DANGER! EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE! The truck was parked on a steep grade at the curb next to a building with a sign that read FORT STANTON PRESCHOOL AND NURSERY.
From within the building Hawker could hear the clear voices of children singing.
It presented an interesting problem. He suspected there were one or more of his adversaries waiting for him behind the truck. They could fire at him safely, but if he returned their fire he might ignite the tanker and take the lives of a hundred innocent children with him — and that was unthinkable. If it came to that, he would have to take the laser beams in the chest and be done with it.
Was there some way he could lure them safely away from the tanker? No, not these guys. Not a chance. He might as well try to get the moon to leave its orbit.
There might be one other safe way to do it....
Hawker moved toward the cover of the brush across the street. Then, without warning, he turned and sprinted toward the tanker truck. He caught a glimpse of two figures swinging out to meet him as his left foot touched the truck's steps and he dove through the open window into the cab. Even before he pulled his legs in behind him, Hawker released the emergency brake and knocked the gearshift into neutral. The hill was steep enough, and the truck began to roll.
Now sitting at the wheel, the vigilante let the truck coast for more than a block. Not trusting the air brakes without the engine running, he double-clutched and shifted into low to bring the huge rig to a stop. Before it stopped completely, though, he swung the door open and hit the street on the run. As he suspected, his adversaries had clung to the truck and made the ride with him. Hawker swung the Colt up in a two-handed grip. If he hit the tank now, no one would be killed but the killers — and maybe himself. He sighted carefully down the Jensen illuminated bead sights and squeezed the trigger twice.
The cannonlike impact of the .44 magnum severed the arm off one man, and tumbled the second man onto the ground.
Hawker snapped open the cylinder, ejected the four empties, reloaded, and trotted off down the street.
The next man waiting to kill him stood in an open third-floor window. Hawker glimpsed him from the corner of his eye, swung too quickly, and fired. Shots of unfamiliar elevation are always the toughest to make, and Hawker's clipped the man's shoulder. It would have knocked most men to the ground, but not this one. The laser gun beaded in on Hawker's heart as the vigilante hurried two more shots.
These did not miss.
The man tumbled from the window soundlessly.
Reloading on the run, Hawker was not prepared for what happened next. A block beyond the preschool, there was a strange whuff sound, followed by a deafening explosion, and just a few yards ahead of him where the smoke bomb landed, an acidic purple haze filled the air.
Immediately, Hawker dropped to his belly, gun poised. Coming at him through the fog were three tall figures. Hawker fought the urge to fire blindly, forcing himself to wait until he could make definite identification.
He was glad he did.
The first two were women dressed in white smocks, carrying black bags: doctors. Behind them, though, was a man with a gun held at their heads. The women were being held hostage. As Hawker knew, better than most, in any hostage situation the loss of one life usually motivates kidnappers to fire more freely.
In this operation blood had already been spilled.
Trying to use the purple fog to his advantage, Hawker lay motionless until the last possible moment. The women doctors stood not quite shoulder to shoulder. The man stood between them.
There was plenty of room for a safe shot, and Hawker took it, taking slow, careful aim.
The killer's head exploded from his shoulders as the two doctors dropped to the ground.
Excerpted from Terror in D.C. by Randy Wayne White. Copyright © 1986 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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