Sunday, November 8, 2020

[Conversations Book Club] Excerpt from K3 by author Tracie O'Neil Horton

Conversations is excited to start offering teasers from great books of all genres in the pages of our magazine. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 78 of K3 by author Tracie O'Neil Horton. 

ABOUT K3: A controversial political thriller—or a glimpse into our future? K 3 is a timely, thought-provoking read for today’s audience.

In K 3, the United States has been strictly divided into racial provinces. When Mikela Flanders discovers her country’s true past, she enlists the help of an American Indian, her friends, and an army of wolves to reunite the USA.

Mikela is a brave, smart, strong young woman with courage and honor that help her fight against forces intent on keeping the country separated by race. Her story incorporates elements of adventure, romance, and suspense, along with a tangible love for animals and nature. Above all else, it’s a cautionary tale about how far politicians will go to further their own agendas.

Chapter 78

            Two of the things moved toward the group.  Mikela ran her knife through the eyeball of one of them.  She kicked at another, sending it back and away from her family.

            “Dad!  Boomer, now, let’s go!” Mikela gave out orders while Westmoreland has his face under water.

            “Move, move, move!  Let’s go!” she said to the people who still sat in shock around the table.  People rose numbly.  Michelle and Janice couldn’t stop looking at Sarah’s still body on the table.

            “I know.  But we can’t do anything for her, and your daughters are waiting for you now,” Mikela said as she gently tried to hurry them out the door. 

            “Lexi is going to need you now.”

            Molly and John were already out the door.  James and Peggy were right behind.

            “Chris and Ben…” Peggy said.

            “Should stay right where they are,” Mikela said, hoping the boys would hear.

            “Okay, they’ll stay right where they are,” Peggy said.

            The boys heard.  They needed no encouragement to stay right where they were.  Chris and Ben hugged and stayed quiet under the dining room table.

            Everyone crammed into the Boomer.  John started the vehicle and they were off like a bullet.

            Westmoreland went to the freezer and grabbed a steak to put on his face.

            “Get after them! Follow them!” he yelled.

            His men sprang into action.  He yelled into his E-phone for all local AI to converge on his signal.

            Westmoreland had men in pursuit.  He waited for the new teams to show up.  He had machines from Coopers Falls and every neighboring town within a twenty-five-mile radius.  Vehicles converged on the street.  Neighbors stuck their heads outdoors, asking what was going on.

            Westmoreland told them to shut the fuck up and to get their asses back inside.

            Several gasps ensued.  Indignant old ladies stepped on porches.  Large men dressed in black approached the old ladies with angry faces and large fists raised. The ladies retreated into their homes and watched out windows while spreading the gossip on their E-phones.    Mothers ran outside and picked up their children. 

            Mikela instructed her father to drive to the five combines along the towpath.  John left North Oak Street and drove down East Street to School Street to Pearl Street.

            “They’re following us!” Michelle shrieked.

            Mikela craned her neck to look through the rear window.  It was difficult with all the people crammed into the back of the car.

            “That’s not all of them,” Mikela said.  “Only some are following.  The rest will come when reinforcements arrive at the house.  They will follow those guys’ signal,” she said as she pointed her thumb back behind them.

            John followed Pearl Street until he came to the parking area at the top of the combines.  He paused to park.

            “No, go all the way down.”

            “We aren’t allowed to drive down there.”

            “We are today.  Move it Dad,”

            John glanced at his daughter.

            “Sorry, Dad.”

            He smiled weakly at her.

            “It’s okay honey, we’re all a little tense right now.”

            Mikela couldn’t help it.  She laughed and reached out to squeeze her dad’s shoulder.

            Mikela knew they were following the signal on her phone.  She turned off the GPSE.

            They drove down the steep hill past the stairway that was the five combines.  John didn’t stop until he was at the T at the bottom of the road.  Mikela’s truck was backed into an off-road, a small, man-made road that led to more fields and trees.   She told her father to park next to it. 

            Farmland was out beyond the T paths and Mikela could see her horses grazing.  Two hundred feet from the horses she could see tall grass, reeds and cattails.  There was a pond nearby.

            River was walking to her.   Mikela ran to him, throwing herself at him.  Molly and John watched this with great interest.  Lexi, Alex, Elena, Brian and Sky came to them as well.  Michelle and Janice ran to their daughters.

            “Where’s my mom?” Lexi asked.

            “She stayed with my nephews,” Mikela said.  “They were scared.  I didn’t want them to be here, and I couldn’t leave them alone.”

            She felt terrible for lying to her friend, but it wasn’t a complete lie.  And she needed Lexi to be able to focus on the fight about to come.   The other mothers heard.  They said nothing.

            “He’s human.  The leader is human!” Mikela said to River.  She told him of her mom throwing hot soup at his face.

            “She scalded him.  He is real.”

            Mikela gathered everyone together in front of the truck.

            “Mom, Dad, James, Peggy, Michelle and Janice, go to where the horses are, and head for those reeds.  I want you to hunker down in the reeds and cattail and don’t move.”

            “But Mikela, it’s dirty down there, and there will be bugs,” Michelle said.

            “Mom, get dirty!” Alex barked.  “Better dirty than dead.”

            Michelle flinched.

            “I can help,” James said.

            Mikela smiled and shook her head.

            “No, bro, you can’t.  Just go with the ladies and keep them safe.”

            “The boys have my E-phone.  I slipped it to Chris when they crawled under the table,” Peggy said.  “Please let us know when we can go back to them.”

            Two black Millennium Mountain Lions pulled into the parking area at the top of the five combines.  They were followed by two more, and then two more behind that.  The things looked around and found nothing.  Mikela’s signal had stopped here.  One spoke into his E-phone.  Westmoreland barked orders for them to check out where the road led.

            “Will they come after us?” Peggy asked as she walked towards the pasture.

            “They will.  They are waiting for the boss,” Mikela said.

            “I love you,” Molly said as she walked away from her daughter.

            “I love you, Elena,” Janice said.

            Alex hugged Michelle.  “I love you Mom,” she said.

            “Okay, enough.  Go.  Now!” Mikela said sternly.

            Her parents shrunk from her.  The girls’ parents, with Peggy and James, walked down the slight hill to the pasture and disappeared.  They appeared again briefly, then were lost in the reeds and cattails.  Michelle’s comment of ‘YUCH’ could be heard.  They all laughed for a bit.

            Alex put a hand out.

            “Robot stoppers, let’s go!”  They all put a hand in.

            “To freedom!” Lexi cheered.

            “Yes, let’s get ourselves emancipated!” Alex yelled.

            The hooting and cheering abruptly stopped.  All eyes turned to Alex.

            “What?”  Alex asked.  “What did I do?”

            “Why is it always the not smart ones?” Elena said.

            “The Emancipation Proclamation is the key,” Mikela whispered.

            “Oh, my stars.  OH! MY! STARS!!” Lexi said.  “We can turn them off.”

            Mikela fumbled with her pockets.

            “Where is it?  Where is it?” she was frantic.  Her eyes grew wide as she fumbled for her E-Phone.  It must be in the Boomer.

            “What?”  Elena asked.

            “My E-phone. I need to call my nephews.  They can help.”

            “Here, use my E-phone.  Call my mom,” Lexi handed her phone to Mikela.

            “Oh, honey,” Mikela looked at her friend and her lip quivered.

            “,” Lexi stammered.  Brian came up behind her and held her.

            Sixty cars pulled into the parking area.  There was no place to park any more.  The cars lined up one behind the other in the parking area, and more just stopped, overflowing from the lot onto Pearl Street.  Car doors slammed shut, making a noise as loud as thunder.

            “I’m so sorry, Lexi.  Your mom was hurt.  That’s why she stayed behind.”

            The man with the scalded face was walking towards them.  His face looked red and angry.  I hope it really hurts, Mikela thought.

            “Lexi, I need you to be strong now.  That asshole walking towards us hurt your mom.  We have to be strong and level headed so we can beat him.”                                                        

            Mikela took Lexi’s phone and called Peggy’s number.   Chris answered on the first ring.

            “Chris, it’s Aunt Mike.  I need your help, okay? Can you help me?”

            “Yes,” Chris whispered.

            “I want Mommy, I want Mommy,” Benjamin was saying repeatedly.

            “Good boy.  Go in the kitchen to where the man is standing in the corner.  You need to turn him on.  He’s turned off, like one of your toys.”

            Mikela looked up to see the man she had scalded.  He was close, and he had a gun. They all had guns.

            “Disperse!”  Mikela said. 

            Everyone ran for the woods.

            “Chris, we need him turned on,” Mikela said while she ran to the woods.”  He can help us, so we can come home.  You want us home, right?” she was whispering now.

            “Yes.” Chris’ voice was soft, and quiet.  He was in shock, she knew.


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