Monks stared back, not believing what he thought he saw:
His son, Glenn, gone from Monks's life for almost five years. Glenn reached to the window and rapped on it sharply with his knuckles.
Something hard and blunt rammed into Monks's lower back, forcing an unhhh of breath from him and shoving him forward a step.
"Turn off the light and drop it," a man's voice said behind him.
Monks did. A second man stepped into view on the left. He was big, squarely built and clean cut, wearing a business suit complete with necktie. But he was aiming the kind of short-barreled shotgun used by SWAT teamsa 12-gauge with a five-round magazine, capable of cutting a human being in half.
"Walk into the woods," the voice behind him ordered.
Monks did that, too, for ten or fifteen yards, until he was hidden from the road. He couldn't see what was prodding him along, but he had no doubt that it was the barrel of another gun. The thought of running flitted through his mind, but the way the men were positioned, he could not possibly escape their fire.
"Lay down on your belly. Hands behind you."
He got facedown in the scratchy redwood duff. The musty scent of damp earth filled his lungs.
The big man strode forward and put the shotgun barrel to the side of Monks's face, just in front of his left ear. The other man knelt on his back and pulled his wrists roughly together. Monks felt restraints tighten around them, and heard the ratcheting clicks of handcuffs. It started to filter in that they probably would not bother to cuff him if they intended to kill himat least, right then and there. But the fact that they had let him see faces was not a good sign.
"Taxman! Car!" Marguerite's voice hissed from the road. Monks felt the man who was kneeling on his back jerk in response. Then he felt cold steel laid against his cheeka knife blade. It turned so that the edge rested lightly against his flesh. Monks could just see that it was a survival knife with a blade at least six inches long, serrated along the back edge to leave ragged, hard-to-close wounds. The other man stepped behind a tree, gun barrel pointing upright, ready to fire.
Monks could hear the approaching vehicle now, coming southward on the county road, driving at a modest speed. It slowed into the nearest curve, then accelerated again. If it stopped to check out the distressed vehicle, the assailants might flee. Or they might gun down the occupants and cut Monks' throat.
He lay absolutely still, not breathing, trying to gauge the car's speed and position. It slowed as it passed the SUV.
But it kept going, the whoosh of its tires growing fainter, until the night was quiet again.
The knife was lifted away from his face. The one called Taxman bound his ankles together with several wraps of duct tape, then kept taping up to his knees, swathing his legs like a mummy's. He jerked Monks up into a kneeling position, and wrapped his upper body from shoulders to waist, pinioning his arms. Then the two men together rolled Monks into a sleeping bag and zipped it shut. They picked him up as if they were carrying a stretcher, and loaded him into the SUV's rear compartment.
Taxman bent close to Monks. It was the first glimpse of him that Monks had gotten. He was also well dressed, his hair short and blond, giving him the look of a prematurely balding accountant.
From Revolution No. 9 by Neil McMahon. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.
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