Cobra Strike

Free Cobra Strike by J.B. Hadley

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Authors: J.B. Hadley
man’s penis and testicles in a single blood-dripping lump. This he stuffed in his victim’s mouth.
    Turner heard Winston behind him gag, then vomit. He glanced at Baker, who was as white as a sheet.
    The Afghans carefully inserted the mutilated corpse into a sack, tied the neck, and lifted it onto an ass’s back.
    Turner felt sorry for the other three men who had to stand and see what was in store for them. They were gagged, but their
     eyes expressed the agony of their terror. The man with the blade went about his work as methodically as a pork butcher, stopping
     to laugh and light a cigarette and, from time to time, winking at his American friends for whom he was clearly putting on
     this special show.
    Turner said in a low, nasty voice. “This is a big chance for you students of war to do a little fieldwork.”
    Winston and Baker said nothing.
    When all four prisoners were cut and bagged, Turner led the other six out from inside the cave. Their hands were still bound
     behind them, and electrical tape covered their eyes. Kalashnikovs hanging from their shoulders, Turner and Winston set out
     with the Afghans and the six asses. Baker stayed behind to watch over the missiles and their own asses, still safely stashed
     in the cave. They came to the edge of a broad, low valley after a twenty-minute walk, and one of the Afghans pointed. A group
     of military vehicles was clustered on the far side of the valley floor.
    Turner studied them through binoculars. “Tents. Armored personnel carriers. And Russians.” He watched some more in silence.
     “They’re Russkies, all right. No sign of Afghans there. This looks good.”
    Turner nodded to the Afghans, and he and Winston concealed themselves behind rocks. The Afghans stripped the tape roughly
     from the men’s eyes, which made them howl. Then he cut loose their wrists. They put headdresses on the three unshaven prisoners
     and left the three “Americans” bareheaded. Four of the Afghans held sniper rifles with telescopic sights on them as they marched
     the six asses across the valley. Turner noticed the bloodstains on four of the sacks. The Russians soon saw the men and animals,
     and a vehicle came out to meet them.
    Turner said, “Chances are those dumb Russians have never seen a real American in their lives and won’t be able to understand
     what those six are saying. Maybe they’ll think they’re talking English! We only need a few hours to slip out of here.”
    Back at the cave, they loaded the missiles on the asses while Baker, who spoke Russian, monitored the radio channels to see
     if that Soviet unit announced its capture of what had been reported to be Americans with missiles. Just a few hours of confusion…

    When Mike Campbell first went to live in the Arizona desert, he’d hoped to find a deserted rancho in a lonely box canyon which
     he could fix up. But desert is desert, and he found very little of anything in the scrubby lands. Then he met Tina. Like a
     sensible, practical woman, she refused to live without electricity and running water and with only coyotes, rattlesnakes,
     and cactus for company. Mike refused to live in a town. So they made a temporary compromise by buying a mobile home and setting
     it up in a trailer camp a way out in the desert. Most people there were retired couples who now devoted their lives to growing
     miniature lawns in the desert and to keeping alive sickly shrubs imported from Michigan or New Jersey or wherever they had
     spent their working lives. Campbell’s prolonged periods of inactivity and then sudden disappearances for weeks on end led
     to a lot of talk. The general agreement was that he was a criminal of some sort, with various factions favoring particular
     activities such as drug smuggler, hitman, seller of Mexican babies. They were lavish in their sympathy for Tina being stuck
     with such a brute, while trying to pryinformation from her. Born in Arizona, Tina had cousins and friends all

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