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Field of Prey (Lucas Davenport) by John Sandford


Author: John Sandford

Publisher: Berkley Books


Publish Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN-10: 425275116

Pages: 421

File Type: Epub, Mobi, Pdf

Language: English

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Book Preface

The fifth woman was a blond waitress who enhanced her income by staying late to do kitchen cleanup at Auntie’s, a diner in Faribault, a small city on Interstate 35 south of the Twin Cities. The diner had excellent qualities for a kidnapping. The blacktop parking lot was wide and deep in front, shallow and pitted in back, which meant that nobody parked there. When the fifth woman finished her cleanup, at midnight, she’d haul garbage bags to a dumpster out back.

In the dark.

She was out there alone, sweating in the summer heat, sickened by the odor from the dumpster, with no light except what came through the diner’s open rear door and two pole lights in the front lot.

R-A waited for her there, hidden behind the dumpster. He was carrying an old canvas postal bag, of the kind once used to carry heavy loads of mail in cross-country trucks. The bags, forty-eight inches long and more than two feet in diameter, had eyelets around the mouth, with a rope running through the eyelets. The rope could be cinched tight with a heavy metal clasp.

R-A also carried a leather-wrapped, shot-filled sap, in case something went wrong with the bag.

Horn sat in his truck, in an adjacent parking lot, no more than a hundred feet away, where he could see the action at the dumpster, and warn against any oncoming cop cars. When the waitress came out with her second load of garbage bags, R-A waited until she was standing on tiptoe, off-balance while throwing one of the bags into the dumpster. He stepped out behind her, unseen, and dropped the canvas bag over her head, like a butterfly in a net.

The woman struggled and fought, and screamed, but the screams were muffled by the heavy bag, and two seconds after he took her to the ground, R-A slipped the locking clasp tight around her legs.

Horn was coming, in the truck. He stopped beside them, blocking the view from the street. Together, Horn and R-A lifted her and threw her in the back of Horn’s extended cab truck. Horn climbed in on top of her with a roll of duct tape, and threw a half dozen fast wraps around the woman’s ankles. Sort of like calf-roping, he thought.

As he did that, R-A jogged a half-block down the street to where he’d parked his own truck. When Horn had finished taping the woman’s ankles, he jumped out and slammed the narrow door, ran around the back of the truck and climbed into the driver’s seat, and they were gone, Horn a half-block ahead of R-A.

The system had worked again.

In three minutes, they’d gotten to the edge of town and were starting cross-country toward a hunter’s shack in the backwaters of a Mississippi River impoundment. There, they’d rape the waitress and kill her.

R-A trailed a half-mile behind Horn. That was part of the system, too. If a cop car came along, and showed any interest at all in Horn’s truck, R-A could provide warning, and support. If worse came to worst, R-A would drive recklessly and way too fast past the cop, provoking a chase, while Horn would re-route.

• • •

THE SYSTEM HAD WORKED BEFORE, and would have worked again, except that Heather Jorgenson had always worried about being alone in that parking lot in the night. She carried a Leatherman multi-tool, which included a three-inch-long serrated blade, in the pocket of her waitress uniform, and while her feet were restricted by the locked bag and the duct tape, her hands were free.

For the first minute or so of the truck ride, she fought with a panic-stricken violence against the heavy bag, without making any progress at all. In the thrashing, her hand slapped against the Leatherman.

The knife!

She fumbled it out and broke a nail trying to get it open, but hardly noticed; three minutes into the ride, she had the knife out and open. Jorgenson knew she’d only have one chance at it, so she continued to shout and scream, and thrash with one hand, as the truck drove through town. At the same time, she slit the bag with the razor-sharp blade, and at the bottom end, cut the binding rope around her legs. Finally, she carefully sliced through the duct tape at her ankles.

She took a moment to get her courage up, then pushed herself up in the back of the truck, and screaming, “You sonofabitch,” she stabbed Horn in the neck, and then stabbed him again, in the back, in the spine, and then in the arms, and in the neck again, and Horn was shouting, screaming, trying to swat her away, while struggling to control the truck. He failed, and the truck swerved to the left edge of the road, two wheels dropping off the tarmac. They ran along like that for a hundred feet, then the truck began to tip, and finally rolled over into the ditch.

Jorgenson, in the back, felt the truck going. A former cheerleader, still with a cheerleader’s suppleness, despite the extra pounds she’d picked up in the diner, she braced her feet against the roof of the truck and locked herself in place as it went over. When it settled, driver’s side down, she found the handle on the back door, unlocked it, shoved it open, and crawled out.

She ran across the roadside ditch, tumbled over a barbed-wire fence, ripping her clothes and hands, into a cornfield—she was afraid to run down the road, because the kidnapper could see her, might come after her.

They’d just left town, and there were house lights no more than four or five hundred yards away. She ran as hard as she could, choking with fear, through the knee-high corn, then fell again and found herself in a mid-field swale, a seasonal creek, dry now.

Breathing hard, she crouched for a moment, listening, fearing that the kidnapper was right behind her. When she heard nothing, she got to her feet, stooped over so far that her hands touched the ground, and groped forward in the dark, toward the house lights.

She had no idea how long she’d been in the field when she made it into a tree line, the branches of the saplings slapping her in the face and chest. She crossed another fence and a ditch, out onto a road, then ran across the road toward the house lights. She was now so frightened and exhausted that she took no care about waking the house. She leaned on the lighted doorbell and pounded on the door while screaming, “Help! Help me!”……………………………….

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