Welcome to another sneak peak from my upcoming novella, Virtual, to be released shortly on Amazon.
“What happened to you?” Leslie asked. She looked in his eyes, really looked, and realized, while bodily her husband stood in front of her, his eyes were as blank and uncomprehending as a zombie. Someone else was controlling him like a puppet.
He jerked the flashlight out of her hand and she let him, too shocked to react. He walked around behind her, brought his left arm around her waist in a parody of a romantic embrace, and pointed the gun at her right temple. He’s going to kill me, she thought. This isn’t a game anymore. She thought of her kids back in the real world, and realized the stranger in her husband’s body had not won yet.
She took a deep breath to calm herself as he cocked the trigger, and cupped both hands over his gun arm and dug in with her fingernails, pushing the arm away from her head. Still holding on to the arm with the gun, she ducked under his other arm around her waist, twisted sideways, and landed a side kick into his midsection. The kick made him double over, and she followed up with another kick to his head to bring him to his knees. Somewhere in the process of twisting his arm he lost his grip on the gun and she kicked it as far as she could.
She scooped up her machete and flashlight and headed for the brush. She had hurt him but not taken him out, so she barely made it ten yards to the shelter of a tree with large, five foot tall exposed roots before he was had his gun and was after her again.
He fired several rounds at her but she hid under the tree roots and he could not get a clear shot. She hooked the flashlight and machete back onto her belt. The shadows and the cover of the roots were of more use to her here, and she didn’t intend to go against a gun with a knife. She managed to reach the far side of the tree but could not see Rex in the dim light. She held her breath and tried to listen for him, but the soft ground and abundance of vegetation masked his footfalls.
She slowly leaned out from the tree roots to look for Rex, but before she could look around something hit her from above. Not again, she thought as the pain brought her to her knees. Sure enough, Rex materialized from somewhere above her and grabbed her arm, jerking her to her feet and out from under the shelter of the tree. He stuck his gun in her back and forced her to walk into a small clearing.
By twisting her arm Rex forced Leslie to her knees and then brought the gun up to her head again. Apparently he was taking no chances this time. He walked around till he was facing her, keeping his free hand pressed down on her shoulder. Leslie kept her head down and folded her hands, fingers intertwined; the model of defeat.
She waited until he cocked the gun again to strike. She shoved with both hands against the arm holding the gun, pushing it out of her way. Then she lunged forward and brought her intertwined hands up hard between his legs. When he howled and dropped his gun she snatched it up in both hands and rapped it against his knees. He went down, and she jumped to her feet, holding the unfamiliar weapon in both hands. She trained the gun on him as she considered her possibilities.
Think, she ordered herself. This person who looked like her husband was intent on killing her. It wasn’t like a sword battle, one shot to the head and you were dead; game over. She could take him out, but she was afraid her husband was still inside somewhere. She could tie him up and go for help, but who and where? She could take him with her, and try to figure out what happened to him, but since he wouldn’t even talk she was not going to get any help from him.
Sensing her hesitation, Rex brought his right arm up and curled his hand around the back of her knees, knocking her off balance. She dropped the gun but managed to keep her feet. She kicked him square on the chin before he could rise, and unable to see where the gun landed in the vegetation, took off running as fast as she could.
Leslie was afraid. For the first time since she had begun playing this game, she was afraid of losing and afraid of the man who was currently trying to kill her. Something terrible had gone wrong with the game or the programming, and with a sick feeling Leslie realized it was up to her to fix it. First, though, she had to survive.