TITLE: Penny Candle
Joan Bowman joins the Constitution Defense Legion to fight a runaway government in Washington, D.C., but after working her way into a leadership position, she discovers the underground resistance group is as bad as the government it is fighting. The only way out alive is by becoming a state’s witness, but betraying the group means betraying her mentor and lover.
Something changed. The encircling woods went silent.
Joan’s heart pounded against the moss under her belly as she squeezed and released the grip on her M-16 assault rifle. She scanned the surrounding undergrowth.
Jason tapped her shoulder and pointed to her right. “Seventy-five yards at our two,” he whispered. “The oak with two notches. The notch on the left.”
“How did they get so close without us seeing them?” she said as she zeroed her attention on the double-notched tree.
“They’re shape-shifters, man.”
Joan pressed the rifle butt against her shoulder, tucked a stray strand of brown hair behind her ear and snuggled her cheek against the stock so she could see down the barrel. In a measured movement, she raised the rifle until the notch of the tree was centered in her sights. “I’ll shift their shapes for ‘em,” she said.
Jason pressed his tattooed hand down against the barrel of her M-16. “Let’s go down the other side of this hill and slip away. No sense getting shot when the exercise is almost over.”
“We can take them.”
“Ever get hit with a round of simu-nition? It hurts like a mother—”
A twig snapped to their right.
Jason snatched the back of Joan’s shirt and jerked her upright. “Let’s go. Now.”
Joan planted her feet, set her jaw and glanced over her shoulder toward the sound. “I’m a fighter. Fighters stand their ground,” she said, but she was talking to herself. Jason had disappeared through the nearby stand of mountain laurel.