Every Saturday leading up to its release, I’m posting a new chapter of Bullet Rain here at the website. You can check out chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here. Also, my grandmother passed away yesterday. I had a chance to see her earlier in the week, and she was not doing well, so it’s good to know she’s in a better place. Bullet Rain will be dedicated to her memory.
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It took him an hour before he saw the town off in the distance—a few lights in the growing darkness—and it took him another twenty minutes before those lights materialized into actual buildings. By then the sun had set and the temperature had dropped, just as Nova had known it would, and he was doubly glad he had brought along the leather jacket.
For the first mile or so he had focused on the sun-weathered macadam, trying to spot anything that might have caused two of his tires to blow, but besides a flattened can of Old Milwaukee along the side of the highway, there was nothing.
Traffic was sporadic for the most part, the first vehicle passing him a tractor-trailer. It had been coming toward him, away from town. He stuck out his thumb anyway, in the hopes the driver would stop, so Nova could use the CB radio. But the truck had just kept going—the trailer itself white with no markings on its side—and Nova had watched it receding, noting the license plate was from California.
A few other vehicles had passed him along the way—some headed west, others headed east—but by then he had no interest in hitching a ride. He would reach town soon enough.
He checked his phone every half mile, hoping for a signal. None was available. It was strange—he had been passing through most of rural America in the past two days and there had almost always been cell reception. Granted, it was usually only one or two bars, and even those weren’t reliable, but at least they had been something.
Strangely enough, as he neared town—nearly a half mile away—service was suddenly restored to his phone. Four bars, even, more than enough to make a phone call or use the Internet. He unlocked the screen, pulled up the phone application, but then realized he had nobody to call. He wasn’t a member of AAA, and even if he was he knew it didn’t matter unless there was a tow truck nearby, and if there was a tow truck nearby, then he might as well find it himself. The town looked small enough to walk from one end to the other in five minutes, so he kept walking.
Most of the town—houses and trailers—sat off on one side of the highway. On the other side was a diner and a bar, as well as a long, squat building that he realized after a moment was a motel. Behind the motel sat two dust-covered tractor-trailers.
Nova tried the diner first. The lights were on inside, but the doors were locked. A sign on the door said the diner closed at eight. He checked his watch. It was 8:15.
Inside, a middle-aged woman was wiping down the tables and counters. Another was mopping the linoleum floor. The one wiping tables noticed him, smiled and shrugged.
He went to the motel next. It appeared to have six rooms. There was only one car in the parking lot, a Volkswagen Rabbit convertible.
He couldn’t seem to find an office. All there appeared to be were the six rooms, and only one of them—occupied by the owner of the Rabbit, presumably—had lights on inside. He was half-tempted to knock on the door, inquire how one went about contacting the front desk, if such a front desk existed, but decided not to bother.
Nova headed for the bar.