Hidden Away – Part 1

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Book 1 TERROR IN TEXAS
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Della, Millie and Darlene, with Penny in her lap settled in the back seat while Steve watched the gate close behind the truck. Zack accelerated.

“We need to get away from here as quickly as we can. I don’t want to be in the area if that bunch decides they don’t want deserters.” Steve advised.

“They looked military.” Darlene commented. “Since when does martial law include taking over a town and killing civilians?”

“It’s not supposed to.” Steve answered.

Steve pulled out a map and folded it in fourths. He found Utopia on the map and traced his finger across the paper. “Thirty miles back we can catch a farm to market road, ten-fifty to twenty-seven forty-eight and head north toward Leakey.”

The truck passed several small side roads before Zack eased off the accelerator and began to break. “Don’t think we’re goin’ that way.”

Ahead on the road an eighteen wheeler had tried to pass a pickup and gone off a narrow bridge. The truck driver had misjudged the clearance and the rig had ended up on its side blocking the entire bridge.

“Back up.” Steve ordered. “Careful, man.”

Zack slipped the gear shift into reverse and swung his arm over the seat to look through the back window. He eased off the break and accelerated. The truck strayed from side to side as Zack backed down the road. “I’m not good at this.”

“Doing fine. Ease up on the accelerator and you’ll stop overcorrecting.” Steve advised.

“Got it.” Zack slowed.

“Look!” Della shouted. “In the distance at the top of that hill.”

A string of motorcycles crested the distant rise and raced down the blacktop toward them.  Steve pulled a pair of binoculars to his face and studied the riders.

“Back up to the next side road and get the truck off the road, Zack. They’ll have to get past the overturned trailer and when they do we need to be long gone.”

“What did you see?” Asked Della.

“Looks like a rough bunch of bikers with a military vehicle leading the way. After what we saw in Utopia, we can’t take a chance on them catching up with us.”

Darlene clutched at her daughter behind Zack. “Please hurry.”

Zack waved his hand, “Working on it, Ms. Darlene.” He accelerated a bit as he got better at guiding the vehicle in reverse.

“There. To the left.” Steve pointed to a side road.

The truck sped past the intersection and Zack slammed on the breaks. The truck skidded on loose gravel at the side of the blacktop. Amid yelps of surprise, the truck swayed to a stop. Zack slammed the gearshift into drive and whipped the vehicle around to the gravel road. He accelerated and followed the curve of the road out of sight.

“Stop!” Steve ordered.

Zack complied. The only sound was the ticking of the cooling engine. A few minutes later they heard the sound of the approaching motorcycles from behind the stand of trees at the edge of the road.

“Did they see us?” Della asked.

“I guess we’ll know soon enough.” Steve answered. “Stop here.” Steve looked back, hesitated then gave a quick nod. “Real slow, pull off to the left under that tree and behind the brush.”

Zack did as he was told but Della interrupted. “Why are we stopping?”

“We need to know where they go.” Steve announced. He started to exit the truck, but Della caught his arm.

“You can’t do that. Your legs are not healed. You’ll be crawling before you get a hundred feet.”

Steve opened his mouth to protest, but Della rested her hand on his shoulder. “If we have to know, I can go back, but you can’t. You have to take it easy if you’re going to be any good to us.” She took a breath then continued. “Besides, what difference does it make? If they head into Utopia, we can do nothing about it. If they saw us, we need to be gone.”

Steve hesitated then answered. “You’re right.” He eased the door closed and slid back in the passenger seat of the truck. “Let’s move, Zack. Slow and easy. Try to make as little dust as possible.”

Zack guided the truck down a narrow dirt road. When the road veered to the south Steve directed them to a fire road heading north.

“Are you sure?” Della protested. “This doesn’t look like much of a road.”

“It’s a fire road. It goes through the canyons and will take us past some really sparsely populated areas. We have enough supplies for now.”

Darlene leaned toward the front seat. “Do we have enough gas?”

“We picked up two five gallon cans and they’re stowed in back.” Steve answered. “During our time in Utopia, Zack and I picked up a few extra supplies. Since, we’re going to head northwest I think we can avoid populated areas at least for a while.”

Della nodded. “Sounds good.”

Darlene reached out to cover Millie’s wrinkled hand. “I think it’s a good idea. It seems the best of humanity is not the only survivors. “

Zack chimed in. “You got that right, between the military and now those bikers.”

Steve agreed. “Legitimate military wouldn’t have taken control by killing people. I think the residents of Utopia are in for a rough time.”

Time passed slowly as they followed the isolated fire roads though the rough bare rock strewn canyons and wooded valleys. Penny pointed at deer grazing along the road. She laughed at Zack when he started singing nursery rhymes and soon they were all singing together. When she grew tired, she settled in Darlene’s arms and napped.

It was those quiet times Millie started talking quietly about life without modern conveniences. “Being share-croppers, my people were poor. I didn’t use an indoor toilet until I was near thirty years old.” She chuckled. “When I was a child my folks killed and cleaned squirrels, rabbits, possum, and raccoon. You name it and my mamma could make it for dinner.”

They stopped from twice to rest and eat. After a quick trip to the bushes they would pile back in the truck. Any time, they stopped they listened for motorcycles in the distance and looking over their shoulder.

Late that afternoon and several hours after passing Garner State Park, Zack tried to flex his wide shoulders and asked. “It’s getting late. Are we going to stop tonight?”

Steve answered. “I know we’re all tired. If I read this map right, we should be coming to a farm to market road in the next couple miles. Turn left and we’ll be going west again. In that area we should see a few small camp grounds and maybe a hunting cabin or two. First place we come to, we’ll check it out.”

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