Hidden Away – Part 2

Posted: February 21, 2016 in Book I Terror in Texas

They drove deserted vehicles and abandoned stores. They passed a cluster of buildings in the distance but no one seemed to want to explore it. When Zack pointed toward the ranch, Steve frowned. “Too close to the road. Too many abandoned vehicles. There could be infected around.”

The pickup weaved around yet another abandoned vehicle while the light quickly began to fade as the sun dipped below the rim of a distant tree-covered ridge. A glimmer of light flashed against glass in the distance and they saw a small cabin on a high ridge. They neared a gravel road that turned to the right and disappeared into the trees.

Zack stopped the truck. “Well, what do you think?”

“It would be off the beaten path, for sure.” Steve answered. “Let’s try it.”

They turned onto the gravel road heading up trees. The path climbed the side of a hill. The further they drove, the steeper the slope at the side of the road and the narrower the path grew.

Della sat up in the seat and whispered to Steve. “Are you sure about this?”

“No but there’s no place to turn around right, now.” Steve answered. “Keep going, Zack.”

They drove another mile over deep ruts and washes then the path widened at a cattle pen and shed.

Zack eased the truck to a stop. “What now? It looks like the wrong road.”

“No. I see the cabin through those trees. I think the road loops around the shed. Wait here.” He stepped out of the truck and followed the path to the back of the shed. He disappeared for a few moments then came back to announce. “We’re still going in the right direction. I can see a cabin. It looks pretty narrow ahead, but if we get beyond there the cabin is right ahead. Let me check it out.”

Steve retraced the narrow path to the back of the shed and then around a stand of trees. Ahead he could see the hunting cabin. It was a narrow trail that looked to be used by four wheeled ATVs in the past, but nothing recently. He limped farther down the track and saw an open yard in front of the cabin. He made his way back to the truck and climbed inside. On the way back he rolled half a dozen large rocks to the side of the trail.

Steve limped back to the truck and announced. “It’s doable.” He climbed in the truck. “Around the back of the shed, head up the trail.”

Zack did as directed. When he pulled around the shed, he slammed on the breaks. “That’s not wide enough!” He stared at the narrow trail with the rough drop off to the left and the steep rise of dirt and brush o the right. “I can’t do this. We’ll go over.”

Steve placed his hand on Zack’s shoulder. “You can do this. Just keep your left tire on the trail. The slope on the inside is gentle enough that you can drive on it. It’ll tilt the truck, but the tires are big enough to climb over a few rocks at the side of the road. The trail is wider around just beyond there.”

“You can do this Zack.” Della echoed.

Zack chuckled nervously. “Okay, at least ya’ll get out, just in case.”

“Good idea. Della, you four get out. I’ll ride with Zack.” Stave answered. “We’ll pick you up on the other side.”

The three women and child stepped out of the truck and waited as the vehicle pulled ahead. They watched as the massive vehicle rolled toward the narrowing of the trail. Zack shifted into low gear and the sound of the engine growled.

The tires rolled forward with Steve urging Zack to guide the truck toward the upper slope. Zack turned the steering wheel to the right. The front tire climbed up the incline while the left tires rolled along-side the drop-off at the side of the trek. Zack’s brow glistened with perspiration.

“Am I good?” He asked. “I can’t see the road.”

“You’re doing fine.” Steve leaned out the window judging the distance. “To the right. More to the right. The tire can roll up the rocks at the side. Slow and steady, now.”

Zack struggled against the steering wheel forcing the front tire up the incline. The truck moved forward. The cab tilted at a steep angle. Gravel and dirt slid down the canyon wall.

The women followed. All the while, Millie spoke of cooking on a wood stove. She spoke of cooking grits, collard greens and smoke-cured meat. When Della gasped, Millie grabbed her arm and insisted she be supported demanding her attention.

“Della girl. I need your help. I ain’t as strong as I used to be.” Millie insisted.

Darlene continued to watch as Millie forced Della to ignore the truck rolling past the wash and pay attention to the old woman. She frowned knowing full well Millie was trying to keep her mind off Steve and Zack. She turned to look at the edge of the road and her heart quickened when she saw the sheer drop off mere inches from the tires of the truck.

Steve hung out the passenger window waving his arm and encouraging Zack to hold the right wheels straight as the vehicle rolled over the rockslide at the side of the trail. Suddenly, the back wheel bounced off the last bolder and the truck settled flat on the trail again. Zack let the truck roll forward another ten feet where the road widened and slammed the big truck into park.

“Fuck!” Zack cursed as he jerked open the truck door and jumped to the road. He bent over taking several deep breaths. Finally, he stood up, his eyes still wide with fright.

He looked back at the narrow pass. “That was really screwed up.”

Steve wiped the moisture from his face and forced a laugh. “You’re the man. Let’s get moving.”

After retrieving a bottle of water and taking a long drink, Zack opened the back door of the extended cab. He made an exaggerated bow and hustled Della, Darlene, Penny and Millie inside. “I will be doing some road work on the trail before we come out of here.” He announced as he settled behind the wheel.

Steve laughed. “Might be a good idea.”

Della sighed. “I don’t think my heart could watch you do that again.”

Millie chuckled. “I wasn’t worried.”

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