Archive for June, 2017

Captives – Part 1

Posted: June 24, 2017 in 22 Captives - Part 1

“What are we going to do?” Leon whispered.

Brian stepped back pulling Leon with him as he replied. “We can’t do anything right now.”

“What?” Leon queried. “You can’t be serious. You know what’ll happen to those two girls.”

Brian eased back down the hill. When he was out of sight of the mayhem beyond he jogged toward the truck with Leon close on his heels. At the truck, he pulled a sniper rifle, a combat knife and extra magazines from behind the seat.

“We can’t save everyone, but I’m not willing to abandon those two. Take the truck back and get Billy and Juan. Gear up and get back here as fast as you can. Park down the road about a quarter mile and make your way to the place where we were.”

Leon jumped into the truck and cranked the engine. Brian leaned close. “Don’t use the lights or race the engine until you’re out of earshot. I don’t want them hearing the truck. You got an hour. I’ll keep an eye on them and meet me here. Tell the women to be in the van ready to head out, just in case.”

“Got it.” Leon shoved the truck in gear and pulled out onto the broken asphalt and quickly disappeared.

Brian carried his personal arsenal to the crest of the hill to watch the camp when the two women were led to a truck where they were chained to a bumper. Brian watched the man with the key and noted he spread out a sleeping bag and settled down for the night not far from the girls.

The felonious crew passed around two more bottles and a second man had found in a truck. They scrounged food and laced metal cups of coffee as they sat around the fire. The drinkers grew steadily louder. The celebrating would soon obscure any distant rumble of the returning truck. It would all depend on how long the boss let the party continued.

Brian ignored the mosquitos buzzing and lighting on his bare skin as he slowly screwed the silencer on the end of his rifle. He hadn’t done any serious distance shooting other than at the range in a really long time. He hoped he was up to the task if the need arose. He watched the celebration spin up into a full blown party.

The men toasted each other for a well-executed ambush, and the plethora of supplies gathered from the victims including the women. As the salutes grew more raucous, one of the men approached the women rubbing at the front of his jeans. The guard jerked upright and growled curses while pointing a gun in the man’s direction. The would-be abuser crept back to his friends amid a myriad of laughter.

Brian slowly released his breath as he watched one of the men shove his way through the celebrating group breaking up the party. He talked to four people, and they headed off to stand in the shadows at the edge of the camp. The drinking suddenly slowed, and the party began to wind down.

Penny bounced on the back seat while she called out to Zack. “We go? We take horsy?”

Steve laughed. “We go.” He slapped Zack on the back and chuckled at the uncomfortable look on the kid’s face. “Remember, slow and easy taking off, and it will take longer to stop with the extra weight.”

Zack shifted in the seat with a bit of discomfort. “Got it.”

The drive down the access road was a bit hairy, but once they pulled on the blacktop the morning wore on pretty uneventful as they drove down State Road 505 toward US 90 West. The rough hill country terrain had disappeared shortly after they left the cabin and trees grew more stunted, and patches of bare earth turned into even more arid land. The straight arrow road disappeared into the distance. Mountains gradually appeared through the haze in the distance.

Zack pressed his foot on the gas, but Steve interrupted. “Keep it around forty. Remember about stopping.”

“Valentine Texas? I saw a special on television about that town. It’s famous. The post office receives thousands of cards every year so they can be sent from Valentines all over the country.” Darlene announced.

Della laughed. There was a movie called “Dancer, Texas” filmed there in the nineties.”

“And that’s important why?” Steve turned and asked.

Della poked him with the tip of a slender finger. “It was a cute movie. I wonder if the eighty or ninety people who lived here are alive.”

Steve sighed. “I guess we’ll know soon enough. It’s not much more than five miles ahead. Then we pass Lobo. Then hopefully, a clear shot to the mountains.”

“There’s a Prada store there.” Della laughed. “I saw it on a Sunday morning program, Prada Marfa was erected as a work of art. It has shoes and stuff from a Prada collection.”

“For sale?” Darlene asked. “Can we stop?”

Della shrugged. “No. It never opened. Supposedly, it’s an earth-friendly building that will decay and fall into ruin along with the shoes and purses. I doubt anything there will be worth our time.”

Steve chuckled. “Not many places to wear high heels now.”

Darlene sighed. I could have tried on a pair of Prada shoes.”

Zack interrupted the conversation when he stepped on the breaks. “There’s your Prada store, but where’s the rest of the town?”

Zack slipped the truck into gear and stepped on the accelerator. The truck pulled away from the cabin as his eyes filled. “We could make her come.” He whispered.

“It was her decision. She only has a few days of medication left.” Steve answered.

“What if someone comes?” Darlene argued.

“She has a gun,” Steve answered.

“She can barely see. How can she protect herself?”

“Not why I gave it to her,” Steve answered with a catch in his voice. “Enough. Drop it.”

Darlene flopped back in the seat more than a little angry while Della remained quiet. Her words had failed to dissuade her when Millie announced her intent of staying behind when they left. Despite Della cussing and discussing the decision over and over again for the last two days, Della knew she could say nothing that would change Millie’s mind. In the end, Millie turned away and refuse to even discuss it.

Zack followed the narrow trail back to the shed and corral. The horses milled around the gate, anticipating their daily allotment of hay. Zack stopped the truck, and Della jumped out of the back seat door anxious to be out of the cab and the sadness of sniffles and tears. She hurried to the trailer and stood next to the hitch on the trailer with her arm above the connection.

“Can you do this?” Steve asked with a raised brow.

“Hope so,” Zack answered.

He slipped the truck into reverse, and it moved toward the trailer. Della began to point to the right. When Zack seem to ignore her guidance, she made a more frantic pointing motion and yelling, “Right! Go to the right!”

Steve turned and could see he was missing the hitch. “Hold up a minute.” Zack kept moving, and Steve shouted. “Stop!” Zack stopped, jerking everyone against the seat belts. Steve leaned forward. “Let’s try this again, but this time, you do what I say. Let’s do this slow and easy, okay?”

“Alright.” Zack pulled the truck forward, stopped and put the truck in reverse.

“Straighten the wheel before you start moving, then just do as I say,” Steve spoke calmly.

After three long minutes of left then right and back again, the trailer was connected, and Zack pulled the trailer from the barn. “Damn. That’ a lot longer than I thought it would be.” He stopped when he got well past the gate and again slipped the truck into reverse.

“This is a little different,” Steve instructed. “You turn the wheel in the opposite direction you want the trailer to go. It seems crazy, but that’s how you do it backing up a trailer. Now, straighten the wheel and get a clean start.”

Zack took his foot off the break and with a few adjustments, the trailer rolled toward the gate.

“Wheel to the right,” Steve instructed. “Ease off the gas. Slightly to the left.” A moment later he announced. “That’s it. Stop.”

Zack jerked stepped on the break with a sigh of relief. “Shit. I would have never gotten that done by myself.”

Darlene and Penny climbed out of the cab to watch all the activity fro the side of the corral. Della and Zack walked inside the pen closing the gate behind them and bridled each of the horses. Once they were each tied to the fence, Zack led them, one by one, into the trailer and tied them in place. The whole process took nearly an hour. When Zack was done, he got back in the cab with a sigh of relief while Darlene, Penny, and Della climbed into the back seat.

Randy reached out, but Harry turned away. “Lead out.”

Randy turned to the other. “You three come along, but be quiet.”

Meanwhile, three women had appeared on the front porch. The younger woman rushed down the step to begin examining Liz. “Is she bit?” She asked.

“No,” Harry growled. “She’s pregnant. We had an accident a few days ago.”

Randy pushed his way past her to reach for Liz. “It’s Liz. Will’s daughter.”

Wilma reached toward John and the kids. “Let’s let them take care of Liz. If you come with me, we’ll get you cleared and a snack, okay.”

John looked at her and scowled. “We ain’t bit.”

Wilma held up her hand to let Randy, Harry and Cassie disappeared into the building. Just then two men, both Hispanic and wearing sidearms appeared from behind the building. “I’m sure that’s true, but we have a process and everyone, and I mean everyone who walks in this door gets inspected. You can relax and make it easy for everyone or….” She let her voice trail off then continued while giving John a big smile. “My friends will assist either way.”

John sighed. “Fine. But ain’t no man checkin’ HER out.”

“Of course not.” Wilma led them into the main room of the lodge.

All three of the newcomers looked around in awe. Their footsteps slowed as they took in the massive room with two fireplaces, and an open stairway to a second story.

“Quite a little hiddy hole,” John turned to Cody and whispered. “Not what I expected for sure.”

Wilma led them to a hallway and to a side door across from a first aid station where voices spoke in hushed whispers. “This way, please. Mr. Edmond’s daughter is in good hands. Our doctor is my little girl.”

At the next doorway, Wilma pointed inside and stepped back. “You and the boy can go in there. Jose will give you a quick once-over then you are free to wander around. Maria is gathering drinks and snacks.”

The men disappeared into the room, and the door closed. The second man stopped outside the door.

She turned to the preteen girl. “Hi, my name is Wilma. What’s your name?” Trace answered then Wilma continued. “We’ll go in here then make sure you have no bites or sores that need to be treated.”

They stepped inside, Wilma completed her inspection then helped the young girl right herself, and they stepped outside chatting like old friends. John and Cody stepped out of the room.

“Now, you folks are probably hungry. If you go to the dining room to the left of the stairs, Maria and a couple ladies will bring out refreshments in no time. Dinner won’t be for a couple hours and Jose, and I have some people to clear.”

John and the kids headed off to where they were directed while Wilma stuck her head in the exam room where Randy and Harry stood aside while Cassie inserted a needle into Liz’s arm.

“You two can’t do anything more. Randy, I think we need to get inspections done then figure out what we’re doing with all these folks. Will won’t be back until dark, so it’s left up to you.”

“I want that ultrasound you snagged at the vet office, too,” Cassie added.

“Right.” He looked to Harry. “Come on, Harry. We get folks checked out then settled in.”