Saturday, July 2, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Guns and flashlights in hand, Peter, Zachariah, and Jud ran out to the barn and found the large doors standing wide open.
“Shit!” Jud said.
Leading with his gun, Jud rounded the open door and was knocked over as a large form bolted past.
“Damn it! It’s Chris,” Peter said, seeing the young man’s outline astride the horse receeding in the lantern light. “Stop!” he shouted.
“Someone’s got to go get him,” Jud said, looking at the two younger men.
“I’ll go,” Peter said, entering the barn.
“Peter, how much experience have you had with horses? Let me go,” Zach said, pushing past him.
Peter silently thanked Zach under his breath, “Ok, what do you need from us then?”
Jud had already moved into the barn and was helping Zach saddle the other horse.
“Have some coffee ready for us when we get back.”
Jud led the horse out of the barn, where Zach now stood, pulling the batteries out of one of the flashlights. “I’ll take these as backup, just in case.”
“Sure hope I remember how to do this,” he said as he hopped into the saddle. A flick of the reigns had the horse moving in the same direction he had seen Chris take off in. He prodded the horse with his heels, using them to help steer while looking over his shoulder at Peter and Jud.
“He was headed toward the city,” Jud called out as he watched Zach ride off on the back of his remaining horse.
Once he managed to get to the highway, Zach pointed the horse towards the city and with another flick of the reigns, rode off at a fast gallop towards Amarillo. Zach crested the first hill and saw Chris' silhouette atop the next one, and prodded the horse to go a little faster. It protested with a snort, but relented nonetheless and soon horse and rider were ascending the next slope. The hills rolled along, and every time Zach achieved high ground, he could see Chris' outline disappear over the next one.
Pushing the horse as hard as he dared, Zach began to gain on Chris, so he decided to push a little harder. "Come on now, just a little farther," he leaned forward and told the horse. Snorting wildly, the animal put its head down and plowed forward. Zach lost sight of Chris again as the hills intervened and he had to pull hard on the reins to stop the beast when he got to the top of the next hill and his quarry was nowhere to be seen.
Surveying the land in front of him, Zach realized just how far he had come as he looked out upon the outskirts of Amarillo. A tractor dealer sat one side of the highway, the green John Deere sign laying sprawled across the westbound lanes. On the eastbound side, heading into town, the moonlight fell upon a used car lot. He heard a loud whinny coming from that direction and cautiously headed in there, seeing what appeared to be a Chris shaped shadow moving between the cars.
Switching on his flashlight, Zachariah edged the horse into the dealership, slowly sweeping the beam of light back and forth. He caught a glimpse of movement in between some cars off to his left and switched the flashlight to his left hand, reaching over his shoulder and bringing the shotgun to bare. “Is that you Chris?” He asked before his flashlight illuminated a raccoon running along the top of a car. A muffled curse came from the direction of the showroom, alerting him to Chris’ whereabouts. Pulling the gun from its place at his hip, he called out, “Chris, stop this, lets talk about it,” before heading off toward the steel and glass structure himself.
He found the windows of the showroom to have been smashed in, a spot of blood glistening on one of the glass’s sharp edges. “Chris!” He shouted again, swinging the light back and forth in time to see a door swing shut deeper in the building, behind a row of cubicles. A shot rang out, ricocheting off of the tile in front of him, drawing his attention to a man standing on the far side of the building. In response, Zachariah raised his gun, but was momentarily blinded as the light from the strangers lantern temporarily blinded him. He dove towards where he thought the nearest cover was, clipping his shoulder on the leg of a desk.
Wincing in pain, Zach peered around the desk at where the stranger had been and quickly pulled back, as a bullet aimed for his head flew by. “Look, I’m not here to cause problems, I’m just trying to find my friend!” He yelled at the man with the gun. A door slammed shut and he could here the telltale shuffle of Chris’ winter boots, and he called out a warning. “Chris, be careful.”
Chris rounded the row of cubicles, gun in hand, firing off two quick shots towards the lantern and earning a loud grunt for his efforts. Before Zach could get up, Chris was running back out to the parking lot, a set of keys replacing the pistol in his hand. He ran from one row of cars to the next, pressing the lock button, listening for the telltale honk of the car that was now his.
Zach stood up and and was shot at once more by the stranger, who was now lying on the ground, before hearing the telltale click of an empty revolver. He ignored the now harmless man and ran out into the parking lot, shining the flashlight over row after row of cars, looking for Chris’ head above them. A moment later a honk had him running to his left where he watched the lights blink on what appeared to be a newer model Volkswagen Beetle. He heard another curse from Chris as he approached, shining his light at the young man in the cars drivers seat.
“Watch this!” Chris said, his hand on the key in the ignition.
“Wait,” Zach shouted, causing Chris to pause. “Think about this man, we should try a remote starter, like we did back in Wichita Falls.”
“Can’t do that Zach,” Chris replied.
“Why not?” Zach asked rather timidly.
“They don’t have one.”
“Then lets wait until its light tomorrow and we will find one. Come on, lets go home.”
“Oh I will, but I am going to drive home!” He said and turned the key. The car coughed for a second before roaring to life and in a flash, the vehicle exploded.
Zach threw his arms up to shield his face from the rush of heat, smelt singeing of his hair, and was pushed backwards into the side panel of a minivan hard enough to dent it. The wind knocked out of him, he leaned against the van, dazed, and once his head was clear, rushed toward the vehicle but was unable to get close, due to the heat coming off of the burning wreckage. “Damn it, damn it all!” He said, trembling in both anger and grief. He fell to his knees and began to cry, only to be disturbed by the sound of a raccoon running along the tops of the vehicles, reminding him of where he was. Using his shirt to wipe the tears from his face, he gathered up both horses and started on the long trek back to his parents farm.