Peter pedaled the bike up the hill, breathing heavily, his legs fatigued. Even with most of them still on foot, they seemed to be moving a lot faster with Kyle on wheels. The city of Tucumcari was not far ahead, the few tall buildings sticking up high enough for them to see over the intervening hills. He dismounted on the crest. “Ok, it’s someone else’s turn.” He said, holding the bike out for someone to take.
Julie took it from him as Zach rolled by on the other one, coasting down the hill and partway up the next before he had to pedal anymore.
“You gave up too early,” he called back over his shoulder.
Peter dismissed the taunting and fell into line, taking the cart that Julie had been pushing, and walking beside Amy. “Hey.”
“Hey yourself,” she said. They had not spoken much since the farmhouse, but they had not spent much time together either.
“So,” They did not say another word until hey had crested the next hill, Zach and Julie no where to be seen.
“Zach?” Peter called out, scanning a nearby grocery store parking lot and finally seeing them riding through it, toward an SUV with a bike rack on top. A single bike, missing it’s front tire, sat atop it still. “There,” he said, pointing the SUV out to his companions.
They joined Zach and Julie a few minutes later, after the bike had already been pulled down. “What do we have that will break that window? Zach asked, pointing at the back window of the vehicle.
“Why?” Brian asked.
“The tire is inside.” Zach pointed past the tinted window, where Brian, with his face pressed against the glass nodded.
Peter handed Zach a gun. “That’s the easiest I think.”
“What? No hammers or anything? Shit, this will attract everything for miles. What about a rock?”
They searched about the parking lot and each of them came back with the largest rock they had found. Brian had one the size of his fist which Zach took.
“Okay, everyone behind me,” he said and once everyone was, he did his best wind up and pitched the rock at the back window of the SUV, hitting the car next to it.
“Let me try,” Peter said, laughing. He retrieved the rock and hit the glass, although it did not shatter. He threw the same rock again, missing completely.
“Okay Nolan Ryan, it’s my turn,” Brian said.
“Nolan Ryan? You’re not old enough to see him play.” Zach said.
“Yes I am, my dad was a huge Rangers fan. Him and I saw every game during his last few seasons.”
“You must’ve been like five or something.”
“Eight,” Brian wound up and threw the rock, shattering the back window. “It didn’t hurt that I pitched back in high school, taking the team to state two years in a row.”
Zach grabbed the wheel from within the vehicle and attached it to the bike. “They have a pump too.” He said a few minutes later, reaching past the broken glass again. “Damn,” he said as he pulled his arm back through, trailing blood.
Amy grabbed his arm. “Yea. Damn is right. You need stitches.” They wasted nearly an hour and a whole gallon of water sterilizing everything and seeing him up. “You got lucky,” she chastised, “Could have nicked a vein.”
Zach looked at the stitches on the underside of his forearm and said “Thanks,” followed by a humble “Sorry.”
Sarah cleaned up the medical kit while Amy went into the grocery story, looking for something to clean herself up with.
Peter went with her, gun in hand, but it was not needed. “How bad is it?” He asked her, standing close as she found a closed bottle of water and used it to clean her hands with.
“Like I told him, he got lucky.”
“Ok, I am going to go check out the rest of the store. Yell if you need me.” He left her, gun at her hip, drying her hand on her shirt. He found a jar of peanut butter that he rolled towards the front of the store. The next aisle, labeled baking goods, was a veritable cornucopia of things, from a full box of Bisquick, to a jar of freeze dried red onions, which he also rolled towards the front of the building. It was two aisles later, zip lock bags and paper towels, that he heard Amy scream.
He found her a minute later, three rows from where he had left her, heading in the opposite direction. She clutched her own gun tight, pointing it down the aisle labelled cough and cold. Zach was beside them a few moments later, despite his wounds.
“What did you see?” He asked her.
“I, I don’t know. I thought it was a person, but the more I think about it.”
It was a person all right, a man in fact, that ran from out of the swinging back doors in the deli area toward the front of the store. Zach, Peter, nor Amy managed to get off a shot as the man nearly bowled all three of them over. A shot from outside had all three of them running toward the stores entrance.
They got to the glass doors and saw the man who had tried to run through them, his blue apron still hanging about his neck and waist, standing with his hands in the air, a gun, held in Kyle’s hands, pointed at him.
“Don’t move,” Peter said, adding his gun to the firearms pointed at the man.
“Don’t shoot please!” The man whimpered.
“Put your hands down,” Zach said, adding “Slowly,” for good measure.
The man did so, turning around. "I was just looking for food,” he said.
Peter approached the man, who let him search him. “He’s clean,” Peter said, once he was done patting the man down.
“Why would you come out here without a weapon?” Zach asked, still pointing his gone toward the man.
“Look, my wife and I are on our way toward Boulder City, but we only had the one gun, and I left it with her.” Had it played out any more perfectly, Julie would have thought after some kind of conspiratorial connection, but it was before anyone else said anything that they heard a distant shot fire.
The man took off across the parking lot, turning down a side street and was gone in search of his wife when the rest of Peter’s companions suggested moving onward, toward Boulder City.