by Just Jae
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2013895
Three friends' flight from an oppressive new regime.
| Into the Night...Mare|
Jamie woke with a start, eyes wide, the clock on the bedside table read 3:13 PM. Then she heard it; the loudspeaker harsh in the still afternoon.
"Attention, citizens of Fort Smith. This area is now under the control of the New Colorado Militia. All citizens are required to. . ." The low male voice faded as the vehicle moved slowly down the street.
Throwing off the blanket and grabbing a pair of sweats and sweatshirt lying at the foot of the bed, Jamie jammed a foot down each leg of the sweatpants, and threw the sweatshirt over her head. Stuffing her bare feet into the high top shoes that were within reach, not bothering to tie the laces, she moved around the bed to the bedroom door, toward the sound of muffled voices coming from the living room.
"So, Lauren, are you coming with me or not?" She heard a tone in Annie's voice that she had never heard before. Jamie saw Lauren nod out of the corner of her eye as she strode into the living room.
Annie turned toward Jamie, anger flashing in her bright hazel eyes, "What about you?"
"What about me, what? What's going on?" Jamie asked, reaching for the television remote lying on the coffee table. The television across the room hissed white noise and she punched the volume down. In the background she heard a radio announcer and something about station programming being interrupted and a "New Colorado Militia," whatever that was, taking over and making an announcement soon. "Cable go out again?"
Annie, rolled her eyes, stating, "I'm leaving as soon as it's dark; with or without you."
Jamie set the remote back on the low table as she dropped onto the sofa. "What's going on?" She repeated.
"Those crazies in LaGranada decided they didn't like the way things were being run, so they and their 'Army of God' took over. The lunatics are running the asylum." Annie said sullenly, heading to the garage for her backpacking gear.
Jamie and Lauren looked for their gear also. The three listened to the radio as they gathered what they thought they wanted to keep, the "Militia" had cut the cable. Jamie turned up the radio.
"...martial law. The streets are to remain clear. Stay in your homes, a representative will be coming into your neighborhood to register you with the new government..."
"Humph! Representative my left foot, more like some power-hungry redneck with a gun," muttered Annie.
"...Anyone caught on the streets will be arrested. Anyone resisting arrest will be punished..."
"'Punished?' Who are they kidding, they mean 'shot'," she groused.
"...Any questions you have will be answered by your neighborhood representative..."
"Turn that damned thing off! I'm tired of listening to that crap," Annie insisted.
Having rigged a temporary antenna, Lauren turned the television up to try to catch what the announcer was saying.
"...little is known about the situation in Fort Smith. Our northern news bureau reported a group calling itself the New Colorado Militia has taken over the city."
"We know THAT! Tell us something we DON'T know," Annie yelled at the television.
"...all communication to Fort Smith has been cut off. The governor has called out the National Guard. Eric Seagart is live in Markland. Eric, what is the situation there?" the newscaster asked the camera.
"Well, Tom, the interstate is blocked about 1 mile north of where I'm standing." The camera panned off to the interstate at the US Highway in Markland. The highway was eerily quiet. "No one seems to know exactly what has happened in Fort Smith today. Local radio stations are broadcasting that the city is under martial law. The 8News helicopter attempted to get some information earlier and was turned back."
A scene of Fort Smith from the air appeared on the little screen. As the picture got closer to the city, a crackly voice came over the radio in the cockpit of the helicopter
"News helicopter, turn around now or you will be shot down..." a deep voice sounded through a bull horn.
The camera zoomed in on a road block. One of the militia men had a bazooka on his shoulder. It was aimed at the helicopter. The chopper slowly turned around to leave and the camera panned the Fort Smith area.
"Holy crap," whispered Jamie.
A few hours later, the women dressed in their hiking clothes and checked their gear, making sure everything was secured.
"Ready?" Annie asked.
"Just about," Jame responded.
"Yeppers," said Lauren.
The women put on their backpacks and looked around one last time.
"What about the lights?" Jamie asked.
"Leave them on," replied Annie.
"You think they'll suspect if they're on all night?"
"I'm turning them off," said Lauren flipping the switch in the kitchen, "I want a good head start, I don't want to attract any attention."
They waited for a few minutes listening to the sounds coming from outside.
"Did anyone bring a radio?" asked Jamie.
"Hang on, let me get my Walkman." Jamie went into her bedroom and came out a few moments later clipping the Walkman to her belt. The headphones were around her neck, the cord plugged into the unit.
"Ready," she said. "Lets go."
The women slipped outside and quietly slid the door shut. They looked around, then crept toward the back fence, each listening carefully. Annie opened the back gate and slipped through.
"Skipper, come," Annie whispered.
The dog slipped out the gate and moved off into the darkness. Jamie and Lauren followed, Lauren quietly closing the gate behind her. Stealthily, the three young women headed toward the mountains to the west. They followed the road, but didn't walk on it. When they heard a vehicle or saw lights, they ducked behind cars, bushes, trees, or houses until it passed. The dog stayed close to Annie and traveled as silently as the women.
As they neared the last major road between themselves and the foothills, they heard voices.
"I heard the governor's sent National Guard to keep us in here," one male voice said with a chuckle.
"That's just fine with me," said another. "It'll keep them out."
"Yeah. We just wanna be left alone. It don't seem like they get it, though."
After a few minutes, the voices moved away from where the women are hiding. A vehicle door slammed, an engine started, and they watched a truck slowly move away down the road.
The women breathed an audible sigh of relief.
"Annie, how much further 'til we hit Overland?" Lauren whispered.
"Not far," Annie whispered back. "It's just up ahead."
"Good," Jamie whispered. "I can't wait until we're on the other side. I shouldn't've drank that coffee."
"I told you," Annie replied smugly.
The women took off toward the west once more. The dog ran a little ahead and came back again. They reached the crossroad and carefully approached it. They looked and listened. They didn't see or hear anything. Annie crossed the road, followed by Lauren. Just as Jamie got ready to cross, a truck came out of nowhere from the road behind her. She flattened herself on the ground, Annie and Lauren were nowhere to be seen in the dense foliage on the other side.
The truck stopped at the intersection and sat there. The lights turned off and the passenger door opened.
"Just wait a minute!" a man's voice yelled into the cab. "I can't wait until we get back, damn it."
A man dressed in the "uniform" of the "militia" (a pair of Wranglers and a Khaki shirt) got out of the truck and walked over near where Jamie was hiding, barely concealed in the trees. He stopped about four feet from where she was lying. She heard the sound of a zipper followed closely by the sound of liquid streaming onto the ground less than two feet away from her. She barely breathed as the man relieved himself.
After what seems like an eternity, the stream stopped, the zipper sounded again and the man turned around and headed back to the truck.
"Yeah, I hear what yer saying, John, but..." the door slammed, the lights turned back on, and the truck turned right driving away into the night.
Jamie let a huge sigh, picked herself up and darted across the road, barely looking for traffic. She reached the trees where Lauren caught her and pulled her into the hiding place she was sharing with Annie and Skipper. The women embraced and the dog licked Jamie's face.
"Jeez, are you OK?" Lauren asked.
"I think I just lost 10 years," Jamie responded. "I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life."
"You were lucky, girlfriend," said Annie.
"You're telling ME! Let's get out of here before I lose my dinner."
"Hang on a sec. You have to catch our breath and we have to make a plan."
"What'cha have in mind?" Lauren asked softly.
"Well, we can go straight west, hit the first ridge and not run into civilization until we get near the reservoir..."
"Sounds good to me," Jamie interjected.
"...or," Annie continued, "we can cut to the southwest, take a little more time to reach the ridge and cut a few miles off our trip."
"Do we traipse across anyone's property?" Lauren asked. "Most of the mountain folk out here have dogs, and some of 'em are mean buggers."
"I'm not sure," Annie replied. "I know that part of the way is University land. At least until we start climbing up toward the dams. I'm not sure what's between that and the ridge, though."
"I'm all for taking the most direct route to the ridge," said Jamie. "I don't need the crap scared out of me anymore this trip."
"I can't guarantee that, kiddo," responded Annie. "I just know that between here and there is pretty clear at this end."
"And what about once we get to the ridge?" Lauren asked.
"I'm not sure. We'll have to decide which side of the ridge we want to run."
"If I remember my geography right," said Jamie, "if we head to the ridge from here, then we'd be at the north-ish end of the reservoir."
"Right," said Annie.
"Then why not head to the ridge here and decide which side when we get there," asked Lauren.
"Sounds like a plan," said Annie.
"Ready?" Annie asked a few minutes later.
An hour later, they reached the ridge. They stopped for a few minutes, took off their backpacks, ate a few bites of jerky, drank some water and discussed their plan to head south. Jamie put her headphones on, turned on her Walkman and started playing with the dial.
"If we run the other side of the ridge," said Annie, "we're going to have to be REAL quiet. We'll be next to the reservoir and any sound we make will carry across the water."
"True," Lauren responded, "but how far south do we have to get?"
"When we were watching the news earlier, it looked like the National Guard had a roadblock near the highway. That's not that far, maybe 15 miles from this end of the reservoir."
"Dammit!" Jamie exclaimed softly.
"What?" Annie asked.
"The batteries are fading. Did either of you bring a spare set?"
"Nope," said Lauren.
"I thought I put new ones in," Jamie said. "I must've grabbed the wrong set."
"Did you get anything?" Lauren asked.
"Hadn't got it tuned in yet," Jamie said sheepishly.
"Don't worry about it," said Annie. "We figure we just have to make it as far as the highway."
"Cool," said Jamie. "Now we just have to guess where the roadblocks are. What time is it?"
"Almost midnight," said Lauren, looking at her watch.
"That means we have about six hours before daylight," said Annie.
"We might have to find a place to camp," said Jamie.
"Depends on how far south we get between now and then."
"Depends on how many of THEM we run into between now and then," said Lauren pointedly.
"True," Annie responded wearily.
"I say we head to the reservoir," Jamie suggested. "That way, if we haven't reached the highway by daybreak, we won't have so many people to worry about."
"Good point," said Annie. "Lauren?"
"Works for me," the other woman responded.
The women put away their water bottles and repacked their food. They put their backpacks back on and started down the hill.
The three women heard crickets, birds, dogs barking in the distance, and their own footsteps moving through the grass. Suddenly, Annie, who had been leading, dropped to the ground, motioning to the women behind her to drop, too. They dropped to the ground and belly-crawled toward her.
"What's up?" Lauren whispered.
Annie pointed to a spot about 50 yards in front of them. "Campfire," she whispered.
"Crap!" Jamie whispered.
The women heard voices muffled by the distance. They quietly crawled toward the campfire, creeping closer until they could hear the conversation.
"I'm telling you Johnny," said a deep voice, "I heard something out there."
"You been hearing things all night, Bobby," said the other voice, presumably Johnny.
"Shush, let me listen," said Bobby.
The men remained quiet for a few minutes. During this time, the women stayed where they are, the dog lying quietly next to Annie, growling quietly, hackles raised.
"Well," said Bobby-voice, "I don't hear it now."
"I told you there was nothin' out there," responded Johnny-voice.
"Somethin's there, all right," replied Bobby-voice, "I feel it."
Annie signaled the women to slowly crawl away from the campfire. They crawled to the south, putting distance between themselves and the campfire. Before they got 20 feet, they heard:
"There!" Bobby exclaimed. "There it is again. I'm telling you there's someone or something out there, Johnny."
"All right. All right, all ready! Let's go take a look."
Annie gave a hand signal to Skipper, who took off running the way they had come. The dog ran away from the women toward the campfire, barking. The men saw the dog and ran toward it, away from the women. The women took the opportunity to run to the south away from the camp. They ran until they reached a road. At that point, Annie took out a whistle and blew into it twice. The women crouched down near the road and waited for the dog.
After a few minutes Skipper came running up, tail wagging. She jumped on Annie and licked her face. Annie tumbled over backward, the dog on top of her. After a moment, Annie pushed the dog away and sat back on her haunches. She reached into her pack and got out a treat for the dog. The women discussed their next move in low whispers.
"How much further until we reach the reservoir?" Lauren asked.
"Not much," replied Annie. "It's just over this next hill. The tricky part will be getting to the south side of the reservoir."
"If that camp back there is any indication," said Jamie, "we'll probably run into a patrol on the road across the dam."
"Yeah," replied Annie, "I know. Either way, I think they'll have guards."
"You know," said Lauren tentatively, "we could swing a little further north and try to go around the north end of the reservoir."
"We could," said Jamie. "But that would add a day to this trek, and I really don't want to be out here longer than I have to be."
"Another option," said Annie, "is to hug the top of this ridge, head south and take our chances heading the direction we really want to go."
"The only problem areas there," said Jamie, "are the roads that go up to the reservoir. It depends on where their roadblocks are."
"Good point," said Lauren. "Once we cross the road, we can hug the ridge on Renmil Mountain until we get to Markland."
"We'd either have to be far enough south by daybreak," said Annie, "or we'll have to find a place to hide for the day."
"Let's see how far we get before we decide that one," said Lauren.
"OK," responded Annie. "Are we ready?"
The other two women got up and put on their backpacks, signaling their readiness. Annie looked around, got her bearings and headed south, the other women and the dog following.
The three women and the dog traveled south without incidence until they approached another road. They gazed down on it from a small hill to the north. They saw trucks driving up and down this road. While the trucks don't stop, they seem to be timed in such a way as to practically be a steady stream. After watching for a few minutes, they saw a break in the flow.
"Damn!" exclaimed Jamie. "Too bad we aren't a little closer to the road, I could've made it to the other side."
"I can't tell if there"s a pattern to this or not," said Lauren.
"I saw some rocks down by the road that we could hide behind until another break comes," said Annie.
"What's on the other side of the road?" Jamie asked. "I don't want to run across unless I know there's some cover."
"Let's look," said Lauren.
The women crept back up to their vantage point. Just as they poked their heads above the rock, a truck pulled off the road below. The passenger door opened and a man stepped out.
"Wait one, Hank," a male voice yelled over his shoulder, shining a flashlight along the rocks where the women were hiding. "Joe told me he thought he saw something in the rocks last time he came by here. I'll be right back."
"Sure thing, Pete," another male voice said from inside the truck. "You need some help?"
"Nah," said Pete, "this should only take a minute."
The man walked along the rock from the west, shining his light over the back face of the outcropping. Seeing nothing, he went back to the truck.
"Whatever he thought he saw," Pete said as he climbed back down toward the truck, "it's gone now. We'll radio this in and tell the others to keep an eye out for anything suspicious."
"OK," responded Hank.
Pete climbed back in the truck, slammed the door and the truck pulled back onto the road, dirt flying. From around the east side of the outcropping, the three women and the dog peeked around the corner, looked both ways and darted across the road. Jamie barely made it to the other side when a pair of headlights shone on her. She hit the dirt sliding on her left leg and buttocks. The truck coming around the curve skidded to a halt and two men jumped out of both doors.
"Did you see that, Dave?"
"Looked like a deer to me."
"Get me a light."
The man called Dave grabbed a light and pulled out a pistol. Jamie backed under the brush as far as she possibly can. Dave shined the light in the surrounding area, gazing into the brush. He crept toward where Jamie was lying on the ground. She covered her head with her arms and buried her face in the dirt, hardly daring to breathe. Dave came within two feet of where she was lying when suddenly a fox darted out and ran away from her. Dave followed the little creature with his light until it disappeared.
He swept the area with the light one more time, not looking as closely this time. He turned around, went back to the truck, and climbed in.
"It was a fox," Jamie could hear him tell his companion. "Took off like a ...." The door slammed and the truck took off.
Jamie let out an audible sigh. She lay on the ground for a few minutes, breathing heavily. When she finally caught her breath, she lifted her head to looked around for her friends. She pulled herself to a crouch, turned away from the road and as quietly as she could, made her way up the hill. She got about 45 feet up the hill when she was stopped by a sound.
"Psst. Jamie," Annie's voice said, "over here."
"Oh. My. God." Jamie said shakily. "I thought I was meat."
"We did, too," said Lauren, giving Jamie a hug. "Are you OK?"
"I'll fall apart later," Jamie responded, hugging Lauren back, "right now I just want to get out of this nightmare."
"Me too," responded Annie. "It's not much further now. We should be able to make it in about another hour or so. And no more roads to cross."
"You've got my vote," replied Jamie.
"Sounds good to me, too," said Lauren.
The women arrived at the National Guard road block just as the sun peeked over the horizon. They were questioned about their experience then taken to a motel room. It was late in the morning when they were finally able to settle in to sleep.
Jamie woke with a start, eyes wide, the clock on the bedside table read 3:13 PM.
Word Count = 3513