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The Great Outdoors
Rated G, no warnings.
Thank you Pam, for keeping track of all the little things. This was a for a "Show Me" Challenge, but I'm not sure I got it right.
Some days it didn't pay to get out of bed, Face thought, as he slid down the hill, feet first, dislodging small rocks, pine needles and twigs as he went. Looking up, through the branches of ponderosa and lodgepole pines, he could see a powder blue, cloudless sky. A bullet whizzing past his ear sent him scrambling between two manzanita bushes.
He waited while his heart rate slowed and took a deep breath. Using the cover afforded by the evergreen shrub he took a minute to get his bearings and look at his surroundings.
Under other circumstances this would be a great spot for a vacation. Across from him were the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Below him was a small, crystal clear alpine lake. The meadow to the left of the lake was his destination. A small farmhouse was across the meadow with a row of derelict cars along the back fence line, but more importantly a pick-up in the drive.
The zing of a ricochet broke him out of his reverie and he looked up the hill. Two thick-necked bullyboys, that he'd christened Link and Missing, wearing overstretched t-shirts and carrying Glock 9mm handguns were creating a small avalanche as they followed his path down the hillside.
Knowing his position wasn't secure he looked through the trees for the path of least resistance. Small granite and shale rocks were almost a bigger threat than the nine-millimeter slug aimed for his shelter.
He scooted out from under the bush, ignoring the tug of a snag on his silk shirt. As he dashed down a faint deer trail, his mind flashed on Murdock's recent incarnation as 'Rock Hound,' Doctor of Geology. Something reminded him of the recent lecture he'd gotten on volcanic deposits and igneous rocks, but he tried to push those irrelevant thoughts to the back of his mind. He was going to have to ask him later what the difference was between a big pond and a small lake.
There wasn't a need to look back over his shoulder to judge the distance between his pursuers and himself. Dodging forest debris and rocks, he charged down the path as fast as he could.
He stopped where the tree line ended and the meadow began. An apple orchard had been left to go wild, but he used the pale white blossoms that filled the low hanging branches as cover. Kneeling, he felt the damp ground seep into his wool slacks. At another time, he might have noticed the purple spikes of the mountain salvia, or the meadow full of yellow buttercups, or paid attention to whether the white blooms were clover or dandelions.
Instead he was only calculating how far it was across the meadow, and if Missing and Link would think far enough ahead to just stop, take aim, and shoot him as he ran; or if they would continue to follow, giving him a chance to use his speed to out-distance them.
The meadow looked like it was flat, but he knew that looks were deceiving. Glancing back over his shoulder, he weighed his chances and taking a deep breath, locked his eyes on his destination.
The waving meadow grasses hid obstacles like gullies and ditches, but he maneuvered them well. He didn't know that the brown-topped grasses hid marshy ground, but he found out quick enough as he sank up to his ankles and his loafers filled with water.
Apparently his two pursuers didn't either. He looked back and saw Missing bending over, helping Link to his feet. The balder of the two men brushed at his clothes and cursed. He also seemed to be looking for something and Face could only hope that it was his gun.
As he left the meadow and stepped onto the hard packed yard, Face was almost startled by the difference in the ground under his feet. Little puffs of dust rose up with each footfall. His adrenaline surged when a large black Labrador retriever raised its head and looked at him with big, brown eyes. But seconds later, the dog set its graying muzzle back on its front paws without ever making a sound.
The truck wasn't locked and Face climbed up into the hot cab, pushing gum wrappers and Copenhagen cans across the bench seat. The seat behind the wheel was sprung and he found he was leaning to one side. Hastily his fingers reached for the column, but the keys weren't there. He reached down and pulled up the floor mat, and then pulled open the ashtray - still nothing. Reaching up, he pulled down the visor, and a set of keys dropped on him. He fumbled to catch them, and jammed the bigger of the two keys into the ignition.
Looking out the rear window, he watched as the two men left the meadow and headed for the pick up. Face turned over the engine and checked to see if the brake was disengaged. The big-block motor rumbled and the passenger window rattled. He knew he should pull out, but he waited and waited a little longer as the bodyguards got closer.
Gripping the column shifter he waited until the two men got just to the tailgate. Revving the engine, he dropped the clutch and sprayed the two men with gravel and dirt and dust. As the rear end slid a little, Face corrected and flew down the drive, around the gate at the end of the road and out onto the highway.
The winding road was barely wider than the truck, but Face sped down it at reckless speed. The trees on either side of the road created a strobe-like effect making him blink hard to keep the glare out of his eyes.
Behind him was the quarry, tucked inside his shirt were the documents needed to prove the client's case, and before him lay the tiny hamlet of Ryansburg. All he needed to do was get the truck to the library and make sure the client fixed things with the owner.
He looked himself over briefly with scorn. And he needed to change his clothes. As long as he got to town with no problems, he was home free. Instinct and training made him check his mirrors, and it was all he could do not to bang his head on the steering wheel as flashing lights filled his rear view.
Some days it didn't pay to get out of bed.
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