Authors: Ann Riley
Bobby and I climb up and get in our spots. I grab the binoculars and scan the woods. Oh yes. I found Marc’s and snatched them before he could stop me.
I see nothing, but that doesn’t mean nothing is there.
Suddenly, I hear popping and crunching again.
“For shit’s sake. What the hell is that?” I whisper to Bobby.
I sit and continue to listen.
I look down and what do I see? Tombstone again.
“How the fuck does he keep getting out?” I asked Bobby.
Again, he shrugs. He is no help at all.
I climb down and head out to bring his ass back inside. By the time I get down and out the barn door, Tombstone is at the pond.
“Oh fucking hell Tombstone.” I say to him. He whinnies.
The little shit has never been this bad about getting out.
Finally, I make it to him with the rope I have and hook it to his halter. I turn to start back to the barn and hear a shot ring out. I turn so fast I almost fall. Tombstone trots to the barn. Oh, now he wants nothing to do with the freedom he had.
As I turn back, I feel a hot, burning feeling in my left thigh. It felt as if someone had taken a hot branding iron and ripped through my muscles with it. I fall to my knees. I can see Bobby in the barn and as he starts running out of the door, the bullets start flying and he has to go back in.
Well, fuck me.
I try to stand and fall back down. At this point I am dizzy so I start to realize I have been shot. I try to feel around and see how bad it’s bleeding, but the way I have fallen is preventing me from that. I know I can’t get back to the barn. Even if I could, they are firing on Bobby. So I look around and see that maybe the only option I have is to try and crawl to the edge of the woods so that I am not easily visible.
I start crawling. Shots are coming from all directions it seems. I hear Bobby yelling my name and I can’t answer him as I don’t want to give my location away. I continue my crawl and finally get to the woods. I see a fallen tree that has been down for years. I crawl my way over to it and scratch out a hole beside it, piling leaves up around the hole as I go. Finally, I make a small nest that I can roll into and hopefully remain unseen.
Pulling a small bottle of water out of my cargo pocket, I take a drink. I take off my paracord bracelet and unwind it. Reaching to my side, I take a knife out of my belt and cut the cord. Wrapping the cord around my thigh, I pull it as tight as I can stand it and tie it off. I always knew these bracelets would come in handy one day. I just didn’t know I would have a gun shout to apply it to.
I don’t know if the bleeding has stopped, but I hope that slowed it down. From the wetness of my pants, it seems to have been pouring out. I feel my foot getting wet, so I know blood is running into my boot. I keep digging in my pockets and find the medicine box Tammy put together. It has a few pain relievers, although I don’t know if a Tylenol will stop a bullet wound from hurting.
Bullets are still flying, I can’t walk and I am bleeding out. Isn’t this a bitch.
“Tracie’s shot, Tracie’s shot.” I say over the walkie talkie.
“Where is she?” Marc asks.
“She crawled into the woods. When I ran out to go to her, they started firing and she crawled to the edge of the woods.” I tell him.
“Fuck.” Marc says.
“Where did they shoot her?” Marc asks.
“It looked like the leg. She fell to her knees when she figured out she had been shot so I think it was her left leg.” I tell Marc.
“Fucking hell” Diane says over the radio.
“We have to end this shit. I have to find her. She may be bleeding out.” Diane says.
“I am going to get her.” I tell them.
“You can’t go out there; else we will be looking for you too Bobby.” Diane tells me.
“I can’t just leave her out there!” I scream.
“I am headed back there to you man. Hold tight.” Marc says.
“She will be ok Bobby. We have to believe that.” Diane says.
I can’t answer her. If I do, I feel like I may scream. I have to find her. I can’t leave her out there. I refuse to live without her.
As I am checking my rifle and ammo, Marc comes into the barn.
“Which way did she go?” He asks.
“She crawled toward the right side of the pond and veered off into the edge of the woods. I would say about halfway down the levee, she crawled to the right and into the woods.” I tell him.
Marc takes my walkie talkie.
“Trey, I need you to come down to the barn. Listen to me, ok. Stay down. Low walk down here. Bobby and I are going to cover you. Don’t be fucking around either. Get your ass down here fast.” Marc tells him.
“On my way.” Trey replies back.
Marc and I get in the window and start covering Trey’s ass. I can hear shots coming from the house covering him too. It doesn’t take him long to get to Marc and me.
“What are y’all going to do?” Trey asks.
“We are going to find Tracie.” Marc says.
“I want you in the loft. Do not come down. Do you understand? It is going to be hard for you to shoot with your arm in a sling. So stay up here and cover us. Scan the woods and if you see anyone other Bobby or me, shoot their asses.” Marc says.
“We are going into the woods.” Marc says over the radio.
As I turn away from the window, I see a walker coming across the pasture. And, I see someone who thinks they are camouflaged. Idiots. They are on the ground in brown camo, only it’s moving across the ground.
I pull my rifle up and aim at the walker. Then, I decide to move my aim to the dumb ass on the ground.
On the next movement,I fire and hit them in the leg. I hear a scream and the walker heads over to the new attraction. I aim again and shoot the person’s other leg.
The walker is ambling right over to the new sound it hears. That should keep the stupid ass in camo busy while Marc and I make a run for the woods.
I have been around my wife too long. I finally understand her way of thinking now. I understand why we do what we do. I don’t like it, but I understand it better now.
Marc and I low walk out of the barn and head to the right of the pond. Between the pond and the woods, there is a small depression that almost looks like a ditch. When we get close enough, we can drop down into that ditch and make our way down the levee. Trey is firing from the loft. Diane and Kelley are firing from the house.
Suddenly, Marc pulls me to the ground. He points out to the front of us and there is a man coming out of the woods that has apparently not seen us yet. It sucks to be him.
Before I can say anything, Marc aims and fires. The man, along with the right part of his face, drops to the ground.
Marc rises and starts heading to the woods again. Finally, we make it to the cover of the trees and stop.
“I don’t know where to start looking. But we will do this. Look for any area that has been disturbed, like dirt or leaves scratched up, broken limbs or something that looks like someone has been there. We used to hide in these woods when we were young, so she has knowledge of how to hide herself. I just hope she didn’t do it so good that we can’t find her.” Marc says.
I nod and start the search for my wife.
I have been in some predicaments before, but I think this one takes the cake. Bobby is going to kick my ass for running out there after my horse. I would kick my own ass if I could.
I don’t know if my leg is still bleeding, but I do know it has bled profusely as I am dizzy and going in and out of consciousness. However, I’m not sure if it is due to blood loss or pain. I am a big baby when it comes to pain. I can’t handle it. I don’t know how far in I am. I don’t know how far I crawled.
Am I covered and hidden well enough? Too well? Can Bobby find me? That would be my luck. Die in the woods because I hid myself too well. I still hear shots being fired. I just heard one, or I think I did anyway, that was pretty close to where I am. I don’t move though. I hear leaves crunching and sticks popping, but they aren’t that close to me.
I’m not sure how far I am in this hole. I remember digging at an angle under the fallen tree so that I was partly under the trunk. I hope I am hidden.
A pain that feels like a fire pit from hell sears through my thigh. I clamp my teeth together to keep from screaming. If I ever wondered what it felt like to be shot, I should have my ass kicked. There are some things you just shouldn’t experience.
I can hear footsteps getting closer. But how in the hell am I to know who it is? Bobby? Marc? Walker? I continue to stay as still as possible.
I lose consciousness again because when I wake up, the sun has gone down. And now I have resigned myself to staying out here all night. If I make it all night. I can’t tell if my leg is still bleeding or how bad it is. My teeth are chattering so there is another noise I have to muffle. I don’t hear any shots now. Is it over? Is everyone alright? I have to get out of here. But when I try to move, I feel like I am staked to the ground.
The pain tears through my leg like fire and I slowly close my eyes.
“We have to find her. It’s getting dark and she’s bleeding. She probably has fever by now too.” I say.
“We will.” Marc says.
“Keep looking for ground disturbances. She would have either covered herself with leaves or dug a place out to hide.” Marc says.
I have to find my wife. I can’t think about not finding her. She never gave up on finding me when this shit started and I won’t give up on her.
“Anything?” Diane asks over the radio.
“Not yet.” Marc says.
“Everyone has run. We are still watching, but we can’t see anyone lurking. I don’t know if they have left or if they are just regrouping to hit us again.” Diane says.
“Stay alert. We are going to find Tracie.” Marc says to Diane.
As I walk through the woods, I see a man walking in front of me. He is heading away from us. If I remember correctly, Marc said the camp those idiots have is straight through the woods. When I find Tracie, I am paying them a visit.
Marc comes over to my side and we stand there scanning the ground for any lumps, indentations, disturbances or holes. And see nothing.
“Tracie.” I whisper.
We listen. Nothing.
Again, I whisper her name. And again, there is nothing.
Then, I get an idea. There is only one living being that would be able to find her. One being who is on her scent at all times and follows her around like he is a part of her soul.
“Riley. I need Riley.” I tell Marc.
He looks at me like I have lost my damn mind.
“He can track her. He is a hound and he has shown hunting characteristics. Don’t let him being an indoor, spoiled dog fool you into thinking he can’t hunt. I have seen him do it.” I tell Marc.
“Trey, get Riley down here on his leash.” Marc says.
“Sorry. It sounded like you said to bring Riley down there to the woods.” Trey says.
“Boy, get your ass in gear. We have to find your Aunt.” Marc says.
Five minutes later, Trey is ducking and dodging his way to us, with Riley in tow.
When Riley reaches me, he starts wagging his tail, wanting me to pet him. I reach down and pick him up and talk to him.
“Riley, find momma. Where is momma? Let’s go find her.” I tell him.
He starts whining and twisting, wanting to get down. When I put him back on the ground, he starts sniffing. He will sniff for a minute, then stop and hold his head in the air and smell. He puts his nose back to the ground and heads deeper into the woods.
Marc and I look as we walk. There are numerous places someone could hide out here, but where did she hide?
Riley heads over to a tree that looks to have been down for a long time. He walks circles around it. Then he stops and starts digging at the right end of it. Digging is his specialty. Burrowing, rooting around, and getting into thick growths are a dachshund’s gift. He constantly buries and digs things up.
Just as I am about to turn him to the other end of the log, Marc grabs my arm and bends down. There is a boot sticking out from under the leaves. I tie Riley to a branch and Marc and I start digging. When I uncover more of the boot, I start crying. We found her finally.
“That’s her.” I tell Marc.
“Stay here. I’ll be right back.” Marc says.