Authors: Ann Riley
“So they were holding people against their will?” I ask her.
“They would put together a group to go out and raid other people for their goods. The last time, Robert refused to go. The next day is when we left. If they find us, they will kill us and everyone here.” She says crying.
“Don’t worry about that. Now that we know, we can prepare for them. Is that who has been shooting and walking around the edge of the woods?” I ask her.
“Yes.” She says.
“The man that y’all caught and were trying to question was one that Robert recognized from that círculo del infierno.” She says.
“Circle of hell, huh?” I ask her.
“Yes. That is what that place is.” She says.
I give her hand a squeeze and tell her to get some rest.
I head back inside and tell the family what I just found out.
“At least now we know what we are up against.” I tell everyone.
“We need to prepare. Is Trey still out of commission?” I ask.
“Yes.” Becky says.
“Ok. He can get the watch schedule set up. Tell him I want two at a time on watch. Make sure they get to sleep before the watch. If I catch any of them asleep, I will kick their asses. Make sure you tell them I said it.” I tell Becky.
“Marc, since you are the weapons expert, get all the weapons and ammo together so you can sort through what we have and don’t have, then make sure everyone is stocked up.” I tell him.
“Mitchell, make sure all of the guard posts are stocked with supplies. Once we get to the posts, we need to stay until we are relieved. Make sure there is water, food and medical supplies at each post. Tell Tammy to make small medical kits to place there.” I say.
“Kelley and Diane, watch the front and make sure the babies are hidden and safe.” I tell them.
“Robert.” I yell out the door.
“Get your ass in here.” I snap.
He comes in looking at me like I have just thrown worms in his cereal.
“Yes?” He asks.
“The next time you have someone following you, tell us, or I will send your ass back to where you came from. You have put us all in danger by withholding that bit of information.” I tell him.
His eyes grow big and he opens his mouth to say something. I hold up my hand.
“Never mind. I know what is going on and the next time I will kick your ass for not telling us.” I tell him.
Bobby and I head out to our post in the barn to make sure we have everything stocked.
“I’m so tired of this shit.” I tell him.
“Me too.” He says.
Riley is sniffing around the barn. Hunting I assume. After all, he is a hound. He comes over to look at me as if he wants to ask if I am going to sit down or not.
“Let’s go see if Trey has the schedule made yet.” I tell Bobby.
He takes my hand and we head into the house.
Trey is sitting at the table when we go in.
“Done?” I ask him.
I take the list and post it on information board that we made for details like this.
Marc is in the family room sorting weapons and ammo. Kelley is helping him. Although I don’t know if she is helping him, or just in there to aggravate him.
This takes me back to our younger years. Kelly, Marc and I grew up together, more like siblings rather than an aunt, niece and nephew. Marc terrorized us. Of course, we did him too, but he was hell bent on destruction when he terrorized us. He aimed for the kill when he came after us.
I remember a day when we all got whipped. Yes, when I grew up, we got a whipping. With a belt. And we didn’t turn out to shoot into theaters, churches or schools.
Diane thought she was the belt whisperer. I think trying to deliver punishment to three children who were as big as you was a bit more than she bargained for. We were all fighting, as usual, and she had apparently had enough of us. So she got the belt out. Kelley and I laughed at her while she whipped us. Were we wrong for that? Of course. We showed a complete lack of respect, but hey, it was funny. That should let you know how much she was actually hurting us. But Marc broke down like he was being beaten with a chain embedded with nails. He was screaming at the top of his lungs.
Kelley and I found this to be entertaining as we knew he was putting on an Oscar worthy performance. Needless to say, when we all had our whipping, Marc decided to take vengeance on Kelley and me with a two by four board and a BB gun.
A two by four across the back of the legs is not a pleasant experience and I think I still have BBs lodged in my legs.
Looking back, I really don’t see how we survived each other during our growing years. We fought and tried to maim each other, but, the fact remained that we stuck together. Tammy came along later and I think we all had the protective instinct towards her. However, Kelley and I did aggravate her, but we never fought with her like we did with Marc. Those were the carefree days of childhood, even if you did have to fight with siblings.
I head into our bedroom to clean my rifle and make sure I have everything ready. Bobby is already in there getting his bag together.
“You got the extra ammo?” I ask him.
“I have a bad feeling.” Bobby says.
“Like what exactly?” I ask him.
“Like something is going to happen that we can’t prevent. It’s just a feeling.” He says.
“We have to be on alert at all times. They are out there, watching. They want Robert and we are just an obstacle. We can’t let our guard down. And no heroics. Do you understand?” I ask Bobby.
He looks at me as if I am speaking in a language other than English then says, “Practice what you preach.”
“I will be careful. I promise.” I tell him.
“Somehow, that isn’t very comforting to me because I don’t believe you.” Bobby says with a smile.
I stick my tongue out at him.
I go back to my weapons check and knife hording. Riley is staring at me. This little dog can always tell when I am about to leave. He sticks to me like glue when he thinks I am going somewhere. He doesn’t care that I am just going outside, he just knows I am going.
Looking to make sure I have everything as I want it, I rummage around for some clothes and head to the shower. When I am done, I come out to find Riley still staring. However, he has moved to the bed at this point. I walk over and rub his ears. He then proceeds to go belly up for his belly scratch.
I hear a noise in the hallway, like something hitting the sides of the walls. I walk over to the door and see Remington coming down the hall in her walker. She stops and starts crying. Loudly. I look under her walker and see she has a wheel stuck. I walk over and give her a push and she goes on her way. Gabby comes down the hallway and I point over my shoulder to where Remington was last seen. She has apparently gotten stuck again as she starts crying.
I love kids, but I’m glad I never had any. I don’t think my nerves could take it.
As I close our bedroom door, I can still hear Remi fussing and crying, no doubt, stuck again.
The sun through the window woke me. I turned over and saw that Bobby was already up, but Riley was there, on his back, looking at me.
“Really? You’re going to watch me all day Riley?” I ask him.
He wagged his tail.
I get up and look out the window to see Marc, Bobby and Mitchell on the patio. Our patio has limited view since Diane has all types of vines and plants out there. It is hard to see past them if you are looking in.
I dress and head to the kitchen. I need my morning Pepsi. Hell, soon we won’t be able to get them anymore. Soon, we won’t be able to get any of the luxuries anymore.
“What’s up men?” I ask anyone who will answer.
“Talking and planning.” He says.
“Who is at the guard posts right now?” I ask.
“Gabby and Brittany are at the front. Tammy is in the north end of the barn loft and Robert is in the south end barn loft. Trey is on the roof with a walkie talkie so that he can let us know if he sees anything and we will take care of it.
Becky and I are going to take over for Gabby and Brittany, Bobby and you will take over for Tammy and Robert, Mitchell is going to relieve Trey, Diane and Kelley are covering from the inside, and all of the children are in the safe room.” Marc says.
“I want Riley in there too. If I don’t, he will try and follow me to the barn.” I say.
Marc gets his walkie talkie and tells Hayley, Tammy’s daughter, to come and get Riley. He is not very happy when she picks him up and whisks him away and I hear him bark as she enters the safe room. He is mad at me now.
“How long do they have left on watch?” I ask.
“A couple of hours.” Marc says.
“I am going to look around.” I say.
Bobby shoots me a look that says I had better be happy that he does not have any type of mind control or he would be using it on me now.
“I will be careful.” I tell him.
“Fine. You’ll do it anyway. Just pay attention.” He says.
I walk toward the barn. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I decided to do this. But now I am having second thoughts. Only because I can’t see through the trees. If there is someone out there, they would have no problem shooting me.
I continue on anyway. If I turn around they could just as easily shoot me in the back. Well, fuck.
I follow our little pathway to the barn. I can see Tammy in the loft window. She has her rifle up looking through her scope at the woods. I hope she can see if anyone is out there.
I get closer to the barn and stop when I hear sticks popping, like someone has stepped on them. I look back up at Tammy and she shakes her head no. I am going to assume she meant she doesn’t see anyone. However, she did hear it. I take another step and hear popping sticks again. So I stop again.
Well, this is just wonderful. Out in the wide open and someone is trying to ambush me. As I lift my foot to take a step, I hear it again so I make a move to the left corner of the barn door entrance. As I get to the corner and start to run inside, I run directly into a wall of warm muscles and long hair.
“Tombstone.” I say through gritted teeth. My horse.
“How did you get out of your stall?” I ask him.
He snorts in my face and gives me a push with his nose.
I almost had a fucking heart attack and we haven’t even started with the shooting yet.
I lead him back to his stall and see Tammy looking down at me laughing. I flip her the finger.
I’m too old for this shit.
As I head back to the barn entrance, I hear the popping again. What the fuck? Is someone deliberately breaking damn sticks out there?
It sounds like it is across the pond. I am not far from the pond plus sound travels across the water.
I look at Tammy and give her the signal to watch my back. She nods.
Bobby is going to kick my ass if I go out there. Like the old saying, better to ask forgiveness than permission. I think that’s how it goes. I probably should ask permission first.
I walk over to the edge of the pond and squat. It’s close to three in the afternoon, so the sun is still out. The woods are shadows around the edges at this time of day. Even though the sun is shining, it’s still dark in the woods. The fish are jumping in the water so it’s hard to hear any leaves crunching now. I sit there and listen for a few minutes.
I should go back to the barn. I am not in the mood to get shot today, so I turn and head back. I still see Tammy watching the woods.
I finally get back inside and head to the south end to see if Robert is still there. He is.
I hear someone behind me and turn to see Bobby is coming in.
Tammy and Robert come down from the loft and fill us in on nothing. Since nothing has happened today.