Jesse grimaced. The man and young woman stood on the road below, ringing the bell mounted beside the gate, completely oblivious to the evil lurking inside the cabin. He wanted desperately to warn them off, but knew that it would probably ruin any chance of taking out the Harpe's, and he'd worked much to hard to get this close to them to lose his opportunity to avenge the Read's. Resting his rifle on the boulder, he watched and waited, hopeful the pair would move on.
On the other hand, what if the Harpe's came out to play....?
James and Samantha rang the bell twice more. After about 10 minutes there were becoming impatient when Tamer didn't come to the gate. Normally she'd responded within several minutes time. If she wasn't home, she would've been in town, and they'd just come from there, so they knew that wasn't likely. Where else would she go? Receiving no response they turned to go.
James began pushing the handcart up the road, and they'd taken but a few steps when Samantha stopped, turned around and stared back at the gate. She turned back to her grandfather, and said, "I think we should check on her. What if she is sick or injured? She could have caught something caring for someone and be sick in there."
James looked up at the cabin and pondered for a moment. Something about it felt odd, and he didn't like it. His instinct was telling him otherwise, but he capitulated to Sam's wishes and agreed they would investigate.
Just as a precaution, James paused and opened his haversack and removed his revolver, an old Smith & Wesson Model 10 chambered for .38 Special. He opened the cylinder and inspected it. It held just five cartridges. They were hard to come by and that was all he had. He shoved the pistol in his waistband at the small of his back, so Tamer wouldn't be alarmed by it. Sam looked on and thought it an unnecessary precaution, but said nothing.
On the hillside above, Jesse went electric when the pair suddenly returned, slipped the loop off the post, and passed through the gate. He began to nervously chew the inside of his mouth when they started up the driveway to the cabin. "Oh Shit", he thought, and pulled the .30-30 into his shoulder. The rifle rested atop his coat, where it was not as apt to slip. He gently worked the lever a fraction of an inch, checked the chamber, and confirmed a round was in place.
Inside the cabin, the Harpes were drunk. They'd been pounding booze for a couple of hours. Michael had been moody since the conversation with Tamer. Both were already agitated. They'd turned the healer's cabin upside down and found no useful drugs, useful meaning hallucinogens, stimulants, or depressants...their main reason for the raid from the start. They'd found some antibiotics, but those offered none of the effects they were looking for. In their perverse world, every day was spent in pursuit of alcohol, drugs, sex, or blood, and not necessarily in that order.
Consequently, they were completely caught off guard when the gate bell rang. Michael sprang to his feet and went to the window. Peering through the gauzy curtain fabric, he was shocked to see an older man and younger woman approaching up the driveway. They were only a few yards from the door.
"Fuck!", he whispered. "Company! Get ready!"
Willie struggled off the couch, spilling booze down his shirt front. He reached over to the side table and grabbed his favorite weapon, a hickory handled camp axe with a 1-1/4 pound head. The head was rusted brown from the blood of his many victims, and the handle was darkly stained and gummy. He never cleaned it, but kept it razor sharp by habitually keening the edge each evening.
Michael crossed the room and grabbed his hunting knife. The brothers flanked the door and waited.
Tamer had also heard the bell and knew someone had arrived. It could be anyone, and she had not expected anybody. She could hear the sudden activity in the living room and knew something was happening. An idea formed in her head, in case an opportunity presented itself, namely a distraction.
Quirky slipping on tennis shoes, she positioned herself by the bedroom door, listened, and waited.
James knocked on the door, then stepped back a couple of paces. He still felt ill at ease about the situation, but couldn't say exactly why. It was just a feeling he had...and not a good one.
Samantha looked around and listened but heard no movement from within the cabin. They looked at each other quizzically. James removed the revolver from his waistband and held it down by his leg, then stepped forward and tried the doorknob.
It turned in his hand.
Suddenly the door was jerked open and Willie Harpe launched out the door. If the Harpe brothers had a motto, it would be "Speed, Surprise, Violence of Action"...they lived by it, and it never failed them.
James was completely startled and flew 10' backwards as the giant man slammed bodily into him with the force of a bull, knocking the revolver from his hand. It landed several feet away in some brush.
Samantha screamed as she witnessed the event unfolding before her.
Rising to his knees, James Pruitt tried to react, searching behind him for the revolver, but it was too little too late. Willie Harpe swung his axe viciously, catching James in the left shoulder and very nearly severing his arm as it bit deep. Blood exploded from the gash and James let out a deafening howl of pain.
Michael Harpe had come out of the cabin behind Willie and lunged at James with his hunting knife, catching him under the sternum and sliding the knife deep beneath the rib cage. It was a mortal wound.
James knew he was doomed and in spite of the horrendous pain, decided his last act would be to save his beloved granddaughter, even at the cost of his own life. Mustering all his strength, he wrapped his good arm around Michael Harpe and held on with all his might. Michael Harpe tried to unwind himself from James Pruitt's grip, but the old rancher was strong and held tight with his remaining strength. They were locked eye to eye.
Time seemed to slow down, and James looked over to where Samantha stood frozen and screamed at her.
"RUN SAM! RUN BABY!"
He didn't have to tell her twice. Samantha snapped out of it, turned, and ran as fast as her feet could carry her down the driveway to the road below. From there she began sprinting down the road like a scared Jackrabbit. She had a huge adrenal dump flowing into her bloodstream and nature's gift of fight or flight survival instinct was in full operation.
It chose flight.
Willie Harpe lumbered down the driveway and chased after Samantha, like a mammoth grizzly bear. For an obese man he moved remarkably fast and closed on her quickly. Samantha kept glancing over her shoulder, terrified to see the axe waving man not only keeping pace, but closing behind her.
Jesse Wolter had to choose. There was no doubt that the man struggling with the Harpe brother was done for, but the girl might have a chance if he could just make the shot....and it was a big "IF".
They were running full tilt down the road and the monstrous Harpe brother was close on her heels. Every time Jesse put the cross hairs on him he or the woman would shift positions and the girl would wander into the line of fire.
He couldn't get a shot.
Willie Harpe was on Samantha and grinned to himself as his hand closed around the girl's ponytail. Catching it, he ruthlessly jerked her backwards off her feet. He was furious she'd made him work so hard to catch her, and decided rape was too good for her.
"This whore is going to die!" he thought, and raised his camp axe high above his head.
Samantha saw it coming and true to her beliefs, uttered her last profession of faith.
"Forgive me Father. Lord Jesus please accept me into your Kingdom this day."
Willie Harpe was amused by the girl's prayer and cackled with glee upon hearing this. To him, it smacked of surrender...and yet another victory for him.
"Yo'r "Lord" ain't gonna save you now BITCH!"
In that instant, Jesse Wolter found his shot and pressed the trigger. The .30-30 jumped and sailed a FEDERAL 150 grain softpoint into Willie's back. The round burrowed deep, lodged in his tissue, and expended it's energy. Willie staggered by the impact but didn't go down.
That he remained standing was even more amazing. He jerked Samantha to her feet like a rag doll, pulling her around in front of him as a shield and facing in the general direction from whence he perceived the shot had come.
Dropping the axe, Willie Harpe drew a butcher knife from a sheath behind his back and pressed the blade hard against Samantha's throat. A small line of blood formed along the edge. Harpe looked up to where he thought the shot had come and backed away, dragging Sam backwards with him.
He searched the hillside, but saw nothing. Then he shouted, "I'll kill her!"
Jesse wiped sweat from his eyes and squinted through the scope.
"FUCK!", he thought, "I can't believe he is still standing. I've got nothing to lose. He'll kill her anyway."
Jesse did his best to calm himself, sighted in and took in a breath. He let it out slowly , just as his father had taught him so long ago, and then pressed the trigger. The .30-30 bucked against his shoulder and the round flew true.
The slug passed just through the top of Willie Harpe's hairline and exited the back of his skullcap. As it did so, his brain case swelled from the softpoint's hydrostatic shock, then exploded in a mist of pink and grey as his liquefied brain exploded.
Willies eye's rolled up in what remained of his head and then he dropped to the ground, dead.
Freed from the Harpe brother's grasp and traumatized by her grandfathers death, Samantha shrieked and ran headlong into the woods in sheer and total panic.
TO BE CONTINUED....
Copyright © Manny Silva, 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher.