“Cory, I’m scared. What if something happens to you? Then what?”
I gave her braid another tug. “If it makes you feel better, sure, I’ll take Mitch’s gun along.” I then scooped up the pistol, turned, and walked out the door. Andi followed close behind.
I went over to Flash, mounted up, then gave Andi a cheerful wave. “I’ll be back within two days. See you soon Andi!”
Then I headed down the trail to Fresno Flats…and help.
I rode in silence for about twenty minutes, then I started to get kinda bored seeing the same scenery I saw on the way up. So I started talking to my horse. “I’m glad it’s a nice day, huh, Flash?”
He shook his mane, as if in agreement. I grinned.
“But then, you’d probably be happier if you were out in a nice green pasture, eating to your hearts content…”
It was a quiet ride, save an occasional bird that belted out a song here and there, and normally, I would have really enjoyed it. But with all that had happened in the last few days, my mind had too much to think about to be having any fun.
Around two o’clock, my stomach started to growl, so I kept a lookout for a cool place to have my lunch. I soon spotted a nice looking green spot beneath some pine trees. “Hey, this looks like a nice spot for eating…” I tugged his reins, “Whoa there boy, let’s stop here.”
I threw my leg over the saddle horn, and slid off the saddle. Lifting up the flap of my saddle bag, I pulled out an apple, a piece of bread, and a half eaten, moldy biscuit. “Eww.” I wrinkled my nose and tossed it over my shoulder. “Don’t know why I packed that in there…” I then plopped down into the soft grass, and took a chunk out of my “lunch,” the bread.
As I swallowed the last bite, I lay on my back and sighed. “Lord, please help me get some help real quick. Mitch needs you bad, and please keep the girls safe while I’m gone…”
A loud crunch sounded near my head and made me jump. I sat up, and saw that it was just Flash; he had found my apple, and had gobbled it right down. “Well, there goes my snack for later.” I sighed, “Oh well, you probably needed it more than I did anyway.” I reached out and patted Flash on the neck. He nickered, and nuzzled my hair. I laughed, and shoved him head out of my way. “Alright, that’s enough buddy. We’d better be going...”
So I mounted up, and we both rode on down the trail. After about a half an hour, I heard hoof beats coming up the trail, so I quickly pulled Flash off into the bushes; just in case it was another one of those bank robbers. I watched as the horse and rider appeared over the ridge, and was partially relieved to see that it was the former Deputy Baker.
Hoping he held nothing against me from our little jail encounter, I nudged my horse’s sides and went back onto the trail and into his view.
Hugh Baker stopped short, but seemed to relax when he saw that it was just me.
“Mister Baker!” I called. “Boy am I glad to see you. Mitch has been shot, and the girls are up at the cabin alone, and I’m headed to Fresno Flats for help… ”
He stopped just a few feet from me. “What’d you say boy? Somethin’ about a…cabin?”
I nodded. “Yes sir, and two men were up there, and shot Mitch up pretty bad, and we need help. Will you come with me to town? I sure could use…” I stopped short when I saw the strange expression on his face. “What’s wrong?”
He jumped off the horse he had been riding, and came up to me. “Did you find anything…valuable in the cabin?”
I blinked. “uh, no…why?” He looked as if he didn’t believe me. “You ain’t lying, are you boy?”
I grew indignant. “Of course not! Now are you coming down with me to town for help, or not?”
He reached out, grabbed my arm, and yanked my off my horse. “You’re coming with me boy, you ain’t goin’ to town. No sir ’ee!”
I tried to wriggle free of his grasp, but he wouldn’t let go. I had a bad feeling about this guy, and knew right then that I really did need help. So I kicked his shins as hard as I could. He let out a howl of pain, and let loose of my arm. I took that chance, and leapt onto Flash, and dug my heels into his sides. With a surprised squeal, he took off...leaving me sitting in the dust, watching in horror as my horse left me behind with this crazy ex-deputy.
Hugh Baker stomped up to me and yanked me to my feet. Sticking his nose in my face, he bellowed, “Don’t ever try that again boy!” and he reached up a hand, and slapped me across the face.
I winced in pain, then swung my fist at his face with all my might. And was lucky enough to land a good hard punch on his jaw. He stumbled back from the shock of it, but then chuckled a low evil laugh, and slammed his fist into my face. That’s the last thing I remember before everything went black.
I woke up later, to find that I was tied up tight, had a gag in my mouth, and my eye was swollen almost completely shut. I looked around and found myself behind Deputy Baker, draped over his horse. My whole body ached, and my head was pounding. I judged by the position of the sun that it was late afternoon the next day. I figured that I had been knocked out pretty hard, and slept the rest of the time.
It wasn’t long before I saw the cabin coming into sight. I silently prayed that the girls would see us before we got there, and would meet Deputy Baker with the rifle, but no such luck . . .