Monday, February 26, 2018

Lost Stories: Andrea Carter and Trouble at the Lineshack 8

Go HERE to begin this Lost Story.

The next couple of scenes will feel familiar, with the important exception that Andi is all on her own. Once Mitch loses consciousness, it's hard to have a conversation with yourself. Too much narration bogs a story down, so again, that is the reason I added Cory and Jenny to the final, finished book. 




ANDREA CARTER AND TROUBLE AT THE LINESHACK

Lost Scene #8





“Well, Taffy,” Andi complained, sitting on top of a rock in the hot sun. “Here we are with nothing to do, while my stomach yells louder and louder for something to eat.”
She slapped at a whining mosquito, then returned to watching the trail. The silence of the mountains closed in around her. The swishing of the horses’ tails and the occasional chirping of a scolding chipmunk were the only sounds Andi heard.
There was no breeze, and the smell of the pine forest rose hot and dry in her nostrils. With a deep sigh of impatience, she slid from the boulder and onto the ground below.

“This is really boring.” She leaned her head against the huge rock, “I wish Mitch would—”
“You in the cabin! Howdy!” Mitch’s voice sounded like a gunshot in the quiet forest.

Andi jumped up from the ground and gripped the rifle. She listened for a response.

“Yeah?” A rough male voice growled. “What’d’ya want?”
Andi’s heart beat rapidly at the sound. It was a mean voice, full of suspicion. It certainly didn’t sound like a poor squatter’s voice to her. She closed her eyes and sent up a prayer for Mitch. Then she took a few steps up the trail.
“I promised I’d leave if anything went wrong,” Andi argued with herself. “But how can I know if something wrong if I don’t take a look?” Hoisting the rifle in front of her, she crept along the path a few dozen yards.
The lineshack came into view. It stood in a small clearing, surrounded by pine trees and jagged rock formations. A rough enclosure, fashioned from dead wood, passed as a corral, where two horses watched Mitch with obvious curiosity. On the other side of the clearing, a small stream bubbled.
Andi slipped into hiding behind a cluster of small pines, brush, and boulders. She could see Mitch and the shack, but she was certain no one could see her.
The door to the shack opened a crack, and the shadow of a man appeared. “I said what’d’ya want?” he roared through the opening.
“Just saying howdy,” Mitch answered. He pushed back his hat and spread out his hands in a gesture of innocence.
“Well,” the voice growled, “You’ve said it. Now git.” The door flew open, and the owner of the rough voice showed himself.
Andi clapped a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. This was no squatter. This was a huge, ugly mountain of a man. Even from her hiding place, she could see his filthy, disheveled clothing and long, greasy hanks of hair. He cradled a rifle in his arms, and a gun-belt hung loosely around his hips.
Andi bit her lip in worry and watched Mitch. He seemed unconcerned.
“You alone?” Mitch asked.
“None of your business,” came the surly reply. 
“Looks like you’ve made yourself right at home up here.”
“Maybe I have.” He shifted his rifle dangerously and spat a stream of tobacco juice in Mitch’s direction. “What of it?”
“Well,” Mitch said, “I'll have to ask you to move on. We need this line camp this winter.”

“That so?” The man scratched at his dirty, unkempt beard. “Well, maybe I don’ feel like movin’.” He pointed his rifle at Mitch’s chest. “So, why don’t you make yourself scarce.”

“Well, if that’s how it is . . .” Mitch began to take a few steps backwards.

“That’s how it is.” A wicked grin split the man’s face. “I don’t cotton to nosy folks riding around up here in the middle of the hills, trying to mind other folks’ business.”

Mitch nodded. “I don’t want any trouble, mister. I’m leaving.” He backed up, keeping his gaze fixed on the rifle.
“Hurry, Mitch,” Andi whispered, suddenly afraid. Something didn’t feel right. From the corner of her eye, she caught movement from above and behind Mitch.
Andi caught her breath. A man was creeping along the top of a ragged cliff of boulders behind Mitch. He raised his hand and aimed a gun at her brother’s back.
“Mitch!” Andi screamed. She didn’t waste a second. Raising the rifle, she pulled the trigger. The bullet struck the ledge of the cliff with a loud CRACK. Rock fragments flew in all directions.
“Augh!” The figure balancing on top of the cliff stumbled and fell to the ground with bone-crushing finality.
Andi cringed. She held her breath and watched as the man in front of the cabin fired his rifle.
But Mitch, warned by Andi’s frantic shout, had flung himself to the ground and rolled behind a pile of boulders and dead wood. “Andi! Get out of here!” he yelled from behind his temporary shelter. He turned. His forehead was streaked with blood. He waved her away and stumbled toward a new hiding place.
Andi threw herself to the ground behind a small stand of young pine trees and peered between the branches. Mitch was nowhere to be seen. He’s awful mad, she thought. Her heart speeded up. I’m really gonna get it when Mitch gets back. She swallowed.
The man from the cabin was making his way toward the boulders from which his companion had fallen. A troubled expression covered his face. He had abandoned the rifle and now held his six-shooter firmly in his fist, clenching it in obvious anger and frustration.
“Rob?” the man shouted. “You okay?” There was no answer.
Andi lay perfectly still on a carpet of dry pine needles and dead grass beneath the trees. She didn’t dare stand up and run back to the horses. The man would see her and be on her faster than a runaway locomotive.
Yikes! Andi flattened herself against the ground and held her breath when the huge man glanced in her direction. A few minutes later, she let out a sigh of relief. He had turned away and was heading toward the makeshift corral.
The sound of loose gravel brought the man around in a flash. He turned on his heel and fired two shots. They ricocheted near where Mitch crouched behind a pile of rocks.
Mitch returned the fire and scrambled for a more secure hiding place. He drew the man’s fire farther and farther away from the place where Andi lay hidden. “Your pal’s dead, mister!” he shouted.
The man froze at Mitch’s voice.
“He lost his balance and fell off the cliff. An unfortunate accident. Go back to the shack. I promise I’ll clear out. There’s no need for trouble between us.”
“Mister,” the man growled, “You bought trouble the minute you said howdy. You and your pal are gonna pay for killin’ Rob.” Two more shots rang out. “I know he’s hiding in the woods somewhere.”
Andi lifted her head a fraction of an inch and dragged the rifle in front of her. She could see the man clearly. If Mitch showed himself for an instance, he’d be shot. She balanced the rifle on a log, closed one eye, and lined the man in her sights. Please, God, I don’t want to do this. I can’t shoot a man. Then she lowered her rifle. She couldn’t shoot him—wicked as though he appeared. Please give me another idea.
It came in a flash. She couldn’t shoot him, but she could distract him long enough to allow Mitch to escape.    
Andi shifted the rifle and aimed for the cabin. She could hardly miss such a huge target!  She squeezed the trigger, then buried herself in the grass and waited for a returning shot to fire over her head.
There was the sound of repeated gunfire and a curse, then silence.
*****
            Andi lifted her head from the brush and peered toward the clearing. All was still. There was no sound except for the scolding of a chipmunk and the noisy creek. She pulled herself to a sitting position and lifted the rifle to her lap.
“What happened?” she whispered, brushing dead grass and pine needles from her hair. She wanted to rush to the cabin and look for Mitch, but fear rooted her to the spot.
            Shaking, she raised herself to her knees and tried to see where the men had gone. Were he and Mitch they playing some kind of deadly waiting game? She sat as still as a stone for nearly ten minutes, afraid to move for fear of being discovered.
“Where are you, Mitch?” she whispered.
A branch snapped. Andi whirled, half-expecting the huge man to shoot her on sight. She caught her breath, then slowly let it out. Her beating heart returned to normal. Three deer stood no more than a stone’s throw from where she sat. When they saw Andi, they bounded away.
            Andi slipped away from her hiding place and crept back along the trail to the horses. Taffy whickered a greeting, but Andi hushed her. She stroked her mare, gave Chase a friendly pat, and let out a long, frightened breath.
“If that mean-looking fellow from the cabin doesn’t find and kill me, Mitch certainly will,” she told the horses with a shake of her head. “He looked mighty angry when he was telling me to leave.” She shivered. “What do I do now? Everything’s so quiet, so scary.”
Chase whinnied, and Andi froze. It was a sound that could easily be heard from the clearing around the cabin. Surely someone would check it out. But no one came.
“Why doesn’t Mitch come back?” The mare made no reply. “I’ve got to see what’s happened,” she reasoned to herself. “I can’t run away and leave Mitch lying in the middle of nowhere. What if he’s hurt?”
Andi clutched the rifle with both hands and started back up the trail. “God,” she prayed quickly as she walked, “You know I’m in plenty of trouble already, so I hope You’ll forgive me for not doing like I promised Mitch. I can’t just up and leave him.”  
With her eyes wide and watchful, Andi entered the clearing. She cocked the rifle and leveled it. No one appeared.
“Mitch!” she called, surprised at how loud her voice sounded in the stillness of the afternoon. There was no answer.  
Andi crept closer, nearly tripping over the form of the huge man. He lay face down behind a small pile of scattered rocks and debris. He looked dead. Andi choked back a scream and ran in the direction she had last seen her brother.
“Mitch!” she called again. “Where are you?”
A muffled groan caught her attention. Andi circled the corral and let out a shriek. “Mitch!”
She threw down the rifle and ran to her brother. When she reached him, she fell at his side and shook him roughly. “Mitch, Mitch!” she pleaded. “Are you all right?”
Mitch’s response was a low cry. He was alive! Thank you, God!
 Andi glanced down and gasped. Her brother’s right leg was a bloody mess. A small pool of blood was beginning to form under him. She shook him again, but this time there was no response.
Jumping up, Andi dashed back down the trail to the horses and pulled the canteen of water from her saddle horn. She returned and threw herself down next to her brother. With shaking hands, she unscrewed the cap and poured the contents over Mitch’s head.
Mitch came awake with a groan. “My leg’s on fire. You’ve got to get me into the cabin before I lose more blood.” He struggled to get up, but it was no use. He fell back with a cry of pain.
Andi reached under his shoulders and tried to lift him, but his dead weight was like lead.
“It won’t work,” he whispered. “Get the horse.”
Andi nodded. She raced to the horses and grabbed Taffy’s reins. Her breath came in short gasps as she brought her horse into the clearing next to Mitch.
“Try standing now, Mitch.” She shook him when he didn’t reply and tossed more water into his face. “Lean against Taffy and hang onto the saddle.”
Mitch reached up and grasped the stirrup. With Andi’s help, he managed to pull himself up and wrap his fingers around the saddle horn. Andi led Taffy toward the cabin. “Hang on,” she encouraged. “Hang on for just a couple minutes.”
Mitch did more than hang on. He let go of Taffy at the door and leaned on Andi as she helped him into the dismal shack.
“Over here.” She half-dragged her brother while he forced himself to stay upright. A filthy excuse for a bunk sat against one side of the room. It was little more than a large, rough cot—filthy and in need of repair. Its straw mattress was lumpy and torn, but it was better than lying on the ground.
Mitch let out a low, pain-filled moan as Andi settled him onto the bunk. He was breathing heavily. His lip was bloody from where he had bitten it to keep from crying out. Blood oozed from the graze on his head. He opened his eyes.
Andi saw anguish and fear in his blue gaze. “Mitch,” she whispered, terrified. “What are we going to do?”
He took a deep breath. “You know what you have to do.”
Andi shook her head. “No, I don’t.”
“I’m losing too much blood.” He took a deep breath. “You have to take the bullet out.”
 

17 comments:

  1. *Breathless gasp* Thanks, Mrs. Marlow! Even though I have read the published edition already, I am soooooooooooooo anxious and excited to see how Andi handles this alone. Thanks again! I'm looking forward to next Monday's post!

    ~Ellen

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is sooo good! Thanks =)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Mrs.Marlow!!!! I really like it!!!
    It's kinda like Truble with treasure though 😊 but I like it a lot!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a LOT like Trouble with Treasure. LOL That's why it's called a "Lost Story." I used this original story to create the real Trouble with Treasure for publication many years later.

      Delete
  4. Wow! Thank you so much for posting! I am going to read Trouble with Treasure tonight! I was relieved to find out that I HADN'T lent it to a friend!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amazing! I wish my friends would read the books because they are amazing soooo cool without the friends.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! I really like it. Trouble with Treasure with a twist.

    ~Leah

    ReplyDelete
  7. Soooooo suspenseful!!!
    -Patience

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mrs.M when are you going to bring out the next book after Courageous Love?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What next book? Courageous Love is book 4 and the final book of the Milestones series. :-)

      I am finishing up the younger series, STepping Stones, and then maybe I'll have time to do some Milestones short stories, but another full-length novel is not in the future for the CCMilestones. It is a four-book series.

      Delete

Let Andi know what you think!