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 3.17 The End of the Road? by Sally Wheaton

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Join date : 2013-10-13

20150523
Post3.17 The End of the Road? by Sally Wheaton


"We could try waiting them out"

Curry looked at him doubtfully.

"No, you're right" agreed Heyes. "We've got to do something."

"But what Heyes? There's a dozen or more men out there, all with their guns trained on us, just waiting and my guess is they'll be ready to outwait us."

Heyes frowned. He was completely stumped.

They made their way to the pile of hay in the middle of the room, slumped down and waited. And waited. They waited all day. Nothing changed.


Starring

Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes
Ben Murphy as Kid Curry

Guest Stars


Bruce Willis as "Sam Hawkins"


Sylvester Stallone as his accomplice


3.17 The End of the Road?
by Sally Wheaton



Kid Curry stretched in the saddle and ran his hand across his brow. It was hot, very hot. He and his partner had been riding all morning and now as the hottest part of the day approached, they were looking for somewhere to rest, preferably somewhere shady mused the Kid. He was never at his best in the heat, which always amused his partner, who never seemed to be affected by it himself.

Heyes was riding slightly ahead of Curry, when he stopped and turned in his saddle with a big smile on his face.

"You hear that Kid?"

Kid strained to listen and smiled himself at the sound of running water. A good long drink and maybe even a swim in the cool water sounded real good right now.

An hour later, they were sitting by the side of the stream, drying off in the sun after a refreshing dip in the water. Heyes had built a fire and brewed coffee but Curry had shaken his head at the offer, baffled as to how Heyes could drink anything hot in this weather. It was tempting to stay where they were and make camp for the night but the thought of real beds in a real hotel room prompted them to set off once more.

As the afternoon turned into evening, it seemed to Curry that it was becoming hotter if anything. The sweat was pouring down his back and his hair was plastered to his forehead. He should be used to the heat he thought, but for some reason today it was really getting to him. He took yet another drink from his canteen but as he tilted his head back, a wave of nausea rose over him. He closed his eyes, willing himself to ignore it and then urged his horse forward to keep up with his partner.

It was dusk as they made their way slowly down a steep hill. They were still some miles from town, the heat of the day having slowed them considerably, and clearly they weren't going to reach it before nightfall. Spotting what appeared to be an abandoned cabin some distance away at the foot of the hill, they headed for it, hoping that it would provide shelter for the night.

It was dark by the time they arrived and reining in his horse outside the cabin, Curry dismounted, and almost immediately swayed to the side. Heyes reached out to steady him, just as another wave of nausea hit him.

Heyes peered at his partner in the darkness. His eyes looked a little sunken and his face was somewhat pale and covered in sweat.

"Hey Kid, you OK?" he asked, concerned, as he lead him inside the old cabin and helped him sit down on a pile of hay.

Curry opened his mouth to protest that he would be fine if Heyes would just quit fussing, when the nausea returned and it quickly became obvious to them both that he wasn't fine.

Heyes retrieved their bedrolls from the saddles and laid them out. Kid meant to object, but he had to admit he really didn't feel too good. Maybe if he just closed his eyes for a few minutes, the nausea would go away. Heyes offered his canteen to Kid, but he waved it away. All he wanted to do was lie down and in a couple of moments he was sleeping.

Heyes set about making camp and then sat down next to Curry, wondering what was wrong with his partner. He'd seemed fine this morning and watching him now, his breathing seemed easy enough. Maybe he had eaten something disagreeable? Thinking back, he couldn't remember Kid eating anything that he hadn't. All they'd had all day was coffee and jerky.

Heyes reached for the canteen of water and, raising it to his lips, stopped as a thought struck him. He sniffed at the water. It smelt fine but Heyes knew that really meant very little. Was there something wrong with the water from the stream? Thinking back, he remembered that he'd brewed coffee whereas Kid had drank the cold water. Shaking his canteen now, Heyes realised it was still nearly full and so he himself had only drank a small amount of it. Reaching across to Curry's canteen, he shook it and found it was nearly empty. Not surprisingly as Kid had been complaining about the heat all day, he'd drank nearly all of his water. So that was the problem. Bad water. Heyes took both canteens and searching around the cabin as best he could in the dark, he discovered a well outside. He refilled both canteens with the fresh water and then went back inside. At least they had shelter for the night and Kid could get plenty of rest and hopefully he'd feel better in the morning.

* * * * *

Curry opened his eyes and stretched in his bedroll, before sitting up rather groggily and looking around. Sunlight was streaming into the room through the holes in the wooden walls of the deserted, ramshackle cabin. Heyes' bedroll was still on the floor next to him, but it was empty so Curry assumed that his partner was already up and about.

He rubbed his eyes and ran his hands through his hair and then, deciding that he felt a lot better this morning, he clambered out of his blanket and pulled on his clothes before heading outside.

"Morning Kid, sleeping in again?"

Heyes smiled at him as he walked out of what passed as the door into the sunshine. It appeared that Heyes had been up for a while and already had the fire and coffee organised. Sitting down opposite him, Curry took the proffered coffee and jerky and looked around.

The cabin clearly hadn't been lived in for many years and was in a bad state of disrepair. It had afforded them shelter last night, but in the light of day it didn't look very welcoming. At the back of the cabin was a small expanse of land which backed up to a ridge. At the front, the small track to the cabin curved down a steep slope. Curry shuddered slightly. It felt very closed in and not a good place for a wanted man. There were far too many places from where the cabin could be watched and not enough possible escape routes.

He almost smiled to himself. Would they ever really be free of looking behind them all the time, checking the sheriff's office every time they went into a town, staying up half the night to keep watch? Free of running? It was something he didn't think about often, generally just trying to take each day as it came. And anyway, this time he did smile to himself, just "taking each day as it came" and keeping from being captured or killed usually took all of their attention. They didn't have much time really to ponder the future. But, he finally admitted to himself, he'd had a feeling of unease these past two days. A couple of times he'd had the feeling that they were being watched, being followed. He'd kept a close lookout but hadn't seen anything. Still he couldn't shake the feeling of unease. Maybe he was just getting jumpy from being constantly on the run, seeing trouble where there wasn't any. He remembered a few weeks back when Heyes had done exactly that - and remembered too the trouble that had led them into when they were forced to help the sheriff search out a dangerous gunman. So he'd decided for now not to say anything to Heyes, but just to keep a careful watch. There was no denying however that this place gave him a bad feeling.

Gulping down the last of the coffee, Kid stood up, hoping that his partner would not have any objections to riding out swiftly.

"Keen to leave Kid?" asked Heyes.

Curry turned towards him, the automatic sardonic reply almost past his lips, but when he saw Heyes' face, he stopped himself. Heyes wasn't jesting, wasn't merely engaging in the lighthearted banter they regularly used to pass the time. In fact, he looked quite serious.

"It give you a bad feeling too?"

Heyes nodded, frowning.

"I looked around this morning Kid, while you were still asleep. If we'd been able to see this landscape last night, maybe we wouldn't have stopped here after all. We were a couple of sitting ducks last night. This place is totally surrounded by vantage points which can't even be seen from the cabin.

Curry shuddered again and looked upwards towards the hills. Someone, a bounty hunter, anyone, could be up there right now, watching them.

Sensing Curry's thoughts, Heyes answered the unspoken question.

"I haven't seen any signs of movement up there this morning. I'm pretty sure there's no-one there but I don't fancy sitting around for long." He paused a moment, looking around once more.

"Kid, how about we just ride straight on out of here?"

"Heyes, for once I couldn't agree with you more. C'mon, let's go." nodded Curry, relieved that Heyes was no more keen to stay than he was.

They quickly started to gather together their gear and prepared to leave and only a few minutes later, they were riding up the track at the front of the cabin, both of them relieved to be leaving the place behind them.

* * * * *

By late the following afternoon, the two former outlaws were nearing town. Kid had been almost back to his old self today and they'd made much better progress and were sure they'd reach town before dark.

Heyes was riding slightly in front of Curry and suddenly became aware that his partner was no longer right behind him. Turning, he saw that Curry had stopped several yards back and was staring intently back down the trail, in the direction they'd come from. The concern was evident on Heyes' face but he managed to bite his tongue before asking Curry if he felt OK. Curry could be as stubborn as he was himself, more so in fact he decided, and fussing over him would only make him bad tempered. Instead, Heyes stayed where he was and waited.

Finally, Curry turned back around to face Heyes, not surprised that he had stopped and was watching him. He sighed heavily and then rode towards him.

"Don't ask" he commanded as he passed him.

"Didn't say a word" replied Heyes with a straight face, and turned to follow his partner.

Suddenly Curry drew to a halt again and turned back to face Heyes.

"If I tell you what's bothering me, you'll only say I'm crazy." Curry's voice held a slight challenge, but he didn't move from where he was. Instead he sat still and continued to look directly at Heyes.

Heyes was a little taken aback, unsure where this had come from or what Curry was getting at. Usually they followed each other's train of thought even before the words had been spoken, but this time he had no idea what Curry was talking about. Judging by Curry's stance though, he was expecting a reply and he was expecting to be taken seriously. Heyes gave him a big smile.

"Kid, I've known you're crazy for years, what's the difference? Might as well tell me anyway."

Curry stared back at him, unflinching and without breaking a smile, trying to decide what to say. Heck, this time he even thought he was crazy. It was just that he'd had this feeling for an hour or so now, call it instinct or something. He had searched hard for any tangible evidence but hadn't found any - yet. He sighed and glanced back down the trail and then turned back to look straight at Heyes again.

"Someone's following us."

Heyes turned and looked down the trail too.

"Darn it! What'd you see?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"Nothing."

Heyes squinted a little in confusion, before asking "You hear something?"

"No."

"No?"

"No."

"Then what?"

Curry turned away from him and started on up the trail again.

"I told ya you'd say I was crazy"

Heyes turned quickly and rode up beside his partner.

"Wait a moment Kid!"

It came out a little brusquely as Heyes forced Curry to a standstill and made him look at him.

"I never said that." he added, more gently this time.

"No?"

"No."

"I ..." Curry hesitated.

"I trust your instinct, Kid. If you think there's someone following us, then I believe you. What do you think we should do about it?"

Relieved that Heyes hadn't accused him of being crazy, Kid tried to explain.

"I've had a feeling we're being followed for about an hour. I keep looking but I can't see anything."

"Not being able to see them doesn't mean they're not there."

"If they were close, I'd have seen something or heard something. They must be a way away. How far is it to town?"

"About an hour."

"Then maybe we should just keep heading right into town? Maybe just keep a close look out?"

Heyes nodded in agreement, glancing behind him all the same.

"I could be wrong Heyes. Maybe there's no-one there. Maybe it's this heat playing tricks." He smiled. "Or maybe I am just a little crazy."

Heyes urged his horse forward, and then looked back towards Curry.

"I've been tryin' to tell ya that for years Kid!"

* * * * *

Twenty minutes later, as the sun was starting to dip in the sky, the pair had stopped once again to look back behind them. This time they had found a good vantage point and were scouring the horizon when they saw it.

"There." said Curry, suddenly, pointing down the trail. "You see it?"

"Yep. There's someone there alright. Over in the trees."

Kid grabbed the binoculars for a closer look.

"Still hard to see. Looks like one man on horseback. Can't tell which way he's going."

"He might just be someone travelling this road into town of course" Heyes pointed out. "Probably nothing to do with us. Probably doesn't even know we're here."

Curry knew Heyes was right, but still he was concerned.

"He's a good way behind us and it's only half an hour or so to town. What do you say we stay here a while and see what happens?" he asked, keeping the binoculars to his eyes.

It didn't take them long to be certain that it was one man and that he was coming towards them. They had a pretty good view of him now, enough to know that they didn't recognise him. However, he was stopping every now and then and looking at the ground, as if he was trying to follow a trail. They'd seen nothing to suggest that he wasn't following them and so with sinking hearts, they mounted up once more and headed for town.

* * * * *

Curry slammed the door closed behind him, strode over to the bed and slumped down on it.

Heyes, who was standing by the window, looked at him questioningly. Curry had been taking his turn on the front porch, watching for any sign of the man who had been following them earlier.

"He's here. Rode into town about ten minutes ago. First stop he made was at the sheriff's office.

"Figures."

"You haven't heard the rest. Next stop was the telegraph office and then the hotel, where he asked the desk clerk whether he'd seen two men fitting his descriptions."

"Why do I have the feeling the descriptions might sound familiar?"

"Too familiar Heyes. The desk clerk said no, but I have the feeling that a few dollars isn't going to keep him quiet for very long."

"Not to mention everyone else in town." groaned Heyes.

"Time to leave?"

"You're right."

They gathered together their things, checked out of the hotel, much to the desk clerk's surprise, and made their way outside. As they lead their horses out of the livery, Heyes' mind was on something else.

"You know Kid, before we leave, there's something I'd like to check out."

"Before we leave? I don't know Heyes, I think I'd rather just hightail it out of this town as fast as we can."

"It'll only take a couple of minutes." Heyes tried his best to convince his partner but sensing his doubt, he added "and it just might give us some information, something to give us a head start so to speak."

"What?" the Kid still looked sceptical.

"You said he went to the telegraph office? Sure would be interesting to know whether he received or sent a message - and what it said."

Curry still looked unconvinced, but finally nodded.

"OK Heyes, but only a couple of minutes and then we leave"

"OK Kid" smiled Heyes "It'll only take a couple of minutes I promise."

* * * * *

Curry nonchalantly leaned against the counter in the telegraph office and watched his partner try to convince the telegraph operator to show him the telegraph the man had received. For once though, his silver tongue didn't seem to be getting results and the operator was steadfastly refusing.

"I'm sorry sir, but it would really be unethical. All telegraphs are private you see and I couldn't possibly show you the message."

Curry was getting impatient. He was keen to leave this town quickly and Heyes didn't seem to be getting very far. He decided it was time to try it his way.

Taking his gun from his holster, he pointed it across the counter and cocked it, the sound drawing the telegraph operator's attention.

"Just give him the telegraph" demanded Curry calmly at the flustered man. "Quickly." he added when the man hesitated.

A moment later, Heyes had the telegraph in his hand and the pair left the office and made across the street to the livery as quickly as they could.

"I don't know why you had to do that" grumbled Heyes as they saddled their horses.

"Heyes, we need to get out of town quickly."

"And without drawing attention to ourselves."

"Heyes, I thought you wanted the telegraph?"

"I did Kid, I did. And I was going to get it."

"Well now that didn't look too likely to me Heyes."

"I told you before Kid, you gotta have more faith. The man was about to crumble, if you'd given me another minute he would have handed over the telegraph. Like I keep tellin' ya, ya gotta have more faith."

Curry looked over at his partner with a slight smile on his face. He wasn't about to let him get away with that.

"OK Heyes. Next time you look like you're in trouble, I'll try and remember that before I draw my gun."

Heyes looked up from the telegraph he was reading and frowned.

"What was that Kid?"

"I said, next time ..." realising it was pointless and that Heyes' full attention was on the message, he shrugged and continued "What's it say?"

Heyes sighed. "To Sam Hawkins. That not him. Will he assess the ground Phil dug against trees?"

"What's that mean?"

Heyes shrugged, a little puzzled.

"Other than telling us that his name's Sam Hawkins, it doesn't give any clues about who he is or what he's doing."

"It doesn't seem to have anything to do with us though Heyes."

"No it doesn't. It's strange though Kid, for some reason, I'd expected it to be important."

* * * * *

They'd ridden well into the night before finally stopping to rest. They were confident that Hawkins hadn't followed them out of town, but as a precaution they hadn't lit a fire and they'd taken it in turns to keep watch during the night. As the first light of dawn spread across the landscape, that feeling of unease had returned to Curry as he took his watch. He scoured the horizon carefully, finding nothing, and so began again. Logic told him there was no-one there, and yet that feeling of unease continued to nag at him.

* * * * *

By the following afternoon, they'd made it into the next town and had headed straight for the saloon. There had been no sign of anyone following them all day and gradually they'd relaxed a little. The saloon was only small but was quite lively and they'd spent an easy couple of hours there. They'd been hoping to get into a game of poker but so far they hadn't had a chance and so they were sitting at a small table towards the back of the saloon, drinking beer.

Curry looked up as the saloon door opened but relaxed when he saw it was just the telegraph operator waving a piece of paper.

"Sam Hawkins? Telegraph for Sam Hawkins."

Heyes' head snapped up and without hesitating he raised his hand and collected the telegraph from the man.

As he sat down, Curry looked at him a little puzzled.

Heyes read it to him.

"Don't seem to be any more important than the last one."

"Hmmm" Heyes frowned.

"What?" Curry asked quietly.

"Why would someone send a telegram to Sam Hawkins here? They expecting him in town?"

"Maybe he even is in town?"

With a resigned sigh, they stood in unison and made their way out of the saloon.

Once outside, Curry turned right towards the livery but Heyes turned in the opposite direction.

"Heyes, it's this way." Curry said, pulling his partner around.

"The livery's that way yes, but the hotel's this way."

"The hotel? Why do we need the hotel?"

"Because Kid," Heyes smiled at him "we need to check in."

"We do?" asked Curry, puzzled.

"Come on, you'll see." replied Heyes, turning and pulling Curry with him.

* * * * *

"We'd like a room for the night please" Heyes gave the desk clerk an innocent smile.

"Certainly. That will be two dollars. Up front. It's just for the one night sir?"

"Yes, we'll be staying tonight and then leaving first thing in the morning."

Heyes smiled again as he rummaged in his pocket for the cash. Pulling the bills out, he also managed to pull out a collection of coins at the same time which dropped all over the floor.

"Well now, Mr Jones, look what I've done." He said as he fumbled the bills onto the desk and clumsily bent to pick up the coins, managing to drop some of them again as he tried to return them to his pocket.

The desk clerk snickered openly at him and Curry had to put his hand to his mouth to hide his smile. Finally, Heyes stood up and once more gave the desk clerk a most innocent smile.

"Is it possible to get a bath at all?"

"At this time?" the desk clerk laughed. "Oh no, sir, I'm afraid not. I think you're expecting too much of a two dollar a night hotel."

"Oh dear, what a shame" Heyes sounded disappointed but not annoyed. "Never mind."

"Maybe tomorrow morning?" suggested the clerk.

"Oh no, we'll be leaving first thing in the morning I'm afraid. Thank you anyway."

Heyes signed the register awkwardly, putting his name in the date column "by accident"

They finally made their way across the foyer towards the stairs and at the last minute Heyes turned back to the desk clerk.

"Oh one more thing. If anyone should ask if you've seen us, say no, would you?" Heyes asked with yet another smile. He turned to go up the stairs and bumped right into Curry who was holding a dollar bill up at him.

"Oh yes, of course, good idea Mr Jones."

He took the bill across to the desk clerk who was by now watching the pair in amusement.

"See you in the morning." He said, handing over the dollar bill to the man who looked at him in disgust.

Heyes walked back past Curry and started up the stairs, before tripping and dropping his saddlebag on the stair. Curry smiled and tipped his hat at the desk clerk, before turning to head up the stairs and promptly fell over Heyes and landed in a tangle on the floor.

Picking themselves up, they had to run up the stairs and as they reached the top landing, they both burst out laughing.

"Well Heyes, I don't think there's much chance that he won't remember us after that."

"And a one dollar bill is certainly not going to buy his silence either."

"Well, let's just hope old Sam comes in and ask about us then.

Downstairs in the foyer, the desk clerk also laughed out loud and shook his head.

Once in their room, Heyes removed his oldest shirt from his saddlebag and threw it onto the bed. Then he placed his razor on the washstand and a pair of socks on the floor. Rather regretfully, he opened the book he had been reading and placed it face down on the bed too. Meanwhile, Kid dug in his saddlebag for his comb, which he left on the nightstand along with a few coins.

Surveying the room and satisfied with it, they made their way quietly down the back stairs. Keeping to the shadows to avoid being seen, they headed for the general store and stocked up with supplies.

"Will that be everything gentlemen?" asked the storekeeper, a friendly, middle aged man.

"Almost" replied Heyes handing over the payment for their supplies. "There is just one more thing though" he smiled broadly at the man.

"Certainly." he smiled back. "What would that be sir?"

Heyes' eyes narrowed and his smile disappeared.

"If anyone should ask you if we've been in here today, you say no, understand?"

"Oh, er, well, erm, yes " the man stammered, taken aback at the obvious threat.

Heyes handed over a ten dollar bill as Curry moved next to him and removed his gun from its holster.

"I said you understand?" repeated Heyes.

"Oh yes, yes sir, I understand."

"Good. We'll be leaving town first thing in the morning but we'll be back here first, just to check." This time Heyes' smile was cold and threatening and not in the least bit friendly.

Back out on the street, Heyes laughed.

"Well, ten dollars should work better than one."

Kid smiled back. "Let's hope so. We don't want him talking."

"Unlike the desk clerk who will hopefully even give out our room number."

Curry shook his head. "Well, when he does, let's just hope that the room looks occupied enough to convince him we're still in town."

"It will. Don't worry Kid, everyone will do what we want them to do. It'll look like we're still there and he'll stay in town for the night and be ready to follow us first thing in the morning, by which time we'll be miles away." Heyes looked pleased with his plan. Curry nodded hesitantly.

"I sure hope you're right Heyes"

"Come on, time we got going."

* * * * *

Heyes was sitting on the hard ground leaning back against a hard rock but he hadn't even noticed the discomfort. He was just sitting staring at the two telegrams in front of him. There was more to them, he knew it, but he had to admit he had no idea what. The messages looked innocent enough, and yet had a similarity about them. They appeared to have been sent by the same person. But how had that person known that Hawkins would be in that town? Just who was Sam Hawkins and what was he doing?

Curry was sitting next to him, keeping a careful watch over the trail in the early morning light. He shifted position, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground.

"I swear I'll never be able to ride today after sleeping on this hard ground all night. I don't think I'll even be able to walk." he grumbled, still watching the trail.

"Ah don't worry Kid. He isn't out there. He's still back in town, watching the hotel, waiting for us to leave."

"Well I sure hope you're right Heyes."

"Of course I'm right. Wait and see."

"Uh-huh. Of course you're right Heyes." Kid glanced at him.

"I'm glad you finally figured that out Kid."

"Yes, well. Iffen you don't mind, I'll just keep a watch out for a while longer." he added, turning back to watch the trail.

Heyes shook his head, but smiled.

"Faith Kid, faith."

"In what?"

Heyes looked mock hurt at him and Kid gave him a big grin.

"So, you figured out those messages yet?"

Heyes hadn't said anything, but Curry knew they had been bugging him all night. For all his banter, Curry also knew that Heyes had been up most of the night keeping watch on the trail in case their plan in town hadn't worked.

Heyes' face turned more serious now.

"No, I haven't."

"Bugging you, huh?"

Heyes sighed. "There's something about them, but I can't figure out what. And I couldn't even tell you why I think there's something I'm missing. I just feel it is all."

Kid smiled, understanding.

"Heyes, like you said to me only the other day - I trust your instinct. You'll figure it out. Just give it time."

"Yeah, maybe you're right."

"I don't believe it." Curry was suddenly standing, grabbing for the binoculars and Heyes immediately moved next to him to look down the trail too. "Who is he?"

"No, it can't be, can it?" How'd he track us in the dark?"

"I don't like this Heyes."

"Me either Kid."

"You ever heard of Sam Hawkins?"

"No. You?"

"No. You think it's an alias?"

"Could be. Who is he?"

"I don't know who he is, but good is what he is. Come on."

* * * * *

They'd spent the whole day running, trying to evade Hawkins. They'd tried many of the tricks they used regularly to lose bounty hunters and posses but it seemed that whatever they did, he was still there, incessantly following them. They were beginning to run out of ideas.

"Kid, where's the next town?"

"Heyes I don't know what you're thinking, but that plan didn't work in the last town so it'd better be good."

"Kid, you remember a few weeks back when we were looking for that gunman, Riggs?"

Curry nodded, but looked puzzled.

"You remember when we broke into the bank and opened all of those lock boxes?"

Again Curry nodded.

"Well one of them contained a small red book. I didn't have time to look at it properly of course but it intrigued me and I never did figure out what it was - until now. Kid, I think it was a book of codes. You remember how we used to send each other messages in code when we were kids so that we could meet after we did our chores without anyone knowing?"

"Well yes I remember. But what has that got to do with the next town?"

"Kid, I think the telegrams to Sam Hawkins might be in code."

Kid looked up at his partner, suddenly understanding.

"You think maybe he's planning on meeting someone? Accomplices? You think there might be more than one of him?"

Seeing the horrified look on Curry's face, Heyes tried to backtrack a little.

"I'm probably totally wrong, way off the mark."

"No Heyes, it makes sense. I think you're right. But I still don't see what that has to do with the next town?"

"Kid, if I'm right then we need to figure out what the code means so that we know where his accomplices are. I've been thinking so hard about these two messages, that I just can't see it. But I think maybe there'll be another message waiting for him in the next town. If we could get there first and collect the message then he won't see it. We might not understand it but at the very least it'll slow him down. And maybe seeing another one will help me figure it out."

Curry nodded his agreement. "OK, it's worth a try. I reckon it's only a couple of hours into town."

* * * * *

They made it into town long before dusk. Curry waited outside the telegraph office whilst Heyes went in.

"Afternoon" was the grumpy greeting from the operator as Heyes entered.

"Good afternoon" he replied with his best smile. "You have a telegraph for Samuel Hawkins?"

"Hawkins? Let me see. Hawkins." Not only was he grumpy, he was slow, going through every piece of paper thoroughly. Heyes tried to remain patient but couldn't help glancing out of the door every so often.

"Ah yes, here we are." the miserable telegraph operator said, holding up several sheets of paper. "Samuel Hawkins. Three messages in fact." Heyes gratefully took the telegrams and left the office.

"Three this time?" asked Kid in surprise when Heyes told him.

"The first two are the same as the two we've already seen. That does at least explain how they knew where to find him."

"It does?"

"Well, they didn't know where to find him, that was the point. So they sent the same message to every town, knowing that he'd get one of them. The question is, what was so important? What do the messages really mean?"

Hastily, he climbed back onto his horse and the pair left town as quickly as they had arrived.

* * * * *

They rode all night in an effort to lose Hawkins. Neither of them ever suggested it, it was just something they did. Both men were beginning to feel that they were never going to lose the man, but neither of them wanted to admit it to the other. And so they rode on, as fast as they could in the darkness, neither one saying a word. By dawn both were exhausted, cold and hungry.

As the sun rose, they made their way uphill, again without saying a word, to look for a good vantage point. At the top of the hill, Curry dismounted and stood on the rocks, looking downwards. This time he was sure they'd done enough. He couldn't see a thing and breathed a sigh of relief. Raising the binoculars to his eyes, he took one last look.

"Darn it!" yelled Curry, his frustration barely contained. "No, it can't be. Heyes tell me I'm wrong."

Heyes was off his horse and standing next to his partner in a moment.

"That's not possible Kid. Is it?"

They looked at each other, neither able to hide the concern from their faces. He should not have still been following them. Over the last couple of days, they'd tried every trick in the book as well as a few that weren't and he was still there.

Heyes looked out across to where he knew Hawkins was, his earlier confidence that they would escape beginning to dissipate into a fear that they wouldn't be able to. He'd heard stories of persistent bounty hunters of course, but they'd never come across anything like this themselves. There were stories of a man named Gus Foster who enjoyed the thrill of the chase almost as much as the thrill of the kill - and he always did kill. He'd pursue his bounty for days, almost mocking and if a man was wanted dead or alive, he always delivered dead. Heyes shivered. Then there was the legendary Jack McGill. Rumour said that no-one had ever outrun McGill - though Heyes doubted that that could be true. The stories said he never ate, never slept, just chased. Once he was on your tail he'd stick with you to the end, even if that took weeks or even months, but he never gave up and he never lost a trail.

Heyes looked across at Curry and saw his own thoughts reflected on the other man's face. Wordlessly they mounted their horses and set off once more.

* * * * *

Several hours later, Heyes' mount almost missed its footing as they descended down a steep slope. He managed to stay in the saddle but it did jolt him out of the daze which he realised he'd been in for goodness knows how long. He didn't think he'd been asleep, just not paying much attention. Looking ahead, he saw Curry and judging by the way he was sitting, it looked like he was in pretty much the same state. By now, they'd both been without proper sleep for days and both of them were so exhausted that it took everything they had just to stay in the saddle.

Looking around him, Heyes was surprised to see that the landscape looked a little familiar. He didn't know this country well but he definitely had a feeling that he'd been here before.

He looked around some more and as they rounded a slight bend, he realised where they were, though he wasn't at all sure how they'd got here. Urging his horse forwards, he drew up alongside Curry.

"Hey Kid!"

Curry jumped at the sound of his voice but straightened quickly, covering nicely. He didn't want Heyes to think he'd been asleep. Heyes grinned at him.

"Hey Kid, you know where we are?"

Curry looked confused and then looking around, realised what Heyes meant.

"How did we get back here?" he asked.

"Ha! I knew you were sleeping in the saddle." smiled Heyes smugly.

"I was not!" denied Curry vehemently.

"So how come you're asking how we got here then?" Heyes raised his eyebrows in amusement.

Curry realised his mistake and tried in vain to think of a good reason.

"Conversation" he shrugged finally, trying to look confident.

Then suddenly something dawned on Curry.

"You didn't answer the question though. How did we get here Heyes?"

Heyes paused for a moment and Curry jumped in.

"Heyes! You were sleeping too. I knew it."

"I was not" Heyes was most indignant at the accusation. "I just didn't think there was any point in telling you seeing as how you already knew on account of you not having been asleep."

Curry just looked at him.

"Yeah well, just don't go drinking the water from that stream."

Heyes looked up slowly as an evil grin spread across his face.

"Kid, I think you've got it."

"Got what?"

"A way out of our problem. Come on. Is he still following us?"

Curry shook his head. He was far too tired to think about anything right now and trying to follow what Heyes was talking about wasn't always easy when he was wide awake. He looked ahead of them towards where he knew the stream was, the stream they'd swam in only a few days ago. Kid shuddered at the memory. He'd drank the water from the stream and it had made him as sick as a dog all day. He certainly didn't relish being back. He had no idea what Heyes was thinking but he set off to follow after his partner anyway.

Heyes picked his way along the small path that lead off the main trial and to the stream, knowing that Hawkins would follow in their steps.

"Kid, we're getting low on water right?"

"Yeah, but Heyes …"

Heyes waved a hand at him.

"Hold on Kid, we know the water in that stream is bad, but he doesn't"

Kid grinned at him wickedly. "Heyes, that's perfect!"

Heyes grinned back.

"And what's even better, is that we know where we can get good water just a few hours up the road."

"Heyes, last time we were at that old ramshackle cabin, I never thought I'd be so glad of it"

They continued alongside the stream for some time. Eventually they came to a stop and dismounted. They waded across the stream and scrambled up the rocks on the other side. Crawling to the edge, they watched as Hawkins arrived at the stream and took a long drink before filling his canteen.

Up in the rocks, Heyes and Curry were giggling and dancing around like a couple of schoolboys.

"He drank it Heyes, he drank it" Curry could hardly believe it had worked.

"Ssshh" Heyes put his finger to his mouth but was grinning and jumping around himself. They slapped each other heartily on the back and then finally made their way back to their horses.

In a couple of hours time, he'll be sick as a dog and he'll have to stop then" grinned Curry.

"And all we have to do is keep riding and put some distance between us" agreed Heyes.
"Yahoo Heyes, I can't believe we finally did it."

* * * * *


_________________
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. And in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone.
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3.17 The End of the Road? by Sally Wheaton :: Comments

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Re: 3.17 The End of the Road? by Sally Wheaton
Post on Sat 23 May 2015, 2:15 pm by royannahuggins


Suddenly invigorated with energy, they rode hard for several hours and just before dusk they stopped once more to check for any pursuers. This time they saw nothing. There was no-one there.

"No sign of him Kid."

"Of course there isn't Heyes. He'll be doubled over right about now."

"I wonder how much of that water he drank before he realised?"

"Hopefully enough to slow him up for a good few hours."

"Yeah, let's hope so."

They both sobered a little and once again in silent agreement they set off yet again to put just a few more miles between them.

* * * * *

As darkness fell, they came within sight of the old cabin once more. They refilled their canteens from the well at the back and then made their camp outside. Neither said a word, both still feeling a little unnerved and neither of them suggested a fire. The experience had given them both a fright. But for the first time in days they felt safe enough for both of them to sleep. Kid was sure they'd both feel a lot better in the morning and it wasn't long before he was fast asleep.

Heyes however, lay awake into the early hours. Sometimes it seemed like his brain went into overdrive at night. Certainly it was often when he did his best thinking. But then he mused, it was often quiet at night and he was rarely interrupted. Sometimes during the day there were just too many things going on for him to really concentrate hard on something.

Tonight his mind was set on the coded messages. They had three of them now and he was still as puzzled. He'd had a couple of theories but one or other of the messages always seemed to disprove it. Deciding that he wasn't going to be falling asleep any time soon no matter how tired he might feel, he climbed out of his bedroll and fumbled in his saddlebag for the three messages. He placed them on the ground in front of him. There was some moonlight tonight but not much, not enough to read the notes by, but that didn't matter. He knew them off by heart anyway, he didn't need to see them.

As the hours passed, Heyes didn't even notice how long he'd been sitting there. His mind was totally concentrated. It was some time in the early hours when it came to him. And it was so simple. Why hadn't he seen it before he wondered? All along he had been working on the assumption that the code for all three messages was the same, but now he realised, he'd been wrong. The code was different for each message. With renewed determination, he started over with the first message and by the time the faint glow of the sunrise was visible in the East, he had it all figured.

Now as he looked at the messages in the faint dawn light, he saw the codes clearly, saw the true messages clearly. And he didn't like what he saw.

Walking over to Kid, he nudged him awake and then knelt down next to him. This was not the time for banter. He laid out the three pieces of paper in front of Curry and whispered softly "Kid, we're in trouble."

Curry looked up at him questioningly.

"I figured out the code. Look."

Curry sat up and watched as Heyes explained.

"On the first message, it's the first letter of the first word, second letter of the second word, third letter of the third word and then back to the first letter again. Look - That not him. Will he assess the ground Phil dug against trees."

Slowly Curry put together the code and read out the first message.

"Tom. West Ridge."

"On the second message, it's different. This time it's the last letter of the first word, last but one letter of the second word - see?"

Curry nodded and again put together the code and read out the hidden message.

"Jennings. Benton Pass."

Curry hardly dared to read the third one but picked it up anyway and with Heyes' explanations he worked out the code on that one too.

"Wheeler. Blakesville."

Curry looked up at Heyes.

"So he does have accomplices? Three of them?"

"Looks like it to me Kid. These must be the names of his accomplices and where they are. I'd say he's also been sending them information about where we are."

"You reckon there are four of them on our trail?"

Heyes just nodded.

"Benton Pass is to the north and West Ridge is to the west. Where's Blakesville?"

"I don't know for sure Kid, but I'd guess at East. It makes sense that they are trying to surround us from all sides."

Curry let out a long breathe.

"We don't know how far away they are, nor exactly where they are."

"That's right, but it's beginning to look like a real professional job Kid. Someone is pretty determined to get us and they've already had a few days. I'd say they're not that far away."

"You're right Heyes. We're in trouble. I guess we'd better get going before they close up around us."

* * * * *

They decided to try and head out as quickly as they could and make an escape by passing in between the four bounty hunters. It meant speed was of the utmost importance. Every hour meant that the bounty hunters were closer to them and also therefore, closer to each other, giving them less chance to pass unnoticed between them. It wasn't going to be easy but with four men out there coming from all directions, it was the only option they could see. They pushed ahead as fast as they could. They didn't speak much, each man engrossed in his own thoughts.

Heyes' mind was locked on the problem, on possible ways to lose these men. After his first comment to the Kid in the early hours this morning that they were in trouble, he had not allowed himself to think that way again. They'd outrun or lost bounty hunters before, albeit only one of them at a time, but if they could lose one, they could lose four. How hard could it be reasoned Heyes? There had to be a way, there always was and all they had to do was find it. Heyes was not a man who contemplated failure and he was not about to start now. This was simply a challenge and it was one they would win. Methodically he worked through all of the tactics they'd used before, discarding each in turn for various reasons, although keeping some in mind in case the opportunity arose. Having worked through all of the logical possibilities, he moved on to the illogical ones.

Kid meanwhile was becoming stubborn. With four men after them, he was beginning to feel picked on and he didn't like it. He knew one thing for certain. If it was a question of physical endurance, of keeping going for longer or further or harder, then he would do it and he would do whatever it took to drag Heyes through with him if necessary. He would outrun these men or he would die trying.

In the meantime he kept a close eye on the terrain, picking the best route and looking out for anything that might give them an edge, whilst at every opportunity looking back behind them for any sign of pursuit.

He glanced behind him at Heyes, noticing his slightly distracted look. Curry knew if there was a plan to be found, Heyes would find it, but was there one to be found? Doggedly, he went back to concentrating on the trail.

The trail climbed higher and eventually as it wound out of a glade of trees, Curry could see the top of the hill. Reaching the brow, he looked out and froze at what he saw. Below them was not one bounty hunter, but a group of five or six men. They weren't too far away at all and they were fast approaching them. As Heyes drew alongside him, Curry shuddered.

Without hesitating, they turned and took off back down the trail at a gallop. Curry spotted a small trail heading northwards and lead them down it. Progress was somewhat slower on the small track but they kept up the pace as much as possible. Darting out of a clump of trees, they came to a sudden stop. Up ahead of them and coming straight towards them was a cloud of dust. Curry grabbed the binoculars, knowing what he would see before he saw them. Again, not a single bounty hunter but a group of men - it was hard to tell how many because of the dust cloud but Curry guessed at six or so.

They turned back on themselves, pushing their horses on until they came back to the main trail where they turned back towards the old ramshackle cabin.

As they approached it at top speed, Kid looked behind him and saw the first group who appeared to be gaining on them.

"Which way?" he yelled.

"We can't get up the ridge. Have to go straight on, towards Hawkins" yelled back Heyes "He's sick, remember?"

"Yeah, and alone"

Taking on one man seemed more sensible than taking on a group of men, but with so many men so close behind them, and another group fast approaching from the side, it wasn't going to be easy to keep an eye out for Hawkins and come up with a way of getting past him or ambushing him.

Moments after passing the cabin, Curry rounded a bend and stopped dead in his tracks.

"Heyes" he yelled back at his partner.

As Heyes drew alongside him, he gritted his teeth. Directly in front of them, almost within firing range, thundering towards them was Sam Hawkins, surrounded by some five or six other men. Several of them raised their rifles and the bullets started flying around Heyes and Curry. The pair took off back towards where they'd just come from - and, they knew, straight back into the path of the first group of men.

They were becoming boxed in and there was nothing they could do about it. Leaning low over their horses in the hope of avoiding the bullets, they saw the first group now approaching in front of them, though still some yards away.

More bullets rang out from their side - the second group were nearly upon them. Curry could feel his heart thumping in his chest as he raced to goodness knows where. The spider's web was closing around them and their options had run out. Refusing to accept what looked inevitable and aware of Heyes thundering along beside him, Curry pushed forward, even knowing as he did so that he was heading straight into more fire.

"Hang in there Heyes" he yelled back to his partner.

"Right behind you Kid" Curry was relieved to hear his voice.

Suddenly Curry spotted the cabin just ahead of them. It was a long shot but realising they had no other choice, he yelled to Heyes to follow him as he steered his mount towards the cabin. The bullets were coming from all directions now as they rode straight through the doorway and diving off the horses, they scrambled into position, one on either side of the window, breathing heavily and sweating.

"We gotta do something Heyes" gasped Curry.

"Yeah. But what?"

They fired a few shots back and were surprised when the bullets raining down on the cabin stopped. They stood motionless for several minutes but when the firing didn't start again, Heyes hesitantly peered around the edge of the window.

"What'd you see?"

"Nothing" answered Heyes uncertainly. "I can't see any of them."

Curry leant around to look outside too. There was nothing to be seen of any of the men. Suddenly to his right, Curry caught a slight movement up on the hill and nudged his partner. As he did so, he spotted a couple of men moving into position on the other side. The men were obviously still out there and were now surrounding them. The pair waited by the window, guns in hand, for several more long minutes.

"There's no way we can take them all at the same time, especially with them being on different sides of the cabin."

"I gotta agree Kid, you got any other suggestions?"

"We could try waiting them out"

Curry looked at him doubtfully.

"No, you're right" agreed Heyes. "We've got to do something."

"But what Heyes? There's a dozen or more men out there, all with their guns trained on us, just waiting and my guess is they'll be ready to outwait us."

Heyes frowned. He was completely stumped.

They made their way to the pile of hay in the middle of the room, slumped down and waited. And waited. They waited all day. Nothing changed.

It was beginning to grow dark and it looked like they were going to spend an unpleasant night. With only small amounts of food and water with them, they couldn't stay there for too long. The men outside had every advantage.

"If I thought they'd take us alive, I might suggest walking out of here and taking our chances of escape later."

"They're not going to take us alive Heyes"

"I know"

"They're also not going to try anything during the night - why should they? They can afford to wait until morning."

"You're right Kid. We might as well try and get some sleep - toss for first watch?"

Kid managed a weak grin.

"Tails" he called.

He heard the sound of Heyes rummaging in his pocket for a coin and then the sound of it landing back on his hand.

"How'd that happen?" grumbled Heyes.

Kid automatically started to rise to move towards what passed for a window, and then stopped and turned back towards Heyes.

"How'd what happen?"

"Kid, I don't believe it. It's tails."

Curry knew there was something he was missing here, but he was tired and right now, he couldn't quite think what it was.

Heyes gently pushed him down onto his bedroll.

"Wait a minute Heyes" he protested. "It's dark, how could you see it was..."

"You sleep Kid" Heyes interrupted him. When Curry drew breath to speak again, Heyes added "I need to think. I'll wake you in two hours."

* * * * *

Heyes sat staring out of the window at the back of the cabin. He looked up at the moon, wishing it wasn't quite so bright. He could see the outline of the well behind the cabin. It wasn't far. And just to the side … He shook his head to clear his thoughts and looked up at the sky once more. With that amount of moonlight, it was too far.

A noise at the front of the cabin interrupted his train of thought. He moved to the front window and peered out.

"Well I'll be." he muttered to himself, smiling. They were playing right into his hands. Turning towards the sleeping Curry, he started to unbutton his shirt.

* * * * *

Kid came awake as Heyes nudged his shoulder non too gently with his foot.

"Wake up Kid"

Kid's eyes opened and he saw Heyes standing over him. At first he didn't remember where he was and he smiled up at his partner, then as remembered he let out a loud sigh.

Sitting up and rubbing his temple, he squinted up at Heyes.

"So what's the plan Heyes?"

"Thought you'd never ask Kid."

"You have a plan?" Curry quickly stood up to face him in admiration and relief.

"You know, I was so caught up in thinking about those coded messages and how many men were outside, that I completely forgot where we are."

"Oh and now you've remembered huh? Trapped in a cabin with a dozen bounty hunters outside is where we are Heyes. And with no means of escape."

"That Kid, might just be where you're wrong."

Curry looked at him questioningly.

"There isn't time to explain right now, but last time we were here, when you were sick, I took a real good look around while you were sleeping."

Heyes pulled Curry over to the window and peering out, Curry saw several of the men brandishing torches of fire.

He looked at Heyes in alarm.

"They planning on setting fire to the place?" he asked.

Heyes nodded. "I think so Kid. Come on, we haven't got much time."

* * * * *

They quickly saddled up their horses and then they both stripped off their clothes down to their long underwear. Taking bundles of the straw, they stuffed it into their clothes and tied them to the saddles.

"Heyes" Curry pulled his partner back, his arm on his shoulder.

"Heyes, this isn't going to work" he whispered.

For a long moment Heyes didn't reply, just looked back at this man who had always been there, watching his back and going along with every hair-brained plan he'd ever come up with. He couldn't lie to him. Slowly he nodded and when he spoke, his voice was sombre.

"You're right Jed... This isn't going to work."

He looked directly at Curry who didn't flinch at the words. Instead he just squeezed Heyes' shoulder.

"I know Heyes"

Curry paused briefly, then smiled at Heyes. "I know" he repeated.

* * * * *

The man that Heyes and Curry knew as Sam Hawkins pushed his way past several of the men. The fire had been his idea. Some of the others had been in favour of waiting until the morning but he had other ideas. After all he had a reputation to uphold. It was said that Jack McGill never lost a trail, that he never ate, never slept, never failed to get his man. McGill smiled to himself. Soon he would be the man that finally brought in Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. The bounty was payable dead or alive and he didn't much care which way it was.

He gave the nod to his men and the torches were thrown in through the gaping holes that were once windows. The hay inside ignited almost immediately and the red glow of flames could be seen inside the cabin. McGill smiled.

Suddenly there was an enormous flash of orange light as the cabin went up in flames and in the same instant the door of the cabin burst open and two horses and riders flew out. As they raced across the open ground, 17 men took aim with rifles and fired. The "riders" were hit several times each and both fell to the ground.

"It's a trick, it's not them." yelled one of the group of men that quickly surrounded the fallen "riders".

Turning towards the cabin, the 17 men took aim and fired repeatedly into it, the bullets ricocheting around inside the building. The wooden roof started to creak and moments later there was a loud rumbling as the roof timbers and upper parts of the wall crashed to the floor, alight with flames.

Outside, McGill watched in satisfaction. No-one could have survived.

* * * * *

As the fire burnt itself out, the men approached cautiously, guns at the ready. McGill kicked at some of the still flickering embers in the piles of wood and rubble.
"There's no way they survived this." McGill said to the man next to him. "Look at this place. The entire roof has collapsed and burned."

Gus Foster nodded in agreement. "I've seen lesser fires than this wipe out a whole family. They couldn't have survived this. If they did survive the fire, they couldn't have survived the bullets. Seventeen men firing bullets at them. It's just not possible. Let's go home and in the morning we'll send some of the men back out to finish up here. Our job is done. Let's go claim that reward."

With a last look around, McGill nodded and turning, he called his men off. They gratefully mounted their horses and returned to town, looking forward to the extra bonus they'd been promised for a successful job.

* * * * *

"Heyes" the name was whispered.

"What?"

"Your arm is sticking in my ribs."

"Well move your ribs then."

Curry tried to wriggle into a different position, but there was hardly room to breathe, yet alone move.

"Can you hear anything out there?"

"Nope. Can you?"

"No. How long do ya think it's been?"

"Dunno. A coupla hours maybe?"

"Maybe." followed by a pause "Enough time yet?"

"No, not yet."

"OK. Sure wish you'd move your elbow though."

"Kid, will you quit on about my elbow."

"Sorry Heyes, just trying to pass the time."

He couldn't see Heyes' face. It was too dark in here for one thing but for another his head was facing away from his partner. He couldn't ever remember being in such a confined space. Come to that, he couldn't quite believe that they had both managed to fit in. He smiled a little to himself though, he knew Heyes had just given him "the look".

There was silence for a long time, both men lost in their own thoughts, mostly of about how come they were still alive.

* * * * *

Jack McGill sat on the log, watching what used to be the back of the cabin. He'd been sitting there since he'd watched Gus Foster and the men ride on out, returning home during the night. He'd watched the sun rise high up in the sky. He picked up his rifle and stood up. He had a reputation to uphold. It had become personal now. It was no longer about the reward. He no longer cared about the money. All he cared about was knowing that he had come out on top in this battle. They were clever these two. They'd led him a right merry dance. But they weren't going to win. They weren't in that cabin when it burned to the ground. He knew that. They were too clever. He knew that. And what's more, he knew where they were. Now it was time.

Silently, he walked towards the well at the back of the cabin. The well where he'd watched them fill their canteens. They'd led him deliberately to that stream with the bad water. He'd been sick as a dog for several hours and now it was time for payback.

He raised his rifle, then reaching out with his left hand, he threw back the wooden cover from the top of the well and fired down into it. He kept firing, blindly, intent only on making sure the two men inside were dead.

Finally, he returned to his horse and rode out.

* * * * *

The sun baked down onto the parched earth. The air was still and heavy and not a thing had moved all morning.

"Kid?" came the whisper.

"What?"

"Your ribs are sticking in my elbow."

"Oh that does it Heyes, I am not staying in here one more moment with you. How long has it been anyway? I haven't heard a sound for what must be hours. I am getting out of here and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

"Stop you? When did I say I was gonna stop you? You think I'm having fun in here with your ribs sticking in my elbow?"

They judged it had been at least another couple of hours since they'd heard the shots from the rifle and only a few minutes later, the sounds of a horse riding out. There had been nothing since and Curry decided it was time.

Slowly, he pushed one of the wooden planks out of the way. Sunlight filtered in as Curry peered out intently. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust and then he scoured the scene for any sign of the bounty hunters. Finding none, he gingerly stepped out, crouching so as to be hidden behind the nearby well, still half expecting a shot to ring out. When none did, he stood and looked all around carefully. It appeared that they were alone, their adversaries long gone. Curry reached down to give Heyes a helping hand out of their hiding place and then stretched his back. It had been many years since they'd played around back in Kansas, hiding in the carefully concealed holes originally built and used to hide from Indians. He didn't remember them being so small, or maybe it was just that they were smaller back then. Looking down into the hole now, he really wasn't quite sure how his partner had ever thought they could both fit into that small space. Necessity of course, had meant that they had, somehow.

As Heyes stepped out, he looked around. The Indian Hole was actually closer to the cabin than he'd remembered and in broad daylight, he realised how lucky they were. The embers were still smouldering and if they'd been any nearer, they wouldn't have survived the fire. On the other hand, had it been any further away, they wouldn't have reached it without being seen. He remembered back to the first time they'd been at the cabin, when the Kid had been sick, when he'd first discovered the hiding hole close to the well. He remembered how he'd almost twisted his ankle when he stepped on one of the wooden planks covering the hole and it had given way under his foot.

His gaze came back to rest on his partner and suddenly their faces lit up with smiles and laughter and they pulled each other into a bear hug, hardly able to believe that Lady Luck had been with them once again. They were alive and they were free.

"You know something Kid?"

"What?"

"Well I was just thinking, next time you tell me a plan isn't going to work, remind me not to listen to ya will ya?"

 

3.17 The End of the Road? by Sally Wheaton

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