Sorry, your browser is not supported
To have the best experience using Skillshare, we recommend that you use one of these supported browsers.

12

--

Jack Rider - Life on The Run

Blurb:  A bar fight ends with a biker dead, and Jack has to keep one step a head of everyone.  What was an accident won't be treated as such and now he's running for his life.  He doesn't know who he can trust and help just might come from the most unlikely source.

                                                                            -Chapter 1-

      The cold morning air in the mountains was crisp and clear, and it burned his lungs as he stepped out of the cab of his beat-up old truck.  It had been a long time, too long, since the last time he had seen these blue mountains of northern Colorado.  It was late October, and the first snow of the season had come early and covered everything in its white winter beauty.  The sun was just starting to come up over the mountain to the east, and as he stood beholding the beauty of a winter morning sunrise, he got his bearings down as to where he was.

      The road on which he had travelled came in through the narrow pass from the south, and as it came between the two ranges of mountains, it opened up into a snow-covered valley.  There was a gully off to the left where spring runoff from the snow ran.  Now though, it was frozen over and there wasn't much water there at all.

      He was all alone; no one else was around for miles.  Jack became entranced by the sun’s morning glare off the freshly fallen snow.  He watched a snow hare playfully jump around from bush to bush in search of food.

      Suddenly, the snow hare stopped and sat upright, its little pink nose in the air trying to pick up some little smell.  Its ears stood straight up, and he was looking around nervously as if he had heard something.  But after a couple of minutes of not detecting anything, it went back to its playful bouncing around.

      But not for long before it stopped again and started its searching process all over again.  This time the rabbit was more nervous, and Jack suddenly came out of his trance and deep thought.

      Something was amiss.  Someone or something was out in the woods beyond Jack’s vision.  He wasn't alone after all.

      Jack had to assume that it was a person since Jack was a runner.  He was running from the law; he had been accused of a murder in a little town in Arizona.  Jack considered himself innocent, but the law saw it different. And Jack was a fighter, and he wasn't about to risk his future on a justice system that he felt would not give him a fair trial.

      There was one thing that confused Jack: how could there be anyone out there?  He had picked up this truck from his cabin just south of Pinetop.  And no one had seen him come or go, and he had taken all the back roads to the valley where he now was.  And since he told no one his plans, he had to assume that it was just some hunter hoping to get a lucky shot at a deer.

      Since Jack had been raised in the mountains all his life, he didn't panic, but simply moved to the driver's side of the truck where he slipped the thirty-OT-six from behind the seat.  Once he had the rifle, he moved to the front of the truck.

      He then took sight on the bush where the snow hare seemed to be looking with the most interest.  Then the wait began; Jack was prepared to wait for however long it took to find out what was there.  The rabbit was still there, but it was very nervous. There was a rustle in the underbrush that was audible where Jack was located.  The snow hare took off at high speed in the other direction.

      From the underbrush came wondering out a great big mountain lion.  Jack was rather relieved to see that it wasn't a hunter, but the fact that there was a mountain lion around did not please him.  Jack quickly but quietly got in the truck and shut the doors.  He didn't want to fire the rifle and risk giving away his position to anyone that might happen to be within earshot.

     

      The scene from the bar fight kept flashing through his mind.  He was trying to see if there was anything he had done to incite the incident. He had been minding his own business, playing a game of pool with himself, when the trouble all started. This biker, who had  had too much to drink, challenged him to a game of pool.  When he declined the offer, the biker became irate.

      "What, are you too good to play me, you dumb cow hick?" The hard-¬bitten biker challenged.

      "No, but you're too drunk to play a good game." Jack had replied.

      From there, the biker pulled a knife on Jack and said, "I might be too drunk to play pool, but I'm plenty sober to spill your guts!"

      "Now, put away the knife before you get hurt.  I don't want no trouble with you."  Jack recalled saying.  But there was no soothing the guy, he wanted trouble and he wanted it bad.  And Jack was obliged to fight or have six inches of cold steel put through his ribs.

      As Jack could recall, the biker rushed in, and Jack stepped to the side, grabbing the outstretched arm and brought it down across his knee, freeing the knife.  He then kicked the knife across the room and let the attacker go.  He picked himself up off the floor and was shaking with rage.  He rushed again, and Jack stepped aside, stuck his leg out, and pushed him down.

      The biker tripped over Jack's leg and fell face first, striking his head on the brass foot rail on the bar.  He struck with such force that it snapped his head back and broke his neck, instantly killing him.

      Jack, seeing what had happened and knowing that he was not among friendly people and being a stranger in the town, took off and ran.  He grabbed his motorcycle and managed to elude his pursuers.  He had made it to his cabin, where he was able to pack some supplies and gear and grab his truck. As he thought about the events, he realized he had forgotten to hide his motorcycle, and it would only be a matter of days before they would find the cabin and motorcycle.

      Jack was not a man to panic quickly or frighten easily, but he was playing a game with his life. And he had not had adequate time to think everything out.  He needed a chance to find a good place to hide out and a chance to think everything through.

      But with the snow that had fallen, Jack had no way to hide his tracks if he drove the truck any further.  Jack needed for the weather to cooperate and snow.  If it would snow, he could take the truck and find a good place to hole up, but there was no sign of any possibility of snow.   And with a crazy mountain lion outside, he was not too fond of getting out and walking, but that might be the only way.

      Jack suddenly realized there was no more time to think but only time to react.  The law had found him sooner than he figured.  As the sheriff blazer came roaring over the hill, Jack only had two chances: turn and fight or give up.

      Jack started the truck, spun around, and came straight at the oncoming sheriff.  It was a game of chicken; who would veer off first?  The distance was closing rapidly, suddenly both vehicles swerved in opposite directions.  The sudden change of direction caused the two four-wheel drive vehicles to roll when they hit the fresh snow.

      Jack jumped out, grabbed his pack, rifle, snowshoes, and took off as fast as he could for the tree line.  As he was going, he managed to keep the overturned trucks between him and the sheriff.  Thus limiting the sheriff's line of sight.  He was almost to the tree line when he felt the first bullet whiz by inches above his head.                                                                                                                      

      "Only twenty feet more to go, I can make it," he thought to himself.

      He pressed on, trying to crouch down to reduce the size of the target he was giving the sheriff.  Ten feet, five feet, and then the next bullet flew by.  He made it to the tree line and hid behind a gigantic pine tree.  Once there, he took his first look back at the wreckage.

      The sheriff and his deputy were putting on their snowshoes.  This gave Jack a few minutes to figure out what to do next.  After a quick survey of the forest, he realized that there was no way to hide his tracks.

      He was lucky in the fact that during the excitement the mountain lion had run to the opposite side of the valley.  So he figured that was one plus in his favor.

      There was about a half mile between Jack and the sheriff.  That wasn't much distance, but it might be enough time for Jack to put his plan into action.

      Quickly, he stashed his pack in between two branches in the tree he was hiding behind.  Then, he took off at a good trot away from the tree, making sure to step hard to compensate for the lack of weight of the pack.  He made one set of false tracks that led over a little embankment.  Then putting his snowshoes on backwards, he carefully backtracked his steps.  He would have made a second set of false tracks had he had more time.  But he didn't, so he made it back to the tree where he had hid his pack.  He took a look as to where the sheriff was; he was about a quarter of a mile away.  He must have spent some time surveying the wreck is what Jack figured.  That was good; it had bought Jack some time.

      Carefully removing his snowshoes and tying them together, he threw them over his shoulder and started slowly climbing the tree.  He had to be careful not to knock any bark off onto the snow.  The consequence for that would be fatal.  He was doing good; so far everything had he had tried to do since the wreck had worked.

      The sheriff and his deputy were getting closer, and Jack was just almost in position.  He crouched in a notch between two branches and had a good view of the ground below, but because of the branches and needles of the tree, he was nearly invisible to anyone on the ground.

      The sheriff and his deputy were following the tracks that Jack had left, just like they had been taught to do in school, but as Jack watched them approach, he realized they were making one big mistake.  They were walking on the opposite sides of his tracks, but they were walking close enough to them that they were practically obliterating the tracks as they went.  They were packing the snow in about a three-foot wide area, and they were helping Jack more than they knew.  Now, if they would just keep being a good little sheriff and deputy and keep following the tracks past the tree where he was hiding, things would go well.  They continued to follow the tracks, and they came to the base of the tree where Jack was hiding.

      There was a tense five minutes for Jack to wait through to see if the sheriff would move on.  The sheriff was no dummy, and he wanted to try and make sure that he hadn't doubled back somehow.  Once satisfied that Jack had indeed moved on, so did the sheriff.  They continued to follow the tracks that Jack had made as a decoy.

      Jack waited for about five minutes after the sheriff left before he quickly and quietly came down out of the tree.  Once on the ground, Jack fastened on his snowshoes and headed back towards the wrecked trucks.  He figured he could go back on the now fairly packed snow without leaving too many new tracks that would be recognizable.  And once he reached the road, he could go much faster and not leave any tracks.  Furthermore, he figured that by going south he might get out of so much of the snow and have an easier time of hiding.  It was all a matter of time, and Jack didn't know how much he would have before the sheriff figured out that he had doubled back.  He was thinking of all these things as he jogged down the road as quickly as was possible.

      The sheriff and his deputy continued to follow the tracks, which Jack had left.  They were walking even closer to try to see if there was any sign that he might have backtracked.  So through their efforts to try to insure that there was no back tracking, they erased any hope or chance of being able to tell, once they'd reach the end of the tracks.  They were almost to the embankment where the tracks ended, but they were figuring that there was no way he could have backtracked in such a short time and started to go faster.  They hoped that they could overtake him, and in their hurry, they erased almost all existence of Jack's tracks.

      There was a moment or two of silence and concern when the sheriff and his deputy realized that the tracks had ended.  They stood still looking all around, wondering how he could have backtracked in the snow.

      "How do you suppose he pulled it off?" the sheriff asked his deputy.

      "I'm...  not sure," he mumbled.

      "I don't get it.  We only spent five or ten minutes inspecting the wreckage,” recalled Sheriff Blake.

      "I know!  How could he have backtracked in the snow?" the deputy wondered.

"Sheriff Blake, it's getting kind of late. What do you think we ought to do?"

      "Well, we can't give up yet.  We got to go back and try to figure out what he did and where he might have went."

      "He's probably long gone by now."

      "I know, but if we quit now the state's going to come down on me, and then I'm going to have to come down on you!"

      "Okay, point made.  Now what are we going to do?"

      "Like I said, we got to go back and figure out what he did."

      "Okay, but we've probably wiped out all sign of his tracks."

      "Would you stop griping and come on."

      They headed back towards the tree and the valley.  They didn't really have a plan, and neither was sure just how Jack had gotten by them.  But what really puzzled them was the fact that he had been able to backtrack.  The fact that he had put his snow shoes on backward had never occurred to them.

      When they arrived back at the tree, they realized just what a difficult task they were in for.  During their first search at the base of the tree, they had obliterated most of Jack's signs, and any evidence that might tell them which way Jack had gone was literally stamped out.

      "Stop!  Don't move" shouted Blake. "We've already done enough damage to the tracks.  We gotta be real careful now, so as to not destroy them anymore."

      The deputy froze, fearing the wrath of the sheriff.  The sheriff began taking a closer look at the snow around the tree.  Embedded in the snow, almost invisible upon first glance, was a little piece of bark from the tree.  Bending down to get a closer look, it finally dawned on the sheriff what had occurred.

      "He's good, he's real good," Sheriff Blake stated slowly,     "I don't know how he did it, but he back tracked his steps to this tree.  He was probably laughing at us the whole time we were looking around down here."

      "What do you mean?" asked the deputy hesitantly.

      "What I mean is that the whole time we were looking around down here, he was hiding up there in the tree," the sheriff replied bluntly.

      "Where do you think he is now?"

      "I don't know, but we better start looking."

      "Should we call in for help?"

      "Do you want to explain how he got by us?"

      "No."

      "Well, I don't either. So we better get a move on and see what we can do!"

      Sheriff Blake was beginning to understand Jack; he was wondering, though, if it were all too late.  He knew that Jack was on the run, but he also knew that Jack could think under pressure.  If he was going to beat Jack, he was going to have to start thinking like him and out guess him.

      Sheriff Blake started thinking about the factors he had going against him.  The biggest was time; Jack by now had already had a good hour's head start on him.  And the sun was starting to cast long shadows, thus indicating it would be getting dark in a couple of hours.  That meant that he had to move fast and figure out which way Jack had went before it got too dark.  As he was knelt down. the sheriff saw something that might show him which way to go.

      In the packed snow leading from the wreckage, Blake saw one faint snow shoe print going towards the wreckage.  He wasn't sure if he was seeing correct so he stood, and when he did he lost sight of the print.  He knelt back down, and it came back into view.

      "Hey, Stavalsky, come 'mer," Blake called.

      "Yeah, what is it?" The deputy asked.

      "Look in the middle of the tracks from the wreckage.  Do you see anything?" Blake stated.

      "No sheriff, I don't see anything special."  Stavalsky replied.

      "Now, kneel down and look.  Right there.” said Blake, pointing with his finger.

      "I still don't see anything."

      "Look real hard, about fifteen feet out."

      "Nothing, just a bunch of....  Wait there's one track going the wrong way!"

      "Exactly!"

      "That means he headed back towards the trucks."

      "Right, let's go."

      They took off for the trucks, not really sure what they would do next.  But they figured that they had finally come across something that would help them.  They didn't pay a lot of attention to the packed snow they just tried to see if he might have tried to leave the packed snow.

      Quickly looking around and not finding any new tracks in the snow leading from the wreck, the sheriff knew that Jack had went south on the road.  He knew that there would be no tracks that they would be able to follow, but that they would have to go south and try to find the place where Jack had left the road.

      Jack had been jogging down the road for about a half hour before the thin mountain air forced him to stop running.  He couldn't stop; he had to keep moving, and he figured that he had probably been able to cover about five miles while he had been jogging.  What he needed now was a good place to get off the road.  He had no way to tell where he was or if the sheriff had reached the end of his false trail.

      As he continued to walk, he was looking for a place to get off the road, and as he was walking around a curve in the road that had been cut through the granite mountains, he realized how he could get off the road.

      It was about a ten-foot climb to the top of the cut granite rock, but if he could make it, there would be no way that he could be tracked.  The toughest decision was which side to climb.  Should he go up on the west side and head deeper into the forest and mountains, or should he go east where he could probably find some little town?  The thought of finding a town was what caused him to go west.  He didn't know if there had been any kind of bulletin put out for him, and he wasn't ready to find out.  The climb up was hard, but once he made it to the top, he knew he had made the right decision.

      As Jack reached the top of the cut granite, he heard a gunshot echo in the distance.  He looked around, but there was no one with in sight. And he had no idea why the shot had been fired.

      As the sheriff and his deputy were getting ready to go down the road and look for Jack, the sheriff saw the mountain lion coming back towards the wreckage.  Sheriff Blake dropped the big cat with one loud shot, which echoed eerily in the valley.

      Upon hearing the shot, Jack took off at a fairly good pace.  There wasn't much snow, but there was enough that it was necessary to wear his snowshoes.  As he headed for the forest, he saw the clouds start to roll in.  The snow that would come would cover his tracks and would make it impossible for even the most experienced of trackers to find him.  Jack had everything going in his favor: the weather, his health, and, now, time.  But Jack knew that he couldn't get careless, and so he continued on, constantly aware of his surroundings and taking as many precautions as was possible.

      The impending weather and the quickly disappearing sunlight caused Sheriff Blake to realize the desperation of his situation.  He knew that there was no possible way for he and his deputy to find where Jack had gone before it would get dark.  And with the threat of snow that was sure to come, there would be no way to find him in the morning.  He reluctantly admitted his failure and radioed in to inform the office of what had happened.

      As Jack raced across the top of the ridge toward the trees, his lungs felt as if they were about to explode from the dropping temperatures.  It had been about fifteen minutes since Jack had heard the shot, and the sun was almost behind the mountains.  Jack slowed down to a quick walk, but the further he went the thicker the snow became.  Soon, he had to just slow down to a normal walk.  He was almost to the trees, and he began to notice how tired he was.  All the running he had done had drained most of his energy.  For the last few hours, he had been on an adrenaline high and now that some of the excitement was over, he started to feel totally depleted of energy.

      He knew that he needed to stop, rest, and eat, but he couldn't stop until he found a safe place to hole up for the night.  As Jack reached the tree line, a light gentle snow started to fall, and as the snow started to come down, Jack noticed that the temperature went up just a little.  Walking through the forest, he found where an old pine tree had fallen after being struck by lightning.  On the west side of the tree, there was a slight depression in the ground and a small rise just to the left of the depression.  Jack decided that this would be where he'd spend the night.  He cleared away some snow and huddled up into the depression and the slight rise.  He built a small fire and cooked some food that was in his pack.  The natural shelter was only big enough for him to sit or lie down all curled up, but if he kept the fire going he would at least be warm.

      As he stretched out all the kinks from the night's cramped sleep, he took a good look at his surroundings.  Last night's snow had brought about a foot of new snow, and he could see how he had come to find the natural shelter last night.  The weather was still cloudy with a look of more snow to come.  Jack had about five days worth of food in his pack, and he now had to start thinking about how he was going to support himself.  He had his rifle and two boxes of shells.  He had his hunting knife and some rope, a lighter, some matches, and only a half full canteen of water.  Water would be his biggest problem.  The good thing about the snow was he could always fill the canteen and boil the snow into drinkable water.  Today would be a good day to travel.  Jack wasn't too worried about the sheriff finding him, so he would have time to go slowly and look for a good place to hide out for a while.  With this in mind, Jack destroyed all evidence of his camp after eating breakfast and packing all his stuff and headed deeper into the forest in search of a good hiding place. 

Comments

Please sign in or sign up to comment.