Lake of FIre by Mark Stevens

Lake of FIre by Mark Stevens

Author:Mark Stevens [Stevens, Mark]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781734243703
Publisher: Third Line Press
Published: 2019-11-21T18:30:00+00:00

Chapter 35

Sunday Night

Twice Allison Coil walked from road to river, crossing the fields and ducking under or climbing over fences, keeping an eye out and staying as far from the house and outbuildings as possible. A breeze from the north blew the persistent haze and smoke away, and she guessed the fire, somewhere, enjoyed the nighttime flow of fresh air. It was good to see the stars. The sweep of night sky. Old friends greeted her. Sagittarius, Lyra and now, the North Star. But it was no longer the North Star in Allison’s mind. Per the Ute Indian description it was the Star That Doesn’t Walk Around. She liked that better.

The breeze cooled her down. Hunger and thirst each had taken their turns knocking on her door, and each tried to claim they had legitimate reasons to make a fuss. The White River—the White Trickle—was right there, of course. On her second slow sojourn across the field in front of the house, she put her boots in the river and splashed water on her face but didn’t drink, given the ranch country and the general lack of agitation in the riffles. On the first pass past the ranch house, she tried to keep a somewhat ordinary pace. It was darker when she returned from the river for the second time,. She stopped to watch for movement in the house. The lower floor was lit. She was rewarded with the occasional blur or shadow. On the third trip, she waited even longer and found a comfortable spot to sit for fifteen minutes. She heard some faint country music and men talking quietly outside. She wanted to wriggle across the field like a rattlesnake and crawl beside the house to listen. She wanted to find a way inside the barn, and she even considered a long loop around to the east, perhaps along the riverbank, to approach from upriver. Based on Ingalls’ story, they had some sort of security tripwire on the front of the house and maybe the back. The approach from open country might be less guarded. The only issues about a wide loop around were the hour it might take to pick her way upriver. She might be able to get closer without triggering an alarm, but that didn’t mean she'd be closer to learning anything.

On her fourth trip past the house, the barn exploded in light. The front doors were opened in too-perfect synchronicity, as if motorized. She counted four men silhouetted against the maw of light.

The bus sat back ten feet from the opening, nose pointed out. If a sporting goods dealer happened along, Allison would have paid the going rate times five for a good pair of binoculars. The men milled around. One of them propped the hood and climbed on the bumper of the bus. He jackknifed his body and his head vanished down in the engine’s viscera.

The whole scene looked boiled clean, un barn-like. Her nose said ranch country. Her eyes read industry.

Her phone squealed like a scared pig.


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