Serial Saturday: Road Trip, Part 17

“Israel,” JT said. There was another rumble of thunder, closer now, and the trees shook with a gust of wind. Some of the breeze reached them through the timber, and it was cool in a way that presaged an impressive turn in the weather coming.

“Not right,” Israel murmured, starting toward the cabin.

“Dammit, Israel,” JT said. “What the fuck is going on?”

Israel turned, a faraway look in his eye, then gestured toward the tin-roofed shack. “The sugar shack was here, back when we…”

JT looked at the shack. It was maybe thirty feet on a side, gray boards with a few gaps. There was a window on the side facing them, with a single shard of glass still clinging to it. The thing hanging from a tree next to it moved again with a clink.

“Back when you what, Israel?”

Israel’s head was cocked to one side in that way he had that was already familiar to JT, and he was staring off into space.

“This is where we tracked him to, he had it with him when we…” He trailed off again and looked up at JT with a expression she didn’t like at all. It was calculating at the same time it was thoughtful, and she wondered if the calculating part had been there the past few days, just hidden better than it was now.

“Someone has been doing things here,” he said. “How old do you think that cabin is?”

JT glanced over, fighting the feeling that she should be focused on the hunk of dangling meat off in the other direction instead. It did look old, a battered gray thing with cloudy windows that seemed like it couldn’t be housing anyone. None of the windows were broken, though, and the land right up against it was clear. “Could be old, could just be no one stained it,” she said. “It’d weather all gray like that in a couple years.”

“Yeah,” Israel said thoughtfully. He started toward the cabin again.

“Hey,” JT said. Israel ignored her, continuing slowly on with a thoughtful expression. For a moment, JT considered going around the side of the car to grab him. Then she reached through the back door again and grabbed a handful of buckshot shells from the box on the seat. She shoved them into her right pocket, then grabbed a handful of slugs before jogging after Israel, pushing them into her left pocket as she went.

She caught up to him just as he made it to the cabin and was reaching for his shoulder when the door swung open. She brought the Winchester up by reflex, but the man in the doorway just glanced over at her with a smile before looking back at Israel. He was of average height, but painfully thin, with disheveled hair and a three-day growth of beard. He wore an old black sweatshirt and stained, holey pants. He could have been someone working on some home repairs over a long weekend, but the smell didn’t fit with that.

It was a smell of wet dog and old blood, and it hit JT a second after the door opened. She wasn’t sure how much of it came from the man and how much came from the dim interior of the cabin. The smell was the only threatening thing about him. He wasn’t carrying any weapons that she could see, and he actually had a gray cast to his skin that made him look a bit frail and unhealthy. And of course he was smiling, as he looked at Israel. JT modified her first impression. There was a threat somewhere in that smile. Like there was in Israel’s.

“Israel,” the man said. “You’ve finally arrived.” He turned his smile to JT. “And you brought a guest.”

The first fat drops of rain hit the ground next to them, and JT could hear more in the foliage overhead. The man in the doorway glanced up.

“Come in,” he said.

“Israel?” JT said as she felt a raindrop hit her head.

“Laurent?” Israel asked in a dreamy voice.

“Who else would it be?” Laurent asked. “Come in, come in. It’s going to get nasty soon.”

JT opened her mouth to say something, but Israel was already walking in, his shotgun dangling at his side. Laurent continued to stand aside for her as the rain suddenly increased and a crack of thunder sounded nearby. She gritted her teeth and stepped in, and the door shut behind her.

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams




~ by smwilliams on July 30, 2011.