In that moment, when flames licked the horizon and the sky burned with an orange glow, Taylor knew everything was going to be alright. An orange light washes over him. It feeld like a receding tide of stress relieving so many fears. The exhaling wind across the desert brings a taste of night’s chill. Taylor watches the blue fade to purple and then black. The truck’s headlights watches over the dry creek bed. The vast blanket of desolation buries any signs of life. His eyes search the horizons for traces. Satisfied there is nothing, he drives the truck down into the sand. The truck groans and lurches downward. Tires find rocks only to kick them up. A cloud forms illuminated by pale moonlight. It dances within a fading breeze. Taylor halts the truck where the creek once formed braids. It seems fitting to use the dead creek. His cargo needs not be found. Nor identified. He loosens the back of the trap to reveal a shovel. The sand gives easy. The headlights produce long growing shadows. The Earth opens wide to accept its prize. In the distance, calls of the night begin. The return of noise is partially unnerving. Distance is enough to restore the peaceful feeling. The moonlight plays with the senses. He back fills the hole quickly. His eyes scrub the shadows for movement. In a place with little respect to time, he begins to question if he overextended his stay. Quick feet find the path to his truck. An easy feeling resumes once he is inside. A deep breath and quick check of the mirrors calms down the pulse. Taylor starts up the truck. He drives across the disturbed sand a few times back and forth to smooth out the scene. Its perfectly staged now. Time to leave the place for civilization. Down a loose sand road another truck comes as he goes. Everything will definitely be alright in a few more miles.
This week’s photo prompt is provided by Grant-Sud. Thank you Grant-Sud!
“The charges are very serious! Do you have anything to say on your behalf?” The judge scowls down at his rebel rouser.
“It’s a smiley face. Hardy gang markings… I mean the old man there is a grump like you…sir.” Manny looks down for another answer on his shoes “Why can’t you people smile once in awhile?”
The judge looks perplexed. “Why I smile! I smile all the time around here. Don’t I Julie?”
The court stenographer looks back a little shocked. “Yes, sir”
“We have a serous job. There are consequences for things. We need to show that here. But I still smile. We try to have…. fun.” the judge smiles like it hurts him Yes, we try to have fun here.”
“I thought a chalk smile was fun! Something nice to see” Manny smiles.
“Chalk, did you say chalk? I’m really wasting my time on graffiti charges!” the judge loses his smile again. “Prosecutor! Give me those pictures and one hell of any explanation!”
“I love the sound of the river. God, those engines fighting the inevitable current! They surge!” Timothy taps his fingers on a wooden crate. “If they stop, the thing goes sideways.”
Timothy tugs down the brim of his ball cap. His eyes roll along the viaduct. Empty as always during the morning. The Sun has yet to bring out the second round of fishermen.
“Well, time to loosen the load. I hope you can swim….” Timothy’s voice raises slightly. “Oh yeah…Good luck with the crate, ropes and gag.”
Timothy pushes the long narrow crate to the edge of the tailgate. A sudden shift in weight drops it to the concrete surface inches from the water.
“Don’t worry those bags of sand won’t hurt soon. The water takes all that weight away. It sounds like it knocked the wind out of you.” Timothy pushes it end over end til a loud splash splits the surface.
“Terrorist! Did you just call me a terrorist?” Paul slumps back into his metal folding chair. “You have it all wrong. No, no. Thingsdiseasesr5 aren’t like that…now”
“Your cell phone places you in a very bad spot. Frankly, there was noone but you there. Am I to believe in ghosts? Or maybe we failed to pick up a second signal?” Montague pushes his glasses back up his nose. His sharp features grabbing shadows from the dim stark room.
“You have it all wrong.” Paul runs his right hand against his receding hair. His right leg bounces slightly in a nervous twitch.
“You’re 45, recently unemployed, gun collector…. oh, yeah. Here’s a missing persons report from Olivia Stafford. Your wife? Correct?” Montague pauses and leans forward into the light. “Seems she thinks you might hurt yourself or somebody. Imagine that. You might hurt somebody.”
“She didn’t know. I mean the doctor told me but never mentioned about mandatory reporting.” Paul starts to panic. His eyes grow wide, needs ous sweat line up along his brows. “It’s cancer. They notified my employer! I was too expensive to insure. She had no idea. How do you explain that to your family? Fired because you need medical treatments.”
“Now the government provides opportunitiesfor people like you.” Montague smiles ” Ha, you didn’t care about the lifestyle that causes your problems.”
“I can’t support my family with those programs!” Paul’s mouth grows tight. ” Wait till it happens to you! You’ll see!”
“No excuse! Especially for what you and your kind have done!” Montague snaps a file shut. “Think deeply about what you have done. Grenade launcher with fingerprints. At the scene of the crime. And it’s all because your sick.”
“Is there not one crumb of dignity within you?” Her hectic voice screeching.
He barely lifts his head.
Which just enrages her more.
“Nothing to say, huh?” She snaps
Her left hand suddenly rummage within her purse.
Two shots ring out.
A figure covered in cloth falls
Color burst surfaced in my mind. A punch to the throat mixed with wrapping chains. I simmered.
“What kind of nut?” I labeled him, as if it matters now.
This week’s photo prompt is provided by TJ Paris. Thank you TJ!
“Pine island only reachable by boat….. Or kayak” George’s voice peaks and finishes the pitch to get away.
“You are serious?! It’s a long way for a first trip.” Bridget knows the look on his face. “Someone owes me…if I do this.”
Bridget stares up at the Sun. The waves of turquoise wash over her. Her body rides the tide.
Her mind plays the conversion over and over again.
The scene of the two red kayaks on the beach. The soft wind plays on every sense. Smells of salt. Palm leaves flex and sing. Warm caress of the Sun. A weird sensation of blood in her mouth.
George briefly smiles. A sharp point about the shoulder blade. Bridget falls. George looks down upon her. Then the water covers her.
“A new start for us! I told you if i couldn’t have you… Noone would!” George smiles again.
“Souls don’t become lost. They grow deaf” Sam looks down at the mess that was Audrey. “It is not who could do a thing like this…. But rather, what they allowed to rule them. I would pray for their soul. However, it appears they have none left.”
Sam pulls down his black homemade stetson hat. His right hand reaches into a saddle bag. It finds a book of curled pages. It’s silver flaked cross peeled from a charcoal cover announces what it is.
He walks a few feet to the remains. His head nods to Jacob to remove his hat as well. The ritual is becoming daily. There’s darkness falling from the skies here. Like rain, it causes weeds to take root.
Silently Sam prays over the body. His eyes shed a solitary tear. His hands skim the well worn pages. His face moves to accent the wear and tear of the years. Deep set eyes have long sunk. His mustache lost most of it color and form. Age didn’t creep up on him, it ambushed him.
He wishes he had learned to read. Long lost shreads of time tie him to a respectable past. His title changed from miner to Marshall, to scoundrel to pastor. Heaven holds no lure for him. Neither did a fast trip to Hell. He fooled enough people and respected them into returning the favor.
His heart still drops when it’s a good person that falls. He knows each day has brought another body. Each of these bodies have been less connected to itself. Tomorrow there will be another one.
“Audrey was one of the few bright spots here. Chauncy Miller, he’ll need to know what…” Sam’s voice goes rough. “Damn it! Just don’t say how she looked when we got here. It’ll be enough to kill him knowing she’s gone.”
His eyes find the horizon. Mountains cut this place fron the rest of the world. It equally keeps demons on both sides of the ridge. The few here are harder to find.
A knock on the door. Followed by six more. Staccato wraps follow the first soft touch. A solitary light shone in a living room.
The full moon rises. It lights the last house on the pavement. The road falls to gravel and disappears into the woods. The woods reaches around the simple house and its barn. The white glow of the moon paints it better in the night than the Sun. The door hides within a small porch, shrunk by the boxes and tables stacked around.
The hand rises again. The knocks continue six at a time. Staccato beats.
“Hang on baby! hang on…. We’ll get you help.” Brian looks down. A face looks back.
“No one will open the door… it’s too late they’ll never open the door.” Connie voice fades. Her jeans covered in blood. The yellow t-shirt dirt covered and suddenly wore out. “It’s cold. Maybe there’s blanket in this stuff. Maybe morning…”
“I see someone. They are in there. They’ll help us.” Brian wipes his head. A streak of blood runs down fron his forehead. His face shows he doesn’t think help is coming.
Brian returns to the door. A series of knocks continues. Each becoming a little more panic stricken. “Hello?! We need help. Just call the police… anything! Please!”
Connie is on the wooden porch. She is sitting against soft boxes that lean over toward her a bit. She’s scared but holding on a brave front. “Sit next to me. The morning.. They’ll see us.”
Shuffling sounds inside stop her. The dragging and stopping catch their attention. The door had three little boxes that show how dark the inside is but little else.
“If you open that door, I’ll kill you both. Shotgun is in my hands.” The voice followed by a tapping on the other side of the door. “You live to see tomorrow…. I’ll habe to deal with Y’all then. Stop banging or you’ll wake up the Dead!”
The shuffling starts again. This time fading away. The single light flashes out.