CHAPTER 9 ‘The campervan’
The sound of the car had now long gone; but still Samson marched towards the area where he had heard the sound; just below him was the stream again; Samson shimmied down the small slope to the bank that edged along the slow flowing water. He put one foot on a rock in the middle of the stream while the other supported him on the bank then bending over he cupped his hands, filling them with cool water; he pulled them up to his mouth and took a mouthful of the cool liquid, his mouth had felt dry for some time but now it felt like heaven to have moisture again. Standing back upright he let out a sigh as he stretched; arching his back, pushing his shoulders forward while pulling his arms backwards. He stretched out several times; he had no idea of the time but guessed he had been walking for around two hours since he had left the safety of the cave safety! Was the cave really that safe? ‘I think not; a snake attack doesn’t seem too safe to me!’
Samson moved his other foot onto the rock then took the little jump to the other side; just missing the small patch of mud ‘phewww!’ Something caught his eye as he was about to walk away, he stopped abruptly; his head turned to the edge of the mud? There in front of him right at the edge of the mud was a footprint; more like a boot-print and worst of all it was fresh! Samson’s breathing slowed but his heart pumped faster; his eyes were drawn in every direction; he tried to look at which direction the boot was heading; all the time constantly checking around him. It was no use they could be heading in any direction and at a guess he would put a time on it of around one to two hours any longer and he thought the ground would be much drier; this print was damp! So what do I do? Carry on to the road or take another direction? They may be waiting for me at the road, but then again they may not even know there is a road there, it’s not like we’re in the busiest place on earth? He looked back at the boot-print it was definitely moving this way from the stream; Samson had a thought if he went back to the opposite bank and walked in the opposite direction to what the print was moving he was sure that he would still meet the road, but it would be further along. It was not a brilliant plan but at least it was a plan and so long as he didn’t bump into them the plan would be a success, then the negative voice returned.
‘What if you do bump into them; that isn’t much of a success!’
He swallowed hard leave me alone!
Samson leaped across the stream and began moving quickly in the opposite direction the spear was now held at his side as he jogged back up the incline; soon he was back on the straight and still looking over his shoulder. He ran quickly now until he was stopped in his tracks by a sound! A twig snapped off to his right about sixty metres away; Samson ducked behind a tree; his heart beating heavily; sweat soaked his brow through his makeshift hat, his fleece jacket was soaked and sticking to his skin as he peered cautiously around the large trunk. A deer saw him and turning instantly the animal darted away through the forest undergrowth sending leaves flying in its wake ‘oh God! Thank you!’ he whispered as he propped his head against the bark ‘thank you!’
He leant back against the bark getting his breathing and heart rate back under control and, he took steady breath’s it’s ok Samson, it’s safe. Closing his eyes he inhaled through his nose ok time to move again he opened his eyes and pushed himself off from the tree. Cautiously he began walking again.
Killdeer Mountain, North Dakota 10:30am local time:
The old man sat resting against a large rock the night had taken its toll; he had not slept for twenty hours. During the night he had danced; ancient dances around the fire, dances that had been passed down from generation to generation; dances to ward off evil to fight evil. His head rested back on the warm hard surface of the rock, he reached out to an old aluminium water bottle the kind the army used; then raising it he unscrewed the top and sipped the now warm contents. Annawan knew he would not sleep properly until this was all over; he was also afraid! Afraid for the boy and afraid for Akecheta, it was a huge task for him to fight this evil which now covered the lands and skies but what choice did I have? I had to send him! Shaking his head gently he screwed the top back onto the water bottle; he wished dearly that he could have taken this task personally but he also knew he did not possess the strength any more. ‘I’m an old man now’ he spoke solemnly to himself his voice cracked and weak, the two nights without sleep had clearly taken their toll, Annawan knew he needed rest, if he were to keep up his battle against the evil that had been cast upon them. His wrinkles creased above his forehead ‘definitely not an attacking hawk anymore’ Annawan placed the water bottle on the floor at the base of the rock. Something told him this was going to be a long day; he closed his eyes and remembered thoughts of his childhood; of the things he had been taught and of his tribe…….then sleep finally took over him.
The Rocky Mountains 13:20 local time:
Akecheta had now reached the other side of the small mountain, a river flowed across his path; the hawk now circled the tree-line on the opposite bank. The river blocking his path seemed quite shallow although the current looked to be quite powerful especially in the middle; whatever the case it was the river which stood between him and the hawk which he had followed the whole morning. Knowing that he had to continue to follow the hawk he stepped into the cold water; the feeling made his veins tingle more than they had been previously; he felt vibrant his whole body felt alive; he felt invincible as he waded out further into the middle.
Once Akecheta reached the middle of the river he was waist deep; he crouched down soaking his hot sweaty body and stayed there motionless for several minutes immersed up to his neck as he cooled himself in the cold flowing water. With his body now under water he felt weightless as the current pushed through him; Akecheta was at one with the river; his eyes closed tight as his mind took him.
The young warrior was now a salmon swimming; jumping out of the water catching a fly; he was on a journey down the river; he could see other fish as they swam by his side; he smiled at them, raced with them. On and on his journey took him as he travelled further and further down the river, every now and again a stream would join from either of the sides; Akecheta turned into one of the adjoining streams. He swam against the current around bends as he went deeper into the forest; it was very shallow now, he could continue no more, he had to stop. His tail flicked as he maintained his position in the shallow stream he could see out further along the stream as three men crossed his path and then they were gone! He waited for what to him seemed like a very long time; then a boy came into view, descending the incline down to the stream. The boy stood astride of the stream cupping his hands he drank the water then the boy stepped to the opposite bank about to follow the path of the three men! The boy stopped suddenly something had caught his eye? Akecheta watched as the boy jumped back to the opposite bank and began moving in a parallel direction to the three men! He wanted to stand up and shout at the boy to turn back, or to wait until him, Akecheta could catch up with him; it was no good he was helpless as the boy walked steadily away from him.
Akecheta opened his eyes; his head was now underwater, he was back in the middle of the river; his hair weightless around him as he stood upright, the water poured from his body back into the river. He breathed in the air as he looked down the river down there, the boy was down there in that direction he looked in the direction the river flowed, that was the direction he had seen the boy from the same side as he was now leaving; he was caught in two minds not sure whether to go back and follow the bank or carry on as he had been all morning and follow the hawk? The hawk had brought him this far why doubt it now after all from up there the hawk could see everything where as Akecheta could not, he began wading to the other side. His thoughts now turned to the three men they were heavily armed compared to his bow, tomahawk and bowie knife; but that was how his ancestors had fought the white man all those years ago they will hold me in good stead!
* * * * *
Samson’s legs were aching as he continued along the path which was now covered in stinging nettles, he trod carefully aware that he was now flattening a path. A path that could now be followed; it worried him but he had no alternative but to keep on if they come across it they’ll be led directly to me sweat dripped down his spine.
‘They’ll follow you and kill you; you’ll see!’
He shook his head ‘stop thinking like that; think positive’ he let out a sigh as he glanced over his shoulder.
The bed of stinging nettles had now finished, he let out a sigh of relief, he was now back on the narrow dusty trail; constantly watching his tracks. Walking for a further twenty metres he stopped and looked behind him; he could see the flattened trail he had left through the nettles but after that there were no more of his footprints for anyone to follow; that cheered him a little. Now he pondered on changing his course away from the dusty track; perhaps he would go through the brush into the undergrowth and create a new track? The t-shirt on top of his head was soaked as he tried to scratch an itch beneath it. I could just go off the track and maybe create a little diversion should they follow; do like they do in the films then double back onto the path further along ‘yes that’s the plan’ he whispered.
‘They won’t fall for that trick they’ll walk on by your little diversion and they’ll follow you and catch you and then they’ll kill you, you’ll be dead!’
‘God this is doing my head in’ stop listening to this stupid voice in your head and do what you know is right; make a new path; you never know if they’re following you right now? With that Samson left the dusty path he was on and began walking into the undergrowth every now and again he would flatten some grass and break a small twig, he did this on purpose, he wanted them to follow this “set-up route”. Samson walked for two hundred metres then turning left he did the same before turning left once again; he walked for a further two hundred metres then joined the dusty track a little further ahead than he was before.
‘You’ve just wasted your time you silly boy!’
‘Well it’s my time to waste; if I want to waste it I will’ Samson’s clothes were now soaked through from the heat of the sun; they rubbed at his wet skin. His feet were sore and were now badly blistered, he tried to blank the pain out of his mind.
‘They hurt don’t they? Your feet; they can’t keep going like this!’
‘No they don’t hurt me actually.’
‘They do and you know it; why don’t you just give yourself up; let them catch you!’
‘Are you crazy………give myself up’ Samson almost laughed aloud.
‘You know they’ll catch you; you know that don’t you! They’ll catch you and kill you……….. just like we did with your family!’
Samson stopped these aren’t my thoughts he closed his eyes deep in thought, the thoughts had just said ‘like we did with your family’ ‘it’s them again they’re getting inside my mind; those devils’ he raised his hands up to his head and squeezed in at his temples ‘stop it! Leave me alone; I won’t let you beat me; I won’t let you catch me and I won’t let you kill me!’ Samson held his own head tightly and waited; he waited for the voice to return but no voice came; he let go of his head and began walking again. How the hell can they do that? How can they talk to me through my thoughts; how do they get into my dreams and even send animals to spy on me he thought back to the crow the previous day ‘they even sent rattlesnakes to try and kill me; that’s impossible men can’t do that!’ Samson remembered the face of the man in the bedroom doorway; the way his features had moved around his face; he thought about when he landed at the bottom of the cliff and how his three pursuers had stood above looking down at him, he remembered how their eyes had glowed red that’s not right, not possible, not normal! Then the wind that had chased him through the forest, something was definitely out of the ordinary with his pursuers.
Deep down he knew he was not being followed by men they were animals; demons or devils and they were evil, pure evil, he had seen it with his own eyes and now the evil was after him. There had always been a battle between good and evil it had gone on throughout time, Samson looked up to the sun as the heat beat down upon him ‘and now I’ve joined the battle’ he whispered as he shielded his eyes from the bright rays of sunshine. Samson pulled the pack from his back and sat down in the shade against the base of a Juniper tree; he pulled out his water bottle and took a mouthful. After he had drank a little he pulled out two pieces of the rattlesnake meat and ate them slowly, once they had gone he washed them down; then leaning his head back he closed his eyes. With his body battered and beaten Samson fell into a deep and desperate sleep!
In his dreams he could hear a noise; a very feint noise; his mind struggled to make out what the sound was? He had heard this sound before; many times, thousands even millions………a car! He woke at a start, jumping instantly to his feet realising that the road must be close; he ignored everything as he began sprinting along the dusty dirt path. Samson sprinted faster and faster oblivious to the pain from the blisters on his feet, oblivious to his aching limbs, oblivious to his bruised body. Without any hesitation he ran on; he rounded a corner; up ahead through the brake in the trees he could see tarmac, pure black beautiful tarmac; it was a road! Samson could not believe it; he was running toward a road and there was a station-wagon heading in this very direction, he now ran even faster I’ve got to get there before the campervan!
Reaching the tree-line just as the station-wagon passed his position Samson ran through the gap in the trees onto the tarmac shouting ‘hey……..here; stop, stop the car’ he ran into the road waving his arms above his head. He watched desperately as the station-wagon drove away; his heart sank as he waved his hands in the air in desperation; suddenly the station-wagon slowed; slowing until it came to a steady stop. Samson’s smile beamed as he began running down the road toward the waiting vehicle; he was safe at last, I’m outta here!
A movement caught his eye off to the right of the station-wagon in the opposite side of the forest; a figure came out through the underbrush, it was a man he wore a baseball cap! Another figure walked through beside him a large coloured man then from Samson’s side a thinner man wearing a stetsun; they walked up to the stationary wagon. Samson saw the driver an older man in his sixties exit the vehicle; the man in the baseball cap pulled out a gun and shot the old man through the eye at point blank range. The old man dropped like a stone onto the hot tarmac floor; in the passenger seat was a woman; the baseball capped man pointed the pistol through the open door and let off two shots. All the shots were loud; birds took to flight in the nearby area; Samson was motionless a voice in his head telling him to run; but still he stared at the station-wagon and the three men that crowded it; the distance was around 100 metres away.
The first reaction was one of fear, dread and temporary paralysis, Samson was almost in a daze; it was his one chance for survival, to get away from this nightmare and now they had again come back to haunt him. Standing there alone and finally beaten, Samson was dead on his legs; his arms; his whole body ached I can’t go on. Finally he had given up the fight knowing his legs could no longer carry him, they felt like they were laden with lead, he knew that it was finally over; his head shook sadly from side to side what can I do, against these people? What do I have to do to get away from them? He so desperately wanted it all to end and now after all his running he had reached the end of the road; how fitting to finally reach somewhere where he could get to safety and now the route was closed.
* * * * *
Johnson began walking along the side of the station wagon toward the boy fuckin shit of a boy. Cowboy adjusted his Stetson and turning he too began walking along the opposite side of the station wagon to Johnson, he too was heading toward the boy. The Mexican was just admiring his handiwork, he loved to see the dead, he holstered his weapon and turned to watch Johnson and Cowboy as they met up at the back of the station wagon; his two partners in crime as they walked toward the one person who could identify them! The one person who could describe them and even give an artist impression, the one person who knew that they were not just men, for here was “The Devils Advocate” and today his wrath would be biblical…………..
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Run; for God’s sake run! Samson’s brain was coming back to the present you’ve to get away from them, don’t give up now, not after all that you’ve done, all that you’ve been through, look what they’ve taken away from you, you owe it to them, to Mom, Dad and Candice. You owe it to the man and woman in the station wagon and God knows how many others that these evil creatures have killed! On that last thought Samson turned and ran back toward the cover of the trees; another shot rang out, it whizzed by his ear hitting a tree off to his left just as he entered the tree-line. Samson began sprinting again; he crashed through branches as he tried to reach the path he had used earlier; twigs scratched his face and pulled at his clothing, there were thorns and nettles, but still he scrambled his way through them. Two more shots as Samson stopped dead in his tracks and it was that instinct to stop that saved his life as the two bullets buried themselves into a tree in front of him; exactly where he would have been if he had not stopped. Now Samson continued running, zigzagging where possible until his leading foot hit the path; Samson was now off in flight; stooping in several places as he moved speedily along come on run, keep running, put some distance between you and them.
Away to his right he heard sounds; heavy sounds as two of the men entered the undergrowth in his pursuit, he figured it was the coloured man and the one in the stetsun. More like he hoped it was those two; Samson ran for his life; he rounded a bend and ran faster and faster, deeper and deeper into the forest. He ran the way he had come earlier; Samson could tell from the layout of the path that he had been here previously; he reached the tree where he had rested earlier; his pack was still there just where he had left it leaning against the trunk. The spear lay to the right of the pack; he did not know whether to pick the pack up or carry on running? Samson stopped and reaching down he picked up the spear; footsteps approached the bend in the path as Samson ignored his pack and sprinted as fast a she could away from his pursuers run, keep running!
He rounded another bend in the track just as it opened up onto a 400 metre flat stretch; Samson knew that if he did not reach the next bend before the men came into view he would be dead, he would be a sitting target for his pursuers and their guns! His legs moved like engine pistons on a steam train as he flew down the open stretch, running like an athlete, faster than he had ever ran in his life; he was a quick runner at school but now his speed was phenomenal. On and on he ran not daring to glance over his shoulder; that would slow him and the moment he slowed it would give them the advantage no don’t look behind just keep running forward all thoughts of pain had evaporated from his mind as he negotiated his way along the track, every step he took brought him closer and closer to the end of the 400 metre stretch of path. Each time his foot landed on the floor he expected to feel a bullet pierce into him and each time it didn’t hope began to spring from within.
Samson reached the bend just as a shout carried down the length of the track ‘stop boy’ it was the coloured man, his loud southern drool was easily distinguishable; then there was another shot just as Samson rounded the corner. The bullet whizzed by behind him shooting on past Samson and into the forest beyond. He could have laughed if he wasn’t in such a serious predicament; his thoughts once again went to school and his PE teacher Mr Davies, how proud would he have been of Samson at the speed he had just run the 400 metres? Jesus Christ Samson, concentrate on getting away from these assholes! Samson could not afford to let his pace slip; he knew he was tired but he also knew the two men must also be tiring; just so long as he carried on moving at his current pace he could get some distance between them! A sudden thought came into his mind pain, I need to stop the pain as he ran faster and faster along the path; his feet were sore, the blisters had burst. The pain shooting up his calves and into his thighs, a numbness and tingling, like a hot knife had been stabbed into his calves, the heat surge shot through his veins, making him feel nauseous ‘ignore it Samson keep going!’
Still sprinting but hobbling at the same time Samson came to an area he recognised from earlier in the day, it was where he had taken the slight detour in the hope of leading them off should he have been followed. What a waste of time that was………..or was it? He now realised that the detour could still work if he watched his step and crept further along, covering his tracks they may still take the detour route? That may buy him a little time; he stopped and snapped a couple more branches on the path that led to the detoured route, before hobbling carefully around the next bend. He was positive that he had not disturbed the earth along the pathway he had taken; bending down he picked up a large brick and hurled as far as he could into the undergrowth into the direction he wanted them to follow. Now he carried on regardless of what his pursuers did; he came to the path of trodden down stinging nettles and negotiated his way along where he had walked earlier; hearing that the men had taken the detour. He smiled to himself as he listened to their noise. They were quite loud as they made their way up the bank to his left; he could hear branches snapping then a feint voice ‘this way Johnson; come on keep up!’ That’s the English man, they’ve taken the bait he walked forward crouching so as not to be seen from their higher vantage point.
Samson’s expression did not change he was afraid that these men were going to catch him as his pace slowed to a mere walk; he could feel the leather on his hiking boots rubbing into his heels as the heat from the pain burned through his system. His socks felt wet, either blood or sweat he was not sure; he was through the stinging nettles now and could hear that his pursuers were now at the top of the bank out of his line of sight. They would now have to run across the top then back down the incline onto the path where he was now; that would probably buy him an extra 500 metres lead; he was not sure; after all they seemed to be moving a lot quicker than him they’ve probably not got the blisters that I’ve got ‘they must be used to chasing people’ yeah they do look like they enjoy it!
Just then Samson’s luck ran out as his foot slipped on the edge of the bank making him lose his footing, then his balance, he swayed slightly; his weight trying to drag him down the bank but his hopes trying to steady him! His weight won the battle; Samson slipped down the slope; rolling twice sideways on until he managed to turn and slide the rest of the way feet first. This manoeuvre probably saved his life but even so it meant his trousers rode up his sweat stained calves just as he slid through a patch of the stinging nettles; he wanted to scream but couldn’t, more like wouldn’t. The last two days Samson had found a bravery that he never in his wildest dreams thought he possessed; now as he slid to a stop at the bottom of the bank, tears filled his eyes. He had come to a stop right next to the stream, looking into the flowing water he felt his bravery deserting him. Samson began to sob with pain and self pity; that was until he heard the shout!
‘Cowboy; that way he’s down there’ the voice was a loud boom through the tranquil forest; all else around was silent.
Another voice now this time from the Englishman ‘where I can’t see anything?’
The coloured man shouted again ‘I saw a dust cloud down there; he’s gone down the bank, the little prick is down there; it was him I’m sure!’
Samson began crawling along the underside of the bank sideways on from his pursuers are they all there; all three of them? Up above on the bank looking for me? I’ve only heard two voices; not heard the one in the baseball cap; so where is he? Samson began scanning the area around him, he didn’t like it; the man in the baseball cap the evil one could be anywhere; could even be watching him right now just keep crawling you have to get away from here; keep moving Samson! Stealthily he crawled along the underside of the bank, his tears had stopped as he focussed on his escape. As he crawled along the underside of the bank, directly below where it overhung the stream; his hand caught on a jagged piece of rock making him wince silently in pain. He could not afford to stop, several times his knees caught on protruding stones, and he felt his trousers rip in various places. Just another pain to go with the ones he already had; to go with the blisters, scratches and grazes, another pain to go with his bruised ribs and aching muscles and the stinging rash; it was basically going from bad to worse. Yet amazingly he was still alive; how he was alive he did not know but he was alive and as long as he breathed he would fight for his life. After all that was how the human body and mind was programmed; it was programmed from day dot to survive and that was what Samson was now doing surviving every way he could. The pain would eventually subside, just like his recent tears had and if he could just get through this current predicament, then who knows what can happen! Up ahead he could see that the overhang opened out, he would be in the open again; a sitting duck on a rifle range I’ve got no choice but to keep moving this way; come on Samson be brave and stay focussed.
Samson eyed up his surroundings; the stream curved off to his right; if it was only deeper he could have chanced swimming it, but at thirty centimetres it was not deep enough; he looked desperately for other options. Up ahead at the edge of the overhang he could see an American plum tree; it’s ripened fruits covered the floor beneath its large umbrella canopy; Samson suddenly had a hungry urge I need to eat and my mouth’s dry after all he was heading in that direction; why not eat some on the way if I can get to the edge I can probably reach out and grab some?
Samson made it to the edge of the overhang; to the spot where the American plum tree grew, it was around four metres in height; its roots kept moist from the slow flowing stream. Around the base of the American plum were fallen fruits some had dropped or even rolled further away from the tree, toward the ledge on top of the overhang, making them very near to the stream bank; Samson counted around six of the fruits all within reaching distance. Reaching out Samson pulled two of the fruits toward him; he rubbed them up on his combat trousers and began eating them; he had not realised how dry his mouth had become, his tongue had stuck to the inside of his cheek. Forcefully he pulled it loose and bit on the juicy fruit; his mouth became an oasis of flavour, making him close his eyes and savour the taste; he almost forgot about why he was there in the first place. His mouth had been that dry that it hurt a little to swallow, the plum skin caught on the inside of his throat; sticking to his oesophagus. Samson tried to swallow several times in an attempt to dislodge the skin; he felt like coughing to see if that would move the piece of plum skin but knew the moment he did that he would give himself away! A thought came over him where are they now? Samson had not heard any sound from his pursuers for a short while, did that mean they had gone or were they hiding and waiting; waiting for him to make his move? He began eating the other plum, as he swallowed this second one it dislodged the piece of skin from the first, sending it with the fruit back on its voyage down through his gullet and into the empty chasm of his stomach. He picked the stone from his mouth and dropped it with the other by his side; reaching out quickly he snatched another two plums; this was heaven his mouth was moist again; but for how long? He discarded these stones with the others as his inner self regained its composure; his mind began registering the pains from his battered body again; telling him constantly how much he ached; eating the plums had taken away those thoughts but now the plums were gone the pain came back with a vengeance….then the realisation hit him that he was probably trapped.
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