Haven Page 15


“I thought we were going to assume he was a good guy.”


“That went out the window when I heard that scream.”


“Who’s there?” came a voice from inside the trailer. It was someone half-talking and half-crying.


“We’re friends. We’re going to get you out,” said Winky.


I used my upper body strength to heft myself up about four feet, my feet scrabbling around until they both found the latch that held the doors closed. I balanced on my toes, my arms stretched out high above me, holding onto a bar that ran near the top of the trailer.


“You have to stop the truck!” came the voice from inside. It was a girl. “Before we get there!”


“Get where?” asked Winky.


I lifted myself up again, shifting my feet to a small bracket that held the vertical bars upright on the back of the door. It was less than an inch of metal for my entire bodyweight, and the arch of my foot was cramping from the effort almost immediately.


“To the exchange! To the exchange!”


I’d heard enough. The fear alone in her voice told me that this truck had to stop and the driver had to be taken down. I lifted my foot almost up to my chest, searching for something to hook it on so I could get higher.


“Be careful!” yelled Paci. And then I felt his hand on my lower foot. “I’m right here, below you! Use my hand if you need to!”


“I’m good,” I grunted out. I could see the top of the trailer and was almost ready to grab it when the truck jerked especially hard.


“Aahhh!” I screamed, as my foot slipped off the bracket and left me dangling free.


I kicked for a few seconds, trying to get my body back against the trailer. My fingers were slipping and my back was on fire as my muscles strained to keep me from falling.


I glanced over my shoulder and saw the pavement going by a lot faster than it had been before. The jerking had apparently been him shifting so he could increase his speed.


“Dammit!” I was getting desperate, unable to get a foothold.


Paci grabbed my ankle. “Step here! Push!”


The warmth coming from his hand and up into my moccasin instantly gave me a small measure of peace. I can do this. Firm grip. Solid core. Pull-up motion. Go!


I tensed my biceps and shoulder muscles, slowly drawing my entire body up towards my hands. I walked my feet up the trailer doors, ignoring the swaying of the truck and the jerking motions, letting them flow right through me. I was one with the machine. A flea on a dog’s back. No way was this canner asshole going to shake me loose. I wasn’t sure he was a canner, but it inspired me to concentrate, thinking of him that way.


My right foot found another bracket. I lifted my left foot over my head so I was almost doing a split on the back of the trailer. Turning my toes around just a bit allowed me to hook them over the top.


“Be careful, Bryn!” shouted Winky. “You’re going to fall!”


No I’m not. I couldn’t say it out loud because I had to use every ounce of energy I had into getting my arm up to join my foot.


Using the vertical bar and the top of the trailer as my leverage, I slowly pushed and pulled myself up. I walked my hands up the bar, gripping it with everything I had. My hands were trembling with the effort of not letting go.


As my entire leg finally got over the top of the trailer and my arm joined it, I felt the danger lessening. I used my other hand that was still down on the back of the trailer to push the rest of my body up.


Now I was lying on my stomach, balanced on the edge of the back of the truck, looking down at my friends.


“What are you going to do?” said Winky, sounding a little desperate. I could see she had a good grip on the truck, but that didn’t stop all this dare-deviling from being scary as hell.


“I’m going to crawl across the top of this trailer and get on the cab. As soon as it’s steady, I’ll get into the cab. The window is open on the driver’s side.”


“Are you just going to flip in there like in the movies?” asked Paci. “That’s not going to work!”


I knew his anger was worry in disguise, so I let it go. “No, I’m going to climb down just behind it and then open the door from outside and punch him in the head.”


Winky and Paci looked at each other.


“That could work,” said Winky.


“Maybe,” said Paci, sounding defeated.


I grinned evilly at them. “Wish me luck.” I winked at my friends and wiggled my way back from the edge.


***


A quick glance out at the highway behind me showed Rob and Bodo jogging at a fast clip. They were losing ground rapidly. Pretty soon I was going to be all alone with this guy if I didn’t hurry the hell up.


I spun around on my belly so I’d be facing the front of the truck. I was too far back to see the road ahead of it, but too afraid to stand up and increase my viewing range.


I quickly made my way up to the cab, army-crawling across the filthy surface covered not only in dirt and grime of every kind but bird turds, too. As I got closer, I was finally able to see the highway in front of us better.


The semi was approaching abandoned cars and bashing right into them, not slowing down in the least. They were piling up on the shoulders of the road, victims of the smash-em-up derby this guy was causing. I didn’t know how much longer the front of this truck would be able to take that kind of abuse.


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Getting up on my knees, I scrambled the last several feet up the trailer until I reached the space between it and the cab. It was wide enough for me to fit down in it, but tons of cables and junk were running all over the place, and different parts were moving, not necessarily in tandem with the motion of the truck. I could easily lose a foot or leg if I wasn’t careful.


The cab was just ahead of me, and the place where I wanted to go to my left. There was a smoke stack thingy that looked like it might get hot from the engine exhaust, a place to step up from the ground to get inside, and a couple of vertical handles I could grab onto while reaching into the cab.


I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go in through the window or actually open the door, but I did know that I was going to use the driver’s side. The quicker I could incapacitate this maniac and get him off the accelerator, the faster we could end this crazy run.


Turning around, I carefully lowered myself over the front edge of the trailer. It took every abdominal muscle I had to keep steady.


I quickly found that even with my arms extended, I was still too short for my feet to reach the moving platform beneath me.


Dammit! I turned to look over my shoulder. All I could see were wires and a dark spot below my feet that I knew was moving, shifting with the movements of the trailer.


I had one shot to drop and land on that thing with both feet. Dad? God? Anyone up there listening? Please help me not die!


I took one last look at my landing spot and let go of the top of the trailer.


Both feet landed on the moving connection between the cab and trailer, but it was greasy and one of my feet slipped off.


I screamed involuntarily as my hands scrabbled around, trying to find something to grab onto.


My eyes flashed on blue color and I reached out without thinking, grabbing the coiled hose that ran between the cab and the trailer.


For a moment I was steady again, the bulk of my weight pulling on the coupled cable first one way, then the next. But then the truck swerved to the right as it hit another parked car and threw my entire body with it. I held on to the hose for dear life.


No sooner had I righted myself, balancing on that moving black chassis, when a hissing sound started coming from the bottom of the hose. I looked down in horror as the thing began coming loose from the truck, near my feet.


My body was slammed against the back of the cab as the truck went into an immediate, tire burning, brake squealing stop.


I wasn’t sure if it was the hose problem or the fact that I’d been discovered by the driver, but I had no time to lose. I had to get into that cab before the driver shot me. Surely he owned a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it.


I held onto the hose and stepped as far as I could towards the driver’s side of the cab. The truck was almost stopped now. I leaned out away from the back of the driver’s compartment a little and grabbed the handle affixed to the side of the cab, making sure to avoid the exhaust stack.


I let go of the hose and jumped off the chassis, flying around like a circus performer and landing on the step that sits below the driver’s side door. My free hand gripped the windowsill, and I thanked my lucky stars that the window itself was still rolled down.


“What the hell?!” yelled the guy, his face a mask of shock.


“Surprise, asshole!” I shouted, jumping up and into the window, eye gouging him with the fingers of my left hand.


“Ahhh! You lunatic! You … ahhh!!” He threw an arm across his watering eyes and kept the other on the wheel.


I knew I only had a couple seconds before he’d be able to see again. Grabbing the door handle, I pushed in the button that would open it up and pulled it towards me, swinging off to the side to give it room.


By the time I’d swung back in, the asshole had recovered enough to fight back. His fist came out and tagged me in the collar bone, just barely missing my jaw.


“Get the hell outta here!” he growled, swinging wildly, trying to punch me again.


“Not gonna happen,” I said calmly, ready to end this stupid game. I had a steady grip on the outside handle, and the truck was finally stopped. A hissing sound was still coming from the space behind the driver where I’d loosened that hose thing.


I came in fast, grabbing a clump of hair on the top of his head and hauling back on it as hard as I could.


He screamed in pain and frustration as the top half of his body came out of the truck. It was just dumb luck that the jerk hadn’t put on his seatbelt. He’d probably figured there was no point, since he was the only one on the road. He figured wrong.


“Get off!” He reached up blindly, trying to grab me. He grasped my wrist just as he was falling the rest of the way off the seat.


There was no way I could hold him and me up with just one hand on the grab bar; my palms were too sweaty. I was jerked from my spot on the side of the cab, and we both went down, falling several feet to the hard asphalt below.


***


I landed on top of the driver and wasted no time in putting him out of my misery. I brought my elbow down to smash into his nose, rolling away as soon as the crunch from his broken bone signaled things were about to get really bloody.


“Bryn!” yelled Winky, her feet slapping on the pavement as she approached in a hurry.


I stumbled trying to get my legs under me, a little unsteady from my fall and overwhelmed by the adrenaline that was flowing through my system in massive quantities.


“Are you okay?!” She reached my side and put her hands on my cheeks, lifting my head up so she could stare into my eyes.


“Are you?” I asked, pulling my face away so I could search her body quickly to assess her for injuries. I was relieved to find that she looked okay.


“I had a hell of a ride for a few seconds there, but I didn’t fall. Paci did, though.”


My heart spasmed. I jerked my head over in the direction of our path of destruction and saw Rob and Bodo standing over Paci. My proud Native American friend was sitting up and resting his upper arms on bent knees, his head bowed low.


“Is he okay?” I asked, my voice quavering a little. It made me sick to think I’d done something to hurt him. He might send my emotions into a tailspin every time I looked at him and he might complicate the hell out of my relationship with Bodo, but it didn’t mean I didn’t care about him deeply.


“I think so. But we have bigger problems.” She nodded her head at the guy on the ground.


He was trying to get up, blood pouring down his face and dripping onto his shirt.


Winky stepped away from me and pulled her gun out of her pants. “Stop right there, dude, or I’ll put a bullet in your friggin’ head.”

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