Not So Long Ago, And Not So Far Away

It was such a beautiful summer morning: very hot of course, but there was a breeze that let the dry air cool the body without being so strong as to send the dust flying. I reminded myself to keep an eye on everyone since my young friends had a tendency to forget to drink enough water. They were young and idealistic, and very, very foolish to have set out to live in the desert. If they had not encountered me they probably would have been dead within a week, yet here we were a year or more later and our little community was alive, if not completely “well”.

It was a constant struggle. They had had no clue about survival, let alone the challenges the desert could present- just hazy notions of living in some secluded place away from “the grind” and “the man” and all those pieces of society that seemed so negative and constricting. With my help they had built not a paradise, but at least a quiet place, off the beaten path and free of whatever imagined evils had stalked their lives.

“Something’s coming down the road,” Gina said. She and I were up on the roof of the barn, trying to get the patches finished before the sun became too much to handle. Of all the kids, she was certainly the one most likely to actually do any work so she naturally gravitated towards me. Tall and curvaceous, with dark, curly hair and wide gray eyes she was quite the contrast to me and the boys liked to refer to us as “Built for Comfort” and “Built for Speed”, respectively. She was more amused by it than I, but I was hardly offended.

I stood and shaded my eyes to peer off to the west and sure enough there was a plume of dust making its way down the wash towards our little commune. I watched for a minute without any real concern, making out six motorcycles, two of them with two riders. We were off the beaten path here, but we did have visitors from time to time and we were free with offering our well and our hospitality so bikers crossing the desert knew where to stop for a cool drink and maybe a good time.

“Billy!” Gina shouted, “Company’s coming!”

Billy looked out the door from the ramshackle ranch house and followed Gina’s pointing finger to the now clearly visible group of riders. I could see the way his lanky form straightened up at the prospect of some new faces to liven up the scene. This commune had been Billy’s idea so it was not at all surprising to me that he was the first to begin to feel it was not what he had hoped it would be. Truth be told, it had been a foolish idea to begin with, but worth doing if only for the lessons it would have taught.

Gina was climbing down the ladder as Billy strolled out to greet the newcomers. I saw it coming before he did- something was terribly wrong. He turned suddenly and almost screamed.

“George! Shit…” then the gunshot cut him off and he fell to the ground. Gina looked up at me, a question on her face.

“Run!” I hissed, then dashed across the roof of the barn, heedless of the loose boards. I heard Gina scream over the roar of motorcycles as the other riders circled the two buildings. One of the men looked up and saw me, pointing me out to another who grinned as he stopped his bike and calmly dropped the kickstand before dismounting. I heard more gunshots; the distinctive bark of George’s shotgun followed by more pistol fire and more screaming- Alicia and Terry.

I reached the large hatch in the roof and jumped down to the top floor of the barn, then sprinted along the main beam to the far end where it opened up over the roof of the house. There was no way to avoid being seen so I took it at a run, and hit the roof in a roll that took me to the rear edge. Fortune smiled upon me as I saw the back end of a motorcycle disappear around the corner and I dropped to the ground, ignoring the screaming and the sound of people running. Leaping in through the open Dutch door in the back I was able to make the turn in to the hallway before somebody crashed through the door behind me. My room was at the end of the hall and I sprinted through the door, kicking it closed and diving to the ground to reach under my bed. My hand drove in to my bag and closed about the butt of my pistol as the door was kicked aside.

“Ah, there you are, red,” a man laughed and I shrieked as he grabbed my ankles and pulled me out of the room before callously flipping me on to my back. His eyes went wide when he saw the .45, and I snapped off a shot that nearly tore the weapon from my hand as the recoil slammed my elbow back against the floor. He should have jumped on me, pinned the gun down, but instead he leapt back and this time I used two hands, calmly walking the big automatic up the front of his torso: once, twice, thrice, before he finally toppled over backwards.

I scrambled back in to my room and fetched up the two remaining magazines just as another of them turned the corner down the hall, cursing.

“Dammit, John, what the hell are you…”

My forearm went numb as I squeezed off the last four rounds from a crouch, two catching the man in the chest and throwing him violently backwards. I watched him as I reloaded, but he was just lying there squirming, and I heard somebody come in the front door so I went up and out my window, landing in a crouch to peer around the corner where I saw Billy’s crumpled form out at the end of the driveway. Behind me I could hear Gina in the barn weeping and gasping which meant at least one of the remaining men was currently too preoccupied to be a threat.

I spared three more heartbeats to listen and try to determine where people were, and then all hell broke loose inside the house as the two dead men were discovered. To go back meant crossing the length of the house and I knew there were men in there so I slid around the corner to come up towards the front and nearly bumped in to one of the two women who had come with the men. She started to say something but I struck out with my left foot, catching her in the knee and she went down with a shriek before I hit her hard in the throat with the butt of the pistol.

The other woman was standing next to two motorcycles parked near another body stretched out in the dust: George, the only other man in our little group. She turned to see what her friend had shouted about and I stood, training the pistol on her. Normally I could have made that shot easily, but my arm was still tingling from being slammed in to the floor so I missed twice before dropping her, and then turned to cover the front door where another man lay in a pool of blood- George apparently had not missed.

Things became very quiet then, except for the woman moaning in pain next to the bikes. No men shouting, no sounds from my friends, even from Gina. Nothing moved outside, but I could hear footsteps in the house. I guessed they were going to try to come out the back and circle around. Perhaps try to flush me out front where somebody was likely waiting in the cover of the doorway. I measured the distance to the barn and decided it was worth a try even as I heard noises from behind that confirmed somebody was sliding up towards the corner.

I bolted out towards the barn, cutting left when I sensed I had gone far enough to be seen. I could not hear the shots, but the whistle of the bullets flying past me were enough to keep my attention focused and I jinked right towards the door, then stumbled as fire tore through my right shoulder, but managed to roll in to the barn as I fell. I brought the pistol up in my left hand, the right side useless now as I searched for the man I knew had to be there.

“What the fuck are you assholes doing out there!” a voice roared and I spun to see my target standing over Gina who was stretched out on the ground, legs akimbo with her jeans hanging from one ankle and her blouse torn open. His pants were open and he was just zipping up his fly- what kind of fool indulges his appetites in the midst of a gunfight? His hand dove for the gun in his belt as I fired, my shot grazing his left shoulder. He spun as he drew down on me, but suddenly Gina’s right leg lashed out, her heel connecting solidly with his groin. He folded over, but still managed to point and fire in my direction before she kicked him again in the hand, sending the gun flying.

I rolled to my knees and fired point-blank in to his forehead, sending bone, blood and gore spattering across Gina’s body. She stared at me and at the ruin of the head of the man who had raped her. Her face was puffy, she was bleeding from her mouth and nose- she had always impressed me as the type to put up one hell of a fight, but I could see the overload of events in her eyes, all wild and dilated. Unfortunately there was no time to tend to her as I could hear the last two outside. I tried to stand and my right leg buckled- only then did I realize I had been hit a second time, a dark red stain running down my right leg, the jeans soaking it up and spreading it as it grew.

“Gina!” I shouted, and her frightened gaze locked on me. “I need your help,” I continued in a level voice as I pulled my injured leg out from under me and managed to get up on my good leg. I hopped over to where the revolver lay and took it up after stuffing the .45 under my arm. It was a small six-shot, one round spent and only three more loaded.

“Heather?” Gina croaked. I looked at her and she was still just lying there, but her face was suddenly horrible to see: pain and fury all intermingled. At least it was better than dumb shock. I stumbled to my knees again and crawled over to her.

“Take this,” I whispered, handing her the revolver, “and put your pants on. I need you to help me.”


Gina’s head jerked around at the sound of the shouting outside, but she did what I told her to, shaking as she pulled her jeans on.

“We know you’re in there!” the man outside shouted, “We got something here you should see!”

“You’re bleeding,” she gasped.

“I know. One thing at a time, okay? I need you to take this,” I said putting the pistol in her hand again, “and when I tell you, just point it in the air and keep pulling the trigger, as fast as you can. Can you do that?”

She nodded, but she was trembling violently. Still, there was little choice. I crawled down to the opposite end of the barn as I listened to the goings on outside. The last two men had Tracy and Alicia out there.

“You come out of there right now, or I’m going to blow a hole through your little friend’s stomach and you can watch her bleed to death! You got ten seconds!”

I reached the window and snapped my last full magazine in place. My right arm was on fire, useless… but he was already up to five. I could see through a gap in the wall the two of them were only about fifty feet away, standing over my friends. Alicia was curled on the ground, naked, her face bloody, and she was not moving. They both had their guns on Terry.

I looked over at Gina and mouthed the word “NOW”. Scrunching her eyes closed she dropped her head down and lifted the gun in both hands. I stood on my good leg as her fist contracted, leveling the pistol as the report from Gina’s pistol made both men start, crouching.

The .45 bucked terribly in my left hand, tossing the spent brass in my face, forcing me to carefully retrain with each shot as I methodically emptied the magazine. When the gun was empty both men were on the ground, one absolutely still, the other writhing in agony, curled up with his fists in his belly, vomiting blood in to the dust. Terry sat there, stunned for a moment before finally moving over to Alicia.

I hopped over towards Gina, but my head was spinning and I had to stop and brace myself against a beam. Behind me there was a dangerously thick trail of blood and more was pooling under my right leg, flowing from the wound in my thigh. Suddenly everything hurt.

It would be a very bad time to pass out, but I couldn’t keep my feet and slid down to the ground with my back against the beam as Gina rushed to my side.

“Can you do a tourniquet?” I asked. She was in a panic, but she followed my instructions as I struggled to remain conscious. In the end though, when she tightened the cord around my upper thigh, exquisite white-hot pain sent me spinning down in to the quiet darkness.

Later I came to find out that Gina and Terry had loaded Alicia, the wounded biker woman and me in to George’s pickup and drove us in to town. Needless to say the police became quite agitated over the sudden bumper crop of corpses and the unusual circumstances, but after a couple of months of repeated questioning the District Attorney decided he did not have anything more than a self-defense case on his hands and the Grand Jury agreed.

It turned out that Billy and George had been making Blue Crystal in a small lab in a broken down trailer on the back of the property. Roughly once a month they took the pickup in to the city and returned a couple of days later with a load of supplies and a little cash. I had known they were up to something, but had not been interested enough to find out precisely what. Apparently the bikers had been doing a brisk business of their own and had not appreciated the competition, so they decided to deal with it in brute-force fashion. Unfortunately for them, they ran in to me.

I dismiss this event now, but at the time it was traumatic. It was not the deaths of Billy and George, nor the actions I was forced to take that had me so shaken; instead it was that “Heather” was a rather weak identity, a name and a past I had put on while waiting for something more reliable to firm up. Had the police been so inclined an extensive investigation of my background would have turned up far too many questions with far too few answers. That fear followed me for years before I was finally able to put it somewhat to rest. Even then, I knew it was merely a matter of time.

The world was catching up to me.

6 Responses to “Not So Long Ago, And Not So Far Away”

  1. Very Bad Day

    Billie Jack lives, apparently….

  2. Have been reading your site for a while.

    Hate to say it, since so many people seem to like you so much, but assuming you’re real you should be locked up, studied. You’re a murderer and you admit you go crazy now and then and do crazy things. That’s someone who needs to be locked up, not running around free.

    If you really are a killer, I don’t feel sorry for you at all. Just so you know.

  3. Well, Mr. Renick, if you have been reading for some time I feel certain you are comfortable with the notion that I care not for the sympathies offered or withheld by readers. These words are put in play as much for my own edification as for any purpose of making myself understood by the world at large.

    Your notion that I should be locked up and studied… that is the stuff of nightmares. I recognize that visiting such themes leaves me open to such judgments, but I am driven to consider the bad with the good. When I originally began this little project I found myself deliberately avoiding topics I felt likely to frighten or disgust. In the end I recognized that such self-censorship was morally indefensible for it made a lie of all I cared to accomplish here, hence my brief hiatus as I decided what, if anything, I should do to rectify that failing.

    If my words frighten or offend, so be it. If there are those driven to seek my confinement or destruction, who am I to deny them their beliefs and fears? I am prepared to defend myself if necessary, either through what pitiful means afforded by the courts, or by methods more direct. With any luck, such things shall not be necessary.

  4. I am directing this response to Mr Renik:

    After 3500 years of enduring, losing loved ones (and enemies) to time, always existing, would surely wreak havoc on anyone’s sanity. ZM has said in many of her posts that she has always been someone that is inconsequencial and unimportant. You say that she is a killer and should be locked up and studied. I ask you to what end? ZM’s earliest memories are three and a half millenia old. The times were very different then. A recent post of hers states that she went on a murdering spree nearly two thousand years ago. I don’t condone it, but you are not her, you were not there, and you haven’t a clue as to her situation. There was another post as to her taking down Clayton…HE HAD IT COMING!!! And besides, I believe that ZM has paid her price in full for her past sins…

  5. Had it coming?

    Listen I don’t hate anyone here but let’s be honest: you have this person running around claiming to be a murderer and doesn’t even feel sorry about it like she’s got some kind of right to judge people who should live or die.

    Let’s say this is an elaborate fantasy. Someone should talk to her about these fantasies. Let’s say it’s real: this is someone who has killed and will likely kill again. I for one don’t like the idea of some inhuman thing running around killing at will and then people saying “well shit she’s had a hard life, you just don’t understand. I understand real good: someone who thinks they’ve got a right to terminate others needs to be locked up.

    How many widows and orphans you think you’ve created, Miss Thing? Did they all deserve that too? Ever think about that?

  6. By the way, do you even believe in God? He may judge you one day you know.