WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS VIOLENCE and situations THAT MIGHT NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR ALL READERS! SOME SCENES ARE VERY GRAPHIC---READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

Murphy’s Law

By SASQUAW@aol.com

They didn’t see the huge rock in time to avoid it; their canoe hit it broadside throwing both of them and all of their camping gear overboard. "Alex, are you okay?"

"I’m fine," she manages to yell back. "What about you?"

He grabs the nearest backpack floating in the water and tosses it back to her, "I’m going to try

and get the other one, swim to shore, I’ll be there as soon as I can!"

She does as he says, pulling the backpack behind her. She pulls herself up on shore and watches Walker as he swims after the other backpack. A current has caught it, and it’s moving farther and farther out of his reach. Just as he makes a final lunge for it, he sees the limb of a tree heading straight for him, he ducks to miss it, and the backpack disappears from sight.

Minutes later they’re salvaging through the one backpack, it seems to be the one with the most important things to make camp, all of the food, and most of their clothing. The other backpack held the remainder of their clothes, Alex’s camera, some maps, and her cosmetic bag. Walker is trying to dry off, "Well, we saved the important stuff, no harm done. We’ll rest awhile and then hike back up to the campsite, it’s only about two hours away."

Alex isn’t saying anything, she just keeps looking in the direction of the place where they last saw her backpack. She takes in a breath slowly and sighs, "Oh no."

***

This was suppose to be two weeks of camping, something that she and Walker had been planning for over a month. Two weeks of total togetherness for just the two of them, no phones, no radios, she even made him take the phone out of the Ram. For once he didn’t even argue, he was more than ready for this vacation and he warned Trivette not to coming looking for him for any reason.  He was looking forward to spending quality time alone with Alex, they hadn’t had much of that lately.

What was suppose to be a routine cocaine bust and stakeout, turned out to be a trek down into Mexico for nine days, and Walker was exhausted by the time he finally got to call Alex about the trip.

She was busy packing when the phone rang and she heard his tired voice. "Please don’t say that the trip has been cancelled," she said worriedly. "There’s no way I’m canceling this trip. We both need the time away from our jobs, and we need time for each other."

"I’m just calling to tell you that we’re in Waco and I’ll be picking you up in about two hours—I hope you’ve got us both packed and ready to go!" She smiles to herself thinking how romantic it’s going to be up in the Colorado mountains, all alone with just her cowboy. "I am packed and more than ready to take off with a certain cowboy!"

He teases her, "Now just what cowboy are you referring to?"

"OOOhhh, I was thinking along the line of say--- Clint Eastwood?"

There’s a long silence at the other end of the line, "Ummmph—Clint Eastwood!" Then she hears him make another sound, "mmmmmmm."

She frowns, "And just what are you ‘mmmmming’ about?"

Walker continues to tease, "Oh nothing—just some cute little waitress eyeballing me."

Alex nods her head, "Well, she can ‘eyeball’ you all she wants, as long as she keeps her hands to herself!"

She hears him laugh, "Okay, hon, I’ll see you in about two hours." She continues to pack, making sure that the little black case is tucked away safely in the cosmetic bag. It’s always the very last thing she packs so it will be the first thing to be taken out. By 6 am they’re on the outskirts of Amarillo, and Alex has finally convinced Walker to let her drive so he can get some sleep. As long as they’ve been dating he still doesn’t trust her driving, but then not to many men do trust a woman’s driving. Finally he gives in and pulls over to the side of the road, letting her scoot over under the wheel.  He takes a quick trip to see Mother nature and then he gets in, swearing he won’t be able to sleep.

Within twenty minutes, he’s sound asleep with his head leaning on the pillow that Alex insisted on bringing.

They’re going high up in the mountains to a place called Blue Bear Lake, way on the other side of Pikes Peak. One of Walker’s friends had told him about the place, good fishing, beautiful scenery, and underwater caverns to explore. It sounded ideal, it was just what both he and Alex loved the most. She loved the outdoors just as much as he did, it was always their favorite way to spend time together. The last time they had managed to spend any time together was going to Lake Ebby for the weekend. For some reason they didn’t do much fishing or hiking that time, they were too busy discovering how much they had missed each other. This trip wasn’t going to be any different. They had a full two weeks to do whatever, whenever, the mood hit them.

They reached their destination late that night, passing through some tiny little towns that were like mere dots on the map. They were glad they had picked up all of their supplies in Colorado Springs, it seemed to be the nearest big city and it was almost 200 miles away. The roads were getting narrower, as Walker pulled off the two lane leading up to the campsite. It was another hours drive, and Alex was fighting to stay awake. The air was getting colder and she started reaching for Walker’s jacket in the back seat.

Just as she turns to get the jacket, something darts across the road and Walker swerves to keep from hitting it. Murphy has left his calling card. "What the hell was that?!" asks Walker.

Alex is trying to gain her balance after almost being thrown into the back. "Do you see anything?"

Walker gets control of the Ram and slows to almost a stop, suddenly Alex yells at him not to stop.

"I’ve got to find out what it was, I think we might have hit something." He grabs his flashlight and starts to open his door, she grabs his arm and pleads, "Don’t go out there…"

"Alex, I…"

"Walker please—at least take your gun." She reaches in the glove compartment for his 357 magnum.

He takes the gun and commences to walk around the truck, carefully making sure he didn’t hit anything, then he looks up at the side of the road into the dense trees and starts to investigate when his truck horn blares. Alex is putting the window down, "Don’t you dare go off in there—Walker please come back to the truck!" He can hear the fear in her voice and thinks better of going off into the trees, he turns around and starts back to the truck when all of a sudden he has a weird feeling that he’s being watched. The hairs on his neck begins to prickle, he feels very uncomfortable.

"Did you see anything—did you hit something?" Alex is grabbing his arm, "Lock the doors!"

Walker thinks twice about telling her anything about the weird feeling of being watched, she’s already scared to death. He reaches over and pats her leg in a comforting way, "It’s okay, hon—probably just an animal—I don’t think we hit him, didn’t see any blood and no dents on the truck. He’s long gone!"

Alex tells him again to lock his door and rechecks to make sure that hers is locked, and then she cuddles up to him as close as she can and still allow him to drive. They finally reach the campsite, but they’re both so tired. They nix the idea of putting up their tent, and instead they agree to sleep in the bed of the Ram. He throws their double sleeping bag out, and minutes after they’re cuddled together, they’re both sound asleep. Walker has always slept with one eye open, his Cherokee upbringing, and tonight was no different as he carefully listened to the unusual sounds around them. Alex was hanging onto him as tight as she could, even in her sleep. He looks down at her, her left arm across his waist holding tight. He reaches down and pulls the sleeping bag up, and tucks it in tighter around her, kisses her forehead, pulling her even closer to him. She’s sound asleep, he knew she would be as soon as her head hit the pillow. He listens to the sounds around them, content with them being the usual sounds of the night, reaches back and makes sure that his gun is in reaching distance. A crackling noise is heard nearby, Walker watches as a small doe comes out of the brush, sniffs the cool night air, looks straight at the ranger, and then dashes back into the brush. He will continue sleeping with one eye open, until he’s finally content that all is okay around him, but he, too, soon falls into a deep sleep.

Alex awakens as soon as the sun comes up, she has her back to Walker as she very slowly climbs out of the sleeping bag, being careful not to wake him. She’s got to pay Mother Nature a visit, and then she’ll start the coffee. But first things first, as she goes to the cab of the truck and reaches for her backpack, taking out the little black case, taking her daily pill. She puts everything back in its place, and begins the day. She fails to notice the weird footprints around the front of the truck, Mother Nature has too much of her attention.

She’s still shivering as she starts the fire, and gets the coffee water going. She can’t wait any longer as she decides to cheat and use the instant coffee that she snuck into their supplies while they were shopping in Colorado Springs when Walker wasn’t looking. She knew he hated the instant stuff, but she just couldn’t make the coffee over an open fire like he did, and she wanted something to warm her up now. Alex heard him turning over, he must have smelled the coffee...

The coffee smell was waking him, but the memories of the figure darting across the road was what woke him, and when he doesn’t see her beside him, he really gets startled and he shouts her name "Alex---Alex!" She grabs a cup of coffee and walks over to the truck.

"I’m right here honey, want some coffee?"

He breathes a sigh of relief as he sees her leaning over the side of the Ram, he nods his head in favor of the coffee. She hands it to him and watches his face grimace as his taste buds tell him this isn’t real coffee. He looks at her and frowns, "Instant?"

"I know, --I know, but I can’t make campfire coffee like you, so I cheated." He smiles back at her and says, "Well, at least its hot." then shoots a playful, seductive, look towards Alex and scoots over to the far side of the bag and pats the empty side. "It’s still cold in here, and I’m in need of some tender loving care."

She smiles back at him as she heads to the end of the truck and crawls in, kicking her boots off. "Are you saying, you want to fool around?" she teases.

Walker reaches down and starts pulling his pants off, then his shirt, grinning the whole time as he watches her do the same with her apparel. "I’m not fooling, I’m serious---and Mother Nature is telling me that I have nine, no, make that TEN days of pent up frustration to release."

She continues to tease him as she crawls into the sleeping bag, "Well maybe you need to go relieve yourself, the toilet paper is------."

"I’m not talking about that kind of release, and you know it!" He laughs as he reaches out to grab her and pulls her into him. They both laugh as they enjoy the horseplay then they fall into a intimate embrace, telling each other how much they have missed one another. She starts to squirm a little, trying to get comfortable, "Really sweetheart, you have got to take this piece of plywood out of here, it’s harder than the ground!" He continues to kiss her, reaching out for her naked body. He whispers in her ear, "What do you care, you’ll be on top most of the time." Then he looks at her serious face, "Okay, I’ll start carrying around an inflatable mattress, now that should make Trivette and the prisoners really happy. The prisoners are the last ones I want to make comfortable----but I guess in future situations, an air mattress couldn’t hurt in case a similar situation should present itself."

Alex looks at him, "Hold on cowboy—in case of what similar situations—I don’t think I like the insinuation of that." Walker hesitates trying to explain, "I meant that if you and I are ever in this----again in this type of situation that----well you know...."

She tilts her head down and looks at him in that way that tells him he’s being set up, "Walker—shut up----and finish what you’ve started," she replies softly. "Before you dig an even deeper hole that you can’t explain your way out of!"

She gives a flirtatious laugh as she reaches up and pulls him down into the sleeping bag, throwing it over their heads as they both start laughing. Their laughing dwindles and soon they are both lost in their amorous world of making love.

A lone figure watches from the trees, soon another figure joins it. They watch the couple, in the back of the truck, who are obviously unaware they are being watched. They continue to watch till the first figure gives a grunt, then they leave as quickly as they appeared. Walker is fixing the coffee while Alex is making the rest of their breakfast, then he says he’s got to make a nature call. He reaches down to retrieve his coffee to take with him. "Hey—don’t be too long--breakfast is almost ready and I’m starving!"

He calls back over his shoulder, "So am I, we both worked up an appetite!"

She’s got the sausage and eggs about ready when she sees him stopping at the front of the Ram and looking down on the ground. He continues to examine something and then he starts going over the grille and headlights. She watches him for a few minutes asking herself, "What is he looking at?"

She calls out to him "Hey you, come on—let’s eat"! He continues to look at the truck and then back to the ground as he goes down on one knee to get a better look. Alex is puzzled as she walks towards him, "What’s so intriguing over here?"

Walker puts his hand up to motion her to stop, "Wait a minute, Alex, stay right there!"

"What … what are you looking at?"

He points towards the ground at the footprints that she failed to notice earlier. "Have you been walking around barefoot?"

"Are you kidding---in this cold"?

"I didn’t much think so, which only means one thing".

Now she’s getting nervous, "It can only mean what?"

Walker starts looking around towards the trees and back to Alex, "We had company last night, and whoever it was is barefoot." A chill goes up her spine, "Someone was here? Are you sure?--Maybe those prints were made from earlier campers that were here." He walks around to the back of the Ram, reaches over for his gun, "No, those prints are fresh—you stay here—I’m going to look around."

"Not on your life cowboy—I’m going with you."

They walk completely around the campsite. Walker is looking for any broken branches, or more footprints. He finds them about seventy-five yards away in the bushes. He kneels down to examine them, as Alex asks, "Are they the same ones?"

"Yeah." he answers, "And they’re even fresher than the other ones, "Whoever it was, was here in the last hour—watching."

"Watching?" Alex asks as she turns and looks back at the campsite. She pauses and then she looks at Walker, her mouth drops open—"Watching us?"

Walker continues to look around, "I’m afraid so." She doesn’t know if she should get mad or if she should joke about it, she didn’t fancy the idea of someone spying on them, much less when they were in the stages of making love.

Finally Walker is convinced that the uninvited visitors are no longer around. They walk back to camp to resume eating their breakfast. Alex is still fuming over the suggestion they were being watched. Walker tries teasing her to get her back in a good mood, "Well, Alex, look at it this way—maybe you showed them a new trick or two!" He has to duck to avoid being hit with her fork, and then he breaks out in a wide grin.

At least she’s starting to chill out a little as she shakes her bread knife in front of his face, "Just keep it up Walker, and tonight you’ll be sleeping alone in that double sleeping bag!" Alex doesn’t realize after making that statement, that there may be many forth coming nights that they will be spending apart, because Murphy’s law, in short, is where everything that CAN go wrong, usually does and it seems it’s walking hand in hand with the quirks of Mother Nature.

They finish their breakfast, then debate on whether or not to drive further up river to another campsite and away from prying eyes. They decide to hike up the river a few miles, and check out possible sites and to see how far he can take the Ram. They’ve donned their backpacks, and Alex is putting the last of the sausage & biscuits into hers. "Walker, how far should we go, will we be back before dark?"

"We’ll go up about five miles, should be plenty of time to get back before dark. You got the flashlights in your pack, right"?

She holds them up, "Yep, maybe you should carry them, my pack is rather crammed!"

Walker goes over to get the flashlights, "What all have you got in there, for Pete’s sake?"

"Just ‘things’, now can we go please, I don’t want to be out there after dark, especially with our peeping toms around"! He shakes his head and they walk off into the direction of the river, to follow it upstream. The hike is beautiful as they enjoy all the scenery, and the small animals that are just as curious as their two legged visitors. They can hear the water as it cascades over the rocks, making a steady flow. The water is calmer as they get further upstream, and the sounds are so relaxing as they stop to enjoy the view. They’ve just sat down on a couple of rocks, when Alex grabs his arm, "Oh, honey, look!"

He looks in the direction where she’s pointing, a doe and two fawns are lapping up the cool water. He smiles and nods, "Yep, I think I saw her last night, but she didn’t have her babies with her." They soon start back up the river, Walker is listening to the sounds around them, and especially the ones behind them. Every now and then he hears the crackling of small tree limbs being snapped, and he slowly touches his waist where he carries his 357. He hasn’t said anything to Alex that they’re being followed, no use in spooking her, she’s enjoying the wonders of Mother Nature too much. Unaware to them both, she has many tests of endurance that she is about to bestow on them.

They’ve been hiking for several hours, and the sounds behind them have stopped. Walker is about to say something to Alex who is walking a few yards ahead of him, when she trips over something hidden in the brush. She yelps, and he runs to her.

He pulls her up, "You okay?"

She starts brushing herself off, she’s alright except for a small scratch on her arm. "I’m okay, what did I trip over?"

Walker starts looking under the brush, he finds canoe oars, "These."

They look at each other in confusion, "Oars?" she says softly. "How did they get here?"

Walker starts looking around, then finally he sees a bigger mass of underbrush and he walks over to inspect. He finds the canoe, then motions for Alex. They stand there looking at it, Walker is looking for signs of foul play as his first instinct of being a lawman has taught him. He goes from one end to the other checking it out. "Seems to be in good shape, no holes or nothing, looks like it’s been here for a few days, maybe even a week."

Alex looks off into the woods, "Why would they just leave it here, why not just continue to go down river"?

Walker ponders telling her that maybe they stopped here, and someone or something changed their plans. He points toward a name on the side of the canoe, "MASTERS CANOE RENTALS"

"That’s that rental place we passed driving up from Colorado Springs."

"So---what do we do?" she asks.

Walker sighs, looks at the canoe and then to the river, "I say we take it back down river to our campsite, load it up in the Ram, and take it back to that place. We can tell the authorities, and they can check out where the renters are that took it, what do you think?"

"Sounds good to me, I’m ready to get back."

They’re heading down the river, at first the water is so relaxing that it almost lulls you to sleep. They decide to stop rowing and just let the currents take them downstream. Alex puts her oar down and backs up as Walker sits down inside the canoe and she leans back against him. He puts his arms around her waist and she reaches back with her hand to softly stroke his beard. She moans softly, "This is soooo nice—it is so quiet and peaceful—I love it."

He kisses her cheek, "Yep—it’s really nice, I could stay here all day—floating on the river, having a nice snuggle with a cute little redhead."

"Redhead??"

"Whoops—sorry—I meant to say blonde."

She laughs as she takes her elbow and prods him in the stomach. "You better be sorry, there better not be any redhead in your thoughts."

He squeezes her tighter and kisses her cheek again, "I was just teasing you---I haven’t thought about anyone else since we started getting serious about our relationship."

"Me neither" she replies softly and turns to kiss him, "I haven’t wanted to be with anyone else."

Just as they start to go into a more passionate kiss, the river begins picking up speed. They both grab their oars and return to their seats, "Looks like it’s going to be wicked, here on down- hang tight Alex." They can’t believe the way the river has picked up speed, the rocks are coming at them from all directions. Just when they think they’ve got it under control, the canoe jerks and the speed increases. Walker and Alex have been on rafts before, but not canoes. There’s not enough weight in the front to keep the nose down, it’s trying to flip backwards. Walker yells at Alex to hold on tighter and be prepared for the flip. Alex screams as she sees the boulder materialize in front of them, Walker tries to row the canoe away from it, but it’s too late! The canoe is hit broadside and the two of them are thrown overboard. The backpacks are thrown into the water, but because his has the heavier items, it goes to the bottom, then bobs back up for a second, Walker grabs it. He throws it backward to Alex, she catches it and starts towards shore. Her backpack is heading downstream -fast. He tries to retrieve it as the tree branch threatens to ‘behead’ him. He can’t catch it. a swifter current has caught it—it’s long gone. They sit on the shore watching the water go by them, the canoe has caught up temporarily on the rocks, it soon works it’s way loose, then splits in half.

"Well, nothing more to do, we’d better be getting back to our campsite." He turns to walk away, Alex is just standing there. "Alex---come on. We saved all the important things," She bites her bottom lip, "Not all of the important things" she mumbles softly.

All through supper, she hardly says a word. Walker keeps looking at her. Finally he gets up and goes over to sit down beside her, pulling her head back to his chest, "Why are you so upset about losing your backpack, what was in there that’s so important?"

She pulls away from him gently, looks back at him and raises her brow in a timid arch, "My cosmetic bag was in that backpack." He laughs and pulls her back, "Is that all? Honey—to heck with your cosmetic bag, this is the wilderness, I don’t expect you to be putting on makeup way out here---besides you don’t need it." He tries to nibble on her neck "I like the ‘wild woman’ look in you!!"

She pulls away from him again, stands up and nervously folds and unfolds her arms. Now Walker is really confused, it’s not like her to get this upset over losing her cosmetic bag, vain, she was not. He stands up beside her and starts to say something, she blurts it out---"My pills were in that cosmetic bag!"

"What pills, what pills are you talking about?"

She looks back at him, "My birth control pills."

Walker stands there looking at her, his face doing a slow drain till it dawns on him the full impact of what she has just said. "Oh ---those pills." he says slowly.

"Now, do you understand why I’m upset---it’s not my cosmetic bag—it’s what was in the cosmetic bag that has me upset!"

Walker shakes his head, and starts walking in circles, "Why would you put your pills in a cosmetic bag—for Pete’s sake?"

She grits her teeth, "I always keep them in there when we go on trips, especially camping---where would you expect me to keep them—in my purse?"

They continue to argue, their voices sometimes shouting. "This is getting us nowhere---I’m going to bed." Alex shouts back at him and heads towards the tent that they finally erected when they got back to camp.

He follows her, pleading for her to forgive him for raising his voice at her. "I’m sorry, hon, I didn’t mean all of those things, you know I didn’t."

She gives a sigh, then smiles at him, "I know you didn’t---and maybe it was stupid for me to keep the pills in that back pack after we had already made camp. Maybe I should have put them in the glove compartment—but after all that’s happened—I just wasn’t thinking."

"It’s okay, missing one day is not going to hurt anything---is it?" He asks timidly.

"Probably not," she hesitates. "But what if we can’t find the back pack----then what?" she looks back at him sheepishly. He starts rubbing his pants leg, pondering that thought. This was suppose to be a two-week vacation trip, it was suppose to be quality time for just the two of them. It was suppose to be romantic, they were totally alone, they had planned this for so long—they had never counted on something like this to happen. He didn’t know what to say. She looks at him coyly, trying to get him to loosen up, "There are---other ways." she suggests.

He looks back at her and then to the river, "I hope you’re not suggesting what I think you’re suggesting----that water is mighty cold—we found that out earlier, didn’t we?"

She walks up to him slowly and puts her arms around his neck, "No, I’m not suggesting that-----I’m saying that just for tonight----there are other ways." She continues to touch his face, "And tomorrow, we can go down river and try to find that backpack."

He’s starting to get aroused but his thoughts keep going back to the possibility that the backpack is probably already in Colorado Springs by now. "And---if we can’t find it—then what?"

She takes her hands down from his neck and then takes his hand, gently pulling him towards the tent, "Well, in that case---we start looking for a drug store."

***

Alex was still sound asleep as Walker began to nudge her gently, "Alex—wake up—time to meet the day, sunshine!"

She opens one eye and stares back at him, the smell of coffee reaching her nostrils. She groans, "Walker, the sun is not even up yet."

"Well, it soon will be, here’s your coffee—‘real coffee, not that instant stuff!"

She accepts the coffee, but at that moment she could have strangled him for interrupting her dream. She was having a nice romantic dream about the two of them being stranded on a island in the South Pacific. He was the island king and he was about to take a wife, she couldn’t see the woman’s face, but it had to be hers, right? Oh well, with the kind of luck they’ve been having, a volcano or a tidal wave would come along and wipe out the whole island, and she would probably end up on Gilligan’s island.

She raises up on one elbow, the blanket falls away from her, revealing a naked breast, she watches him as he’s packing a rope and some other things. "What are you doing?"

"I’m packing a few things to take with me, I’ll be back as soon as possible."

"Back? Back from where?"

He goes over to the sleeping bag and lays down beside her, "I’m going to look for your backpack. I checked around the campsite and our visitors were no where around last night, but in case they come back---use this." He hands her his .357. She looks at the gun, then at him. "Shoot first and ask questions later, counselor."

"Why can’t I go with you?"

He gives her a quick kiss, "Because I can travel faster alone, and you want me back here as soon as possible, don’t you?"

"Yes." she answers meekly, as she grabs his arm, "Promise me you’ll be back within 3 hours—you know I’m still nervous about all this."

He smiles back at her teasingly, "Well—I was planning on being back in about 2 hours, but if you want me to be gone longer--------."

"Walker! Would you please be serious?"

He reaches inside the sleeping bag for her naked body and pulls her closer whispering in her ear, "I thought I was being pretty serious last night---maybe I should try again and forget that backpack." He stops and thinks about what he just said, it being the dawn of a new day and all. "UMMM, something tells me I better find that backpack—huh?"

She smiles back at him, nodding her head, "Just hurry back—okay?"

He’s been gone for about an hour as she continues to keep herself busy. She took down the tent, she was bound and determined not to spend another night in this campsite. Walker said they would leave as soon as he got back, so she started loading things into the Ram. It was so beautiful here, she hated to leave it, but there would be other sites just as beautiful and hopefully no peeping toms. They came all the way from Dallas just to be the target of a voyeur? She didn’t think so!!! She starts thinking about how much they looked forward to this vacation, this vacation was suppose to be extra special, she could feel it in the way he would look at her. He had changed so much in the past year, he was more attentive towards her and when he would have to go out of town he started calling more often. In the beginning that was one of the reasons they argued so much, was because he wouldn’t call to tell her when he would be in. He more or less thought of it as "reporting in" and he was not going that route with any woman. Several times they would go their own ways, dating others, and ending up miserable. Things really began to change when she started dating Dalton Reed. They dated for about two months then as quickly as they started, they stopped. Walker was involved with someone else too, a woman in Waco. They both assumed the other was on a date with someone else, when they both showed up at C.D.’s again on New Year’s Eve. She recalls him standing at the bar drinking a long neck, arguing with C.D., the scene was almost identical to that first New Year’s Eve, three years before. She walked up to them casually and says, "Well, do we accidentally bump into each other, spill our drinks, and start all over—or do you give me my kiss early?"

Walker breaks out in a huge smile, he’s wearing the shirt that she bought him for his birthday, a black & silver with arrowhead designs on it. "Hello, gorgeous—we could get to the kissing early—if you would like." She looks around the bar to see if any irate woman was coming after her, then she looks at him teasingly, "Are you sure I’m not going to be attacked by some jealous date?"

He returned her teasing "And what about me, is your date going to come after me?"

She lowers her voice to almost a whisper, "So, why don’t you give me my kiss and find out?"

C.D. is looking at them and chuckling, "Well Cordell, if you don’t give that little lady a kiss—I am!" and starts to get off his barstool.

Walker gently pushes him back, reaches for Alex and gives her long and tender kiss, in front of the whole bar crowd that ended up cheering. That’s the way she preferred him, doing things spontaneous and not so guarded all the time. When he was in the likeness of that night, he could actually be funny at times. Jimmy and C.D. always said he didn’t have a romantic bone in his body, well they sure couldn’t believe that he could be comical. Her thoughts are interrupted by sounds coming from the bushes, she reaches for the gun beside her, all of a sudden she has company—the doe and her two babies have come to visit. She tries to be as quiet as she can be, as she’s murmuring to herself "They are so cute." The doe is not the least bit scared as she starts edging towards Alex with her nose up in the air trying to find her smell. The babies move in slowly, Alex is wishing she had her camera, Walker will not believe this. All of a sudden something scares them and the three run into the brush, Alex cocks the gun and aims it in the direction where the sound came from and then sees Walker coming down the trail. She breathes a sigh of relief, easing the hammer back and putting it in locked position. She starts running towards Walker, not seeing the two figures coming up behind her. Walker sees them and yells for Alex to run. She turns around and the two figures are almost on top of her, she screams. Walker is running towards them as he takes a flying leap in the air and hits one of them squarely in the chest with his boot. The other one starts to run away, Walker gives chase. Alex turns to see the other figure getting up from the ground, she reaches for the gun and aims it at him. They stand there frozen looking at each other, Alex can’t believe what she’s seeing or smelling. The figure is giving off a putrid smell and her eyes are starting to water. The figure stands there looking at her, cocking his head from side to side, looking at the pretty blonde with tight fitting pants and a sweater that hugs every curve.

He steps towards her, Alex loudly warns him to stay put or she’ll shoot, trying to sound brave. The figure pays no mind to the gun as he continues walking towards Alex, sniffing the air! He bolts and runs when he sees Walker coming back.

"Are you okay, Alex—you okay?"

She’s visibly shaking as he reaches out to grab her, "Did you see that Walker---what was that?"

He puts his arms around her and heads her back to the camp, "I don’t know---but the smell was enough to stop a semi!" They hurriedly start loading up the Ram, but Walker is hesitant about leaving. He doesn’t like to leave questions unanswered, and Alex can see it in his eyes, that’s the Ranger in him, and his natural instinct is to see things through. She walks up to him very slowly and says, "Walker---let’s go."

"We can’t just leave Alex."

"Yes we can---Walker let’s go—let the local authorities handle it. Let’s go report this and finding the canoe to them, it’s their job—not yours!" He climbs inside the truck and they start back down the mountain as Alex reaches over to make sure their doors are still locked. He hasn’t said anything about finding the backpack, "I assume you didn’t find it..."

"Not hide nor hair of it, I was hoping it was snagged on a rock or a broken tree limb---nothing!"

"How far down did you go"?

"About 5 miles, where the river really started to pick up speed---it’s probably in Colorado Springs by now." She sighs, "Walker what were those ... those things back there, I could almost swear they were human but with all that gook and hair all over them, I couldn’t be sure----and that smell, what was that God-awful smell?"

She’s still shaking as he reaches out and puts his arm around her, "My guess is that it was bat dung we were smelling."

"Bat dung---why would they have bat----crap all over them?"

"To blend in with the smells of the other animals. They’re human alright—they still have the human smell, so to disguise it, they cover themselves with bat dung, and the rest of it has probably seeped into their pores naturally."

"Naturally??---What do you mean naturally? You mean sleeping in caves with the bats?"

He shakes his head, "Yep—they live in caves—there’s most likely a whole family of them."

Alex is having a hard time digesting what she’s hearing, "Please don’t tell me they are cave-people----I can’t believe they...."

"Not cave people Alex—more like inbreds."

"Are you serious—in this day and time?"

"It’s more common than people realize—especially in remote areas like this—way back in the mountains where civilization is not needed or wanted---is there any coffee left?"

Alex reaches for the thermos, "You have about a cup left—we need to get some when we get to Mesa Rock---that’s about 40 miles away."

The ride back down the mountain is breathtaking as Alex decides to put her window down. She takes a deep breath---"Oh Walker it is so beautiful up here, how can anything so beautiful have something so hideous to hide? How do these people end up this way—or want to live this way?"

Walker sips his coffee, shaking his head, "I don’t know hon.. How does a country like this turn it’s back on the very people that have risked their lives to fight for it, and put them on welfare or worse—to live in the streets, and beg for food? Who has all the answers? These people have probably lived like this all their lives, they were born into it. They’ve lived off the land and that’s all they know how to live, then their families are born into it and so forth, It’s all kept in the circle---the circle of in-breeding. To them, it’s natural—they don’t know any other way, except..."

Alex is gazing out the window as Walker stops in mid-sentence. She turns and faces him, "Except … what?"

He hesitates answering her question, "Except—when they go after ---new blood."

Her face goes pale, "Oh my God!----the renters of that canoe---you don’t think that they were taken by these things?"

"Yeah, I do—and I wouldn’t doubt there’s been others" he looks straight at her as her face gets even paler---he doesn’t have to say what he’s insinuating—she knows.

They reach Mesa Rock, where there’s nothing but a rundown gas station/grocery store and a few old junk cars. An old, rundown, shack is nearby, the domain of the old man running the gas station. They look at each other, they both know they aren’t going to find anything resembling a drug store here. They get out to stretch their legs, Alex heads in search of a ladies’ room, and Walker goes to talk to the old man. They meet back at the truck. "Did you call the local sheriff?"

"Nope, the phone doesn’t work, and neither does the gas pumps."

"Then why is he sitting there, pretending like they do?"

"Probably has nothing else to do, what about the grocery store, something to eat---chips, colas??"

"No way, the expiration dates have expired—I can’t even get the colas out of the machine—it’s busted too!" Walker walks over to the machine, gives it a karate chop and out pops two colas. Alex looks at him in disbelief, as he thinks back to a ‘Happy Days’ show where Fonzie kicks a similar machine and they too come out in pairs. He hands one to Alex, then goes over to the old man, handing him two dollars and says, "Your machine’s fixed." The old man gives him a toothless grin, shoves the money into his trousers, and then starts putting everything away. The ‘closed’ sign appears in the window. Walker watches him, shaking his head sadly "Probably the only money he’s made all day." They continue down the mountain, the colas turn out to be too flat to drink, so they toss them out. "How far is it to the next town?"

"Well, according to this, there are two small towns within about 5 miles of one another, but neither one of them looks to be very big, it’s almost 4:30, we’re going to have to hurry if we want to get there before they start rolling up the sidewalks. I’d say about another hour’s drive, depending on how many twists and turns are in this road---I don’t remember it being this rough on the way up."

Walker reaches over and lays his hand on the inside of her thigh, "Honey, you were half asleep last time we were on this road, how could you remember any ... what the..."

The left front tire suddenly blows out, Walker fights to gain control and keep it on the road. Murphy is back and with a vengeance. Walker gets out to see what the damage is, lets out a few choice words, and then commences to get the spare tire out from under the truck. Alex gets the jack and attempts to help by loosening the lug nuts, but they’re on entirely too tight. Walker tells her to get back into the truck, "At least let me TRY and help you."

"There’s nothing you can do Alex---I’ve got it all taken care of." She walks to the front of the truck mumbling, "Men!"

"I heard that!"

"I intended for you to hear it," she shouts back.

All of a sudden, she hears him yelling. "What’s wrong"?

"The damn spare is almost flat!"

She looks at the spare and back at him, "Didn’t you check it before we left Dallas?"

"Hell yes, I checked it---I checked the whole damn truck out!" he snaps back at her.

She starts to say something, then just walks away, she knows that he’s tired and irritable with all that’s going on, but that does not give him the right to snap at her. Repeatedly she reminds herself, "Count to 10, Alex---count to 10."

Alex goes back to the rear of the truck, "What do we do now?"

"We put the spare on, at least it’s got SOME air in it, then we drive to the next town—there’s nothing else we can do." She looks at her watch, time is running out and she doesn’t fancy being out here on this lonely stretch of road after dark. "Walker---we have to be on the road—real soon."

Sarcastically he replies, "I know that Alex!"

She turns and goes to get in the truck. Walker finishes changing the tire, then he throws it up in the back of the truck bed, it hits the rear-sliding window and cracks it. He lets out a string of curse words, gets in the truck, throws it in gear, and burns rubber.

The first town is Destiny, not much bigger than Mesa Rock, but at least they have a gas station that has gas, and hopefully the necessary equipment to fix his tires. The sheriff lives in the next town of Fate, the station manager calls him, he’s on his way. The sheriff is a big man, puts them in mind of C.D., but the man is not very likeable. He shows little interest in either of the stories about the visitors to their camp or the missing canoe renters. He shakes his head as Alex tries to tell him about the two visitors that came into their camp, scared her half to death, and the spying. He chuckles, "Oh you city folk!---you’re always trying to start trouble—that’s the Casey boys you’re talking about---they don’t mean no harm."

Walker hasn’t told the sheriff yet that he’s a Texas Ranger and his patience is running a little thin with the indifference that he’s showing towards Alex and her fears. She keeps asking him what he plans to do about any of this.

"As far as the Casey boys are concerned, they haven’t broken any laws—now for the canoe renters, I’ll get on the phone and call Masters and find out about the renters, they probably decided to just ditch it and go on their way---hell-they’re probably at home by now!"

Alex is not satisfied as she starts to argue with the man some more—Walker gently pulls her back and then he gets up in the fat man’s face. "I’ll tell you this much---if we cross paths with those goons again, and they try to hurt her or even come near her I will bust some heads open. Now you don’t know me sheriff or what I’m capable of, but you’ll find out real soon if those goons come near us again!"

The sheriff looks at Walker, Walker is not a big man, under six feet—but something in the bearded man’s eyes tells him that he’s not to be messed with, "Is that a threat?"

Walker takes Alex’s arm and turns to walk away, "No, it’s not a threat---it’s a promise!!!"

They look the town over, aside from the gas station there’s one small diner and a grocery store, the town of Fate is not much bigger, it has the local sheriff’s department and a jail, so they’re told. Alex inquires, "How much longer till they can get the tires fixed?"

"I don’t know—I’m heading back over there to see---why don’t you check out the diner and order us some food?" She starts to walk away when he calls her back, "You got any money?"

"A couple of dollars and my credit cards, why?"

He takes out his wallet and hands it to her, "Here, take what you need, I doubt they’ll take credit cards." She orders them roast beef, it’s the only thing on the menu that sounds half way tempting. She’s tired, the whole day has been exhausting and her nerves are frayed. She sips the iced tea, it’s good, but what she wouldn’t give for a tall glass from C.D.’s Bar and Grill. He made the best iced tea in Texas, and he didn’t mind telling everyone either, just the right amount of sweet ‘n’ low and a twist of lemon. She sat there going over the last couple of days and all that had happened. Everything started out so perfect, they couldn’t wait to get to the campsite and get started on their perfect vacation. Things started going down hill when the figure ran across the road, scaring her into a frenzy of locking doors and insisting that Walker keep his gun nearby. She slept well that night despite that incident, and the next morning when they made love in the back of the truck, it was all perfect. Everything was so romantic between them, they couldn’t get enough of each other. Then to find out they were being watched sent her into a tailspin, and then the topper was losing her backpack with her birth control pills inside. They were both frustrated, this wasn’t the way either of them had planned this vacation to be. Now, as he puts it, they’re on a "mercy trip" to find a drugstore and maybe a little help from Mother Nature.

She doesn’t see him as he comes up to sit down beside her, they speak very little through their meal. They’re both tired, their perfect vacation has turned out to be the vacation from hell. She hands him back his wallet, "Are the tires fixed yet?"

"No, they can only fix one of them, the other one is unfixable, we’ll just have to do with the one."

"How about buying another one?"

He sips his coffee, "Can’t, they don’t have the right size to fit the rims."

She lets out a long sigh, rubbing her eyes, "So much for the perfect vacation—huh?"

They exchange glances, and then he puts his arm around her and pulls her head over to lay on his shoulder, "We’ve been in tougher situations than this—and we always came out on top hon."

She tries to laugh, she doesn’t know if she’s going to laugh or cry. "We’ve been shot at, stabbed, kidnapped, stalked, hooked up to explosives, battled a crazed Bigfoot and shot the rapids—this should be a cinch to get through!"

He laughs, "Yeah, the laws of Murphy and the tricks of Mother Nature don’t stand a chance in getting us down—right?" She looks up at him, their eyes meeting, he tilts her head up to meet his and gives her a soft kiss, letting their lips linger as he touches her cheek. "We better get out of here, before we get arrested for indecent display of public affection." She nods her head in agreement as they head back to the garage to pick up the Ram. They inquire about a room and bath for the night. The station manager says they can sleep in the back of the garage, there’s a small bath back there too. Alex was right about them rolling up the sidewalks. By seven p.m. everything was closed. Walker was standing near the window watching as the lights were all being turned off, precision timing—they were all out at exactly at seven p.m. He’s still looking out the window when Alex comes up behind him, puts her arms around his muscular body, and kisses his back. "You can take your shower now, hope I saved you enough hot water."

He turns and faces her, making a frown, "Hot?--you mean cold!"

She starts unbuttoning his shirt, "There are other ways—have you forgotten?"

She’s standing there wearing nothing but a towel, as he starts toying with her only apparel, "Hmmmm, maybe you should remind me,---better yet, show me."

She pushes him away playfully, "First things first, Cowboy, go take your shower, then maybe we will play rodeo."

He breaks out in a wide grin "Want to break your record tonight?"

 She starts making a moving gesture for him to get to the shower. "Maybe---but if you don’t hurry up—I might change my mind."

He shakes his finger at her, "You wouldn’t dare---I’m going, I’m going!"

She crosses over to the window to see what he was looking at. The town is completely dark, theirs is the only light on in town. She suddenly feels the need to turn it off, the light coming from the bathroom will be plenty. She crosses to the front door, rechecking to make sure it’s locked and then she scoots an old chair up under the doorknob. She examines the window, it’s just a two-foot square of glass, it can’t be locked. She pulls the curtain and turns away from the window. She didn’t see the figures moving across the one lane road. The darkened town and no moon gave them plenty of coverage. Alex looks at the bed, a twin—no less. At least the station manager’s wife gave them clean sheets, and they’ve slept in smaller confinements. In their own beds they always ended up on one side anyway. She pulled the blanket back and took the towel off, the blanket felt so warm against her bare skin. The night would get colder, and Walker said it was going to rain, she didn’t question him, he was usually right.

"BRRRR-it’s cold!" Walker says as he comes running out of the bathroom, with nothing on, and jumps into bed.

His cold body moves up against her and she lets out a gasp—"Walker----your feet are freezing!"

"I know—I ran out of hot water—so it’s up to you now to get me all warmed up," he replies as he reaches under the blanket for her. "And, we both know how fast you can do that, don’t we?" Their eyes meet.

She was beginning to think that these moments were never going to come after the argument they had earlier. She strokes his beard with the back of her hand and he plays with her hair. "Hey, cowboy, I’ve missed you."

"I’ve missed you too, counselor" and he reaches for her taking her lips in a long, sensuous kiss. His hand caresses her breast as he pulls her into him, his lips going down her neck and kissing her shoulders. His lips find her breasts and his tongue circles the nipple, teasing till it’s hard. She sighs, arching her body as his hands go around her waist and pulls her on top of him. His hands go up and down her slender body as he gazes at her like he’s never seen her in nude splendor before. His hands travel up to her breasts, caressing them, kneading them, till she almost cries out. Her body could drive him crazy, and she knew how to make it drive him crazy. He never knew any woman that could drive him out of his mind like Alex did, and he had been with more than his share, from his stints in Nam, his martial arts training all over the orient, to Old Mexico—none of them could hold a candle to Alex. He had told her more than once, she had missed her calling. She sits up straddling him and very gently massaging his chest, then she starts down his stomach, kissing him as she goes. He watches her every move, his flesh is starting to tingle. Outside he hears the sounds of a gentle rain starting, the perfect addition to a romantic night. She hears the rain too, as she looks at him and smiles, a flash of lightening is heard way off in the distance.

The figures are now six and heading for the small grocery store where they have found food waiting for them many times in the past. They all start grabbing left over meat, leafs of lettuce, and stale bread. The rain doesn’t seem to bother them, they continue to eat and push each other around. The only sounds they make are a occasional grunt or a growl, they are usually quiet as scavengers, knowing that in the mountains- a quiet predator is well rewarded. They sniff the air, and two of them head for the gas station. The bigger one sees the Ram, he knows he’s seen this strange object before. He sniffs it as he scratches himself, the scabs from unhealed sores falling away. He pays them no mind, he looks toward the building and back at the Ram, he continues to sniff. He walks, bent over in almost a slump towards the side of the building, he focuses on the window. The lightening is getting closer. A huge branch of lightning lights up the sky, he jumps more from natural reaction than being afraid of the storm moving in. He continues to sniff the air as he starts to pull himself up to the window. A trash can is knocked over by the grocery store wall, the other four start fighting. A light suddenly comes on, scaring them, and making them scatter. They grunt and start running towards the other side of the road. The smaller one begins to follow them, limping, dragging his barefoot behind him. The bigger one heads back to the grocery store and eats more of the garbage. He’s startled by some voices.

"Mitch, leave them alone---they’ll soon be gone---don’t go out there!" The woman’s voice is scared, almost petrified, as the door closes. The figure comes out into the light and looks toward the door, he’s tall—well over 6 feet tall, his body is almost completely covered in body hair, matted down with mud, the smell is there but not as strong. He sniffs the lingering smell that was left by the woman, his grunts even louder, his eyes are red.

Alex stops and looks at Walker, "Did you hear something?" He reaches down and gently pulls her up to him and rolls her over, "Not a thing", he whispers and starts kissing her more passionately. The sounds outside are soon forgotten and the rain is coming down harder, as she returns his kisses. They are blissfully lost in each other’s bodies as he continues to explore her body with his hands and his tongue. She calls out his name and he inches himself back up to her lips, lowering his body onto hers and then he enters her gently. The storm is picking up in tempo outside as the lovers begin to meet each other’s rhythm. As the storm increases, so does their pace. Walker knows he will have to withdraw soon before it’s too late. He doesn’t want to leave her hot body as he continues to hold her even tighter to his body, until she gently starts whispering for him to pull away. He falls back on the bed, breathing heavily, as she takes his manhood to her lips. He spasms in ecstasy, the whole room spins as he experiences his powerful release. Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms listening to the storm, basking in each other’s fulfillment.

When she is alone, the lightening scares her sometimes, but never when she’s with him. As a child she would pull the covers up over head, if the thunder got too loud, but Walker had taught her how to count the time between flashes, and expected the thunder soon thereafter. Soon she was at ease with the storms, and the calming affect they could have. They listened to the rain, holding each other, till they were both sleeping soundly. At the other end of town, the figure was pulling his catch behind him, the catch was trying to get away. He backhands it and the catch goes silent. Mother Nature is releasing her fury of the storm to satisfy the thirst of all the animals, the two legged as well as four. She has also released a fury of injustice and harsh mistakes that will affect all of them.

Alex wakes to the sound of a loud thunderbolt, she doesn’t know if she’s dreaming or not, as she hears what she thinks, is a woman’s voice—off in the distance. She fights to keep her eyes open, the rain is slacking up and now it’s just a pitter-patter up against the window. She feels Walker’s body up against her, and she pulls the blanket up tighter, as his arms tighten around her waist. She can hear him breathing steadily and content, she places her hands on top of his, and soon she surrenders to slumber, again.

The rain had stopped and now the sun was trying to come up as Walker stirred gently, trying not to wake Alex. Sometime during the night, she started tossing and turning like she was having a bad dream. He laid there with his arms protectively around her, softly telling her she was just dreaming, that he was there beside her, and for her to go back to sleep.

She didn’t know if she was dreaming or not, did she really hear a woman screaming? The thunderstorm and all that had happened in the past few days were all blending in together and she was having a hard time separating them. She was so tired when the thunderbolt woke her, at least she thought she was awake. She was having a hard time keeping her eyes open and concentrating as she listened to the sounds, a woman’s voice off in the distance. She thought she had tried to wake Walker, but she wasn’t sure. She was being silly, if there had been a woman screaming Walker would have heard her, his hearing was impeccable. Sleep soon overcame her as she nestled deeper into his protective arms. He dressed as quietly as he could, he would let her continue sleeping and he would go take care of the necessary details so they could be on their way. He wanted to talk to that sheriff again and let him know that when they reached Colorado Springs that he was making out a full complaint about the negligence of his duties as a lawman. He couldn’t leave without telling her where he was going, so he woke her gently. She barely opened her eyes, as she nodded her head up and down telling him to come back soon, she wanted to leave. He assured her he would be back as soon as possible. He pushed the button down on the doorknob, then tested it to make sure it was locked, and pulled the door shut.

He stopped by the Ram, reached in and got his thermos, and headed for the diner. The sheriff and some of the other guys were in a huddle, they break up as soon as they see Walker come in. Walker asks the waitress to fill the thermos and to throw in some sweet rolls. He notices that she’s a little nervous about waiting on him, as she glances from him then back to the sheriff.

The sheriff walks over to him. He takes the toothpick out of his mouth, sneering, "You folks leaving today?" Walker doesn’t answer at first, then he looks at the fat man, "Yeah—we’re leaving—but I’m giving you fair warning, when we get to Colorado Springs, I’m going to ask the authorities to send someone down here and check you out!"

"Check me out for what?"

"For your negligence of duty for one—you haven’t even gone up to that campsite and questioned those Casey boys, have you?"

"Question them about what?--They haven’t broken any laws, so they scared your little lady friend, they didn’t mean any harm. Shucks, she’s a pretty little thing, they were probably just looking her over and…"

The sheriff doesn’t finish his sentence as Walker takes both hands and grabs the lawman’s shirt shoving him backwards against the counter, "Pay attention and listen to me old man, and listen good, I don’t fancy the idea of someone looking at my woman the way your goons did, and further more I don’t like to be spied on—get the message?!"

"You can’t talk to me this way, I’m the law, I can have you arrested for threatening me," he sputters. "You got no right coming here and pushing me around!"

Walker stares back at him as he lets the old man up, "Try to arrest me sheriff, see how far you get, and you’ll need help trying to do it!"

The waitress stutters as she hands Walker the thermos, "Your---your---coffee is---ready!"

When he pays her, he notices that she won’t look directly into his eyes. "By the way sheriff, I’m looking for Mitch to settle up with him, do you know where he is?" You could hear a pin drop as the men look back and forth at each other, the waitress scurries away. The sheriff straightens up his clothes, "Hell no! I don’t know where he’s at—I’m not his keeper!---You can give me what you owe him, I’ll see that he gets it!" Walker glares at him, "No thanks—no offense, but I just don’t trust you—I’ll find Mitch on my own!" He walks out, heading back to the garage.

The sheriff and the other men go back into their little huddle, the conversation is getting hot, as the sheriff reaches over and slaps the one called Wade across the face. "I said I’d take care of it, didn’t I?"

As Walker is walking back to the garage, he notices all of the trash cans turned over, the wind wasn’t that strong last night, and he didn’t recall seeing any dogs in town. The heavy rain had washed away any tracks that might have been left behind. He walks around to the side of Mitch’s place, the screen door is wide open. He calls out the man’s name, no answer. He starts to knock on the door, a voice shouts—"Ain’t nobody home!" An old man is sitting in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth, staring straight ahead. Walker walks over to him, noticing that the man is blind. Walker asks the old man about Mitch, the man mumbles, Walker repeats his question.

"He told you---there ain’t nobody home!" Walker turns to face the sheriff again, and his two friends from the diner. "Now, how would you know that sheriff? You said you hadn’t seen him, how do you know he’s not home?"

"Because he and his wife left this morning, to go see her sister over in Boulder." replies Wade.

"Why didn’t you say something earlier when I was asking about him?" Walker directs his question to Wade, a tall scrawny man with a beak nose.

The man sees the look in Walker’s eyes and starts to back up, "I don’t gotta answer any of your questions, do I sheriff?"

The sheriff continues to sneer at Walker, "That’s right Wade—you don’t gotta answer any of his fool questions!"

Walker starts to say something when he hears Alex’s voice, "Here you are—I’ve been over at the diner looking for you." She hesitates, looks at Walker, then back to the three men, "Is there something wrong?"

"No", he replies, reaching out and taking her arm as they walk away. They get to the truck and he sees that she has the rest of their things already in the Ram. She looks back at the three men who are still staring at them, "What was that all about? Things were looking pretty tense back there." He opens the door for her as she scoots in and slides over half way, then she takes the thermos and the rolls. "Walker?"

"Just a difference of opinions, that’s all ... are you ready to go?"

"I’m more than ready—did you find the station manager to give him his money?" Walker turns the key to the ignition, "No, couldn’t find him—I’ve got his address, I’ll send the money to him and a little something extra for his and his wife’s hospitality."

They pull out on the one lane highway, Alex breathes a sigh of relief, "I can’t wait to get as far away as we can from this place, aside from Mitch and his wife Bea- this whole town is weird." Walker tells her what Wade said about Mitch’s wife going to see her sister in Boulder.

Alex looks at him puzzled, "You mean they went to see Mitch’s sister—Bea said she didn’t have any family."

"No- I could have swore Wade said Bea’s sister."

"But, last night when she brought the bed clothes over, we talked for just a minute and she said other than Mitch—she had no family."

Walker looks at her and smiles, "Alex—you just said you only talked for a minute, that’s not very long to know someone, maybe you just misunderstood her."

Alex pours him some coffee, takes a sip of it first, then hands it to him smiling, "Now who was it that said that you could look into someone’s eyes and learn more about them in five minutes, that sometimes would take a lifetime otherwise---or something like that?"

He laughs as she offers him a bite of her doughnut, "Seems I recall White Eagle saying something to that effect." They continue down the mountain, leaving the town of Destiny and it’s memories behind. They soon pass through Fate, the messenger was right, the town is just a smidgen bigger. Walker and Alex both wonder why they just didn’t connect the two little towns and call it TROUBLE.

"Soooo counselor, what have we decided to do?" he asks as he puts his arm around her shoulder. She takes his hand and moves sideways, putting her feet up at the other end of the truck. She reaches up and takes his hand, pondering the question. "Whatever you decide cowboy—I’m just along for the ride."

"Well, here’s what I suggest, Why don’t we just continue on to Colorado Springs, make out our report, then head in a entirely different direction, maybe East this time?" She plays with his hand, putting her fingers inside his palm then out again, "Sounds good to me, do you realize that we haven’t even put our fishing rods in the water yet, and our vacation is almost half over?"

"Yep—well that’s soon going to change, once we get all this legal stuff out of the way—we are going to find those spectacular fishing spots that Whittaker told me about!"

"Whittaker, is that your friend’s name?---with all that’s happened, I was beginning to think his name was Murphy!" They’re about 100 miles away from their destination, the scenery is breathtaking as Alex raises up to look out the window, taking in the fresh air. Walker keeps looking at her, with that same silly grin he had last night. "What are you smiling about?" she teases.

He hesitates, "I was just wondering, are we still looking for a drugstore?"

She scoots back over next to him, "Well, what do you think, still a mercy trip?"

He grins "Hmmmm, sounds more like a mercy trip just for you now----‘cause I have nooooo complaints about last night, no complaints at all!"

She starts playing with his hair, it ‘s long enough to slightly curl over his collar, "Is that right, and do you hear me complaining?" she teases.

He raises his eyebrow. "No---but it couldn’t have been all that satisfying for you that way." he sighs as he nervously shifts his position.

She laughs softly, "Then we’re still looking for a drug store, because I have another reason for wanting to find one."

"What other reason?"

"For another cosmetic bag—I want to buy some makeup."

He breathes a sigh of relief, "Oh---why? You don’t need it!"

"Yes I do, I’ve been without makeup for almost a week now—I want some lipstick, and some bath oils, etc, etc."

Walker looks at her and smiles, "I do miss the lipstick—especially that red kind that you wear, I like the taste of it."

"Cherry Passion or the Rapture"?

"They have names?"

"Of course they do, how do you think we keep up with them?" She laughs at him, he can be so naive about a lot of things pertaining to the needs of the opposite sex. "Besides, I want to make myself beautiful for you, and so I need—some makeup."

"You don’t need makeup to make yourself beautiful, you’re always beautiful to me---but you know when I think you’re the most beautiful?"

She looks into his eyes and softly asks, "When?"

He reaches down and touches her leg, "Right after we’ve made love. You’ve got that look—your complexion takes on a ‘flushed’ tone or like a peach, I can’t describe it—I just know that you’re even more beautiful, after we make love."

She touches the side of his face, rubbing his beard softly. "And C.D. and Jimmy say that you don’t have a romantic bone in your body, well I say that’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me."

He gives a macho like shrug, "I have my moments." he answers quietly.

"Yes, you do and those moments need rewarded." She kisses his cheek and continues to rub his beard, "Sweetheart, your beard could use a little trim."

He teases her, "Starting to tickle a little bit, eh?"

She shakes her head "Among other things!"

"O.k., when and if, we ever find that drugstore, I’ll buy a beard trimmer." He laughs, "I can see it now—we’re back in Dallas and the guys are asking me how did I spend my vacation?--I can look at them and say that I spent it chasing freaks of nature, butting heads with Murphy’s Law, and looking for a drugstore!!"

"Well, sweetheart---look at it this way—it hasn’t been boring!"

***

She’s starting to wake again, she doesn’t know if it’s daylight or dark, she has lost all track of time. She no longer feels the pain between her legs, she can’t open her left eye, it’s swollen shut, and she can feel the lumps and scratches all over her face. The smell is putrid as the figures climb over her body repeatedly. She can hear them grunting, as they continue to ravage her body, it’s easier for her to just say nothing and hope to God that this is only a dream and she’ll wake up soon. She turns her head to the side and looks at him, staring back at her. She says silently to herself, "Why doesn’t he help me, why does he just lay there in that weird position---staring back at me?" She cries silently, she knows why … because he’s dead. She can hear whimpering off in the distance, she’s heard it all along. Once in awhile, she hears a muffled scream and then the grunting and the whimpering starts again.

She remembers the figure coming into the house, he was quiet, so awfully quiet- She smelled him before she saw him, but it was too late. He grabbed them both by their necks and squeezed, snapping the neck of her husband, Mitch, and causing her to black out. He threw her over his shoulder as he just as calmly walks out the door, even closing it behind him. The rain is coming down hard; she stirs. She screams and he throws her down on the ground, yanking her back up and dragging her. She screams again, he backhands her so hard she can feel her whole head exploding. He has knocked her eye out of it’s socket, the blood and the rain mingle. The first time she came to was the worst, feeling the figures fight over her body, the pain felt like she was being ripped apart. They would drag her back and forth across the ground, throwing her back and forth to each other, then start claiming their prize. The big one that had brought her to this hell was the first to take her, she screamed as the pain was like no other pain she had ever felt. It continued for what seemed hours, she didn’t know as she kept blacking out. They didn’t care that she wasn’t awake, they kept up their onslaught of brutality.

***

Walker sits up trying to get his body relaxed, the drive is getting to him. He turns to Alex who has again fallen asleep with her head on his shoulder, he nudges her gently, "Honey, is there any coffee left?" She reaches for the thermos, "Nope—sorry you drank it all."

"We should be getting to another town by now, shouldn’t we?"

"I’ll check the map---the nearest town is Mirage—about 20 miles from here, looks to be a pretty good size."

It’s the middle of the evening when they get to Mirage, nice quiet, little town. Walker almost slams on his brakes, "Do my eyes deceive me, there’s a Highway Patrolman over there!"

Alex is relieved, "Good, then maybe we won’t have to go all the way to Colorado Springs." He slows the truck down as he pulls up beside the cruiser, when he introduces himself to the young officer, he motions for Walker to follow him to headquarters. Just as they pull up in front of the highway patrol office, Alex grabs Walker’s arm, "I don’t believe it---look!" Walker looks at her and then in the direction she’s pointing—"Look!" she repeats herself. He looks over at the store that she’s pointing to, she turns to him, "Is that not a beautiful sight?"

They look at each other grinning, Walker says quietly  "the end of our mercy trip." They both laugh.

She gets out of the truck on his side, "Let’s go—we’ve got shopping to do!"

Walker hesitates, "Nahhh you go ahead---I’m going to talk to these guys."

"Aren’t you coming with me?"

He’s still hesitating, "It doesn’t take both of us---you go ahead."

She looks at him and then to the drugstore, and then she breaks out in a devilish grin, "You’re embarrassed—aren’t you?"

"Embarrassed? No,---I’m not---embarrassed," he starts shifting back and forth, "Of course not, don’t be foolish."

She nods her head at his nervousness, "Yes—you are." She prods him in the chest. "Admit it—the great Cherokee warrior is nervous. You HAVE bought them before, haven’t you?"

"Alex!---Of course I have!" She’s got him now, and she’s not going to let up, there hasn’t been too many times that she’s actually managed to embarrass him so. She continues to poke him playfully in the chest, "When ---when was the last time?"

"Alex---just go. Why do I have to go with you?---you said you wanted to buy some makeup, so there’s no point in both of us going."

"Well, you do have to buy a beard trimmer!"

Now he’s getting irritated, "You know the kind I use, you know what to get."

"But, I might not get the right size!"

"Alex." he lowers his voice to almost a whisper, "I think one size fits all!"

 She cracks up laughing hysterically at him, "I was talking about the beard trimmer!"

"You said ‘size’, how was I suppose to know what you were meaning?"

She’s playing it for all it’s worth as she says very seriously, "I was referring to the blade size dear."

Now he’s really rattled as he says very slowly, "Go---just go do your shopping."

She looks at him, "Wait till we get back to Dallas and I tell C.D. and Jimmy about this!"

"You wouldn’t dare!"

"Why do men get so embarrassed over something like this?"

"For the last time Alex—I am not embarrassed—come on—you want me to go with you?--I’ll go with you!"

"Nope---never mind---I’ll let you off the hook, THIS TIME!" she answers back with a big grin, "But I’m still going to tell the guys when we get home." She turns to walk away.

"No way! You wouldn’t do that, would you?"

She glances back at him as she walks away, "Watch me."

He trots after her, then reaches out and slaps her on the rear. She yelps, and shakes her finger at him in a ‘you’re gonna get it’ gesture, then before she can say anything, he smiles and says, "Oh yeah, I’m counting on it!" She gives out a little giggle as she deliberately sways her hips more, the tight jeans complimenting her every sway. He watches her and grins, then he heads up the steps to the Highway Patrol office.

Walker talks to the lawmen for almost an hour, the younger one that he saw in the cruiser seems to be the one most willing to help. He’s listened very intensely to Walkers’ story and about the missing canoe renters. While Walker and the Lt., are talking the young sergeant wires Colorado Springs for a missing person report. The Lt. seems a little irate at the young man’s urgency to help.

"Wire service is a little slow and we don’t have any of those fancy computers—it’ll be awhile Ranger."

Walker nodded to the young sergeant, he just wished the Lt. was as eager to help. "Okay, Ranger, I’ll get someone up there to check that sheriff out—this is not the first time we’ve had complaints on him, and we’ll check out those Casey boys while we’re at it."

"What other complaints have you had on him?"

When he young sergeant starts to answer, the older man stops him. "Floyd, why don’t you go over to the Dog Sled and see what that ruckus is all about?"

Floyd starts to argue, then decides he better do as he’s told. "Floyd, he’s a little too aggressive at times, kind of wants to be like another Mike Hammer, you know."

Walker’s getting impatient, "What other complaints have you got against that sheriff?"

The lieutenant is a tall, stocky man, with a bushy moustache. "Oh about this time last year another family was camping up close to where you say you and your lady friend were camping—they had a couple of teenage girls, one of them came up missing. Was missing for about a month, some truck driver found her, she was talking out of her head, ended up in one of those places for the crazy. The Father made a complaint out against Sheriff Wagner, saying he didn’t go after the Casey boys quick enough, and they managed to get off the mountain and disappear for several months. Never were questioned. I hear they like to scare the campers, and sometimes they get a little rowdy, never heard of them hurting anyone though. They’re just old country boys-they’ve lived up them mountains for years, you probably got too close to one of their moonshine camps and they just wanted to scare you a little bit—that’s all!!"

Walker looks at him, and nods He doesn’t trust him anymore than he did the sheriff of Destiny.   He decides to keep anymore questions to himself for now, they walk outside and he sees Alex walking towards them.

She’s got a shopping bag full, she looks at him and smiles. "Mission accomplished, no more mercy trips!"

The Lt. looks at Walker and then back to Alex, puzzled. Walker introduces them, the Lt. can’t take his eyes off of Alex. Walker is a little miffed. The Lt. extends his hand to shake Alex’s, "I can understand now why the Casey boys were so ---excited," as he looks straight into Alex’s eyes.  Alex smiles weakly, looking at Walker, then she withdraws her hand.

They walk away, Alex looks back at the Lt. "He’s a little strange---what did he mean by that, about the Casey boys?"

Walker slips his arm around her waist, making sure the Lt. sees that’s she taken. Alex is busting to tell him what all she’s bought. He looks at the shopping bag and then to her, "What ya’ got?"

She starts telling him what all she’s bought, he halfway listens as he watches the Lt. go back up the steps of the building. He knows he’s being lied to, now he just has to find out why.

Alex looks at him, "Are we leaving?"

"No, I was wondering if you want to spend the night here?"

"Yes! I was hoping you would say that—cause I bought my makeup, my bath needs, perfect for a bubble bath---and I bought a new dress, plus I bought you a new shirt!"

"A new dress , a new shirt---o.k., what are you up to?"

She giggles and puts her arms around his waist, "Let’s ---go-- dancing!!"

He groans, "Dancing?"

The place they check into is called The Palms, though there are no palm trees anywhere to be seen, Walker guesses that’s why the town is called Mirage, you just think you see things. At least it’s nicer than the room behind the garage that Mitch and his wife offered them. He thinks about the couple, they were the nicest people in Destiny, and they didn’t even get to tell them goodbye.

Alex runs to the bathroom to check it out, as Walker flops down on the bed, kicking his boots off. A king size bed this time, and so much more comfortable than that twin back in Destiny. Alex comes running back and takes a flying leap onto the bed, "Walker, it’s got a hot tub!"


"Oh, good, it can soothe your aching feet when you get tired of me stepping on them tonight, since you insist on going dancing."

"What are you complaining about cowboy, your dancing has improved!"

"Compared to what?" he teases.

"Compared to the very first time we danced, that’s what!"

They lay there looking at each other as they remember that night, their first dance. They danced to a song called "I Cross My Heart" by George Strait. Walker hated to dance, but he liked the song, so they gave it a try, actually several tries as Walker kept pushing the same number on the jukebox. He kept stepping on her toes, she kept telling him to stop looking down to just concentrate on the rhythm of the music. Finally she took pity on him and insisted they sit down. In the years that followed, he still hesitated to get on the dance floor, but she was making progress—slowly but surely.

He starts to do some more exploring, maybe he can distract her from wanting to go dancing.

"Hold it cowboy, I know what you’re up to."

He starts kissing her neck, "Come on Alex, --are you sure you don’t want to stay here and forget the dancing? We can have a lot more fun here---now that we—found---our---little----friends?"

She nods her head, "Yes, we can---but that’s later, besides I bought you that sexy new shirt, I want to see you in it."

"Sexy, new shirt, it better not be silk!" He hated silk shirts, she tried buying him one once, but he absolutely refused to wear it! He could just hear Trivette teasing him about wearing silk, there’s no way whatever he would wear silk. He felt the same way about satin sheets, he hated them too.

"No, it’s not silk, here let me show you." She gets up off the bed and pulls a western shirt out, it’s black and purple, with lightening bolts. He looks at it, and shakes his head in approval. Then he asks to see the dress she bought.

"No way, not until I have had a nice long bubble bath, fixed my face, and I will have a grand entrance."

There’s a knock on the door, Walker gets up to answer, and Alex goes to the bathroom to get her bath started.

The young sergeant is standing at the door, looking very nervous, "Ranger, I got to talk to you".
Walker steps back to let him in but the young man shakes his head, "No! Meet me out at the side road as soon as you can—the same place I saw you earlier when you were coming into town---okay?"

Walker agrees to meet him as he goes to the bathroom to tell Alex. She just has a towel around her, while putting on the bath beads and oil. He hesitates about leaving. "I won’t be long—lock the door after me and keep it locked."

The young sergeant is pacing back and forth in front of his cruiser, smoking one cigarette after another, before Walker can say anything, Floyd speaks, "He’s not telling you the whole story Ranger."

"I figured as much—what is it that he’s not telling me?"

Floyd grounds the butt out on the ground, then lights up another, "that young girl that he was telling you was in asylum, she’s not there."

Apparently Floyd was doing some eavesdropping when the Lt. was talking to Walker. "Where is she?"

"She’s still up there, no body can find her---but she’s up there."

"What makes you think she is, what proof do you have?"

Floyd is a nervous wreck, he’s been wanting to talk about this for years, but until now he hasn’t met anyone he could trust. There’s something about this bearded Ranger, maybe that’s it, because he’s a Texas Ranger. Floyd was in Texas once and he never forgot their authoritative figure. The white hats they wore, the big guns, he was disappointed they weren’t riding horses, but he was definitely impressed. He wanted to stay in Texas but parents have the final says over a impressionable 3yr old boy!

Walker believes what Floyd is telling him, more than he’s believed Lt. Ross. "You haven’t told me what proof you have that the girl is still up there."

The young man starts shaking his head back and forth, "I’ve got no real proof, I just feel it here," as he touches his chest indicating where his heart is, "I know Joy is still up there."

Now the girl has a name, "You know this girl, this Joy?"

"Yes, I knew her. She came through here with her parents and sister about 4 months ago. First of all, I don’t think that those were her real parents, she acted afraid of them. Her sister’s name was Terri, she was the complete opposite of Joy, she was the younger one, and the wildest.  From the minute they landed in Mirage, she had every male here panting over her like some she-dog in heat. Joy wasn’t like that, Ranger. She was so sweet, and so pretty. She had long blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes, and when she did speak, her voice was like that of an angel’s."


Walker could see that Floyd had more than a mild interest in her. "Was she your girlfriend?"

"Don’t I wish," he sighs. " No, I didn’t stand a chance with her, not after Lt. Ross got through with her. He spent a lot of time at their hotel—if you get my meaning. He had them both---anytime he felt the urge, plus any other woman in Mirage that fancies his liking."

Floyd sees the Ranger’s face get tight, he knows that Ross has been looking his lady friend over, "You better watch him Ranger, that lady friend of yours is a real looker and he likes them pretty."

Walker remembers the way he saw Lt. Ross looking at Alex, he didn’t like it then and now he’s liking it even less. He forces himself to get back to questioning Floyd. "What happened to Joy and her family?"

Floyd shrugs his shoulder, "they just left---in the middle of the night, they all just up and left, going up towards Blue Bear Lake. Wasn’t that the same place you were at?"

Walker nods, "Yeah---and that’s the last you saw of them?"

"Until they were reported missing. Ross and I went up in the chopper on the rescue hunt, they were missing for about a month. Then this truck driver says that he picks Terri up on the highway, babbling like an idiot, so he takes her to Destiny. The parents are notified, they kick up a stink, saying they’re going to ‘sue’, and then all of a sudden—that’s the end of it. They go back to L.A. and nothing else is said about any of this until you make out the report on those missing canoe renters."

"What about Joy, why do you say she’s still up there?"

"Because nothing else was said about her, it’s like she no longer existed, when I asked about her I was told that she too went back with her parents, but I don’t believe it Ranger---not for a minute." Floyd looks up towards the mountains and shakes his head sadly, "she’s still up there, I know she is, I can feel it."

Walker rubs his beard and then he’s reminded that he hasn’t trimmed it yet. "I believe you Floyd. I think it’s time I notified someone with more power to investigate this further and…"

"NO!" Floyd yells, "No—you can’t do that---you can’t trust any of these people around here, especially the law---because there has been others!"

"Others?"

"Ranger, this has been going on for years, there have been other similar cases where young girls and women have disappeared!----And, sometimes I think they’re brought here---on purpose.---I’m talking about women and young girls of the evening---you know? I have seen these women come to Mirage, they are maybe here a day or so and then they’re gone---just like that---they pick up and they’re gone!"

Walker left Floyd at the side of the road, it was better they came back into town separately. The Ranger’s mind was racing, if Floyd was telling the truth, and Walker believed him to be very sincere. He wasn’t convinced that these Casey boys were the same ones that came into their camping ground, spying on him and Alex. There was only one thing to do and that was to go back up there to Blue Bear Lake and do his own investigating, but he would need help. There’s only one person that he could totally trust and that was Trivette. He would call him as soon as he got back to the Inn.


Murphy’s Law Part II

By SASQUAW@aol.com


The woman died sometime during the night, the young girl knew she wouldn’t last long. The woman was bleeding profusely between the legs and in the anal. She was surprised the woman had lasted this long, the others didn’t. She watched the figures as they continue to rape her body until they finally grew tired of it and tossed it over into the pile where the other parts of the bodies lay. She listened as they tore her limbs, and then the fighting over the food would start again. The young girl prayed for death, she didn’t know how much more she could take. Her mind was boggled with memories, she felt it a curse that she was allowed to remember.

She remembered the young lawman back in that town, what was it called—oh yes "Mirage". He was so nice to her and he had nice eyes. She blamed her sister, Terri, for being in the situation she was in, she didn’t want to leave L.A., it was all Terri’s doings. Then they met up with the Browns, and everything started to go wrong. The Browns forced them into doing things, running drugs, and doing’ tricks’. Somehow they ended up in Mirage going to someplace up further north, in Wyoming she thought them to say.

They knew the highway patrolman named Ross, he offered them a place to stay and even promised to get them jobs. Of course all of that changed when he came to their motel room, and the Browns left her and her sister to ‘entertain’ him. He was unusually rough with them, making them do things that she had never done before at her tender age of 16. But, Terri never complained---they would both be left black and blue and even crying—but Terri couldn’t wait to be with him again. She was glad that he preferred her younger sister, he left her alone most of the time.

He soon tired of them both and they left in the middle of the night, and ended up near a place called Blue Bear Lake. The first couple of days were really nice, the scenery was breathtaking and everyone seemed relaxed and enjoying themselves, even Terri. The third night, all hell broke loose as the figures came into camp, they took her and her sister, but they didn’t bother the Browns. She just knows she never saw them again after that night. She was taken to what seemed like a big cave, the stink was unbearable on the figures, the cave was even worse as she soon realized the main cause was the rot from the dead bodies. She remembered screaming as her body felt like a hot poker was going through her. She doesn’t know how long the attack went on, she couldn’t see or hear Terri---Terri was going through her own hell.

***

Walker turned the doorknob to their room it was locked. "Alex---open up." He called out to her a second time, no answer, he used the second key and let himself in. Her new dress, his shirt and the other things she had bought were still lying across the bed, he went into the bath. She was sound asleep in the hot tub, her hair piled up her head and tilted to the side. The bubbles from the jet spray s were diminishing and he could see her body, curled up, almost in a fetal position. He touched her gently, she jumps, then seeing him she smiles like she’s just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

"I must have fell asleep," she explains.

"No kidding---you’ve been in that hot tub all this time?"

She smiles "guilty as charged."

He shakes his head, "Where’s my trimmer?"

"In the shopping bag---along with your ---little friends," she teases him.

He goes into the other room, takes his trimmer out, and then does a double take at the box of condoms. He walks back into the bath, she’s staring at him with her blue eyes looking to see his expression.

He holds up the box, his mouth dropping open, "Alex----glow in the dark???"

She lowers her head, still looking at him, "Well I’ve never seen them before—I wanted to see what they looked like."

He rolls his eyes, "I’m not wearing THESE ---no way!"

"Oh Walker, you’ll forget about them glowing---what color are they?"

He tosses the box over to her, "I’ll let you do the honors and see for yourself." While Alex is looking over her prizes, Walker starts trimming his beard. Every once in awhile he can hear her "HMMMMM" to herself, and cooing "Oh this one’s pretty." He’s still trimming away when all of a sudden she stops saying anything and just looks at him. He looks over at her, she’s smiling devishly at him, or rather his butt! He’s standing there in front of the mirror, bare chested, with faded blue jeans on. She looks him up and down, just smiling. He keeps trying to trim his beard, finally he turns around to her, "What’s wrong?"

She takes one of the little friends out and starts stretching it, saying, "There should be a law."

"A law … about what?"

"There should be a law about some guys having such nice firm butts!"

"And, just what guys are you referring to?"

"You for one------and Clint Eastwood."

Walker nods, "Eastwood again, huh---at least I’m in good company. Soooo, Dirty Harry and I have nice butts, another thing we have in common."

"What other things do you have in common with him?"

"We both have beautiful redheads---I mean blondes in our lives."

Alex gives him that look about mentioning redheads, "One of these days cowboy, you are going to tease me one too many times about a redhead, and I’m going to dye my hair."

"You do and I’m going to shave my beard completely off," he replies.

"Speaking of beards, are you going to be much longer?"

He turns to face her, she’s running more hot water into the tub, "Why—you trying to get rid of me?"

She runs her tongue over her top lip in that way that drives him crazy, she kicks out one of her long silky legs, and coos, "No—I want to inspect it."

He puts down the trimmer, "Well in that case—inspect." He kneels down at the side of the tub and reaches over and rubs her face with his, she groans. "Well, do I pass inspection?"

"That’s not the area I was talking about," she purrs, and then she crooks her finger, wanting him to get in the tub.

He stands up and begins taking his jeans down, "You know if I get in there, we might not make the dance?"

"I’ll take that chance, cowboy—the dance doesn’t start till nine---we got lots of time."

He steps down into the tub, the jet sprays are going full blast as Alex pours in more bath oil, it smells like Lilacs, he should have known—it was their favorite. He inches his way over to her, as the bottom of the tub is getting slippery, and when he almost loses his footing, she laughs at him.

He puts his hands out on both sides of the tub, moves his head forward to kiss her, she responds very slowly. Then she puts her arms around his shoulders, kissing his chest. He lowers his head to find her lips and brings them into his mouth slowly, and then he starts putting his tongue inside her mouth, looking for hers. He goes down on his knees as he brings his hands inward reaching for her waist. He lays her back against the rim of the tub reaching for each breast and taking them in one at a time, circling the nipples with his tongue, then going to the other before she has time to even gasp. She takes his head in between her hands, pressing him harder against her. He follows her slender body down to her navel, teasing. He gets to her waistline and puts his hands up under her buttocks, pulling her upward to the edge of the hot tub. He leans her back as he gently spreads her thighs, his lips going from one thigh to the other, his right hand moving under her till he finds an opening. He very gently inserts two fingers, twisting slowly and going in as deep as she can take them. He pulls her buttocks into him as he takes her with his tongue, slowly darting in and out. He can feel her trying to pull away, he holds her tighter. His two fingers are in as far as she can take them, he twists them slowly as she starts to groan. His tongue is going deeper and pulling the lips of her vagina in and then in an upward motion with his tongue, over and over. She starts pushing him away, her breathing is heavier as she tells him it’s her turn.

The temperature of the tub and the activity is causing them both to heat up as they are both starting to lose their voices. Alex reaches over the tub and brings out a bottle of white wine. She pours one glass and he sips it, she kisses him taking the taste of the wine from his lips, and swirling her tongue across his lips. Then she takes a sip and then tilts the bottle over his chest and lets the wine dribble down. Then she kisses his chest following the trail of wine down to his mid section, and to that firm butt that she had been admiring. She touches his manhood gently and then she pours even more wine into the palm of her hand and massages him gently. She takes a drink of the wine, looking at him all the time. They kiss tenderly as they taste the wine on each other’s lips. He leans back as far as he can and she takes his manhood into her mouth, circling and teasing till he thinks he’s going out of his mind. She continues to tease him, as she feels him getting harder and harder. He groans, saying her name over and over. He reaches over for one of the condoms that she was stretching earlier. She shakes her head gently and reaches back and gets a different one, this one is midnight blue. She slips it on, but he has to finish pulling it up.

She looks at it, "It’s not glowing," she says softly.

He slides back down into the tub, pushing her back against the other side, spreads her legs and enters her. Their climax comes fast as they both continue their tempo, neither of them wanting to stop. She comes before him and she’s starting to feel like she’s going to black out as he keeps thrusting his manhood, his hips jerking wildly. He lays her even further back as he puts her legs over his shoulders, never missing a beat, until he can hold it no longer. They both groan as she can feel his body getting ready to release his fluid, and then he collapses into her, kissing her neck over and over.

He lays there on top of her, not wanting to move- not even knowing if he can move. He knows she doesn’t like for him to withdraw too soon so he just stays inside of her, holding her body close. They lay there looking into each other’s eyes.

He laughs as he observes his little friend, Alex is still upset that it didn’t glow. Walker shakes his head, "Maybe it doesn’t glow if it gets wet." and then he bursts out laughing at that statement.

"Maybe it wasn’t dark enough in here," she says softly.

He kisses her, "Next time we’ll make sure the room is dark enough," and then he starts to take it off, "Wow—I sure filled that one up, didn’t I?"

Alex smiles "You sure did cowboy, just think, you got thousands of sperms in that one little rubber."

Without thinking, Walker turns the condom over spilling out its contents into the water, Alex yells "Walker!"

"What?"

"Don’t you know that sperm have been known to live in bath water?"

"Whoops," and then Walker takes the condom and starts trying to scoop that particular area laughing, "Alex, you got so much bath oil in here that those little suckers don’t stand a chance of surviving!"

She looks at him and sighs, "It only takes one of those little suckers to find its way back up here."

He kisses her tenderly, "Well, if it does find a home, I know what we’re not naming it, and that’s Murphy."

They both laugh and then she gets quiet. "Maybe this is not to joke about, we both know how we feel about unwanted pregnancies, we see enough of them in our jobs."

Walker looks at her, "Yeah—you’re right. I’m sorry---I wasn’t thinking---I just meant that—well---it wouldn’t be so bad. Would it?"

Alex starts to answer, when there’s a knock at the door.

Walker finds Lt. Ross at their door. Unlike the young sergeant, Walker does not invite him in, instead he steps outside to talk to him. Walker keeps looking at him, he can’t figure out who he puts him in mind of.

"Walker, let’s talk."

"Start talking---any word on those canoe renters yet?"

Ross shakes his head, "Not a word."

"You got some great technology here Ross, you got nice accommodations, nice eating places, entertainment—you even have an ATM machine, but your facilities for your keeping in touch with other law enforcers sucks---now why is that?"

The Lt. stares back at Walker, "Well, this isn’t Dallas, and we try to keep things simple here---we don’t have the need for all of those fancy computers and stuff---but we do have chopper service!"

"Meaning?"

"Well---you’re so curious about everything and a man like you doesn’t like to leave questions unanswered, so why don’t you fly up to Blue Bear with me and we’ll get some of those questions answered?"

"When?"

"We could go now—how about it?"

Walker looks at him, he knows that telling Alex that he wants to go back up on the mountain isn’t something that he’s going to spring on her at this hour, he’s going to have to pick his time to tell her. "Tomorrow will be fine---daybreak?"

"You got it---you folks going to the Dog Sled tonight---for the dance?"

"If that’s where it is."

He reaches up and tips his hat, "Only place in town for dancing—see you there."

Each time they talk, Walker trusts him even less. He turns and goes back into the room, Alex is finally out of the tub. "Who was that sweetheart?"

"Our friendly arm of the law." he answers in distaste.

Alex looks at him cautiously, "You don’t like him too much, do you?"

Walker reaches for his new shirt and starts putting it on, he likes the colors and the way they blend together, "Nope---I don’t like him a lot---and more important than that—" he looks at Alex, "I don’t trust him!"

She sits down at the little coffee table, laying her makeup out, at this moment she was sure missing the comforts of her own bedroom and her lighted mirrors and such. "But, what kind of lawman is he?"

"About as good as the sheriff of Destiny, if that tells you anything." He debates about telling her about the Lt.’s suggestion of flying up to the mountains, he decides to wait till they get to the dance, and after he calls Trivette. He’s got to get to a phone, he doesn’t want to call him from their room. He walks over, bends down and kisses her at the side of the neck, "thanks for the shirt hon, love it."

She returns his kiss and then looks him over, "Ooooo, I like it---brings out the blue in your eyes," she says as she runs her hand over his chest.

He laughs, "Alex---you say that about every shirt you buy me."

"True---did you find the new after shave I bought you?"

Walker has a blank look, "No—where is it---shopping bag?"

He takes out the bottle and sniffs it, "What happened to the Stetson you always buy for me?"

"I like the smell of the new one, try it—it’s got that nice subtle smell that you like."

He splashes some of it on, at first he thinks it’s a little too strong, "What do you think?" he bends over for her to smell.

She breathes real deep, "Oh yes---I love it—put just a little more on—do you like it?"

Walker is not going to say he doesn’t, not at this point knowing he’s got to tell her of the impending trip, "Yeah, it’s nice, what’s it called—P S, what’s that?"

"Paul Sebastian---are you sure you like it?"

He reaches down and kisses her long, "Of course I like it---I trust your judgment on buying things for me," and then he thinks about the condoms, "on most things, that is--I’m surprised you didn’t get the French ticklers."

She laughs, "They didn’t have any."

Walker breathes a sigh of relief and says softly, "Thank God." He massages her shoulders as she starts to do her nails, he knows this is going to take some time. "Uh, Alex, I’m going on over to The Dog Sled---I’ll meet you there, okay?"

"O.k.---wait a minute, which color do you like?"

He looks at the half dozen bottles of nail polish and then to her dress, it’s an off white, "Alex, your dress is white, won’t any color look good?"

She gives him a hopeless sigh, "Go----I’ll be there as soon as I can."

He heads to the door, "Lock the door behind me."

He finds a phone and calls Ranger headquarters in Dallas, Trivette is surprise but happy to hear from him. He starts asking questions about the vacation, "Trivette, all I can say is—you wouldn’t believe half of what I’ve got to tell you. But, I don’t have time to get into it, I want to give you some names to check out, and also run a check on all canoe renters from a place called Masters Rentals, from the tracks I found I would assume it’s man and a woman. Also, see what you can find on a family by the name of Brown out of Los Angeles--- no---all I can tell you is they were traveling with two teenage girls, they ended up here in Mirage about 4 months ago. ---We’re going dancing, we should be back in our room around midnight, call me—room 13."

When Walker hung up the phone it dawned on him about the room number being unlucky. He smiled to himself, the room had definitely not been unlucky as far as he was concerned. When he walks into the Dog Sled, he sees Ross sitting at the bar, he tries to ignore him, but Ross sees him and calls him over. Ross motions for the bartender to bring them beers. Walker tries to pay for them Ross tells him to put his money away. For a few minutes they just sit there, the tall man trying to think of the right thing to say. "Look Walker---I think we got started on the wrong foot—what do you say we just try to get along and concentrate on this case. I know you must have a million questions running through your head---let’s talk about it."

Walker sips the beer—Coors---he wasn’t used to the brand. Though he didn’t drink much, he still preferred Heineken. Actually, he wanted a cup of coffee, they hadn’t eaten supper yet and the beer was not sitting too well. "Okay, Ross, but let’s just wait till we get up the mountain and then you’ll see what questions I have to ask."

Walker feels a woman’s arm move slowly across his shoulder and smells her perfume, he knows without looking, it’s not Alex. She stands there before him, a tall dark haired woman with dark eyes, wearing a sweater that’s about three sizes too small and not minding one bit that Walker has noticed her main attribution. She would make two of Alex in that department, but Alex’s size was just perfect as far as he was concerned. She leans into him, "Buy me a drink, handsome?"

He makes eye contact with the bartender and nods toward the woman and then looks back at Ross, "I’ll be ready at sunrise." He starts to get up from his barstool, the woman reaches out and puts her hand on his arm, "Let’s dance, handsome."

He gently takes the woman’s hand away, "No thanks."

Ross starts to stand up looking towards the front entrance as he sees Alex walking towards them, smiling that irresistible smile he saw earlier that day. She seems to glide towards them. Walker sees the look on Ross’s face as he watches Alex come up to them. She gives her perky hello as Walker reaches out to give her a kiss, and the brunette walks away.

Alex says hello to Ross, Walker doesn’t give her much chance to say anything else as he steers her towards the dance floor. Alex is both shocked and pleased that she’s not having get 3 or 4 beers down him before he tries the dance floor.

He can’t take his eyes off her, she was beautiful without makeup, but now she’s breathtaking!! "You’re gorgeous!" he whispers in her ear.

She smiles back at him, "Thank you----now do you want to tell me about that woman that was touching you?"


She never failed to surprise him with her observance. "Nothing to tell----she was wanting to dance—I told her my dance card was full."

Alex looks at him suspiciously, "Uh huh---I just can’t leave you alone for a minute without some woman hitting on you."

He smiles and kisses her, "Must be the new cologne you bought me," and he starts kissing her neck, she giggles, "I’m taking it back!" She puts her arms around his neck and his hands go to her waist, their faces barely touching as they look into each other’s eyes.

From the bar Ross is watching them. He looks at Alex, his eyes going up and down her body, the white dress hugging her curves. She has her hair up with flowers on the side, he watches as she plays with the back of the Ranger’s hair. The bartender breaks his trance.

"Now that is one good looking woman----you’re going to have your hands full with her."

Ross continues to devour Alex with his eyes, her movement on the dance floor starts getting him aroused. He looks at the bartender, "Give me another beer, and make sure this one is cold."

Another beer is set in front of him as he takes it all down with one long swallow, the bartender gets him another. He leans across the bar, "She’s hot Ross, think you can handle her?"

Ross reaches back and hits the man across the face, "Watch and see---when I get hold of that little bitch, she’ll never want anyone else—including that boyfriend of hers!!!"

"Sure Ross---that guy looks like he knows how to handle himself, and he’s just going to stand back and let you take her—yeah right. Something tells me, she’s not going to be like the others, and there’s something about that cowboy---something in his eyes. You better watch it Ross-----that cowboy seems mighty sweet on that pretty lady—like I said you … got your work cut out for you!!!"

Ross speaks softly as he nods towards the brunette, she in turn nods to the three thugs standing at the end of the bar, "You know what to do."

Walker and Alex leave the dance floor and find a booth, the waitress comes over to take their order. She orders a glass of rose, and Walker takes another beer. He keeps looking at her, " I see you found your lipstick, is that the cherry or rapture?"

"Well, why don’t you find out for yourself?"

He kisses her, "Ummmm—I can’t be sure—" he says licking his lips, " maybe I should try again, this could take some time."

"Umm okay, cowboy out with it---what’s up?"

"What do you mean?"

"I come in and see some beautiful woman all over you, you whisk me away from the bar and keep me on the dance floor through three songs, one of which is a fast one. Now I know you don’t like to dance all that much and even less to the fast songs, so out with it—what are you not telling me?"

The drinks are sat down in front of them, Alex tastes her red wine—"Well?"

"Okay.---Lt. Ross wants-----"

At that precise moment Lt. Ross walks up to their table—"Sorry don’t mean to interrupt—just wanted to touch base with you about what time we’re leaving tomorrow—you did say sunup, didn’t you, Walker?"

Walker is furious, he hasn’t had time to talk to Alex about the trip, and Ross is standing there gloating! He knows very well what time, they discussed it at the bar.

Alex is looking from Walker to Ross, "What are you talking about, what trip?"

Ross feigns his embarrassment about spilling the beans before Walker can explain to his lady. "I’m so sorry—I thought you had told her?"

"Tell me what, Walker, where are you going?"

The look on Walker’s face tells Ross he’d better leave, he makes a feeble excuse and departs. "I was trying to tell you Alex, before Dudley Doright interrupts and blurts everything out, he wants me to fly up to Blue Bear Lake with him tomorrow?"

"Why---why do you want to go back up there?"

"There are a lot of things that just aren’t making any sense, I want to check it out!"

Alex is getting furious, "But, why you---Walker we are suppose to be on vacation. That’s Ross’s job to find those missing canoe renters—it is not your job. This is not Dallas, you are out of your jurisdiction!!"

"Things have happened Alex, things I’d rather not go into right now---We’re flying up in his chopper—I promise that as soon as I get back—we’ll leave. We’ll go anywhere you want to go, just name it!"

"You mean unless something else comes up and you have to run off and investigate it too!"

"Alex—come on," he tries to grab her hand, she pulls back spilling the rose’ wine all over her dress. "Oh, no" she cries out, "my new dress."

Walker starts grabbing napkins, "I’m sorry honey, I didn’t mean it."

She reaches out and stops him, "Just wait---stop!" She’s mad and she’s hurt as Walker sees tears swelling in her eyes, he again starts to apologize, she puts her hand up and grits her teeth, "Just leave me alone, I’ve got to get some cold water on this before it stains." She gets up and heads for the ladies’ room. He slams the napkin down and takes a long drink of his beer, "Damn it," he curses.

"Hey handsome---trouble in paradise?" He looks up to see the same brunette staring back at him, with her hand on her hip in a seductive way.

He ignores her, going back to his beer, she reaches out and strokes his beaded cheek, "Let’s dance---you can tell me all your troubles."

"No, thanks—I don’t want to dance."

"HEY—you cowboy, the lady says she wants to dance!"

Walker looks up to see the same three guys that he had seen earlier at the bar, he turns to the one who tapped him on the shoulder, "You dance with her then!"

The three guys laugh, and the one with the happy finger taps Walker again, "Funny thing about women, especially Wilma here---when she says she wants something—she usually gets it—even though it is in the shape of crap."

"If you touch me one more time, I’m going to break that finger, and then your hand!"

The three men continue to laugh and one of them says, "I thought only queers and steers came from Texas?"

Walker stands up looking at them, it had been well over a week since he had a good fight, these three might just loosen him up some. The ranger looks at them, "Well you three look like the biggest queers I’ve ever seen!"

"Why you son of a b…" he doesn’t finish his word as Walker kicks the man in the chest with his right foot, and swings his left elbow back into the second man’s throat. The third man with the happy finger breaks a beer bottle and lunges at Walker, Walker sidesteps and brings the back of his boot against the man’s head, and with a flurry of back kicks, the man is sent flying over the tables! The other two run right at Walker, he jumps straight up in the air, kicking both feet out at once making contact with their heads.

The brunette is backing up as she sees Alex emerging from the ladies room.

Lt. Ross is watching from the back of the crowd as he sees the three getting clobbered by Walker. He motions for two more to join in. They run at Walker, he meets one in mid air with his boot going up under the man’s chin, he hears a bone snap. The other three charge at Walker, taking him down. One of the men starts hitting Walker in the stomach. Ross is grinning. That grin starts to fade as Walker again kicks out and takes his assailant with a kick to the groin, and then does a backward flip over the two that were holding him. He grabs the hand of the happy finger, and pushes it all the way back, the bones cracking, one by one. He screams, the other man tries to help, but Walker just stares at him with those eyes, the man turns tail and runs. Walker is still crushing the man’s hand as he goes down on his knees screaming in pain, he hears a woman’s voice---"Let him go---or she gets it!"

Wilma has a broken bottle up to Alex’s neck, "let him up or I swear I’ll cut the bimbo’s pretty face."

Alex face goes red at the mention of the word "bimbo" she’s furious as she looks at Walker. "Let her go Wilma---before I forget that you’re a woman."

Wilma laughs, tightening her grip on Alex "Or what? You wouldn’t hit a lady, would you?"

Walker makes eye contact with Alex, she kicks back and hits Wilma in the knee, then she looks straight at Wilma, "Maybe he won’t, but I will!" and she lands a right uppercut to Wilma’s jaw, sending her backwards and on top of a table.

"Alright, alright break it up." Ross shouts as he starts dispersing the crowd. He looks at the men on the floor, they’re trying to get up, grabbing their bruised and broken bodies. He’s angry, but he can’t let it show as he threatens to lock them all up. He looks at Walker, "Want to press charges?"

"No, not this time—you can say that was my exercise for the day." then Walker turns to Alex asking her if she’s okay. She’s shaking her hand, and flexing her fingers in and out, "Yes, I’m okay.—I don’t think it’s broken."

Ross walks over towards them and shouts to the bartender to bring ice, he reaches out for Alex’s hand sayin’ you need ice on that right away."

Walker steps in between them taking Alex’s hand and glaring back at Ross, "She’s fine," and then he steers her towards the booth they were sitting at. The waitress brings the ice and Walker takes her hand and very gently puts the ice pack on top. She grimaces, "What was that all about?"

"Well, the lady got offended when I refused to dance with her, guess you could say her friends and I danced—instead."

"Walker---your shirt—it’s ripped—why is it that every time I buy you a shirt, it gets torn or ripped off?"

At least she’s not mad anymore and seems concerned about him or rather his shirt. "I don’t know what it is, the bad guys just can’t stand me having new shirts, I guess."

******

They’re still sitting at the Dog Sled, and Alex’s hand is feeling better.

"Are you sure you’re okay?" Walker asks her.

"Yeah, I don’t think it’s broken" she grimaces, "that Wilma’s jaw was like hitting a brick wall, ---that’ll teach her to call me a bimbo, ---I guess Murphy is back, things are starting to go wrong again."

Walker gently massages her hand with the ice, "Yeah, thanks to Dudley Doright and his thugs."

Alex shakes her head in disbelief, "You see, I know you don’t like the guy and you trust him even less, but you’re still willing to go back up that mountain with him."

"There are things that have happened Alex, and I need to find out some answers to what is going on up there."

"What things, you keep talking about things, but you won’t tell me what they are."

He brushes the hair back out of eyes, "Okay, I’ll tell you---but not here—not with Dudley Doright trying to listen in. I know he set all of this up, the fight and everything, and Wilma was in on it."

Alex is now amused, "You mean he set all of this up, even Wilma’s asking you to dance?"

"Yeah, he was testing me, I’m sure of that. And to think that Wilma wasn’t really interested in me, now that hurts," Walker replies, trying to sound really down.

"Poor baby, do you feel ‘used’?"

He looks back at her with a sad look, "To think she wasn’t romantically interested in me---do you know what that does to a man’s ego?"

Alex gives him a kiss on the cheek, "Well, sweetheart, if your ego can be deflated over something like that," and she nods towards Wilma who is busy nursing her bruised jaw, "I’ve got a lot of work to do on you."

Walker grabs her waist and starts tickling her, "Oooowork on me—work me over good, I deserve everything I get—work me over, I can take it!"

They end up laughing, Ross and the others are not amused. Walker took out the five guys that Ross goaded into picking a fight, and the five were still nursing their wounds and broken limbs. He looked at all them, including Wilma, shaking his head in disgust. Walker wasn’t even breathing hard, unless you could count the heavy breathing with Alex.  Ross was also surprised at Alex’s ability to handle herself, she sure gave Wilma something to remember her by. Maybe the bartender was right, Alex was a real  challenge, but he liked his women feisty, he was going to enjoy taking Alex down—he was looking forward to it. He turns and leaves the Dog Sled.

Walker and Alex decide to leave, and as they’re going out the door, they hear Wilma shout to them, "Hey handsome—you decide to dump the bim—blonde, " she quickly corrects herself as she sees Alex’s face tighten and her bottom lip sets in defiance, "---you know where I’ll be."

Walker can feel Alex’s body tensing up, he steers her out the door. He laughs, and leans over and whispers in her ear, "She was attracted to me after all----I still got it," he teases.

Alex reaches back with her elbow and shoves it into Walker’s ribcage, "Come on handsome---before I have to bruise my other hand defending your ego."

***

There was something going on, the young girl could feel the tension in the air as she strained to listen to the noise coming from further back in the cave. A lot of muffled noises, the grunts, and once in awhile she thinks she actually hears human voices. The voices sound angry, she wonders if she’s really hearing them or is this just another nightmare. She looks around slowly, she had just been taken by another of the figures, and her body ached all over, the blood between her legs had dried and now the flies were constantly on her. There were only a few of the figures that she could see, the one that had just left her body was young, really young. She guessed him to be no older than 12. He had tried to take her before but the older ones were stronger and they would literally pick him up and throw him to the other side of the cave. This time he claimed his prize, but was confused and awkward at just what to do. The other figures were paying them no mind as he climbed on top of her. One of the figures was obviously a female, she was having a baby right before the young girls’ eyes. She wasn’t very old either, about the same age as the one that just left her. The young Mother to be was screaming, the others acted like they didn’t hear her cries at all as they were concentrating on the meal before them. Finally the baby came out and the Mother screamed even louder, one of the figures near her backhanded her and she passed out. The baby was huge, and the blood was still coming out of the young Mother. The other figures descended on the young Mother and commence to chew the umbilical cord in to. After which they began to prod the young mother, but they couldn’t waken her. They pushed the newborn back and forth between them, like a game. Sometimes they would sit and look at the baby, like they didn’t know what it was. But, the young girl had seen other babies in the cave, or least she heard them. She knew that offspring were living because she had seen some that were barely walking, The figures continued to push the newborn back and forth as one of the others tried waking the sleeping Mom.

She stirred, her neck was almost broken by the backhand. She couldn’t move, her eyes moved from the figures to the mass on the floor of the cave that resembled a baby. She cried softly and as she reached out to touch it, she dies. The young girl watched as the figures began to tear the baby apart. There were never any sounds coming from the baby, the young girl gave a sigh of relief knowing that the baby was stillborn and couldn’t feel any pain, and mostly because it wouldn’t be able to produce and inflict more pain in the world.

The young girl strained to listen, now she knew she was hearing a human’s voice. It was getting louder, and it was angry. The voices were coming closer, she pulled herself up into a crouching position and pretended to be looking at the wall. She knew better than try to make eye contact with them. She learned early when one of them literally tried to tear her eyes out, and if it hadn’t been for the big one that seemed to be in charge, she would be not only blind, but with half a face. The figures were coming back into the center of the cave, and there was a human with them.

She stole a quick glance and she knows she’s not dreaming---not this time. The human with them is a heavy-set man, grungy looking with a toothpick dangling from his mouth. Her first thought was that he just ate, one of the bodies??? She starts to shake as the man comes near her, the figures try to stop him, he turns around and flicks his cigarette lighter at them, they back off. He reaches up and grabs the young girl by her long hair that she could remember being blond. He throws her back, laughing and looking at the figures. Then he fans the air, "God almighty—how it stinks in here," then he reaches out and kicks the young girl in her side. She barely feels the boot going into her side, she had already felt too much pain to care. He looks down at her and
says sneering, "if Ross could only see you now---he would be throwing up his insides---he sure wouldn’t want you now". The big man walks away and as he passes what is left of the woman that died the night before, he picks up her hand, and pockets the wedding ring. "Did you have a nice visit with your sister, Bea." He laughs even louder. Then he motions for the other figures to follow him, they disappear back in the cave again. The young figure is on her again, as he rolls her over and tries to take her from behind as he has seen the others do it. He ‘s clumsy and even more awkward on what to do. She just closes her eyes and lets him ravage her, he soon succeeds in his many attempts to enter. Her memories go back to a happier time when she was a young girl playing with her dolls. The memories start to fade, she wishes she couldn’t remember anything.

***

After leaving the Dog Sled, Walker and Alex go to the diner, he tells her everything that Floyd told him about the missing girls and the possibility of there being more up on the mountain. Alex is even more scared for his safety. She begs him to wait and call Trivette again, and to take more of a backup.

He sits there musing the idea. "I guess one more day is not going to make any difference, I’ll call Trivette as soon as we get back to our room, ask him to fly up here."

Alex breathes a sigh of relief, "Thank God, you’ve come to your senses—I would be worried sick about you going up there with a man you don’t trust any further than you can throw him."

Speaking of Doright, guess I’d better get over there and tell him there’s been a change in plans."

"Good," she answers, "Why do you call him that---Dudley Doright?"

Walker shrugs, "I don’t know, guess it sounds better than calling him an idiot."
Alex takes a bite of her pie, "Well, he doesn’t remind me of a Dudley, he reminds me of someone else, an actor---what’s his name."

"Beats me, are you sure it’s not Eastwood?"

"I know who it is now---Sam Elliot!"

Walker shakes his head, "Sam Elliot who is that?"

"You know who he is, Walker---that actor that plays in all of those Louis L. Amour westerns, the tall good looking guy, with the bushy moustache?"

"Yeah---that’s who he reminds me of-------What do you mean ‘good looking’, are you going to say next that he’s got a nice butt?"

Alex grins, she loves it when she can make him jealous, "Noooo---actually I haven’t paid too much attention to his—butt!"

"That’s refreshing," he mumbles.

"You’ve got nothing to worry about, sweetheart, you and Clint are in a league of your own!"

Walker arches his brow, "Clint? Now we’re on a first name basis?" They start to laugh, at least she was over her mad spell. She could be pure hell when she got upset. Here lately her mood swings were a little more often than usual, Walker shrugged it off as being close to her cycle and her hormones were out of kilter. Cycle? Walker groans, "That’s all I need."

Alex finishes her pie, looking at the ranger, "That’s all you need---what are you talking about?"

He just smiles, "Nothing hon, just wondering what Mother nature has in store for us next."

As they are going back to their room, Floyd pulls up in his cruiser. "Ranger. I need to show you something."

"Can’t it wait?"

Floyd gets out of his car and tugs on Walker’s already torn shirt, "---this can’t wait---Ranger—you got to see this."

Alex gives them a sigh, takes the key from Walker and goes in, locking the door behind her.

Floyd is standing there, he’s scared stiff. Walker pushes him towards the cruiser, "Come on let’s go----I don’t want to be gone any longer than I have to be."

They start driving up highway 6, the roads are even more narrower than the highway he and Alex came in on. Floyd is taking the curves entirely too fast, for a second he can feel what Trivette has always felt about his driving during a high speed chase. "THERE!"

Walker looks towards where the young man is pointing, he sees a semi turned over. It couldn’t have happened more than a hour earlier as the dust is still trying to settle, and Walker can smell the gasoline that has leaked on the ground.

"Have you reported this yet?"

"No, I just came up on it about 20 minutes ago, I was up on highway 09, Ross sent me up there to clean up some debris that a motorist complained about. I couldn’t find any debris, I went up and down highway o9, there was nothing. So, I decided to come back a different way---and I saw this."

The two men start walking towards the overturned truck. "Where’s the driver?" asks Walker.

"No sign of him—but that’s not what I want to show you----come to the back".

They walk to the back of the truck, the lock had been broken and there appeared to be scratches and dents on the doors. Walker starts to pull one of the doors open, "Wait a minute Ranger, better take this", and he hands him a handkerchief. Walker looks at him puzzled and pulls the door open. The stench is almost unbearable as Walker immediately puts the cloth up to his nose.
"What the hell is this?"

"That’s not all Ranger, I found this." He lays a wadded up piece of cloth down on the bed of the semi and unwraps it. Walker looks at it, and back to the young officer, "that looks like-----."

Floyd nods his head and they step back from the truck, "I found it up near the front, I think there’s more up there---I was too sick at my stomach to find out!"

Walker takes the flashlight from the officer, and pulls himself up on into the trailer. He shines the light to where the smell is the worst, then he sees it, a half eaten corpse. He tries to clear his head, he’s seen dead bodies before, During his stint in Nam, he had seen hundreds, shot to pieces, but nothing like this. He had smelled the flesh burning many times after the flame-throwers had over taken the villages and burned not only the enemy, but some innocent ones as well. There wasn’t too much the ex-marine officer hadn’t seen, and none of it he cared to remember.

"You’ve got to report this, get the state troopers out here."

"What about Ross---should I tell him?"

"You can tell him, but tell the state troopers first, what are you waiting for---get on your radio and call it in?"

"I can’t."
"Why can’t you? Call them---NOW!"

"I can’t call it in, my radio doesn’t work. That’s why I couldn’t call you at the Inn, I had to come look for you!"

"I don’t believe this, as an officer of the law you’re suppose to have your radio working at all times---you’ve got one hell of a law force here Floyd!"

The young man starts reaching for his cigarettes, he offers one to Walker---he waves him off. "Don’t suppose you got a Lone Star cigar on you?"

Floyd snaps his finger, "no, but I got a cigar if you want it---a friend of mine’s wife had a baby boy---here."

Walker lights up the cigar, not even bothering to remove the little band saying "IT’S A BOY"---"Okay, what about the nearest town—how far is it?"

"About 60 miles east."

Walker takes a long draw on the cigar, then exhales, "How close is Colorado Springs, it should be closer than that."

"It’s South of here, why?"

"Because I’m tired of messing with these rinky dink towns that have no communication with the outside world—how did you ever become a law officer anyway?. Did you send off for the badge in a mail order detective magazine, or what?"

Walker knew he was making the young man nervous and even embarrassing him, because the young man was almost in tears. "Never mind Floyd---just listen to me, okay?"

Floyd nods his head, "What do you want me to do, I’m sorry I messed up."

"You’re going to get into your cruiser and you’re going to Colorado Springs and report this---and you’re going to do it—now!"

"What about you. I can’t just leave you out here?"

Walker looks around him, "All I have to do is get back on the main road, I’ll find my way back, about how far did we come?"

"Seven miles---that way."

"Go Floyd---and don’t talk to anyone but the Colorado State Troopers, and if anyone tries to stop you on the road---run ‘em over!"

Floyd swallows, "What do you mean if someone tries to stop me I should run them over?"

The man is shaking like a leaf, Walker puts his hand on his shoulder, "Because I don’t know what we are dealing with here, we found a corpse in there Floyd, it was half eaten---am I getting through to you?"

Without another word Floyd turns to go to his cruiser, "Do you even have a gun?"

Walker finishes the cigar and throws the butt down, "No, it’s back in my room, but I do have this," and he reaches into his boot for a knife.

"Is that one of those RAMBO knives?"

Walker motions for him to go, "It’s close enough to one," then he starts up the hill for his long walk back.

Alex is getting restless, Walker has been gone for nearly 2 hours. She’s already changed into her nightclothes. What could be keeping him? She decides to go ahead and call Trivette, she calls Ranger headquarters, he’s not there. She leaves a message for him to call the Inn, then she calls C.D. There is so much noise at the other end of the line, Alex can hardly hear the big dog’s voice. He’s saying something about having a reunion with some of his Army buddies, and ‘no, he hasn’t seen Jimmy, he’ll deliver her message.’

Almost another hour has passed, Walker still hasn’t come back. "I’m not waiting any longer, I saw the direction they went, I’m going the same way," she says to herself. She quickly changes into a pair of jeans and grabs one of Walker’s shirts to put on. Grabbing the keys to the Ram, she starts for the door, "What if I miss him, and he comes back while I’m gone."

She starts searching for something to write with, she can’t find anything, so she uses her red lipstick to write a quick note on the bathroom mirror. She runs to the door, opens it, and there stands Lt. Ross!

"Heeyyy missy, what’s the rush, where you heading?"

Alex’s head starts to spin, she cannot let him think that’s she alone. Walker’s dislike for the man was not just out of jealousy, he had reason enough to distrust the man, Alex relied on his instincts, she had her own to consider too.

"Oh, Lt. Ross." and then she turns and looks back at the bathroom, "Honey---Lt. Ross is here."  Lt. Ross moves inside the door, looking towards the bathroom, Alex had  forgotten to close it all the way after writing her message. Ross keeps looking at her and then to the bathroom, "where’s Walker?"

"Ahhh, he’s in the tub—I was just trying to get to the diner before they close and get some of that apple pie that Walker liked so much. So if you will excuse me, I got to run."

Ross sees the keys in her hand, as he starts getting closer to her, "The diner is within walking distance Miss Cahill."

Alex begins backing up, "Yes, I know—but I haven’t been feeling well, so if you will excuse me, I really don’t feel like walking and I need to get there before it closes." she runs out the door, half expecting him to come after her, he doesn’t.

She runs to the Ram and gets in, Ross is still standing by the open door, then he turns and goes in. She’s puzzled, but she’s not wasting any more time, and she heads the Ram north , up highway 6.

Ross moves inside the room, walking slowly towards the bath. "Oh Walker—oh honey," he shouts out in a falsetto voice---"are you in there? of course not---now where can you be?" Slowly he starts walking around the room, picking up Alex’s nightclothes and smelling them. He smiles as he runs his hands across the silky material, picturing her wearing it, how soft her skin must feel against the material. He picks up her perfume, sprays the air, and then throws the bottle across the room. He walks across the room and sits on the side of the bed, lays back and smoothes the sheets out. "How cozy---," he coos, "all ready and waiting for her boyfriend to come to bed---Alex---you are such a bitch, but I’m going to take care of you once I get rid of that cowboy. Then I’ll show you what it’s like to be with a real man". The phone rings and Ross is jolted out of his trance. He sits there, debating on answering it, he lets it ring for 8 rings, before it stops. He yanks the cord from the wall, "you won’t be needing this anymore." He continues to look around, then goes back to the bathroom, he sees the message across the mirror. LOOKING FOR YOU BE BACK SOON. He laughs as he smudges the lipstick all over the mirror, "no you won’t darling, you ain’t coming back at all!"

Alex floors the Ram as she heads up the narrow road, if Walker saw how she was driving his truck, he would be a nervous wreck. He hated letting her drive, period, and when they went in her car, he would insist on driving. She got too many speeding tickets, but being friends with the judges help get rid of them ever showing up on her records. The first curve makes Alex realize she has to slow down. The road is so dark, and there is no moon. She checks to make sure the doors are all locked, she reaches back to check the sliding window, but she can’t reach it without stopping, and that idea is out of the question. She goes up the road about 5 miles, the road is getting narrower, she slows down even more. She remembers the .357, it’s back in their room, so she tries reaching under the driver’s seat, he always keeps a python 9mm under there. She finds it, and pulls the clip back, she’s used this one before. It was big and it was powerful.

She keeps looking to both sides of the road, she’s getting nervous. "Walker, where are you", she mumbles to herself. "I know they came this way---there’s nothing up here but dark, what was Floyd wanting to show him that was so damn important that it couldn’t wait till morning?"


Murphy’s Law Part III

By SASQUAW@aol.com

The young girl kept waiting for the figures to return, they had been gone a long time with the heavy set man. She was hungry, but she knew she was not allowed to eat till the big figure brought food to her. Then she would only get the leftovers, the bones with parts of meat still hanging on. They would give her the leftover lettuce leafs that they would scrounge and sometimes bread. She drank from a fountain, till she saw them using it to urinate in. The rocks around her were moist, so she would keep her lips to them for as long as she could, taking every tiny drop. She waited, they had never been gone for this length of time. The only ones left were her young suitor and a couple that stayed off in the corner. She assumed they were doing what they all did constantly for hours, breeding. She wondered where the young ones were being kept, and what about the babies, she couldn’t hear them anymore.

The couple, in the corner stopped long enough to go to the "pile" and look for food. Her young suitor kept looking at her as he examined his own body parts. The young girl looked around her as best she could, she tried to remember coming into the cave, which way was out? The couple is busy eating, and the young one switched his attention to the female. He started sniffing her, she paid him no mind, neither did the male. He starts to grunt, pushing at her body, trying to pull her further away from the other male. At first the female resists him, and then she starts sniffing him. She moves over to the far side of the cave, the young one follows and starts to mount her. He’s learned a lot today, and he’s not as awkward, and neither is he quiet. The noise they make sounds like monkeys in a zoo, the young girl thinks to herself. They stay at it for what seems forever, then the male decides he’s heard enough and he wants his prize back. He runs towards them and he and the young one start fighting, the young one decided he’s not giving this one up. She listens as they fight, the blood curdling screams, the biting, and the snapping of bones. She watches the female, she’s not impressed with them fighting over her, she crawls off, going back to the "pile", now she has the choice picks of the smorgasbord.

The young girl is weak, but she starts inching her body away from them. She tries to stand, but she can’t remember the last time she was on her feet, her legs ached and cramped, she went back down on all fours, crawling inch by inch. The figures still have not missed her, she knows she will only get this one chance, she refuses to die without making at least one attempt to freedom. The figures have never stayed gone this long, there were always a half dozen or so in the cave at all times. She continues to crawl, she sees a stream of water running through the cave, she decides to follow it, but first she must have a long drink. She fills her thirst, but the water only makes her hungrier. She follows the stream for what seems hours, then she hears the figures, they’ve missed her and now they’re coming for her. She knows they will probably kill her this time, they won’t want to face the wrath of the big one. She tries to find a place to hide, but she knows they can smell her, they will be on her in just minutes. She sees another "pile" in the far corner, she hurriedly drags her body to it, and then she buries herself in what’s left of the pile of bones, rotten meat. She notices a couple of rings and a watch that have fallen off the skeletons. She has no use for them, as she buries herself deeper, using the rotten meat to disguise her own smell. The figures are upon the pile, sniffing.

***

Alex has been on the road for well over an hour, she’s getting worried and scared as she continues to drive up and down the road. Turning the truck around each time was a chore, because the road was so narrow. She finally starts back down the road for the 3rd time, then she sees a side road. Could they have taken that way, she says to herself. She puts the Ram in low gear and starts to climb the road, then she stops. "This doesn’t feel right, Walker always says to follow my instincts, and my instincts are saying, don’t go this way." She puts the Ram in reverse, there’s nowhere she can turn around, she’ll have to back all the way back out to the road she was on. Backing up has never been one of her strong parts, and the road is so dark behind her, she can barely see. Suddenly she stops, a chill goes up her spine, and she reaches for the gun that’s lying on the seat. She thinks she sees something off to her left, she turns on the search lights, points them in the direction where she thought she had seen something. "Nothing," she says to
herself, "Walker---where are you?" now she’s getting mad.

Walker has been walking parallel to the main road, seeking shelter among the trees rather than risk being in plain view on the road. He too must rely on gut instincts and his Cherokee intuition. He thinks he sees a headlight now and then , but by the time he gets back to the road, it’s gone. He decides to stay closer to the road, in case whoever it is comes back. He’s starting to get cold, the torn shirt is not keeping his body heat inside, He blows on his hands, he guesses to be about 3 miles from Mirage. He just hopes that Floyd is well on his way to contacting the state troopers. He sees lights coming back down the road, he kneels down, he doesn’t know who it can be, it’s better he not let himself be seen. The lights are on high beam, he can’t make out what kind of auto it is, until it passes, then he recognizes the Ram. "Alex," he says to himself.

She passes by, not even seeing him. He starts running in her direction, she’s not going that fast, maybe he can catch her. The road is so dark that he has trouble keeping his footing, but he’s gaining on the taillights.

All of a sudden the Ram stops and he hears Alex screaming, he runs faster calling her name. They came out of nowhere, as they rushed the truck from both sides, grunting and squealing like wild pigs. They’re on the hood of the truck, tearing at the windshield, the wipers are the first to go. Alex is screaming as she takes the python 9mm and shoots through the windshield, hitting the one right through the forehead. The gunshot scares them and they all pull away, then they’re rushing at her again, pulling at the broken windshield and reaching in for her. One of them has her left arm and is pulling her through the broken glass, she fires another shot, and they release her.

They come after her again, she remembers the switch to the siren, she pulls it and the high pitch of the siren drives them into a frenzy as they start covering their ears. They back off again, then she hears a loud thump in the back of the truck, "Alex". She turns and sees Walker trying to climb through the sliding window. He steps back and kicks it, glass going everywhere! The figures are on him in the bed of the truck, pulling at his legs, "DRIVE" he shouts to her. She floors the Ram and takes out two that are just standing in the middle of the road, holding their ears. She drives as fast as she can handle the curves, Walker is still trying to get them to release his legs. He takes his knife and drives it through the chest of the nearest one. He screams like a wild animal, releasing one of his legs, Walker kicks with his free leg and kicks the other one in the face. Now there’s only two left in the bed as Alex tries to get the gun back to him and drive at the same time. She drops the gun, it falls to the floorboard of the quad cab. Walker is leaning as far over into the back as he can reach, he gets the gun, and blows the head off of the nearest one. The other one jumps from the side of the truck, misses his footing and the right rear tire catches him as he rolls underneath the truck. Alex screams as she feels the truck running over his body.

Walker climbs through the window and jumps over the front seat, he shouts to Alex to keep driving and don’t stop for anything or anyone. Alex is shaking so bad that she’s going all over the road. She cries out to him, "Are you alright?"

"I’m okay, just drive," he looks at her, her left arm is bleeding, bad, from the attempt to pull her through the windshield, and she’s crying. He motions for her to stop, and she quickly slides over the top of him so he can get under the steering wheel. He floors the Ram, as he keeps looking at her as she’s trying to stop the bleeding. He yanks his shirt off, "Here use this to stop the bleeding." She tries making a tourniquet the best she can. He turns off the siren.

"Walker, they’re here—how did those things find us here?"

"I don’t think it’s us they’re after, we just happen to be in their way."

She’s still crying and he can hardly understand her, "How did they get here, we’re over a 150 miles from Blue Bear Lake?"

He tries to comfort her with his right hand as he’s driving, "My guess is—they got a ride---in a semi!"

Alex looks at Walker in disbelief at what he just said, "A semi, Walker, what are you talking about?"

Walker reminds her of the over turned truck and the corpse that he and the young officer found. He stops the Ram to look at her arm, it’s cut pretty deep, "I’ve got to get some herbs to put on that before it gets infected, you’re going to need stitches, now do you regret making me take out the phone?"

She tries to stop crying, but her nerves are shot. "Walker---what are we going to do?"

"We got to get back to town, notify Ross, maybe we can get enough town’s people together to --------."

"NO," she screams at him. "Not Ross---he’s acting strange!"

He looks at her, "What do you mean strange---has he done something to you----has he tried---."

"Walker I’m fine-----he came to our room, he said he was looking for you, I told him you were in the bath, I grabbed the keys and ran out."

Alex is talking so fast he can hardly understand her, "Did he try to hurt you—are you okay?"

"Yes! I’m fine, he just scared me the way he was acting."

Walker’s face is red with anger as he recalls Floyd’s story about Ross having his way with those teenage girls, he grits his teeth, "He better not ever try to touch you—he lays one hand on you and he’s a dead man!"

Walker starts driving slowly, debating on going back to Mirage, then he sees headlights coming up the mountain, he knows in his gut that it’s got to be Ross. He stops the Ram again, "how far back would you say that side road was?"

"About----maybe 2 miles—why?"

"It’s too narrow to turn around, I’m going to have to back all the way ."

Alex looks behind them to total darkness, "honey---it’s too dark, the tail lights don’t give off enough light for you to back up that far."

Walker looks back, "you’re right about that, so there’s only one thing to do, and that is get up on the roof of the cab and turn the spot lights completely backwards."

"What about those ---things---you can’t get up there."

"I’ve got no choice Alex and I’ve got to do something before those lights coming up the hill catch us. You’re going to have to drive the Ram backwards until I can get the lights turned around---okay?"

She scoots back over into the drivers’ seat, her arm is still bleeding. Walker climbs up on the cab and starts trying to kick the lights around. The lights coming up the hill are from more than one set of headlights, Walker is feeling very uneasy about it all. He gets one of the lights to move, then he turns it down as afar as it will turn. Then he starts on the other three.

Alex is getting weak from the blood loss, she keeps taking deep breaths, "Hold on, just a little longer." and she prays that the figures have gone in a different direction.

***

The figures continue to sniff at the pile, the young girl can only see two of them, the couple, she wondered where the young one was. They soon tire and start to wonder off in another direction. She watches them until they are out of sight, then she starts inching herself in the same direction. The cave is much bigger than she imagined, so many ways to go. She stops and listens, she can hear sounds, she goes towards them. The sounds get louder as she enters an even bigger part of the cave, she can’t believe what she is seeing!

***

"Alex leans out the window, "Walker, they’re getting closer---are you through yet?" She can hardly keep her eyes open, she sighs softly, "Hurry please."

Walker doesn’t hear them in time as two figures rush the truck. He loses his balance and falls to the ground, Alex slams on the brakes just in time to keep from running over him, then the figures are on the truck again, pulling at the doors and hitting the windshields with their heads. Walker takes a flying leap at the one nearest the driver’s side, he kicks him in the jaw, the figure goes down. Walker scrambles across the hood of the Ram and karate chops the other across the neck, he hears the bone snap. The lights are almost upon them and Walker hears the voices of many men shouting.

"Walker!" Alex screams. Walker looks back to see the first figure trying to
get up, he starts to kick him, then he remembers the python 9mm in his waist,
he puts it up to the figures’ head and pulls the trigger. Walker runs around to the drivers’ side, Alex is trying to move over, but then she passes out. "Alex---Alex----hang on baby, you’re in for one hell of a ride!"

He has two of the spot lights turned down enough to see the road, the other two are at awkward angles, but at least he can see where he’s going as he spins his tires, throwing it in reverse. He’s trying to drive as fast as he can, maneuvering the curves, as he can feel his pursuers gaining ground. He almost misses the turn to the side road, he flies back onto the road, slams it in low gear and then plows into the side of the first set of lights. The jeep and its occupants go over the side of the mountain. Walker can hear the other men yelling, "Get him!" He straightens the Ram and speeds back up the hill, kicking up as much dirt as he can. The other jeep can’t keep up with him, and Walker slows down enough to try and wake Alex, she’s out cold.

Walker drives till he can see a wide enough place to pull over, he’s got to stop the bleeding of Alex’s arm. He takes his flashlight and looks for herbs, he picks up a certain kind, puts it in his mouth and chews it. The taste is awful, but it will help keep the infection down. He runs back to the truck and gets in from the passenger side, gently pulling her over to him till he can reach her arm. He tears the shirt she’s wearing, and then releases the tourniquet, putting the chewed herbs onto the wound. It takes a few seconds, but the bleeding slows. He tightens the tourniquet back, and lightly slaps her cheeks, trying to wake her. "Alex---come on Alex—wake up."

She tries to stir as he continues to wake her. "Walker?" she mumbles.

"I’m right here, hon,---you’re going to be okay, I’ll find a doctor for you. Can you sit up for me?"

She pulls herself up, "What happened, where are we?"

He keeps pushing her hair out of her eyes, "Sssh---don’t try to talk----just try to stay awake for me---okay?"

He runs around to get back in the driver’s seat and pulls her over to him, laying her head against his chest, putting his right arm around her. They head back up the mountain, in the same direction they had come down, just 24 hours before. He knew what was ahead of him but he didn’t like the idea of going back into Destiny and Fate. He had to find a way of getting off that mountain, he didn’t know how far he would have to go past Destiny to get off of it. But, Alex needed a doctor bad to put stitches in that arm or she would bleed to death. If he didn’t find a doctor soon, he would have to sew her arm up with the first aid kit that was in the knife’s handle. He almost smiled when he remembered the look on Floyd’s face when he asked if it was a Rambo knife.

***

The young girl stared at the sight before her, there were hundreds of the figures, but unlike the others, they were unusually quiet, moving around like ---zombies. The ones making all of the noise were the ones obviously in charge over the others. They were moving almost in single file, moving towards another end of the cave. Now she was seeing the younger ones, and there were babies in their Mothers’ arms, some looked like newborns—maybe just hours old. She watched them and observed the way in which they walked, most were in a stooped over position, some even crawled.

One of them she took particular notice to, a young figure—a female. There was something in the way she moved, "oh my God---Terri!" She almost screamed, then she put her hand over her mouth and sobbed. She hadn’t seen her sister since they were taken from the camp, as far as she knew, she assumed Terri was dead. Seeing her sister alive brought new hope to the young girl, and for the first time in four nightmarish months she was able to say her own name to herself, "Joy."

***

The drive back up the mountain was just as tedious as coming down, Walker hated the thought of being forced back up the mountain. He knew the headlights were still behind them, they were in no hurry to catch him, they knew that besides that one side road, there were not any more ways off the mountain. This road led all the way back to Destiny/Fate, and they would definitely catch him then! The sheriff was waiting patiently for Walker’s return and this time there would be a welcoming committee, as he glanced over to another semi. You might say the "take out food " was being delivered!!

The sheriff smiled to himself as he remembered Walker and his lady friend, he was going to enjoy seeing the bearded one get his. He knew there was something about the cowboy that he didn’t trust and when he found out that Walker was a Texas Ranger, he was furious!! Then his thoughts went to Walker’s lady, he knew Ross would want her first—then he could have what was left, him and the figures. He remembered all the others that Ross handed down to him, especially the young ones, he liked them young. He remembered Joy and her sister. He especially remembered Terri, she was such a wild one, until he broke her spirit, and then she was like all the others, to be used as breeders. The sheriff licked his lips, and wondered what kind of breeder would Walker’s lady be, he thought about those eyes. She had such beautiful blue eyes and a smile that was intoxicating. There were some light colored eyes in some of the figures’ litters, and some even had the blond hair, but "Daddy" preferred his own kind as he tried to keep the circle closed.

Keeping "Daddy" happy with plenty of food was the main chore of the sheriff’s. He hated having to go up to the cave to take them food, so he started ordering Destiny closed at 7pm, and he would force the townspeople to leave food for them. Everything was going fine till the canoe renters showed up and started asking too many questions on how such a little town always had so much, and yet so far from civilization. They got a little too nosey so Ross said to put them on the food chain, and not as the receivers. All was going well, then the Ranger and his lawyer girlfriend shows up. The sheriff thought their arrival was just a little too consequential following the canoe renter’s sudden departure.

When Mitch, the station manager, called and said that a bearded man and attractive woman was in town, wanting to make a complaint, the portly man had to come and see for himself what the ruckus was about. As soon as he saw them, and the blonde started asking questions, he knew they were trouble.

The man wasn’t saying too much, he just had that look in his eyes. When the bearded man did speak, the sheriff knew he wasn’t to be messed with. He tried to make their complaint seem unimportant and tried to pretend that only some local boys were up to their old mischief again, by hassling the campers, and spying on the ladies. Apparently they had picked the wrong couple to be playing ‘peeping Tom’ and the sheriff found out real quick how upset and mad the cowboy could get. The irate couple soon left to go check on their truck, and the sheriff was left wiping his brow and calming his shaking hands.

At first he still felt they were up to something, he had Mitch do some checking. Mitch saw the Rangers’ badge in Walker’s wallet when he handed it to the blonde earlier that day. The Ram itself was suspicious with the rooftop searchlights, flashers and a siren, he wondered where the phone was, the empty rack was there. When Walker had inquired about a place to stay for the night, Mitch offered them the room at the back of the garage, he sent his wife over later with clean linens. She came back saying how much she liked the blonde, that her name was Alex and they were from Texas. Mitch admitted to liking the bearded man also, saying that he wished they hadn’t stopped in Destiny, that only trouble awaited for them.

"I don’t care what the sheriff says about them, they seem like nice folk, she’s really sweet, I like her."

"Never mind that, did you find out why they are here?"

"She says they were on vacation, and they had some trouble up at Blue Bear---and they found the canoe that those two left behind!"

"You didn’t say anything about that, did you? Did you find out who they are?"

"No, all I know is, she calls him Walker—I didn’t see a wedding ring—I don’t think they’re married—but they sure look at each other in a loving way. ----Maybe the same way you used to look at me, some years back, before we came here."

"I think he’s some kind of lawman, I saw a badge, and I think he carries a gun---we have to tell the sheriff."

"Why should we tell him anything---after the way he’s hurt us." and the woman runs from her husband crying.

Mitch remembers the day only too clear when they came for Sandy, their only child. They had waited late in their years to have a child, and then at the age of fourteen, they came for her. It was time, they said, that she give back something to the mountain, meaning it was time for her to start producing, and "Daddy" would come for her.

***

The temperature is dropping fast as Walker tries to keep the Ram heated for Alex, who is shivering with just jeans and his shirt on. His shirt is serving no purpose, as he’d had to tear it almost completely off to make bandages for her arm. The wind whips through the broken windshield, most of his side is completely gone, only about half on the passenger’s side remains intact. He keeps nudging her not to go to sleep, she’s fighting hard to keep from passing out again. He knows there was no doctor in Destiny, and even if there were, he wouldn’t trust Alex to him. There was nothing else to do, he would have to sew the arm up and find more healing herbs. He finds another spot that is wide enough for him to stop, he looks back for the headlights, he doesn’t see any. He runs around to her side and gently pulls her up to him, as he pulls the knife handle apart. He has needles and thin nylon thread, a few small Band-Aids, and a small container of alcohol.

"Alex---Alex, can you hear me?"

She nods her head slightly, she’s turning so pale, and the cold is not helping.

"Alex---honey—you got to listen to me. We got no choice—I have to sew your arm up now, do you understand what I’m saying?"

"Yes," she says slowly---"Do what you have to do."

Walker starts getting the needle ready and dipping it in the alcohol then threads it. She looks at him and smiles, "I didn’t know you could sew."

He reaches up and touches her cheek, "This is going to hurt, especially getting the needle started---here take this sheath between your teeth and bite down hard, can you do that for me?"

She tries to joke, "I’ll do anything for you cowboy."

He smiles back at her, "That’s my girl—are you ready?"

She bites down on the leather sheath, the pain is almost unbearable and he can see the tears swelling out of her eyes as he penetrates the needle through the layer of skin, and then zig zagging to pull the opposite sides together. He tries not to look at her, he can’t stand the pain that he knows she is feeling. Silently he’s cursing everything and everyone that is responsible for her pain. He continues the procedure as fast and as painless as he can. But he knows that every time the needle goes in and out, it’s pure hell for her. He steals a look at her and she’s looking back at him with those trusting eyes, "Try to think of something nice Alex, a nice waterfall, soft music---remember our first date?"

Her eyes start to sparkle, as she nods her head while biting harder on the leather sheath. She nods her head slowly and closes her eyes. Her thoughts go back to their first date and how they both acted like awkward teenagers. He was an hour late picking her up, then he couldn’t remember which restaurant he made the reservations at. The reservations were messed up and they ended up sitting at a table with another couple, who talked constantly about their grandkids. The food was not all that great, though it cost a arm and a leg. The music was terrible, neither of them liking the soft jazz. She couldn’t get him to talk, all he would say was "yes or no" and the ride home to her apartment was even worse, neither of them knowing what to say. He wouldn’t even kiss her goodnight, he just mumbled a goodnight, see you at work and he was gone. Thank goodness their dates improved, but over the years they would always joke about that first date and it would always make them smile. She was smiling now as Walker watched her.

"I’m almost through hon, just a few more stitches---hang in there."

***

Joy continues to watch Terri and the others head for the other end of the cave, "where are they going" she asks herself. Her will power increases as she looks to her sister, she will force herself to follow them but at first she has to disguise her body and her smell more. She lies down on the floor of the cave and rolls around where the other figures have laid and even defecated, she covers her face and the strands of blond hair with the mud and waste. She starts to move faster, trying to keep her eyes down and not make any contact with any of them. This is the first time she is really seeing the figures, she can’t believe the number of small children that are being dragged behind by a parent. She keeps her eyes on her sister as she can still see a small portion of the red shirt that Terri was wearing the day they were taken. Joy is almost close enough to touch her sister, she reaches out, then pulls her hand back in horror. She can see the welts on her
back, deep and some of them infected, green pus is seeping through. Joy bites her lip to keep from crying out, but she follows silently. Her sister is having trouble in keeping up with the others, Joy reaches out and grabs her sister to keep her from falling. Terri is mumbling, singing almost chant-like. Joy is beside her now, and she can see the dead look on her sisters’ face. Her eyes are almost swollen shut, her top lip is almost gone, and most of her teeth have been either knocked out or pulled out. Joy strains to keep from crying, her beautiful sister, the one that had all the boys and men panting after her. Her dark hair is matted and has bugs crawling in it. She notices her hands, one is broken and laying at a odd angle, the wrist bone protruding through the skin. Then she sees her stomach, her belly is starting to swell from the baby that is growing inside her. It was hard to determine how much of the swelling was due to the baby or the constant beatings that she must have endured. Terri looks at the figure beside her, through swollen eyes she does not know that her sister is beside her. She continues to chant, the slobber dribbling down her mouth. Joy slows her pace and Terri follows the rest of the figures. Joy cries silently, she knows her sister will soon follow the same path as the others, she was the walking dead.

***

Walker finishes sewing Alex’s arm, it had taken more stitches than he had anticipated. He lets her lay back on the seat telling her he has to search for more herbs. He covers the wound with the chewed herbs and then tears up more of his shirt for another bandage. He takes off what’s left of his birthday shirt and tries to cover her as much as possible. They start up the mountain again, the heater of the Ram is doing no good with the half of the windshield gone, he turns all the vents towards Alex as she lays on the seat with her head in his lap on her right side. He’s freezing, but he continues to rub her arm, trying to keep her warm. He drives till he just can’t keep his eyes open, he’s got to find a place to pull over. He hasn’t seen the lights in almost an hour, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still behind him . He wonders why they are in no hurry to catch up to him, he sees a place in which he can pull the Ram as far back off the road as possible. Now he has to figure out a way to keep them both from freezing and that means only one thing. He looks back at the half seat of his quad cab, he’ll have to cut as much as the seat as he can and try to make some kind of cover out of it. He crawls over the seat and starts cutting, he thinks about his truck and how much he’s always loved it. The truck has gotten him out of tight places before and now his beloved Ram was paying the price. He cut the top half-length wise, it would cover Alex, the bottom, he would cut to wrap around his torso and hers. It was nice and thick, and the rest he would try to cover his side of the windshield to keep the cold air out. He covered the windshield first and then he wraps the seat cover as tightly around Alex as he can. He wraps the rest of the seat cover around his upper half, then gently pulls Alex up to his chest, covering her with the rest of it. They both sleep.

The pursuers are taking their time in following the Ranger. They know he has to go right through Destiny, there’s no other way and if the Ranger thinks he’s got help on the way, he’s badly mistaken. Ross and his men are in no hurry to butt heads with red bearded man. They know what he can do with those feet and hands. "He must think he’s another Bruce Lee or something." Ross chuckles to himself. Jake, the one with the "happy finger", groans as he looks at his broken hand and then to Ross. "What makes you think he ain’t this Bruce Lee that you’re talking about?"

"Because you idiot, Bruce Lee is dead." Ross snaps back at him. "And when we do catch up to this cowboy, his feet are going to be the first to go, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of watching his girlfriend watch her beloved boyfriend die."

Jake groans, "I got to get to a doctor—my hand is killing me Ross."

"If you don’t stop whining like a baby—I’m going to kill you—or I might just let our friends have you for a midnight snack and then you won’t be feeling any hurt---how about that?"

Jake turns and looks back at the other semi, that’s one of the reasons they can’t move up the mountain faster, the road is almost too narrow for them to get the truck up. He hates the thought of what’s inside, he can hear them, and he can smell them. He can’t understand why Ross is taking them back up the mountain, the original plan was to take them deep into Mexico.  But, he also knows that Ross is afraid of the Ranger, and he needs all the backup he can get to overtake him. He’s got such an obsession with taking the Rangers’ girlfriend, he’s thinking and acting crazy—crazier than usual that is.

Ross reaches out and slaps Jake across the back of the head, "Go see how our friend is doing---bring him here."

Jake goes to one of the jeeps and pulls out their prisoner, and starts half dragging him over to Ross. The man is almost unrecognizable, except for his badge.

"Well, Floyd—how you doing? Didn’t you know that I would be watching you, I
knew you had been talking to that Ranger, did you think I was just going to let you drive right up to those Colorado troopers and spoil everything that I’ve tried to do?"

Floyd can hardly speak, his eyes are looking straight at Ross, "You’re going to get caught Ross. The Ranger has friends that will be looking for them."

Ross laughs and spits on his young officer, "Friends looking for him, I don’t think so—besides you won’t be alive to find out.---Jake take him—let the figures have him!"
Floyd starts jerking to get out of the hold that Jake has on him as he’s being dragged back to the trailer, Ross turns back around and silently looks up the mountain. They’re about 40 miles from Destiny/Fate, Walker & Alex are a little closer. His mind keeps going back to the dance and the way Alex looked in that white dress. It was all he could do to stop from taking her then, but "Daddy" wouldn’t approve of breaking the rules, not yet. Ross is shaken out of his trance as he hears Jake and some of the other men shouting, "Get him!"

Floyd has broken loose from Jake’s unsteady hold and he’s gone over the side of the mountain rolling and rolling till he slams into a tree trunk. He can hear them shouting at the top, he forces himself to get up and run, his shoulder bone cracked from the collision with the tree. Floyd heads back down the mountain, if he can get to that side road, he can cut his time in half. The trek will be grueling, but it’s the only hope he has. He will try to find help for the ranger and his lady.

Ross is furious as Jake tries to explain why he couldn’t hold onto Floyd with his bad hand. Ross starts hitting him over and over, "You idiot---you’re worthless." He turns to the others, "Put him in with our friends---he’s not any use to us anymore!"

The other men grab Jake, he’s crying like a baby and screaming for his life. They open up the back of the trailer and throw him in, the screaming soon stops. A woman emerges from Ross’s cruiser and walks up to him. A soft voice whispers, "promise me before you give the bearded one to our friends that I can have him?"

Ross turns to look at the tall brunette, "Darling, what makes you think that he would want you now, he didn’t want you back at the dance?"

She starts hanging on him, and rubbing up against him, "The rules have changed—he’s not going to have any choice, besides he won’t want his girlfriend anymore after you get through with her—right?"

Ross looks at her and then they turn to go back to the cruiser. The men watch as the cruiser starts rocking back and forth, the windows fogging up to give them privacy. The men laugh and start making lewd gestures.

***

Alex jumps up screaming, her arms flailing the air, "let me go" she keeps screaming. Walker grabs her arms, "Alex---stop it you’re dreaming—everything’s okay—it’s just us."

She looks back at Walker and then looks around her, "Walker," she says softly and falls back into his arms, "Where are we?"

He holds her tight, his hands going up and down her back, trying to console her as he kisses the top of her head "We’re still on this damn mountain!"

She raises back up to look at her arm, "I was hoping it was all a dream."

"I know hon---does it still hurt?"

"Not as much," and then she lays her head back down on his chest, "just hold me."

He whispers softly, "You got it, I’ll hold you forever—if you want me to. ---Are you warm enough?"

She glances down at the object covering her, she can’t make out what it is at first and then she gasps, "your poor truck."

"Yeah, my poor truck has come through some rough times, but I’m afraid this time it’s going to truck heaven or wherever good trucks go." He tries to sound joking, as he pulls her closer to him. They lay for a few minutes just holding each other, "Alex, we got to get going again, are you okay?"

He takes the rest of the seat cover out of the window, starts the Ram and they continue back up the hill.

"Walker, you said you didn’t want to stop in Destiny, how are we going to get around it, what about that sheriff---do you think he’s working with Ross?"

"Yeah, I do, and no I don’t plan to stop in his town, but we got a small problem."

"What now?"

Walker looks at her, "we’re getting low on gas---we’ve got about a quarter of a tank."

"Will that be enough to get us to the next town?"

"I don’t even know where the next town is, I can’t find the damn map---and we didn’t go past Mesa Rock on the way up. And, we both know what Mesa Rock is, there’s nothing there!"

Her arm starts to ache, "So, what do we do---what about Ross—why hasn’t he come up the mountain after us?"

"I’ve been thinking about that too, and I’m tired of being the one getting pushed—it’s time we do some pushing. We’ll get to Destiny as close as we can, and then we’re sneaking in their back door."

Alex listens as Walker tells her of his plan, the first thing they have to do is get clothing for both of them, Walker is bare chested with only the seat cover giving him any protection from the wind and cold. Alex doesn’t fare much better with jeans and a western shirt of his.

"We got to get some food in you, you got to keep your strength up."
"Where are we going to get food," and then as soon as she says it, she groans— "please don’t tell me that we’re going to be eating worms again?"

"Yep---afraid so. I remember seeing a small creek on the way down, there should be some nice , fat, juicy, grub worms around close by."

She looks back at him, he’s grinning, "Oh goody---I can hardly wait."

"Well, I’m sorry that there are no delis around, so we have to eat what we can get and that means, worms, snails, or anything else Mother Nature has to offer us!"

Alex shakes her head---"Her again? What has she got against us?"

Walker reaches over and pats her leg, bringing it in closer to him and putting his right hand under it to warm his hand, "They’re not so bad, you’ve eaten them before, they’re high in protein."

She pulls the seat cover over them as tight as she can. "Okay but I know one thing cowboy—when and if we ever get off this mountain and we get to a town that has a restaurant, you are treating me to a huge steak dinner—with all the trimmings. I want a big baked potato just ooozing with butter, bacon bits, and some sour cream and chives---and maybe some broccoli on top---and a chef salad ."

Walker smiles at her, "Everything sounded just fine till you started with the sour cream---yuk—how do you eat that stuff?"

Alex is still babbling, "It’s good---and for dessert I want a huge slice of pecan pie."

"With vanilla ice cream?"

She snuggles up to him, "Yes---gobs of ice cream."

"Well, I tell you what, we are going to get off this mountain, and I will buy you that steak dinner. But, how does this sound for a scenario? When we get back to Dallas, we go straight to my ranch, I’ll put the gate up so no one can get through, we lock all the doors, unplug all the phones and that damn answering machine, and put a sign on the front door in big letters-ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!!"

She looks up at him with those blue eyes, "Promise?"

He squeezes her leg, "I promise—just the two of us."

"You mean if Mother Nature doesn’t throw us another curve and Murphy’s Law doesn’t interfere?"

***

Walker and Alex are about 10 miles outside of Destiny when the Ram starts sputtering. "Damn it--come on --just a little bit further, we got to make it to the next clearing."

"There it is, can you make it?" Alex asks.

"We got to or we're going to start coasting backwards, and with no engine on, that means no brakes and no power steering! Come on baby---we made it, now we got to get it as far back off the road as possible. You steer, and I'll push."

They manage to get the truck out of sight. Walker tries knocking down some tree limbs to help cover it, now they have to walk the rest of the way. He takes the seat cover and splits a hole in it using it to make a poncho to go over his chest and then he does the same for Alex.

"Okay, we're going to have to get off the main road, we'll go over the side and move along that ledge down there---see it?"

Alex is shivering she nods her head. "How long will it take us to get there, can we get all the way there on that ledge?"

Walker blows into his hands, "I don't know--we have to chance it and we're going to have to move fast. I have a feeling that Ross and his friends are going to start moving faster now that we're closer to Destiny, and if I don't miss my guess, the sheriff is going to start moving downwards to us--trying to block us in." Walker looks over towards his truck, "I hope they don't find it anytime soon."

They walk over to the ledge, Walker goes down first so that he can halfway catch Alex as she comes over. The ledge is not too wide as they have to walk single file, she holds onto the loops in his pants. It's going to be a long walk.

In the meantime Floyd has found his way back to Mirage, he starts to look for a phone, the phone lines are all down. He starts searching for transportation, no one will risk giving him anything to drive, and then he sees some headlights coming back into town. Ross has sent someone to silence him, he starts running back into the trees.

Ross and the rest of them have started back up the hill, the semi follows cautiously behind, it's passengers getting very impatient---and hungry. Ross looks at the brunette, "So you want the Ranger for yourself?"

She lights up a cigarette as she puts the rest of her clothes back on, "Do you have to be so rough?"

He slaps her, "I like it that way---you used to ---you getting soft on me?"

She reaches up and rubs her face, "No---I just wish you wouldn't bite--I've got bite marks all over my body. My breasts feel like they've been through a ringer. I do everything you ask me to---you don't have to be so damn rough!"
He laughs at her, "Well darling, maybe the Ranger will be nice to you, that is, if you can get past that girlfriend of his, she sure gave you a nice shiner."

"Next time she won't be so lucky---and yes, I'm looking forward to bedding that cowboy of hers. But, unlike you--I don't want an audience, I want him---all to myself. So, you keep that bimbo away from me!"

Ross continues to laugh, "Anything you say, darling."

The sheriff is getting restless, as he keeps looking at his watch, "Okay, boys---it's time. Our company should be getting here anytime now, let's give them a big welcome, what do you say?"

***

Joy continues to watch the figures head deeper into the cave. She follows, she can no longer see her sister, maybe, its better this way. The trail through the cave consists of more human "piles", some of the figures stop and try to eat. The ones that are in charge, grunt and growl at them, pushing them to move forward. The trail starts going downward, and opens up into a huge part of the cave that is almost pretty if you can get past the more abundant "piles" and then she sees them. Human captives in wooden cages. She stares at them, most are women, early stages of pregnancies starting to swell. The men have been beaten, she wonders why these men have been kept alive. She only recalls seeing one other male captive. They were brought in together, him and a young woman, early 20's.The figures took her immediately, but he was left to run around the cave in circles, trying to find a way out. Also trying to drown out the sounds of the young woman, as they took her repeatedly, and she screamed for him to help her. When they finished with her, they attacked the young man, literally eating him alive. They tired of him soon and then threw what was left of his body across some rocks where he laid in a weird position, eyes open-staring ahead into nothing. The woman died later that night.

***

"There it is---the town of Destiny. The place that we said we never wanted to see again, and here we are," sighs Walker.

They sit there a few minutes on the rocks, just staring ahead. "Walker, what do we do now?"

"We go down that back way over there, less chance of being seen--stay close."

The sheriff and his posse are at the other end looking up the road. They don't see the two heading for the back of the garage. Walker and Alex reach the garage, it's locked up tight. "Come on, I got an idea," and Walker pulls Alex in the direction of Mitch's house. He hopes the old man is no longer sitting on the porch, he gets his wish, for the old man is gone. Walker goes up to the door and taps the glass with his gun butt, unlocks the door and they enter.

"Walker, this is breaking and entering."

"I'm sure Mitch won't mind, I’m going to check upstairs for some clothes and maybe some jackets--why don't you check the kitchen for some food to take with us?"

Alex walks into the kitchen, the table is set, and it looks like they left without finishing their supper. She notices the stove where a pot had been left boiling, the handle was burned completely off. She shakes her head, something just isn't right. She opens the refrigerator, finding it completely full. "Now why would they stock the refrigerator if they were planning to leave?"

She looks back in the fridge and starts taking out some cold cuts and slices of cheese. The bread is stale, it will just have to do. She throws sandwiches together and then she grabs some fruit. She hears Walker coming down the stairs. He's found a shirt, a parka and a sweater. "Did you find anything Alex?"

She hands him a couple of sandwiches and then nods at the set table, "Does this look like they were planning on going somewhere? They didn't even finish their supper!"

He wolfs the two sandwiches down, and she hands him another. "Well, we've been suspicious about that little visit to her sister's all along, can't say as this comes as any surprise."

She finishes her sandwich, "So, now what do we do Walker?"

"I'm going to check around and see what our sheriff is up to, why don't you check the bathroom for bandages and stuff for your arm, I'll be right back."

He goes out the back door and she starts walking around the house. She feels like she's invading their privacy, the same way she felt when those goons were spying on her and Walker. She cleans her arm as best she can, and puts another bandage on it, she sees the bathtub with the shower curtain pulled to. She sighs, "What I wouldn't give for a nice hot bath," and she starts to pull the curtain back, then changes her mind and walks out of the bathroom.

Walker comes running back into the house, grabs Alex and pushes her to the floor. She starts to say something, he motions for her to be quiet as the voices come closer. They're up on the porch now, walking back and forth, looking in the windows. They soon leave and Walker breathes a sigh of relief.

"I had just gotten to the garage when I saw them heading in this direction, I was afraid I wasn't going to make it."

"What were they looking for?"

"Us---probably---thank God they didn't see the broken glass, we got to start looking for a weapon, I've only five bullets left in this clip. I looked upstairs for a gun, apparently Mitch doesn't believe in them."

Alex nods towards the basement, "What about down there?"

"I'll check it out," he reaches down to help her up, she turns pale and throws her hand over her mouth, and rushes to the bath, throwing up the sandwich. Walker runs in after her, "What's wrong?"

She can't stop vomiting, as she splashes cold water on her face "must have been the meat--it's not staying down."

Walker's confused, he had three of the sandwiches, they tasted fine to him. She must have a gotten a bad piece. He watches her as she begins to shake, with all that's happened, now she's getting sick on him. What else could go wrong? She finally comes out of the bathroom, so weak she can hardly walk. He puts his arms around her and walks over to the far side of the room away from the windows. He throws the couch pillows down in the floor and urges her to lie down. "I'm going to check out the basement, just lie here till you're feeling better--you going to be okay?"

She nods her head and he heads to the basement. The basement is filthy, and packed with old boxes, bottles, and newspapers. Walker picks up one of the newspapers and glances at the headline, MEXICO'S MAYOR TO VISIT THE ROCKIES. He tosses the paper aside and looks for a weapon he can use. All of the tools are rusted, they won't be much use. He picks up a screwdriver and shoves it into his boot. Mitch and his wife were packrats, as Walker viewed all of the bottles, coke bottles, wine bottles, of all shapes and sizes.

"Walker---you better get up here---hurry."

Walker runs back upstairs, Alex is in the floor, peering out the window. "Something’s going on out there, the sheriff and some of his men are heading up the mountain."

"Did they move the other semi yet?"

"No, it's still over there." Alex grabs his arm, "Walker, are those things in there?"

"Probably."

"I don't understand, why are they moving them in the trucks and where are they taking them, and why?"

"Alex, I don't know the answers---I just know that we can't stay here any longer and chance those goons coming to check this place out again."

Alex starts to cry softly, "But where? Which way do we go, we can't go forward because we can't get past all of those--things—and we can't go back down the mountain with Ross waiting for us--That road is so narrow in places, how can they get those trucks through?"

Walker looks at her and then towards the basement.

"That's it." He reaches over and gives Alex a big kiss, "Honey--you just gave
me an idea---come with me."

Alex starts coughing as soon as she smells the musty basement, "Oh Walker, I can hardly breathe down here."

"I know, the air is limited, but I need your help. Start gathering some of those old coke bottles, and tear up some of those old rags over there. We're going to need a way of carrying them, could you go back upstairs and get some pillow cases.?"

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going back to the garage and get some gasoline, we are going to make cocktails----molotov cocktails!!---They're small but they're lethal."

Alex heads back upstairs to the bedrooms, pulling the pillow cases off the pillows and then runs back down the hall. All of a sudden she feels dizzy and feels she has to take another trip back to the bathroom, again she throws up what is left of the cold cuts. "Damn---I didn't think I ate that much." She washes her face again, then she notices the room across the hallway. She enters, it's a small room, filled with all of the things that a young teenage girl would decorate her room in. Everything is in its place, so neatly kept compared to the rest of the house. Alex walks around the room slowly, touching, but being careful not to upset anything. She sees a picture of a couple and a young girl of about 10 years of age. They are all smiling, Alex recognizes the couple as the owners of the house they're in, Mitch and Bea. She looks at the smile on Bea’s face, and how young and pretty the young girl is. She looks like Bea, with red hair and brown eyes. Another picture is taking some years later, the smiles are there, but the gleam in their eyes has faded. She sets the picture back down, feeling coolness across the back of her neck. She jumps, she feels very uneasy about being in this room she goes back down stairs to the basement.

Walker has returned and he's filling the bottles with the liquid, and taking the strips of cloth and shoving them down inside the bottles, leaving a good 2-3 inches of cloth hanging out.. Then he takes bigger strips and ties all the bottles together so they won't be making any clanking noises while inside the pillowcases. He keeps looking at Alex, she's said nothing since coming down in the basement. "Alex---you okay, what's wrong---are you still sick?"

She feels that she has to sit down, she tells him about the room she found, the pictures and the uneasy feeling about being there. "I think that little girl must be their daughter--Bea never mentioned having kids."

"Alex---you only talked to the woman for just a few minutes. She couldn't tell you everything in that short of time."

Alex rubs the back of her neck, "But where is she---Walker, I don't like this feeling that I'm having."

He stops making the cocktails, he can see she's genuinely upset. She's been through so much, her nerves are shattered. Alex is usually strong and things don't normally upset her the way they would most women. But, her job as assistant district attorney has prepared her for a lot of things that most women will never see or face in their lifetimes. Still, she's a woman first and she has feelings. He goes over and kneels down in front of her, taking her hands. "What kind of feelings are you having?"

"Something just isn't right," she cries, "where is that little girl?"

Walker stands up and takes her into his arms, "Maybe she was visiting---maybe she was the one that Mitch and Bea were going to visit in Boulder."

"You don't believe they went to visit someone anymore than I do--admit it Walker-----they didn't leave, did they?"

His silence tells her that she's right. She thinks back to what he was saying about those figures going for new blood, new breeders. The young girl was just the right age. "Oh God," Alex sniffles, "they've taken her?"

"Alex---hon I know this is upsetting to you--but we can't think about this right now. We've got to go!"

"GO? GO WHERE?"

"We have to go back down the mountain, we've got to stop them from getting through."

"How?"

Walker releases her and goes over and picks up one of the cocktails, "With these----If we can get down the mountain, on the other side of where we left the Ram, we can start a landslide."

"But, what about the sheriff and his men and those things---on this side--what about them?"

"I'm more concerned with Ross than I am with the sheriff. We can figure out how to get past them later, right now Ross has to be stopped and we got to do it now before the sun comes up."

"Okay," she agrees. "What do you want me to do?"

"We need some matches or a lighter."

"I saw matches in the kitchen---I'll get them."
When she comes back, Walker can see that she's still pale, "Alex, maybe you should stay here?"

"No way cowboy--I'm not staying here."

He packs up the pillowcases, "Alex, you're not in any shape to get back on that ledge again, it's too narrow---what if you should get sick again?"

"Walker---please don't make me stay here alone."

"You'll be safe here Alex, at least safer here than on that ledge, it's too dangerous." He walks towards her, "Come on hon, don't argue with me for once, I can move faster alone—okay? I'll be back as soon as I blow the rockslide, two hours at the most."

She can feel herself getting mad, but she knows she's not in any shape to keep up with him, and she's still feeling queasy. "Okay, just hurry."

He kisses her, "You stay away from the windows, and use the gun if you have to, just make every shot count."

Alex watches as he climbs out the window, he turns to look at her and winks, "I'll be back soon."

Ross and the others have started up the mountain, he's in the second car behind Wilma and her two thugs. The semi is crawling along like a snail, the driver is cursing Ross and his bright idea of taking a semi up this way. He tried telling him to take the main highway and come around the back way to Destiny. Ross's answer was hitting the man up beside the head with his gun butt telling him never to question his judgment again. The driver's knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tight. He had the truck in the lowest of gears, he could swear they were almost smoking as the gears were grinding. He could see over the edge, in some places he could see small ledges, but for the most part---it was a straight drop down--to nothing.  Walker was about halfway back to where he left the Ram, he could see the headlights coming around the first bend in the mountain, he estimated them to be about 2 miles away. He would have to move faster, and he would have to climb back up the ledge to get to the main road. He hated the thought of leaving Alex behind, but he had no choice, she would have slowed him down.

Alex was being very cautious about moving around inside the house, she was still feeling nauseated, but she was hungry, She had to eat something, so she tried the fruit again, so far so good. She went back to the bathroom, the thought of crawling into that tub was beginning to sway her. She looked around for some toothpaste, squeezed some out on her forefinger and brushed her teeth the best she could. She had to get rid of that taste in her mouth, she could smell some of the vomit that had spilled on her shirt. She shook her head, "I'm sorry Bea---but I have got to take a bath." She kept all the lights off as she filled the tub as quietly as possible, then she crawled in, the water was not as hot as would have preferred, but it felt nice.

Walker made it to where his Ram was parked, then he started trying to find the perfect spot to cause the rockslide. The boulders were huge, it was not going to be easy. He had only one chance and that was to use all eight of the cocktails and hope for a big enough explosion to move the smaller rocks, and then maybe they would create a domino effect in moving the larger ones. The lights were getting closer, no time to lose. He started down the road, he wanted to get far away from his truck, and hope the landslide wouldn't take not only his truck, but himself too. He put the cocktails down in front of the smaller boulder, took out one long strip of cloth that tied the bottles together, doused it with gasoline and tried to light it. The matches were damp, they weren't igniting! Walker curses, now what? He remembers the cigarette lighter in his truck, he turns and starts running towards it. One of the cars is coming around the bend, it's a good fourth of a mile ahead of the others. He dives under the Ram, hoping they don't see him or the truck, they drive by. He couldn't see who was driving, no time to worry about that. He shoves the lighter back into the socket, it turns red. He puts the piece of cloth up to that which has just a smidgen of gasoline on it. It ignites! He runs back to where the long strip of cloth is, he lights it, it starts heading for the coke bottles and his home made molotov cocktails. He turns and runs as fast as he can up the road, he couldn't go over the side till he saw which way the rockslide would go, if any! He runs past his truck, for just a split second he wanted to see if he could get enough out of it to move it further up the road, he shakes his head and continues to run. Then he hears it, a much bigger explosion than he had anticipated, and the rocks were going in every direction.

Wilma and her two thugs hear the explosion, the driver slams on his brakes. They jump out of their car and look back down the mountain, they barely miss seeing Walker as he again dives for cover at the side of the road.

"What the hell was that!" yells Wilma.

"Some kind of explosion, do we go back to try and help them?"

They start walking back down the road, Walker is plastering himself up against the rock, trying not to be seen. They're only a few feet from him when Wilma says, "Forget it, we go on to Destiny--they'll just have to go around and come in the back way."

"How are they going to get turned around?"

"That's their problem, Ross should have listened about bringing that damn truck up here in the first place!"

The heavier of the two men swears, "you know what Ross will do if we don't try to help them?"

Wilma starts back to their car, "Fine---stay here if you want, but I'm leaving!"

The three head back to their car, Walker runs to the ridge and over he goes. He almost misses the ledge as he starts to tumble. He grabs the trunk of an old tree, it stops him from going completely over. He pulls himself up and then scurries along the ledge as fast as he can go. He knows that whoever was in that car will know that he's responsible for the explosion, and they will start looking for him and Alex. He's got to get back to Mitch's house, he hopes Alex is keeping a close eye out to what is going on.

She wanted to stay in the tub longer, the water felt so good. But, she knew she couldn't so she gets out and starts wiping the tub dry, just in case those goons decide to come in the house next time to look around. A wet bathtub would be a dead giveaway. She dressed back in her jeans, and tried washing the vomit off of the shirt, she could still smell it. Maybe she could find another shirt to wear. Alex decides to go back to Mitch's and Bea’s bedroom, she finds a shirt and starts walking out into the hallway towards the teenagers' room. She stands there a minute, debating on going back in, she couldn't get over that coolness that crept across her neck. She entered the room, and looks around, something is not right, something is different. She walks around the room again, then she sees the closet door ajar. She hadn't noticed that before, now she's scared. She still has the .357, she pulls it out of her jeans and walks slowly towards the closet. Then she hears them, voices coming from downstairs, and someone saying "Check upstairs."

Now Alex has no place to run, no place to hide, she turns and starts to crawl under the bed. A hand reaches out across her mouth and starts pulling her into the closet. She's kicking and trying to bite the hand as she's pulled further into the small room, a foot reaches out and kicks the closet door shut and another petition comes down, it's total dark. She's petrified as the hand releases her and she hears a voice—"please be quiet--they'll hear you."

Walker has finally reached the outskirts of Destiny, the town is alive with people running in all different directions, checking all the buildings, and he sees them heading for Mitch's place.

"Alex," he whispers,

"Oh God--they've got her."

He continues to watch them search, the occupants of the car start to emerge, Walker breathes a sigh when he sees that Ross is not one of them. He recognizes Wilma and two of her thugs, "What the hell is she doing here?" he mumbles. He inches in closer to see what is happening, he sees four men exit Mitch's place, Alex is not with them. The men wave their arms in an "all clear" motion and then they head for the other buildings. "Thank God---she must have found a place to hide."

He waits for what seems hours for the men to settle down and stop their search, he makes his way to the back of Mitch's house and climbs through the window. He starts calling for her very softly as he checks the rooms and then goes down to the basement. Maybe she's hiding under some of that debris of old newspapers and such. Again, he calls out to her, nothing. She's got to be upstairs, he climbs the stairs quietly. He checks all the room and then he sees the closed door, he knows this must be the room Alex was telling him about that belonged to the young girl. He walks around slowly, calling her name out low. He starts towards the closet and Alex bolts through the fake wall, crying out his name "Walker?"

He grabs her, "Alex---thank God---I thought they had you."

She grabs his arm and starts pulling him into the closet, "In here---quick---I think they're coming back."

It takes a minute for his eyes to adjust as Alex is holding onto him for dear life. "What is this place---how did you find it?"

She pulls him back further until the flashlight comes on and Walker can see who is in there with them. "Mitch?"

Mitch is staring back at them, his neck is swollen, and his head hangs at a weird angle. He turns to Alex, "I'm sorry I scared you, but I couldn't risk you screaming out."

They wait in the closet till they're sure the searchers have gone again, then the three of them emerge from the tiny little room. Mitch can hardly stand. He tells them of the night that Bea was taken. The figure thought he was dead, but he was just passed out. Mitch told them he didn't know how long he had been unconscious, when he woke up, Bea was gone. His speech is slurred as he tries to talk, "I knew they took her----the same way they came for our daughter, Sandy"

Alex gasps as she reaches for Walker to lean on. "I knew it," she says softly.

Walker looks at the man, "You've been --here---the whole time?"

Mitch nods towards the closet, "I built that fake wall after the first time---that they tried to take Sandy, it worked for awhile, Bea and I told the sheriff that we had taken her ---to Boulder. They had ---others---so they weren't too interested in Sandy ---cause she wasn't old enough to breed then----sons of bitches," the man cries, "but eventually--they came for her again."

Alex shakes her head in disbelief—"Why didn't you just leave---why didn't you report this to someone---a passing tourist-----or someone?"

"Don't you think I tried?---Bea and I tried a dozen times to get off this mountain and take Sandy---but they always found us and then the torture would start."

Walker and Alex look at each other, afraid to ask about the torture. Mitch reads their mind. He cries softly, Alex goes to him and tries to console him. He looks at her, remembering how much his wife liked the blond and said she trusted her. "Maybe my little girl wasn't old enough to produce----but that didn't stop them from having their fun with her, Bea was tortured too, we both were forced to watch them as they took turns, my baby---was crying---wanting her Daddy to help her---I couldn't. I couldn't do
a damn thing!"

"Mitch, I'm so sorry for your daughter and for Bea---who are these things and what are they doing with them, why are they moving them in the back of trucks, and where are they taking them?" Walker asks.

"They are inbreds--you know that much. They've been living up in the caves for at least a hundred years, I remember my Daddy talking about them, but they never hurt anyone, they were afraid of the regular humans, they stayed back in the caves, never coming out except at night. At first it was just the small animals they fed off of, then the stories were that the farm animals started disappearing and some of the people around here blamed them. My grandpa told stories about them, how much of it was just talk and how much was fact--no one ever knew. But, things started to change when one of them was caught and tortured by the towns folk. Talk was that the townspeople tried to skin one alive, and they poured gasoline on him. He survived--God only knows how---but he did. He was a young one, early teens, he took off up in the mountains. It was years before anyone ever saw him again, they assumed he died from his beatings."

"Anyways, he came down off the mountain, you ain't never seen anything like him, he stunk to high heaven. The townspeople made fun of him, except for a young girl. He took a fancy to her, so the story went, came back and took her in the dead of night. They searched those mountains for months, they believed she was dead, then a hunter stumbled up on their cave about five years later. They had a small family by then, the hunter said he didn't know if they were human or what. Got the people all stirred up, they went up there and burned them out of their cave, I think a couple of the kids died.

After that all hell broke loose. Women and young girls started coming up missing. More and more reports were being told about how the family was multiplying within itself, if you get my meaning?"

Walker and Alex look at each other, Walker nods, "We get your meaning, they were breeding with each other---go on."

"Well---with the family increasing, they started venturing out more and getting more curious about--civilization. Plus, the old man had to take care of his family--he had to feed them. At first, human parts were being found around up near the caves, and stillborns were being eaten."

"Oh God," Alex puts her hand over her mouth and runs to the bathroom.
Mitch looks to Walker as he starts to go after her, "I'm sorry---but you wanted to know--and it doesn't get any better."

Alex is bent over the commode, there's nothing left on her stomach to throw up, but she still feels the urge to up chuck. He tries to comfort her, she motions for him to go away. She finally comes out of the bathroom, as white as a sheet. Walker makes her sit down, "It'll be daybreak soon, we got to get out of here."

"Come this way," Mitch motions for Walker to follow him back inside the closet. Mitch is still weak as he attempts to knock down another petition wall, Walker tells him to stand back, then he kicks the wall. Another entrance is made and it goes back another 100 feet or so. All the comforts of home, so to speak He's got an old mattress, some flashlights, and some food. "I moved all this stuff in here during the time we were trying to hide Sandy, this is where I crawled off to--when they took Bea.---Ranger---there's no way you and your lady friend are going to get out of here, there's only one way off this mountain," Mitch looks to Alex who is sitting in the floor holding her head, "and she's not going to make it--not without some rest and getting some food into her that she can keep down."

 Walker is concerned about Alex, now she's starting to run a fever. He looks at her arm again, it doesn't look infected. Mitch warms her up some soup on a hot plate that he's got stored in the 'secret room'. She finally falls asleep on the old mattress, but she's still holding on to Walker's arm. He gently takes his arm away, brushing her blond hair back out of her eyes, and pulling the blanket up around her. He kisses her forehead, she half moans asking him not to leave her.

"I'll be right outside the door Alex, I'll leave the door open so she can see me, alright?------Sleep, you need the rest---sleep."

Mitch watches the Ranger and the way he watches over his lady friend, Bea was right about the couple, they cared deeply for each other, it showed in their eyes.

Walker finally comes out of the closet, looking back at Alex as she falls back to sleep. "I've got to get her to a doctor, got to get that arm seen to."

"Like I said Ranger, now there's only one way off this mountain, and that's taking the river rapids on the other side of Blue Bear Lake. And, getting past the sheriff is not going to be easy, plus you're going to need transportation!"

"There's something I don't understand Mitch, why haven't they let those 'things' out to look for us---they would pick up our scent easy?"

"I don't know, unless Ross has told them to keep them in the trucks. The sheriff has a hard time handling them! He doesn't want to get ‘Daddy’ upset with him!"

Walker glares at his new friend, "Daddy?"

Mitch starts shaking, he has to sit down. He keeps rubbing his neck, Walker looks the neck over, several of the smaller bones have definitely been broken, it's a wonder that Mitch hasn't experienced paralysis by now. Walker sits in the floor too so he can keep an eye on Alex. He looks back at her, she's sleeping like a baby.

"I want to know more about these 'things', especially the one called ‘Daddy’."

"He's the young boy that escaped and started the family. Rumor was that at first he tried to keep the 'family' intact within just the circle, but like all off-springs, the young ones began to explore and soon they were starting their own broods. The townspeople were still trying to burn them out, and some of them were even captured. My old man said because of all the incestuous breeding that most were deformed of course, they had this coarse body hair--hell! Some said they bred with animals---who knows? The smell was putrid, they had sores all over their bodies and they were breeding fast."

Walker shakes his head, "If you and the townspeople knew all of this, why didn't you all band together and leave?"

Mitch takes a deep breath, "We couldn’t," he answers in almost a whisper.

"Why not? All of you together could have made some kind of a stand!"

Mitch looks straight at the ranger, "Because----we are all related---to those things!"

Now Walker is really confused, "What? How can you be related?"

"You asked about 'Daddy'?---he is the grandfather to us all. The whole town is related in some way or another--Sheriff Wagner is my brother and Beth was his wife before she was mine." Mitch continues to rub his neck, "Hell---I don't even know if Sandy was my daughter or his---he had his way with her many times--he didn't care if she was his---he liked them young---real young!"

Now Walker was beginning to see Mitch in a different light, his instincts were kicking in, he didn't like what he was thinking. He looks back at Alex and then to Mitch.

"Ranger, if I had wanted to hurt her or you, I had more than one chance to do so. I knew when the two of you came into my house. IF I was like them, I would have turned you over to them---you would be dead by now, or on one of those 'thing's dinner menus!"

Walker couldn't sit any longer, he got up and started pacing, being careful to stay away from the windows. He knew what Mitch was saying was true, he couldn't stop trusting him now.

"That's it---we're out of here, I'm waking Alex, we're leaving now!"

Walker starts towards the closet, "No---you can't leave, you're both exhausted, they'll catch you, you don't have any transportation, you don't even know where you're going!"

Walker's getting furious, "No, but you do---you know how to get us off this mountain---so start talking!!"

"I will show you a map, and I think I know how to get you a ride," Mitch looks at Walker, "Can you ride?"

"Ride? You mean a motorcycle?"

"I’ve got one in my garage, hasn't been ridden in a couple of months, but if you know how to ride, you're welcome to it, it's a Harley speedster."

"If it can be ridden--I can ride it--now show me the map."

They study the map. They will have to go north to Bear Lake, Walker knows that Alex will be thrilled over the idea of going back there. Then they will follow the river around and head to Boulder.

"You ready to check the bike out?"

Walker nods, giving Mitch the go ahead sign and he goes to wake Alex. She's barely awake, but she says she hears what he's telling her.

The bike is a Harley 800, it's sleek and it's fast. It will be easier to maneuver than a full dressed one, it just won't be as comfortable, especially for Alex. It's got the raised passenger seat, but no sissy bar to lean up against. Walker checks it out while Mitch keeps an eye on everything outside. "Ranger, come here."

"You see that trail leading off behind the diner? You take that all the way back till you can get on the road. You're going to have to push it a good mile, before you try starting her up--she's got a busted muffler--she's going to be loud!"

Walker takes out the spark plugs and cleans them, checks the carburetor and the battery. Mitch has kept it in good shape. Mitch makes sure it's got a full tank of gas. "The rest is up to you, Ranger---good luck."

They push it to the back of the garage, Walker will have to make a quiet exit. He starts kicking the side of the garage, while Mitch keeps watch. Walker finally makes a big enough hole that he and Mitch can pull the bike through.

"What about you Mitch---you think this thing can hold three of us?"

Mitch rubs his neck, he starts holding his left arm and rubbing it too, "I'm not going with you---it would be a waste of time, I don't have much longer, I know that."

Walker looks at him, he knows the man is dying. He looks towards Mitch's house and back to the road behind the diner. "I'm going to push it as far as I can, then I'll come back for Alex."

Mitch starts walking back to his house, only a few of the guards are out. He can hear the figures getting restless, he knows it's only a matter of time before they're released. He prayed that the Ranger and his lady would make it. He makes it to the 'secret room' and wakes Alex, and tells her to be ready.

***

Floyd is watching the two men as they are going from house to house in Mirage looking for him. He can't rely on anyone to help him, he's got one chance and that's to overpower the two and take their car. He remembers the Ranger's harsh words about finding his badge in a mail order catalogue. "I'll show him!" His shoulder is killing him as he comes from behind the coverage of the trees. One of the men is sitting in the car while the other is searching, Floyd walks up to the window, pretending to be drunk , when the man rolls down his window Floyd hits him with his elbow. He pulls the man out, and the other one starts rushing towards him.

Floyd jumps in the car and steers it right at the man, knocking him over the hood. Floyd doesn't stop, he also remembers what the Ranger said about 'running 'em over. He looks in the rear view mirror then gives out a rebel yell, and heads south to Colorado Springs.

***

Ross and his men are looking at the landslide, they've been trying to get enough rocks cleared away. The driver of the semi is furious, the rocks hit the side of the bed broadside, another two feet and they would have been over the side. The figures are getting irate, pounding and scratching trying to get out. The driver walks up to Ross, "Are you satisfied now, I told you to go around and come in the back way."

Ross looks back at the eighteen wheeler, it's almost sideways across the road. They can't go backwards, that's for sure, and they can't go forward till it's cleared. He looks at the driver" let our friends out."

"Are you crazy? They're hungry, there's no telling what they will do."

Ross grins, "Good---they can work for their meal this time----now get them out here!"

The man does as he's told, opening the double door and then scrambling for the safety of his locked cab. The figures are confused at their sudden freedom, they sniff the air and start dragging themselves towards Ross. His men turn the flashlights on the figures, they grunt and growl, covering their eyes. The big one snorts, he half walks and half drags himself up to Ross. His eyes are red, and they bore into the lawman, his teeth bare as he sniffs at Ross. The lawman doesn't budge, he stares back at the big one. Then he motions for the big one to follow him, the other men keep their flashlights and guns trained on the others at all times. Ross pushes at one of the big rocks and then he motions for the figure to do the same. The figure stares back at him, his teeth are yellowed, and brown. Ross fans the air, the figure's breath is of raw meat, "It's clear you've never heard of mouthwash--you worthless piece of crap."

"Careful boss---you know what he can do."

Ross looks at the man that spoke, "Shut up, now get over here and start showing these ignorant inbreds how to move these rocks!!"

The men push on the rocks and motion for the big one to do the same. He stares back at them--nothing. Ross is furious, "Well maybe he just needs some intuitive!" Ross takes out his gun and shoots one of his own men.

The figures squeal, covering their ears. Ross motions for the other men to take the body and throw it on the other side of the rocks. The figures smell the blood, but to get to it, they have to move the rocks. The big one grabs a boulder and tosses it over the side, the others follow suit.

"Holy Mother of Jesus," says one of the men. "Did you see that? That boulder had to weigh at least two hundred pounds, he picked it up and threw it like it was nothing!"

***

"I'm telling you big dog--I can't find it!"

The big man comes from around the bar and looks at the map, "It's got to be there Jimmy!"

"Then you look, see if you can find it!"

"Call the Colorado chamber of commerce, they got to know where it is!"

The black man is getting impatient, "I've already done that---they have never heard of a place called Mirage."

"But, that's where Cordell called you from, isn't it? And, I could swear that was the name of the place that Alex mentioned."

They go over the map again, C.D. shakes his head and sits down on the barstool, "I swear! Those two can't ever have any time to themselves without one or both of them getting into trouble!!!"

"I know--I know, it's like that old sayin’, everything that can go wrong --will go wrong--especially for those two."

C.D. nods his head, "Yep, that's Murphy's Law---and it's such a shame--those two were really looking forward to this vacation."

"Yep, I know big dog, Walker was actually looking forward to this time alone with Alex---I think maybe it might be 'commitment time for those two."

C.D. smiles, "You really think so, Jimmy?"

Trivette smiles back at his friend, "Yep---I do! Walker couldn't wait to get back to Dallas, pick Alex up and take off for two weeks in lovely Colorado Rockies."

"Good!!! It's about time those two hooked up, I would love to see the two of them together for good---maybe even tie the knot---what do you say?"

Trivette is still looking at the map, "All I can say is, Walker said that if and when Alex ever broke up with Dalton Reed, that he was not going to let her go a second time!"
C.D. looks at Jimmy, "Dalton Reed, huh? I guess he was a likeable enough fellow, I only met him a couple of times---but I know one thing partner, she never looked at Dalton the same way she looked at Cordell.---I knew right from the start that Cordell and Alex were going to get together, I could feel it---right here in my bones on that New Year's night when they kissed for the first time. I knew it Jimmy----I knew it!!!"

Trivette throws the map down, "That's it---I'm going to Colorado Springs---something is wrong or we would have heard from them by now---want to come with me, big dog?"

C.D. slaps his friend on the back, "Do birds fly?"

Trivette frowns, "Can I take that as a 'yes'?"

"For Pete's sake, Jimmy, let's go--we're burning daylight!"

***

Joy watched the captives in the wooden cage, there were about twenty of them, mostly women. She still couldn't understand why the males were being kept alive, if you could call their state, being alive. Some couldn't even stand up because of their beatings. She looked around, the cave was huge, the water off the rocks emptied into a bigger body of water. Everything was unusually quiet, like they were all waiting for something or someone to arrive. Some of the figures were coming back into the cave, constantly looking over their shoulder, like they were looking at someone.

Then she saw him!


Murphy’s Law Part IV

By SASQUAW@aol.com

Mitch was helping Alex put a fresh bandage on her arm when Walker got back from pushing the bike to a safe place up near the road. His first reaction at seeing Mitch that close to Alex was to shove him away. The thoughts of Mitch being related to those 'things' were still going through his mind. He had to get hold of himself, his jealousy had really starting getting the best of him. Before, he had always been able to keep his feelings intact, but here lately, especially on this trip, it was getting impossible to keep them checked.

He walks towards Alex, "You ready to go?"

They say their good-byes and Walker shakes hands with Mitch—"Thanks for everything."

"Good luck to you both---send me a post card when you get back to Dallas."

Walker and Alex are leaving the town of Destiny again, this time they hope it's for good. They find the bike, Alex has packed more sandwiches for Walker and fruit for her, she puts them in the side bags.

Mitch has given them a sleeping bag, blanket, a cigarette lighter, and a flashlight. Still no weapon, except for the screwdriver in Walker's left boot, the right one still carries his 'Rambo' like knife. Alex puts the parka on over the sweater, Mitch found her some gloves, and came up with a heavier jacket for Walker. The bike starts right up, a hefty throaty sound to it's motor. Walker thinks about his Ram, he hopes it survived the landslide. He motions for Alex to get on, "You're going to have to hold on tight hon, we're really going to be flying till we find that cut off up to Blue Bear Lake, then the ride is going to be rough."

Alex smiles back at him as she mounts up behind him, "Don't worry about me, cowboy, I'll be holding on so tight-- I'll give you a ‘hard on'!"

Walker laughs, "Just looking at you and I start growing a third leg."

They point the bike north, it will be a long cold drive into the wind. It's over 40 miles away to Mesa Rock, then another hour to the cut-off. It's about 2 hours before sunrise, Walker said he wanted to put as much road between them and Destiny that they could. But, Murphy is back and he has other ideas. The headlight goes out on the bike, both high and low beam. Walker curses, and slows the bike down. There's just enough light from the moon that he can barely see the road. Still he won't stop, they continue on, not much chance that they are going to see any traffic, they hadn't seen any before . Another storm is moving in and this one is worse than the other.

Back in Destiny, things are starting to heat up. Wilma is trying to take over, ordering the sheriff around. She wants the figures released, convinced that Walker and the 'bimbo' blond are still around.

"And, I'm telling you I'm not releasing them till I get the final okay from Ross, and you missy can kiss my ass---I don't take orders from you!"

"Ross and the rest of them are going to have to hitch hike up that mountain, that'll take all day-------and that Ranger could be miles away by then!"

The sheriff is getting angrier, "I don't care how long it takes, I'm not releasing those 'things'----subject closed!"

Wilma tries turning on her charm with the fat man, "What's the matter---can't you handle them?----Oh wait, I forgot---you tried that once and you got 'buggered' ---didn't you?"

The rest of the men all laugh remembering the day the sheriff got taken by several of the figures. He screamed like a stuffed pig, Wilma pokes him in the stomach, "Now you know how it feels when a woman doesn't want it that way----especially the young ones. ----It didn't feel so good----did it sheriff?"

The sheriff is angry and embarrassed as he huffs away. If it hadn't been for Ross, the figures would have killed him that day. Instead, he couldn't walk straight for two days, and when he had to use the bathroom (which was even more often) he cried like a baby. His pants constantly had blood on the rear, the men would tease him unmercifully. Wilma watches him walk away, and curses to herself lighting up another cigarette. She thinks about the Ranger, he has such an intense look about him, and she can tell by looking at him, that he's got a hell of a nice body. She remembered how he looked in those tight fitting Levi’s and the shirt hugged his chest in all the right ways, going down to a slender waist and nice buttocks. The way he handled those five men that tried to goad him into a fight, he had some moves all right and never even broke a sweat. She rubs her jaw where the blond hit her, she never expected Alex to be a fighter, she didn't look the type. Wilma laughs to herself, "That's okay blondie---you've won the first round, but I'm going to take the Ranger from you, and once he gets his fill of me---he won't even remember who you are."

***

Slowing the bike down has made it even colder and Alex is shivering as she knows Walker must be freezing with no gloves on. She shouts to him to stop and take her gloves, he's refusing to stop.

"Honey---please take the gloves---your hands must be frozen!"

He stops and pulls over. He curses the headlight again, "Damn it, I knew something else was bound to happen!"

Alex pulls her gloves off, "Here take these---they might be a little small, but they'll keep your hands warm!"

He slips the gloves on, "How far from Mesa Rock do you think we are now?"

Alex is bouncing up and down, and blowing on her hands, "I'd say about 30 miles, what do you think?"

"Sounds about right." He looks at her, "What about your hands, how you going to keep them warm?"

She waits till he's ready to take off again, then she gets back on, putting her hands inside his jacket, then circling his waist, "Like this,” as she pulls him back up against her.

He groans, "I don't think that's such a good idea---careful with those hands, you can cause me to wreck!"

She kisses his neck, "I promise I won't grope."

"ALEX!!"

He hears her giggle, "Oopes---my hand slipped."

He shouts back to her "Sure am glad you're feeling better."

"Me, too," she replies.

***

Joy watches the figure coming in, he's huge, well over 300 pounds, but muscular! His matted hair has a gray to it. She's not good about guessing ages, she knows he's got to be at least 60, if not older. He's certainly their leader, as the rest of them seem to cower and pull away from him. He walks more upright than the others, he carries himself with pride as he makes his way to the center of the cave. The others scramble to take him fruit and vegetables that have been most likely taken on one of their nightly raids. He watches the captives in the wooden cages, then he motions for the figures to come to him. They squeal and snort, jumping up and down and then head for the cages, dragging out two of the women, the women start screaming and trying to pull away, one of the men tries to stop them--big mistake. The human had already been beaten, he hadn't learned his lesson. The figures then turn on him, dragging him from the cage and up to their leader. Joy watches as the figure approaches the human, he sniffs him, and then he goes down on one knee, taking the human backwards over his knee, breaking his back! Joy could hear the spine break, the human continues to wiggle , putting her in mind of how a chicken will continue to flap around with it's head cut off, then he stops. The figures fight over the body and drag him off to probably another "food pile".

The women are fairly young, in their mid twenties, and both are nude. They are the only ones whose bellies are not already swollen. Now Joy understands why, cause the leader hasn't impregnated them yet. The leader knocks them both to the ground, and puts them on their knees. Other figures hold them as their leader prepares to mount the first one, Joy's eyes almost pop out of her head at the size of his manhood. Never had she seen a man that was so big, he was hung like a horse!. He had to hold it with both hands to try and make his entry. The woman is screaming and he's not even inside her yet, the other woman is shaking, knowing that when he's through with her, she'll be next. The leader is getting agitated as he continues to try and enter her, finally he shoves it in as hard as he can and the cave vibrates with the woman's chilling screams. The leader grunts and growls as he moves faster inside her, the blood is dripping down the back of her legs. Joy can't watch any longer, she turns away and cries. She does not realize that she has seen the one to be called "Daddy", and she couldn't even commence to know his fury and his wrath, but she would soon find out.

***

The figures have gotten the road cleared enough to get Ross's car through. He yells at his men for them to help get the semi straightened and to get into Destiny as soon as possible. He watches as the figures devour the man he shot earlier. Now they're more anxious to help, thinking more food will be thrown their way. They start pushing with their shoulders on the huge truck, till they get it as far back as possible onto the road so the driver can continue getting it straight enough to drive. Ross chuckles to himself wondering who would be sacrificed in order to get them back in the semi. "That's their problem" he says to himself. Then he shouts to his driver, "Destiny, here we come!"

***

Wilma is getting restless, she knows that once Ross is up the mountain, he'll be in charge again. She looks around at all the buildings, "Are you sure that they've all been checked out?"

The sheriff glares at her, "They've been checked out, if you want to check them again--be my guest---just stop pestering me!"

"Maybe I'll do just that," she motions for her men to follow, they go to each house. The townspeople offer no resistance, they go in and out of their homes. The only one left is the garage and the house behind it. They enter, and she sends one of her men downstairs to check out the basement, she and the other one head upstairs. She turns to her thug/friend, "Who lived here?"

"The sheriff's brother and his wife."

"Where are they?"

"The sheriff said his brother was killed, the figures took his wife, took their daughter some time ago."

Wilma likes the idea of being in charge, "Then, what is the point of this place still standing----burn it."

Her friends look at her, she returns their glare---"I said burn it!"

The sheriff and his friends see the headlight coming, the big man grins, "Must be the boss."

Wade starts tugging on the sheriff's shirt, "Ah sheriff, you better see what that woman is doing now."

Mitch's house is being doused with gasoline, and the torches are being lit, the sheriff lets out a string of curse words and starts running towards the house. The men hold him back, and the house goes up in flames. The sheriff walks over to Wilma and sends her backward with his fist, the other men grab him. They all start arguing and pushing each other around, till a voice booms out.

"What the hell is going on here?"

They all turn to see Ross standing there, glaring at them.

He turns to Wilma, "What are you up to now darling?"

She knows she's in trouble for not going back to help him, she starts making excuses as he walks towards her. He grabs her by the arm and shoves her in the direction of some of his men, "Take her to the diner, I'll deal with her later!"

He walks over to the sheriff, who is looking at his brother's place go up in flames. "A little late to be having any family emotions, ain't it sheriff?"

The big man turns to him, "Why should I be concerned, my brother was killed a long time ago, why should it bother me now?"

Ross eyes him suspiciously, "Yeah, why should it? You're not keeping something from me, are you sheriff?"

"HEY BOSS---they're here," shouts one of his men. Ross looks towards the road, the semi is finally pulling in. The figures in the other semi have sensed the arrival of their own, they all start jumping up and down inside the trucks, the trailer rocks back and forth from their movement.

"Now, we can get this show on the road, and you Ranger, are about to meet your Destiny! Your troubles have just started!"

***

The sky opens up on the bike riders, they're about a mile from Mesa Rock. They remember the old man's shack where they had stopped days earlier to use the phone, and to get something to eat. It was just a spot on the map and a big disappointment to them then, an even bigger disappointment to them now. They rush to get the bike into the shack, and to get out of the freezing wind and rain. The old man is no where around, which doesn't surprise them.

The shack is just that, a 11x13 room with a bare floor, cracks in the ceiling and in the walls, the wind is whipping through, making it even colder on their already wet bodies. They try to dry off with a part of the blanket as much as they can. Walker starts pacing around the room, cursing the weather and the bike. Alex takes out the sandwiches and hands him one, at first he refuses, then he takes it and stares out the window through the pouring rain. He stands there for the longest, just staring.

She walks up behind him, "What are you thinking about?"

He eats the sandwich in three bites, wishing he had a nice hot cup of coffee to wash it down. "I know there's got to be another way off this mountain!"

"Honey, you keep saying that, but we have the map, it shows no roads beyond the cut off to Blue Bear!"

Walker shakes his head, "I know one thing-- if and when we do get off this mountain, it'll be a cold day in hell before I let you talk me into taking my phone out again!"

Alex stares at him, "Excuse me---you were just as anxious to take that phone out as I was---don't go laying all this on me!"

"No Alex---taking the phone out was your idea!"

She glares at him, "Where is all of this coming from?"

"I'm saying, that if we had the phone we could have notified the authorities days ago, and we wouldn't be in this predicament!"

"Well, excuse me for trying to have a normal vacation for once!"

He shouts back at her, "Normal---you call this normal?"

Her bottom lip is starting to quiver, "Judging from all the past times that we have tried to have normal vacations, that damn phone was always coming between us. I just wanted us to be able to have some time together without you being called out on a case---that's what I was trying to have---a normal vacation like other normal couples have---Is that so wrong?"

He walks over to the bike and starts taking the headlight off, ignoring her. She walks around pouting, "I'm beginning to wish we hadn't even come on this vacation---everything has gone wrong, right from day one! We run into those 'things', what ever the hell they are, we get spied on, I lose my pills, we go up and down this mountain, we get attacked by those things, I get pulled through a windshield by those 'things', I get my arm tore up, and all you can think of is that it's my fault the phone got taken out!!!---Well, I got news for you Cordell---maybe this is Mother Nature's way of telling us that we're not meant to be together!"

He turns to look at her, his anger is showing, "Fine---when and if we do get back to Dallas--you can go your way and I'll go mine---does that make you happy?"

She stomps her foot, "YES----that suits me fine---maybe then I can meet someone that I can have a normal relationship with!"

"Like DALTON?" Walker asks sarcastically.

She takes the sleeping bag to the far end of the shack, "Why are you bringing his name up?"

"Because it's obvious you're thinking about him!"

"And, how do you know what I'm thinking? Has your Cherokee intuition made you a mind reader now?---Maybe you should look into your own mind and then you could figure out why you're constantly making the redhead jokes?"

He's got the headlight off and checking the seals, "What are you mumbling about now?"

They lock eyes, "Redhead---Marilee--she was a redhead, at least an out of the bottle redhead---I don't think it was natural, of course--you would know if it was natural, wouldn't you?"

He can feel his anger getting the best of him, "Drop it Alex---what happened between Marilee and me was a long time ago, and it was before you and I started dating and besides I only spent one night with her---how many nights did you spend with Dalton?"

She grumbles and throws the sleeping bag down, "MEN!"

***

The rain is making the figures restless, Ross knows that he will have to release them soon, before they tear the truck up--trying to get out! He watches the sheriff as the big man is watching his brother's house go up in flames. There was never any brotherly love between him and Mitch, Ross is wondering why the sheriff is showing emotion now.   The rain is stopping the house from being completely destroyed. The sheriff turns around to Ross and angrily walks up to him.

"What’re you going to do about this Ross, what you going to do to that Wilma?"

"What would you like me to do, sheriff?"

The sheriff snorts, "If it was me, I'd let those figures have her."

Ross sneers back at him, "What's the matter sheriff, did she bring up a sore spot with you? I'll tell you what, when I get through with her, you can have her to do with as you please!"

"Thanks but no thanks, she's too rough for me and too old---I like 'em young. But---I would like to have a poke at that Ranger's girlfriend, now she's real pretty and soft looking!"

Ross laughs, "Yeah, I know what you mean---like a peach---just waiting for the nectar to be sucked out---right?"

Before the old man can answer, Ross hits him in the stomach, the man doubles over. "I told you--she's mine--all mine---you understand me, sheriff?"

The sheriff is sputtering, trying to get his breath when one of Ross' men yells out to him, "They're here boss!"

Ross watches as the semi rolls in, and the figures in the first one have sensed the arrival of their own and start pounding on the sides of the trailer even more. He hopes everything is okay on the other side of the mountain, they sure haven't been going too well on this side---thanks to the Ranger ---and Wilma! He starts towards the diner, he has to show Wilma who is the boss, once and for all. But, Wilma has departed with her thugs and two of Ross' men. She knows that he will surely kill her this time or make her wish she were dead. They've headed north, to Mesa Rock.

***

In Colorado Springs the troopers are listening to a young man babble about half eaten corpses, monsters, and a crooked lawman. They look at him in disbelief, and are ready to send for the psychiatrist when the desk sergeant comes in.

"Excuse me Captain, there's a couple of Texas Rangers out here looking for some friends of theirs!"

The young man bolts and runs from the Captain's office before anyone can stop him. He gets in the hallway and sees two men with cowboy hats on. "Rangers---Rangers --please you got to listen to me--I know the friend you're looking for--Walker, isn't it?"

The bigger man arches his brow, "You bet your hinney young man---where's Cordell?"

"My name is Floyd and I'm from Mirage---I know Walker and his lady friend, and I can tell you---they're in a lot of trouble---if they're still alive!"

The troopers try to take Floyd away for more questioning, Trivette tells them to step back. They begin to argue with the Ranger, "Look here Ranger---you're out of your jurisdiction up here---this is not Texas!"

C.D. grumbles, "You can say that again---now leave the young man alone and let him talk!"

Again, the troopers start to argue, Trivette steps in between them and Floyd, "Do I have to notify your governor that you are being uncooperative with fellow law officers?"

Floyd looks at Trivette, surprised to see that Trivette is black. The way Walker talked about him was like talking about a family member. The troopers back off, "It's your show Rangers!"

"Thank you officers, now Floyd start talking and don't leave anything out."

The story Floyd repeats to the Rangers have them looking at each in horror, they can't believe what they're hearing. "What about Alex, is she with Cordell --is she alright?"

Floyd is smoking one cigarette after another, "Yeah, I think so, but Ross has a fixation on her, just like he takes all of them, he's after her, too. Walker doesn't like him too much."

Trivette looks to C.D. and back to Floyd, "I wonder why," he says calmly.

"Shoot! Cordell will make this Ross feel like he's being hit with a sledgehammer for every day of the month if he tries to mess with him, and especially if he tries to mess with Alex!"

"Calm down big dog, okay, Floyd let's go."

"Where?"

‘We're going to Mirage," then he turns to the captain, "We need a chopper!"

***

Wilma and her thugs have arrived at Mesa Rock, they see the shacks and decide to check them out. The rain has closed out the sound of their car approaching, as they ease themselves up to the old man's shack, they hear the voices arguing. The door is busted open and Wilma and her wrecking crew have arrived. Walker jumps up from behind the bike, only to be met with a 12 gauge shotgun aimed at his bottom half. "One move Ranger and I'll cut you in half!"

Alex is trying to get out of the zippered sleeping bag. One of the goons helps by pulling her out by the hair of her head, then starts feeling her up. Walker 's temper starts to burn, but he knows he'll have to play it down. He looks around at the others, they too, have guns on him. Wilma walks up to him slowly, "Careful Wilma, watch his feet---they're deadly!"

The one with the shotgun follows her, keeping the gun aimed right at Walker's groin, he snickers, "Hell---it ain't his feet she's wanting--is it Wilma?"

Walker looks to Alex, as the man next to her starts feeling her breasts, Alex slaps him, he slaps her back. Walker tenses. He looks at Alex and sneers, "You happy now?’

Alex looks back at him, she can't believe his attitude, "Walker?"

"I didn't want to come on this damn trip--this was all your idea---you always got to have your way, don't you? All that whining was driving me crazy, now look at the mess you got us into?"

Wilma smiles and touches Walker's cheek, "What's the matter handsome---every time I see you two, you're arguing?"

Walker looks at her letting his eyes go up and down her body, then lingering on her breasts. As usual she was wearing a sweater entirely too small and the titans looked like they were being suffocated. He looks at her and smiles "Well, maybe I'm getting tired of the same old thing."

Alex can't believe what she's hearing as she watches Walker devour the woman with his eyes.  Wilma looks to Alex and smiles. She looks at Walker and runs her hand across his chest. "You have got one hell of a body."

Walker continues to meet the woman's gaze, "Yeah--it would be nice to share it with someone who would appreciate it."

The men laugh, "Ooh, Wilma will appreciate it, won't you Wilma?"

Alex is biting her bottom lip and glaring at Walker, he refuses to look at her. He looks Wilma over, she's a tall woman with long dark hair and eyes, pretty enough if you like them rough. It's obvious that her greatest asset is her bosom as she continues to get up in his face. She reaches for Walker and plants a kiss long and sensuous. At first he starts to resist, then he kisses her back. Alex is beside herself, she's mad and she's hurt.

One of the men speak up, "Guess the blonde has run her course."

Wilma looks back at Alex, "Take her to the car and watch her."

"Don't you want her to watch as you and her boyfriend go at it?"

Wilma smiles as she reaches down and touches Walker's manhood, he jerks. The men sneer, Alex turns away. "No, I want him all to myself, right handsome?"

Walker still refuses to look in Alex's direction, he answers softly, "Whatever you say, lady."

The man starts shoving Alex to the door, "Come on Blondie--they want to be alone, we can have our own little party in the car."

Wilma motions for the men to tie Walker's ankles with their belts, "You leave her alone Bugsy--you know Ross doesn't like you creeps handling the merchandise."

The door closes behind them and Wilma commences to undo Walker's shirt, marveling at his physique. She runs her hands across his chest, his muscles ripple, his arms are muscular. She starts kissing his chest, her lips are full, the red lipstick enhancing them even more. She watches his every movement as she starts down to his belt buckle. The men move in closer, the one with the shotgun has it so close to Walker's mid-section, he can almost feel it. He touches the back of Wilma's head, "Do you always have to have a audience?"

She stops kissing him and starts yanking his shirt off,

"You're not fooling me handsome, I've seen you fight---the men stay. Now tie his hands."

The other two men rustle to get another belt off and as they are about ready to loop it around Walker's hands, he reaches out and grabs Wilma's breast and starts to massage it saying, "Are you sure you want my hands out of commission?"

She groans as Walker starts to massage them harder, "How are you with your tongue?"

"Only one way to find out," as he opens his mouth to take her right breast. He has to open wide to accommodate the titan, then he starts twirling his tongue around her nipple. The men start licking their lips at the show being put on before them. Wilma is groaning as Walker goes to the other one, he watches the two men as they began to step backwards, and take care of their impending bulges in their pants.

Finally, Wilma pushes Walker back and motions for the men to bring him over to the sleeping bag. The belt around his ankles is so tight, they have to carry him over, forcing him down on his back. Wilma starts taking her clothes off, and the men stare as her nude body is unveiled before them. She lays down on top of Walker, going up and down his chest and stomach and then to his lips, leaving red lipstick traces all over him. Walker pulls her to him and starts kissing her hard as his right hand goes to the back of her neck, pushing her long dark hair to the side and gently takes his forefinger and thumb, pressing it against her neck.

She pulls back a little, he pulls her back to him saying, "You have a beautiful neck."

She looks at him a little puzzled thinking he must have fetish for necks. He continues to hold her as he watches the other men start to move back toward them, ‘Did you know that the neck has 154 bones and most of them are connected to the spine?"

She starts kissing him again, "Who cares---is this what you talk about when you're making love?"

Walker tightens his fingers a little more then he whispers, "First of all, I'm not making love, and if you move the slightest little bit, I'm going to start snapping bones and I'm going to start with these three that are right at the base of your scull. Listen to me Wilma and listen good. This first bone that I snap is connected to the right side of your brain, it won't kill you, just make a vegetable out of you. The second one will cause you to start slobbering, you'll probably end up swallowing your tongue. Do I make myself clear as to what I can do or has the silicone gone to your brain?"

The men are puzzled as to why Wilma has stopped moving on top of the Ranger, "Hey Wilma, everything okay?"

She starts to say something, Walker tightens his grip, "If you think you can move fast enough before I snap this third bone, you got another think coming, this one will kill you instantly."

"Let me go, or Duke will shoot."

"You'll get it first, since you're on top, now tell the ugly one with the shotgun to put it down and walk away---now, my hand is getting real tired."

"Duke---put the gun down. Now---and walk away---all of you."

They do as they're told and Walker says to Wilma, "Now reach down---slowly and undo my ankles." Wilma reaches down with her right hand to undo the belt as Walker continues to hold her neck.

"Now rise up very slowly off of me and remember I can snap your neck in less than a second--don't think I won't--and you can kiss the world good bye, understand?"

She gets up slowly and then he stands, "You, the ugly one, go get Alex---and you better pray to whoever it is you pray to that she's okay, if not--you're going to die a painful death."

The man runs to the door, "That's far enough, you can shout to them from there."

The man comes in with Alex, she takes one look at Wilma's nude body and she starts to boil.

"Alex---get their guns, and the car keys."

Alex collects the guns, handing one to Walker, as he pushes Wilma away. Alex stares at the woman and then she sees the lipstick traces all over Walker's face, neck and chest. Her bottom lip starts to quiver, Wilma is trying to retrieve her clothes.

"Alex, you okay?"

"I'm fine," she answers in a low tone, glaring back at him.

"Go start the car."

Alex turns to the door when Wilma laughs. "No matter what he tells honey, he enjoyed every minute of it, didn't you handsome?"

Walker replies, "Yeah---I like kissing ashtrays."

Alex does a small burn as Wilma continues to torment her, "Hey bimbo, next time I'll hog tie him and we'll finish what we started."

Alex turns and walks towards the woman, "Is that the only way you can get a man to make love to you--by tying them down! Sure says a lot to your claim on being a woman, huh, Wilma?"

Walker is trying to get Alex's attention, "Alex--let's go--we don't have the time for this!"

Alex shakes her head, "There won't be a next time," and she lands a left uppercut to Wilma's jaw.

Wilma rebounds and goes straight for Alex's hair, the catfight has begun! Walker sighs as he tries to keep an eye on the four men as Alex and Wilma are going at it full force, eyes, hair, are no exceptions as the two women end up on the floor, rolling in the mud. Wilma has a longer reach with her arms, but Alex is holding her own as she catches Wilma with a right to the stomach and then a knee to her chin. The men aren't concerned with the Ranger, they're totally engrossed in the fight, this is better than winning the Colorado lottery--or almost. They start cheering and not necessarily for Wilma. Walker is shocked, he didn't know Alex could fight like this, though he had taught her well.

One of the men suddenly lunges after Walker and is met with a foot to his head. Two of the others rush Walker and get a flurry of fists going to the head and stomach. The fourth man hits Walker, from behind with a broken table leg and they end up in their own free for all. The three of them have Walker in the floor when he does a flurry of head butting, and ear popping. Then he does a back flip coming up with both feet outstretched taking each of them out with kicks to the head. They fall up against the bike, knocking it over and gasoline spills out of the tank. The first man grabs the shotgun and he and Walker start fighting over it, it discharges hitting the gas tank. Walker wrestles the gun from him and then slams it into his face. He yells to Alex to get out.

She doesn't hear him as she and Wilma are still slugging it out. Alex is on top of her hitting her with first, her right fist, then her left. Walker runs over, scoops her up by her waist and shoves her toward the door, "It's going to blow---get out of here!"

Alex runs to the door as Wilma reaches out and grabs Walker's arm. He reaches back and belts her right in the mouth, sending her backward into the other three men. Walker yells to Alex to run, and they both run towards the car. They just reach the car when the whole shack goes up, sending debris everywhere.

The rain is still coming down as Walker and Alex get into the Lincoln, look back at the remains of the shack, then continue north to Blue Bear Lake.

***

Joy can't stand to watch anymore as she lowers herself down on the floor of the cave. She's seen and heard it all, as the women's screams echo throughout the cave. She sits down, drawing her knees up to her chest and hugging them. She can't even cry, there are no tears left. She rocks back and forth as she mentally tries to block it all out. She looks around her, this part of the cave is huge, and almost pretty, compared to the others she had seen. The screams stop and Joy takes a look back to the center. The one to be known as "Daddy" is leaving, he's covered with sweat and even blood can be seen on the bottom half of his body. The women are still laying on the floor as the other figures force them back into the cage. Joy watches as "Daddy" goes back in the same direction from which he came, she decides to follow him.

***

Walker and Alex reach the cutoff to Blue Bear, they hesitate, and then Walker heads the car up the same road that he and Alex began their journey almost a week before. They drive as far as they can, until the road is too narrow to take the car. He stops and throws it into park, "We can't go any further----I can hear the river."

Alex hasn't said anything since leaving Mesa Rock, she's on the far end of the seat, just staring out into the rain. "Now what?" she asks.

"When the rain stops--if it ever does, then we cross the river and start down on the other side!"

"We're going back down the mountain----again?"

He looks at her and shakes his head, she's covered in mud and her hair is all over her head, "Not exactly----there's got to be another way."

She sighs, laying back against the seat, "When is this nightmare ever going to be over with?"

"Well, you're not any more anxious for it to be over with than I am, then you can get back to Dallas and find that 'normal' life you've been jabbering about!"

"You just won't let it drop, will you Walker?"

He hits the steering wheel. "You started it Alex. But, you know what? A 'normal' couple couldn't have gone through what we've gone through. A 'normal' couple would be ready for the loony bin about now, so maybe it's a good thing that we aren't 'normal' and our relationship is not 'normal, okay?"

She doesn't know what to say as she stares out the window, then she turns to him and says quietly, "I 'm sorry---I don't know what is happening to us, we have never argued like this before---saying hateful things to each other---I hate it," and the she starts to cry.

He reaches out and touches her shoulder, trying to pull her towards him, but she pulls away.

"Alex---I'm sorry too--we're both tired, our nerves are shot, it's no wonder we're at each other's throats!"

She faces him, "I'm scared, Walker--I'm afraid that we are not going to make it out of this one!"

He slides over to her side of the car, "Sssh---come here," she goes into his arms, crying uncontrollably. He lets her cry it out, and he just holds her. "First of all we're going to get out of this Alex, because I promised you that steak dinner with all the trimmings, and you know I never go back on a promise!"

"Know what I'd like right now," she sniffles.

"What?"

"Enchiladas, dripping with cheese, and lots of conqueso dip."

He smiles down at her, kissing her forehead, "What happened to the steak dinner?"

"All of the above, I swear when we get back to Dallas, I'm never going to stop eating!"

"So, I take you're hungry."

"I am starving!" Then as soon as she says it, she knows she's made a mistake.

They look at each other, "I guess you know what this means, it means that the great Cherokee warrior will have to go scrounge up some food."

She makes a face, "Not worms again!"

"I'm afraid so, don't have time to catch fish or any small animals---we need something fast---fast food?" He asks trying to get a smile out of her.

She pushes him towards the door---"Go!"

She watches him as he digs around the trunk of a tree, he's found his catch and he finds an old discarded plastic cup that he scoops up some rainwater in. He's got a whole handful of the slimy critters, she looks back at him. "Do I have to?"

"Alex you have got to eat, you've hardly eaten anything in the last 48 hrs--now just put your head back and drop them in, it's like eating oysters."

"Yuk, I hate oysters."

"Here watch me." He takes a couple, lays his head back and the critters go down---"See, nothing to it!"

She swallows a couple then reaches for the water, "Ugh---what are these green ones?"

"They're tree beetles, related to the tree frog, only tastier--if you can get past the shell."

"I'll pass, I'll stick to the earth worms."

Walker takes one of the beetles and drops it down, he starts to say something to Alex, then he starts gagging, the green beetle juice oozes out onto his beard. He opens his door and starts trying to spit it out, Alex hands him the water. He starts shaking his head back and forth and making a horrible face, Alex sees the green ooze, "Oh, Walker--that's gross!"

He's still trying to clear his throat, "If you think it looks gross, try tasting it!"

"What's the matter great Cherokee warrior, go down the wrong way?"

She takes the tail of her shirt, dips in the water and attempts to wipe the ooze from his beard, "Would you be still, please?"

She gets the ooze off then she sees the traces of Wilma's lipstick, "Walker---would you PLEASE wipe that lipstick off?"

He had forgotten all about it as he reaches up to look in the rear view mirror, "It's not bothering me!"

"Well, it's bothering me!" She tears another piece of her shirt off and wets it, going straight for his face.

"Watch it, not so hard---you're taking my skin off."

Alex is furious, "It's not coming off so easy---that figures--because it's cheap. That's just her style--cheap!" She gets his face and neck cleared, then she sees the ones on his chest, she's boiling! "Tell me, Walker---is there any other places that I should be looking?"

He tries to tease her, "I don't know----I got so excited I can't remember, maybe you should check---just to be sure!"

She throws the rag down into the floorboard and gives him a look that warns him not to continue with his teasing.

"I was only teasing, hon."

She bites her bottom lip. "Did you have to enjoy it so much?"

"Enjoy!---I did what I had to do to get us out of that situation, for Christ's sake, Alex--I had a shotgun aimed at my groin!"

They stare at each other, Walker is still smacking his lips trying to get the taste of the beetle out of his mouth.

"I'm sorry, I know you were doing what you had to do, want some more worms?"

"No, I would rather have a nice hot cup of coffee and a cigar to get this taste out of my mouth!"

She smiles, "Well I can't do anything about the coffee, but the guy that was holding me in this car was smoking a cigar--he got it out of the glove compartment."

Walker karate chops the lock and two cigars fall out," he smiles, "Now if only the lighter works."

He lights up the cigar and inhales deeply, blowing it out--Alex gags. She starts fanning the air, "Oh, honey that stinks."

"They've never bothered you before."

"That's because they're cheap--your brand doesn't smell like that."

"I'll crack a window--okay?"

She leans up against him as he smokes his cigar, "Do you realize this in the general area in which I lost my birth control pills? Wouldn't that be something if we found the backpack washed up on the banks or hung up on some dead tree limbs."

He puts his arm around her and kisses her on the cheek, "What good would that do us, you've been without them for over a week now?"

"Because--there was something else in my back pack that I've forgot to mention, I packed you some Lone Stars."

Walker coughs, "What?---You packed my cigars and didn't tell me?"

"Well, you know what Cordell, things have been a little hectic and I'm sorry that I forgot to mention that one little detail to you."

He groans and throws the rest of the cigar out the window. "It's okay. One thing about it, if anyone ever decides to write a story about us, they won't run out of things to write about, huh?"

As he puts his arms around her and draws her closer to him, she responds with a kiss.

"That's for sure, Sasquatches and all!"

***

The rain has started up again, as Alex looks out of the window of the Lincoln, she is so tired of all the rain. But rain or no rain, when Walker wakes up, they'll have to start out on foot. Talking him into getting some sleep was a 'act of congress'. Finally she threatened him saying she wasn't going any further till he got some rest. He was so tired that he couldn't keep his eyes open, he finally crawled into the back seat and within minutes he was sound asleep. He had started to say something about finding that road that he was so persistent about. He kept falling asleep in mid sentence, and not making any sense at all. She threw the old blanket in the back seat and told
him to sleep, and that she would keep watch. The shotgun was near him in the back seat, she had a handgun next to her. She watched him as he slept, his arms folded across his chest. He had been asleep for almost an hour, he told her not to let him sleep any longer than that.

She checked her arm, all of the stitches were still intact from the fight she had with Wilma. She looks at her hands, they were swelling and in dire need of a manicure. She frowns as she notices the two broken nails, "Damn, just as my hand was starting to feel better then I go and bruise it all over again!"

"What are you mumbling about," comes a voice from the backseat.

"Aren't you suppose to be sleeping, I said I would keep watch?"

He rolls over on his back, looking at her. "Can't sleep, too much on my mind."

She sits up in the seat and leans over with her head resting on her arms, "What are you thinking so hard about?"

He grins, "Come back here and I'll tell you!"

She crawls over the seat and gets under the blanket with him, "Mmmmm, this feels good, got any other suggestions?"

"A few, " he whispers as he reaches for her under the blanket, putting his hand in between her legs and pulling her closer to him as he moves against the back of the seat. "The seat in this Lincoln is bigger than a lot of beds we've been in."

"How would we know, we always end up on one side anyway," she teases.

He starts kissing the side of her neck, but she pulls away.

"What's wrong?"

She looks around nervously, "Maybe we shouldn't start anything that we can't finish."

"Alex---we're not going anywhere and I doubt very seriously that those things would be out in this kind of weather, and the rain is actually on our side--they can't smell us!"

She looks back at him, "That's not the only thing I was thinking about---we left your little ‘friends' back at the Inn."

He starts smiling, "So---like you've been saying--there are other ways," and he kisses her neck again, going down to her breasts, and unbuttoning her shirt. He takes her left breast and starts to put it in his mouth, she sits up and pulls away from him again, going to the other end of the car.

"Alex---what's going on? You're always saying there are other ways and now you act like you don't even want me to touch you, what gives?"

She bites her bottom lip, "I can't get that picture of you and Wilma out of my head. She was all over you, touching you!"

Walker swears and then hits the back of the seat, "Damn it, Alex---are you still harping on that? I had to let her believe that I was interested in her till I could make my move, that's pretty hard to do with a shotgun aimed at your groin!"

She snaps back at him, "Well, I can't help but wonder how fast you would have made your move if Wilma had been a man---but you were enjoying it, her feeling you up---weren't you?"

Walker's temper is flaring, "Yeah Alex--I was enjoying it since I have to be so careful having sex with you---because you lose your damn birth control pills! Then we have to traipse up and down this damn mountain looking for condoms, only to leave them behind and now we're right back to square one again. Yeah, Alex, maybe with Wilma I wouldn't have had to worry about coming too soon and getting her pregnant!"

They stare at each other, Walker throws his left leg into the floorboard and starts pulling his boots on, "Get ready---cause we're leaving now---rain or no rain!"

Alex doesn't move, she just lowers her head, "I'm starting to sound like the one person I swore I'd never be."

Walker stares back at her, "What person? What the hell you talking about now?"

"My Mother!" She yells back.

Walker shakes his head. "You're Mother? Alex----what about your Mother, what has she got to do with all of this?-----You never talk about your Mother, and now?"

"It was her jealousy that ran my Father off, he didn't just start having affairs--she drove him to it. But, I wouldn't blame her, it was easier to blame my Father. So, she goes into a depression, ends up in a nursing home, and I continue to blame my Father---when it was all her fault---her jealousy!"

The Ranger sighs, rubbing the back of his neck. "Alex---none of this is making any sense to me. There was nothing between Wilma and me, no attraction on my part, I was just doing what I had to do to get us out of there and alive. This isn't like you Alex, you've always been a strong and independent person, it's one of the reasons I fell in love with you, because you've always followed your own path and you've never…"

"What did you say?"

"I said you've always followed your own path you…"

"Before that---what did you say?"

He stops and looks at her, her eyes are looking into his in that way that always makes him melt, "I said, ---that's one of the reasons I fell in love with you."

Alex smiles, taking a deep breath, "You've never said you loved me?"

He leans back against the seat, taking her hand, "Alex--you have had to know how I feel about you after all of this time." He touches her face with his forefinger, "you've had to know every time I take you in my arms, every time we make love."

She takes another deep breath and inches closer to him, "But a girl would still like to hear the words, ---just so there aren't any misunderstandings."

They look into each other's eyes, he can't remember her eyes being so beautiful before. He places a kiss on her eyelids, "I love you, Alex, I always have!"

She snuggles up to him, "What?"

“I said I love you!"

"I didn't hear you, what did you say?"

Walker gives her a frown, "Alex---?"

She reaches up and kisses him, "One more time, I think my hearing is coming back!"

He shakes his head, reaches out for her and shouts "I LOVE YOU ALEX CAHILL!!"

She squeals and throws her arms around his neck, and then says softly, "I love you too, Cordell Walker."

They're lost in each other’s eyes as she slowly straddles him, pushing him back against the seat, seeking his lips. His hands reach out for her hungry, he can't recall wanting her as much as he does at that moment. He starts kissing her hard, not giving her time to even breathe, his tongue going inside her mouth deep and searching. He pulls her up into his lap, his hands going to her buttocks and constantly massaging, pulling her down against his erection. He starts trying to get his boots off, without letting go of her. He gives it up to a lost effort, he stops kissing her, "Got to get these damn boots off again."

She stops him, "Wait---leave them on---have you ever made love with your boots on?"

He stops and looks at her cautiously, raising his brow he asks, "Alex---if I answer that question, are we going to get into another argument?"

"Probably!"

He reaches down and hurriedly pulls his boots off, scoops her up and lays her down in the seat---"Then I'm not answering."

***

Joy follows the figure, as he ventures further into the cave. The cave continues to get bigger and wider. She stops and commences to rub some more of the bat dung off the sides of the walls and smears it all over her body, still being careful to keep her distance from "Daddy". There are other figures at this end, but they are all walking in a more upright position than the others she has seen. They seem to be carrying something, even the women figures are busy working. Joy strains to get a better look, she hears noises, loud noises. Then she hears voices, but she can't make out what they are saying. She sits back down on the floor of the cave, it's getting warmer at this end, and she's reminded of how long it has been since she actually slept. Her eyes began to get heavy. She smells something different, something she knows she has smelled in the past. It's getting stronger and her eyes are getting heavier, she can't fight it any longer, she
closes her eyes and sleep overcomes her.

***

The two Rangers, Floyd and about a dozen troopers arrive in Mirage. The patrol cars are pulling in as the chopper starts to land. Floyd is looking green and upchucking for the third time. "Sorry Rangers, ain't never been on one of these things before."

The Captain tells his men to spread out and start checking all the homes and businesses, the two Rangers and Floyd head for the Inn. They walk inside to check the room, it's in total disarray, the phone has been yanked out, and they find what is left of the smeared message on the mirror.

"I don't like the looks of this, Jimmy."

"Neither do I, big dog. Okay, Floyd, we know that Alex must have gone looking for Walker, you said that this Ross guy was following them? What about the semi truck that was turned over, ready to show us?"

Floyd nods his head, "I hope you guys are ready for this, you ain't never seen anything like this."

Trivette turns to C.D., "I think we should get a four wheel, the rain is getting heavier, not to mention the wind gusts will be stronger going up that mountain."

Before C.D. can answer Floyd yells out, "Please! No more choppers, please!!"

C.D. looks at Floyd, "You're looking a little green around the gills---if we were back in Texas I would fix you up real good with some of my Armadillo chili."

Floyd swallows, "Chili?"

"Oh yeah." The big man puts his arms around Floyd and they start following Trivette, "My armadillo chili would make you feel better in no time---I take it and I cook that varmint for a solid week, until he's nice and tender, soaking in that peanut oil. I throw a little garlic in with it, and some paprika seasoning, until that varmint is floating atop all that oil, and then…"

C.D. doesn't finish as Floyd breaks away and heads for the nearest tree, now he has diarrhea. C.D. chuckles as the young man is squatting down in the pouring down rain, his fanny showing in all its glory.

Trivette walks back to C.D. and frowns. "You just had to tell him about your armadillo stew, didn't you?"

"Wasn't my stew this time Jimmy, it was my chili." C. D. continues to laugh and shaking Trivette's shoulder. Trivette looks at the old man and says quietly, "C.D he doesn't have any toilet paper."

C.D. is laughing harder, "Ain't that a shame?"

Trivette nods his head, "Oh, that's a real shame, now tell me big dog---we’ve got to go up that mountain soon, it's pouring down rain, so we're going to have to keep the windows up, right?"

C.D. turns to his friend, "So?"

Trivette looks out to Floyd, the man thought he was through, then had to squat right back down again. "Since he doesn't have any toilet paper, then how is he going to clean himself?"

"That's his problem, Jimmy."

"NO, big dog---that's your problem, you're sitting in the back with Floyd, better yet--the two of you can drive your own vehicle---I'll ride with the Captain---see ya!"

"JIMMY, don't you dare leave me here with ----with Barney Fife!!!"

***

The semis are ready to roll out as Ross tries to make radio contact with the other end, as usual all he hears is a crackling noise, "Damn phones," and he throws it down on the ground and smashes it with his foot. He tries yelling over the sound of the rain, "Loosen up! We've got to get these trucks to their destination by tonight! There can't be anymore lolly gagging, our eta is midnight--is that clear?"

The sheriff wipes his mouth, spittle drips down his unkempt beard. His stomach still reeling from Ross' punch, he spits. "One of these days Ross--you're going to get yours, and as much as I hate that Ranger fellow, I'll bet he'll be the one to break you in half."

***

Walker has Alex lying in the seat and this time she's offering no resistance as he trails kisses down her neck and to her breasts. His mouth takes her left breast and then her right, as he urges her to take her shirt off. He raises up and eagerly takes his shirt and pants off, throwing them onto the floorboard and then he helps Alex to get the rest of her clothes off.

He lays down beside her and his hands go between her legs and finds her wet mound. He continues to bathe her body with kisses as he trails her slender waistline with his tongue and biting her lightly, till her whole body is tingling. She pushes herself up and gently forces him back into a sitting position and then she leans forward taking his face towards her bosom. He takes them eagerly, as she continues to climb even higher till her mound is at his lips. He groans when he pulls her buttocks in tighter and as his tongue does a circular motion, she is already starting to come. He darts his tongue in and out and then in an upward stroke takes the entire length of her mound. Alex shudders, her whole body is starting to shake, she has such a sensation going through her legs, all the way up to her breasts. He could always make her feel like this, from the very first time they made love too now. She has never experienced these kinds of sensations with any man before. The only one to ever come close was Dalton, but he was a distant second. He was always more concerned in getting his pleasures first, Walker was just the opposite. He knew she liked it slow and he was more than willing to accommodate her.

She lowers herself back down, seeking his lips, and sliding further down his naked body. God, how she loved looking at his body, he was so muscular. She loved his wide shoulders and chest, ah … she loved that chest. The chest hairs were just long enough to curl between her fingers and she loved how his reddish-blonde hair would stand up on ends when she would kiss his nipples. She loved the slender waist that would taper down to a sexy butt. He had the cutest butt, and she loved seeing him in tight fitting jeans and those leather riding chaps he wore when he was in the rodeo. The first time she heard some women comparing points, she thought they were talking about the riding events, she was wrong, They were comparing butts, and Walker's was high on the list.

He had strong muscular legs, thanks to his martial arts training in kick-boxing. Those legs took him to 6 years in a row as kick boxing champion, but more important to her, they kept him going strong all night, fulfilling her every desire.

Now she was at his groin, and he was anticipating what she would be doing with her lips. But first, she was encircling his bulge with her hand, going back and forth very slowly, watching his eyes, and licking her lips. He groans as he puts his hand to the back of her head, gently pulling her towards his throbbing membrane. She commences to do a dance around the genitals with her tongue, first small strokes and then enlarging them till they encircle his penis completely.

Walker's body starts to jerk, and he groans even louder. She never stops watching his face, tormenting him all the while, threatening to engulf the full length, then backing off and coming back. He grits his teeth, throwing his head back, and exhaling, "Alex" he whispers.

She closes her mouth over his entire penis and lets it slide back out, next to her mouth, "Yes?" she whispers back.

His voice is hoarse, "Stop teasing----or you're going to be sorry."

She continues to let his penis throb next to her mouth as she sticks her tongue out and licks it, "Oooohh---I'm being threatened--- and I'm the one that's holding your life in my hands?"

He grimaces, "I would rather it not be your hand right now."

"UMMMM, how about this?" She takes his whole penis in her mouth and goes all the way down to his midsection, twisting gently, up and down, in and out.

Walker's eyes are going back in his head as reaches for something to brace himself against her onslaught of licking and sucking. He hits the seat, as he groans louder and Alex sucks harder and longer. He can't stand it as he reaches down to pull her up and sits her in his lap, as he guides his spear into her. They began a steady rhythm, as his hands are on her buttocks, pulling her down harder against him. She pushes her hair back and rocks back and forth, they both start to breathe heavier.

Alex raises herself up and turns around, keeping him inside her. He follows suit as he raises up and turns her around, facing the rear windshield. He massages her buttocks as she pushes back up against him, taking him deeper. He takes his right hand and slides it around to the front of her mound, and inserts two, and then three fingers. Her whole body starts to tingle and he thrusts forward, pushing her mound against his hand, over and over. She tries reaching back for him and he leans forward across her body, kissing her neck. He whispers in her ear, "I told you not to tease, didn't I?"

She draws in a deep breath, as he increases his tempo shoving his manhood all the way in and letting it come almost out, then shoving it back in, her mound is dripping wet on his fingers, she whimpers, "Walker, don't you dare make me come this way---turn me over----please."

He pulls back, allowing her to turn herself back around and lays down on the seat with her left leg up on the back.  He mounts her again, sliding his hand under her buttock and lifting her up till her legs go around his neck. He plunges deeper and deeper till she's about ready to come, he's kissing her harder and sticking his tongue deeper into her mouth, she pulls away from him to catch her breath, he thinks she wants him to withdraw. He starts to back out when she pulls him to her, "No---no, don't --not just yet!"

She's holding onto him so tight with her arms around his neck and her groin muscles squeezing his manhood, he couldn't possible pull out, even if he wanted to. She can feel him about ready, but she continues to hold him tighter, his hands go all the way up her back and pulls her down deeper, till both their bodies explode at the same time. He collapses down on top of her, Alex continues to hold him close. After a few minutes Walker says, "My legs feel like wet noodles, I may never walk again!"

She brushes his hair back, "Good, then we can just lie here, just like this ---forever!"

***

The Rangers stare into the back of the semi, the smell causing them to gag and put their handkerchiefs over their mouths, "Holy, what in tarnation is that smell, Jimmy?"

"Well if I didn't know better, I would say it was your armadillo chili coming back up for about the tenth time, big dog."

They step away from the truck, fanning the air, the other troopers are doing the same, while unbuckling their holsters. They all look around cautiously. Floyd is still standing by the four wheeler. C.D. and Trivette climb back up the hill, the young lawman is shaking his head and pointing at the truck, "You see, I told you guys you weren't going to believe me!"

Trivette takes in some fresh air, the rain has slackened.

"From now on, I will believe anything you tell us Floyd."

"Jimmy, we got to be moving, we got to find Alex and Cordell before these 'things' find them or worse yet---us!"

"Okay, Floyd, we're going up this mountain now, is there anything else you want to tell us?"

Floyd has regained some of his color, he looks around him and at the troopers, they number about a dozen, "Just one thing, we need more man power, handguns ain't going to get it done. We need dynamite to get those things out of the caves and flame throwers to finish the job!"

"We can't go using dynamite, there are innocent people up there in those caves." C.D. yells back.

"Ranger, as much as I hate to say this, those people are beyond help, if any are still alive they are the walking dead!"

C.D. and Trivette look at each other and then to Floyd, a cold chill goes up and down their spines, all at the same time. C.D. barks, "Let's get the hell out of here!!!"

***

Alex is lying in Walkers' arms, she's facing him and toying with his beard. "I am so hungry, Walker, my stomach is growling!"

He smiles back at her, "I know I can hear it, and I can feel it, too," as he touches her stomach.

"What kind of food are you thinking about now?"

She moans, smacking her lips, "Cheeseburgers, dripping with C.D.'s chili, heaps of french fries and lots of ketchup."

"Honey---the more you think about food, the hungrier you're going to get!"

"Tell that to my stomach!!"

He rubs her stomach, "Well, I guess it's time I make another trip to the grocery store."

"No, please, no more worms--I won't say anything more about food, I promise."

He kisses her cheek and pulls her closer underneath the blanket, "Steaks, enchiladas, and now cheeseburgers, at least you're staying in the same beef line." His words trail off and he starts repeating the word 'beef'. Alex looks at him confused, "Honey, what's wrong, what are you thinking so hard about?"

He bolts up, "Get dressed--we're going now!"

He's climbing over her to get to his clothes, "Hurry Alex---I think I know how to get off this mountain."

Alex starts dressing and looking at Walker, she's seen that look before, a look of sheer determination, but she's not so sure she likes the feeling of it.

***

The Rangers are about half way up the mountain, C.D. is looking over the side, "Gee willikers that's a long way down boys, that first step will jar your innards, I guarantee you."

Trivette slams on his brakes, "Did I just see Walker's truck?"

The troopers behind him have to slam on their brakes as Trivette jumps out of the four wheeler, and runs back towards them, pointing to the little outlet just off the side of the narrow road. Trivette pulls his gun and starts towards the Ram, looking nervously around him as he notices the broken windshield. C.D. and the other troopers start retrieving their guns and going around to the back of the truck. The troopers start gagging again as they see what is left of one of the figures.

Trivette examines the windshield and sees the blood. He sees the prints all over the hood of the truck and the deep scratches. He looks inside the Ram, more blood and then he sees what is left of the back seat. C.D. comes beside him, "Oh my lord Jimmy, there's blood all over the place, and we found the bottom half of one of those things in the back, his head shot off!"

C.D. is starting to shake, "Jimmy, do you think they're…"

"Don't be thinking such thoughts big dog, we got to keep this together, we have to believe they're still alive!"

Floyd looks at the body laying in the back of the Ram', looks like you're friend sent that one back to hell or wherever it came from!"

Trivette calls the Captain over, "You get on the horn and you get the national guard out here now!!! I want choppers in the air--yesterday, you understand me?"

Floyd nods his head, "You better tell them to bring tanks and all the firepower they can get!"

The Captain starts back to his four wheeler, grabs the c.b. and starts to talk when they come from all sides, snorting and growling. They start attacking the officers before they know what has hit them. The troopers are literally being thrown in the air. A couple of shots ring out and they scatter and then they're back. Trivette yells at C.D. to get inside the Ram, Floyd is already climbing inside. They can't believe the scene before them, the troopers are being ripped apart and thrown over the side. When they're through with the troopers, some of them head back towards the Ram, snorting and sniffing the air. The others start to feast on what is left of the Colorado Troopers. Jimmy, C.D. and Floyd start cocking their guns as Floyd is trying to keep his back to the Rangers and watching the sliding glass window. C, D. and Jimmy go back to back. Jimmy knows that they will come through the windshield first. "I have nine shots in this clip big dog, how many you got, Floyd?"

C.D. answers, "I have a six in the chamber, I don't know if I'll have time to reload, but I know one thing---those bastards are gonna know who they messed with--they'll know they messed with the best---TEXAS RANGERS--by God."

"Floyd, you okay back there, how many bullets you got?"

"FLOYD--talk to me, man!!"

‘I got a full chamber, no, I only got four bullets left!"

Trivette looks around inside the cab for a weapon, he checks under the seat, hoping to find Walker's python 9mm, no luck, and then he feels a jack handle and pulls it out, handing it back to Floyd, "Here! Hit 'em where the sun doesn't shine, if that fails---go for the eyes!!"

The figures number about ten and now they are rushing towards the truck, they have picked up their scent and they're hungry.

"Here they come guys!!"

Four of the figures hit the hood of the truck and one starts coming through the windshield just as Trivette predicted. They start tearing at the windshield and pulling it out, C.D. shoots two of them right between the eyes. Trivette is scrambling to get out of reach of the one coming through the windshield, he too shoots for the eyes, and the figure falls halfway down inside the cab. Now they're coming up the bed of the truck, Floyd is ready, He remembers what the Rangers said about making the shots count, he aims directly at where their hearts should be, it's a bigger target. He takes out the first two, but the third one grabs hold of his leg and starts pulling him out. Trivette leans over the seat backwards and shoots the one holding Floyd's leg. The figure lets go screaming, now there's only five left, it gives C.D. and Floyd time to reload.

"Jimmy, we got to get to the four wheeler."

"There's no way C. D, the other jeeps are in the way and we can't get past those things to get to them!"

"What are we going to do, we can't just stay here, it's going to be dark soon, then more of them will be out."

Trivette pushes the figure back out through the windshield, "Maybe we can coast the Ram into them and knock that one jeep out of the way, then make a bee line to the four wheeler, C.D. can you make it?"

"Don't worry about me---you'll be eating my dust!!!"

"Okay, on the count of three, Floyd you ready to jump--you get to the four wheeler, be ready for us?"

At just the last minute, Trivette decides to start the siren, it makes a loud blast then a sound like a cow dying as the power is dying, Trivette looks at C, D, shrugs, and says, "At least it's loud!" He pulls the emergency brake and the Ram starts moving towards the first jeep and about six of the figures. They're startled at the noise and start covering their ears. As the Ram plows into the jeep, Floyd leaps from the back and starts running, C.D. throws his door open and runs as fast as he can behind Floyd. Trivette slams the Ram into park and he leaps over the hood and chases behind the other two. The figures start to give chase, Trivette keeps firing behind him. Floyd is in the four wheeler, he starts it up and backs up to them. Trivette catches C.D. from falling and Floyd opens up fire, from the four wheeler to give them coverage. Trivette throws C.D. towards the seat and Floyd pulls him in. Trivette grabs hold of the door, "DRIVE!" Trivette is hanging on for dear life as C.D. is holding onto him, his boots are dragging the ground. When they're safe enough, Floyd stops and C.D. pulls Trivette in. They don't say a word, they don't have to, their hearts are beating so fast, they can hear them. Trivette puts his hand on C.D.'s shoulder, "You okay, big dog?"

C.D. tries to laugh and think of something witty to say, but he can't think of anything. He pats Trivette's hand, "Yeah son, I'll be alright, what about you Floyd--you okay, son?"

Floyd can only nod, "I don't suppose either of you have a cigarette?"

"A cigarette! What's the matter with you boy--don't you know those things can kill you?"

Trivette smiles, ‘Way to go big dog-- right now I would like to have a bowl of your chili, and I wouldn't even complain if it had red meat in it."

C.D. snorts, "I thought you were going to say you wanted some tofu food?"

"Not this time big dog, after what we just faced, cholesterol is the least of my worries!"

Floyd listen to the two Rangers, their conversation doesn't quite make sense to him, but it's clear to him that these two are very close and equally worried about their friends. He knows the worse is yet to come, and he knows that if the Ranger is still alive, he and Ross will have their showdown.

Murphy’s Law Part V

By SASQUAW@aol.com

Ross and his men arrive in Mesa Rock, or what’s left of it. The shack has been leveled. They start to look around, they know Wilma and her goons came this way, and there were no other cut offs till the Blue Bear exit and that’s another 40 miles north. The figures are getting restless again, the bed of the semi rocks back and forth.

"Boss, we found something over here, the remains of a couple of bodies."

Ross follows the man, they find the remains of the motorcycle, and Wilma’s body. He shows no emotion at all. "So, you found the Ranger, did you?" He looks back to the semis, "Feed em!!"

He watches, as the corpses are thrown in the back of the truck, then he calls one of his men over to him. "I know the Ranger and his lady friend aren’t too far ahead of us, take some men and go on ahead of us. You’ve got to stop him from finding the way out, do you understand?"

"I got you boss—but you know that Ranger is going to put up a fight, and we both know what he can do, especially with those feet!"

Ross remembers the fight at the Dog Sled, and the way Walker took out five thugs, without breaking a sweat. He wants to confront the bearded one, and see what he’s really like in a fight, but he’s no fool, he’ll need all the help he can get.

"Take the big one with you, think you can keep him under control?"

The man lights up a cigarette, then plays with the lighter, turning the control to the highest and a flame shoots out, "I can handle him, I’ll just show him a hot time if he tries to get too unmanageable!"

The man walks off, motioning for his men to get the ‘big one ‘ out. They all groan as they head to the rear of the semi, the one with the lighter keeps yelling until the ‘big one’ makes his appearance. He jumps down from the trailer and immediately starts sniffing him. The lighter comes out, the figure squeals and the man laughs.

Ross shakes his head, "Idiot---he’s going to make bar-be-cue out of your hide if you don’t stop tormenting him! Bubba, get back over here"! Ross yells.

The man returns to Ross, Ross slaps him, "Listen, you inbred to a monkey’s ass, you got a job to do---don’t take that Ranger for granted, stop him, now! And you bring the woman to me!!"

Bubba and six men climb into the back of a pickup, the figure stands there looking at them, sniffing the air. Bubba tries coaxing the figure into getting in, no luck, and then he sees Ross walking towards them. Bubba groans, he knows what Ross did the last time to get the figure to do something. He’s sweating bullets as Ross gets up to the truck, takes one look at the situation and kicks the figure in the butt! The figure screams and starts snarling at Ross, Ross stares him down again. They stare at each other, and then very calmly, the figure gets in the back of the truck. The men all go to the front of the truck, trying to get the furthest away from him and his smell. Ross stares back at Bubba "Any more problems and I’m going to dissect you and feed you to him!"

The men look at Ross, to Bubba, and to the figure. They whisper among themselves about the strange hold that Ross has over the figures, especially the big one. Bubba shudders, he knows what the secret is, and if these men only knew, they would be literally messing in their pants!

***

Walker and Alex have been walking for about two hours, the rain has stopped, now it’s just a fine mist. The mud comes up to their ankles in some spots, the walking is hard as they keep sliding on the vines and the rocks that cover the narrow path. Walker is having to keep one arm around Alex to keep her from falling, finally she pulls on his jacket, begging him to stop.

They sit down on huge rock, as she’s exhausted. Walker walks off a few feet looking around and then comes back to her. He keeps looking towards the river, deep in thought. Alex sees that look again. Walker shifts the shotgun to his other hand and reaches out for her, "Come on Alex---we got to go!"

"Walker---I am so tired---I can’t go any further."

He sighs and sits down beside her, "We’ve got five minutes and then we’re going to have to go, it’s getting dark, we can’t be out in the open like this!"

"How much further do we have to go?"

"I don’t know, we should have seen some kind of a sign by now."

Alex looks at him, "A sign---what are you talking about?"

She starts massaging her back, and her neck is starting to hurt. He reaches out to massage her shoulders, he knows she’s totally exhausted from lack of food and water. "Remember I keep saying that there’s got to be a road around here, big enough for the trucks to get through?"

"I know you keep saying that, but honey there are no roads around here---this is it—this is as wide as it gets!"

"No, I’m not convinced."

"Walker, why are we following the river up stream, shouldn’t we be going down?"

"Alex, we know what the river looks like down stream, it narrows off and the currents get stronger. Ask yourself, where does this river form, from what body of water does it come off of?"

"I assume that it comes from Blue Bear Lake, doesn’t it?"

"Exactly and that is why the river has to widen, and we should have seen it widening by now."

Alex shakes her head, laying her head on his chest, "Walker, you’re losing me—none of this is making sense to me."

"Okay, hon, then try and think about this. How do those little towns like Destiny and Mirage survive---aside from a gas station, a diner, a couple of motels and such, what kind of revenue is coming in?"

"I suppose what they make off of the tourists, there are other small towns up and down that stretch of road after we got off the interstate."

"Yes, but without the trucks getting to these small towns, how do they get food delivered to them, and other supplies. These little towns are tourist traps, but money from just the tourists is not going to be enough. Some other kind of income has to be going into those towns for them to survive!"

"And, you’re still saying that these trucks are coming in from another direction, how?"

Walker stands up and walks around, "Okay, think back, how did I describe this place to you ,when I said we were coming here for vacation?"

"You said, good fishing and camping, beautiful scenery, total isolation and ----and---."

Walker looks at her, waiting for it to sink in on what she’s about to say, "And?"

"Underwater caves?"

He nods his head, "Underwater caves, they’re around here, Alex, "I know they are."

"But sweetheart, they would have to be humongous to accommodate trucks, especially semis!"

Walker starts scratching his beard, "Yeah, really big---that’s why I say…"

Alex looks at him, he’s stopped in mid sentence and holding his hand up in a ‘silence’ gesture. He hurries over to her, grabs her hand and the shotgun. "We’ve got company."

***

The two Rangers and Floyd are still reeling from their encounter. C.D. has been on the C.B trying to raise some help. Trivette and Floyd are watching the road behind them, when Floyd turns to Trivette. "Didn’t I tell you that we needed more man power, don’t you understand that there are more of them out there, and we’re heading right into their back yard?"

"Back yard, what are you talking about?"

"Ranger, Blue Bear Lake has been known to have several reports of these figures up that way, because of all of the caves---that’s where they live---in the caves!"

Trivette’s mouth drops, "Caves, where, how far?"

"Jimmy! I can’t get nothing on this squawk box, there’s too much static. I got a hold of a couple of teenagers, but they were so high on something, they thought I was a baseball player---then I lost ‘em!"

"Just keep trying, big dog, that’s all you can do!"

Trivette turns his attention back to Floyd, "Okay, Floyd—tell me about the caves, how do you know about them?"

Floyd tells Trivette about the disappearances of the young women, especially Joy and her sister. When he went up to the lake with Ross to ‘supposedly’ check things out, the caves were mentioned, but Ross would not investigate them any further. He said they were not of importance, and only the Casey boys lived up there, with their moonshine stills and maybe a little marijuana. Then the trucker surfaced with his tales of finding the girls and then all was mysteriously dropped, except Floyd never forgot. He had heard other reports about those caves and how they stretched for miles, there was no way he was going into any of them, not with his phobia.

C.D. starts yelling through the microphone, "Dat burn you little whippersnapper, this is official police business, if you’re not going to help us, get off the darn signal so I can talk to someone who will. ----I told you---I’m not a baseball player, ---I’m a Texas Ranger police officer!"

Trivette takes the mike from C.D., "Listen, who am I talking to?"

C.D. shakes his head and looks at Floyd, "He’s not going to get anything out of them, they’re stoned out their gourds on that funny weed!"

They watch Trivette as the young Ranger continues to talk, nodding his head, they hear him giving directions, C.D. is confused. Trivette hangs up the mike, "I hope to God they’ll follow through with their end of the promise."

"You got through to someone, Ranger, what did they say, are they going to help us?"

"I hope so Floyd, they started to think a little straighter after I told them I was Nolan Ryan, and I would get them season tickets to all the Ranger games."

Floyd looks at Trivette, "Who is Nolan Ryan?"

C.D. looks at Floyd like he’s just grown two heads, "Jumping Jehosafat, you mean to tell me you’ve never heard of Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher that ever threw a baseball?" He looks at Jimmy in disbelief, "I can’t believe he’s never heard of Nolan Ryan!"

"Never mind that big dog, I want you to stay on the radio and try to get hold of someone who is a little more reliable, someone who doesn’t keep calling me ‘baby’ and ‘dude’, ok? ----And, by the way you owe me a $1,000!"

"I owe you a thousand dollars---for what?"

"I gave them my credit card number over the phone to charge season tickets."

C.D. tips his hat back, "You did what? Jimmy, have you lost your senses, don’t you know that they can take your credit card number and wipe you out."

The younger Ranger is getting riled. "C.D. if those kids get us help like they promised, and we get out of here ALIVE---they can have all of my credit cards---and yours too. But if we don’t get out of here---our credit cards are not going to be of much help if we’re dead and on someone’s menu----right?"

***

Walker and Alex are running now, he has definitely heard the noises behind them. He’s got only one shell in the shotgun, two handguns with nine bullets between them. He hands Alex the .45 with six bullets, "Try to make every shot count, and don’t fire unless you got a clear shot, okay?"

He’s trying to find them a safe place in which to make their stand, as he gets them up against the rocks. "Keep against the rocks Alex, don’t let them get behind us."

Alex is shaking uncontrollably as Walker keeps pushing her behind him, "Stay behind me Alex, remember make your shots count!"

She can’t answer him, her heart is in her throat, as she whimpers. He keeps backing her into the wall, trying to protect her, the best he can. The three men step out into the open, and begin to circle around Walker and Alex. They start to laugh as they eye Walker, "So this is the famous Ranger that Ross is so afraid of, he don’t look so tough to me."

They start to edge close when one of them says, "Watch his feet, he knows that kung fu stuff."

Two of them get closer, their guns drawn, Walker is waiting for just the right distance between them to be right. He whispers back to Alex, "Hold your fire, we don’t know if there are more to come at us." They hear the other voices coming up the trail and as one of the men turn to call out to Bubba, Walker kicks the gun out of his hand and spins taking the other one with a foot to the face. The third man levels his gun at Walker, Alex fires, hitting him in the stomach. Walker takes out the first one with karate chops to the back of the neck, jumps up in the air and comes down with the back of his leg and elbow to the other man’s groin. The man tries to get up, Walker kicks him in the head, snapping his neck backwards. He grabs one of the handguns and pitches it back to Alex, then he grabs another one for himself. The figure is racing towards Walker, he puts the shotgun up and levels it at his midsection, and when he’s about 10 ft away, Walker pulls the trigger. The shotgun tears a hole in the figures’ stomach, but he keeps coming. Bubba and the other three men rush Alex, she fires both guns at the same time, killing one and wounding the other. Bubba reaches her and knocks her backward into the wall of rocks, but she still manages to hold one gun and fires again, hitting Bubba in the knee. He screams obscenities and charges her again.

The figure has gotten Walker and has picked him up over his head and throws him into the trunk of a tree. Walker is stunned, the figure comes at him again, he can hear Alex screaming his name. The figure is bleeding profusely, half of his stomach is gone. Walker kicks him in the stomach, he screams and grabs Walker’s foot, knocking him to the ground.

Bubba grabs Alex by the neck, choking her, she kicks at his wounded knee and he starts falling backwards, she connects with a foot to his jaw. Then she takes the gun and aims it at him. He starts begging for mercy, she grits her teeth and looks to Walker who is being dragged on the ground by the big one.

Alex turns and fires at the figure hitting him in the shoulder, he releases Walker’s foot. Bubba starts to charge Alex again. She shoots him in the chest. The figure has now turned towards Alex as he grabs his arm and looks at all of the blood.

Walker is trying to get up when the first man rushes him and they go down fighting. Alex is backing up against the wall, the figure is almost on her when she fires---no bullets left. She screams for Walker as the figure grabs her and start dragging her into the brush.

Walker has the other man in a death grip, he tightens his hold around the man’s neck, it snaps. The figure has Alex by the waist, then he throws her up on his shoulder heading for the river. Walker is getting up, his head spinning as the blood is going down into his eyes. He half runs and half crawls after the figure and Alex. He sees them about ten yards ahead, he leaps in the air and kicks the figure in the back of the head. The figure goes to the ground with Alex underneath him. Walker climbs up on his back going for the neck and trying to get his knife out. The weight of the figure and Walker is crushing Alex and suffocating her. She’s trying to wiggle out from under them, she can’t. The figure raises up, reaches back and grabs Walker, and throws him over his shoulder, and again Walker makes contact with a tree trunk. Alex manages to roll out from under the figure and crawl between some rocks, the figure is trying to pull her out. Walker retrieves his knife and goes after the figure, plunging it into his back over and over. The figure is not going down! He backhands Walker and he goes sliding through the mud. The figure decides to go after him and leaves Alex alone. Walker is laying on his back, trying to get up but keeps losing his footing in the mud, the figure is now on him, his hands around his neck, teeth bared, and going for his throat.

Alex comes from behind the rocks, picks up Walker’s knife and jumps on the figures’ back, she doesn’t have the strength to push the knife all the way through. It’s halfway embedded in his back. He knocks Alex off. Walker kicks him in the groin as the figure turns back to him, the figure goes down on his back, and the knife goes in. Walker pulls him up and then shoves him back down on the knife repeatedly. Then he reaches in his other boot, takes out the screwdriver and shoves into his right ear. The figure screams, a scream like no one can imagine, he continues to squeal as Alex puts her hands over her ears, "Make him stop----Walker---make him stop!"

Walker stands up and then with all of his energy, he takes his right foot down on the screaming figure and grinds his foot into him until he hears the bones start to snap. He stands there, looking down on the fallen enemy, then he sees Alex trying to walk to him, she’s crying as she falls into his arms. He picks her up and takes over to the shelter of the rocks, where he just holds her. Her whole body is shaking, "I wanna go home," she cries.

He falls down to the ground with her, still holding her, "Okay, baby---ok—whatever you say------I’ll take you home." He continues to hold her as she holds onto his shirt. He rocks back and forth slowly with her, kissing her forehead.

Walker continues to hold Alex, they are both completely exhausted. Alex has stopped crying but she’s holding on to Walker and refusing to let go. They sit there for the longest time, the events of what just happened keeps playing in their minds over and over. Walker whispers, "I should never have brought you here, you don’t deserve any of this---you should be home, safe---going to lunch with your girlfriends, talking about fashions or whatever it is you girls talk about. Not this—not running for your life from some animal, ----not this---I’m so sorry Alex---you deserve better."

Alex raises back and hits Walker in the chest, "Stop it!!!----Don’t go there, don’t you dare start with all of this ‘being sorry’ crap, you didn’t know that this was all going to happen---stop talking like that ---stop it!"

He pulls her back to him, and she slowly whispers, "I know you would never put my life in danger willingly, I know that. I didn’t have to come---but I did, because it’s where I wanted to be, and if we don’t make it out of here, at least we’ll be together. I love you Walker----I don’t want to live without you."

"I love you too, Alex---and I promise you, we’re getting out of here."

She tries to tease, "So I can get back to my ‘hen parties’?"

She feels him laugh, "Is that what you call your ‘girlie’ discussions?"

"Yes, and by the way----we don’t talk about fashions—not that much anyway--- we talk about men and their "Ass—ets and such!"

Walker sighs and shakes his head, "I should have known---Eastwood and company again!"

"You got it, cowboy."

They hear a noise, and Walker turns around. He watches as a small rabbit tries to free himself from some vines, got both hind legs entrapped. It looks like the little animal has been trapped for awhile, as his strength is slowly leaving him. Walker looks at Alex, she looks back at him, unconsciously licking her lips. Walker gets up, walks over to retrieve his knife from the back of the figure and stands over the rabbit. Without a word, he slashes his throat.  They sit there looking at the dead rabbit. "Mother Nature works in strange ways, doesn’t she? With all that she has thrown our way, now she’s offering us food—even though the rabbit didn’t get a sporting chance."

Alex looks at him, "Walker, I’m so hungry---I feel sorry for the little critter, but right now I could eat him raw!"

Walker smiles at her, "You won’t have to eat him raw, I’ll dress him out, look and see if you find some branches that are dry enough to burn, if not---- we’ll take their clothes and get a fire started," nodding towards Bubba and the others.

It’s risky starting a fire but Walker knows that without food, Alex is not going to make it much further. He watches her as she takes the clothing from the bodies, and attempts to get the fire started. The vision of her being carried off by the figure keeps haunting him, but the vision of her fighting those goons and trying to help him stood out in his mind even clearer. She was constantly amazing him with her inner strength, but why should it amaze him, she was always there for him. He knew he would lay his life down for her and she would do the same for him. Their love for each other was unconditional, and getting stronger every day.

The rabbit didn’t last very long as Walker kept pushing more in Alex’s direction, pretending that he wasn’t all that hungry. She kept telling him to eat, he just shook his head and took out the last cigar that he had taken from the Lincoln. He puts it his mouth but doesn’t light it. He keeps looking at the river, and turning the cigar around in his mouth, Alex watches him.

"Walker, please eat some more, you’ve hardly eaten."

"I’ve had plenty—the cigar will finish filling me up."

She watches his gaze going out over the river, she knows he’s in deep thought about that road, She puts her hand up on his shoulder, "Walker, are you going to smoke that cigar or just twirl it in your mouth?"

He glances back at her and then looks at the cigar, "Maybe I should cut back."
"Oh yeah honey, like you have a real smoking vice, in all of the years I’ve known you, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen you light up"!!
He puts the cigar back in his pocket, "I’ll save it for when we have that steak dinner with all the trimmings, how’s that"? Walker continues to look at the river and back to the rocks behind them, he scratches his beard, "Alex, don’t you find it a little strange that there are so many huge rocks in this one area"?

She looks around, "No, I hadn’t really thought about it, why?"

Walker gets up and heads back to where they first made their stand up against the rocks. He starts running his hand over the one they were standing in front of, he can’t shake the feeling that something is different about this one. There are no vines growing close, even the roots from the nearby trees can’t be seen. Before they got to this area, they had to be careful about tripping over the roots that were coming up from the ground. He starts walking around the rock and to the place where Alex had taken refuge to get away from the figure. He slides in between the rocks and disappears from sight. Alex calls out to him, he doesn’t answer.

***

Joy has awakened from her sleep, the smell of the new aroma is getting stronger and the voices are getting louder. She’s lost sight of "Daddy", now but sees some more figures coming back into the cave, they too walk more upright than the others. She listens for the sounds, they’re so loud, and vibrating off the walls of the cave. She hears human laughing and now she knows what the smell is: weed, marijuana, the men are smoking it as they work and she can see the liquor bottles. But, there’s another smell she doesn’t recognize, it’s almost sickening, she gags. She sees huge vats where the smell is coming from. The human workers are all wearing masks, pushing them up from their faces long enough to take a ‘hit’ or long drink from the liquor bottles. When they empty the bottles, they throw them at the figures and laugh.

The working figures come in with bundles, drop them at the vats, and walk off. The humans take the bundles and throw them into the vats, the smell gets worse each time. The fires beneath them are turned up higher, the cave is getting even warmer, as Joy starts to sweat. She crawls along the wall, keeping her body low and to the ground, continuing to scoop the bat dung up and smear it on her. She follows the wall as far as she can and then she has to go down an incline , she’s spooked when she sees a young figure running. The figure is young, not more than three or four at the most. It’s being run down by some of the humans as they chase it through the cave. She can hear it squealing as the humans have obviously caught it. Joy sneaks down a little lower trying to see further into the cave, The humans are coming back and they have caught the little figure as it’s squealing and trying to get away from them. It takes four men to subdue the little guy, they pick him up and take him to the vats. Joy watches in horror as the four men throw the figure over into the boiling liquid. It screams for only seconds, the men laugh and she can hear one of them say, "That’s one they won’t have to skin!"

***

C.D. has tried to raise someone else on the radio, with no luck.

"There’s just too much interference from all these mountains, and now the radio is going dead."

Floyd groans, "We got to find some shelter, those things are going to becoming out now."

Trivette nods his head, "You’re right about that Floyd, how far is the next town?"

"About 30 miles, due north, a place called Destiny."

"How big a place is it, can we get some help there?"

"About 150 people there, coming and going, but don’t expect any help from them, sheriff Wagner runs that place. He’s the one that took those reports from your friends, and he’s also the one that insisted that truck driver had found the girls and they were back home safe and sound!"

"But, we can get some shelter there, right son?"

"Maybe---but I think you’d better know, the sheriff is a good friend of Ross’. They were in cahoots in covering up that trucker’s story."

C.D. looks to Trivette, "You know I haven’t even met this yahoo yet and already I don’t trust him. No wonder Cordell doesn’t like him."

Trivette nods, "Yep, must be his Cherokee intuition kicking in, not to mention that this Ross seems to have a fixation with Alex."

Floyd’s face turns cold, as he remembers the times Ross had his way with Joy and her sister. He thinks of Joy every day, he still has the feeling that she’s still alive. "It’s not just a fixation, Ranger Trivette, if your friends are still alive—Ross will take the Rangers’ lady!"

C.D. takes his hat off and slams it against the four wheeler, "When pigs fly!! Cordell will never let that happen----never!!!"

"Guys, we got to get going, are you reloaded C.D. What about you, Floyd?"

"I’ve got a full clip, Jimmy, Floyd?"

"I’m empty," replies Floyd.

"Okay, all the more reason to get back on the road, hopefully we can find some ammo in Destiny."

"We can stop in Fate, that’s where the sheriff’s office is, about five miles this side of Destiny."

C.D. ponders the names "Destiny/Fate, doesn’t sound too promising guys."

***

"Walker---Walker---where are you?" Alex is edging closer to the rocks where she saw Walker go in, she tries squeezing in between the rocks, then a hand pulls her back out again.

"Alex---I’m here!"

"Where did you go—don’t ever do that to me again!!"

Walker gives her the okay sign, "Come with me, I found something!"

They squeeze back through the opening, it empties into a small area consisting of more rocks and a few bones lying around. "Walker, this looks like a bear’s den!"

"That’s what I thought at first, but now I’m not so sure. There’s a small opening over there that leads back out, that’s how I came up behind you. But, I’m not so sure about that opening," and he points towards a opening about six feet above them.

Alex looks up, "Opening, I don’t see an opening—just more rocks."

"There’s a opening up there, I can feel the air coming through---feel it?"

"I’m not sure," replies Alex, "If you say so."

Walker tries jumping to catch onto some of the jagged rocks, but he can’t quite make it. "Alex, if I put you on my shoulders, you think you can grab one of those rocks and pull yourself up."

"Pull myself up to what---we don’t know what’s up there?"

She looks at him, "Okay, I’ll try."

Walker goes down on one knee as she climbs up on his back and then his shoulders. "Can you reach the rocks?"

"Yes," she answers weakly, "Just a little higher."

Walker puts both hands over his shoulders, "Stand on my hands and I’ll push you up!"

She makes the climb, pulling herself through the small opening, "Walker, there’s nothing up here but more rocks, and ---spiders."

"Can you go any further?"

At first she doesn’t answer, Walker gets nervous, "Alex----you okay?"

She still doesn’t answer, he shouts her name again.

"Walker, it does go back further, but I am not going in there alone, can you get up here?"

"Give me a minute, I’ll think of something," and again he tries running at the wall reaching out for the jagged rocks. He takes his belt off and throws it up to her, telling her to drop it back down and hold onto something. She reaches back and holds onto the trunk of a small tree, praying that it will hold.

"Okay, here I come, ready?"

"I’m ready."

Walker runs at the rock and tries to scale it, reaching out for the belt buckle, he grabs it, Alex almost comes over the side. She holds on for dear life as Walker goes hand over hand over the belt till he can grab the same rock that Alex grabbed. He pulls himself up and through the opening.

***

Ross and his men have left Mesa Rock, continuing north, passing the cutoff to Blue Bear Lake.

"Boss, we just missed the turn off."

Ross grins, "I know that, there’s another one about 30 miles ahead."

The man looks at him, he knows nothing about another turn off, but then he’s only been with Ross a short time. He can’t commence to know the way the man thinks, or how he carries out his orders. Ross sees the concern on the man’s face.

"Relax--- everything is working out just fine. The Ranger and his lady are looking in the wrong direction, and if they are still alive after Bubba and the big one, then their horrors are just starting. They can’t imagine what’s in store for them!"

***

Joy still can’t believe what she has just witnessed, and what she heard. She sinks back down against the rocks and out of sight. "What did he just say, about skinning them?" she repeats to herself. She peers back over the rock, the figures are still bringing in bundles. She shakes her head, "They are killing their own and skinning them, for what?"

She knows she has to go further into the cave, she has to find out where those sounds are coming from. She follows the ledge along the rocks as far as she can, then she hits a dead end. Now she will have to go down the incline, to the floor of the cave and go to the other side to get further into the cave. She starts her journey down, how will she get past the humans? She watches as the figures are coming from the direction in which she wants to go, she waits until they drop their bundles, and head back in her direction. She falls in line with them, hoping that she has enough of the bat dung on her body. One or two look at her suspiciously, grunt, and then continue on their way. She travels with the group for a good hundred yards, other workers with bundles are heading in the opposite direction. Now she’s starting to hear grinding noises, more human voices, and screams. She can see them now, men running around in long white coats with chain saws. She is now in the middle of a slaughterhouse!

***

"So this is Fate, why in tarnation don’t they just combine the two little towns and make them one," asks C.D.?"

They drive on through the small town, as Destiny awaits them. They smell the lumber burning from what is left of Mitch’s place. "What do you think happened there?"

"Don’t recognize the place Rangers, probably some of Ross’ work. I do know one thing, we got to hurry and get off this road, towns around here close at sunset, we got to find some shelter---quick!"

They drive up to the diner, the lights are being turned off, and curtains are pulled. C.D. starts smacking his lips, "All I know is, I’m hungry, I’m getting me something to eat, if I have to cook it myself!"

"They won’t let you in Ranger, the place is closed!"

Trivette looks at C.D. and then to Floyd, "Well, as senior law officer in charge, I now put this place under martial law and I say---it stays open!"

The two Rangers show their badges through the windows, the proprietors are shaking their heads ‘no’ and pointing at their watches. C.D. steps back and kicks the door open, "How about that, Jimmy, the door wasn’t locked!"

Trivette nods, "I noticed that, big dog, did you notice that too, Floyd?"

Floyd says nothing, he just follows them in. The owners are scared to death, but obviously it’s not of the Rangers as they keep trying to turn the lights out and C.D. keeps turning them back on. Floyd grabs C.D.’s hand, "Ranger, we better keep the lights off."

The look on Floyd’s face tells C.D. that they will soon have company. Trivette is walking around, surveying the diner, he picks up a doughnut. He turns to the owner, "Don’t suppose you would have any decaffeinated coffee?"

They look at him like he’s crazy, "Mister please----just take the doughnuts and go---before it’s too late."

C.D. walks up to the old man, "Look, we are not here to cause you any trouble, we know those ‘things’ are out there, we need shelter, we can’t go out there and you know it!"

The old man goes back to the woman, who is obviously his wife, they hold on to each other. There are two other women in the place and a young boy, about ten or so. They all stay huddled in one corner of the diner, watching Floyd and the two Rangers. C.D. heads for the kitchen and comes back with a tray of meat and some bread. "Come on guys, chow time!"

Floyd starts grabbing the meat and throwing it on the bread, swallowing it in huge bites, he mumbles, "Coffee---where’s the coffee?"

The old man nods towards the pot, "You can make some more if you like, but please be quiet---they’ll hear you."

Trivette eyes the red meat, and frowns, "Guess one small piece can’t hurt me," and he reaches over to make him a sandwich. C.D. has slapped a triple-decker together, and takes one big bite.

"Hurry up with that coffee, Floyd, I need something to wash this down---damn ---this is good!"

Trivette starts to bite down on his, when he hears a voice say- "Don’t eat that Ranger, I wouldn’t advise it!"

Both Trivette and C.D. reach for their guns, aiming it at the voice. Floyd turns around from the coffeepot and looks towards the man. The man walks out of the shadows, holding his arm, his head hanging almost to his shoulders. His neck has swollen nearly twice its normal size, blue and purple coloring all up and down his neck. The man can hardly walk, he stumbles to a nearby table.

"Who are you, you live here?"

Trivette looks to the old man, they start shaking their heads at the newcomer, "I said, who are you?"

"My name is Mitch, Mitch Wagner---that was my house you saw out there, burned to the ground, I got out just in time before they torched it!"

Trivette lowers his gun, so does C.D., "Who torched it, Ross?"

"No, his whore, Wilma---she did the honors." Mitch spits at the mention of her name, "And the sheriff just watched it burn!"

Floyd goes back to making the coffee, "It’ll be ready in a few minutes, rangers."

Mitch looks at the men, "You’re friends of Walkers?"

Both C.D. and Trivette answer at the same time, "Yes, are they okay?"

"The last time I saw them they were on the back of a Harley heading for Blue Bear Lake."

C.D. sighs, "but, they’re okay, they haven’t been hurt?"

"The lady wasn’t feeling too good, sick at her stomach, couldn’t keep anything down. She had her arm cut up pretty bad from being pulled through that windshield. Walker sewed it up, but she was running a little fever. When they left, she seemed to be okay, just tired and hungry—they both were. I tried to get them to stay till morning---guess it’s a good thing they left when they did."

"Coffee’s ready," announces Floyd, and he pours them all a cup. Trivette frowns, he hates regular coffee. He watches as Mitch tries to maneuver his cup up to his mouth, Trivette starts to help him, he nods him away.

The men return their attention back to their sandwiches as Floyd is swallowing another big mouthful and C.D. chomps down on his triple-decker again.

"STOP!!! Don’t eat anymore," shouts Mitch.

"What in tarnation is wrong with you?"

Mitch starts to say something when the old man starts getting nervous, and tells Mitch to be quiet. "Shut up Quincy----I’ll be dead and gone soon and you can throw my carcass out to them, how’s that? I’ll probably taste as good as those ‘things’ do!"

Trivette, C.D. and Floyd all stop and look and at each other and then to their sandwiches. C.D. asks slowly, "What’s in these sandwiches, Mitch?"

Mitch stares back at them and then nods towards the door, "What do you think?"

C.D. and Floyd drop the sandwiches, and start spitting and gagging. The two men run for the water faucet and both are trying to put their heads under the faucet at the same time. They are pushing each other back and forth, as Trivette looks at his and drops it in the trash, slowly wiping his hands off and making a face. He says calmly, "And they say, red meat can’t kill you---right."

C.D. and Floyd drink the water, gargle, and spit, over and over. C.D. turns to the old man, Quincy, "And you were going to let us eat that crap---why you dirty little -----I ought to shoot you—right where you stand."

C.D.’s threats are interrupted by the sounds outside as Mitch puts his fingers up to his lips, motioning for all them to be quiet. Quincy and his family huddled together, the women start to cry softly. The Rangers draw their guns and walk to the windows, Mitch motions for them to get back.

He whispers, "They can smell you".

"Are you saying I stink?" Shouts C.D.

"Quiet, big dog," whispers Trivette.

C.D. is still mumbling, "I’m not the one that smells, it’s him," pointing at Floyd.

Floyd swallows, his eyes are bugged out, "I’m sorry."

Mitch tries to explain, "They can smell all of us, we’ll be okay, they’ll eat their fill from the garbage cans, then usually leave."

Trivette looks at Mitch, "What do you mean by that---usually?"

"If they don’t hear us, they will most likely leave, but if they’re still hungry---that’s another story, They could try coming in after us!"

"How many do you think there are?"

"From the sounds, it’s a small group, maybe half a dozen."

"So, what do we do now Jimmy?"

Trivette looks to Mitch, "Nothing to do---we just wait ‘em out!"

***

Walker pulls himself up through the clearing, it’s about three feet wide, and not much more in height. Alex points towards the path she started to follow, then thought better of it.

"It’s so dark back there, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face!"

Walker flicks the lighter on, it’s not much help, they start forward. The lighter starts flickering, "There’s some air coming through here---up there!"

They look upwards, they can see small cracks where the light from the moon is trying to get through. The lighter goes out, Alex grabs Walker’s arm, "Oh God, it’s pitch dark in here, can you see anything?"

He reaches back and grabs her hand, "Keep your hand on my belt loops, I’m going to try and feel my way as far as I can to get closer to those cracks of light!"

They inch themselves forward to the light, Walker feels the ground is getting very uneven, he’s afraid of dropping into a crevice, he stops. "We can’t go any further tonight Alex, it’s too dangerous. We’ll try to find us a place to lay down and get some sleep."

They get up against the wall, and find a place to lay down. He can feel her shaking, "you okay, hon?"

"Yeah," she replies, "God I hope there aren’t any spiders in here---I hate spiders!"

He pulls her close, wrapping his arms around her and keeping his face close to hers. "Alex, how can you be afraid of a little spider after what you just faced out there earlier?"

"I can’t help it, I’ve hated spiders since I was just a little girl, can’t stand them crawling on me."

He pulls her tighter into his body, "Well, after what you did to those goons out there, I pity a poor little spider that even comes near you. ---By the way, in case I haven’t said it, I’m real proud of the way you handled yourself."

She squeezes his hands, and pulls his arms around her waist tighter, "Oh sure---me ---superwoman. Were you proud of me when I started blubbering and wanting to go home, what did you think of me then?"

He kisses her cheek, "Alex, I’ve seen men in Nam fall apart from a lot less pressure than what you just went through. If I had to choose someone to watch my back and be in my corner, I’d choose you."

She remains silent, and then says softly, "You know for someone who has a hard time expressing himself, I think you do splendid. In fact, that was romantic. Most women would fail to see the warmth in that statement, but I find it very romantic---and I accept!"

Now Walker becomes silent, he’s thankful she can’t see his face and the arch that has formed across his forehead, he answers slowly, "Accept what?"

"I accept to be in your corner."

Walker sighs, and Alex giggles, "What did you think I meant?"

They cuddle closer, and within minutes he can hear her sleeping soundly. He thinks about their conversation, smiles, and kisses her cheek saying, "Sweet dreams."

***

Now Joy understands where her sister, Terri, and the others were going. They were all being herded in here, these were the weaker ones, the sick, and they were being slaughtered. She watched as the figures were lined up, and given some kind of shot, she guessed it to be to put them to sleep, and then their carcasses were thrown upon a long conveyer belt. Huge saws were used on them first, cutting them in half and then the men with chain saws would do the rest. From here they were put in bundles, and then taken to the vats and thrown in. She forced herself to pick up one of the bloodied bundles and take it back to the vats. The stench was almost too much for her, she felt nauseated, she tried holding her breath. She saw one of the humans looking at her, as he started to come closer, she backed away into the figures. He soon lost sight of her. From where she was hiding behind the other figures, she could see the carcasses being taken out at the other end, wrapped in paper, and thrown into the back of semis. She could see a smoke coming from the trucks, refrigerated air.

She watched for as long as she could, then she started back with the others, her mind racing,. Was Terri among them, why were they being slaughtered? She tried remembering all that had happened to her, was this, the purpose of all the breeding? What were they doing with the carcasses? Where were the trucks taking them? She stops dead in her tracks, "Oh my God---the trucks are taking them out of here---to be sold as beef." She starts weaving back and forth, she needs to throw up, but doesn’t know where to turn. All of a sudden a hand reaches out and grabs her, she’s staring straight into the eyes of "DADDY".

***

Back in Destiny, the figures are starting to leave. Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. Trivette starts questioning Mitch.

"Okay, we know that Walker and Alex are heading for Blue Bear Lake, why? Can they get out that way?"

"They can if they get over the river, and head back down on the other side, but they have to get past those things out there first."

"What about the caves, where are they?"

Mitch rubs his arm, he doesn’t have any feeling left in it at all, "They are all over the place up there, some of them are underwater."

Floyd is coming back from the toilet for the third time, "See, I told you---there are underwater caves and they are huge."

"So, what about these caves, have you ever seen them?"

"No, I’ve never seen them, but I’ve heard that some of them are like small cities, and that’s not all I’ve heard, I’ve heard they have done some experimenting up there in those caves."

C.D. wipes his brow, "And just what kind of experimenting are you talking about?"

"Well, let’s put it to you this way, you’ve heard of Roswell, New Mexico and those reports about aliens being found, but your beloved government would never admit to any of the rumors being true?"

Both Trivette and C.D. look at each other, "Are you saying our government is behind all of this?"

Mitch looks at C.D., "Why does that surprise you? Our government has been doing all kinds of experimenting, hell, man—you’re old enough to remember the guinea pig testing that they did on the vets after they came back from the wars. What about the testing they did on the Japanese prisoners right after Pearl Harbor was bombed and they had them in those containment camps, or if you want to be blunt about it—concentration camps!!!!! And, don’t forget Waco, Texas and the way the DEA and FBI went in and slaughtered innocent people!"

Trivette can see C.D.’s temper rising, "Easy big dog. Alright, so we’ve established you’re not too happy with your government, let’s get back to the issue here at hand."

"First of all Ranger, it’s your government, not mine. I lost a lot of good friends at Waco, it stopped being my government!"

C.D. is still steaming at the idea that the government is always to blame when some right wing group doesn’t get their way. "Okay, what has the government got to do with those ‘things’ out there? Are you trying to say it’s an experiment gone wrong and these things are going around killing and we’re just to sit back and do nothing because our government is supposedly behind it and that makes it alright?"

"Look Ranger, I don’t agree with what is going on here, but if the government had kept their noses out of all this, those ‘things’ would still be back in the caves, and they wouldn’t have any reason to come down here and start their killing. But---what would you do, if your family is being torched right before your eyes, and then the rest of your family is being used for tests?"

"What kind of tests are you talking about?" shouts C.D.

Mitch stops and takes a drink of his coffee, "Okay, you asked for it and here it is. The government started clearing those caves out years ago, at first they slaughtered a lot of them, then they kept some of them back for breeding purposes, to check the genes, etc. Then they started using humans to breed with them things started going wrong, and the ‘things’ were having human feelings. The testing got more intense, and that’s when "Daddy" went off the deep end."

"Daddy---who is this Daddy?"

"He’s just that—DADDY- to the whole mountain! He wanted his family kept in the circle, the inbreeding, just in his circle, the government didn’t agree. They started running shock treatments on him, until they got him under their control. I hear he’s not much more than a breeding machine himself. He’s fathered hundreds, not only in his circle, but with humans as well."

Floyd has been listening, quietly, "Excuse me, but do you remember two teenage girls that came through here about 4 months ago, Terri and Joy?"
Mitch looks at Floyd, "Now I remember you, you were with Ross when he came up here to investigate their disappearance----you do know that trucker was lying, don’t you?"

Floyd slams his hand down on the counter, "I knew it!!! She’s still up there, isn’t she---Joy is up there in those caves, isn’t she?"

"I don’t know about that, I just know that the sheriff and Ross paid that trucker. If she’s still alive---I don’t hold out much hope that she’s still in her right mind, I’m sorry!"

Everyone is silent, each in their own thoughts. Quincy and his family have moved to the back of the diner and have gone to bed. Floyd is sitting at the counter, with his hands over his face, his shoulders throbbing up and down, C.D. walks over to him and tries to console him.

Trivette looks at Mitch, "What about our friends, do you think they’re okay? You said Alex was sick?"

"Yeah, she ate some of the meat, she started throwing it up and then she was running a fever with that arm. That Ranger was sure worried about her. Thing is, he ate some of the meat too, didn’t bother him, of course, I didn’t tell them what they ate!!!"

Trivette makes a face, remembering the time they were on a retreat with Uncle Ray and White Eagle, and how they were living off the land. He’s seen Walker eat all kinds of insects, and slimy critters. Once he saw Walker bite the head off a lizard, and then ate him raw. And these were peaceful times, he also recalled how White Eagle and Uncle Ray would talk about the wars and how the food was even less tantalizing. Walker would never say much about Vietnam, but he was sure there were some horror tales to be told, knowing Walker.

***

Ross and his men have arrived at the cut off. The road looks too narrow for the semis to get through, they keep going. Finally, they reach a dead end or so it would seem. Nothing but brush and rocks are ahead of them, Ross tells everyone to get out. He motions for the men to get the figures out.

"Put ‘em to work, get this area cleared---now!"

The figures aren’t putting up any resistance now, they seem vulnerable now that the big one is no longer with them. Ross wonders about him, and if they will make the rendezvous point. The figures continue to work, about an hour later, the way is cleared, a road opens up to them on the other side. The figures are hustled back into the semis and Ross and his caravan are on their way, "Daddy" awaits.

***

Sometime during the night, Walker stirs thinking he’s hearing the sound of a motor, he turns to the cracks up in the rocks, and sees bits of dirt filtering down through the light.. It’s still too dark inside the cave for him to move around. He lays there listening to the sounds, Alex starts to stir and then turns over into him. He can just barely make her out in the dark cave, as he pulls her closer into his chest. The cave is getting colder, and it feels damp. The noise continues for a good hour, he knows he’s not dreaming.

***

Trivette awakes to a strange noise, C.D. hears it too. They both bolt and head for the door, running outside. "It’s a chopper!!!" Shouts C.D.

"I see it big dog, and there’s two more coming in from that direction!"

The rest of the people start filtering out of the diner as the choppers start to land. Trivette and C.D. go to meet them, they relay their story to the officer in charge, a Major Bond. The Major listens to the Rangers as the rest of his team start searching the houses.

Trivette looks at the young Major and to his men, "Is this all of you, are there more backup coming?"

"We’re all the backup you need, Ranger. We have plenty of fire power, assault rifles, hand grenades, everything we need to blast those ‘things’ out of them caves."

"Now, hold on young man, there are some innocent people in those caves, that have been held prisoner---plus we got some very dear friends that might be in those caves or close to them. You can’t just go in there blasting everything and everyone," pleads C.D.

The Major looks at C.D. He puts him in mind of his Father. "O.k. what do you suggest?"

"First of all, you got to get choppers back in the air to go over these mountains, to see if you can spot our friends, Then when and if we do spot the caves, we’re going to need troops to go in there on foot."

The Rangers and the Army troops go over their plan, the town of Destiny is now under official "martial law", and automobiles are taken. The major notifies his base of Ft Carson for more air defense and more troops to be on the other side of the mountain, working down towards the river. They are all set to move out when C.D. walks up to the young Major.

"Just for curiosity’s sake, how did you find out about our predicament?"

"Two teenagers made out the report in Boulder, the police there were ready to lock them up, they were stoned out of their heads, no one wanted to believe them. Lucky for you there was an Army officer there that over heard the whole conversation. He talked to the kids, he believed them, the base at Ft. Carson was alerted, and we’re here."

C.D. smiles, "And who was the officer that happened to be there when the report was filed?"

Major Bond shifts his AK assault rifle over his shoulder, "You’re talking to him, now can we get this show on the road?"

They all start loading up into the confiscated autos, leaving two troopers behind to protect the town. They head north to Blue Bear Lake. The choppers are up and they too are heading north.

***

The sun is filtering down through the cracks as Walker is up and moving around. He can see the cave clearer now, but he’s more concerned now on getting up to the next level and seeing what and where the noise was coming from last night.

Alex is waking up, she’s happy to be able to see a little clearer, as she makes out Walker trying to climb up on a rock. She calls out to him, and he walks back to her. He tells her about the noises he heard.

"I heard them too, I thought I was dreaming."

"It was definitely not a dream. Are you up to doing some more climbing?"

She looks at him, so grateful to just be able to see him, "Do I have a choice?"

They walk over to the rock that Walker was attempting to climb. "It’s slippery, be careful."

The rock is about 12 ft high, Walker goes first this time. He’s using his belt again to loop it around the small tree limbs that are protruding out of the rock. He pulls himself up each time, then pulls Alex up behind him. They continue to climb very slowly. It’s a slow and tedious climb, they’re finally at the top. Walker starts knocking tree limbs back, until he can pull himself through. Alex is still on the rock, and she’s wondering what is taking him so long to get back to her. "Walker!!"

Finally he’s back and reaching down for her, pulling her up. They’re both exhausted as Alex is wiping the cobwebs off of her, and cursing under her breath. She looks at Walker, he’s got a funny look on his face, as he looks past her. She turns around to see what is holding his attention, and hears the cocking of guns then Ross is standing behind her. She screams as she starts moving closer to Walker. The guns are at his head.

"Heyyy darling, long time, no see. Did you miss me?"

Ross yells at his men, "Get ‘em up, and get ‘em in the trucks!"

His driver looks at him suspiciously, "You knew they would be coming out that way, didn’t you? That’s why you made us stop and come back to wait, how did you know?"

Ross watches as his men hustle Walker and Alex to the trucks, he turns to the man, "Know what Dale, you ask too many questions!"

As they put Walker into the first four wheeler, Ross motions for them to put Alex in the second one, with him. Walker starts trying to break away from his holders, they hit him in the back of the head with a gun butt, then toss him in the back seat, and two men get in with him. They start tying his hands and feet. He can hear Alex screaming for him, as he’s still trying to break away. One of the men hit him in the stomach, repeatedly. "Keep it up Ranger, and we’ll throw you in with those ‘things’ back there!!"

Alex is screaming for Walker as Ross comes up to her. He starts looking her over, "A little on the worn side, aren’t you darling?" He starts to run his fingers through her hair, "But, that’s okay, I’ll get you all cleaned up and then we’ll party, I’ll show you what it’s like to be with a real man!"

Alex spits on him, gritting her teeth, "Go to hell!"

Ross and the men laugh, "A regular little spitfire, aren’t you darling?" He looks her up and down, the men start getting nervous as Ross moves even closer to Alex, he takes her by the back of the neck and kisses her hard. She continues to kick, and squirm to get out of his reach. He pulls her head back and snorts, "A word of warning darling, I like it rough, so the more you fight, the more I’m going to enjoy taking you, and I will take you—in every way possible. Ways your boyfriend and you can’t even imagine. So, I would suggest that you sit back and accept what’s going to happen---you might even learn to like it!

They blind fold Walker, he’s trying hard to listen to the sounds around him, all he can hear is water, and lots of it. He thinks about Alex, praying that she’s okay. He hears more sounds coming towards him, and voices.

He hears the buzzing sounds, and hacking, he hears screams off in the background. Is one of those voices Alex’s? He starts moving again and trying to get his feet loose. Another gun butt goes to his head, he blacks out.

The four wheeler stops and Ross pulls Alex out, the smell hits her first. She starts gagging, her stomach is churning, and the bile comes up. She hits Ross with some of her vomit, he pushes her back towards one of his men, "get her cleaned up, we got some partying to do!"

"Now let’s see what the Ranger is up to," as Ross goes to the first four wheeler. He looks in and yanks the blind fold from Walker’s eyes, "Wake up Ranger, I want you to see what all is going to happen, especially when I start to party with that girlfriend of yours! But first, I got to see someone and then I’ll be back and it’s PARTY TIME!"

He motions for his men to put Walker in one of the cages, "Wake him up, I don’t want him sleeping through any of this!"

Walker awakes to water being thrown in his face. He looks around him, another cage, just like the ones he saw in Nam, and just like the one he was held prisoner in. It too is made of heavy bamboo, bound together with steel straps. The cage is about 5ft off the ground, hoisted into the air by a cable. He looks around to see if he can see Alex, he can’t see or hear her. He calls out her name, the men laugh. He looks at his hands, luckily they tied his hands in front. He looks around to see where his captors are, he keeps his back to them, while he chews on the ropes.

***

Joy awakes to the sounds of grunting and snarling around her, she’s in another part of the cave, away from the vats. She tries to open her eyes slowly, not too sure she’s wanting to see who is behind all the grunting and growling. She gasps as she sees him standing over her, just looking at her and sniffing. He’s well over 6ft. very muscular, his manhood hanging down in front of him. She groans at its sight, it’s gross looking, not to mention the size of it. She has never in her sixteen years ever seen a man with this size of an organ. He starts to edge close to her, she begins scooting herself back, trying to get away from him. He grabs her and throws her back down, turning her over, and tearing at what is left of her tattered clothes. She starts to scream as he is bending down to take her, and then she hears a human’s voice.

"Hold up there----why Daddy what are you going to do to that poor little gal?"

***

The Rangers and the troops are now in Mesa Rock, they see the burned down shack, and what was left of the motorcycle. Mitch decided he would come with them, he acknowledges the bike as being the one he gave the Ranger. They look around at what is left.

 C.D. comes up beside Trivette, "Jimmy, I don't like the feel of this, it's making the hair on the back of my neck stand up and wave!"

 "Yeah," agrees Trivette, "and I think it's waving to the hair on the back of my neck!"

 Mitch staggers up to them, both Trivette and C.D. are wondering what is keeping the man alive, vengeance? Against who?

"So, what now Rangers? Do you think they're still alive?"

The Major looks at them, "Balls' in your court Rangers, where do we go from here?"

Trivette's face is set, "We're not giving up---we keep going till we find a definite answer to where our friends are, if we have to search this whole damn mountain, that's what we'll do!"

"Now you're talking Jimmy---well what's everybody standing around gawking for, let's go---we're burning daylight!"

***

Ross is standing there watching the reaction on "Daddy's " face. The figure turns and starts growling at him, Ross stares back at him. The figure approaches Ross, smelling of him, then he backs away.

Ross walks towards Joy, sneering, "Well, hey darling---how you been? My friends been treating you good? I'm surprised to see that you're still alive. What happened to that sister of yours, what was her name, Terri?"

Joy continues to try and scoot further away from both of them, Ross laughs out loud, "Whew---boy do you stink---but that's okay, Daddy likes them that way, don't you Daddy?"

The figure stares at him and Ross walks over to him. "I think Joy kind of likes you, I know her sister would have liked you, or at least what you could have done for her," Ross' voice trails off as he looks at the manhood of Daddy. He shudders, "Jeez, you're hung like a damn horse, and you stink worse than one that's been dead for a week!"

He motions for his men to take Joy, the figure starts to put up a fight, Ross flicks his lighter up in his face, the figure backs off.

Joy is taken to the same part of the cave where Alex is held. He orders his men to clean both of them up and to find some clean clothing. One of his men approach him, "Boss, where are we going to find clean clothes?"

Ross hits him up beside the head, "Do I have to think of everything---take them off some of the other dead bodies----use your head!"

Alex is shaking and looking at the young girl, she tries talking to her, Joy won't answer. The men come in to get them, "Follow me!"

Alex is holding back, two of them grab her and start pulling her to another part of the cave, then they grab Joy.

In the center of the cave is a spring, Alex and Joy are ordered to take their clothes off and bathe. The men stare, waiting for them to strip. Alex bites her bottom lip staring back at them, refusing to undress. One of the men go over to her, "You got five seconds to start undressing or I will undress you---understand?"

Alex jerks away, "Don't you dare touch me--you piece of slime!"

The man starts to slap her, the other one stops him, "Don't! Ross said not to touch this one."

The man turns to Alex, "Look lady, it'll go so much easier if you cooperate, if not Ross is really going to hurt you, now would you please just do as we say, get cleaned up--now!"

Alex and Joy step into the spring, it's warm and it feels so good against their tired bodies. Alex is worried about Walker, have they hurt him, is he still alive? Joy keeps looking at Alex, she sees the tears forming.

"Don't cry lady, don't let them see you cry," she whispers.

Alex looks at the girl, and the bruises all over her body, "What have they done to you?"

"NO TALKING," shouts the first man, as he leers at them.

"Hey Dale, that blond lady ain't bad, ain't bad at all, Ross is sure going to have a good time with her. What about the kid, what's he going to do with her?"

"Who knows, maybe he wants them both at the same time, who knows what that maniac is thinking?"

***

Walker has the first knot chewed through, he's starting on the next one when he hears Ross' voice, "Hey Walker, just wanted to let you know that I'm taking real good care of your girlfriend!"

Walker stares back at him through the cage, "You lay one finger on her, and you're dead!"

Ross breaks out laughing, "You are something Ranger---you're so worried about that little gal, you should be more worried about what I have in mind for you." Ross walks around the cage, "You see, I'm going to take care of you too, I got a woman for you, and she's going to take real good care of you, lower the cage!!"

Ross motions for his men to bring her in, a female figure, obviously in her fertile time. Walker backs up from the cage door, they open up and she crawls in. With his hands and feet still tied, he tries rolling on the floor to stay away from her, she has his smell and she's more than ready. She goes after Walker, knocking him to the floor. At first she toys with him, trying to feel his body, then she starts tearing at his clothes.

The men are watching and laughing as the figure is trying to get Walker to cooperate. He manages to stand up, she comes at him again. He takes both hands and backhands her as hard as he can. She squeals and hits the floor, he hops over to her throwing his tied hands around her neck and then he squeezes till he hears her neck snap. The men stop laughing, and Ross just stares at him.

You impress me Walker, you totally amaze me."

"Let's settle this Ross, once and for all, just you and me."

"I said I was impressed, not stupid," he turns to say something to his men. They return with Alex and Joy.

"Walker!" Alex screams.

Walker hops over to the side of the cage, "Alex---are you okay, have they hurt you?"

She starts to answer and then Ross walks up behind her, putting his arms around her waist and touching her breasts. "She's just fine Ranger, got all cleaned up just for me. I even found her some clean clothes, they got a little blood on them, but other than that, she looks nice. Smells good too, don't you darling?"

Alex turns and slaps him and he slaps her right back. Walker is hitting the cage with his body and trying to hit the bars with his fist still tied together. "Take your hands off her you son of a bitch--it's me you want Ross--take me on- you can even keep my feet and hands tied, come on fight me!"

Ross turns pulling Alex with him, "Come on darling--let's go get acquainted."

Alex keeps trying to pull away from him, Walker is going berserk hitting the cage harder with his body, laying down on the floor and kicking with his tied feet as hard as he can. He keeps screaming at Ross to let Alex go. The man just laughs, Alex is screaming for him.

"You're dead Ross, I'm going to rip your heart out and show it to you---you hear me ---you're dead!!!!"

Ross takes them back to the other end of the cave, the workers are busy again, carrying bundles, and the smell is even worse. Ross throws them both in the corner, telling them he'll be back.

Alex and Joy huddle together, "We got to get out of here," says Alex.

"You can't get out, they are all over the place."

Alex's head is starting to spin, "What is that smell, what are they cooking in those vats?"

"It's not 'what', it's 'who', they are killing the figures, cooking them and the trucks are to carry the goods out---they are packaging meat!"

Alex's face turns pale as the smell is reaching her again, "I think I'm going to faint---I can't stand the smell."

Joy catches her as Alex passes out.

***

"Something definitely happened here, C.D., looks like some of Walker's works," states Trivette as they have arrived at the area in which Walker and Alex made their stand against Bubba and company.

The troops are fanning out, the Major shouts to the Rangers. "Think we might have something here, they put up a fight, and then it looks like they cooked something."

C.D. and Floyd do a double take at the mention of food. "Relax guys, it has to be your friend that was doing the cooking, those 'things' don't bother to cook what they eat," replies Mitch.

Trivette is walking close to the big rock, he studies the foot prints left in the mud. "Walker and Alex were definitely alive to this point."

The Major walks up to him, "How can be so sure those prints belong to your friend?"

"Because my friend is half Cherokee, he taught me how to read foot prints and what to look for, there's a small set belonging to a lighter person, meaning Alex. They stayed in this area after the fight, the prints keep going around this rock. I found boot prints all around it, like

Walker was looking for something in these rocks."

They all start concentrating on the area around the rock. Floyd sees the opening and Trivette takes off his hat and tries squeezing through.

"Jimmy---don't you go getting lost in there, Jimmy?"

Trivette squeezes back out, "It's dark in there, I need a flashlight." Then he goes back in. "Someone has definitely been in here, Floyd, can you squeeze in?"

Floyd starts backing up, "I can't go in there---I'm afraid of small places!"

C.D. throws his hat down and attempts to go in, he can't make it. "I'm sorry Jimmy, one too many steaks I guess, ---I can't make it!"

Floyd steps forward, "I'll try------I'm not promising anything---I'll try."

He squeezes through with no problems, carrying another flashlight. Trivette shouts for some rope, one of the troopers runs to the four wheeler to fetch it.

Trivette shouts back to them about the opening and he and Floyd will go up to the next level. Trivette makes the climb and then he follows the narrow path till he sees the other opening. The brush has been cleared, he can see the outside. He shouts back to Floyd to tell them he's going through, Floyd relays the message and he shouts to Trivette to pull him up.

"So, now what do we do," Mitch asks.

"We wait till Jimmy tells us what to do."

It's a good thirty minutes till Trivette relays another message to the troopers that have squeezed inside, one of the going up to the next level, and relaying messages down.

"Major Bond, the Ranger says they've found a road, and someone has been over that road in just the last few hours."

"What does he want us to do, Corporal?"

"He said to call for more backup and for the rest of us to follow through this opening."

They all look at C.D., and then the young corporal adds, "There's another opening around here, maybe you can get through there!"

It's another opening, but not much bigger. C.D. has to lay on his back and scoot into the cave, the Corporal goes ahead of him and helps to pull him in.

"Now what?" pants C.D.

The Corporal puts the rope around C.D. ""Now we climb sir, can you do it?"

"Don't you worry about me sonny boy, just lead the way."

It takes four men to pull C.D. up to the first level, then they pull Mitch up. It's another hour until they are all on the road that Ross and his men took Walker and Alex captive. The Major starts calling again for more ground support, they can see one of the choppers flying overhead. They radio them, no sign of caves and no signs of Walker and Alex.

"Okay, guys, looks like we 'hoof' it from here on out, how you feeling big dog?"

C.D. is embarrassed at all of the extra attention being given him, "Would you stop worrying about me, I'm still young enough to kick your butt!"

Trivette smiles, "Yep---you're okay.!!"

***

Ross is looking for the sheriff, he sees him coming from another part of the cave where some of the captives are being held. He's zipping up his pants, wiping the spittle off of his beard.

Where the hell you been?"

"Where do you think, I heard there were some young ones back there, had to see for myself, what do you want?"

"How long before the first trucks are ready to pull out?"

The sheriff grunts, "How the hell should I know, that's not my job?"

Ross hits him, "Make it your business, and find out!"

The men are watching Walker, he's still hitting the cage with his body, the binding on his feet is starting to loosen, he can almost pull one of his feet free. He stops and looks at the men, he can't let them know that the binding is coming loose, he crawls over to the far end of the cage, with his back to them. He starts chewing on the ropes again. "Hold on Alex," he says under his breath, "I'm coming---just try and hold on."

"Daddy" is getting restless that his play toy has been taken away, he decides to go and look for her. He finds her in the vat area, she's sitting with her back to him. Alex is still unconscious. He comes up behind her, she smells him and starts screaming, Alex falls to the floor. He throws her over his shoulder and takes off with her to another part of the cave, she continues to scream.

Walker hears the screams, he doesn't know if it's Alex. He now has the ropes off of his ankles, he pulls the last piece of rope undone. He looks to see where the men are, then he runs and making a flying dive at the cage door, it breaks open! The men are on him, there are four. He starts kicking the ones nearest him, breaks the gun butte over one's head, and karate chops the other with a flurry of punches to the face and neck. Teeth start flying out of the last one's mouth, as Walker head butts him!

He picks up one of the guns and starts running towards the screaming. The figures at this end don't seem the least bit interested in him, they are all too busy carrying bundles. He stops and watches them, the smell is putrid, he continues to run in the direction of the screams. He can hear the men shouting behind him, shots ring out and the figures begin to squeal, running in different directions.

Ross hears the shots, "What the hell is going on?"

Dale comes running up to him, "The Ranger got loose,---but that's not the only problem we have---one of the guards have reported seeing choppers in the area, Army choppers!!!!"

Ross lets out a string of curse words, "Get the Ranger, kill him!"

He shouts to his men to get the trucks ready to roll, whether they're full or not. The sheriff comes running up, Ross tells him to get Alex and bring her to the trucks.

Alex is just coming around, as she hears all the commotion. She starts to stand up as the sheriff comes in and grabs her, pushing her through the entrance, "Let's go blondie, the boss is waiting."

They come out of the entrance, a boot goes to the face of the sheriff as he's knocked backwards. "Walker," screams Alex.

Walker grabs her and they start running, they don't know which way to turn and then Ross and his men have them circled. Walker puts Alex behind him, again he challenges Ross, the man refuses to fight him. There are about ten men in the circle, they all charge Walker at the same time. He manages to take out six before the other four wrestle him to the ground. Alex is on one of the men that is on top of Walker, she's biting the man's neck, and scratching at his eyes. Ross pulls her off of the guy.

"Now, now, darling, don't go getting yourself all dirty again---he's not worth it!"

Alex starts kicking at Ross, he hits her with his fist, and she's out cold. Walker is being held as the four men commence hitting him with their fists, one man stands back and kicks Walker to the head. "How does it feel, Ranger?"

More shots are fired, Ross is looking around, trying to figure out who is doing the shooting. Another of his guards comes running in, "There's Army guys all over the place, they're coming in, they have hand grenades!"

The men start to scatter as Ross grabs Alex and heads towards the nearest truck.

***

When Trivette and the Army entered the caves from the other end, the figures were on them. Bodies were going everywhere, the soldiers were being thrown through the air. But, this time Trivette had more firepower and the grenades were being thrown into the groups of attackers.

Some of the soldiers had flame-throwers and they were being used.

"Watch out for the captives, there are innocent people in here," Trivette shouts.

C.D. has a gun in each hand as the figures come at him. He fires over and over, making each shot count till one of the figures slashes out with his hand and rips C.D.'s arm open. The old man swears, turns around and shoots him twice in the middle of the forehead. "That'll teach you to mess with the Texas Rangers, you piece of dog meat!!!"

Floyd comes running up to him, helping him to walk. They can hear more explosions going off, more soldiers are coming in, with heavier arsenal. Floyd's eyes bulge out, he's never been in a war zone. Soldiers and figures are going at it as the flame-throwers are now in full command.

Joy has been thrown to the floor, and Daddy is standing over her. They hear the guns and all the shouting, Daddy turns towards the sound. Joy sees her escape and starts running, the figure is after her. They run straight into the battlefield. Floyd sees the young girl running and he takes out after them. Trivette yells at him to stop.

Mitch is standing next to C.D. helping him to stand and balance the shotgun on his good arm. The rest of the soldiers are checking out the other parts of the cave, screams and shots are still being heard.

"Oh Lord." prays C.D. "Don't be letting any innocent people get hurt."

The blood is squirting out of C.D.'s arm as one of the soldier’s stops and puts a tourniquet on it. Mitch is trying to console C.D. when the sheriff comes sneaking around the corner, looking for a way out. The sheriff's mouth drops open when he sees his brother standing there.

"Mitch, thank God ---you're still alive."

Mitch says nothing as he levels the shotgun at the sheriff's stomach, "This is for Bea," and he fires, "and this one is for Sandy." The second one finishes tearing the big man into.

C.D. looks at Mitch, horror on his face as Mitch takes C.D.'s gun from him, puts it under his own chin and pulls the trigger. C.D. is going into shock as the blood splatters all over him.

The massacre has reached the center of the cave as the last of the figures are being huddled into groups and shot, the screams echo throughout the cave. Trivette is throwing his hands up in the air, begging for the shooting to stop. Everything is deathly quiet as the soldiers come in from the opposite end, holding Ross and some of his men. All eyes go on Walker as he stands up in the center of the cave. Ross has Alex by her hair, the soldiers walk up to him, pointing their guns at his head.

"Walker---- let's get it on."

Walker looks to Alex, "Let her go Ross, and we'll settle it--man to man."

Ross pushes Alex away from him, she runs to Walker. He never takes his eyes off of Ross as he asks her, "Are you okay?"

She nods, looking into his eyes, she's never seen this look before, it's cold, no feelings what so ever.

Trivette walks up to her and gently pulls her away, he's never seen this look in Walker's eyes before either. Trivette gently urges Alex to stand back, and he tells the Major and his men to ‘stand down'."

 Ross walks to the center and circles Walker. Walker never moves a muscle. "Well, come on Ranger--you said you wanted to fight me."

Walker waits till Ross is facing him, then he says, "You're going to die Ross, the moment you touched Alex--you signed your death warrant!"

"Are we going to fight or not?"

"There won't be much of a fight Ross, because I refuse to let someone like you live for another minute, are you ready to die Ross?"

"What are you going to do, talk me to death?"

Walker stares him down, Ross rushes him. Walker goes down on his left knee extending his right fist out, palm down. His fist goes through the rib cage, as he is turning his fist inside the rib cage, he makes a sudden jerk, and Walker's hand comes out, holding Ross's heart. Ross stares at his still beating heart, looks at Walker and Walker throws it down on the floor of the cave.

"I told you I'd rip your heart out if you touched her!"

Everyone stands around in shock, Alex can't believe what she has just witnessed. Trivette swallows, C.D. 's mouth drops open. "I seen it but I still don't believe it."

Ross tumbles to the ground, Alex walks very slowly towards Walker, taking his hand and turning him around. That glazed look has left, he looks at her softly, "Are you sure you're okay?"

She starts to cry, nodding her head and going into his arms.

At the other end of the cave Joy is running for her life, the figure is after her, Floyd is behind him. The figure decides to make his stand as he goes after Floyd. Floyd fires three shots into the figure before he's lifted into the air and thrown. Soldiers are coming up behind him, they fire the flame-thrower, and Daddy falls into one of the vats. Joy runs to Floyd.

The choppers start to land, the wounded are flown out, including Alex. She argues about going, Walker assures her he will be at the hospital soon. He kisses her.

For the next four hours, the captives are sorted out. Who will be going to hospital and the ones that need counseling will go to other hospitals. Trivette and the Major have the task of sorting out the information on where the trucks were going, what they planned to do with merchandise.

Walker heads to one of the four wheelers, Trivette jumps in beside him. Walker turns around and is headed south, "Whoa---Walkman--you got hit harder than we thought--you're going the wrong way, Boulder is northeast of here.

The Ranger turns to him, "I'm going back to get my truck."

"There's not anything left of your truck, Walker!"

"I'm going to get the Ram!"

BOULDER: Mercy Hospital---3 days later

Alex is finally waking up, she's been in and out of it for the last 72 hrs. Now she's finally focusing on the room around her, and the flowers that fill the room.

A voice whispers, "Hi sleepyhead."

She turns to see Walker looking back at her and holding her hand, "Hi cowboy." She sees the flowers, "Oh honey they're beautiful!"

He says nothing, he just continues holding her hand and smiling at her.

"Can we go home now?"

"If that's what you want?"

She looks at him suspiciously, "I hope you haven't forgotten the promise you made me?"

He tries to act coy, "What promise? Oh you mean the steak dinner with all the trimmings, that one?"

She smiles, "That too, but I'm talking about going to your ranch---locking the world away, just the two of us!"

He shakes his head, "Hmmmm, I don't know about that Alex, you see things have changed and it's not going to be just the two of us."

"Oh--is Uncle Ray back?"

"No, as far as I know he's still on retreat with White Eagle."

She looks at him puzzled, "Then who's the third party going to be?"

He kisses her hand again, "Well---you---me---and our baby!"

Her mouth drops open, "Baby?" Then she starts thinking about all that's happened and her losing her birth control pills, "Oh no," she looks at him, he's grinning.

"Was it the hot tub or the Lincoln?"

Walker laughs, "Well as much as I would like to say that I've got some pretty powerful swimmers, and the Lincoln I'll never forget---neither!!"

She looks at him in total confusion, "Neither?"

"Alex, according to the what the doctor says, you're almost a month pregnant, meaning you were pregnant before we even came on this trip."

Alex starts figuring in her head, "A month--then I conceived the night before you went to Mexico?"

Walker grins mischievously, "Or the following morning?"

They both laugh, and Alex says, "And to think we spent so much time trying to take precautions, the arguments that we had, the things we said out of frustration, and I was already pregnant! Mother nature sure has it in for us, doesn't she?"

"Well, look at it this way Alex, if Murphy's law and Mother Nature can't break us up, nothing can--- I guess we're just stuck with each other."

She motions for him to come close to her on the bed, she reaches up and puts her arms around his neck, kissing him slow and tender, "I love you cowboy."

"I love you too counselor---more than you'll ever realize."

THE END

5/26/01