Justice Delayed(127)

By: Patricia Bradley

Andi brought up the rear with Jillian’s shotgun. The pain had eased enough that she left the makeshift crutch behind. She hadn’t been able to handle both, and the shotgun gave her more security.

Maggie hurried ahead to the truck and started unloading boxes. Andi and Jillian had almost reached the pickup when a crack echoed from the tree line. Jillian screamed and crumpled to the ground.

“Run for the cabin, Maggie!” Andi hit the dirt as another bullet whizzed by. She crawled to where Jillian lay, blood staining the side of her flannel shirt. Her eyes fluttered open.

“Should’ve killed them up on the ridge,” she muttered. “They’ll kill us all.”

“Not if you have more guns in the cabin,” Andi said. When another bullet hit the pickup, she raised up and pulled one of the triggers on the double-barrel. The recoil knocked her backward. Rubbing her shoulder, she said, “That ought to keep them at bay, maybe long enough to get inside.”

Maggie crawled to where they were.

“I told you to run,” Andi said to her.

She unbuttoned Jillian’s shirt. “And leave you? We’re in this together,” she said. “Doesn’t look like the bullet hit an organ. Just need to get the bleeding stopped.”

“Do you think if we get her to the front of the pickup, you can crawl around to the back of the house with her? We’d be sitting ducks to try the front door.”

“I think so.”

Andi nudged Jillian, and her eyes opened again. “Do you have any more shells?”

“In the right front pocket.”

Andi unsnapped the pocket and found four shells, then nodded to Maggie. “I’ll cover you while you pull Jillian to the house.”

Maggie looked down at Jillian. “Can you help?”

She pressed her lips together. “I’ll try.”

Andi peered around the bed of the truck that partially hid them. Nothing moved. “Go,” she whispered.

As Maggie and Jillian inched toward the house, a flash glinted from the woods. Andi fired in the direction she’d seen the flash. This time she was better prepared for the recoil.

Still watching, she crept backward to the front of the truck.

“We made it,” Maggie said, her voice low.

Andi glanced to see where they were, then back at the woods. A man in camos crept out of the tree line. She put the shotgun to her shoulder and fired, even though he was beyond the range of the shotgun. He dropped to the ground, and she dashed to the corner of the house.

“Let’s get her inside.” Holding on to the gun, Andi helped drag Jillian to the back door and into the cabin.

“Where’s your phone?” Maggie asked.

“Doesn’t work. Limb fell and broke the line two weeks ago, and no one’s come to fix it.” She shifted, groaning. “There’s a .22 rifle under the sofa. And a deer rifle in my bedroom closet.”

“That ought to be enough to hold them off until help arrives,” Maggie said.

“What help?” Andi said. “Nobody knows where we are.”


THE MINUTE HAND MOVED SLOWLY as Andi watched the clock over the mantel, her thigh throbbing with each movement of the second hand. It’d been at least fifteen minutes since there’d been any activity from the men. Jillian had recovered somewhat, and under her instructions, Maggie had applied a pressure bandage to her shoulder, and the bleeding had stopped. She’d insisted they prop her against the wall that faced the kitchen. And they’d given her the .38. They each had rifles.

Andi peeked out the window that faced south and scanned the woods, then moved to the one that faced west. Maggie stood sentry at the east window. The blind spot was the north side facing the river. Even if the men realized there was a blind spot, it would be difficult for them to work their way around to the back side of the cabin without being seen. “Do you think anyone has even tried to call us?”

“You know they have,” Maggie replied. “I’m sure they’re looking for us now. Once they get to Doskie, someone will recognize the photo of Jillian and tell them how to get here.”

“I hate to tell you,” Jillian said, “but even with directions, they’ll probably get lost. It’s up to us, ladies.” They’d wrapped a blanket around her, and she pulled it tighter. “Why in blue blazes were you so determined to find me?”