Thursday, June 21, 2007


It was just past noon and Will and Coyote were struggling to pry spikes out of a section of the line while Tiffany and Ikea placed charges along the track. Galileo sat his pinto off to one side, watching the operations. "Don't move those rails," he called, trotting his horse down the line. "Isn't this enough? Seems like if you take many more spikes out, the rails will be too loose for the train to pass, if we don't get the order to derail it."

Coyote examined their work. "We haven't unbolted this section yet," he said. "But yeah, I guess this is enough. We don't need to move the rails by much, just enough that if the train makes it this far, it turns off into that field over there." He waved a hand at the scrubby desert grass. "If it gets to be afternoon and still no word, I'll hammer a few spikes back in, and we'll try again with the evening train."

"I'm trusting you to keep your word. I don't want to have to place an extra watch just so you don't blow up the late train just for the hell of it."

"Wouldn't that be great?" Coyote grinned. "The explosion would look beautiful at night."

"We need to find you another line of work," Will said, laying down his crowbar. "I don't think we destroy enough things to keep you busy."

"Too bad no one does fireworks any more," Galileo said. "Would've been perfect for you."

"What are fireworks?"

Galileo was starting to explain when he noticed the young man wasn't listening and seemed distracted by something on the horizon. Galileo raised the binoculars.

"There's nothing to see.”

"Better go guide her in anyway. She's tired."

Galileo looked again. "I'm telling you, there's no one there."

Coyote sighed in exasperation. "Give me the horse, and I'll go."

"Get your own horse. You know where it is."

"By the time I do that, she'll be here."

Will frowned and asked to borrow the binoculars. He couldn't see anyone either, but said, "Why don't you at least check? It won't hurt anything to ride a little ways down the line."

Galileo took the binoculars and hung them around his neck. "Fine. I'll ride as far as the arroyo and check if I can see anything from there." He looked Will in the eye. "But if anything happens to this track before I return, I'm holding you responsible."

"Why him?" Coyote asked. "I'm the one that's crazy."

"That's exactly why." He turned his horse and urged her into a trot.

Once he was out of earshot, Will asked, "Is she really coming? Is she okay?"

"She can't be too bad off if she rode all that way in just over two hours."

Will scanned the horizon but still saw nothing. Far down the line, Galileo raised his binoculars, then kicked his horse into a canter.

Coyote nodded in satisfaction. "That'll teach him not to believe me." He called to Tiffany and Ikea, who were stringing the last of the fuse lines far up the track. "We can finish that later."

The girls came running and their eager questions kept Will from acting out the state of his own nerves.

Coyote stood on his toes, straining to see what was happening up the line and grumbling about how he should've made Galileo leave them the binoculars. Finally the speck of Galileo's horse stopped getting smaller and began growing larger again. Soon it was clear there were two horses.

"Are you sure it's Diana?" Ikea asked.

"If it is, she's not on one of our horses," Tiffany said.

"Give her a minute and she'll explain everything," Coyote assured them.

Will couldn't wait. As soon as they were close enough that he could see it really was Diana, he took off at a run.

"That won't do any good," Coyote muttered, but chased after him anyway.

Galileo pulled both horses up short, the unknown stallion lathered and breathing hard. Will went to Huracán's side and held his arms out to Diana. She let him pull her off the horse and sagged into his arms.

For a moment, Will didn't know what to say, but Ikea and Tiffany had no such difficulty.

"What happened?"

"Are you okay?"

"Where are the others?"

"Where'd you get the horse?"

Coyote added his voice to theirs. "Are we supposed to blow up the train?"

Diana pulled away from Will and stomped her feet, trying to find her legs after so long in the saddle. "Destroy the rails. The train too, if we can get it."

Coyote was jubilant. "I knew it! We've been getting ready since this morning."

"There'll probably be weapons on it, and maybe soldiers. Mercenaries from Mexico." Diana looked around. "Can I have some water?"

Will started. He had been so overwhelmed to have Diana safe that he had forgotten she would be in need of food, water and rest. "There’s some a little ways up the track." He put an arm around her and tried to lead her to where they had stashed their water and snacks, but she hesitated.

"The horse—"

"I'll take care of him,” Galileo said.

"His name is Huracán and he's a racehorse from Kentucky."

"Really?" He looked at the lathered and trembling animal with renewed appreciation. Tonight I'll want to hear about how you got him."


Alice Audrey said...

I love the line "Why him?" Coyote asked. "I'm the one that's crazy."

I could swear I read this before, but there's no comment from me.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I put some of this on my main website as a response to a Sunday Scribblings prompt. That's why it's familiar. There's some overlap with the next chapter, so you'll remember some of that too.

Alice Audrey said...

Ah, so it's in two places. That explains it.