Once again, crime writer and fellow blogger D.S. Nelson has provided a terrific story prompt: the ‘photo you see here. This is the story that came from it. Thanks, D.S., for the inspiration! Now, please go check out D.S. Nelson’s terrific site. And while you’re at it, try her Blake Heatherington mystery series!
Let’s Take a Little Walk
Chris wasn’t sure how far back into the woods they’d marched him. He kept his head down, not looking at either of the men prodding him along. His socks were filthy and getting damp. He could feel the knife poking him in the back, urging him along. He hadn’t seen it clearly, but it felt big. And sharp.
After what seemed like a century, but was really only about ten minutes, they stopped.
‘Here’s good,’ one of the guys said. Chris tried to look up at him but the other guy smacked him in the back of his head. He quickly looked down at the ground again.
‘All right,’ the other one said. ‘Let’s do this.’
It hadn’t started out that way. Chris had been waiting behind the 7-Eleven for his friends. They were running late, so he’d pulled off his shoes to get a stone out of the left one. Then he’d gotten a joint and his lighter out of his pocket. He’d just lit up when he saw the argument by the bar at the other end of the strip plaza. There were three of them going at it. He couldn’t hear what they were fighting about, but whatever it was, one of them had pulled a knife. And then one of the guys was lying on the ground, and the other two were taking off. That’s when they saw him. He was fast, but they were faster. And now they were taking him God knew where.
‘Where the hell’s Chris?’ Luis asked, glaring. ‘He was supposed to meet us here, wasn’t he?’
‘Probably getting some from Kelsey and forgot about us,’ joked Alex. ‘I had a chance at her, I’d ditch us, too!’
Luis snorted. ‘Well, that ain’t gonna happen. But you’re right. It’s gotta be Kelsey. I’ll bet they’re up in the woods right now.’
‘Yeah, probably,’ Alex agreed. Then he noticed something. ‘Wait a sec!’ He pointed. ‘Aren’t those Chris’ shoes?’
The two walked over to where a pair of men’s shoes lay. ‘Hey, you’re right,’ Luis said. ‘Those are Chris’. I was with him when he bought them. No way he’d just leave them here. They’re practically new.’
‘Ha! He must have been in a hurry to get with Kelsey.’
Luis laughed. Then he raised an eyebrow. ‘Hey, let’s go crash their little party.’
‘I love it,’ Alex grinned.
The two young men turned towards the woods behind the 7-Eleven. At first they weren’t sure which way Chris would’ve gone. But then Luis noticed a telephone lying on the path ahead of them. ‘That Chris’?’ he asked.
‘Could be. Let’s go that way.’ So they did.
Luis and Alex walked silently, making as little noise as possible with their feet. Everything would be spoiled if Chris and Kelsey heard them. After about ten minutes, they stopped to listen. Alex turned to Luis, shook his head and shrugged. Luis shook his head, too. He couldn’t hear the couple, either, and both young men were beginning to wonder if they’d gone the wrong way. Then Alex heard something – a very faint something. He grabbed Luis’ arm and pointed. Then he touched his ear. Luis listened for a second, nodded, and the two moved very slowly in the direction of the rustle they’d heard.
The noise was just a little louder now. But it didn’t sound like a couple enjoying themselves. Luis and Alex looked at each other. Luis frowned and pointed to a large bush. Alex nodded and the two crept up to it, dropping down behind it when they got there. Luis peered through the bush at a clearing just ahead of them. His face went pale at what he saw. He gestured to Alex, who scooted over and took a look through the bush. It was Chris, all right, but he wasn’t with Kelsey. There were two big guys with him and one of them had a knife.
Luis and Alex sat back on their heels behind the bush. With Chris’ help, it’d be three against two, but it looked like Chris might be hurt. And one of those dudes had a knife. Then, Alex had an idea. He leaned close to Luis and breathed his plan into his friend’s ear. Luis nodded as he heard the details. Then the two did a silent fist bump and got to work.
It was Jackie’s own fault he couldn’t shut up, thought Dylan. If he hadn’t shot his mouth off that way, Cody wouldn’t have used the knife. Cody wasn’t a killer. He just had a short fuse. Especially after a few beers. And Dylan had learned to stay on his good side. In a way he felt bad about it all, but he wasn’t about to mess with Cody. And then there’d been this damned kid. Cody’d have to kill him, too. Just then, Dylan lifted his head. What was that? Some animal? It didn’t sound like footsteps, and he couldn’t hear voices. He shrugged and turned his attention back to the kid, who lay between him and Cody. All he’d have to do would be to hold the kid’s arms. Cody’d do the rest.
The crashing noise startled Cody and Dylan, and they both looked up. It was too late, though. Two loud yells, two large tree branches, and they were out cold. Alex and Luis dropped the thick, heavy branches and lowered their heads, panting a little from the effort. It had worked, though. Those two guys weren’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Alex rushed over to Chris, who was still on the ground. ‘You OK?’ he asked.
‘Yeah. They got me, but not too bad.’
‘Let’s get out of here.’ Alex and Luis each took one of Chris’ arms, and slowly helped him out of the woods.
‘You need help,’ Luis said. ‘We’ll get you to the 7-Eleven and wait for an ambulance or something.’
Chris nodded. ‘How’d you find me?’ he gasped.
‘Dude, you would never leave your new shoes behind.’