-skids in late- THURSDAY.
And I almost forgot but I’m here now.
So last week, our threesome travelled back in time and got held at gunpoint by a strange man in the Canadian old west. Maybe this week we’ll figure out who he is. -eyebrow wiggle-
If you’re new, here are the other parts:
Aaand part 5!
Part 5: Down To The River
I knew that time travelling was dangerous. Anyone who’d read or watched anything involving time machines knew that. But I didn’t think it would be this bad. Getting a gun pulled on you for just trying to go into a peaceful little town. Weren’t Canadians supposed to be polite?
“Holy crud,” muttered Chase.
I swallowed and slowly put my hands up, my heartbeat pounding in my eardrums.
But the guy with the gun didn’t seem to be interested in me or Chase. He kept his gaze fixed on Demetrius.
It was hard to tell what Demetrius’s expression was from my angle and through all that hair. But he tilted his head slightly. He gave a small cough in the back of his throat and rocked back on his heels.
“Pardon me, I… I don’t believe we’ve met?”
The man shook his head. “No, we haven’t. And I wouldn’t say this is exactly the setting for making new friends either.” His voice kept its vaguely tired tone. He nodded forwards and motioned sideways with his gun a little. “Move that way, folks. Let’s get this over with somewhere a little more private.”
I still couldn’t see a lot of his face, with how much of it was hidden in his hat shadow. It was hard to tell whether the tiredness in his voice was from boredom or reluctance.
So either he’s a heartless killer who does this all the time… or he doesn’t really want to kill us. Not really an in between option. Except maybe if he just stayed up late last night or something.
I followed behind Chase as he reluctantly started walking the way the man had gestured. Demetrius walked behind me, closest to the gun. And I had a feeling the gunman had intended it that way.
He steered us all down a smaller trail off into the pine forest – one where the branches were snapped away enough so that we didn’t really have to duck. Did he take this path with people he intended to kill often?
The pretty, Christmas-tree-smelling forest didn’t seem as magical walking through it, this time.
Chase flinched a couple of times as he stepped on thorns, but didn’t let out any sounds beyond muffled grunts.
I bit my lip hard and tried to get a good look back towards the gun. There were some pretty faulty pistols back around this time, I knew, so maybe we had a bit of a better chance…?
But my second look at his gun was a lot more shocking than reassuring.
Because that definitely wasn’t a gun from eighteen-ninety-nine.
It was a revolver sort of model, but this was one that wouldn’t come along for at least another twenty years. Still not the most reliable shot. But much more accurate than a lot of pistols around this time.
So what did that mean? Did we have another time traveller here? Why would he be after Demetrius? Was someone else after Jane? Someone trying to keep him away from Jane?
“Face front, girl,” the gunman called out to me, narrowing his eyes in my direction. “Watch where you’re going.”
I quickly turned back around front, just in time to duck a branch.
We kept walking for another few minutes until the trees opened out into a bit of a clearing, by the bank of a river. A really deep river, by the looks of it. A small cabin sat off to the side of the clearing, where it perched awkwardly on a rise and angled towards us like it was watching what would happen next.
Hopefully we wouldn’t be giving it too gory of a scene to watch.
Chase stopped walking and glanced backwards, shifting his feet and wincing. I stopped a little bit behind him. He kind of gives off this… almost aura of everything being alright, usually. I wasn’t catching a whole lot of it this time, but it felt better to stand next to him.
The gunman gestured with his gun again. “Over to the river, all of you.”
“Ah, less distance to drag the bodies to the water, and less elbow grease expended in digging the graves,” Demetrius observed, sounding oddly distant. He gave me a distracted looking smile as we all started over to the river. “At least we aren’t being murdered by a complete nincompoop.”
He sounded like he almost didn’t mind this. Wasn’t worried about being murdered in the first place.
This whole thing seemed just wrong. Anticlimactic. It wasn’t like I’d spent my whole life expecting to die with dramatic music in the background or something, but I at least hoped there would be more meaning than…this. Time travel, and then before we can see any history, we all get murdered. And we don’t even know who’s doing it or why. This was stupid.
“Hey,” I hissed to Demetrius, barely moving my lips. “Do you … have a plan? Any weapons?”
“Hmm?” Demetrius glanced over at me. “Oh. I … don’t believe so, no.” Still, he started patting down his pockets again, stopping in place.
“Hey!” barked out the gunman behind us. Chase and I both jumped. The man stepped closer, tightening his grip on his gun. “Hands up, Morrow!”
Demetrius didn’t seem to hear. He thrust one hand deep into one of his pockets and yanked it back out, spinning around as he did. “Aha!” He whipped a weird, pistol-looking device forward, aiming it towards the gunman. Chase jumped, moving over to put himself between me and the other guys.
I would have been a lot more relieved if that thing had looked just a little bit more like an actual gun. And acted more like one.
A gunshot cracked out, echoing through the quiet forest. For a second, I thought we might be home free.
But the gunman didn’t move. And Demetrius staggered back, dropping his device and gripping his arm. Water splashed around his boots as he stumbled a step back into the water. Blood welled through the cracks of his shaking fingers and he looked up again, staring at the gunman.
Things got very, very real, all of a sudden.
“Demetrius!” I tried to yell. It came out as more of a rasp. I tried to move forward and get to him, but my stomach dropped and my feet didn’t want to move. I felt sick and lightheaded and my breath wouldn’t come out right.
“Hey, hey, hey!” Chase’s voice rang out, sounding almost as loud as the gunshot. He put his hands out in front of him, still partly raised as he moved towards the gunman. “Sir, I don’t know what you think you…” he stopped for a second as the gun was re-aimed at him. Letting out a whoosh of breath, he started again.
“Listen. Whatever you think that Demetrius guy did… I’m really pretty sure by now he couldn’t do much harm to anybody.” Chase kept his voice low. “Really. He’s so mixed up he barely knows his own name. All he’s trying to do is find his girl, somewhere in the past. He’s lost her, and he needs to find her. And that’s the only thing he knows.”
I finally got my cement-block feet to move and stumbled my way over to Demetrius, still feeling shaky and nauseous.
I’m not this bad with blood, right? It’s just shock. I can still help.
Icy water splashed into my shoes and the cold pinched at my skin as I went over to where Demetrius was huddled in the wet.
The gunman still had his pistol aimed at Chase, but wasn’t firing. Something in his face had changed.
“Please, believe me,” Chase went on, “None of us want any trouble. My… my girlfriend and I weren’t even trying to come here and we really just want to… not die. Please.” His voice cracked a little
“Demetrius,” I choked out, hunching down next to him and trying to get a good look at his face. His breathing was ragged and he was still curled over his arm. I could see the blood staining more of his coat and the ends of some of his scarves.
“I-I… forgot that my doodad broke back in eighteen-twelve. How careless of me.” Demetrius let out an uneven chuckle. He looked up to me, his face pale and his breathing ragged. “No matter. I believe I… I know how to dress wounds. Mr. Chase had his medical kit with him, did he not?”
I swallowed hard, my gaze going down to the blood coming through his fingers and trickling down his arm. “He… I don’t think it came with us…”
Demetrius grunted and closed his eyes, gripping his arm tighter. He shivered, though I wasn’t sure if it was from the cold of the river or shock from being shot. I shivered too, still feeling like I might throw up.
The gunman still hadn’t responded to Chase. He was watching Demetrius, his expression still unreadable.
“I’ve been shot before, Miss Zoya,” Demetrius reassured, his voice shaky. “Once with a poisonous arrow in ancient Egypt… and the druids tried to sacrifice me to…” he trailed off and groaned.
I grabbed his other arm, trying to keep him up out of the water and guide him back onto the shore.
The sound of Chase clearing his throat broke the deafening silence coming from their direction. “C-could you possibly put the gun down now? Please?” he asked hesitantly.
The gunman worked his jaw a little, pressed his lips together, then slowly lowered his gun. “I… asked for the bare minimum of details on this job,” he muttered. “And I didn’t…” Huffing out a breath, he pushed his hat back a little further, showing more of his face. “He’s a time-head, ain’t he?” the man nodded to Demetrius, just as he collapsed on the riverbank. His tone didn’t sound like it was much of a question.
I pulled my attention off Demetrius to give him a confused look.
Chase frowned. “A… time-head?”
“He’s time sick. That ramble he just went off on about Egypt and druids and all that? That’s textbook time-head right there.” The man gestured with his gun and Chase flinched.
I sucked on my lower lip for a second, my mouth feeling dry. I swallowed and nodded. “He… said he was, yeah. But how would you know about…?”
“And he went through all that without a scarf? For a girl?” the gunman pressed further. He looked between the two of us, his brow furrowed in a sad sort of way. The look in his eyes was far from the first shaded, indifferent look he’d had when he first confronted us.
Chase opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. “I… well yeah, I guess. But he has like… five scarves, what do you mean?”
“What are you two even doing with him?” Again ignoring the question and still not putting away his gun, the guy watched us. His gaze rested on Chase’s plaid pajama pants. “Pretty clear you don’t know what’s going on. How’d you two kids end up with Demetrius Morrow?”
“He was hurt. And I-… we wanted to help,” I replied, still watching his gun.
Demetrius grunted, straightening up a little bit and still gripping his arm. “I derailed the mademoiselle’s carriage by accident and she and Mr. Chase were very kind to me. They gave me tea.” His words sounded forced, squeezed out of him like he was a half-empty toothpaste tube. Still, he tried to keep his shoulders squared and look dignified. “And as you can see, I have plenty of scarves. I’ll…” he choked a little and winced. “I’ll go through as many as it takes to find my Jane.”
The gunman stared at Demetrius for a long time, his expression unreadable. His jaw tightened.
Chase and I exchanged a worried look.
Finally the man closed his eyes and let out a sigh. “Dammit.” He shoved the gun back into its holster and shook his head. “Out of all the jobs they could’ve given me…”
I blinked in surprise. So he was just… That was it? He wasn’t going to kill us? What that we said convinced him? Who even was this guy?
The man sighed again and started walking over towards Demetrius and me. “Guess I’m not getting paid this time either. Why’d he have to have a girl? Why’d there have to be a couple of kids in the mix?” He spoke under his breath and cursed quietly.
I shied away, trying to pull Demetrius with me as he got closer. Chase took a few quick steps in our direction, tensing.
But the guy just picked up the abandoned device from the ground in front of Demetrius, shoved it in his pocket, then dropped down on Demetrius’s other side. Like he was… helping me get him upright. He grunted with the effort as we both pulled upwards. “Let’s get the old professor patched up, shall we?”
Demetrius groaned and was given a consoling pat on the shoulder from the guy who’d just shot him.
Our new friend the gunman must have finally noticed the way we were all staring at him because he finally gave a name. “Name’s Jonah Harkman. And you folks probably won’t be as lucky with the next mercenary they send hopping through time.” He tipped his head upwards to get a look at Demetrius, knocking his old hat sideways. “You, my friend, have some people who really want you dead.”
-bum, bum BUUUM-
Cliffhanger as always. Tune back in next Thursday for more!