Canyon:The Traveler Series Book TwoBy: Tom Abrahams
“I know people. They know people. I’m getting mine when I get back. That’s all I’m saying.”
“You’re not making any sense,” Battle said. “Shut up and let me focus on how to get us out of here.”
The two were tucked in a narrow alley near Ofra Avenue. Despite having the GPS, Battle took them too far north. Now they were faced with having to dart across an exposed train yard to head straight east to the checkpoint.
In the alley, it was dark. They were hidden. Once they left the security of the high-walled alley, they’d be bathed in the orange glow of the train yard lights. They’d be a target for anyone perched on either side of the tracks.
“You know what the markup is for Mexican meth?” Buck asked. “And black tar heroin? It’s ridiculous. So cheap. I’m taking my check from Uncle Sam and I’m buying a bar.” Buck sounded delirious. “I’m buying a bar. Everything’s cash in a bar. So easy to wash money in a bar.”
“Dude.” Battle held his finger up to his mouth. “Be quiet. I don’t want to hear this.”
“I’m gonna be the rich dude, Battle,” he said. “Right now we’re fighting other people’s wars. When we’re the rich dudes, we have people fighting our wars. That’s how the world works. Old rich men send young poor men to fight. It’s always been that way. Now we’re here. They’re in bed with their young, hot wives drinking caviar and eating champagne.”
“All right.” Battle took Buck’s collar and yanked him forward. “Shut up. We can talk about this later. We need to get out of here.”
Buck chuckled and mocked Battle, holding a finger up to his own lips. Battle let go a huff. “Whatever, man.”
He looked back at the GPS. There were no options. He couldn’t wait until daylight. Buck would be dead by then. It might already be too late for him, but Battle wasn’t going to give up. They had to cut across the train tracks. That was their only option.
He helped Buck to his feet, slung him over his back, and inched from the alley. If he took incoming fire, the best he could do was run. He’d crossed Ofra and run along Kinda Street, which ran east until it ended at the train yard. Battle stopped at the dead end, which, thankfully, was out of reach of the orange lights perched high above the tracks. There was a high chain-link fence separating them from the yard.
Battle set Buck and his rifle on the ground, pulled the sweat rag from around his neck, and wrapped it around a link closest to the ground near a metal post. Resting on his kneepads, he pulled a set of wire cutters from one of his vest pockets and cranked it onto the cloth-covered link. He felt a snap and removed the cloth, working the half-cut link back and forth. A few pulls and tugs and it snapped. He methodically repeated the process five more times.
“What’s with the rag?” Buck asked.
“It keeps the noise down,” Battle answered. “We don’t know where the enemy is.”
Buck laughed, his eyes wide. “They’re everywhere.”
Battle worked the fence from the ground up and folded back the links to create a gap high enough for the two of them to crawl under. Battle went first, using his elbows and knees to slip under the fence.
“Scoot over here,” he whispered to Buck. “On your stomach. I’m pulling you through.”
To Battle’s surprise, Buck complied and positioned himself at the edge of the fence opening. He reached under the chain link with his hands, stretching for Battle.
“Take this and stuff it in your mouth.”
“Do it. It’s an order.”
Buck took the rag and stuffed it into his mouth, gagging on it as he repositioned himself, extending both hands again.
“Not that way.” Battle sat up and braced his feet on the fence post. He leaned on his side, reached back under the fence, and grabbed Buck’s vest at the shoulders. “This is gonna hurt your leg. Bite down on that rag.”
Buck shook his head in protest as Battle was already tugging, yanking him under the fence. The injured soldier was essentially dead weight, and Battle was already exhausted from carrying him as far as he had. He found something deep inside that helped him propel Buck through the opening. Even as Buck screamed in pain, his voice muffled by the rag, Battle pulled him clear of the chain link.
Once he was through, Battle rolled onto his back. His chest was heaving, his arms and lower back thickened with exhaustion. He took deep breaths in through his nose, trying not to make too much noise.
Buck was whimpering next to him until he reached over and pulled out the rag. Buck cursed at him, at his injuries, at God. “There ain’t enough morphine in the world for what you did to me.”
“Sorry,” Battle said, looking at the clear sky above them. “Had to get you through there.”
Buck lifted his shaky hand and offered Battle a one-fingered salute. He was grunting through clenched teeth.
Battle surveyed the open valley of the tracks. Directly in front of them, there was a steep decline into the valley. There were four sets of tracks, two of which had train cars on them, and a shed on the opposite side. A sharp incline led to the opposite edge and another fence.