"Did you hear that? It sound like Brad." said Patty.
"I heard something. I couldn't tell." replied Lamar.
The four, including Catelyn and Candace, were sitting in the shade near the bushes where Brad had gone looking for the road which they needed to take to get back on their way home to Dallas/Fort Worth. Brad had been gone about twenty minutes and Patty was beginning to worry.
Getting to her feet, Patty started towards the bushes when Lamar called out.
"I'll come with you.." he said as he started to get up.
"No you stay with our stuff. Catelyn, you come with me and Candace you help Lamar. Ya'll keep your eyes open for trouble." replied Patty.
Patty checked her Glock and was happy to see that Cately had brought along the shortened twenty gauge shotgun she was given. They both poked around the bushes until they found a suitable, but scratchy, place to cut through. Like Brad, they found that the bushes opened up into a tree covered, but clear area. Brad however, was no where to be seen.
"Maybe we just heard something else?" said Catelyn.
"No, it was Brad and he sounded like he was hurt or in trouble. C'mon, let's go this way but keep your eyes open for anything. Most of all, stay quiet. I want to be able to hear him if he's hurt." ordered Patty.
They walked no more than ten yards when Patty noticed the leaves and ruts in the dirt which suggested something had happened in this area. It was confirmed when Catelyn spoke quietly nearby.
"Look. This is that machete he took with him. And look here, one of his shoes!" Catelyn said.
The machete was laying on the ground, but Catelyn had already picked up the shoe and was holding it out for Patty to see. Patty quickly looked in all four directions looking for anymore clues or signs. She noticed what looked like tracks in the still damp ground going off to the north through the trees. Within seconds, she found what was nothing more than a rabbit trail leading through the densest part of the forest .
"Okay, Brad would not have gone this way being so close to where we were. Something has happened to him. You keep that shotgun pointed at the ground but if you see anything, I want you to fire whatever you have in it and then run back to Lamar, got it?" she hissed.
"Okay." replied Catelyn in a wavering voice.
"I need you to be strong for me, Catelyn. This is Brad's life we are talking about here." said Patty sternly while grasping Catelyn's arm.
"I will." she said quietly.
Patty turned and walked carefully, but determinedly down the trail through the undergrowth and under the dark shadows of the pines and oaks towering overhead. After a few tense moments, she nearly tripped over something which turned out to be Brad's other shoe. "Good, we are on the right trail" she thought to herself.
The trail wound through the undergrowth before splitting into two paths. Patty paused and held up her hand to Catelyn to be still as well. She then listened for a moment before turning to the path to the right and sped up her pace. It was not long before they heard what could be voices close by.
They broke through the bushes where the path disappeared to see a small clearing where sunlight spilled from the opening in the trees above. There was Brad on the ground, but their view was blocked by the back of a large man in overalls who was standing and tugging Brad's pants off the young man's legs.
"Hoo hoo! We can have a party right here my purty little thing!" the big man heaved, clearly out of breath from his dash through the woods or through his obscene excitement. Whatever the case, he did not hear Patty approach from behind as she brought up her pistol.
"Patty!" shouted Brad which caused the big man to drop Brad's pants and spin around. He was incredibly quick as he dropped to the ground and crabbed backwards to his right positing Brad between him and Patty's aim.
"Oooh, lookee here! Who's this, boy? Ya mama? Or you her little play thing? Come to get her boy candy, huh? What ifs I don't want to give you up, purty boy?" the large man taunted.
He then reached into the back of his filthy overalls and produced a large Bowie knife which he placed against Brad's neck after jerking him to his feet.
"How you want him, mama? Sliced, diced or french fried? How about you and that little thing with you come on down here before I cut him open like a pig?" he said pulling Brad closer so that their faces were side by side.
"No. Let him go or you will die." said Patty solidifying her grip on the Glock and planting her feet firmly on the ground.
"Oooh, he is so yummy I could eat him up." the man replied pushing his face against Brad's. "You two put down them guns and come on over here. And take off them clothes, too. I gots time for everyone today!"
Catelyn moved forward towards Brad's all while keeping the shotgun on her shoulder and pointed at Brad and his captor.
"Oh sugar, you wanna use that scatter gun you gonna put purty boy's face all over the bushes. But don't worry, I'll open him up first." he said slowly applying pressure with the knife to Brad's neck causing a tiny thread of blood to spill beneath the blade.
Brad moaned and struggled before his face went white and he went limp against the big man. His attacker tried to pull Brad up with one arm but could not keep the knife applied to Brad's neck at the same time. His body was now no longer covered by Brad's completely and Patty took the shot.
The round struck the big man in his meaty right shoulder but it was enough to get his attention and cause the knife to fall to the ground. With his same speed, the man shoved Brad's limp body towards Patty and ran sideways into the trees, followed by a single gauge shot by Catelyn, albeit went high to avoid hitting Brad.
Patty fired two rounds as well, but they could tell by the crashing in the bushes, he had made it away into the cover of the trees.
"Brad!" Catelyn shouted running up to his body lying face down on the ground. She turned him over and saw that the cut on his neck was superficial and clearly he was only unconscious and not dead.
"We don't have time." said Patty. "Get him up. We'll have to walk him between us back to the bikes. Get his pants, hurry!"
Candace grabbed Brad's jeans and rolled them quickly but carefully so his pockets would not empty onto the ground. Then lifted him off the ground underneath his left arm while Patty did the same on the right. At that moment something flew through the air and crashed on to the ground near their feet.
They both saw it was a fist sized rock and Patty wasted no time in firing two rounds from the hip in the general direction of the missile.
"Let's go now before he finds his target!" said Patty to Candace.
They pulled Brad into the bushes onto the rabbit path and hurried while nearly dragging the still unconscious Brad between them. They soon heard the sound of crashing trees and bushes behind them as their attacker regained his nerve and came after them. Patty took the lead and dragged Brad her lungs burning and her legs growing shaky by the minute.
"Lamar!" Patty yelled through the darkness and trees.
The crashing continued until they saw the large man, now with blood streaming down his side from the wound to his shoulder and sticks, leaves and dirt hanging from his sweaty hair. His eyes were wild and rolling and he ran at them from the right side only feet away.
Patty barely had time to get her Glock free from its holster when the man struck her and knocked the gun and all three of them to the ground. He rolled off her and sprang to his feet, his eyes darting around for the fallen gun.
Patty reached out and kicked his leg, but it had no effect as he spotted the fallen weapon and went to retrieve it with a huge smile on his big ugly face. He had just reached it when Patty pulled her knife from it's sheath and Catelyn pulled the trigger on the shotgun.
The blast caught the overall clad man in his side and knocked him with a grunt off his feet. The shells were only bird shot and while the distance was minimal, the penetration was as well. He grabbed his side and then reached back for the gun which was still on the ground. Catelyn pulled the trigger again and the only sound was a tiny click. The shotgun was empty.
Patty jabbed out with her knife and caught the man on his arm before he could reach the Glock. He rose his head and growled at her and slapped out with his right hand and running it across the sharpened four inch blade. He howled and pulled the bloody fingers to his body and tried to get the Glock again, but Patty had it by the barrel and drew it away.
The big man screamed and lunged towards Patty this time and she barely was able to crawl backwards by inches from his grasp. She lost her balance as she fell over Brad's unconscious body and prepared herself for the inevitable crush of the disgusting man upon her.
Just then the trees parted and an equally large man barreled through and tackled the bloody attacker. It was Lamar.