Welcome to The Book of Bones, a weekly adventure story. If you’re just joining the story, click here for Chapter 1.
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Bones hit the accelerator and yanked the pickup hard to the left as shots rang out. Jessie screamed and covered her head. Bones forced her down to the floorboard and then yanked the truck back to the right. The rear window shattered and Jessie screamed again.
“Unbe-freaking-lievable!” he shouted. He downshifted and took the truck up over the curb and onto the grassy expanse of a small public park. He took out a garbage can, sending its contents flying through the air. Pedestrians scattered, shouting curses, as the truck lurched and skidded past. Bones weaved in and of the few trees, wishing for more cover, but no more shots came.
When they crossed the park and bounced down onto a busy street to the blaring of horns, Jessie dared to peek her head back up.
“Did we get away?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Do you see anyone coming?”
Jessie looked behind them. “Lots of people are behind us, but no one seems to be… uh oh.”
“What?” A cold fist squeezed Bones’ gut as he turned to follow her line of sight. A sleek, black Jaguar was shooting across the park. “Just great,” he muttered.
“We’re never going to get away from them in this traffic,” Jessie said. “Get over to the right and you can get on the highway.”
“We don’t want the highway,” Bones said as he whipped over to the right to pass the slow-moving delivery truck in front of him.”
“Consuela will never outrun that Jag. Out on the highway they’ll catch up with us in seconds. At least in town the traffic will slow them down too.”
“Unless they drive down the wrong side of the road.”
“What?” A quick glance in the side-view mirror elicited a stream of profanity. The Jaguar was zipping along on the wrong side of the road, quickly closing the distance between them.
“What do we do?” Jessie cried.
Bones didn’t answer. He whipped Consuela back over into the right lane. To his left, the nose of the Jaguar appeared just ahead of the front bumper of the truck Bones had just passed. The passenger window appeared, and then a fist holding an automatic pistol. Bones stamped on the brake pedal as the passenger opened fire. Behind him, tires squealed and horns blared. He hit the gas, and tried to keep the truck between him and the Jaguar.
On the opposite side of the road, cars were whipping to the side to get out of the way of the fast-moving vehicle. The Jaguar dropped back behind the truck and the passenger fired again. The shots went wide, whumping into the side of the delivery truck. At this the truck driver panicked and skidded to a halt.
A series of squeals and crashes filled the air as the vehicles behind the truck careened into one another. Bones hoped everyone was all right, but he couldn’t worry about that right now. He and Jessie had lost the scant protection the truck had provided, and were now exposed.
“Here goes nothing.” He accelerated and veered to the left, bounding over the median and heading right for the Jaguar.
It shouldn’t have worked. The gunman in the passenger seat should have taken careful aim and ended Bones, but like most people, he lacked the complete focus required to use a weapon effectively in such a situation. Hitting a moving target was difficult enough, shooting accurately while moving was even tougher, but doing it while your target was trying to kill you was something altogether different. His shot went wide and then the driver panicked and hit the brakes.
Bones didn’t have time to celebrate as the Jaguar skidded and fishtailed. A major intersection loomed up ahead, and he was on the wrong side of the road. There was no time to correct his course. Instead, he pounded the gas and held down the horn.
“Everybody out of the freaking way!” he shouted, not that anyone could hear him. He zipped through the red light, barely missed being sideswiped by an ugly, yellow VW Beetle, and then shot directly into the path of an oncoming big rig. They missed one another by inches, the rig’s horn blaring its deep cry. Bones took a hard left below a street sign that read LOMAS.
“Do you know where Lomas takes us?” he called to Jessie, who had returned to the passenger seat but held her hands over her face.
“Which way? East or West?”
“I don’t know, let me think. The big mountain is behind us, so we’re going West.”
She shrugged. “No idea.”
“What if we went East?”
Bones frowned. “Then why did you ask which way we were going?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been shot at before, jerk!” She uncovered her face, balled a fist, and punched him in the shoulder. “If you keep going you’ll hit the Rio Grande.”
“I doubt we can swim for it,” Bones said, managing a smile. In this part of the country, the Rio Grande was shallow enough to wade across.
“I don’t suppose there’s any chance they’ll give up?” Jessie turned to look out the shattered back window. “Never mind. They’re way back there, but they’re coming.”
“Holy crap,” Bones grumbled.
“They’re on the right side of the road this time. I guess that’s a good thing?”
“I was kind of hoping they’d have a head-on collision with a cement truck, but that was overly optimistic.”
“Should we get off the main road? We might lose them.”
“Or we might end up sitting ducks on a dead-end street.” He gritted his teeth and concentrated on working his way through traffic. He caught a glimpse of the Jaguar in his rear-view mirror. Like Jessie had said, it was coming after them. He knew he couldn’t outrun them. Something had to give.
Up ahead, a U-Haul truck was camped out in the left lane, feeding a steady stream of traffic into the right lane as vehicles moved to pass it. It was causing a major slowdown—not what he needed. Then again, it might afford an opportunity. He set his jaw and, riding inches from the bumper of the car in front of him, made his slow way past the moving truck, and then whipped over right in front of it. The driver of the U-Haul blew his horn but Bones ignored him. He checked his mirrors and confirmed that the Jaguar was out of sight.
“Just give me a curve or something,” he muttered.
Seconds later, the road curved to the right, cutting them off from the view of all but the vehicles closest behind them. Bones seized the opportunity. He cut left across oncoming traffic and onto a two-lane road, and floored it. The engine roared as Consuela chugged down the street. Not daring to hope he’d lost their pursuers, he made another left, glancing back as he turned.
“They’re still after us?” Jessie asked.
Bones nodded. “Either they saw us turn or they made a lucky guess. Either way, this isn’t over.
They sped along the street, the old truck moving much too slowly for Bones’ liking. While he concentrated on the road, Jessie kept an eye out for the Jaguar. All too soon, she delivered the bad news.
“They’re really close. You need to do something.”
“Not many choices,” he said through gritted teeth. “You got your seatbelt on.”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he yanked the wheel and shot recklessly through oncoming traffic. He was now almost deaf to the sounds of squealing tires and blaring horns, but he was keenly aware of the van that skidded to a halt inches from the passenger door.
“Are you trying to kill me?” Jessie shrieked.
“The opposite.” He said as they shot past a statue of a horse and rider, and a sign that read Old Town Albuquerque. “Just trying to get some distance between us before they start…”
He cut off in mid-sentence when a bullet shattered the driver’s side mirror.
“Shooting.” He added. He kept the pedal to the floor, trying to coax more speed out of the aging pickup, but moments later he slammed on the brakes. “Oh, hell no.”
The street up ahead was clogged with pedestrians. He hit the horn, threw the truck into low gear, and surged forward. Surprised tourists gave way, sending dirty looks, obscene gestures, and curses in his direction.
“This is not where we want to be,” Jessie said.
Up ahead, the road wound around a small square. A mariachi band played in the gazebo at the center of the square, and tourists lounged all about, enjoying the music. A myriad of shops and restaurants lined the square, and vendors dotted the sidewalks, selling food or Native American trinkets. To their left, an old mission church dominated the square, tourists queued up in front waiting their turn to go inside. Many turned to gape at the old truck as it skidded recklessly around the square.
When they reached the opposite side of the square, Bones hung a sharp right, blowing through the stop sign, and coming face-to-face with a VW bus.
“Wrong way!” Jessie cried.
“I know that now!” Bones shouted as he brought the truck up onto the sidewalk, narrowly missing the vehicle. A man in a sombrero and serape dove out of their way, upending his taco cart as he fell. Bones managed to miss the cart, but brought the truck back into oncoming traffic.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m not wasting good Mexican food!” Bones zigzagged out of the way of two angry drivers and took the first available turn. He kept going, making turns at random, but Jaguar stayed in their rear-view mirror.
“We’re not going to lose them, are we?”
“Don’t say that. We can…”
The truck began to lose speed. Bones pumped the pedal, but nothing happened. He looked down and immediately spotted the problem.
“Why are we stopping?” Jessie asked, looking around for the Jag.
“Um.” He couldn’t look her in the eye as he spoke. “We’re out of gas.”
The story continues in Chapter 11