Welcome to The Book of Bones a (mostly) weekly adventure serial.
If you haven’t been reading along, start here with Chapter 1.
Although night had fallen, the black rocks of the lava field radiated heat. Still, it was a jovial group that made their way back to Bones’ truck. He didn’t know if it was the joy of a job well done or the thrill of newfound wealth that excited his companions. Probably a bit of both
“How are you going to spend your share?” Jessie asked
“Don’t jinx us,” he replied. “I’ve found and lost enough treasure to last a lifetime.”
“You are such a pessimist,” she said. “What could possibly happen between here and the truck?”
“Funny you should ask. Everyone get down.” Bones dropped to a knee in the shadow of a rock pile. Jessie and Padilla hunkered down beside him.
“What is it?” Padilla whispered.
“I saw someone moving on the horizon. Just a shadow flitting past the moon.”
“Maybe it’s not someone who means us any trouble,” Jessie said. “Could be another tourist.”
“Doing some sightseeing on a black lava field in the dark?” Bones said. “I don’t think so. Besides, I could tell by the way he moved that he was trying to be stealthy. He just didn’t do a good job of it.”
“How do you want to play this?” Padilla asked.
Bones new they didn’t have much time. He quickly considered the situation. “All right, here’s what we’re going to do.”
As he outlined his plan, he quickly rearranged the treasure. They had brought the empty treasure chest along, and he now filled the bottom with a layer of loose stones, added in the gold bars, a few gold coins and jewels, and all of the various artifacts. He put the rest of the treasure in a backpack, hid it in a crevasse and covered it with rocks. Then he handed Jessie a map of the park and tucked the Book of Bones into her backpack.
“Keep moving north and stay out of sight,” he instructed. “Try not to use your flashlight or your phone if you can help it. It will make you easier to spot in the dark. If you think someone is after you, hide. If you’re not at the meeting spot when we get there, I will come and find you. I promise.”
The young woman didn’t ask how he could make such a promise. She merely nodded, took a few steps away, and then froze. She whirled around, gave him a quick kiss on the lips, and then vanished into the darkness.
“I still think you need to reconsider about her,” Padilla said, staring in the direction in which Jessie had gone.
“I’ll think about that later.” Bones drew his Glock and handed it to Padilla. “Right now, we’ve got a trap to set.”
Bones moved slowly, careful not to let the treasure and loose rocks inside the chest rattle around. He estimated he was a half a mile from where he had parked his truck. A half-mile of open ground that offered no cover. He had no doubt the truck was being watched. The question was, where exactly were the men who were following them? He took a deep breath and headed for the parking lot
He hadn’t gone more than a dozen steps when a voice called out.
“Stop right there.”
Bones kept walking.
A shot rang out, sparks flying where the bullet grazed the lava field only a few feet in front of Bones. This time, he stopped.
Maybe I do have a death wish. Better not tell Maddock.
“Put the chest on the ground and take twenty steps back,” the voice instructed.
“Then I do the hokey pokey and I turn myself around?” Bones asked.
“My orders did not specify whether or not I should let you live, keep trying to kiss me off. It will make my decision that much easier.”
“Fair enough.” Slowly, Bones placed the chest on the ground, raised his hands above his head, and moved away.
“Hands behind your head. Down on your knees.”
This time, Bones followed orders. Soft footsteps, sounding like thunder in the quiet night, echoed across the lot of field. A muscular man of medium height, carrying a 9 mm, appeared out of the darkness. His facial features were Korean, but his accent was one hundred percent Boston.
“Flat on the ground,” he snapped. “I don’t trust you.”
“Bro, you’re the only one here with a gun. You’ll get no trouble out of me.”
“Somehow, I doubt that.” The man turned his head toward the lava field. “Mixon! Cooley! I got him. Come on back.”
A minute later, his companions appeared. Cooley, a bear of a man, towered over the stocky Mixon. The taller man carried a Glock, similar to the one Bones favored weapon, while the shorter man wore a revolver holstered on each hip, gunslinger style.
“Not bad, Scott,” Cooley said. “Maybe we’ll keep you around after all.”
“You wish,” Scott said. “I’m just biding my time with you jokers. And I think this is my ticket to a promotion.” He tucked his pistol into the waistband of his pants, reached down, and hefted the treasure chest. “Damn! This thing is heavy. What’s in here?”
Bones held his breath. He would be fine if the men would simply take the treasure chest and be on their way, but if they looked inside it…
“It doesn’t matter what’s inside,” Mixon snapped. “That’s above your pay grade. Our job is to get this to the boss.”
“What do we do with this guy?” Cooley inclined his head toward Bones.
Mixon shrugged. “It’s your call. You’re the one who loves killing people.”
Cooley shook his head. “I don’t love it. It’s part of my job. And since genius over here said our names…” He shot a meaningful glance at Scott, who shrugged. “Better safe than sorry.” He raised his Glock.
The night erupted in thunderous gunfire as Padilla, hiding nearby, opened fire. Cooley’s body jerked as slugs tore into him, and he fell in a heap. Mixon spun toward the direction from which the shots had come and opened up with both barrels, but Padilla was no longer there. An instant later, a single shot rang out, the bullet taking Mixon in the forehead.
At the sound of the first shot, Scott had made a run for the parking lot, pistol in his right hand, treasure chest tucked under his left arm.
Bones watched him go. No point chasing him down. The guy was an idiot, but he was still armed, and dumb luck was a distinct possibility. And, unless he missed his guess, the man’s boss would neither see Scot nor the treasure chest. Besides, what mattered most was Bones, Padilla, and Jessie were safe. And, almost as important, they had what they had come for.