Authors: Joe Nobody
Tags: #Fiction, #Action & Adventure
Holding Their Own
Copyright © 2011-2012
Kemah Bay Marketing LTD.
All rights reserved.
E. T. Ivester
Other Books by Joe Nobody:
Holding Your Ground: Preparing f
or Defense if it All Falls Apart
The TEOTWAWKI Tuxedo: Formal Survival Attire
Without Rule of Law: Advanced Skill to Help You Survive
Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival
The pilot looked at the
gauge on the cluttered dash of the small Cessna for the tenth time
in the last few minutes
. The needle seemed to be glued to the capital E
and he knew it wasn’t going to move
no matter how many times he checked
. He considered
the passenger in the front seat and shook his head –
e’re not going to make it
. Right on cue, the engine sputtered, spit
and then returned to its steady drone.
It was an unwelcome
he gauge was
After a minor adjustment to the rudder, he
he side window at the desolate w
est Texas landscape below. A seemingly endless expanse of
brownish sand accented with bleached
off-white rocks spread out
of dark vegetation littered the ground here and there
, but w
hat really drew his attention
looking formations of grey and red rocks
. His mind visualized
like edges slicing through the thin skin of
Despite being above it all
he could tell
it was a harsh world down there.
He pushed down the panic that was
in his throat
ed at the passenger.
“Do you think that was him?”
The passenger was looking out his window
t in thought. He surveyed
the map resting i
n his lap, and then
“No way to tell.
There was somebody down there for sure, but who knows.
Can you get us down?”
One last check out the windows confirmed what they both already knew.
The only place to set down was a thin
strip of black
The pilot grimaced and
shook his head
“We don’t have any choice – here goes.”
He adjusted the trim and
steered the nose
so it began to
From their altitude,
like a pie
ce of dark ribbon stretching
As the front of
plane slowly aligned with
makeshift landing strip, t
he engine protested its lack of fuel
by cutting in and out several times and
The sound of air rushing past at just over 100 miles per hour was a poor substitute for the engine
s mechanical hum and reassuring vibrations.
The pilot ignored the crushing pressure building in his ears
the white dashes that now cut the black road in half.
Everything he had ever read or heard about landing with
came rushing to the forefront of
He mentally ran through the checklist
He didn’t know the wind
and it was
less to radio a mayday
– everything else had been done
. He squeezed the controls and kept his eyes locked on
improvised runway ahead
The passenger reached across
put his hand on the pilot’s shoulder
, and spoke in a calming voice.
“You’ve done well. No matter what, I want you to know that.” He then turned and looked at the
girls seated behind him.
He mouthed the words,
“I love you
and then said a
loud, “We’re going to have a rough landing – better make sure your belts are good and tight.”
Despite the overwhelming whistling
of the wind outside, everyone in the cabin could hear the whispered prayers coming from the
was being pulled down by gravity
and the angle was bad. The pilot
the last instant,
nudged the powerless craft
causing it to miss its mark by only a few feet.
The small plane hit the pavement hard. On initial impact, the
landing wheel snapped off as the plane bounced
into the air. On t
he second touchdown, the uneven
landing gear caused the nose to veer sharply right
and the port wing slammed into the ground.
The cabin was heaved upwards as the plane rolled over
still traveling at over
iles per hour
. The nylon seat
belts felt like they were cutting flesh
of tearing, screeching
their eyes open
would have noticed
outside the front windows turn
upside down, and
then slowly roll back to normal.
It took a full
seconds before the momentum bled off
and the pl
skidded to a complete stop.
The desert didn’t notice the wreck, nor did it care. The small cloud of dust, already settling around the crumpled airframe, was of no consequence. The shallow trenches created by the skidding metal would be refilled by the winds within a seaso
n. Even the repeating hiss
…hiss…hiss…of a fluid dripping
the hot engine manifold meant nothing to the desert.
looking at the rim of the box canyon
wishing the plane would magically
When it didn’t, he
his head slightly
in a vain attempt to detect engine noise. The sky was empty
and the desert was soundless
The aircraft had clearly made two direct passes right over the ranch,
and his mind was working overtime trying to figure out if they could
anything from the air.
meandered into the middle of the ravine
, trying to imagine what could be recognized from above.
partially underneath an outcropping of solid rock
and the canopy of a young pecan tree
. A thi
caused by years
shiny aluminum skin. Directly behind the camper was
pickup truck. Most of it
obscured by the overhang as well.
Besides, the truck
was even dirtier than the ca
mper and would probably be d
ifficult to detect from the air. A
n old camouflage net was strung
between the truck and the camper
. Bishop had put it there for shade more than concealment. Under the net were two wor
folding lawn chairs
green and white nylon webbing
beginning to unravel.
a flat area of bare sand
was the canyon wall where the
naturally formed rock room created by thousands of years of erosion
, its almost
enabled the couple to carefu
lly store bits of food,
and equipment salvaged from their Houston residence. As with
its sibling formation
the camper, the sheer cliff face curved inward
at the base,
creating an area completely hidden from above.
dripped constantly from the overhang into a small pool o
f solid granite. Bishop had damm
ed the natural drainage creating what
the hot tub. Both the spring and t
he entrance to the
were difficult to detect from ground level, let alone a fast moving airplane hundreds of feet in the air.
Downslope from the hot tub was their garden. While it was barely sprouting any green at the moment, Bishop wondered if the straight
rows of plantings could be spotted from the sky
. No doubt the soil was darker, as it was irrigated from the hot tub, but was that enough to cause an aircraft to hone in on their ranch?
A slight rustle from behind signaled Terri had joined him. He recognized the familiar sound of her bare feet on the hard-packed desert floor. A moment later, she exhaled a sigh as she leaned her body against his back. Her fingers interlocked across his chest in a gentle hug, and her head peeked over his shoulder
What’s the matter
Bishop? I mean…besides the obvious.”
hop’s voice relayed frustration.
“I’m not sure I need to
check on the plane. I don’t think the pilot could see anything. I mean, look ar
ound…what could he have identified
from the air?”
Terri released her hug and moved around to look at her husband’s
face. While she expected to see concern, his
When he finally made eye contact, her expression made it clear she didn’t quite follow his thinking.
“I don’t want to leave you here alone
unless it is
absolutely necessary. I’ve taken enough risks lately
and my luck isn’t going to hold out forever.
I want to
dry the meat, eat dinner, and then count the stars before going to bed. Remember? We were going to find Orion’s Belt tonight. I was looking forward to that.”
Terri rose up on her toes and kissed his cheek
, if you
’re sure you won’t be worried
about someone sneaking up on us, I’m cool with you
I just thought we would bot
h sleep better if you checked things
shifted his weight from one foot to the other, fidgeting with the rifle slung across his chest.
His gaze shifted from
’s eyes to
point in the
sky where the plane had disappeared
and then back again
. The isolation of the ranch
was their single greatest peace
of mind. Now, without warning or
, someone had trespassed. At least that’s how
felt about it.
were the only people who knew the ranch was here – at least until now. Stealth was always the best defense
and now their cover was blown.
had been so
wing trip across Texas
eft its scar
s and shadows, but the routine of surviving was
healing them both
Desert living was tough on Bishop and Terri
. While they had good water, some
old camper for shelter, it still took all of their energy to provide
food and security.
The ranch had been their permanent residence for
more challenging than others.
envisioned a remote hunting retreat where he could spend many uninterrupted hours honing his
pictured a rustic hideaway
daily frustrations of city life.
For all that the wee
kend escape had meant t
o them, the ranch was never
tended to be more than a temporary refuge.
When terrorist attacks pushed an already crippled United States over the edge, the couple had i
tried to stay in their suburban Houston home
w weeks after the
ceased to exist, it become clear they couldn’t sustain
Food was running short, neighbors were beginning to turn on each other
and martial law had been established
in the city limits. The radio
sought to calm an out-of-control population with the announcement th
at soldiers would be
establishing order and taking control of Houston.
he young couple
no interest in exchanging their family table for work camps and food lines. Deciding
’s solution didn’t so
und very palatable
to them, Bishop and Terri hurriedly
packed as m
any supplies as they could fit in the truck
and set out on their own.
Bishop looked at his wife and nodded. “You’re right
as usual. I’ll go check it out. I need to get some gear together.”
Bishop strode deliberately
outcropping, which signaled the entrance t
opened the heavy steel
salvaged from a grain hauler, and
waited for his eyes to adjust to the
The cool air
was a refreshing change fro
m the dry heat of the desert. Leaving the
illuminated a path t
o a far corner where h
gear was stored
needed to start
thinking about what to take with
The light from outside dimmed slightly as Terri entered
the rock room
looked up and smiled as she came to watch him get ready. She could clearly see from his actions that he was uptight
and knew instinctively
he was w
orried about the baby and her
A warm feeling went through her thinking about Bishop being protective
of their expanding family
. In a way
it was cute and made her feel
On the other hand
, she worried it might cloud his judg
ment. Before everything had gone
to hell, the stereotypical
father-to-be was humorous. Bringing home a new baseball glove
born to be ready for
a game of
catch was funny then. Now, Terri wasn’t so sure. If Bishop made decisions based on unrealistic concerns about
the baby and her,
this new world could instantly deliver a dose of harsh reality.
I need to reassure him
, she thought.
He’s not even aware he’s doing it.
behind him and rested her chin on his shoulder. When he glanced at her, she cleared her throa
t and declared, “Bishop, I need
get me some pickles and ice cream before you go.”
ment and flashed a puzzled look.
“What? Are you serious?”
Terri put on her best indignant face when she countered him. “Yes, of course I’m serious!
and it’s my
right as a spoiled American woman to crave pickles and ice cream. If you really love me, you’ll go find me some.”
k his head and started to laugh.
“Very funny Terri, where the hell would I find…” She
him with a raised voice
“I don’t think it’s funny at all! You’re not the on
e who has
and stretch marks
in her future
. I want chocolate ice cream and dill pickles.” Her hands came to rest on her hips and her chin jutted out, daring him to challenge her.
Bishop was stunned
and started stuttering,
Terri turned her back to him,
because she was
pretending to be mad, partly because she was having trouble keeping a straight face.
Bishop quickly turned and followed, putting his hands on her shoulders.
“Baby, please don’t be upset. You know if I could go get you anything…anything in the world, I would. There’s no way I can find pickles and ice cream, just no way. It’s just not reasonable.”
Terri sighed loudly and looked up at the ceiling
still keeping her face away from her husband. “Nikki Mo
rison’s husband went several times in the middle of the night to get her peppermint ice cream when she was pregnant. He had to drive clear across town and never complained. I guess he loved her a lot.”